Key art for blog post "Raspberry Pi Over Serial USB"

Running commands on the Raspberry Pi over serial USB makes development a lot easier when starting out with a fresh install of Raspbian.

Worth noting, most of this guide is from the Adafruit Guide, but I had a permission issue and since I'm hoping to use this cable a lot in the future, I decided to write a cut down version for myself.

Where to get a USB Serial Cable?

You can get a USB Serial Cable on Adafruit or on Amazon (affiliate link).

Enable Serial on Raspbian

Before you can use the cable, you'll need to enable Serial communication which is easy to do.

Take your SD Card you intend to use in the Pi and plug it into your computer.

Open up the /boot/config.txt file.

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

At the bottom of this file add the following:

enable_uart=1

Put the SD card back in your Pi, but don't power it on yet.

Installation

We'll need to use screen to run commands on the Pi.

sudo apt-get install screen

Permissions

On Ubuntu I needed to add myself to the dialout group to gain permission to access the serial port.

sudo gpasswd --add ${USER} dialout

The red cable (the far right in the photo) actually powers the Pi as well. If you want to power the Pi via the micro USB DO NOT USE THE RED CABLE.

Attach the Cables to the Pi

Attach the cables to the Pi like so:

Raspberry Pi Serial USB Cables

Run Screen

The next step is to plug in the USB cable to your computer and start screen. This will set up a connection between your terminal and the serial port.

screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

With this you should see the stream of logs from the Pi (main be a rapid stream of text to start with).

The one thing to note, I've seen some unusual behavior with when I plug in the USB cable and when I run screen, but that could have also been a permissions issue.

Exiting Screen

Cheeky FYI, to exit screen you need to press ctrl + shift + d.

Altering the Cables

I wanted to make it so it was a little easier to plug in the cables so I alter the crimp housing for my cables after writing this post, you can learn more here.