Raspberry Pi-Zero-W Mini-Tower

Just finished building a couple of mini-towers for my IoT Club.

The idea is the towers can be kept in a cupboard at school and just brought out when I run the IoT Club. All I would need to do is plug the 6-port PSU into the mains and switch-on the Club's WiFi router. Should save a lot of time as previously I had to cobble together a number of Raspberry Pi(es),of various vintages, and then at the end of the session take the whole lot apart!!!

wifi_1_small

wifi_3_small

wifi_2_small

Tuesday 14th Jan will be the 'Towers' first outing.

I've ordered twelve of the very short black USB cables - they should make it look really neat and tidy.

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Looks great Dave, Daveblades! :slight_smile:

Certainly impressive, but did the pi foundation start making exceptions for educational usage allowing to buy multiple Pi0(H)W devices to a single customer or did all your students have to buy their own?

As for those vintage devices, I’ve a first batch Pi 1B+ here. I was on the waiting list for the regular Pi B when Farnell informed me they had started working on an updated version and I would get it as a free upgrade.

Hi Lena,
The school ordered twelve RPi-Z-Ws when the school broke up for the summer (end-of-July 2019).
Eventually ONE Pi was delivered and the rest of the order was cancelled by the supplier.
After a long "wait", one of the suppliers informed the school they could purchase any number of
RPi-Z-WH with the pre-soldered headers, slightly more expensive but no purchase limit.

A new order went in, but for some reason there has been a shortage of all versions of Pi-Zeros for the last couple of months. The school gave me the batch of 12 Pi(es) last Wednesday, hence the time working over the weekend to get them ready. My word it takes a lot of time to flash 12 SD cards, update and upgrade the operating system, then sort out the WiFi network and IP addresses.

So is the idea that you have control over these pi and all you need to arrange is ability to vnc into them?

Not quite...
The two towers and the Club's WiFi router will sit at the end of the classroom.
There are 36 PCs in the room in clusters of six - they are all wired with CAT cables into the school's network. I give each student a WiFi dongle so the PC they decide to sit at can be WiFi-enabled.
At the moment I have ten students, so the idea is each student will run a browser on the PC which connects to Node-RED running on one of the RPi servers.

Up until now, the number of vintage RPi(es) I had, limited the number of students I could handle and some of the students had to share a RPi server. This has worked really well so far, so I'm sure with twelve RPi-Z-Ws it will be great for each student to have their own server.

Trust this makes sense.

Got you - your lucky that the school network let's you do that :slight_smile:

JFI if you ever wanted to vnc in to the pi - you might be able to load the realvnc chrome extension on the school machines if not too tightly locked down

It was all done with the 'blessing' of the school's IT dept.

Maybe next time: flash one, upgrade the OS, instal what eerlese you need then use piclone to make copies....Once you have one cloned copy, you can run two pi's running piclone, tehn 4 then 8.....

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With an increasing number of "identical" machines (except IP address and name), you might also want to look at using Ansible to manage them.

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I can vouch for ansible, it’s great especially for managing identical installs. Do note that Windows as host machine (the machine controlling all those other machines) is not supported (unless through WSL), and managing windows, but controlling other Windows machines is getting better support every time I see the docs.

Yes, I've used WSL with configuration files (it is all file-based config) in a folder soft-linked from my personal OneDrive so that everything is automatically replicated to the cloud.

I'm not using myself at the moment because it isn't worth it just for a couple of devices that are not quite configured the same anyway. But in a classroom/enterprise environment it would be a god-send when devices need replacing or new ones adding.

Just been looking at PowerPoints about Ansible - looks like an ideal solution for keeping these RPi(es) in order

I’m using Ansible with POSIX devices as host, and even to control things on localhost. I have a playbook to set up a specific type of Python project (for prototyping scrapers) that sets up encryption in git hooks (where the hooks are ansible playbooks themselves) utilising Ansible vault with unique passwords for each project generated and stored in my password manager. In practice that means I can commit those prototypes to git in encrypted state and decrypt on pulls. It has proven quite valuable so far, and I’m able to store prototypes interacting with my financial accounts without worrying much (at most they’d expose an account number yet still not something I want known).

Damn you Dave.
Just wanted to buy a couple of Pi Zero's at Kiwi electronics, but they are out of stock now...
At least I have an idea who bought their entire stockpile :thinking:

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I have a bash script that burns a card with the Raspbian image and then edits the appropriate files on the card to setup the wifi ssid and password, ip address, host name, ssh credentials, changes the default username and so on. I can then plug that into the device and run an ansible script (with configurations for each of my devices) that installs and onfigures packages, node-red etc and git clones repositories from my file server to setup everything else. The result is that I can regenerate a card for any of my Pis in about 30 minutes if I need to. I don't bother taking image backups any more as it is no longer necessary.

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Bart, Kiwi is one of those stores who limit sales to one per customer, including historical orders, per the Raspberry Pi foundation’s request. But I see we have the same preferred store :wink:

Steady on guys... the school bought them for me, and I had to wait nearly 6-months before they arrived.

As I said at the start of this thread, you should be able to purchase any number of the RPi-Z-WH with the pre-soldered headers. Bit more expensive, but worth the extra for no limit purchases.
Well at least that's the situation here in the UK with two of the major suppliers.

Colin, care to share the script? I'd love to take a look.

Amazing the lengths some people will go to, just for a few extra bitcoin bits :rofl: