Week 4 – PiStar Setup Part 1 of 2

This week, I began the installation and configuration of the Pi-Star software on a Raspberry Pi 3B. In this post I will walk you through step by step, how to image the microSD card. I will also discuss setting up a home WiFi Network. In the next post, I’ll talk about configuring the basics of PiStar including enterprise WiFi networks and hashing the WiFi passwords.

First you’ll need the following:

  • Pi-Star Software – You’ll want to download the one for the RPi
  • WiFi (wpa_supplicant) Configuration File (basic USA file can be found here)
  • Blank microSD Card – Class 10/UHS-1 – backup data first if needed
  • MicroSD to SD Card Adapter (Optional – depends on your PC)
  • Raspberry Pi 3B
  • Raspberry Pi Power Supply of 2 amps or greater
  • PC with SD Card or MicroSD Card reader/writer
  • SD Card Imaging Tool (Etcher, Apple Pi Baker, Win32DiskImager)

Tutorial

Download the Files

  1. The first step is to download the Pi-Star software using the link in the list of parts. At the time of this writing, the version for the Raspberry Pi is “Pi-Star_RPi_V3.4.16_10-Aug-2018.zip”
  2. Download the wpa_supplicant.conf file. If it opens as a web page, simply copy the contents of the file and paste it into Notepad or Text Edit and save as “wpa_supplicant.conf” without quotes.
    1. In the file, replace the capitalized “SSID” with your network name.
    2. Next in the file, replace the capitalized “PSK” with your network password.
    3. Save the file making sure that the filename is wpa_supplicant.conf.

Imaging the microSD Card

  1. First, we’ll download an SD card imaging tool. For general imaging uses, I like to use a software called Etcher, which is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. If you need to backup an SD Card, I use a tool for Mac called Apple Pi Baker. You can also use this tool to image SD Cards and it allows you to backup/restore an SD card to/frome a compressed file (.zip, .gzip, .7zip, etc). For Windows there is a program called Win32DiskImager which will allow you to backup or image an SD card in the uncompressed “.img” format. In this tutorial, I’ll use Apple Pi Baker on a MacOS PC.
  2. I’m not going to cover backing up the SD card in this tutorial, but if you have anything on your card that you want to save, be sure you have backed it up first as the following steps will ERASE everything on the card.
  3. First insert the microSD card into the SD card adapter and insert the adapter into your computer. Be sure the switch (if any) on the adapter is in the up position to allow the computer to write to the card.
  4. Next, go to the folder you downloaded Pi-Star into and double click the .zip file to extract its contents. It will be a folder that is extracted.
  5. Double click the folder to enter it and make sure there is a file around 2.5-3gb in size named with a “.img” extension.
  6. Next open Apple Pi Baker and enter your administrator password if prompted. The admin password is required to allow the app to write directly to the SD card device.
  7. Next you should see a screen that looks like this:
  8. Select your SD card in the box under Pi-Crust. Mine isn’t shown in the photo above because it wasn’t inserted when I opened Pi Baker. Just click the green refresh button to the top right of the white box and it should show up.
  9. Be 100% sure you’ve selected the correct SD Card/drive in the Pi-Crust Section. If you have other SD cards or flash drives inserted they may show up as well. SELECT THE CORRECT DRIVE. ALL DATA ON THE SELECTED DRIVE WILL BE ERASED.
  10. Under Pi-Ingredients, click the 3 dots button and find the Pi-Star .img file we found in step five.
  11. Uncheck the “Auto eject after successful restore” checkbox.
  12. Next after you are certain you have everything set correctly and have selected the correct SD card, you’ll click “Restore Backup” in the Pi-Ingredients Section.
  13. You should see a screen like this:
  14. Wait until you get the notification that the process is complete and then you can close Pi-Baker.

Setting Up HOME WiFi

  1. Open Finder or My Computer (This PC) and locate the wpa_supplicant.conf file you edited previously.
  2. Copy the file by right clicking the file and left clicking copy.
  3. Navigate to the SD card which should be labeled “Boot”.
  4. Paste the copied wpa_supplicant.conf file by right clicking in the space free of any files and click paste or just press CTRL+V (Windows) or CMD+V (macOS) to paste the file.
  5. Close Finder or Windows Explorer.
  6. Eject or Safely Remove the SD card. On macOS, drag the SD card to the trash bin or click the eject button next to it in Finder. On Windows, in My Computer or This PC, right click the SD card and click “eject.”

First Boot

  1. Insert the MicroSD card into the Raspberry Pi and plug in the power cord.
  2. The LED on the Pi should light up red, with a flashing green LED next to it.
  3. Wait a few minutes as the Pi will load the WiFi configuration and reboot.
  4. From your PC, connected to the same WiFi network you setup the Pi on, open your web browser and go to one of the following sites:
    1. http://pi-star/  (Windows)
    2. http://pi-star.local (macOS)
  5. Verify that you see something similar to the following:
  6. I’ll continue the setup in the following post: https://n3tdm.tdmorris.com/week-5-setup-part-2

Author: Tyler Morris

I am a senior computer information systems and technology student at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. I am currently pursuing a B.S. in CIST with a minor in Digital Graphic Design. My focus is on computer repair and web design. After completing my undergraduate degree in CIST, my plan is to attend graduate school for a masters in social work.

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