Let There Be Wireless

Edimax EW-7811And now my little Raspberry Pi has wi-fi. This is the next step in moving towards a self contained JMRI unit. I chose the Edimax EW-7811Un USB wireless adapter because it is cheap and very small. So small that it doesn’t block the second USB port, doesn’t stick out very far, and doesn’t require extra power or place an heavy draw on the Pi.

All I did was power down the Pi, insert the little Edimax unit, reboot the Pi, and then go into a VNC session over the connected ethernet connection. I did it that way because I don’t have a monitor or keyboard directly connected, and the graphical setup for the wi-fi adapter is much easier than doing it from the command line.

You can see from the screenshot at left that the graphical wi-fi setup is dirt simple. Just Raspberry Pi Wireless Configurationlaunch it, have it scan for your SSID (or type it in yourself if it isn’t broadcast), select it and enter your wireless password. That’s it. Or, at least that is for supported devices that have the drivers built–in to the Raspbian operating system build. Again, that is one of the reasons I purchased this one – so I wouldn’t have to mess with finding driers. And at just $13, I wasn’t going to get anything any cheaper anyway.

So now I can take the Ethernet cord out, move my Pi anywhere in the house, and continue work on the project via wi-fi. Next will be a small external display to show some machine stats (cost of LED display ~$6.00 off eBay) and then work on the actual machine to track DCC interface.

Might as well add in here too that I went to a lecture put on by the South Carolina Historical Society this even. The first half was on railroad first of SC, such as The Best Friend. The second have was about historical resources available in the Library of Congress from an engineering survey and audit of all the railroads in the US done around 1920 or so. Good stuff, and great references for modeling. I am going to try to get in touch with the two speakers to not only get more information for my modeling of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in this area, but also for further information and resources to add to my Charleston Rail site.

Wireless Restaurants

I am hopeless, I admit it. I am glued to my iPhone and my laptop. So when I head out to eat, especially for lunch during the work week, I often judge where I am going by the availability of free wi-fi. I know fast food places like Chic-Fil-A, McDonald’s and Moe’s have free wireless. There are also some middle of the road places around that offer it too. But sometimes I just can’t figure out which ones do or don’t. And when I am on the road I have an even harder time and those are the times when it may be even more important to me.

In the same way that you used to be able to look up on many review sites whether there was smoking or not, I wish that review sites would show whether or not a place has wireless. I love UrbanSpoon on both the web and my iPhone. It is a great reference to have and I hope they spread to more cities. But I also want them to include a denotation of wireless. Since they have some a great iPhone app you would expect Internet connectivity to be important to them.

And it should also work in reverse. It would be great when you are planning a date or romantic evening with the spouse to know you can go somewhere without the threat of typing. Even would work for when you just have a headache. And even better, what about no-cell phone establishments? There have been many times that I would have chosen one restaurant over the one next to it if I had known I would have been safe from loud-mouthed people with bluetooth headsets.

So what do you think? Do you make you lunch plans based on food, price, or Internet connectivity?