Elegant Departure Boards - Troubleshooting Guide

Introduction

The Elegant Departure Board system is more complicated than our typical products, so here's some tips and tricks if you run into issues.

Our first advice is always to check the User Guide and the additional Guide when Using your own Raspberry Pi.

Please note this guide relates to the Raspberry Pi Zero board.  Particularly when it comes to indicator LEDs the larger Pi boards are a little different.  Check this article for information on the differences!

As ever, don't hesitate to Contact Us if you need to!

Symptoms

1. Nothing on the Display

When you power on the Raspberry Pi (by plugging the power cable in) it will boot up and auto-run our custom app.  By default this runs in Fantasy Mode so it doesn't even need Internet Access. The display should show our boot screen and then fantasy data in roughly 15 seconds.

Option 1 : The Display is not wired correctly.

Check the wiring!  There are 8 connections on the rainbow ribbon cable and they have to be 100% correctly connected.  Pull the power, check the documentation, and try again.

Option 2 : The Pi has no power.

Check that the lights on the Pi light up when you first connect the power.  You should see a green light flickering a bit randomly as it boots.  Eventually the flashing stops and it remains a steady green with occasional flickers for activity.

Option 3 : The Micro SD is not connected

If you power on a Pi without the correct Micro SD, it won't be able to boot.  Pull the card out, check there's no dirt obstructing the port, and plug it back into the slot.  If a Pi is powered on with no Micro SD it looks utterly dead - no flashing lights at all.

Option 4 : The Micro SD is corrupted

If the data on the MicroSD has somehow been corrupted, you can download a fresh copy of the latest software and save that to the Micro SD card.  This will however wipe out any customisations you've made and put it back to 'factory default'.

If you can plug a PC monitor into your Pi that will allow you to see it boot up and any errors.  If not you only have the flashing LED on the board.

Normally when plugging the power cable in you'll see the green light flicker pretty fast and a bit randomly up until the board is fully running.  Then the LED will be solid green with the occasional flicker.  However if there is an operating system error there are various repetitive patterns shown in the green LED - they're distinctive and can't be mistaken for random flickering.  There's a full description here - but realistically all mean 'OS or file system is damaged'. 

If that's the case a fresh image is the best option!

You need a USB stick imaging tool - we use Win32 Disk Imager which is free - and the image file.  It's huge - over 4GB - and extracts to 8GB.  

Download the install Win32 Disk Imager app or similar, download and un-zip our image, and then run Win32 Disk Imager from the start menu.  It is very easy - select the file, ensure the correct drive is selected in the 'Device' drop-down, and click 'Write.  It takes 10 minutes on our PC.

2. Errors when trying to use Live Mode

There are three common issues when switching to Live Mode:

Option 1 : No Internet Access

  

Option 2 : Invalid Configuration

 

Option 3 : Invalid API Key

 

 

3. Errors when editing the configuration

Option 1 : Error reading lock file.

When editing the configuration file using SSH or a connected keyboard/mouse it's possible you will see this error.

This occurs when entering the 'sudo nano elegant-departures.py' command.

[ Error reading lock file /home/pi/elegant-departures/.elegant-departures.py.swp: Not enough data read]

There's a couple of possible causes here - and the fact our Departure Board script runs on startup and thus might lock the file is a common one.

The easiest solution if you hit this is the run the following command:

rm /home/pi/elegant-departures/.elegant-departures.py.swp

Then try sudo nano /home/pi/elegant-departures.py once again.

The rm command deletes the temporary (lock) file and allows you to edit the file.  Ensure that after saving your changes you reboot to see the new version.

 

4. The clock is wrong!

This issue deserved its own heading!

Sadly the Raspberry Pi has no battery so it cannot keep an internal clock ticking when unplugged.  As such the clock on a Pi only works when it has Internet access.  This is why Internet access is required for both live data and fantasy modes.

If the clock is not showing the correct time this means one of two things : your Pi has no Internet Access, or your Internet connection is in the wrong time zone!

The first is the most common issue.

The Raspberry Pi can most easily be configured by placing a special file called "wpa_supplicant.conf" onto the Micro SD card before powering it on.  This can also be done any time later, and just requires a reboot to take effect.

The Raspbian operating system reads that file when it boots, absorbs the configuration, and then deletes it.  If you find the file gone, it has been added to the configuration and is a good thing.

Take the Micro SD card that came pre-installed in your Raspberry Pi and connect it to your computer.  We provide a USB to Micro SD adaptor with our full kit.

When plugging in the card you should find a new drive on you computer called 'boot'.  In Windows it will have a drive letter assigned but you'll easily identify it by name.

Open the file titled 'wpa_supplicant' or 'wpa_supplicant.conf' using Notepad or similar.

If the file isn't present then you can download a copy from us and save that to the 'boot' drive instead.  Then open it using Notepad or similar.  Don't try and create it from scratch as it has to be in the correct Unix file format!

You'll find the file contains these lines:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
country=GB
update_config=1
network={
ssid="your wifi network name"
scan_ssid=1
psk="your wifi password"
key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
}

Simply enter your home Wifi network name between the quotes where it says "ssid".  And your home Wifi network password where it says "psk".

If you're outside the UK you should enter your two character country code too, in the Country field.  For the UK it's GB which we have pre-configured.

Save the file and pop the Micro SD back into the Pi. 

Note : if you check the card again you'll find the file has vanished.  It gets used to configure wifi and then automatically deleted - don't worry this is normal behaviour so your wifi key isn't stored on the card!

Reboot the Pi and your internet connection should be working, and the clock will update itself.  It's possible this will happen up to a minute after bootup but once running it'll be Internet-accurate and constantly updated.

5. Anything else?  Let us know!

We've covered the issues we've heard about or could predict.  

If you find something new and challenging let us know so we can help you and others.