Accessing the eRVin Raspberry Pi Desktop
eRVin runs on a Raspberry Pi microcomputer. In some instances it is useful to connect directly to the Raspberry Pi (RPi) to accomplish specific tasks, for instance installing a new program or doing some updates. Sometimes it is just a desire to explore what is happening behind the scenes. If you have no interest in those sort of things this post isn’t for you, otherwise read on for detailed instructions on how to get a peek “under the hood” of your RPi.
The eRVin RPi system is “headless”, that is, it has no keyboard, mouse or monitor, however it has been configured to allow “virtual” connections from another device like a Windows PC or Mac.
The eRVin RPi has a remote screen sharing utility called Real VNC. Real VNC has a Server component pre-installed on the eRVin RPi and a free Viewer component that runs on your Mac or PC (as well as some other devices).
Sorry, Coachproxy owners will not be able to connect to their Coachproxy RPi this way because the OS employed is the ‘lite’ version and does not have the VNC Server or the Graphical Desktop interface installed.
Installing and running the RealVNC Viewer on a Mac or PC will allow full access to the Raspberry Pi using the mouse/keyboard/monitor on your PC or Mac. It is even possible to connect to your RPi from anywhere via the cloud! Very cool and very convenient. Below is an example window on my PC that is actually the eRVin RPi desktop.
The above image is representation of the RPi Desktop GUI (Graphical User Interface). The window with the white background provides point and click access to the file system, very similar to Windows. The window with the black background is a terminal or command line window, this provides access to the full Linux environment and requires typing commands – note there are some things in Linux that can only be done from the command line. Note the WiFi and Bluetooth icons in the upper right corner.
So let’s get started!
How to access the eRVin RPi Desktop:
- Install VNC Viewer on your Mac, PC (or other system). A system with a relatively large screen, keyboard and mouse is recommended for best results. Ensure your Mac or PC and the eRVin RPi are connected to the same local network.
- Open the Viewer application and from the File menu, select New Connection.
- In the VNC Server field, enter the IP address of your eRVin system. You can find this info in the eRVin dashboard in the System tab under Network Information. Alternately you can check the Client list in your router, or use a network scan app like Fing.
- In the Name field, enter any name you like to identify your eRVin device, then click OK. This will save the configuration.
- Now double click on the configuration you just created, you will be prompted to enter the eRVin ID and Password. Unless you have changed it, the eRVin ID is ‘pi’ and the default password is ‘ervin2020’. Check the Remember Password box so you don’t need to type it in next time:
- Click OK and you should be presented with a screen similar to the following – you are connected to your RPi! If your image looks small or low resolution, read on for how to fix that.
This post describes a connectivity prerequisite required to do some other procedures that will be the topic of other posts. Feel free to poke around but do so at your own risk. We don’t suggest making any settings changes or other modifications except for those described below.
The default video resolution may not be adequate or making full use of the capabilities of your PC or Mac. To fix this, click the ‘raspberry’ icon in the upper left corner, then select Preferences, then Raspberry Pi Configuration.
Now click the Display tab. Click Set Resolution and select the best resolution for your screen. You will need to research how to find this info for your device. In my case I am using a Windows 10 laptop that has a screen resolution of 1920×1080. Group 2, Mode 82 is the setting for my laptops 1920×1080 60Hz display. HDMI_MODE at this link provides info about all the possible settings available. If you are using a Mac and don’t know its resolution this info may help.
Change Wifi Network
This is a simple operation that can be done from the WiFi icon in the upper right corner of the display. If you mouse over the WiFi icon without clicking, it displays the adapter status, click it and you will see the local list of available networks as shown below.
Node-Red is the programming environment that a lot of eRVin/Coachproxy is based on. Displaying it’s log is an example of something you can do from the command line. Click the Terminal icon as indicated by the red arrow in the image to the right, this will open a new terminal window. Type node-red-log then hit Enter. This will display any status or error messages that have occurred or will occur in Node-Red. Probably not very informative for you right now, but it will come in handy as your skills develop.
Network Interface Status
Another simple terminal command that will show you the status of all the network interfaces. Open a terminal window and type ifconfig then click Enter. Note the first item displayed is can0, this is the PICAN2 board that communicates with the Firefly RV-C CAN network. The Ethernet interface is eth0 and the WiFi interface is wlan0.
Another command line example, this will only work if you have a GPS antenna attached and will allow you to see if it is working properly. Open another terminal window and simply type gpsmon then hit Enter.
Eventually you will encounter a command that won’t execute because you don’t have permissions. In that case simply precede the command with sudo (and a space) which will execute the command with root permissions.
There are hundreds more commands to learn. Suggest you start with the basics, here are a few links, let me know if you find other good resources.
As mentioned previously, we don’t suggest you do any updates as that could take you out of sync with the standard eRVin images and while unlikely, possibly cause incompatibilities, so right now don’t be tempted to do commands like apt update that are mentioned in several of the resources below.