A Raspberry Pi for 8 & 10-year-old Grandchildren

Having determined during a visit that these grandchildren were ready for a Raspberry Pi and their father was willing to fund one, I did the following:

Ordering Things

I ordered the following on November 3, 2014. Choices might be different at a later date.

  1. SanDisk 32GB Ultra Class 10 Micro SDHC up to 48MB/s with Adapter (SDSDQUAN-032G-G4A) [Newest Version] $17.99

    This 32 GB SDHC card is a bit of overkill, since an 8 GB card would work. The adapter is not needed for the B+ model of the Raspberry Pi being bought, but is useful when you want to connect it to a desktop computer for installing the operating system onto it or for backing up its contents to a desktop computer.

  2. Kootek 5V 2A Universal Micro USB Charger Adapter Power Supply for Raspberry Pi, Google Nexus 7, Nexus 10, External Battery Power Bank, Android Tablet $8.99

    Although the Raspberry Pi generally needs only about 0.5 A, adding a camera, connecting to the GPIO pins, and adding a USB WiFi dongle or USB keyboard/mouse combo requires additional power. It is generally felt that a 2A supply should be used. Even so, any power-hungary USB accessories should be self-powered.

  3. Adventures In Raspberry Pi book by Carrie Anne Philbin $16.32

    This is an excellent book to introduce the Raspberry Pi software and hardware to kids.

  4. Raspberry Pi Model B+ (B PLUS) 512MB Computer Board $38.44

    There is also a Model A+ available which has no Ethernet port, only one USB port, 256MB of RAM, and uses less power, but is otherwise the same. Normally, one will want the extra USB ports and maybe the Ethernet port. The HD television-cable converter box at the grandkids house has both WiFi and an Ethernet port. It seemed easier to use the Ethernet port for the network connection. The model A and B are older versions which use a bit more power than their + versions.

  5. AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable - 6.5 Feet (2 Meters) Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return $6.49

    This is needed to connect to the television HDMI input. There is no cable supplied with the computer since not everyone will be connecting to an HDMI display.

  6. Premium Clear Case for Raspberry Pi Model B+ (B Plus) $12.99

    A case is not essential, and some people make their own. There are many different models of cases available. I like a clear one that shows the insides. This one is a bit more expensive than others, but is highly rated.

Total before taxes and shipping: $101.22

Note: A keyboard and mouse are still needed, but the grandkids already had a USB keyboard and a wireless mouse so none was purchased.

Loading Operating System and Configuring it at the first boot

The operating system I selected is called Raspbian. It and how to put it on the SD card are explained at http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads. It will only use up about 15% of the space on the SD card.

Upon booting up for the first time, Raspbian presents a configuration screen with the following choices:

The Advanced Options menu contains the following:

When it asks to reboot, say yes since you probably changed very fundamental features of the Raspbian system.

Updating and customizing the software

The system does not start with the vim editor, but rather with a smaller, more difficult-to-use editor. To install vim, do the following:

  sudo apt-get update
  sudo apt-get upgrade
  sudo raspi-update
  sudo reboot

Then, to get it to look pretty, give colored syntax hints, and to jump to the location last edited do

  sudo vi /etc/vim/vimrc

and edit it so that the following lines no longer start with a double quote:

  syntax on
  set background=dark
  if has("autocmd")
    au BufReadPost * if line("'\"") > 1 && line("'\"") <= line("$") | exe "normal! g'\"" | endif

And also add this line at the end of the vimrc file:

  set number

To get sound to come out the HDMI cable, I find that I had to edit the file /boot/config.txt to remove a '#' from the start of a line that ended with drive=2 . It was necessary to use sudo vim /boot/config.txt to do the editing.

Adding to the home directory

I added the following directories ~/bin, ~/Documents, ~/Music, ~/Music/Mp3, ~/Music/Midi, ~/Pictures, ~/Sounds, and ~/TypingTest.

TypingTest contains a program I wrote long ago for the Commodore-64 and rewrote a few years ago using Python. A compressed tar file of it and its supporting dictionary files is here.

The other directories were filled with a few things representative of document, picture, music, and sound files.

(I also installed dosbox to run Kanji-Flash/BTJ, a DOS program that I wrote long ago for teaching scientists and engineers to read technical Japanese. Even though that program was written in 1991, it still runs fine in DOS emulation programs like dosbox.)

Getting a Wacom CTH-480 tablet to work

I bought a Wacom CTH-480 drawing tablet to aid in doing art on the Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, the Raspbian system has not supported this tablet and to get it to work, I needed to follow the detailed instructions provided by user Icww1 on the Raspberry Pi organization help forum (posted on Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:26 pm):


I created a ~/Wacom directory for doing the actions specified by Icww1 to create the necessary wacom.ko module file, placed that file in the /lib/modules/ directory, and added wacom to the end of the file /etc/modules. Until this driver is included in Raspbian, this file must be added to each new version when Raspbian is updated. To do so, I put the following script in ~/bin with the name updateWacomModule:

sudo mkdir /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/tablet
sudo cp /home/pi/Wacom/input-wacom-*/3.7/wacom.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/tablet/
sudo depmod -a

If a major revision of the Raspbian system is released that still does not include the wacom.ko driver, it will be necessary to go through the actions specified by Icww1 once again. For minor revisions, the above script simply needs to be run after the system update program rpi-update is run.

Introduction to the Linux Command Line Operation

To introduce the grandkids to command line control of a computer, I wrote these notes.

Last updated: November 25, 2014

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