Here is something fun for the weekend, setting up a Raspberry Pi using normal VGA Monitor. I love the Raspberry Pi, I have the original 256MB version and I was using it as a video player for a while for my HDMI TV. However it wasn’t really capable to act as a standalone player, perhaps more of a streamer instead, so I opt to use my unused vaio laptop as my media center pc, especially it’s pretty low powered compared to my CPU. So, the Pi has been sitting idle for a while.
Recently I have some free time to tinker with it again. Plus, I have a 17inch LCD monitor lying idle in my home office. The problem of course, Raspberry Pi is HDMI or RCA output only. So we need something to solve this. Secondly, there is no ethernet port in my home office, I opt for full wireless (I hate wires! tripping…tangled…); therefore the Pi needs an additional wireless device.
So without any more delay here are my setup steps to save everyone’s time.
Get: HDMI to VGA Converter
The first thing to do is to get the correct converter. You cannot get the simple HDMI to VGA cable, there is no way this kind of cable will work with the Raspberry Pi. What we need is HDMI to VGA converter with inbuilt converter chip in it and with audio output too.
By the way, the speaker that I use is the X-Mini II speakers. That little thing is really great, compact, good sound quality and very long lasting in-built USB battery. Perfect for things like the Raspberry Pi.
Get: The Wireless Adapter
The best wireless adapter to get for the Pi that I know so far is the Edimax 150Mbps nano usb wireless adapter. Not only that this adapter is small and inconspicuous, it works straight away with the Raspberry Pi running Raspbian out of the box.
I don’t know about you, but I always like things that works out of the box with minimal configurations.
Get: The USB HUB
There are only 2 USB hubs in-build with the Raspberry Pi, I think this is not enough. We will use one for the wireless adapter and one for the keyboard + mouse (that is if you use wireless pack like the one in my photo). So I decided to get a usb hub. It can be any USB hub as long as it has AC power adapter.
The squid style one that I have actually worked very well, though some have said otherwise. I’ll leave you with some options anyway.
Flash the Raspberry Pi SD Card
- Download the Raspbian image from the official site
- Write the image to the SD Card. I prefer to use the DD method personally, but there are a lot of other good ways here.
Setup Your Raspbian Config
Now this is a step that you cannot miss, otherwise you’ll only see blank screen as your Raspberry Pi boot up. There are a number of configurations that you need to setup beforehand so that the HDMI to VGA conversion works properly.
We need to modify the config.txt. To do this:
- Open the SD Card on another computer
- Open the file config.txt
- Modify the following configurations:
- hdmi_mode=36 – The mode 36 is based on your monitor’s resolution. The full configuration options can be found here.
All Good, Full Steam Ahead
Follow the configuration screen. I choose to expand the partition first thing, so I can use the entire SD Card for Raspberry Pi.
If you don’t get the correct resolution for some reason. Make sure you try to restart your Raspberry Pi again.
Setup Your Wireless
Just one last thing. The easiest way to setup your WPA2 wireless connection (most home/small office setup) is by using the GUI preinstalled in the graphical desktop. Basically start the WIFI Config and follow the instructions on-screen. Like I said previously, the wireless adapter works out of the box, you just need to enter the WPA credentials.
Next post we’ll go retro and play with some simple ways we can do to turn our Raspberry Pi into SNES emulator, dos emulator and more.