Adventures with Zero: Soldering on

Last month my Raspberry Pi Zero arrived in the post, bringing with it the promise of new learning, exploration and nostalgia. But, if I’m honest, it languished untouched in a corner of my room for a couple of weeks – all that promise left unfulfilled.

But not for long. The other weekend I had nothing to do, a gloriously free Saturday to do anything I liked, and it was time to get stuck into the alarm clock project. First task: solder it all together.

Thankfully, it went pretty well, as was confirmed by the good folks at pimoroni where I’d bought my Pi Zero and Scroll pHAT project kit. Within an hour I’d got an actual thing that could actually do things.

Well, almost. The Pi Zero uses a microSD card as its boot disk and storage, which I had to go out and buy. Surprisingly, Maplin didn’t have anything small enough or cheap enough and Boots was similarly lacking, but for £10 I picked up a 16GB card with adaptor from Asda. Next job was to head home and load up the Raspbian operating system, after which I could start tinkering. It was approaching 7 p.m. at this point and the pub was beckoning me, but I could head out having successfully loaded a test script.

Since then I’ve set up a repository on my Mac, pushed it to GitHub and cloned that on my Pi Zero. Forgive me if I’m wrong, devs, but theoretically this means I can make a pull requests and update the code on either machine, updating the other machine once my changes have been committed. Please do comment if I’m misunderstanding GitHub or there’s a better way of doing that. The reason I’m doing that is because I connect both my Mac and Pi Zero to the router with an RJ45 – our building is old and Wi-Fi signal sucks – and I’m unplugging one machine to plug in the other. It allows me to edit code on my Mac while following tutorials, updating the Pi Zero’s repo as needed.

Having studied the example scripts from pimoroni’s Scroll pHAT library, I figured out how I might be able to get some words appearing on the thing I’d built. I wrote this, saved it and ran the module.

And it did this.

It’s a start for sure! The next challenge is getting my head around how to update the Scroll pHAT with the time. I can get it to print the current time fairly easy, but ideally it needs to update each minute. Time to delve into the pimoroni forums and sub-reddit, methinks…