Today I took my 6 Pi into one of my schools and connected them up to the school Win7 Pro laptops using a direct CAT5 cable and powered them from USB charger batteries.
They all performed fine technically and it was a great success (if I say so myself) :)
[I could only get 5 to work in the lesson as the last SD card imaging took over and hour instead of the usual 15 mins but that's a separate issue ]
By connecting them direct to laptops via cat5 cable means they didn’t need WiFi adaptors and therefore no configuring of the laptop was needed.
This is because I used this post to set up the Pi to automatically try and use an IP addressing the same range that Windows machines default to (169.254.0.0 to 169.254.255.255).
The reason for doing it this way is that I only have 1 school left with pupil desktop machines – all the rest use laptops/net-books/IPads so there is no chance of plugin any Pi into any monitors/main network ports.
The Pi are also set up to be SIDs and therefore for the pupils to get controlling the addon boards plugged into them (mixture of PiDie,Pibrella,PiStep and Ladderboards) all they had to do was run the Handshake.py program (which I’ve wrapped up into a windows .exe file), saved it to a network folder and stuck a shortcut toit on the desktop.
Once they’d handshaked with SID running on their Pi, They simply loaded their normal Windows Scratch 1.4 and loaded in a basic script to switch all the LEDs off and On to test that everythgin was working.
From the start of a 1 hours lesson (and considering this was the first time we’d done it) 3 out of the 5 groups (only a 15 intake class luckily) had got a full Traffic Light – Green/Amber/Red/Red and Amber/Green sequence going.
All the AddOns responded to LED1..n On/Off commands except for the PiStep (as its normally used as a stepper) and that group needed to use Pin11,12 and 13 and it meant separate instructions for them so better to make sure all boards can respond to same commands of make sure individual help-sheets for each board are printed out.
Once group didn’t push their CAT5 cable in until it clicked (obviously as a tech I knew this and didn’t bother telling them – so I’ll make sure that’s in the instructions next time)
Also, I’m going to make a tick sheet of plug in sequence just to make sure its all done in a good order.
Laptop on and logged in, cat 4 plugged into laptop,cat 5 into Pi, power lead into Pi (this is the fiddly bit they found) and then power lead into battery supply.