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Setup of the controller node



The latest raspbian disables SSH by default so I turned that on and changed the hostname and password.


External disk

As mentioned about this is a USB disk, so it was simply a case of plugging it in and it being detected. I had a problem detecting the old IDE disk so I swapped in a SATA disk I had spare.


I'm not much of a command line guru so I installed gparted a graphical disk utility that I'd used before for repairing problem disks. I formatted the disk with ext4 (as it won't be accessed outside the cluster) and gave it a suitable name. On reboot it was mounted automatically.


I did have to resort to a command prompt to make a new directory and grant permissions to all


sudo mkdir /mnt/external/images/
sudo chmod 777 /mnt/external/images


Sharing software

Samba Server

The software for sharing files on a LAN is called Samba. The setup is quite detailed so I followed the steps in Peter Legierski's blog post below. In summary the steps are, install, set password, configure samba and configure the firewall (iptables).


There are a few differences I needed:


  • the line "security = user" did not exist so had to be added
  • the path in the smb.conf file was changed to  /mnt/external/images
  • restarting the service requires service smbd restart not samba as in Pete's notes
  • iptables did not need configuring it defaults to all access


Samba Client

I checked that I could connect from my windows desktop.


I also configured the Pi to automatically mount the network share. The first step is to make a backup of the configuration.


sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak


Add a mount point

sudo mkdir /mnt/network


Then edit the configuration file to contain the details of what to mount

sudo nano /etc/fstab


I added the following to connect my share to my mount point and to use an external file for credentials

//cluster0/shares /mnt/network cifs credentials=/etc/samba/user,noexec 0 0 


Next create a file with the user account

sudo nano /etc/samba/user

Containing the username (pi) and password from when you setup the Samba share



And finally test it works with

sudo mount -a


I created a file in my folder and checked it could be read over the network with

ls /mnt/network


The ethernet router I was using was configured to give out the same IP addresses as my wifi so I went with Niall McCarroll's suggestion of using static IP addresses. However, I found his suggestion of using /etc/network/interfaces does not work. You need to edit /etc/dhcpcd.conf


interface eth0
static ip_address=
static domain_name_servers=
metric 400


For my controller node, I needed to change the metric of the LAN connection so that it was higher than the default for the Wifi. Otherwise attempts to reach the internet were routed to the internal router. I also needed to add the DNS entry so that commands such as apt-get still work.


My /etc/hosts file was   cluster0   cluster1   cluster2   cluster3


Finally I tested the configuration with a reboot and



What's next

The network and disk has taken me a bit longer than anticipated so there will be another part where I setup the nodes. This will likely follow the guidance of Niall McCarroll. I'll also need to get the nodes rendering from the shared drive.



GParted -- A free application for graphically managing disk device partitions

Mount an external hard disk on the Raspberry Pi

Building a Raspberry Pi mini cluster - part 1

Raspberry Pi [Part 2]: External drives, Samba and SFTP | - blog by Peter Legierski

Cannot restart samba, samba.service is masked - Ask Ubuntu

Samba Guide

Samba Client Guide

PiHut - connecting to network storage at boot

Internal and External IP Addresses

Morning all!


I'm working on a little Pi Project, and I'd like to get your input on logistics or and ideas you might have to make it easier/better.


Basically, I'd like to have a device that can run Retropie with dedicated gaming buttons, and also run an Andrid like tablet operating system.


The idea is that I have a custom Tablet case with a touchscreen, and inside there will be 2 Raspberry Pi units, one of them running RetroPie, and one running Android or an alternative. I'd like it to have one Power button, with a toggle switch to choose between the two systems.


The RetroPie system will be hooked up to some buttons/joysticks for gaming, and the Android tablet will be hooked up to a home button. Ideally there would be a shared Battery for both units in the middle behind the screen, or 2 separate ones if that's easier to set up. I'd like to have a USB port for both units for file transfer, and for multiplayer on the Retropie, and ideally an HDMI out for use with a monitor.


I've made a little mockup to demonstrate what I mean, or roughly what I'd like it to look like, if you can see any problems or potential issues with the design, features, or the concept as a whole, let me know! I'm interested to see what you guys think!






Following a discussion from DABs review of the Bitscope Blade Uno, I thought it was worth quickly mentioning the different sockets and pins you get on the bays of the blade.



Socket for Pi

This is a standard 2mm x 40 way socket for mounting the Raspberry Pi, it will fit all of the 40pin Pi including the zero.

Aux Power

This a 3 pin header with Gnd, +5v and Gnd. The power is aways on when there is power to the blade.


Power control

This is a 2x2 header with a jumper connecting +5v with the Pi sockets for 5v power. You can remove the jumper to disable the socket or attach a switch or relay. The other 2 pins are GND and GP21. This means that you could wire up a shutdown button to all of the Pi to be controlled either from a master controller e.g. the Pi in Bay one or an external switch. It might have been nice if Bitscope had provided a bit more information about what you might do with this connector as per the examples you see for some of the Pi UPSs.


Hub Connector

This is a cut-down version of the GPIO header on the pi, it is a right angle male connector on the bottom of the board. There are 26pins broken out including serial, I2C and some GPIO. So you could potentially wire these up to a custom board or across to a Pi accessory board. It does not include the Eprom pins needed for true HATs to work correctly.



Here's a video I put together to explain how to ssh into retropie from another computer running ubuntu. This allows you to transfer games, or whatever files you want to any folders on your Raspberry pi 3. I kept the video short and to the pont, let me know what you think. How can I make it better? Thanks for checking it out!


Retro Computer Pi

Posted by toukomputer Jan 3, 2017



My name is Xavi Lazaro and I live in Barcelona - Spain. As a fan of 80's computers I always dreamed to be in that garage era where one could build his own micro computer using some sort of kit and letting your imagination flow...


... So this was the idea, to build having fun an old looking computer as seen 30 years ago!

But, history says that you need a partner to end computer business with success so what better than my daughter Iris.


Hi I am Iris! Why did I take part in the making of the TOUKOMPUTER? I remember when I was like seven or eight, when my dad started showing me the world of retro computers. At first it seemed a little boring: why focus on old machines when you have brand new PCs and gaming consoles with a way more possibilities? But as I grew up, I started to think in the ''how'', more than in the ''what'' of Spectrums, Commodores, Amstrads... How could people make games in the 80's without any programmation platforms? Coding drew my attention. So I though it would be great to build one of that computers with my dad, learning new things about tech and about designing a machine!




The first thing was to imagine and draw an old computer design:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (1).jpg


After some thinking design this ended up using Corel Draw,


IDEAS Retro Computer PI TKO.jpg


we chose this one as the final design:


Corel Design Retro Computer PI TKO.jpg





The goal was to have a retro style computer that featured all the connections needed to be a standalone machine, also with a Cartridge Port as seen in multiple 8 bit computers. This will be of great help to change between "ROMS" in this case SD OS Cards.

It had to have enough power to run some retro stuff like emulators and 8 bits old systems. So, the use of a Raspberry Pi 3 as a core was the better option..  We have in mind to have one OS card booting in some version of BASIC as the old ones, and we found  a project called FUZE for raspberry with a BASIC emulator, so what more do we need?

It was important to be able to use this system with old VGA monitors and also with new HDMI Screens.

The machine had to be compact and portable (from room to room at least...) but always with an old flavour.



A good work isn't it??? So....Let's begin!




Then it was time to acquire some materials, but with an idea of not spend so much and to recycle as much as possible.


  • A Raspberry Pi 3:  bought in Amazon/Element14
  • Plywood wood, wood glue, fretsaws blades, wood screws: bought in a Hardware Store
  • Ugreen®  HDMI extension cord male to female High Speed, Raspberry PI 3 compatible:  bought in Amazon
  • Aukru - Heat Sinks for Raspberry Pi (aluminium, 3 units), color silver:  bought in Amazon
  • MicroSD to SD adaptador extensor flexible/SD rs-mmc/SDHC/MMC:  bought in Amazon
  • VicTsing Cable HDMI to VGA Adaptor 1080P with Audio and DC/5Vin:  bought in Amazon
  • 4x Kingston SDC10G2/16GB - microSD card 16GB (class 10 UHS-I 45MB/s) with SD adapter:  bought in Amazon
  • AC/DC 2A Adaptor - Recycled Material
  • AC Outlet-connector -  Recycled Material
  • Red Led - Recycled Material
  • ON/OFF Switch - Recycled Material
  • Audio Jack female:  bought in an electronic Store
  • Audio Jack male and cable - Recycled Material
  • USB HUB - Recycled Material
  • USB cable extensor- Recycled Material
  • Old PS/2 Keyboard - Recycled Material
  • PS/2 USB converter - Recycled Material






Here we have attached a lot of pictures (maybe too much...) with the object to visualize the building process:


There is no much explanation, the first thing is to build the sides with a desired measure and then use them as reference for the rest of the parts.


There is a little of information for every step:



Sawing sides of 10 mm plywood:

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (2).jpg


Filing sides:

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (3).jpg


This keyboard is to large !!!, let's take an old keyboard and... wait!!!! oh... poor keyboard...!

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (4).jpg



Now it is small and cute and it will fit in the box! Who wants numeric keys????

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (5).JPG


The membrane is respected in order to have a working keyboard...


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (6).JPG


Placing and drawing the keyboard frame:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (7).JPG


Sawing the keyboard frame, Iris is sawing straighter than a saw machine!:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (8).JPG


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (9).JPG


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (10).JPG

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (11).JPG


Having measures again... or it could be too late...


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (12).JPG


Putting together the keyboard's base and sides:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (13).JPG



Filing the differences:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (14).JPG



Now it's perfect!


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (15).JPG



Let's go for the other parts of the box: front, rear and top! The wood is 5mm plywood.


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (16).JPG


All parts showed are sawed and filled:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (17).JPG


All parts mounted provisionally to have and idea....


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (18).JPG


Details of the space inside for fitting the components:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (19).JPG

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (20).JPG

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (21).JPG



Now is time to test the Keyboard and the VGA converter. Please note that this converter needs a 5V DC input to work properly with a Raspberry.


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (22).JPG

:Testing the Keyboard without numeric keypad.  We have put a slice of plastic between membrane and contacts of unused numeric keys to avoid unwanted touch:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (23).JPG



It is time to make the holes for screws, leds and connectors. The back and the base are mounted using screws, this way it will be easy to access inside:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (24).JPG


The cartridge hole, led and the rest of connectors are ready.

The process is done using a small drill and a lot of filing. We have drilled too some holes for ventilation:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (25).JPG



Here the box is glued and prepared with two coats of primer or undercoat paint:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (26).JPG



Now is time to choose Color....Wait...What!? Electric Blue!!!???

Yes dad this is what I want!


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (27).jpg


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (28).jpg



This computer shines!


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (29).JPG



Preparing decals using decal paper and Corel Draw as edition software.

The name of this computer will be... TKO... Please Iris, could you explain why....?


Sure! I have an OC (original character) called Touko, who loves retro computers. She was the main protagonist of a short manga I had in mind. After reaching a deadpoint in the story, I left the idea in a drawer in my mind, which remained closed for two years or so. When my dad told me about the retro computer and that we had to think a name for it, my bulb lighted: Touko (that old oc) + computer = TOUKOMPUTER (TKO)! A (is it really? XP) original name with sense! And I could also make Touko the mascot: tunning the case, making wallpapers, put her in the logo, etc.! (which I never did... sorry)

So that's all the story! Simple, isn't it?


Decals Retro Computer PI TKO.jpg




Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (30).JPG


Logos for the Retro Computer Pi TKO:

Logos Retro Computer PI TKO.jpg


All decals are in place with two coats of matte acrylic varnish to protect them:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (31).JPG



It is time to mount connectors.

Proposed connectors and AC adaptor placement:

Connectors Retro COmputer PI.jpg

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (32).JPG

Some pieces of wood make a support for the large connectors.


There are installed two monitor adaptors, one for VGA and one for HDMI. Unfortunately It will be necessary to open the computer and connect one or the other to the Raspberry Monitor Output in order to choose between them:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (33).JPG



Here we are extending the keyboard caps lock led, this will go directly to the front of the computer box:

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (34).JPG



The Keyboard is glued to the wood and ready to rock!


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (35).JPG


Here we have some external help...

Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (36).JPG



Using two recycled washers we are holding the Raspberry to the computer box connector board:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (37).JPG



Now is time to bring power, here the AC Adaptor is glued to the board, then the 5VDC Output is connected to the on/off switch and finally to the Raspberry DC Input.

AC arriving to the AC outlet is connected to the AC/DC adaptor using a couple of Faston Terminals:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (38).JPG


Here we see also a Power LED, it goes directly to the Raspbeyy PI 5VDC pin and ground respectively, using a 300 Ohm resistor


Also there is a double check in the AC ADAPTOR  to assure that  +5VDC is properly connected to the Raspberry DC Input:


Power Led.jpg



Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (39).JPG



For a properly operation we are Installing Heat Sinks to the Raspberry, 3 in total:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (40).JPG


And with all connected the TKO is a little messy inside.... Observe the SD/MicroSD Adaptor Flat cable: the trick for the frontal cartridge port:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (41).JPG



Ladies and Gentlemen... Let us introduce you the Retro Computer Pi TKO!


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (42).JPG



Computer size compared to a 19 inch monitor and to a Mac Mini...


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (43).JPG


Some more pictures in detail:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (44).JPG



The Cartridge Port is a really good Idea, We have a lot of rooms ready... for OS images ; )

OS ROMS REtro Computer PI TKO.jpg


Photo of the OS Cards:


Retro Computer Pi TKO Cards.jpg




An easy way to change between operating systems (similar to a Nintendo 3DS!):

Retro Computer Pi TKO Cartridge Port.JPG




Look at the connectors at the back side:

At the moment, there is no need for Ethernet port being WIFI the only network connection:


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (46).JPG


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (47).JPG



Look at the speaker out and additional USB Port ( using a USB cable enlargement). An easy way to connect USB devices.


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (45).JPG



The machine is ready to work!


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (48).JPG


Retro Computer - Xavi Iris Lazaro (49).JPG


Using a 27'' HDMI Screen:




Using and old TFT 17'' Monitor:





BASIC in ROM... no... in SD CARD....

Our first program...



So this is all. My daughter and I have enjoyed a lot in the process and we have learn some things, too. It is time to enjoy the system!

Thank you very much for reading!




Xavi Lázaro & Iris Lázaro

Barcelona - Spain 2017

As mentioned it the previous post, I'm building a small render farm for Blender using the Bitscope Blade. I decided to mount all the components on a sheet of wood so that I could pack the whole thing away when I was not using it.




Back in March I put together a kit that turned an ATX power supply into a Benchtop Powersupply  I had another of the same 1U ATX supplies that would work well for this project. I chopped up some extension cables so that I could simply plug the supply into the blade and router. I wired up the "PS-ON" to GND as there's a separate on/off switch that can be used on the back of the supply. I also wired up 2x12v connectors for my router and the cluster. I was slightly thrown as the router was 5.5/2.1mm and the Bitscope Blade was 5.5/2.5mm. The disk was an old IDE one so needed a chunky 4 pin connector, the PSU already supplied that. The spare connectors I just bundled in parallel so they would not get in the way. A couple of 3D printed clamps hold the PSU to the backing board.


External Disk

I had started with a cased disk caddy but realised I also had a simpler one which would allow a bare drive to be used. This should result in the smaller setup. The disk was mounted via some suitably printed brackets.


Each of the pi plugged into a handmade short Ethernet cable and connected to a router. As mentioned in the previous post, one of the challenges of a cluster is managing the software on each node. I'll likely wire the cluster up to my main network for the setup then disconnect it once the software is installed.


The setup is ready for use now so next up is some configuration.


I've put the 3D models into GitHub and will add any scripts and code as they get created.



Makezine - Turn a computer power supply into a bench power supply

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