What do you do when your project breaks down completely, once it’s installed in a gallery?
Two days before opening, after weeks of collaboration with electricians and electronics gurus, our installation for the San Diego Model Railroad Museum’s Centennial Railway Garden was off the rails. Our three credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computers were mysteriously dropping off the wireless network; the Node.js server running on them was sluggish; and sometimes the setup failed to trigger lights and sounds on the model, hanging completely until the iPads timed out and forced a reload.
Over the next day and a half, we turned the whole thing around—rewiring the Raspberries, overhauling the network setup, and learning a tremendous amount about the command line and Linux configuration files in the process. Not only was project back on track, but it’s been a hit among the patrons who have visited in the short time that it’s been open.
In this fast-paced case study, we’ll break down everything we learned into clear audience takeaways so you can get rolling with the cheap Raspberry Pi, from initial provisioning to startup scripts to WiFi shibboleths. We’ll cover the joys of Node.js and websockets for quick prototyping, and discuss best practices for using it and maintaining in your gallery projects. Finally, we’ll switch tracks to project management for emerging technologies, exploring ways you can properly budget for cataclysmic derailment on a shoestring, and find problems sooner rather than later.
Working with electronics can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll have you running full steam in no time.