A slice of Pi

 Some Raspberry Pi monitor issues 

The Background

What I love about the summer is that it gives me time to explore different ideas and new concepts and it was in this spirit that I've been messing around with a Raspberry Pi. Admittedly there's nothing new about the Raspberry Pi apart from the Pi two which launched earlier this year, but it is something I've never got around to exploring.  They've now sold 5 millions Pi's, but I suspect for the majority of people it still remains a rather niche product they may of heard of the name, but they don't really understand the fuss.

UPDATE: This post is now out of date as the updated Raspberry Pi OS seems to configure itself automatically.

As an aide I've been interested in the Pi for a while from an educational point of view,but our school decided not to go down that route. We still ue an ageing suite of PC's and part of me thinks it would be a good idea to reinvigorate them by installing Linux and some of the Pi software, getting a number of the advantages that the Pi offers all for free, but I don't think the school is yet ready for that mind shift away from Windows quite yet.
Well now I've had a play and I thought I'd write about the installation glitch I had to overcome.  There are plenty of how to installation guides out there, but they seem to fail to mention this potential problem.  Overall I think the Pi is awesome, apart  from the head scratching to get the monitor to work.

Installation Problem

The Pi comes with a HDMI connection, but as it's a low powered device I wanted to use it with an old monitor which has a VGA connection (I've owned laptops for years and don't have a TV, so I didn't have a HDMI monitor to use even if I wanted to), so with this in mind I duly bought a HDMI>VGA adapter. However nobody told me this won't work out of the box and it took me a bit of digging to find out why? The adapter on it's own won't work (unless it's an expensive model) as they use different signals and the signal itself needs to be converted. As a result I tried to boot the Pi several times and was starting to think I had got a dud. It was actually simple to fix the issue, the problem was diagnosing it. A hard lesson in some computing principles.

The Solution

Most guides tell you to use the NOOB'S software and this is the same package that will come on a Pi ready SD card, but this easy install won't work with a VGA monitor.  Instead you will need to install the operating system that you want to use in most cases this will be Pi's own OS Raspian and edit the config.text file.
  1. Format your SD card
  2. Download Raspian
  3. Copy Raspian onto the SD card by using and creating a bootable SD. Use something like Win32diskimager or an equivalent.
  4. Then open up the SD card and edit the config.txt file. You need to open it up in a plain text editor such as Notepad and not a program like Word which will format the text and can cause issues.
The config file is a way of adjusting the settings of your Pi and as standard all options aren't enabled as they have a # in front of each line (this makes the computer think it is text and not a command). To enable the settings to use a VGA monitor remove the # in front of following lines: hdmi_force_hotplug=1 hdmi_drive=2 hdmi_group=1 hdmi_mode=1 Then when I booted up my Pi with this SD card it worked straight away, apart from the OS overspilling the screen. I shut it down went into the config file again and adjusted the display settings and its been fine ever since. So what have I done since the install?  Well I had a bit of a play with Raspian and then ended up installing Openelec and turning it into a home media centre, as the Pi2 has a reasonable one GB of ram it's actually pretty good at it.  The config file for Openelec was slightly simpler and I just uncommented the following lines. hdmi_force_hotplug=1 hdmi_ignore_cec_init=1/span>

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