Raspberry Pi Setup to monitor Aurora PVI-5000 Solar Inverter – Part 1

Click here to read Part 2 of this setup guide.

Click here to read Part 3 of this setup guide.

This post is meant to provide additional information to the excellent work done by Whirlpool Forums user ‘goldiexxxx’ and the guides he has published. For full info and details see http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1965598 and http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2116394

NB: these instructions might be help to anyone else who is running on Mac OS X

Visit the main Raspberry Pi website for additional information: http://www.raspberrypi.org/

Purchase your Raspberry Pi from:

I bought the Raspberry Pi Model B. It had all the basics for getting up and running. At the time of writing it cost AUD$159. http://www.buyraspberrypi.com.au/shop/raspberry-pi-hubwifi-package/

Raspberry Pi Kit

Raspberry Pi Kit – There is also a network cable included in the kit, but isn’t shown in this photo.

The good thing about purchasing your Pi from AusPi Technologies Australia is that your SD card will come preconfigured with Raspbian Linux. So when you receive your package simply plug it all together and boot her up.

For the purposes of this guide though, I’ll run through the steps to configuring the operating system on your SD card if you are starting from scratch (see my other post on the missing operating system!)

Download Raspbian (Wheezy) Image

Visit the Raspbian Pi downloads page and scroll down to the Raspbian section. Click the link to download the Raspbian Wheezy .zip file. This will be the latest version. It should be approximately 530MB in size.

Also take note of the ‘Raw Images’ section just above the wheezy download link, as this has the links to the tools you will need to format the OS image on your SD card. As this guide is for Mac users here is the link with all the info you need for Mac OS X. I used the command line option 1.

Copy the Raspbian Image to your SD Card

Insert your SD card into the USB card reader and then plug it into your Mac.

SD Card Reader

SD Card Reader

You should see it appear in the Finder app. The name of your card will most probably be different to mine:

SD Card in Mac OS X Finder

SD Card in Mac OS X Finder

Next you want to open a Terminal window, so that you can run the commands from the command line to copy and format the SD Card with the Raspbian OS image.

You can find the Terminal application in the Finder app, under Applications –> Utilities –> Terminal.

Terminal App in Finder

Terminal App in Finder

You will see a new window open:

Terminal Window

Terminal Window

To make things easier, before beginning the command line steps, copy the Raspbian .zip file (most probably from your downloads folder) to your home folder in the Finder application (this is the default folder that the Terminal App will start in when you first open it). In the Finder, double click the .zip file to unzip the OS image file. It may take a little while as it’s quite a large file (1.94GB when unzipped). The image file should have a filename like: 2013-09-10-wheezy-raspbian.img.

Follow the command line option 1 instructions. Be sure to choose the correct disk from the listing, otherwise it could be catastrophic for your system if you accidentally format your main or backup hard disk! Enter your user password when prompted – this is your normal Mac OS login password. If you don’t enter a password when you boot up your computer, try just pressing enter when prompted.

Now go get a coffee, make a sandwich, or even take a nap… this will take a loooong time!! (30-35mins). For some reason if you do this process on Windows using Win32DiskImager it literally only takes a couple of minutes. Go figure! If you have access to a windows machine, this might be a quicker alternative.

Here is the output you should expect to see. Remember, your disk number will be different!

Terminal Output when formatting Raspbian Image on SD Card

Terminal Output when formatting Raspbian Image on SD Card

Close the Terminal window – type exit and then close the window. Go to the Finder App and you should see the formatted SD Card appear in the list of drives, and labeled as simply “boot”.

Formatted Contents of Boot SD Card

Formatted Contents of Boot SD Card

You are now ready to put the SD Card into the Raspberry Pi and boot her up. Eject the disk via the Finder app, and then remove the SD Card reader from the USB port. Lastly transfer it over to the Pi – be sure to put it in the right way! Don’t try to force it either.

Hardware Setup for Boot and Configuration

One of the great benefits of the Raspberry Pi is that you can use it with only 1 power brick, even when hooked up to a keyboard, mouse and LCD monitor etc… This makes it an optimal solution for our Solar Inverter monitoring solution. Here is how I have the cables etc… set up for the next phase of the config:

Desktop Cable Setup

Desktop Cable Setup


Booting the Raspberry Pi for the First Time

Plug the power cable in and you should see the magic start to appear on the screen.

Booting the Raspberry Pi

Booting the Raspberry Pi

You should be greeted by the following “1st Time” configuration screen:

1st Time Boot Configuration Screen

1st Time Boot Configuration Screen

We will need to customise a number of these settings, so we’ll step through them one at a time.

Expand the Filesystem

You will want to do this so that the Raspbian OS can access the entire space on the SD Card. ie. your hard drive. Press enter to select this option. The screen will flash and a message should say that the change will take effect the next time you reboot the system.

Change User Password

You should make a note of the default Username => ‘pi’. You will need this in the future. Likewise, you also want to have a password of your choice (one you will remember). Select this option and confirm. Look to the bottom left of the screen where a command prompt will be waiting for you to enter your new password. Note that the characters you type will NOT be echoed to the screen. Press enter to finish. You will be asked to re-type it again. Press enter again.

Enable Boot to Desktop

For now at least, lets enable booting straight into the desktop environment. Choose this option and press enter. Select “Desktop Login as user ‘pi’ at the graphical desktop”. Press enter again.

Internationalisation Options

We will setup our location, timezone and keyboard configuration here. Select the option and press enter.

Change Locale

Choose “Change Locale” (it might take a while to load them all, so be patient). Choose your locale by scrolling down the list and pressing the space bar to select. You might also need to deselect other options is any are selected by default. For me being in Australia, I chose en_AU.UTF-8 UTF-8. The first ‘en’ means ‘English’ and the ‘AU’ means the ‘Australian’ dialect (for want of a better word). You should choose the UTF-8 option for your locale. If I was in America I would chose en_US.UTF-8. Use the Tab key to move focus to the <OK> button, then press enter to save.

Change Timezone

Choose “Change Timezone” and select your geographic area. For Australia choose ‘Australia’, 🙂 followed by your [nearest] city. For me it is Perth. Press enter to save/confirm.

Change Keyboard Layout

Choose “Change Keyboard Layout”. The Raspberry Pi’s default settings are for UK keyboard. Most keyboards in Australia are Generic 101 US keyboards. Most people can safely choose “Generic 101-key PC” from the list. It will then prompt you for the layout of the keyboard. All the options are for UK keyboards, so choose the “other” option. Then select “English (US)” from the list and press enter. The screen with change again… choose “English (US)” once more and press enter.

If you are asked to choose the AltGr key, just choose “No AltGr key”. Choose “No Compose Key” if offered too. Lastly, choose “Yes” when asked whether to enable the “Ctrl + Alt + Backspace” key combination.

Advanced Options

We’re nearly done…


Select this option to give your Raspberry Pi a unique identifying name. I chose the name “solarpi” as I’m using it for my solar inverter monitoring.

SSH – Secure Shell

You will need to enable SSH access so that you can connect and configure the OS without needing to attached all the peripherals – keyboard, mouse, LCD etc…

Finish and Reboot

We are all done… select <Finish> and press enter. Use the Tab and Arrow keys to move the cursor. You should be asked if you would like to reboot now. Choose Yes.

If you don’t see this and are presented with a command prompt only, you can re-run the config tool by typing:  sudo raspi-config

You can actually re-run the raspi-config command on in an LXTerminal window any time you wish in future. So you can always revisit the settings we have just configured.

Try repeating the “Boot to Desktop” step again, or go to the advanced option and choose the Update option. Then finish again. You should be asked to reboot.

If everything is working correctly you see the following screen with the graphical desktop environment loaded:

Raspbian Desktop GUI

Raspbian Desktop GUI

Congratulations! You’re all setup and ready to start installing the various apps and software on your Raspberry Pi to talk to your Aurora Interver.

Click here to continue to Part 2.