How To Control Adafruit LED Pixels with Raspberry Pi

In my room, my bed is lofted above my desk. While I like the setup, it becomes a little difficult to see and study because the only source of light in the room is obscured slightly. Unfortunately, because I’m in Seattle and we have rain and overcast weather from September to July, sunlight isn’t an option.

I could always buy a lamp, but why do that when I can have a little fun tinkering with technology? I also had a Raspberry Pi sitting on my desk, so I decided I would put it to use. The completed project, which I call PiFX, can be recreated with the steps below.

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Using the Raspberry Pi to Send Push Notifications

One reason I wanted to have a Raspberry Pi was to be able to cheaply run periodic scripts and monitoring apps. I could have easily left on a full PC and hid it in my closet, or I could have rented out another Amazon EC2 server, but in both cases, it’s quite expensive. With the dedicated PC, there is a significant up front cost, and depending on the power efficiency of the computer, it could cost me monthly as well in the form of an electricity bill. Amazon EC2, on the other hand, costs anywhere from $20 up to hundreds of dollars a month, which is fine if you need the full power of a server to run a website, but not ok for hacking together some stuff.

With the Raspberry Pi, I have a low cost ($35) and low power device that I can always leave on, without worrying about heat building up in a case or a large power bill— after all, the entire thing runs on a Micro USB port.

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Upgrading the Raspberry Pi’s SD Card

I’ve been running my Raspberry Pi on a really old 2GB SanDisk Ultra SD card. It worked fine, but it wasn’t fast, and there certainly wasn’t that much free space to do anything on. After installing a bunch of packages, compiling Node.js, and cloning a couple of Git repositories, I ran out of space.

I had a Transcend 4GB SD card lying around, and wanted to transfer the entire contents of the older SD card to the larger one.

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Setting up the Raspberry Pi as a Headless Device

Wondering how to install the Raspbian operating system on your Raspberry Pi? I’ve created a guide for that as well.

After receiving my Raspberry Pi, I began to look for a place to plug it into. I’ve always assumed that at least one of my two monitors sitting on my desk had an HDMI port, but I’ve always used DVI. I happened to be wrong– neither of them had HDMI, meaning I had to commandeer a television somewhere else in my house.

I plugged the device into a 55″ TV in my living room and booted it up with a 2GB SD card I had prepared earlier and began installing some things that would allow me to run the device headless. This is important, because I do not want to be forced to sit on the floor in front of the TV every time I want to use the Raspberry.

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