Configuring Multiple Raspberry Pis

You’re welcome Howard. Unfortunately the pi0w is not strong enough to operate as a desktop computer or it would be even more useful.

The cheapest place to source screens I have seen is always but it may take some time and the quality varies. I am starting to look into this problem more so I’ll let you know if I find a good solution.



I downloaded the Static image and loaded the modules via a 3B+ and moved the microsd to the PI 0. I had 4 devices connected with 10 videos between the KAOS and Haiti Futur and a few books pulled and it works well.


This is a great file for the PI 0 W.
This will help us reach smaller schools and those that do not have the secure structure to leave bigger equipment, not to mention the small amount of power it takes to run one of these.

@SHOMI, I haven’t had a chance to test with more than two devices so that’s great news!

I agree about the plus sides of the 0W model and I really hope it is useful for those smaller deployments. When I started working on Raspbian Stretch support it was with the goal of running RACHEL on the pi 0w so it’s nice to see it properly supported now. The fact that it’s so cheap ( it should be $5USD but the price is double or more in most places ) means it’s easier to supply and replace.

I am looking more at hardware now. Mostly seeing if there’s a good way to use cheaper LCD panels with the pi as a desktop. If you have any suggestions or notes from your experience I’d be happy to hear it.


Hi Don,@shomi
Looks like we are on a roll. I have just had 6 laptops running the Bino Fino videos off a Pi Zero as @jamesk said setup on a Pi3+ with a 128Gb SD card (SanDisk extreme) and all worked perfectly.
We are off to Siavonga and Monze at the end of May so this will come in very handy.
Kind Regards

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I have also tried the image on the smaller format Pi3A and it works fine including Kolibri.
I still prefer the Pi3B+ because of it’s ethernet port. Oh yes while I’m here you might like to know that I have tried it on the Pi3b+ with the power over ethernet hat and that works fine too.

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Very interesting Howard! I’m happy to hear these images are working on different hardware in different configurations. I haven’t tried the Pi3A yet. I’ll have to pick one up and try it.

The latest images and readmes are hosted on the FTP now thanks to @jeremy’s help. The links have been updated in the main post but if you go to the ftp they’re in the /rachelpi_64EN/rachelpi_2019/ folder.

I’ve been looking more at monitor alternatives and I think using LCD panels with a single board computer is the way to go for low power consumption. Something like this project called pinebook which charges from 5v and can run from a power bank.


Thanks James. This looks really amazing, I’m going to buy one just to see if it’s real :slight_smile:

You’re welcome Howard. It’s worth it to try and see but I would keep expectations low haha. I’m looking at ways to do this myself with other boards. I’ll let you know if it works out.


@jamesk I’m happy to hear that you are looking at other boards. I’ve got two ODROID HC1 unused. Bought them because they support HDD/SSD upto 12TB. Massive. They don’t boot from the HDD but like the pi’s they just need the equivalent of bootcode.bin and they can happily run of the disk drives. I currently run a media server of the HC2 with a 4TB HDD and the performance has been impressive. Sadly they don’t have in built WiFi so you’d have to source a USB Wi-Fi that can support AP mode. That can be very tricky but with appropriate sourcing it is a lovely device. Down side is that it doesn’t run of a powerbank as the HC1 requires minimum of 4A while the HC2 requires a 12v 2A source. I recently acquired one of these powerbanks that can be used to jump start a vehicle which output 12v 200A. It has been more than sufficient running the HC2 providing all day power on a full charge. I’d be glad if you considered this board or at least provide a walk through on how you get the pi images done. I’m techy enough to run through an Ubuntu command line setting things up

Hi again @airsay,

The ODROID boards are certainly interesting. I’m looking at boards that have MIPI DSI for LCD panels to bring the cost and power consumption of the computer lab side of things way down and hopefully without any extra hardware. This is a bit of a mess with the Raspberry Pi’s DSI so I think other boards might be the solution. None of the ODROID boards seem to have it. The ODROID-C2 is labeled as having DSI on their site, but I don’t see it on the board itself so I’m looking at the ASUS Tinkerboard and the Pine A64 boards. Availability and price are also a factor and the fact that the Pine boards are used in the Pinebook which has the same setup I want is a good sign.

They both run the Armbian OS which is available at the the armbian site here and the odroid boards are all on there as well as some other great boards like the banana pi. Supporting Armbian will mean supporting all of those boards. It’s based off of Debian and ubuntu so it shouldn’t be too hard to modify the current script. I have made an Ubuntu installer recently just installing RACHEL in a VM on desktop and it only needed minor changes. The main problem comes with the wifi adapter used, as you mentioned, and issues with the settings in hostapd.conf. It wasn’t too hard to get running but supporting a variable number of configurations is hard to plan for. I’ll have to separate the Wifi related installer code to help with that. I have recently updated the Raspbian Stretch installer on github here. You can try running one of those commands to see what happens but I suspect it will fail. If you try Armbian I have no idea what will happen. Ubuntu has php at 7.2 so you might need to change php_version to 7.2. It also has dnsmasq-base or something by default among other issues with overlaping packages. You will definitely have issues with the hostapd stuff as well. The raspbian_stretch installer uses the content shell from github right now which I don’t have access to for a raspbian_stretch branch so if it does somehow work you’ll need to take /var/www from a rachel-pi image to replace it. I will see if my ubuntu installer still works and give it to you if it does but if i get the boards before then I will probably focus on Armbian.

The Pi is a special case where it’s the most popular board and there are no extra steps for wifi across models or using the adapter. Making images for other people to use takes quite a bit of time and I’m not sure if a generic Armbian image would work, but it’s something I’ll consider. It will definitely be a different process outside of Raspbian. For the pi images I run the installer and make sure everything is running. Then I go through and remove extra packages and disable things in the system that aren’t being used that Raspbian has running by default. Those steps are left out of the installer as it might not always work or be the same. I will update you when I get the boards and try Armbian.


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We work with a group here that ships a container to Haiti a couple times a year. I gave the lady a PI 0 W loaded with French and English material that she can take to Haiti in a couple of weeks when she gets the container. She is pretty excited to take this along to the small village school she is part of. She likes that it is small, easy to power and soo much content for them to start with.

I was also speaking with a few folks from the team I work with in Haiti that are already using the PI’s and Rachel on the 3B+. They are excited to try PI 0 out and use it for demonstrations and small school settings. Being able to do this for $20 can make a big difference in these small schools and provide them something to start with.

The teacher of the class I put in says the kids are loving the computers and in the pictures I receive, I see a lot of smiles. For the most part the teachers are enjoying the class and have been using it to assist in lesson and assignment planning. A couple are still hesitant, but that is to be expected.

Again a big thanks to you and the World Possible team.

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@SHOMI that is great! I didn’t expect to hear about a deployment of the pi 0 w any time soon. I really hope that it is useful to them and that it can bring RACHEL to more schools and remote areas. If the local group or the team in Haiti you work with have any suggestions on improvements or things they need please let me know.

Thank you for the update on your deployment as well. I love hearing about the impact this is having. You’re doing amazing work.


Hi @airsay

I got an ASUS Tinker Board S today and fixed up the installer for Armbian Stretch. There were only a few changes to the installer and 1 file necessary. The Tinker Board works as a RACHEL device now with the built-in WIFI. I guess it’s a RACHEL-Tinker? I think this installer will work for you on other boards if you have a wifi adapter installed and use Armbian Stretch. I’ll write out the instructions and

  1. Download the installer and unzip it.
  2. Download Armbian Stretch for your device here and flash it to your device.
  3. Boot up and log in with the username “root” and password “1234” then change your root password
  4. It will then prompt you to create a new user and password. Name the user “pi” and the password “rachel” for now. You can skip the detailed user information after
  5. Put the armbian_stretch folder onto your device.
  • You can put it on a USB drive and use the following commands to mount it
    sudo mkdir /media/usb
    Find your device which should be “sda1”
    sudo mount /dev/sda1 /media/usb -o uid=pi,gid=pi
  1. cd into the armbian_stretch directory. If using usb that’s cd /media/usb/armbian_stretch

  2. Run the installer with switches. The content shell I included has the version set up for kolibri. This is what I suggest.

    sudo python --kolibri-user --share-internet --no-ka-lite

It should install RACHEL and reboot the device unless there’s an issue with wifi. I hope that works for your ODROID boards.



I had not planned to start with the PI 0 yet, but the shipping contact here is leaving in 3 weeks. We had spoken in the past about my other setup and she is very interested with it. Seeing where they are, they have very limited resources and very little power. She was interested in trying this out on her trip as a test and if it is working ok, leave it there with a couple of spare SD cards.

I plan on getting a Renogy 10w panel and small palm sized agm to use with the Zero to test out for instances like this where a lot of other options are hard to start out with.

I also bought a micro usb to rj-45 ethernet adapter. Plugable USB 2.0 OTG Micro-USB to 10/100 fast Eth adapter for $13. It started working as soon as the PI 0 loaded. From here you can log straight in and load the modules.


It sounds like the timing worked out well. Do you know what they will use to connect to the RACHEL-Pi? Maybe a cheap tablet or phone? A whole portable package where you can carry a RACHEL-Pi, a battery bank with a solar panel, and a SBC with display or a tablet that all charge off of them would be great.

I looked at other lower end devices for portability and had a static RACHEL running off of one of these travel routers here but the ram is 128mb which is low compared to the pi0w so it didn’t seem necessary. It did make think about RACHEL on the Ravpower FileHub. It’s a power bank that has wifi built in and an SD card slot that could run a static RACHEL. I’m not sure if that would help with these deployments or not.

The adapter is a great quick solution to the pi0w internet problem. It’s great that it works out of the box. I’ve been working on an experimental version of RACHEL off and on. It has new admin functions and switching between access point and client mode so that modules can be installed over wifi instead of ethernet is something I’m trying to support so hopefully adapters won’t be necessary for the 0w in the future. If you haven’t tried it, you can use a USB OTG cable to boot from USB with the 0w. You just need to put bootcode.bin on a small MicroSD card for it to work. Might be useful.


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I know there are some cell phones and tablets to use. I am just looking at it from the standpoint of not using any power they have, but to make it self sufficient from the start. This will also allow me to get some feedback before my trip in August.

The feedback I get on the PI 0 with the portable solar panel and battery will help us plan for August. We have a soccer team(s) with about 75 kids that go to a couple of different schools near the field. We would like to be able to start the schools off with a basic setup to use and build out over time as we asses the needs and obtain funding. If it turns out they would be a good fit for the class I installed in January, we can always move the smaller equipment to another location.

I am using Linksys E2500 routers much like the PI’s. I only need an image to load with a few adjustments to be up and running.

The funny thing is, is that this is not full home automation or rocket science, but the actual impact of what it will accomplish is truely amazing and hopefully life changing for some.


I look forward to an update on how this goes. That’s a good point that once a school has tested out the basic setup they can be upgraded and the other equipment moved to another school to start out. 75 students across multiple schools is a big undertaking. This will be amazing for them.

Do you have a price target for each computer that connects to RACHEL?

If you’re looking for more Pi0w boards you can get one for $5 at Micro Center here when you pick up at the store if there’s one near you. That’s the price at 1 per person but it’s the lowest I’ve ever seen it.

What World Possible have made available with RACHEL is incredible as are the people deploying and working with students.


The Haitian student will be traveling back to Haiti in early July. He will visit a few smaller schools that he knows and can meet with them in the summer and introduce them to PI Zero RACHEL.

We are lucky to have a local company donate 80 monitors as well as keyboards and mice. With the donations, I am able to build a PI 3B+ desktop for roughly $50 each. Some of the schools may only have an office that is secure, so it would need to be portable to lock up or setup there.

I’ve heard several people state if we mainly used tablets, they probably wouldn’t use them much, even if they are equal power to a desktop. They see the desktop as a real tool, and a tablet as more of a toy. The PC has the keyboard, office and a bigger screen. It would more emulate what they would see in business. I would like to dig deeper into the power requirements of charging several tablets .vs a desktop. I can see tablets being a good tool for teachers to use on RACHEL in the class.

I buy the PI’s from Micro Center since its close. At least I have time to get what I need for deployment as well as some on hand spares at $5 each trip.


I am interested to see what kind of low power screens you find for the PI’s. The free 19" that were donated are great but also caused a little panic as I started looking at the power consumed. I found that at least 50% settings was a huge power savings which really helped make it work. The Kill-A-Watt meter has been a good tool.

We have not setup a computer lab except for schools with grid power. Even then the cost of paying for the power is too much for the community. So we use solar, with laptops, older Fujitsu Lifebook S7210, with 250Gb SSD. We can charge 7 of them overnight with our solar solution. We also provide a good projector and of course the Raspberry Pi with both RACHEL and Kolibri.
Each visit we do a lot of training in ICT and Computer maintenance as well as cross-curricular use of technology.
This visit, the end of May, we are going to Audit the work we have done and submit that to The Waterloo Foundation, who have funded a lot of what we do. We also get funding from the people of Wales via Hub Cymru Africa, a development wing of the Welsh Government.
I’ll let you have a copy of what we find in early August.
Kind Regards

The screens we originally tried were the 7inch type similar the the official Pi screens. They were not really clear enough or robust enough for the kids to use.
I would use laptops or notebooks if it were not for the cost.
Kind Regards

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