Setting up the Raspberry Zero W for the Wobbulator

To start with, you need an image of the RPI operating system (Rasbian, based on Debian Linux). At the time of writing this blogpost, the actual version is Debian Stretch. Visit for the latest version.
Write the image on an empty micro SD card (4GB is big enough, bigger is OK, as small cards are harder to get nowadays). Instructions how to do this can be found on the Rasberrypi website. Since we don’t want to hook up keyboard, mouse, monitor to the RPI, we have to use some tricks. First of all, we have to tell the RPI to accept SSH connections (explained further on) and instruct the RPI to automatically connect to your wifi network (Note: this is a prerequisite for this procedure, if you don’t have this, please hook up keyboard, mouse and monitor).
Once this is done, you see two volumes in your PC that you have used to write the SD card (you might need to remove and re-instert the SD card in some cases). One is called Boot, and can be read, the other is unreadable by windows. By now, you probably have seen a pop-up asking you to format the volume. Of course you have to say no. In the root of the Boot volume, you have to create two new text files:

  • ssh
  • wpa_supplicant.conf

(make sure the names are exactly like this, the trailing .txt should be removed)

The ssh file should remain empty, the wpa_supplicant.conf should contain the following:

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


This example assume you are located in the Netherlands, and your wifi network’s SSID is mywifinetwork, with passphrase 1234567890. You have to replace these values with your own country code and wifi network details (note: the quotes should remain)

Save the file and unmount the SD card. Insert in your RPI and power up.

If everything went according to plan, the RPI should now be connected to your wifi router. You have to check your routers homepage to find out how to reach it. It can be identified by the name raspberrypi. Note the IP address down.

You need an SSH client to be able to reach the RPI to set it up further. A good one is PuTTY. You can download it here:

PuTTY is very easy to use. You can start the program, and follow the help. But just as easy, use a cmd window and type the following command:

putty -ssh pi@raspberrypi
(you may need to change ‘raspberrypi’ with the name you will give it later on, or use the IP address)

You can also make a text file with this command, and name it ssh.bat (or some other name you fancy).

If everything is working, you will be presented with a text window, which asks you for the credentials of user ‘pi’. By default, the password is ‘raspberry’. Once logged in, you will be prompted to change the password. I recommend you to do this right away.
It is allways a good idea to update the software to the latest version. This is done by the following commands:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

You have to adjust some of the default settings now. This can be done by the program raspi-config. Type:
sudo raspi-config

You are presented with the following window:
If you haven’t changed your password, you can do it here. The other changes to be done are:

  1. Change the network name. Every RPI will by default be called raspberrypi. You may want to change it into a little bit more descriptive, e.g. wobbulator. You can change this with option 2: Network Options. Choose sub-option N1: Hostname to change this.
  2. Boot options. You want your wobbulator to start with the graphical interface. Choose option 3: Boot Options. Choose submenu B1 Desktop/CLI and finally choose option B4 Desktop Autologin.
  3. EnableVNC. To be able to take control of your wobbulator from remote, you need the VNC server to be switched on. You can do this through menu option 5. Interfacing Options. Select P3 VNC and enable it:
  4. Expand filesystem. By default, the file system is as big as the image that has been downloaded. You want to use all the available memory on the SD card, so choose menu 7: Advanced Options, and then A1 Expand Filesystem.
  5. Resolution. In the same menu, you can set a new default resolution. You can set it to match the resolution of the PC you will use to view the Wobbulator screen. Minimum size should be 1024×768, otherwise the wobbulator graphic window is not displayed completely, and you will not be able to control it, as the buttons are at the bottom of the window.