# Getting started

This guide describes how to install the Brewblox system on a Raspberry Pi.
The default device for the Brewblox system is the BrewPi Spark. To preview Brewblox, you can use a simulated Spark.

For an explanation of how to combine the various Spark Blocks, see the Brewblox control chains page.

The default configuration uses a single Spark controller. The Multiple Devices guide describes how to get started using more devices.

WARNING

The following Raspberry Pi models are NOT compatible with Brewblox.

  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model A
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi Zero
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W

# What you will need

Always:

  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 minicomputer
  • Raspberry Pi power supply cable
  • MicroSD card
  • MicroSD card reader
  • Wifi network or ethernet cable

When connecting the BrewPi Spark

  • BrewPi Spark
  • Micro-USB to USB cable

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You can also install Brewblox on a Synology NAS, desktop computer, or laptop - as long as it's using Linux.

# Step 1: Format the microSD card

Download the Raspberry Pi Imager

Insert your microSD card in the card reader, and connect the reader to your computer.

Select Raspberry Pi OS Lite (32-bit), and write it to your SD card.

Imager

For more information, see the official Raspberry install guide.

# Step 2: Enable SSH and WiFi

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For Windows users, Lee Bussy created a tool to automate this step.

HeadlessPi

You can download it here. If you get a warning that Microsoft SmartScreen blocked the application, follow these instructions.

After writing the image, your SD card will be recognized by the computer as a removable drive with two partitions. Download this archive and extract the contents into the boot partition.

It contains two files: ssh, and wpa_supplicant.conf.

The ssh file enables SSH, just by being there.

To configure WiFi, open wpa_supplicant.conf in a text editor. The file contents should be:

country=YOUR_COUNTRY_CODE

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

update_config=1

network={
   ssid="YOUR_WIFI_NAME"
   psk="YOUR_WIFI_PASSWORD"
}

Replace YOUR_COUNTRY_CODE, YOUR_WIFI_NAME, and YOUR_WIFI_PASSWORD with the relevant values.

YOUR_COUNTRY_CODE should be the 2-letter acronym of your country (eg. US, GB, DE). You can use this list to look up your country.
YOUR_WIFI_NAME is the name of your WiFi network.
YOUR_WIFI_PASSWORD is the password you use to log in to your WiFi network.

Example file after editing:

country=NL

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

update_config=1

network={
   ssid="The Promised LAN"
   psk="SuperSecret1234"
}

# Getting the IP address of your Pi

We recommend to use the Pi as a headless device: no monitor, no keyboard. Running a desktop environment takes memory and processing power on the Pi, and reduces the reliability of the system.

The UI is viewed in your browser anyway, and you can use SSH to remotely connect to your Pi's terminal.

This requires you to know the address of your Pi. The most reliable approach is to find and use the Pi's IP address.

We like the Fing app (available on both iOS and Android), but you can also use your router's web interface to find the addresses of all connected devices. A tutorial for that can be found here.

# Step 3: Connect to the Raspberry Pi

WARNING

Make sure the power supply is disconnected at this point.

On your desktop computer, you need an SSH client. This is already available on Linux and OSX, but must be installed on Windows.
Popular choices are PuTTY and Git Bash. If you're unfamiliar with SSH, this tutorial might help.

After you installed your SSH client, insert the microSD card into your Pi, and connect the power supply. The Pi will start automatically.

Wait for the Pi to finish starting up, and connect to it using your SSH client.

The default user name is pi, and the default password is raspberry. It is strongly advised to change the password immediately.

# Step 4: Install Brewblox

To execute the commands that follow, copy them and paste them in your SSH client. Trying to type them yourself is frustrating and error prone.

If you use Putty, you can paste the contents of your clipboard with the right mouse button.

First, we have to fix some SSH settings on the Pi. In your SSH terminal, run the following commands (one at a time):

sudo sed -i 's/^AcceptEnv LANG LC/# AcceptEnv LANG LC/g' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
sudo systemctl restart ssh
exit

This will exit your SSH session. That's fine: just open a new one. It will use the changed settings.

In your new SSH terminal, run the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt install -y python3-pip
pip3 install --user setuptools brewblox-ctl
exec $SHELL --login

These commands installed brewblox-ctl, a menu for installing and managing your Brewblox system.
To install a new system, run this command:

brewblox-ctl install

This will walk you through the relevant choices, and then create the Brewblox install directory. By default, ~/brewblox is used as install directory.

# Interlude: Navigating Linux directories

For the next steps, a basic understanding of Linux commands makes things easier. We'll stick to the basics, and assume the default settings on a Raspberry Pi.

After logging in over SSH, you'll see this text in front of your cursor:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $

This is the shell prompt, and it consists of three parts:

  • pi is the current user. pi is the default user for a Raspberry Pi.
  • raspberrypi is the computer host name. Again, raspberrypi is the default.
  • ~ is the current directory.

~ is a special character for the user home directory. When opening a new SSH terminal, you will start in this directory. You can use the pwd command to show the complete path, replacing the special character with directory names.

For example, on a Raspberry Pi:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ pwd
/home/pi
pi@raspberrypi:~ $

By default, Brewblox is installed in the ./brewblox directory. This is a relative path: . means "current directory". The absolute path for this directory is ~/brewblox or /home/pi/brewblox.

You can change directories by using the cd command. This can be used with either relative, or absolute paths. After you change directory, the current directory component of your shell prompt will change.

For example, after using cd ./brewblox, your shell prompt will be:

pi@raspberrypi:~/brewblox

You can navigate back to the home directory by using either one of these commands:

cd ~
cd ..

.. is another special character. It means "one directory up".

Examples:

pi@raspberrypi:~/brewblox $ cd ..
pi@raspberrypi:~ $
pi@raspberrypi:~/brewblox/deeply/nested/subdirectory $ cd ..
pi@raspberrypi:~/brewblox/deeply/nested $

If you'd like some more explanation, this guide to linux commands explains how to use the most common commands on a Raspberry Pi.

# Step 5: First-time setup

To finish the installation, and initialize your system, run the setup command.

Navigate to the Brewblox install directory (default: cd ~/brewblox), and run this command:

brewblox-ctl setup

Follow the instructions until the menu exits.

# Step 6: Flash the firmware

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If you want to try out Brewblox, you can use the Spark simulation instead.

Skip this step, and follow the instructions here.

For this step, your Spark should be connected to your Raspberry Pi over USB.

Navigate to the Brewblox install directory (default: cd ~/brewblox), and run this command:

brewblox-ctl flash

Follow the instructions until the menu exits. You should now see a dark screen with six empty boxes.

We ship new Sparks with the bootloader pre-flashed. If you are upgrading an older Spark, you may need to flash the bootloader.

Only if your LED is blinking blue after the firmware is flashed, run:

brewblox-ctl particle -c flash-bootloader

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The Spark supports Wifi. You can set this up using the UI in Step 8.

# Step 7: Start the system

To list all possible commands, navigate to the Brewblox install directory (default: cd ~/brewblox), and run:

brewblox-ctl --help

Example output:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ cd brewblox
pi@raspberrypi:~/brewblox $ brewblox-ctl --help
Usage: brewblox-ctl [OPTIONS] COMMAND [ARGS]...

  The Brewblox management tool.

  It can be used to create and control Brewblox configurations. More
  commands are available when used in a Brewblox installation directory.

  If the command you're looking for was not found, please check your current
  directory.

  By default, Brewblox is installed to ~/brewblox.

  Example calls:

      brewblox-ctl install
      brewblox-ctl --quiet down
      brewblox-ctl --verbose up

Options:
  -y, --yes             Do not prompt to confirm commands.
  -d, --dry, --dry-run  Dry run mode: echo commands instead of running them.
  -q, --quiet           Show less detailed output.
  -v, --verbose         Show more detailed output.
  --color / --no-color  Format messages with unicode color codes.
  --help                Show this message and exit.

Commands:
  up              Start all services.
  down            Stop all services.
  restart         Stop and start all services.
  follow          Show logs for one or more services.
  kill            Stop and remove all containers on this computer.
  install         Create Brewblox directory; install system dependencies;...
  flash           Flash firmware on Spark.
  wifi            DISABLED: Configure Spark Wifi settings.
  particle        Start a Docker container with access to the Particle CLI.
  disable-ipv6    Disable IPv6 support on the host machine.
  env             List, get, or set env values.
  setup           Run first-time setup in Brewblox directory.
  discover-spark  Discover available Spark controllers.
  add-spark       Create or update a Spark service.
  service         Show or edit services in docker-compose.yml.
  update          Download and apply updates.
  log             Generate and share log file for bug reports.
  backup          Save or load backups.
pi@raspberrypi:~/brewblox $ 

You can use brewblox-ctl to easily manage your system, and perform common actions. Run the following command to start your system:

brewblox-ctl up

After the project is done starting up, you can use the Brewblox UI at https://raspberrypi (or your Raspberry Pi's IP address) to configure and monitor your Spark.

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Because we're using a local (self-signed) SSL certificate, your browser will display a warning the first time you visit the page.

There's no need to panic. Click advanced, and proceed to the page. Brewblox UI

# Step 8: Use the system

By default, temperature values are in Celsius. If you prefer Fahrenheit, now is a good time to configure that. The unit settings can be found under the Actions button in the Spark service page.

Spark actions

You can also use the Actions menu to configure Wifi on the Spark.

To easily replicate functionality from the original BrewPi, you can run the Fermentation Fridge wizard.

This will generate a set of blocks and widgets, configured to let you control the brew in your fridge.

Start Ferment wizard

# Later: Updating

Brewblox receives regular updates. Whenever a new update is released, the release notes are posted on the forum, and added to the overview.

To update, close the UI, and run the following command:

brewblox-ctl update

After the command is done, visit the UI page to verify everything is up and running again. The UI will then notify you if a new firmware version is available. Click on the notification to install the new firmware.