Remote Login For Turnkey Devices?

September 17th, 2022
jammer, tech
I run my rhythm stage setup on a Raspberry Pi. Mostly this works well: I plug it in, my code and init scripts bring everything up in the right order, in about a minute it's taking in audio and MIDI and putting out audio. If it doesn't work I turn it off and on again and then it does.

As I'm about to head off to play a dance (hi NYC!) with a heavily refactored system that will very likely but not certainly work properly, I'm thinking about what I might do if it needs tweaking. I've had one issue so far, where an SD card stopped working, and now I travel with a spare prepared SD card. For other potential breakages I have spare equipment where I could swap things around, but only if I make code changes. Writing the code to be smart enough to understand every way I might repatch it in response to failure would be possible, but a huge amount of work.

When I'm home playing with things this is easy: the Pi is on my network, I ssh in. But what about when I'm at a gig? I want an easy way to log in. What are my options?

  • Keyboard (usb) and monitor (HDMI). This will definitely work, but since I wouldn't want to travel with a monitor I'd be reliant on finding someone who was willing to let me use theirs. And in a "get to the hall early, set up, something's broken, need to tweak" or a "dance weekend in the woods" scenario there probably isn't anything. People do make tiny monitors ($60), generally marketed for Raspberry Pis, but that's a bit expensive and with a keyboard is also bigger than ideal.

  • Ethernet. Ethernet adapter on my Mac, which I already have, into ethernet on the Pi. You don't need a crossover cable for this sort of thing anymore: they'll just detect automatically. The steps aren't too bad:

    • System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing > USB 10/100/1000 LAN.
    • Run ifconfig: Should see bridge100 listed, probably says ip is 192.168.2.1.
    • Connect Pi to ethernet and power on.
    • ssh pi@192.168.2.2.
    This would be ideal, except it only works if the Mac has WiFi. Which is super frustrating, since I really would like a setup that works even when there's no internet connection to share.
  • RS232 (serial). A USB-to-serial adapter on each end ($10, male, $11, female) and they should be able to talk RS232 to each other. You can even get a single cable that does both ($18), which looks like a forbidden USB-A to USB-A cable. A bit more annoying to set up on both ends, but once you do it should be very reliable and ideal for command-line login. Kind of obsolete though.

I'm currently leaning towards serial; other options I should consider?

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