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Pi In the Sky Idea

January 28, 2015
© - Northern Cardinal

© – Northern Cardinal

I have been searching for a long time for a way to have shared drives on my home network without having a PC running 24/7/365.  I got spoiled with having the luxury of instant file access since the late 90’s in places where I’ve worked, and spoiled at work usually means I’m going to try something similar at the house.  Of course, the situation at work had machines running 24/7/365, but the power being used was being distributed over hundreds if not thousands of people–the math makes sense there.

I thought I had found a working solution with the TonidoPlug and TonidoPlug2.  Admittedly I was pushing the envelope–they were designed not necessarily for home network storage but more for acting as a personal cloud.  The software was fragile, as in, if I lost power it took some effort within its Linux-based software to get it working again.  But at 5-10 watts of power, I was willing to work within the limitations.

The TonidoPlugs are now headed to storage (to be repurposed down the road) because I’ve replaced them with a pair of Raspberry Pi’s.  The operating systems (yes, systems…I’ve tried three to date) are easy to secure, they are non-proprietary, and they don’t suffer a lobotomy with a power outage.

Recently I took a fresh installation of one of the flavors of operating system and brought it from fresh out of the box to fully functional and secured on the network with multiple drives attached in about 2 hours.  Granted, what took me two hours to fabricate would take others much longer.  But certainly most people, especially with guides available online, could get things done in well under a day.

The end advantage for my efforts: The computers in my house that run Windows can see the flash memory drives attached to the Raspberry Pi, so (as an example) the music library is available to me no matter what machine I’m sitting at.  And if I want to revise a resume as I’m getting ready to go to sleep, I can hop on the laptop while sitting in bed without burning a copy to CD and then moving it to over.

The cost to bring it online:  $60 for the Rasperry Pi B+ Starter Kit (now down to $50 at this writing) and about $30 for the flash drives (3 16Gb sticks).  The ongoing cost:  1 watt of power.  41 days to burn 1 KwH at about 12 cents.  Less than a penny a day.  I think I can afford to have shared drives now.

About the Image:
This male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) stopped for a few images at South Llano River SP.  Shot with the Standard Gear, the camera settings were ISO 400, 1/250 sec at f/13.  This image, saved at a higher resolution, sits in a directory that all of the computers in the house can use for wallpaper.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2015 4:06 pm


    • January 28, 2015 6:14 pm

      I’m not a fan of Dropbox or really any of the online file repositories. I will occasionally use Google Drive, but that is rare indeed. I’d rather have control of the files within my own network than rely on the cloud.

  2. Gail Snipes permalink
    January 28, 2015 4:31 pm

    Wonderful picture of the cardinal! One of my favorite birds to watch at the feeder.

    • January 28, 2015 6:14 pm

      Thank you, Gail. They are marvelous birds and are by far the most common bird in my portfolio.

  3. January 28, 2015 9:37 pm

    Fabulous photo.

  4. March 25, 2015 9:26 pm

    Impressive. I’ve read Pi periodically, but could never figure out what to do with one. Neat to see it in practice.

    • April 4, 2015 9:02 am

      They are a wonderful little device. I really need to do a follow-up article because they have introduced (and I have purchased) an updated model that is considerably faster than the original using the same amount of energy and offered at the same price.

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