New Raspberry Pi! Setup Attempt No. 1


NOTE: This is a dead end article! I went down one path and then realized I needed to backtrack and go down a different one. Click here for the version that goes all the way through to completion.

I got a new Raspberry Pi! I’m using it for a new project to create time lapse videos. Here’s my step-by-step for getting it to work.

I decided to name my Raspberry Pi. Its name is Pi.

Project Description

Ultimate goal: Pi will take photos at a regular interval, send the images to an AWS S3 bucket, and periodically assemble the images into time-lapse videos. Separately, Pi will run a web server which hosts an API for delivering the images to a static website.

Get The Gear

I bought the following from from The Pi Hut:

Why a case? Pi will be in the window, so I went for some extra heat/sun protection. Not sure this is entirely necessary but it’s also pretty 😋

There are other Raspberry Pi vendors out there, including Amazon (affiliate link), and vendors based in other countries if you’re not in the UK. Shop around for prices.

I wanted a bigger SD card to store a lot of images so I bought one on Amazon as the pricing was better:

I already had the following (these are affiliate links):

Lesson learned: for the initial setup you either need a wired keyboard & mouse, or you need to forgo these peripherals all together and use a different installation method. That’s what I ended up doing in the updated version of this post


Before plugging in the power or software, I assembled the camera & case.

Camera goes first while there’s still easy access to the camera port. This YouTube video demonstrates inserting the camera cable.

Then follow the case instructions and use a mini screwdriver to lock Pi into the case. Once done, the camera kind of flops around a bit. It does have an adhesive backing, but I’m pretty non-committal and want this to still be sticky later if I use the camera with a different Pi. So I opted to use Blu Tack to adhere the camera to the case.

Finished product:

Raspberry Pi Zero in wooden case with camera attached

Install NOOBS Operating System

Pi needs an operating system…it’s a computer after all. There are a number of options, but the most popular is Raspbian. The most popular for newbies is NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software), which includes Raspbian via a friendly GUI which also lets you easily install a new OS if you manage to break the first one. I think I’ll go with that one.

You can buy an SD card which is Pi-compatible and pre-loaded with an OS. I opted to buy a blank (and bigger) SD card which means I have to format it to work with Pi first.

The docs explain why I need to format it: any card larger than 64GB will be formatted with the exFAT filesystem by default…but Pi isn’t compatible with this, it requires FAT16 or FAT32.

Steps for formatting a micro SD card on my MacBook Pro:

  1. Put the micro SD card in its adapter, then in my laptop
  2. Open the Disk Utility application
  3. SUPER IMPORTANT! Click on the micro SD card from the list of drives
  4. Click ‘Erase’
  5. Select MS-DOS (FAT) for format and give it a new name if you want
  6. Click ‘Erase’
  7. Close Disk Utility but don’t eject the drive yet

Note: You can also format the disk from the command line, or on Windows or Linux

Steps for getting the OS on Pi:

  1. Download the latest full version (not Lite) of NOOBS from the Raspberry Pi Downloads page
  2. Unzip the file
  3. Copy the contents of the extracted .zip onto the SD card drive (not the folder containing the extracted files)
  4. Eject the SD card from the Mac, remove it from the adapter, and put it into Pi
  5. Connect Pi to a power source

DOH! While Pi can connect to a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, you do need a wired USB device for the initial NOOBS setup. I didn’t want to wait to buy one and have it delivered, so I opted for a different installation method and wrote about it here.