electronic.alchemy :: Caster Pi
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Caster Pi

Created by hww3. Last updated by hww3, 5 years ago. Version #4.

It's possible to run the caster control software on the tiny computer known as the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is extremely inexpensive, though has some limitations that make it less than ideal for this purpose. However, it's cost makes it almost a consumable within the context of a typefoundry operation, and so has appeal for those looking to contain costs compared to purchasing a full-blown computer to run the control software.

A few rambling notes about the R-Pi:

It's a pretty do-it-yourself sort of affair, but it's extremely popular among the tinkerer set, so you should find lots of help online, and chances are you already know someone who's messed around with one. Your best bet is to get a "starter kit", which usually comes with the pi, a power adapter for mains electricity, an SD card and maybe a case to put the thing into. There are different versions of the Raspberry Pi, but I recommmend the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. They're about 40 bucks and you can get them from various places online.

You'll also need to supply a usb keyboard and mouse, and a monitor. Any USB keyboard or mouse you've got laying around will work just fine. For a monitor, you need to know that the R-pi outputs HDMI, so you'll need a monitor with an HDMI connection or one of those adapters to convert it to the proper monitor type for whatever monitor you've got.

Finally, you'll want to get a USB hub. This is because, for some reason, there are only 2 USB connections on the R-pi, and you're going to need at least 3, possibly 4 (keyboard, mouse, monotype interface, and possibly a usb stick drive to put the ribbons on). I don't think you need to get one with a power adapter, but I'll leave that to your judgement. Amazon, Maplin or Farnell have a wide array to choose from.

OK, that all said, here's what you need to do:

The assumption going in is that you've got an SD card large enough to fit the image, and some sort of SD card reader (like a USB reader or a Mac or PC with a building reader, etc).

Download the latest Raspbian image from [external]http://raspberrypi.org

The "image" is Gzip-compressed, so you'll want to decompress it before you do anything with it. It should expand to just about 4GB. I don't recall if you've mentioned whether you have a Mac or a PC, but the Mac should decompress it without any problem, and same for a PC, if you've got something like WinZIP installed.

Once you have the image uncompressed, you need to flash it onto a 4GB or larger SD card. You can find lots of instructions online for this, but here's a suggestion to get you started:

[external]http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup

Skip past the beginning stuff until you get to the sections labelled "Flashing the SD card using ".

Once you have the image flashed to the card, you should be able to pop the card into the pi and plug it in.

Username (if you need it): pi
Password: raspberry

At this point, you've got a stock raspberry pi, and we're going to need to install all of the caster related "stuff". The following commands should install all of the prerequisite software and load the Caster control application.

cd $HOME
wget http://bill.welliver.org/dist/monotype/casterPi/monotype.tar.gz
wget http://bill.welliver.org/dist/monotype/casterPi/local.tar.gz
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gtk-3.0
cd /usr/local
sudo tar xzvf $HOME/locallib.tar.gz
cd $HOME
sudo tar xzvf monotype.tar.gz
rm locallib.tar.gz
rm monotype.tar.gz
ln -s monotype/GTKCaster/caster.desktop $HOME/Desktop
sudo reboot

The caster program is on the Desktop, along with all of the other stuff that typically comes with the Raspberry Pi. The caster program should look and work just like the Mac version (hopefully). The pi is a bit slower than a Mac, but it should get the job done. There's an advanced setting on the Pi that lets you "turbocharge" the thing so that it runs faster. I suggest not messing with this unless you have to. You can find all kinds of details about this by googling.

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