All posts by Alex Bate

Meet Laura Kampf: Wood and metalworker

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/meet-laura-kampf-wood-and-metalworker/

Laura Kampf, the Köln-based wood and metalworker with a mild tiny house and Leatherman obsession sat down (virtually) with Alex Bate to talk about prison tattoo machines, avoiding your nightmares, and why aggressive hip-hop and horror movies inspire her weekly project builds.

Smudo the workshop dog was also there, which seems to be becoming a recurring and pleasant feature of HackSpace magazine interviews.

laura kampf
In five years, Laura has uploaded over 200 videos to YouTube

Alex: Your videos feel very unique in how they’re produced. It feels as though we’re in the workshop watching you get on with your day. That you’d be doing this regardless of whether the camera was there or not.

Laura: Yeah, that’s absolutely it. I mean, I document it for YouTube because I’m aware that this is the only place for me. And the documentation, that’s the work part, like setting up the camera, thinking about the story. But the physical work of building something, that’s a form of meditation. That’s just my happy place. And I know I have to document my work because I have to do something to make a living, right? I can’t just play. So YouTube is my work. But making is just, it’s just what I do, and I feel more and more that this is the only place for me.

And this is probably how musicians feel when they are performing on stage. You know, this – being in my shop, I feel so comfortable. And I feel so good. I don’t have that anywhere else. 

Subscribe to Laura Kampf on YouTube

I remember seeing that you went to design school. Is that where your journey as a maker started or does creativity run in your family? I know your brother is creative  (instagram.com/zooburger), but what about your parents?

My brother is super-creative, but my parents, not so much. My grandfather was an engineer. So I think 
it kind of skipped a generation.

In design school, there was a project where we had to build something out of everyday objects. And it was for us, the designers, to get away from the computers and just do something with our hands. I built a tattoo machine, like a prison-style tattoo machine. And I was hooked. I remember coming home and I was so moved by the whole thing. Even though the machine looks terrible, everything fell into place. 

Because all my life, people were telling me you need to find this one thing that you’re really good at and then just keep doing that. I think it’s also a German thing, you know, like, be perfect at one thing, and then you’ll be the best in your field. And I could never focus on one thing and building this tattoo machine; there were so many different things coming together. 

I had all this interest in so many different fields and I could use them for the project – I enjoyed drawing fonts and learned how to do old-school tattoo lettering, and I could do a little bit of electronics to hook up a switch. All these things, I thought it was super-interesting. It was the first time I could just use little bits of everything I knew to make something that was really cool, and I was hooked after that.

laura kampf
Laura works mostly with wood and metal in her weekly videos

Have you tattooed yourself with the tattoo machine?

I wanted to and then, thank God, because I was really young, it’s very likely that I would have done that, a tattoo artist came by and I showed him the machine, and he was like, “Don’t do it. It’s running way too fast. You will make mincemeat out of your skin”. But I bought pigs legs and pig’s ears and tattooed them. I couldn’t eat pig for probably two years after that. It was so warm, and tattooing the piece for a couple hours, the fat was running out of it – it was disgusting.

It’s interesting that if you look at the stuff that you’re making now, the anchor point that started all of this is a prison tattoo machine.

Looking back, I remember the little things that I made; when I showed them to people, they just didn’t show the same excitement for them as I did. And it was such a disappointment until I realised that no, the stuff I was making was really bad. That’s why no one was excited, because I didn’t know what I was doing. Once I got better and better, and especially with YouTube and talking to the community – well, I’m preaching to the choir here; everyone knows making is fantastic, and we have a very focused, niche community – and they get it.

laura kampf dog
All good workshops need a dog

Do you feel like a bit of a sense of responsibility being a woman in this community, being queer in this community? Two of the things that are a minority in this field. Do you feel that affects your work at all? 

I didn’t to begin with, I have to say. In the beginning, I felt more that it wasn’t about me, it was about the things that I make, and my sexuality and my gender don’t play a role in this. I don’t think about my sexuality all day long; I don’t think about the fact I’m a girl all day long, so why would it be in my videos? But I have to say that I changed my mind about these things. Because visibility is really important.

I had this really weird experience at the 10 Maker event a few years ago. I was wearing this T-shirt I got for free on one Christopher Street Day, it says ‘Gay Okay’. I love that shirt; it’s a really nice fit. I went to get some groceries with Brett from Skull and Spade and Hassan from HABU, and there was this girl, maybe eleven or twelve years old, and she saw me wearing that shirt, hanging out with regular dudes, doing regular stuff in a regular supermarket, and her jaw dropped. We were in the countryside, you don’t see things like rainbow flags there. And I could tell she’s maybe gay too, and it was so good for her to see that. There’s nothing different about you – you can still hang out with guys, you can still,   you know, go shopping and all these things. That’s when I realised, institutions like Christopher Street Day are so important, but it’s also important to just have it integrated into regular stuff, not just special occasions. Today’s International Women’s Day? Well, we need to celebrate girls every day; every day you need to celebrate these things. 

So, I kind of made it a habit to have rainbow flags in my videos. Not every video, and never super-obvious, but in the background, when I talk to the camera sometimes. I do wear my Gay Okay shirt every once in a while. I don’t want to make it a point because people like to put you in drawers. And, once you’re the queer maker, you’re the queer maker, and that’s all people want to talk about. And I don’t want that because I still think, at the end of the day, it’s about the things I build and not about me and my sexuality and gender. But, yeah, to just sprinkle it in every once in a while, I think it’s very important.

I don’t get much negativity about this. I was surprised, pleasantly so, obviously, but yeah, a couple of days ago, I wore my Gay Okay t-shirt in my Instagram Stories, and people applauded me for it, and that’s really interesting. I would never have thought that.

laura kampf
It might not look like it now, but this will become a pub on wheels

Do you get much trolling at all? Or are you spared from it?

I think, at the beginning of my YouTube career, I was growing really fast and really, like, exponentially. And I had a couple of videos that went viral, like the beer bike, that went outside of the community. For those viral videos, you get negativity. They don’t know who you are, they don’t know the context, they don’t know what I’m doing. That’s why I hate having viral videos. It brings in the worst. I like to be in this little lake, surrounded by my followers.

A few people have said that, actually. That it’s the worst. It’s the thing everybody aims for and then, when you get there, you wish you weren’t.

Yeah, they take you out of context. Those people, they see one of my videos, they don’t know that I’m building something. And that’s another interesting thing that your community learns about you. They know I build something every week for the past six years. Every week, it can’t be the Holy Grail every freaking week. Sometimes it’s bad, but it’s stuff that I did that week – it’s documentation.

When I was a kid, I remember my mind was blown that The Simpsons had a different intro every episode. Something different happens every time. I couldn’t believe that, and how much work went into it. I think it primed me for being a weekly creator.

The tattoo machine that started it all
The tattoo machine that started it all

It’s impressive. There aren’t a lot of makers releasing weekly videos, and many that do are releasing build videos in weekly parts. And you just come along and go ta-da!

Haha, but not every video is a good idea. Some of them are really bad ideas. But that’s my privilege, you know, that I can still do that. Because I have to, otherwise there wouldn’t be a video, and I love that because the pressure helps me keep going. And the process is the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a tiny house or a scratch post for a cat. The process is me, being in the shop, listening to podcasts, listening to music, enjoying my tools, playing with the material – it’s all the same, it doesn’t really matter. 

So, the public bench stuff that I’ve been doing lately, I get so many questions like, “Oh no, how could you leave the bench” and, like, I don’t give a damn about the bench. It’s not the bench, it’s the process that I enjoy. I could literally throw everything that I build away – I could throw it in the trash right away. I wouldn’t mind. I’m so focused on the process.

I was going to ask you about the bench, because it was recently vandalised and so you made another one. Most people would probably just not, would just raise their hands in defeat and leave it. But you just made it again. 

I was expecting it to break eventually. And, to be honest, I was kinda hoping for it because I wanted to do it again. And, this time, I’m actually hoping for it to get broken again because I want to do it again.

Laura’s bike frame cup holder

I may be making this up, but I’m sure you once mentioned that it’s illegal to sell furniture in Germany unless you’re registered. Is that right?

Yeah, it’s a very broad description of this, but the craftsmanship in Germany is of a very high standard, right? At least we like to think so. So, if you want to be a carpenter, you’re first an apprentice for three years or so, then you can be a carpenter and work under a master carpenter. If you want to educate other apprentices, or if you want to sell certain furniture, I think chairs is one of them, then you have to be a master. And it’s the same for every field. I think the most plausible is electricians. If you are not a master electrician, you cannot, say, make a lamp and sell it.

But my interest is so general. I wanted to make lamps, but the notion of designing a lamp that’s made out of wood and then obviously has electricity in it, it’s just impossible. 

I spoke to the TÜV and asked them, if I design a lamp and want to sell it in a   store, how do I do it. And I would have to get it checked by their institution, which is a couple of hundred euros, and get a certificate. But I would have to do this for the next lamp design, and the next. And that makes them so expensive. I can’t sell a lamp for 150 euros if it costs me more than that to get it checked. I’m not interested in mass production, I want to make one-off pieces. 

I had already quit my job when I discovered this and remember having a big knot in my stomach thinking, ‘what do I do?’, and YouTube was the answer. 

Could you not use YouTube as a way of selling lamps? It’s not a lamp, it’s a video prop?

Yeah, there are loopholes – this is not a lamp, this is art. But, when I quit my job to become a self-employed lamp seller, I really only quit my job because I hated working for other people, not because it was my dream to sell furniture and lamps. I didn’t know YouTube really existed as a thing for me, and once I figured out people were actually making money off this, I was like, OK, I need to get a camera, I need to give this a try. Because that would be better than building stuff to sell it. I wasn’t interested in selling stuff. I don’t want clients. I don’t want that pressure from anyone else except me, so YouTube worked out perfectly for me. 

How to build a tattoo machine from scratch – one of Laura’s most popular videos

The job you quit was as a Display Artist for Urban Outfitters, if I remember correctly? Designing displays within a store. That sounded like a brilliant job.

It was. It was a great job, but it wasn’t for me. It was probably the perfect job, but I am not a good employee. I was asked a couple of years ago if I would do a talk about my career and how I made this job for myself and followed my dreams, blah, blah. I don’t like ‘follow your dreams’. It was the other way around. I avoided my nightmares. That’s how I got here. I never dreamed of this, I didn’t know this existed. So, I think avoiding your nightmares is much more efficient than following your dreams.

With your design school background, when you create something, how much of that project is art over functionality? Dovetails versus pocket holes for instance. 

It’s more, and this is hard to explain, but I have this internal measuring unit of how much work should go into a project. I know how much time I can put into a project, and there’s this bucket of work I’ve put into it, and depending on how full the bucket is determines how the project looks and whether I use pocket holes or dovetails, for example.

You work a lot with wood and with metal, as well as a few other materials, all of which require their own set of skills. Where have you learned all your techniques?

All YouTube. That’s the cool thing. It’s all full circle. There are some things – I had a couple of jobs where I learned some skills. I worked as a flight case builder for three years, just filling those black flight cases. Which sounds very, very trivial. It’s not though, It’s crazy. You have to work so precisely, otherwise, the catches won’t close and all these things, and everything is building boxes. So I learned a bunch of stuff there. It was my Karate Kid apprenticeship. But a lot of it is YouTube. I remember watching Jimmy DiResta – I saw his TV show online, and then I watched a bunch of his videos without realising it was the same guy. Eventually, I noticed he had a weekly schedule and a podcast, and it was all exactly what I needed to see and hear. Right when I quit my job and I couldn’t sell lamps, there were these people telling me that they do this for a living. It was perfect timing. I feel like I’m the second generation YouTuber and they’re the first. 

Laura’s cargo bike

As well as those makers, what else influences your work?

I like to listen to a lot of hip-hop, like super-aggressive hip-hop that is the complete opposite of me and has nothing to do with my world. And I like to watch horror movies, super-scary and bloody horror movies. I like to explore the opposite of what I have. A view into a completely different world. The Fantasy Filmfest is a huge inspiration for me. These movies that go right to DVD; they don’t go into the big theatres. I like to think about how they got made? How did they think of that? That’s the biggest inspiration. And, with hip-hop, the personas, and why they feel like they do, and how do they come up with those lines. They’re in their own universe, they have their own rules. I just love that. It’s how I feel when I’m building stuff. I’m telling myself a story that I don’t know the ending of. I don’t like to make sketches, I don’t like to know if it works. If I see someone else had the idea and did a full video about it, I don’t even want to do the idea anymore. I want to have that unknown. This is the idea, this is the stuff you have, now try to make it happen.

Is there anything still on the list? Projects you still want to work on?

I don’t know if you saw it on Instagram, but I bought a Multicar. It’s so good. It’s the slowest car ever; it is painfully slow – 45 kilometres an hour and that’s it. But it has torque; you can tow pretty much everything with it. So my plan is to take the world’s smallest pub that I built a couple months ago and put it on at the back of the Multicar.

Something is holding me back at the moment, though. I have all the parts, I should be able to do it, but I don’t know what it is. I experience that quite often – I have an idea, and everything should be good to go, but I’m not doing it. And then, eventually, it turns out I wasn’t sure about the colour, or something else that was missing that I didn’t know at the time. So I don’t push it. But that’s the project I’m looking forward to.

Do you think you’ll ever just get to the point where you’re going to stop doing weekly videos? Or is this you for life?

I don’t know. Like, that’s the one thing that I’m really scared of, like, what happens when I get sick? Because at the beginning of the year, I hired my best friend. So now we’re both relying on my mental and physical health. So I think it’s a good idea to broaden stuff and have more income streams. I love doing the TV stuff [Laura recently started presenting a new TV show], because whenever I’m working with the TV people, I think, like, oh man, I love YouTube. And, when I do too much YouTube, I start really looking forward to working with actual professionals again. It’s a cool balance. I kind of hope that I can keep doing this. You know, I think it’s really cool. And as I said, there’s no other place for me. Where would I go?

Clever keyring with screwdriver

You have YouTube, you have TV, you have your podcast, and you sell merchandise. Is there anything left?

I think I would like to actually have a couple of products now. Some of the furniture I’m building, if you look at them in a different context to ‘this is just what I built this week’ and is only the product of seven days’ worth of work, I think some of those ideas aren’t that bad. And if you put some more work into them, they could be pieces that would sell. But I would want someone who takes the prototypes and does the whole production for me. I’m not interested in all that. But I think it would be cool to have a line of plywood furniture.

So we won’t be seeing a run of the Laura Kampf bench across Köln?

A newspaper interviewed me about the bench. And for the interview, they also approached the city saying, hey, wouldn’t you want to work with her? And you know, maybe collaborate on this because this might be a cool thing. And they said that they don’t have the personnel. But honestly, if they would have done it, that would have made it so boring. Working with somebody in an office telling me where the broken benches are so I can go and fix them. That’s a job.

Laura’s beer bike

Is there anything you’ve ever made that you haven’t wanted to share? A build just for you?

Until I hit publish, I feel like that every week. It feels like I’m just making it for myself. I talk very positively about YouTube, and that’s genuinely how I feel about it, but sometimes it’s really hard on me because I’ll work seven days on a video, think it’s the best thing I ever did, and it makes me so happy. I’ll edit it for hours, sink all this time into it, all this energy, and then the video tanks, and it kinda ruins it for me. I’m in a super-good mood right now because the bench video did so well, and people understand what I’m trying to say. But, there are other cases where it doesn’t work as well, and where I feel like I’ve dropped the ball and couldn’t get my excitement across. And that’s always super-disappointing because I’m always excited about the stuff I make; I always have some angle I find super-interesting, otherwise, I’m not motivated to do it. And, when the video tanks, it makes me feel like I lost the opportunity to spread that excitement, to spread that motivation, and that feels like I wasted my time. And that’s the downside of YouTube. 

I mean, I think every creator takes it in a different way. And you need to find a way to deal with this, and it’s really important to talk about it. This is my dream job and I can do whatever I want to do as long as I don’t drop the ball. I hired my friend, so now I can’t drop the ball for the both of us.

Laura appeared in our video “How do you define ‘maker’?”

Laura Kampf produces a video every Sunday on her YouTube channel. You can also follow her on Instagram and, for any German-speaking readers, her podcast – Raabe & Kampf – with friend and journalist Melanie Raabe can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. 

HackSpace magazine issue 45 out NOW!

Each month, HackSpace magazine brings you the best projects, tips, tricks and tutorials from the makersphere. You can get it from the Raspberry Pi Press online store or your local newsagents.

Hack space magazine issue 45 front cover

As always, every issue is free to download from the HackSpace magazine website.

The post Meet Laura Kampf: Wood and metalworker appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Meet Simone Giertz: Inventor, robotics enthusiast, and YouTuber

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/meet-simone-giertz-inventor-robotics-enthusiast-and-youtuber/

Even if you don’t follow Simone Giertz on social media or YouTube, there’s a good chance you know of her work. Originally hailed as the Queen of S***** Robots, Simone’s early videos of questionable contraptions, such as the Toothbrush Machine and Hair Washing Robot, quickly went viral, birthing a variety of GIFs and shareable content that quickly took over the internet. But, nowadays, she’s shelved her bots and focuses her attention on more reliable projects, such as her highly successful crowdfunding campaign for The Every Day Calendar, and the impressive Truckla, a Tesla pickup truck that beat Elon Musk’s Cybertruck to the post when shared online in June 2019.

Looks like it works fine to me

Alex Bate caught up with Simone Giertz (pronounced Yetch, not Gerts) to discuss how she went from unreliable robots and GIF stardom to bunk-beds made of leaves and office chair sidecars for needy pets, and why her openly discussed brain tumour helped to realign her business model.  

A career of two halves

HS  To me, as a viewer, it feels like your YouTube career is split into two halves. There’s Simone, the Queen of S***** Robots, and then there’s everything post-surgery, like Truckla and The Every Day Calendar. Do you see it too?

SG  The difficult part about YouTube, and also the good side of it, is that if you have a really long career, you grow up during that career, and you change and your interests change. And I don’t want to just play a role, I want to be genuinely excited about the things I do – you get sick of things, and you want to explore new things. So, in order to do that, I’ve really tried to be ‘theme agnostic’ for my YouTube channel. 

And that was something that was really hard with S***** Robots, because it was something that I knew that people really liked, and that I had a level of success with. But I was just not that excited about it anymore. And I think the brain tumour became a really good page turner for me, because I had such limited energy capital, you know, and I really just wanted to spend my time and my very limited energy on doing things that I was super-pumped about.

I think the projects I build now still have some elements of the stuff I did in my early days, but they’re definitely less GIF-compatible.

In the beginning, all I was thinking about for every project was a GIF. That was the main deliverable that I had in my head, and the main piece of content that I focused on, and then I kind of built a YouTube video around it, and around the process of creating this GIF. And I let go of that. Not every project needs to have a punchline. It can be fine. It can be a little bit more dull.

But, I still feel guilty about it.

HS  Really?

SG  Yeah. People are very sweet about it, but I still get comments with people being like, ’Oh, I miss the robots.’ But, at the same time, you have to think, ’It’s my life, and I really want to do the things I want to do.’ And I’m also so drawn to my product business and wanting to focus on that. And the way that my YouTube channel can co-exist with that is for me to explore different products and make videos about them. And it’s actually becoming a pretty good tag team.

Kickstarter success

HS  Talking about your product business, the biggest one to date was obviously The Every Day Calendar. 2300-odd backers, and over half a million dollars raised. How did you feel when your first Kickstarter just soared like that?

SG  It was fun and scary. Because, as somebody who’s terrified of disappointing people, crowdfunding campaigns are kind of like the worst position to put yourself in because you really risk disappointing people. But, I don’t think we did. I mean, we were late, but I really just wanted to deliver a good product because it was expensive. And, yes, we raised over half a million dollars, but it’s not until now that we’ve actually broken even.

HS  Wow.

simone giertz everyday calendar
Simone surrounded by The Every Day Calendar

SG  It’s so expensive. And so much of that is in product development. When it comes down to it, and you’re actually putting something out in the world, it’s just crazy how much it costs. And I mean, we probably didn’t do it in the most efficient way we could, because we were rookies. But, it was definitely very humbling and terrifying.

HS  Would you do further products with Kickstarter? Or do you think you’re now at a point where you would just create a product and sell it, and not have to rely on crowdfunding?

SG  We’re hopefully launching our store this summer, and we’re going to have four different products in it. And, I’m hoping that any easier products can be self-funded. And, if there’s something more complicated, like the Companion Chair, which is definitely going to be a bigger project, it might end up being crowdfunded because with funding, you also get market testing. You can get a lot out of it. But, that said, after I did The Every Day Calendar, I remember saying I’d never do it again. Every night at 3 am, I would just wake up and be like, ’Oh my god, what if we send out the calendars and then, in two years, all of them stop working! People are going to be really angry.’ I’m scared of that. But, I guess that also, even if customers are buying your product off the shelf, you are always going to live with that fear over your head.

Simone Giertz

The early days

HS  It’s really interesting to go back and watch your earliest videos, particularly the first one in Swedish, and see how far you’ve come. Was it always the aim to start the business? To have staff and be opening an online store and selling your products?

SG  I mean, no, I would definitely be lying if I said that this is some sort of master plan. There was no scheming where I had the large whiteboard – ’This is the trajectory of how I’m going to become known as the Queen of S***** Robots. And then I’m going to pivot that into running a product business.’ I’m definitely not that smart. 

But, I had an inkling of what I was interested in. And I mean, I really liked making videos. And I think that everything kind of happened in a very fortunate way. Because I had this job where I was a Maker in Residence at a US company called Punch Through Design. And my job was just to build different things. And right when my job there was ending, I posted the Toothbrush Helmet, and that started getting some traction. I was moving back to Sweden because my visa expired, and I just had this year of living with my mom again, and having very few expenses and I was like, ’OK, I’m gonna just make sure I work enough to get by, but then the rest of the time, I’m just gonna spend it on building these machines that I want to build.’

So I was very fortunate in the way that I could structure things so I was able to spend time on my YouTube channel in the early days.

But, it’s also so easy to look back and be like, ’Of course, all these things led me to where I am today.’ But when you’re in the middle of it, you’re just flailing. And my flailing, fortunately, landed me in a position that I’m very happy with today.

Commander Scraps the canine sidekick

[It’s at this point of the conversation that Simone’s three-legged canine sidekick, Commander Scraps, decides to join us. Those who have seen Simone’s build video for the Companion Chair or Lego-based Dog Selfie Booth will already know of Scraps. Those who haven’t, well, Scraps is adorable, so you should definitely check them out.] 

Simone Giertz and dog
Scraps is first and foremost a dog, but he’s also the brains behind Simone’s Companion Chair

Creative freedom

HS  Some online content creators are often stuck within a theme – wood working, electronics, 3D printing, and so on. But, for you, it seems that you’re the theme, you’re the brand, and you can get away with creating whatever content you want. Do you see that when you interact with your community? That freedom?

SG  It’s something that I thought a lot about in the early days, like, how much is the channel about me and my life? And how much is it about the things that I build? And I think what I struggled with is that I’m not that interested in my life. Like, I really want to make videos that I myself would want to watch. I’m not really interested in vlogs, so I decided early on that while it’s about my life to an extent, it’s still centred around these projects I’m building.

In some ways, I’m pretty private on the internet, but also very open, like when it comes to brain tumour stuff. I was really open about it, and I wanted to tell everyone about it because it was a way for me to process what was happening. I remember having to tell myself that I had to stop telling waiters or Uber drivers that I had a brain tumour. ’Hi sweetie, how are you today? Well, I have a brain tumour, but other than that, I’m pretty good.’

When it came to talking about it online, it was a no-brainer. Haha.

But then there’s other stuff that I don’t talk about, like, I don’t really document my life. I don’t talk about my friends really, or my relationship status, or anything like that. Because you have to draw the line somewhere. And I always felt like documenting my life was just too intrusive.

Simone Giertz
Don’t ask

Robot queen

HS  When you look at your most popular videos on your channel, even though you’re known as the Queen of S***** Robots, those videos aren’t actually in the Top 5. Instead, it’s the video of you in the zero gravity simulations, and Truckla, and locking yourself in your bathroom for 48 hours. It’s interesting that the thing you’re most known for isn’t the thing your audience is most interacting with.

SG  Those robot videos mostly did really well on other platforms, like Twitter and Reddit. Not so much on YouTube because it has its own metrics and algorithms. 

The thing that is really useful for other creators who are getting started is to figure out what is your hook, or what is the very simple version of what you’re doing. Like, Queen of S***** Robots kind of became the headline. And it was this very clear message, and it was something that was really easy for journalists to write about. It was a spearhead for branding.

This was not something I was thinking about at the time, but looking back, my fear then was to make sure I didn’t get pigeonholed, and that I could never move on from it, because that’s the problem when people only know you for one thing – you can’t really move on beyond that. It’s really nice to have that spearhead, and then you can broaden it, and that’s how you have longevity.

I didn’t want this to be over in a year. I wanted to be able to keep on doing it because I was really enjoying it. And now, I want to make sure that I have more legs to stand on, because when you’re going through health problems, you realise that if you can’t be in front of a camera, everything grinds to a halt. If you’re not well enough to work, or if YouTube changes its algorithm, it becomes such a fragile business structure. So, that was one of the reasons why I decided I needed to go into products. 

Simone Giertz

HS  I guess you can’t really be known as the Queen of S***** Robots where everything you make doesn’t really do what it’s meant to do, and then expect people to buy serious products from you and trust they’ll work.

SG  That’s definitely one of the things when we launched The Every Day Calendar – I was wondering how are people going to be able to take this seriously? But, I think that’s what’s really nice, that my audience has been around long enough and they’ve seen that there’s more to it than that – there’s actually, ironically, a lot of work that goes into making S***** Robots.

Collaborative community

HS  I remember the first time I saw your work was when you collaborated with Adam Savage to make an automated popcorn machine in 2016. It’s a great video that really highlights how great collaborative work can be when two people focus on what they’re really interested in to make a final product. And you’ve worked on other videos with creators such as Laura Kampf. Is there anyone else you’d like to work with?

SG  I’m really interested in people who are kind of beyond the community that I’m currently in. It would be really fun to do stuff with musical artists; I’d love to collaborate with OK Go. Or venture beyond that and work with people who make art, and fashion designers. People who are outside the world where I’m creating. And there are people that I just love and would always want to work with, like Laura. She’s the sweetest, most talented, down-to-earth and funny person. I really love working with her. I should really think of who’s on my bucket list.

Something I’ve really missed during the pandemic is just getting to spend time with people who are excited about what they’re doing, and having that excitement rub off on me. There’s nothing more inspiring than someone being  pumped about something, even if you don’t understand what it is. In some ways, lockdown has been great for creating as I’ve had more time to loiter in the shop, but I definitely miss that input and just being able to talk to people.

A surprisingly interesting video, despite the title

Secret new ideas…

HS  And are there any projects you’d like to build that you just haven’t gotten around to doing yet?

SG  Honestly, I just want to build stuff for my house right now, which I know isn’t the most interesting answer. I still have the CEO Bouncy Chair on my list – I want to make this kids’ bouncy chair, the type where you’re almost in some sort of plastic diaper. But I want it to look like a mahogany desk with a Rolodex and it’s for grown-ups. And make some spoof commercial for it when it’s marketed as an exercise device, but there’s just some balding white guy in it. I think that’s the only one that I’m still eager to build. Let me look at my notes…

[Simone proceeds to pull out her phone and list project ideas from the notes app. Should I tell you what they are or should I leave them as a surprise? With great power comes great responsibility!]

HS  Those are definitely some interesting ideas…

[I’m very responsible].

Check out Simone’s TED Talk

HS  Going back to your audience, you seem to have been somewhat spared a lot of the negativity people receive in comments, and online in general. Why do you think that is?

SG  I’m just always so scared. Haha. I’ve been spared from the trolls and the hate, and I’m just terrified of ruining whatever equilibrium is happening right now. That’s one of the reasons I post so seldomly. I was looking the other day and thought, ’Oh, it’s been 45 days since I last posted on Instagram!’, and I notice I keep getting DMs from people asking if I’m OK. I’m just always scared to overstep, or do something that would upset people, or cause me to fall from some sort of pedestal. I just never want to post something that doesn’t work for other people, you know?

Simone gives a great interview here

Inspirational YouTubers

HS  I get it. The comments section of YouTube alone can be an awful place sometimes. Speaking of YouTube, are there any other makers at the moment who are inspiring you?

SG  I love 3×3 Custom. She’s my happy place because she’s at a level of making that I’m just not at. Her jig work is just wild, and the quality she puts out. And I love Nicole McLaughlin. She does these really fun and weird fashion contraptions, like shoes made out of tennis balls. She’s very cool. She’s a level of coolness that I aspire to and never expect to get to.

But, one of the most inspiring things for me is time. And I know that if I run out of ideas, it’s because I’m overworked and I haven’t had enough downtime and time to just loiter in the shop. I try to enforce this on Fridays, where me and my teammates just work on whatever project, and it doesn’t have to be work-related. And some of my best ideas have come from that type of work, where I don’t know what my end goal with this is, but I’m just going to tinker with it for a little bit.

Simone was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert!

You can follow Simone on Instagram for behind-the-scenes photos of her project, and subscribe to her YouTube channel for new content. Also, because why wouldn’t you, you can follow Scraps on Instagram too! 

Issue 44 of HackSpace magazine is on sale NOW!

Each month, HackSpace magazine brings you the best projects, tips, tricks and tutorials from the makersphere. You can get it from the Raspberry Pi Press online store or your local newsagents.

HackSpace 44 cover

As always, every issue is free to download from the HackSpace magazine website.

The post Meet Simone Giertz: Inventor, robotics enthusiast, and YouTuber appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi and Google Code Next bring computer science to 1000 Chicago students

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-and-google-code-next-bring-computer-science-to-1000-chicago-students/

To round off Computer Science Education Week 2020, the Google Code Next team, working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and some incredible volunteers in the Chicago area, helped over 400 Black and Latinx high school students get coding using Raspberry Pi 400. Here’s Omnia Saed with more.

In partnership with Google Code Next, the Raspberry Pi Foundation curated a computer science activity for over 400 Chicago Public Schools students. Over 1000 kits with the newly released Raspberry Pi 400 were sent to six public schools to mark the end of Computer Science Education Week (7-14 December).

Google Code Next

Google Code Next is a free computer science education program for Black and Latinx high school students. Between 2011 and 2018, Black and Hispanic college students each only made up 3 percent of computer science graduates; Code Next works to change that. The program provides students with the skills and inspiration needed for long and rewarding careers in computer science.

“We aim to provide Black and Latinx students with skills and technical social capital — that web of relationships you can tap into,” said Google Diversity STEM Strategist Shameeka Emanuel.

The main event

The virtual event brought over 80 Google volunteers, students and teachers together to create their very own “Raspimon”—a virtual monster powered by Raspberry Pi. For many students, it was their first time coding.

Matt Richardson, Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation North America, opened the event by telling students to share their work with family and friends.

“I hope you find new ways to solve problems or express yourselves creatively. More importantly, be sure to share what you create with someone you know – you might just spark curiosity in someone else,” he said.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, Troy Williams, Chicago Public Schools interim director of computer science, explains, “Our students being able to have access to these Raspberry Pis and other resources supplements the learning they’re doing in the classrooms, and brings another level of engagement where they can create on their own. It really helps toward closing the digital divide and the learning gap as well.”

Want to join in with the fun? You’ll find a copy of the activity and curriculum on the Code Next website.

Top view of a woman's hands using the Raspberry Pi 400 keyboard and official Raspberry Pi mouse

And if you’re looking to introduce someone to coding over the holidays, there’s still time to order a Raspberry Pi 400 computer kit from our network of Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers.

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Designing the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/designing-the-raspberry-pi-compute-module-4/

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 designer Dominic Plunkett was kind enough to let us sit him down for a talk with Eben, before writing up his experience of bringing our latest board to life for today’s blog post. Enjoy.

When I joined Raspberry Pi, James, Eben and Gordon already had some ideas on the features they would like to see on the new Compute Module 4, and it was down to me to take these ideas and turn them into a product. Many people think design is a nice linear process: ideas, schematics, PCB, and then final product. In the real world the design process isn’t like this, and to get the best designs I often try something and iterate around the design loop to get the best possible solution within the constraints.

Form factor change

Previous Compute Modules were all in a 200-pin SODIMM form factor, but two important considerations pushed us to think about moving to a different form factor: the need to expose useful interfaces of the BCM2711 that are not present in earlier SoCs, and the desire to add extra components, which meant we needed to route tracks differently to make space on the PCB for the additional parts.

Breaking out BCM2711’s high-speed interfaces

We knew we wanted to get the extra features of the BCM2711 out to the connector so that users could make use of them in their products. High-speed interfaces like PCIe and HDMI are so fast coming out of the BCM2711 that they need special IO pins that can’t also support GPIO: if we were to change the functionality of a GPIO pin to one of the new high-speed signals, this would break backwards compatibility.

We could consider adding some sort of multiplexer to swap between old and new functionality, but this would cost space on the PCB, as well as reducing the integrity of the fast signals. This consideration alone drives the design to a new pinout. We could have tried to use one of the SODIMM connectors with extra pins; while this would give a board with similar dimensions to the existing Compute Modules, it too would break compatibility.

Compute Module 4 mounted on the IO Board
Compute Module 4 mounted on the IO Board

PCB space for additional components

We also wanted to add extra items to the PCB, so PCB space to put the additional parts was an important consideration. If you look carefully at a Compute Module 3 you can see a lot of tracks carrying signals from one side of the SoC to the pins on the edge connector. These tracks take up valuable PCB space, preventing components being fitted there. We could add extra PCB layers to move these tracks from an outer layer to an inner layer, but these extra layers add to the cost of the product.

This was one of the main drivers in changing to having two connectors on different edges of the board: doing so saves having to route tracks all the way across the PCB. So we arrived at a design that incorporated a rough split of which signals were going to end up on each of the connectors. The exact order of the signals wasn’t yet defined.

Trial PCB layouts

We experimented with trial PCB layouts for the Compute Module 4 and the CM4 IO Board to see how easy it would be to route the signals; even at this stage, the final size of the CM4 hadn’t been fixed. Over time, and after juggling parts around the PCB, I came to a sensible compromise. There were lots of things to consider, including the fact that the taller components had to go on the top side of the PCB.

The pinout was constantly being adjusted to an ordering that was a good compromise for both the CM4 and the IO Board. The IO Board layout was a really important consideration: after we made the first prototype boards, we decided to change the pinout slightly to make PCB layout on the IO Board even easier for the end user.

When the prototype Compute Module 4 IO Boards arrived back from manufacture, the connectors hadn’t arrived in time to be assembled by machine, so I fitted them by hand in the lab. Pro tip: if you have to fit connectors by hand, take your time to ensure they are lined up correctly, and use lots of flux to help the solder flow into the joints. Sometimes people use very small soldering iron tips thinking it will help; in fact, one of the goals of soldering is to get heat into the joint, and if the tip is too small it will be difficult to heat the solder joint sufficiently to make a good connection.

Compute Module 4 IO Board

New features

Whilst it was easy to add some headline features like a second HDMI port, other useful features don’t grab as much attention. One example is that we have simplified the powering requirements. Previous Compute Modules required multiple PSUs to power a board, and the power-up sequence had to be exactly correct. Compute Module 4 simply requires a single +5V PSU.

In fact, the simplest possible base board for Compute Module 4 just requires a +5V supply and one of the connectors and nothing else. You would need a CM4 variant with eMMC and wireless connectivity; you can boot the module with the eMMC, wireless connectivity gives you networking, and Bluetooth connectivity gives you access to IO devices. If you do add extra IO devices the CM4 also can provide a +3.3V supply to power those devices, avoiding the need for an external power supply.

We have seen some customers experience issues with adding wireless interfaces to previous Compute Modules, so a really important requirement was to provide the option of wireless support. We wanted to be as flexible as possible, so we have added support for an external antenna. Because radio certification can be a very hard and expensive process, we have a pre-certified external antenna kit that can be supplied with Compute Module 4. This should greatly simplify product certification for end products, although engineering designers should check to make certain of meeting all local requirements.

Antenna Kit and Compute Module 4

PCIe

This is probably the most exciting new interface to come to Compute Module 4. On the existing Raspberry Pi 4, this interface is used internally to add the XHCI controller which provides the USB 3 ports. By providing the PCIe externally, we are giving end users the choice of how they would like to use this interface. Many applications don’t need USB 3 performance, so the end user can make use of it in other ways — for NVMe drives, to take one example.

Ethernet

In order to have wired Ethernet connectivity with previous Compute Modules, you needed to add an external USB-to-Ethernet interface. This adds complexity to the IO board, and one of the aims of the new Compute Module 4 is to make interfacing to it simple. With this in mind, we added a physical Ethernet interface to CM4, and we also took the opportunity to add support for IEEE1588 to this. As a result, adding Gigabit wired networking to CM4 requires only the addition of a magjack; no extra silicon is needed. Because this is a true Gigabit interface, it is also faster than the USB-to-Ethernet interfaces that previous Compute Modules use.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

Open-sourcing the Compute Module 4 IO Board design files

Early on in the process, we decided that we were going to open-source the design files for the Compute Module 4 IO Board. We used our big expensive CAD system for Compute Module 4 itself, and while we could have decided to do the design for the IO Board in the big CAD system too and then port it across to KiCAD, it’s easy to introduce issues in the porting process.

So, instead, we used KiCAD for the IO Board from the start, and the design files that come out of KiCAD are the same ones that we use in manufacture. During development I had both CAD systems running at the same time on the computer.

Easier integration and enhanced possibilities

We have made some big changes to our new Compute Module 4 range, and these should make integration much simpler for our customers. Many interfaces now just need a connector and power, and the new form factor should enable people to design more compact and more powerful products. I look forward to seeing what our customers create over the next few years with Compute Module 4.

High-density connector on board underside

Get your Compute Module 4

The new Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 is available from our network of Approved Resellers. Head over to the Compute Module 4 product page and select your preferred variant to find your nearest reseller.

Can’t find a reseller near you? No worries. Many of our Approved Resellers ship internationally, so try a few other locations.

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3D-printable cases for the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/3d-printable-cases-for-the-raspberry-pi-high-quality-camera/

Earlier this year, we released the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, a brand-new 12.3 megapixel camera that allows you to use C- and CS-mount lenses with Raspberry Pi boards.

We love it. You love it.

How do we know you love it? Because the internet is now full of really awesome 3D-printable cases and add-ons our community has created in order to use their High Quality Camera out and about…or for Octoprint…or home security…or SPACE PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT?!

The moon, captured by a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera. Credit: Greg Annandale

We thought it would be fun to show you some of 3D designs we’ve seen pop up on sites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory, so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can build their own camera too!

Adafruit did a thing, obvs

Shout out to our friends at Adafruit for this really neat, retro-looking camera case designed by the Ruiz Brothers. The brown filament used for the casing is so reminiscent of the leather bodies of SLRs from my beloved 1980s childhood that I can’t help but be drawn to it. And, with snap-fit parts throughout, you can modify this case model as you see fit. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Nikon to Raspberry Pi

While the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera is suitable for C- and CS-mount lenses out of the box, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to only these sizes! There’s a plethora of C- and CS-mount adapters available on the market, and you can also 3D print your own adapter.

Thingiverse user UltiArjan has done exactly that and designed this adapter for using Nikon lenses with the High Quality Camera. Precision is key here to get a snug thread, so you may have to fiddle with your printer settings to get the right fit.

And, for the Canon users out there, here’s Zimbo1’s adapter for Canon EF lenses!

Raspberry Pi Zero minimal adapter

If you’re not interested in a full-body camera case and just need something to attach A to B, this minimal adapter for the Raspberry Pi Zero will be right up your street.

Designer ed7coyne put this model together in order to use Raspberry Pi Zero as a webcam, and according to Cura on my laptop, should only take about 2 hours to print at 0.1 with supports. In fact, since I’ve got Cura open already…

3D print a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera?!

Not a working one, of course, but if you’re building something around the High Quality Camera and want to make sure everything fits without putting the device in jeopardy, you could always print a replica for prototyping!

Thingiverse user tmomas produced this scale replica of the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with the help of reference photos and technical drawings, and a quick search online will uncover similar designs for replicas of other Raspberry Pi products you might want to use while building a prototype

Bonus content alert

We made this video for HackSpace magazine earlier this year, and it’s a really hand resource if you’re new to the 3D printing game.

Also…

…I wasn’t lying when I said I was going to print ed7coyne’s minimal adapter.

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Maddie and Greg go live with computers!

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/maddie-and-greg-go-live-with-computers/

This Saturday morning, our friends Maddie Moate and Greg Foot will be live at The Centre for Computing History for a computing- and retro gaming-inspired episode of their show Let’s Go Live, and you can tune in from 10am to join the fun.

Retro gaming and computer funtimes

Saturday’s show will be a retro feast of vintage video games, and will answer questions such as ‘What is a computer?’ and ‘How do computers work?’. As always, Maddie and Greg have a number of activities planned, including designing pixel art and going on a tech safari! They’re also extremely excited to step inside a giant computer and try to put it back together!

Let’s Go Live

Let’s Go Live is a family science show that Maddie and Greg began on day 1 of lockdown to help with the challenge of homeschooling. Since then, Maddie and Greg have hosted 50 live shows from their ‘spare room studio’ and caught the attention of millions of families across the world who enjoy tuning into their daily dose of fun, facts, and science activities.

After a short break, the two are now back for the summer holidays and plan to make Let’s Go Live bigger and better than ever by bringing you live shows from unique locations across the UK — a new venue each week!

Maddie and Greg will be live on Facebook and YouTube, and we recommend subscribing to Maddie’s channel to ensure you never miss an episode.

Do you know: All Maddie’s T-shirt merch is made in a factory run by Raspberry Pis? Here’s her video about her new line of T-shirts, and here’s our video about the factory.

But I want more!

We don’t blame you! If you’ve already been following Maddie and Greg on their Let’s Go Live journey throughout lockdown, and you’re looking for more fun online content to entertain you and your family, look no further than the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Digital Making at Home:

Digital Making at Home

Each week, we share a themed code-along video and host a live stream to inspire families to have fun with coding and digital making at home! Join Christina, Marc, Mr C and their host of special guests as they work their way through our great coding activities. This week, the Digital Making at Home team has been exploring outer space, and they show you how to use Scratch and Python code to race the International Space Station, animate astronauts, and defy gravity.

And our next theme for Digital Making at Home — out tomorrow just when Let’s Go Live finishes — is retro games!

You’ll find all the episodes of Digital Making at Home on our website — new ones are added every Saturday morning. And on the website, you can also tune into our weekly code-along live stream every Wednesday at 2pm BST!

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Website hosting on Raspberry Pi 4 with Mythic Beasts

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/website-hosting-on-raspberry-pi-4-with-mythic-beasts/

Here’s Mythic Beast’s Pete Stevens to talk about how we run the Raspberry Pi website on Raspberry Pis, and how Mythic Beasts can run your site on Raspberry Pis too!

Rent a Raspberry Pi

In late 2016, Mythic Beasts launched a Raspberry Pi cloud, allowing you to rent a Raspberry Pi 3 as a service.

Raspberry Pi 4 is a much more capable computer, with more than twice the performance and, crucially, four times the memory. We were so excited by it, we bet Eben Upton a beer that we could host the launch site for Raspberry Pi 4 on Raspberry Pi 4. We’d demonstrated that it was just about possible to run a normal day on a cluster of eight Raspberry Pi 3s, but launch day is a bit more exciting — tens of millions rather than a million visitors.

Eben, being a fool supremely confident in the work that his team had done, took the bet and let us. On Thursday 20 June 2019, he dropped off eighteen 4GB RAM Raspberry Pi 4 computers that had previously been used in testing. We set about configuring them to replace all the web servers that run the Raspberry Pi blog.

  • 14× Dynamic Web server (PHP/Apache)
  • 2× Static webserver (Apache, flat files)
  • 2× Memcache (in memory store to accelerate web serving)

We started the build on Friday 21 June. We immediately ran into our first ‘chicken and egg’ problem. The Raspberry Pi web servers are built from Puppet, based (at the time) on Debian Jessie. Raspberry Pi 4’s release OS was a not-yet-released version of Debian Buster, which at the time wasn’t supported by Puppet. In conjunction with Greg Annandale at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we created a Puppet build that would run on Raspberry Pi 4, updated the configuration from Jessie to Buster (newer Apache/PHP), and did some testing.

A rack of Raspberry Pis and a mess of wires connecting them
The enclosures were built to accommodate a larger PoE HAT, which is why this doesn’t stand up beautifully neatly.

We have pre-built enclosures from our Raspberry Pi 3 cloud. We followed the same approach using Power over Ethernet to provide power and data to each Raspberry Pi 4. This dramatically reduces the cabling and complexity of the setup. Late on Friday 21, just over 24 hours after we started, we moved the hastily constructed Raspberry Pi 4 setup to Sovereign House, a key Mythic Beasts data centre and one of the best-connected buildings in Europe.

Over the course of a few hours, we gradually moved the entire production load from the existing virtual servers to the Raspberry Pi 4 cloud and every page from the blog was being served directly off Raspberry Pi 4. We left it for two days to bed in before the real test: launch day.

The launch was almost perfectly smooth. The Raspberry Pi cluster coped fine with the tens of millions of users. However, the Raspberry Pi cluster and website is fronted by Cloudflare, which provides acceleration for static resources and protects the site from denial of service. Unfortunately, they had a two-hour outage in the middle of the launch thanks to a misconfigured internet optimiser run by a customer of Verizon. So the Raspberry Pi 4 cluster had a long lunch break wondering where all the users had gone.

We ran the website on the Raspberry Pi 4 cluster for over a month before reverting back to the usual virtual server-based environment. We’d proved that RaspberryPi 4 would make an awesome hosting platform.

Commercialising Raspberry Pi 4 as a service

We were already running Raspberry Pi 3 as a service for many customers (e.g. PiWheels, which builds Python packages for Raspberry Pi), and being able spin up Raspberry Pi 3 on demand is incredibly useful.

At launch, Raspberry Pi 4 wasn’t suitable. We rely on network boot in order to be able to remotely re-image Raspberry Pi. SD cards just aren’t very reliable; visiting the data centre for manual intervention on every SD card failure is not only expensive in time, but also means we’d have to maintain physical access to every Raspberry Pi 4 in our cloud. Netboot means that we just build large enclosures of 108 Raspberry Pis and seal them in, as they will never require physical attention. If one fails — and we’ve not yet seen one fail — we can shut it down and take it out of our database.

For Raspberry Pi 4 we had to wait for network booting to be a reality. We had access to beta firmware in November 2019 and built a sample Raspberry Pi 4 network boot setup. We then had to integrate it into our management code, build Raspberry Pi 4–compatible operating system images, and enhance our billing to cope with multiple models and by-the-hour billing. Then we had to do a file server and network upgrade: serving lots of machines with true gigabit needs more ‘oomph’ than the 100Mbps of Raspberry Pi 3. This also all needed to be backward-compatible so as not to break the existing Raspberry Pi 3 users. On 17 June 2020 we launched, and Raspberry Pi 4 is now ready to order in our cloud.

Is it any good?

Yes. Raspberry Pi is twice as fast as the same-sized instances in AWS, for a quarter of the price. Just see for yourself:

Raspberry Pi 4 a1.large mg6.medium
Spec 4 cores @ 1.5GHz
4GB RAM
2 cores
4GB RAM
1 core
4GB RAM
Monthly price £8.63 $45.35
(~£36.09)
$34.69
(~ £27.61)
Requests per second 107 52 57
Mean requests per second 457ms 978ms 868ms
99th percentile request time 791ms 1247ms 1056ms

But what about 8GB and 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS?

That sounds like a jolly nice idea. Keep watching the Mythic Beasts blog for updates.

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OpenVX API for Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/openvx-api-for-raspberry-pi/

Raspberry Pi is excited to bring the Khronos OpenVX 1.3 API to our line of single-board computers. Here’s Kiriti Nagesh Gowda, AMD‘s MTS Software Development Engineer, to tell you more.

OpenVX for computer vision

OpenVX™ is an open, royalty-free API standard for cross-platform acceleration of computer vision applications developed by The Khronos Group. The Khronos Group is an open industry consortium of more than 150 leading hardware and software companies creating advanced, royalty-free acceleration standards for 3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, vision, and machine learning. Khronos standards include Vulkan®, OpenCL™, SYCL™, OpenVX™, NNEF™, and many others.

Now with added Raspberry Pi

The Khronos Group and Raspberry Pi have come together to work on an open-source implementation of OpenVX™ 1.3, which passes the conformance on Raspberry Pi. The open-source implementation passes the Vision, Enhanced Vision, & Neural Net conformance profiles specified in OpenVX 1.3 on Raspberry Pi.

Application developers may always freely use Khronos standards when they are available on the target system. To enable companies to test their products for conformance, Khronos has established an Adopters Program for each standard. This helps to ensure that Khronos standards are consistently implemented by multiple vendors to create a reliable platform for developers. Conformant products also enjoy protection from the Khronos IP Framework, ensuring that Khronos members will not assert their IP essential to the specification against the implementation.

OpenVX enables a performance and power-optimized computer vision processing, especially important in embedded and real-time use cases such as face, body, and gesture tracking, smart video surveillance, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), object and scene reconstruction, augmented reality, visual inspection, robotics, and more. The developers can take advantage of using this robust API in their application and know that the application is portable across all the conformant hardware.

Below, we will go over how to build and install the open-source OpenVX 1.3 library on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. We will run the conformance for the Vision, Enhanced Vision, & Neural Net conformance profiles and create a simple computer vision application to get started with OpenVX on Raspberry Pi.

OpenVX 1.3 implementation for Raspberry Pi

The OpenVX 1.3 implementation is available on GitHub. To build and install the library, follow the instructions below.

Build OpenVX 1.3 on Raspberry Pi

Git clone the project with the recursive flag to get submodules:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/KhronosGroup/OpenVX-sample-impl.git

Note: The API Documents and Conformance Test Suite are set as submodules in the sample implementation project.

Use the Build.py script to build and install OpenVX 1.3:

cd OpenVX-sample-impl/
python Build.py --os=Linux --venum --conf=Debug --conf_vision --enh_vision --conf_nn

Build and run the conformance:

export OPENVX_DIR=$(pwd)/install/Linux/x32/Debug
export VX_TEST_DATA_PATH=$(pwd)/cts/test_data/
mkdir build-cts
cd build-cts
cmake -DOPENVX_INCLUDES=$OPENVX_DIR/include -DOPENVX_LIBRARIES=$OPENVX_DIR/bin/libopenvx.so\;$OPENVX_DIR/bin/libvxu.so\;pthread\;dl\;m\;rt -DOPENVX_CONFORMANCE_VISION=ON -DOPENVX_USE_ENHANCED_VISION=ON -DOPENVX_CONFORMANCE_NEURAL_NETWORKS=ON ../cts/
cmake --build .
LD_LIBRARY_PATH=./lib ./bin/vx_test_conformance

Sample application

Use the open-source samples on GitHub to test the installation.

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Volunteer your Raspberry Pi to IBM’s World Community Grid

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/ibm-world-community-grid/

IBM’s World Community Grid is working with scientists at Scripps Research on computational experiments to help find potential COVID-19 treatments. Anyone with a Raspberry Pi and an internet connection can help.

Why is finding potential treatments for COVID-19 so important?

Scientists all over the globe are working hard to create a vaccine that could help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, this process is likely to take many months — or possibly even years.

In the meantime, scientists are also searching for potential treatments for the symptoms of COVID-19. A project called OpenPandemics – COVID-19 is one such effort. The project is led by researchers in the Forli Lab at Scripps Research, who are enlisting the help of World Community Grid volunteers.

What is World Community Grid and how does it work? 

World Community Grid is an IBM social responsibility initiative that supports humanitarian scientific research. 

Image text reads: Accelerate research with no investment of time or money. When you become a World Community Grid volunteer, you donate your device's spare computing power to help scientists solve the world's biggest problems in health and sustainability.

As a World Community Grid volunteer, you download a secure software program to your Raspberry Pi, macOS or Windows computer, or Android device. This software program (called BOINC) is used to run World Community Grid projects, and is compatible with the Raspberry Pi OS and most other operating systems. Then, when your device is not using its full power, it automatically runs a simulated experiment in the background that will help predict the effectiveness of a particular chemical compound as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Finally, your device automatically returns the results of the completed simulation and requests the next simulation.

Over the course of the project, volunteers’ devices will run millions of simulations of small molecules interacting with portions of the virus that causes COVID-19. This is a process known as molecular docking, which is the study of how two or more molecules fit together. When a simulated chemical compound fits, or ‘docks’, with a simulation of part of the virus that causes COVID-19, that interaction may point to a potential treatment for the disease.

An image of a calendar with the text: Get results that matter. As a World Community Grid volunteer, your device does research calculations when it's idle, so just by using it as. you do every dat you can help scientists get results in months instead of decades. With your help, they can identify the most important areas to study in the lab, bringing them one step closer to discoveries that save lives and address global problems.

World Community Grid combines the results from your device along with millions of results from other volunteers all over the world and sends them to the Scripps Research team for analysis. While this process doesn’t happen overnight, it accelerates dramatically what would otherwise take many years, or might even be impossible.

OpenPandemics – COVID-19 is the first World Community Grid project to harness the power of Raspberry Pi devices, but the World Community Grid technical team is already working to make other projects available for Raspberry Pi very soon.

Getting ready for future pandemics

Scientists have learned from past outbreaks that pandemics caused by newly emerging pathogens may become more and more common. That’s why OpenPandemics – COVID-19 was designed to be rapidly deployed to fight future diseases, ideally before they reach a critical stage.

A image of a scientist using a microscope. Text reads: Your device could help search for potential treatments for COVID-19. Scientists are using World Community Grid to accelerate the search for treatments to COVIS-19. The tools and techniques the scientists develop to fight COVID-19 could be used in the future by all researchers to help more quickly find treatments for potential pandemics

To help address future pandemics, researchers need access to swift and effective tools that can be deployed very early, as soon as a threatening disease is identified. So, the researchers behind OpenPandemics – COVID-19 are creating a software infrastructure to streamline the process of finding potential treatments for other diseases. And in keeping with World Community Grid’s open data policy, they will make their findings and these tools freely available to the scientific community. 

Join a global community of science supporters

World Community Grid is thrilled to make OpenPandemics – COVID-19 available to everyone who wants to donate computing power from their Raspberry Pi. Every device can play a part in helping the search for COVID-19 treatments. Please join us!

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Wes’s wonderful Minecraft user notification display

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/wess-wonderful-minecraft-user-notification-display/

This Minecraft sign uses a Raspberry Pi to notify you when, and how many of, your friends are logged into your dedicated Minecraft server.

Let’s start by pointing out how wonderfully nostalgic many of Wes ‘Geeksmithing’ Swain’s projects are. From his Raspberry Pi–housing cement Thwomp that plays his favourite Mario games to The NES Project, his NES replica unit with a built-in projector — Wes makes the things we wished for as kids.

The NES Project covered in HackSpace magazine

We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if his next project is a remake of Duckhunt with servo-controlled ducks, or Space Invaders but it’s somehow housed in a flying space invader that shoots back with lasers. Honestly, at this point, we wouldn’t put it past him.

Making the Minecraft friend notification display

In the video, Wes covers the project in two parts. Firstly, he shows off the physical build of making the sign, including laser-cut acrylic front displayed with controllable LED lights, a Raspberry Pi Zero, and the wooden framing.

Secondly, he moves on to the code, in which he uses mcstatus, a Python class created by Minecraft’s Technical Director Nathan Adams that can be used to query servers for information. In this instance, Wes is using mcstatus to check for other players on his group’s dedicated Mincecraft server, but the class can also be used to gather mod information. You can find mcstatus on GitHub.

Each friend is assigned a letter that illuminates if they’re online.

Lucky for Wes, he has the same number of friends on his server as the number of letters in ‘Minecraft’, so for every friend online, he’s programmed the display to illuminate a letter of the Minecraft logo. And while the server is empty, he can also set the display to run through various light displays, including this one, a dedication to the new Minecraft Nether update.

If you’d like to try making this project yourself, you can: Wes goes into great detail in his video, and the code for the project can be found on his GitHub account.

And while we have your attention, be sure to subscribe to Geeksmithing on YouTube and show him some love for such a great project.

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The Raspberry Pi Store reopens today

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-store-reopens-today/

We’re pleased to announce that today, the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge re-opens its doors. We have taken care to follow government guidelines to ensure a clean and safe environment for our staff and customers.

 

What to expect

While we’ve removed all interactive activities, you’ll still be able to experience the versatility of Raspberry Pi via our displays, and our staff will be on hand to talk you through any projects you’d like to know more about.

To make sure everyone can maintain physical distancing, we’re limiting numbers to a maximum of seven customers in the store at a time. We’ve also marked a one-way route around the store to help you shop without squeezing past others.


We have trained all our colleagues in the Raspberry Pi Store team in current health and safety measures, and they’ll be working hard to keep all surfaces sanitised while continuing to offer advice and support to our visitors.

Our newly revised opening times align with those of the Grand Arcade shopping centre, and we’re working closely with centre management to continue to follow updated government guidelines.

Fully stocked

Everything is in stock. From the new 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 and the 8GB Desktop Kit to the High Quality Camera and its companion book, The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide, all our recently released products are in stock and ready to go.

We’re also continuing to stock and sell gift cards, third-party products, and in-store exclusives.


How you can help us

If you plan to visit the Raspberry Pi Store, please continue to exercise social distancing by keeping 2m between yourself and others. Please use our free hand sanitiser when you enter the store, and, if you can, wear a face mask to protect both yourself and others.


Come along!

So, if you happen to be in Cambridge, please pop in and say hi… from a distance. And, if you have any further questions, visit the Raspberry Pi Store webpage, where you’ll find our FAQs, directions to the store, and contact details.

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Monitoring bees with a Raspberry Pi and BeeMonitor

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/monitoring-bees-with-a-raspberry-pi-and-beemonitor/

Keeping an eye on bee life cycles is a brilliant example of how Raspberry Pi sensors help us understand the world around us, says Rosie Hattersley

The setup featuring an Arduino, RF receiver, USB cable and Raspberry Pi

Getting to design and build things for a living sounds like a dream job, especially if it also involves Raspberry Pi and wildlife. Glyn Hudson has always enjoyed making things and set up a company manufacturing open-source energy monitoring tools shortly after graduating from university. With access to several hives at his keen apiarist parents’ garden in Snowdonia, Glyn set up BeeMonitor using some of the tools he used at work to track the beehives’ inhabitants.

Glyn bent down infront of a hive checking the original BeeMonitor setup

Glyn checking the original BeeMonitor setup

“The aim of the project was to put together a system to monitor the health of a bee colony by monitoring the temperature and humidity inside and outside the hive over multiple years,” explains Glyn. “Bees need all the help and love they can get at the moment and without them pollinating our plants, weíd struggle to grow crops. They maintain a 34∞C core brood temperature (± 0.5∞C) even when the ambient temperature drops below freezing. Maintaining this temperature when a brood is present is a key indicator of colony health.”

Wi-Fi not spot

BeeMonitor has been tracking the hives’ population since 2012 and is one of the earliest examples of a Raspberry Pi project. Glyn built most of the parts for BeeMonitor himself. Open-source software developed for the OpenEnergyMonitor project provides a data-logging and graphing platform that can be viewed online.

Spectators in protective suits watching staff monitor the beehive

BeeMonitor complete with solar panel to power it. The Snowdonia bees produce 12 to 15 kg of honey per year

The hives were too far from the house for WiFi to reach, so Glyn used a low-power RF sensor connected to an Arduino which was placed inside the hive to take readings. These were received by a Raspberry Pi connected to the internet.

Diagram showing what information BeeMonitor is trying to establish

Diagram showing what information BeeMonitor is trying to establish

At first, there was both a DS18B20 temperature sensor and a DHT22 humidity sensor inside the beehive, along with the Arduino (setup info can be found here). Data from these was saved to an SD card, the obvious drawback being that this didn’t display real-time data readings. In his initial setup, Glyn also had to extract and analyse the CSV data himself. “This was very time-consuming but did result in some interesting data,” he says.

Sensor-y overload

Almost as soon as BeeMonitor was running successfully, Glyn realised he wanted to make the data live on the internet. This would enable him to view live beehive data from anywhere and also allow other people to engage in the data.

“This is when Raspberry Pi came into its own,” he says. He also decided to drop the DHT22 humidity sensor. “It used a lot of power and the bees didn’t like it – they kept covering the sensor in wax! Oddly, the bees don’t seem to mind the DS218B20 temperature sensor, presumably since it’s a round metal object compared to the plastic grille of the DHT22,” notes Glyn.

Bees interacting with the temperature probe

Unlike the humidity sensor, the bees don’t seem to mind the temperature probe

The system has been running for eight years with minimal intervention and is powered by an old car battery and a small solar PV panel. Running costs are negligible: “Raspberry Pi is perfect for getting projects like this up and running quickly and reliably using very little power,” says Glyn. He chose it because of the community behind the hardware. “That was one of Raspberry Pi’s greatest assets and what attracted me to the platform, as well as the competitive price point!” The whole setup cost him about £50.

Glyn tells us we could set up a basic monitor using Raspberry Pi, a DS28B20 temperature sensor, a battery pack, and a solar panel.

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The Raspberry Pi Press store is looking mighty fine

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-raspberry-pi-press-store-is-looking-mighty-fine/

Eagle-eyed Raspberry Pi Press fans might have noticed some changes over the past few months to the look and feel of our website. Today we’re pleased to unveil a new look for the Raspberry Pi Press website and its online store.

Did you know?

Raspberry Pi Press is the publishing imprint of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd, which is part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity that does loads of cool stuff with computers and computer education.

Did you also know?

Raspberry Pi Press publishes five monthly magazines: The MagPi, HackSpace Magazine, Wireframe, Custom PC, and Digital SLR Photography. It also produces a plethora of project books and gorgeous hardback beauties, such as retro gamers’ delight Code the Classics, as well as Hello World, the computing and digital making magazine for educators! Phew!

And did you also, also know?

The Raspberry Pi Press online store ships around the globe, with copies of our publications making their way to nearly every single continent on planet earth. Antarctica, we’re looking at you, kid.

It’s upgrade time!

With all this exciting work going on, it seemed only fair that Raspberry Pi Press should get itself a brand new look. We hope you’ll enjoy skimming the sparkling shelves of our online newsagents and bookshop.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little tsundoku

You can pick up all the latest issues of your favourite magazines or treat yourself to a book or three, and you can also subscribe to all our publications with ease. We’ve even added a few new payment options to boot.

New delivery options

We’ve made a few changes to our shipping options, with additional choices for some regions to make sure that you can easily track your purchases and receive timely and reliable deliveries, even if you’re a long way from the Raspberry Pi Press printshop.

Customers in the UK, the EU, North America, Australia, and New Zealand won’t see any changes to delivery options. We continue to work to make sure we’re offering the best price and service we can for everyone, no matter where you are.

Have a look and see what you think!

So hop on over to the new and improved Raspberry Pi Press website to see the changes for yourself. And if you have any feedback, feel free to drop Oli and the team an email at [email protected].

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New book: The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-the-official-raspberry-pi-camera-guide/

To coincide with yesterday’s launch of the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, Raspberry Pi Press has created a new Official Camera Guide to help you get started and inspire your future projects.

The Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

Connecting a High Quality Camera turns your Raspberry Pi into a powerful digital camera. This 132-page book tells you everything you need to know to set up the camera, attach a lens, and start capturing high-resolution photos and video footage.

Make those photos snazzy

The book tells you everything you need to know in order to use the camera by issuing commands in a terminal window or via SSH. It also demonstrates how to control the camera with Python using the excellent picamera library.

You’ll discover the many image modes and effects available – our favourite is ‘posterise’.

Build some amazing camera-based projects

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start using your camera for a variety of exciting Raspberry Pi projects showcased across the book’s 17 packed chapters. Want to make a camera trap to monitor the wildlife in your garden? Build a smart door with a video doorbell? Try out high-speed and time-lapse photography? Or even find out which car is parked in your driveway using automatic number-plate recognition? The book has all this covered, and a whole lot more.

Don’t have a High Quality Camera yet? No problem. All the commands in the book are exactly the same for the standard Raspberry Pi Camera Module, so you can also use this model with the help of our Official Camera Guide.

Snap it up!

The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide is available now from the Raspberry Pi Press online store for £10. And, as always, we have also released the book as a free PDF. But the physical book feels so good to hold and looks so handsome on your bookshelf, we don’t think you’ll regret getting your hands on the print edition.

Whichever format you choose, have fun shooting amazing photos and videos with the new High Quality Camera. And do share what you capture with us on social media using #ShotOnRaspberryPi.

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RetroPie for Raspberry Pi 4: video game emulation on our fastest-ever device

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/retropie-for-raspberry-pi-4-video-game-emulation-on-our-fastest-ever-device/

For many of you out there, your first taste of Raspberry Pi is using it as a retro gaming emulator running RetroPie. Simple to install and use, RetroPie allows nostalgic gamers (and parents trying to educate their kids) the ability to play old-schoolskool classics on any monitor in their home, with cheap USB game controllers or models from modern consoles.

GuzziGuy RetroPie Table

Mid-century-ish Retro Games Table’ by Reddit user GuzziGuy

And because our community is so wonderfully inventive, Raspberry Pis running RetroPie have found themselves in homebrew gaming cabinets, old console casings, and even game cartridges themselves.

[Original Showcase Video] Pi Cart: A Raspberry Pi Retro Gaming Rig in an NES Cartridge

I put a Raspberry Pi Zero (and 2,400 vintage games) into an NES cartridge and it’s awesome. Powered by RetroPie. — See the full build video: https://www.yo…

Along came Raspberry Pi 4

When we announced Raspberry Pi 4 last year, a much faster device with more RAM than we’d previously offered, the retro gaming enthusiasts of the world quickly took to prodding and poking the current version of the RetroPie software to get it to work on our new, more powerful computer. And while some succeeded, those gamers not as savvy with manually updating the RetroPie software had to wait for a new image.

Retro Pie 4.6

And so yesterday, to much hurrah from the Raspberry Pi and retro gaming community, the RetroPie team announced the release of image version 4.6 with beta Raspberry Pi 4 support!

One of the biggest changes with the update is the move to Raspbian Buster, the latest version of our operating system, from Raspbian Stretch. And while they’re currently still advertising the Raspberry Pi 4 support as in beta, version 4.6 works extremely well on our newest model.

Update today!

Visit the RetroPie website today to download the 4.6 image, and if you have any difficulties with the software, visit the RetroPie forum to find help, support, and a community of like-minded gamers.

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Don’t forget about Steam Link on Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/dont-forget-about-steam-link-on-raspberry-pi/

Connect your gaming PC to your TV with ease, thanks to Steam Link and Raspberry Pi.

A Steam Link to the past

Back in 2018, we asked Simon, our Asset Management Assistant Keeper of the Swag, Organiser of the Stuff, Lord Commander of the Things to give Steam Link on Raspberry Pi a try for us, as he likes that sort of thing and was probably going to do it anyway.

Valve’s Steam Link, in case you don’t know, allows users of the gaming distribution platform Steam to stream video games from their PC to a display of their choice via their home network, with no need for cumbersome wires and whatnot.

Originally produced as a stand-alone box in 2018, Valve released this tool as a free download to all Raspberry Pi users, making it accessible via a single line of code. Nice!

The result of Simon’s experiment was positive: he reported that setting up Steam Link was easy, and the final product was a simple and affordable means of playing PC games on his TV, away from his PC in another room.

And now…

Well, it’s 2020 and since many of us are staying home lately, so we figured it would be nice to remind you all that this streaming service is still available.

To set up Steam Link on your Raspberry Pi, simply enter the following into a terminal window:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install steamlink

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Building a split mechanical keyboard with a Raspberry Pi Zero controller

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/building-a-split-mechanical-keyboard-with-a-raspberry-pi-zero-controller/

Looking to build their own ergonomic mechanical split keyboard, Gosse Adema turned to the Raspberry Pi Zero W for help.

So long, dear friend

Gosse has been happily using a Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard for years. You know the sort, they look like this:

Twenty years down the line, the keyboard has seen better days and, when looking for a replacement, Gosse decided to make their own.

This is my the first mechanical keyboard project. And this will be for daily usage. Although the possibilities are almost endless, I limit myself to the basic functionality: An ergonomic keyboard with mouse functions.

Starting from scratch

While searching for new switched, Gosse came across a low-profile Cherry MX that would allow for a thinner keyboard. And what’s the best device to use when trying to keep the profile of your project as thin as possible? Well, hello there, Raspberry Pi Zero W, aren’t you looking rather svelte today.

After deciding to use a Raspberry Pi as the keyboard controller over other common devices, Gosse took inspiration from an Adafruit tutorial on turning Raspberry Pi into a USB gadget, and from “the usbarmory Github page of Chris Kuethe”, which describes how to create a USB gadget with a keyboard.

Build your own

There is a lot *A LOT* of information on how Gosse built the keyboard on Instructables and, if we try to go into any detail here, our word count is going to be in the thousands. So, let’s just say this: the project uses some 3D printing, some Python code, and some ingenuity to create a lovely-looking final keyboard. If you want to make your own, Gosse has provided absolutely all the information you need to do so. So check it out, and be sure to give Gosse some love via the comments section on Instructables.

Mechanical keyboards

Also, if you’re unsure of how a mechanical keyboard differs from other keyboards, we made this handy video for you all!

How do mechanical keyboards work?

So, what makes a mechanical keyboard ‘mechanical’? And why are some mechanical keyboards more ‘clicky’ than others? Custom PC’s Edward Chester explains all. …

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Wireframe’s deep(ish) dive into the glorious double jump

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/wireframes-deepish-dive-into-the-glorious-double-jump/

Yoshi aside, we can’t think of anyone who isn’t a fan of the double jump. In their latest video, the Wireframe magazine team take a deep(ish) dive into one of video gaming’s most iconic moves.

What is the Double Jump | Wireframe Deep Dive

The humble jump got a kick in 1984 with the introduction of the double jump, a physicist’s worst nightmare and one of video gaming’s most iconic moves. Subsc…

Also, HDR!

Are you looking to upgrade your computer monitor? Last week, Custom PC magazine, a publication of Raspberry Pi Press, released their latest video discussing HDR monitors. Are you ready to upgrade, and more importantly, should you?

What is an HDR monitor? High dynamic range explained | Custom PC magazine

High dynamic range (HDR) monitors are all the rage, but what exactly is HDR and which monitors produce the best image quality? Check out our full HDR guide: …

We produce videos for all our Raspberry Pi Press publications, including magazines such as The MagPi and HackSpace magazine, as well as our book releases, such as Code the Classics and Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity.

Subscribe to the Raspberry Pi Press YouTube channel today and click on the bell button to ensure you’re notified of all new releases. And, for our complete publication library, visit the Raspberry Pi Press online store.

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How to use a button with a Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/how-to-use-a-button-with-a-raspberry-pi/

Here’s our latest How to use video, showing you how to connect a button to your Raspberry Pi.

HOW TO USE a BUTTON with Raspberry Pi

Learn how to use a tactile button with your Raspberry Pi. They’re a great addition to any digital making project! Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rp…

Connect a button to Raspberry Pi

Attaching a button to your Raspberry Pi is a great way of introducing digital making into your coding experience. Use it to play music, turn lights on and off, or even shut down your device.

Follow our other How to use videos to learn how to use a servo motor, LED, and Raspberry Pi camera module with your Raspberry Pi. Try linking them together to build something grander, such as a digital camera, a robot, or a music box.

How to use Raspberry Pi

You’ll find a full list of our current How to use videos here – be sure to subscribe to our channel for more content as we release it.

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Create Boing!, our Python tribute to Pong

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/create-boing-our-python-tribute-to-pong/

Following on from yesterday’s introduction to Pong, we’re sharing Boing!, the Python-based tribute to Pong created by Eben Upton exclusively for Code the Classics. Read on to get a detailed look at the code for Boing!

You can find the download link for the Boing! code in the Code the Classics book, available now in a variety of formats. Be sure to stick with today’s blog post until the end, for a special Code the Classics offer.

From Pong to Boing!

To show how a game like Pong can be coded, we’ve created Boing! using Pygame Zero, a beginner-friendly tool for making games in Python. It’s a good starting point for learning how games work – it takes place on a single screen without any scrolling, there are only three moving objects in the game (two bats and a ball), and the artificial intelligence for the computer player can be very simple – or even non-existent, if you’re happy for the game to be multiplayer only. In this case, we have both single-player and two-player modes.

The code can be divided into three parts. First, there’s the initial startup code. We import from other Python modules so we can use their code from ours. Then we check to make sure that the player has sufficiently up-to-date versions of Python and Pygame Zero. We set the WIDTH and HEIGHT variables, which are used by Pygame Zero when creating the game window. We also create two small helper functions which are used by the code.



The next section is the largest. We create four classes: Impact, Ball, Bat, and Game. The first three classes inherit from Pygame Zero’s Actor class, which amongst other things keeps track of an object’s location in the game world, and takes care of loading and displaying sprites. Bat and Ball define the behaviour of the corresponding objects in the game, while Impact is used for an animation which is displayed briefly whenever the ball bounces off something. The Game class’s job is to create and keep track of the key game objects, such as the two bats and the ball.

Further down, we find the update and draw functions. Pygame Zero calls these each frame, and aims to maintain a frame rate of 60 frames per second. Gameplay logic, such as updating the position of an object or working out if a point has been scored, should go in update, while in draw we tell each of the Actor objects to draw itself, as well as displaying backgrounds, text, and suchlike.



Our update and draw functions make use of two global variables: state and game. At any given moment, the game can be in one of three states: the main menu, playing the game, or the game-over screen. The update and draw functions read the state variable and run only the code relevant to the current state. So if state is currently State.MENU, for example, update checks to see if the SPACE bar or the up/down arrows are pressed and updates the menu accordingly, and draw displays the menu on the screen. The technical term for this kind of system is ‘finite state machine’.

The Game class’s job is to create and keep track of the key game objects

The game variable references an instance of the Game class as described above. The __init__ (constructor) method of Game optionally receives a parameter named controls. When we create a new Game object for the main menu, we don’t provide this parameter and so the game will therefore run in attract mode – in other words, while you’re on the main menu, you’ll see two computer-controlled players playing against each other in the background. When the player chooses to start a new game, we replace the existing Game instance with a new one, initialising it with information about the controls to be used for each player – if the controls for the second player are not specified, this indicates that the player has chosen a single-player game, so the second will be computer-controlled.

Two types of movement

In Boing!, the Bat and Ball classes inherit from Pygame Zero’s Actor class, which provides a number of ways to specify an object’s position. In this game, as well as games in later chapters, we’re setting positions using the x and y attributes, which by default specify where the centre of the sprite will be on the screen. Of course, we can’t just set an object’s position at the start and be done with it – if we want it to move as the game progresses, we need to update its position each frame. In the case of a Bat, movement is very simple. Each frame, we check to see if the relevant player (which could be a human or the computer) wants to move – if they do, we either subtract or add 4 from the bat’s Y coordinate, depending on whether they want to move up or down. We also ensure that the bat does not go off the top or bottom of the screen. So, not only are we only moving along a single axis, our Y coordinate will always be an integer (i.e. a whole number). For many games, this kind of simple movement is sufficient. Even in games where an object can move along both the X and Y axes, we can often think of the movement along each axis as being separate. For example, in the next chapter’s game, Cavern, the player might be pressing the right arrow key and therefore moving along the X axis at 4 pixels per frame, while also moving along the Y axis at 10 pixels per frame due to gravity. The movement along each axis is independent of the other.

Able to move at any angle, the ball needs to move at the same speed regardless of its direction

For the Ball, things get a bit more complicated. Not only can it move at any angle, it also needs to move at the same speed regardless of its direction. Imagine the ball moving at one pixel per frame to the right. Now imagine trying to make it move at a 45° angle from that by making it move one pixel right and one pixel up per frame. That’s a longer distance, so it would be moving faster overall. That’s not great, and that’s before we’ve even started to think about movement in any possible direction.

The solution is to make use of vector mathematics and trigonometry. In the context of a 2D game, a vector is simply a pair of numbers: X and Y. There are many ways in which vectors can be used, but most commonly they represent positions or directions.

You’ll notice that the Ball class has a pair of attributes, dx and dy. Together these form a vector representing the direction in which the ball is heading. If dx and dy are 1 and 0.5, then each time the ball moves, it’ll move by one pixel on the X axis and a half a pixel on the Y axis. What does it mean to move half a pixel? When a sprite is drawn, Pygame Zero will round its position to the nearest pixel. So the end result is that our sprite will move down the screen by one pixel every other frame, and one pixel to the right every frame (Figure 1).

We still need to make sure that our object moves at a consistent speed regardless of its direction. What we need to do is ensure that our direction vector is always a ‘unit vector’ – a vector which represents a distance of one (in this case, one means one pixel, but in some games it will represent a different distance, such as one metre). Near the top of the code you’ll notice a function named normalised. This takes a pair of numbers representing a vector, uses Python’s math.hypot function to calculate the length of that vector, and then divides both the X and Y components of the vector by that length, resulting in a vector which points in the same direction but has a length of one (Figure 2).

Vector maths is a big field, and we’ve only scratched the surface here. You can find many tutorials online, and we also recommend checking out the Vector2 class in Pygame (the library on top of which Pygame Zero is built).

Try Boing!

Update Raspbian to try Boing! and other Code the Classics games on your Raspberry Pi.

The full BOING! tutorial, including challenges, further explanations, and a link to the downloadable code can be found in Code the Classics, the latest book from Raspberry Pi Press.

We’re offering £1 off Code the Classics if you order it before midnight tomorrow from the Raspberry Pi Press online store. Visit the store now, or use the discount code PONG at checkout if you make a purchase before midnight tomorrow.

As always, Code the Classics is available as a free PDF from the Wireframe website, but we highly recommend purchasing the physical book, as it’s rather lovely to look at and would make a great gift for any gaming and/or coding enthusiast.

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