Coding into the small hours…

So a week or two ago I picked up a Raspberry Pi device with the intention of turing it into a network testing device that I could drop into a network as part of my work. I had the idea that I could plug it into the network, plug it into the mains and it would go off and do its thing, then once it was done I could pick up the results and save myself a lot of time and effort. It would also give me a chance to do some real computer geeking (which I’ve not had much cause to do recently) and learn a bit of Python (which I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

To make things a bit more fun, I also picked up a 20×4 LCD display, with the intention of having it give a status display of what the device was doing at that point in time. Handily, the screen I picked up from Amazon already came with the approrpiate headers soldered onto it (which I should confess I only noticed after going to the bother and expense of picking up all the necessary tools for soldering). The added complication was that nowhere in my immediate area seemed to sell the appropriate connectors to join the screen to the Pi.

So, rather than wasting time waiting for Amazon to deliver more things, I opted to use some M-F jumper cables my housemate had and plug them into the appropriate pin location on a ribbon wire that came with a Pi kit I’d got from Maplin. After some faffing, the screen came to life.

Dodgy Connections

Improvising connections from the Pi to the LCD screen


The next three hours were then spent trying to get some example Python code to work (which succeeded in getting the screen to light up). In frustration at not getting any text to display, I nearly gave up at midnight to get some sleep, until I spotted on the back of the unit something that looked like a screw head. It’s at that point it occured to me that it was probably a brightness or contrast control. Putting it all back together, I discover that the code I’d been using worked the whole time.

You can imagine what happened after that. 4hrs later and the device can now determine what its IP address is, take a stab at the size of the network (I need to look at this bit again…), use NMAP to work out what hosts are alive and then subject them to a port scan (writing the results back to the SD card).

Screen PI

Pi and its new Screen

More to do, but a pretty good start🙂

B

About bryns

Gîc Cymraeg Defnyddiwr Mac Podledwr a ffotograffydd Welsh geek, Mac user, Podcaster and Photographer
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