Tuesday, November 3, 2020

TinyPilot: A fun project for both New and Seasoned Sysadmins

 I recently read about a do it yourself KVM called TinyPilot, by Michael Lynch.

TinyPilot provides a KVM (Keyboard Video & Mouse) connection to any machine, for the low cost of around $150, or about an hour of your time and whatever Raspberry Pi parts you have sitting around.

I have an old Dell R800 with an older version of iDRAC.  The iDRAC fails every reasonable attempt to manage the server through the browser, and can't be updated any further. I don't keep a VGA monitor around / connected in my garage, it's a major chore anytime I do something that requires a reboot on that system.

I like this as a weekend project for a few reasons:

  • If you're new to working with home lab hardware, this is a nice stretch project with an immediately useful result.
  • If You've a seasoned home lab tinkerer or "professional" - This is much easier and cheaper than a traditional KVM, and likely solves a common annoyance.
  • Regardless, it's an inexpensive way to play with a Raspberry Pi and potentially support a useful open source project.
While following the tinypilot guide, I ran into a few problems:

I didn't have a Rasp 4 lying around (Only a 2) - This turned out to be a big issue, you absolutely need a 4.

I didn't have a 32 gig SD card available (only a 4gig) - This wasn't an issue, worked fine.

No HDMI port on my old R800 - I tested on another machine, and picked up a hdmi to VGA dongle.

The actual install of TinyPilot on my Raspberry Pi 2 took about 45min.
 This is likely because my Pi 2 is pretty old. No effort was required on my part- outside of kicking off the install script. The installer kicks off an Ansible playbook on the Pi.  I'm fine with waiting as it put the Pi 2 to good use, and I actually avoid some of the power concerns with the recommended Pi 4. 

PiRecommended PSU current capacityMaximum total USB peripheral current drawTypical bare-board active current consumption
Raspberry Pi 21.8A1.2A350mA
Pi 4  
Raspberry Pi FAQ

As mentioned above - The Raspberry 4 was definitely required. My Pi 2 loaded the web GUI, and even displayed the desktop - but any attempt to interact failed. I suspect either the CPU/RAM on the Pi 2 wasn't enough. I performed a fresh install on my Pi 4, which completed in under 10min.  

No comments:

Post a Comment