# 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:

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 (opens new window)

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

RPi-imager

Select Raspberry Pi OS Lite (32-bit), select your SD card, and hit 'Ctrl-Shift-X' for the advanced menu. The advanced menu is available in the Raspberry Pi Imager v1.6 and higher.

RPi-imager-adv

In the advanced menu you want to define a few settings:

  • Set hostname: a hostname is used to easily connect to your Pi on your network. Clear and short names work best. The default hostname is raspberrypi.
  • Enable SSH: you connect remotely to the terminal of your Pi through SSH. Select Use password authentication and set your password.
  • Configure wifi: here you configure the network name (SSID) & password of your wifi. Set the wifi country setting to your country to match the wifi channels of your access point.
  • Set locale settings: define your time zone and keyboard layout (opens new window).

Hit SAVE to exit the menu, and WRITE to write the image to your SD card.

For more information, see the official Raspberry Pi install guide (opens new window).

# Step 2: Connect to the Raspberry Pi

WARNING

Make sure the power supply is disconnected at this point.

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.

On your desktop computer, you need an SSH client. On Linux and OSX, the ssh command is available by default. On Windows, you can install Terminal (opens new window) from the Windows Store.

If you're unfamiliar with SSH, this tutorial (opens new window) 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 hostname and password are what you defined in the RPi Imager advanced menu at Step 1. The default hostname raspberrypi is used in the example below.

ssh pi@raspberrypi

If the hostname of your Pi is not recognized on your network, you can use the instructions below to get the IP address of your Pi.

# Getting the IP address of your Pi

Connecting to your Pi using SSH requires you to know its address. Often, your network already knows the address of your Pi by its hostname. If you haven't changed it at Step 1, the default hostname of your Pi is raspberrypi.

If using the name doesn't work, there are multiple tools to discover the IP address.

We like the Fing (opens new window) app (available on both iOS (opens new window) and Android (opens new window)), 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 (opens new window).

# Step 3: 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.

For Windows Terminal, the default shortcuts to copy/paste in a terminal window are ctrl+shift+C and ctrl+shift+V. You can also right click on the terminal window, and select the desired option from the dropdown menu.

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. When you reconnect, it will use the new 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 hostname. 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 (opens new window) explains how to use the most common commands on a Raspberry Pi.

# Step 4: 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 5: 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 7.

# Step 6: 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;...
  init            Create and init Brewblox directory.
  flash           Flash firmware on Spark.
  wifi            DISABLED: Configure Spark Wifi settings.
  particle        Start a Docker container with access to the Particle CLI.
  enable-ipv6     Enable IPv6 support on the host machine.
  snapshot        Save or load snapshots.
  env             List, get, or set env values.
  makecert        Generate a self-signed SSL certificate.
  setup           Run first-time setup in Brewblox directory.
  discover-spark  Discover available Spark controllers.
  add-spark       Create or update a Spark service.
  add-plaato      Create a service for the Plaato airlock.
  add-node-red    Create a service for Node-RED.
  service         Show or edit services in docker-compose.yml.
  libs            Reinstall local libs.
  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 http://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 when using HTTPS.

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

# Step 7: Use the system

Brewblox itself is now installed and running. The next step is to put it in charge of your fridges, kettles, and conicals.

You can build your configuration from scratch, or use one of the wizards. To start a wizard, click the big Get Started button, and select the Quick Start option.

If you are upgrading from the old BrewPi software, the Fermentation fridge wizard will replicate its functionality.

To edit the settings of your system and controllers, go to the Admin page, accessible through the sidebar. For example, you can use the Spark service settings to connect your Spark controller to your wifi network.

# Later: Updating

Brewblox receives regular updates. Whenever a new update is released, the release notes are posted on the forum (opens new window), 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.