I already had a 1st generation Pi 1B in the garage, so dug that out, and I’d ordered a Pi Zero W to play with MotionEye, but I’ve since bought a Pi 3A+, another Pi Zero W (with the GPIO pins attached) and another Pi 4 (with 2GB RAM)! So what am I doing with them all? Good question, and the whole point of writing this blog!
My first challenge was to get MotionEye up and running, which I’d initially done using the old 1B. While it worked, it wasn’t the best experience which isn’t really surprising given the spec of the 1B, which I’d bought back in 2012! Other than lacking performance, I also wanted to try and replace the camera I have in the kitchen, so needed something with wi-fi and the Zero W looked like a perfect solution.
I bought 1 from Pimoroni, along with a Pibow case an managed to get it up and running with MotionEye OS, although the camera didn’t support infrared, and I wanted to be able to keep an eye on the dog at night, so also bought an extra camera. The Pi Zero also uses a different size ribbon cable, so I needed to get one of those too. It’s been working pretty well ever since, and here’s a picture of it below, a picture and a small video taken from the camera.
I’d also been watching some of the Explaining Computers blogs on Youtube, and came across the Devastator series. It reminded me of Big Trak from when I was a kid, so I mentioned building one to my 7-year-old daughter who got super excited. This became the next project.
It is worthy of it’s own blog, which I’ll try and get around to soon, but it also started life using the old 1B and is currently using the 3A+ as it’s a much smaller board. I might still change it for the Zero W with GPIO pins, but I haven’t yet.
I’d also been playing around a little more with Home Assistant, which I’d been running in a jail on my FreeNAS server. While you can do most things that way, there are some limitations and I wanted to see what I was missing by running the Hass.io operating system and Home Assistant Core on that. The Raspberry Pi is a recommended device for that, so I configured everything using my 4B, and quickly realised this was a much better solution than the FreeNAS jail, so bought another 4B with the intention of running Home Assistant 24×7.
I ended up going for a 2GB model, mainly because it was on offer and half the price of buying another 4GB model, and I didn’t think the extra RAM was needed for this project. I was also planning on using the Pi case that came with the starter set, but I think I need something with some cooling capabilities.
The Raspberry Pi company have just launched a new 8GB 4B (and retired the 1GB model) so perhaps this was why the 2GB model I picked up was reduced? Most internet reviews seem to suggest the 8GB model really isn’t much use unless you are genuinely trying to use it as a desktop replacement, with multiple applications running at the same time. Mine is typically doing one thing at a time (e.g, Scratch, Retro Pi, etc.) so I’ll be sticking with the 2 and 4GB models for the time being.
So what about the Zero W with the GPIO pins? Well, it might still end up in the Devastator robot but I’ve also been thinking about other projects, and they are not always the easiest things to pick up. I would have probably bought one for the Devatrator project instead of the 3A+, but at the time I couldn’t get one from Pimoroni and elsewhere they were going for more than the 3A+ which is a more powerful device and not that much bigger.
So that hopefully explains a little more about my Raspberry Pi Family and what I’ve been playing about with? I’ve still been using the 4B for retro gaming and have a couple of mSD cards in use for that. I’ve also updated the 4B (4GB) so it will boot from a USB port, and this is my default for running Raspbian, although this is now called Raspberry Pi OS, or at least will be when I get around to updating it. I’ve been playing with some other distros too, including Twister OS (which is a little different) and bought myself a really nice and great value memory card case from Amazon here, as I now have the following cards in use for various things:
There will be more Pi blogs in the future for sure, probably starting with the Devastator project (which my daughter has named Jnr Trak) but watch this space…