Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi


In general I try to buy server-class hardware for my home lab, primarily so that I could have IPMI / Remote access console for remote OS installation & troubleshooting. I recently got a new desktop and found myself with a Threadripper 1950x that would make an excellent addition to my server cluster. The one problem being it’s a desktop-class board, so it does not have any IPMI / remote access device.

I solved my problem with pikvm. It works wonderfully! Pikvm uses a raspberry pi with some additional hardware and software to interface with a system to control power & reset capabilities, as well as KVM functions with the ability to upload OS images and do OS installations remotely. The whole project cost me about $150 since I didn’t have some of the essential items for it. It could definitely be cheaper if I didn’t buy large packs of items or already had some electronics components.

The process was straightforward as outlined on their github page. The only snag I ran into was creating the USB Y (split) cable. It did not work the first time, so I had to tear it all down and start again. One cable I used had more than 4 wires (3 red wires, 1 black, 1 green, 1 white, and 1 yellow.) When I re-assembled to include the yellow wire with the red and black, it all worked.

My custom made Y cable (made from two cables I had lying around)
fully assembled and ready to test
Attached to a test motherboard

I scavenged the metal mounting bracket from some old networking adapter cards. With those I was able to mount the pi and the HDMI-in module to two standard PCI express card slots. I accidentally destroyed one of my SD cards while doing this so be careful if you try it! The PI is mounted at a slight angle so as to not damage the SD card. I had to mount it backwards (ethernet in the back) because I couldn’t get power to it otherwise (power port right up against the motherboard.) My workaround for this was to custom make a short length ethernet cord and use an RJ45 coupler on the outside of the chassis to provide an easy to access network port for the pi.

I wired the power & reset switch, as well as HDD and power LEDs in parallel so they would function with the chassis as well as with the KVM. To do this simply get some male-to-male jumper wires. On one end plug into the chassis wire, and on the other plug into the corresponding positive and negative slots right next to the ones going to the pi.

Cable management nightmare. But it works XD
Finished product

Broadboard pinout: https://github.com/pikvm/pikvm/blob/master/img/v2.png

USB split cable diagram: https://github.com/pikvm/pikvm/blob/master/img/v2_splitter.png

Parts list:

Raspberry Pi 4B 2GB edition: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TD42S27/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Raspberry Pi 4 headsink pack: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07ZLZRDXZ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Raspberry Pi HDMI in Module: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0899L6ZXZ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

16GB Micro SD card: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073K14CVB/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

1 foot HDMI cable: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DI88XEG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Breadboard 3 pack: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077DN2PS1/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Breadboard Jumper Wires: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GD2BWPY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Resistor Assortment Kit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0792M83JH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

390 OHM resistors: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QK9NFGT/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

SSR relays: https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/G3VM-61A1/Z2100-ND/673290

Rasbperry Pi as a dashboard computer

Here are my raw, unpolished notes on how I set up a raspberry pi to serve as a dashboard display:

Use Raspbian OS

Autostart Chrome in kiosk mode

Eliminate Chrome crash bubble thanks to this post

mkdir -p ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/
nano ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart

Add this line:
@chromium-browser --kiosk --app=<URL>

Mouse removal

sudo apt-get install unclutter

in ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart add

@unclutter -idle 5

Disable screen blank:

in /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf add

xserver-command=X -s 0 -dpms

Open up SSH & VNC

Pi / Preferences / Raspberry Pi Configuration: Interfaces tab

SSH: Enable
VNC: Enable

Increase swap file

sudo nano /etc/dphys-swapfile

Configure NTP

sudo apt-get install openntpd ntpdate
sudo systemctl enable openntpd
sudo ntpdate <IP of NTP server>

edit /etc/openntpd/ntpd.conf and modify servers lines to fit your NTP server

Disable overscan

Pi / Preferences / Raspberry Pi Configuration: System tab
Overscan: Disable

Monitor your servers with phpservermonitor

I have a handful of servers and for years I’ve been wanting to get some sort of monitoring in place. Today I tried out php server monitor and found it was pretty easy to set up and use.


The installation process was pretty straightforward.

  • Install PHP, mysql, and apache
  • Create database, user, password, and access rights for mysql
  • Download .tar.gz and extract to /var/www
  • Configure Apache site file to point to phpservermonitor directory
  • Navigate to the IP / URL of your apache server and run the installation script

The above process is documented fairly well on their website. I configured this to run on my Raspberry Pi 2. This was my process:

Install dependencies:

sudo apt-get install php5 php5-curl php5-mysql mysql-server

Configure mysql:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Create database:

mysql -u root -p
create database phpservermon;
create user 'phpservermon'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
 grant all privileges on phpservermon.* TO 'phpservermon'@'localhost'; 
flush privileges;

Extract phpservermon to /var/www and grant permissions

tar zxvf <phpservermon_gzip_filename> -C /var/www
sudo chown -R www-data /var/www/*

Configure php:

sudo vim /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini
#uncomment date.timezone and set your timezone
date.timezone = "America/Boise"

Configure apache:

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/default /etc/apache2/sites-available/phpservermon

#Modify /etc/apache2/sites-available/phpservermon server root to point to directory above, also add a ServerName if desired

sudo a2ensite phpservermon
sudo service apache2 reload

Configure cron (I have it check every minute but you can configure whatever you like)

*/1 * * * * /usr/bin/php /var/www/phpservermon/cron/status.cron.php

Navigate to the web address you’ve configured in apache and follow the wizard.

It’s pretty simple but it works! A nice php application to monitor websites and services.