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  • Writer's pictureJasmine

Raspberry Pi in the NoIR - Part II - format SD cards

If you aren't sure what this post is about, go back to Part I to find out.

First thing, I am using a mac which has in-built Terminal functionality. Modern Windows based laptops have this too, but you need to download it as an app first. That's as much help as I can offer on the Windows OS side.

Any time I am referring to specific code that you should enter in Terminal I will use the > character on the beginning of a new line to indicate this. For example:

> type code here

This means that you would only type the 'type code here' part.

I will try to include pictures where possible.

Format SD card instructions:

Open up your micro SD card. There will be the chip and an adapter.

It helps to label your SD cards if you are using several. Place the card in the adapter and insert into your computer's SD slot.

Download the Raspbian OS zip file for mac. Place the downloaded file on your desktop and unzip. This creates an image file which leads to a 'boot' mount appearing on your desktop.

Open Terminal and type:

> diskutil list

This command will show you all the mounted disks available on your computer. BE VERY CAREFUL. You have the potential to re-format unwanted disks at this point, like your hard drive, for example. You will see something like this on your screen (Note: this is an example only).

You want to look for the /dev/disk number that has a size matching your SD card (~63.9 GB). On my laptop it was /dev/disk3 so I will write the instructions using that, but you can change the number to what is appropriate for your setup.

Next, unmount the SD card

> diskutil unmount /dev/disk3

Copy the OS to the SD card - this requires root privileges on your computer

> sudo dd bs=1 if=/Users/path-to-file/name-of-file of=/dev/disk3 conv=sync

Note: remember to change the path and name of file etc. to what is relevant for your computer and your downloaded file name.

Note: if you get an error message about 'resource busy', you forgot to unmount the disk first.

The transfer will take a few mins. Your terminal screen may look like nothing is happening. This is normal. Leave it alone. Wait for the little box to reappear to let you know Terminal has finished its job.

Now, create an empty ssh file and copy this across to the SD card. This file is necessary for accessing the Pi unit wirelessly later.

> touch ssh.txt

> mv ssh.txt /dev/disk3

Congratulations! You just re-formatted a micro SD card to run the Raspberry Pi operating system. Now eject the SD card safely.

> sudo diskutil eject /dev/disk3

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