All posts by Alex Bate

Learn how to document your code

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/learn-document-code/

In our latest resource, we show you how to create a website and use it to document your coding projects.

documenting your code Raspberry Pi resources

Why document your code?

Search the web with the right key words for your programming conundrum, and you’re bound to find someone who has written software to address a question that’s at least similar to yours. And not only that, they’re also making their software freely available under an open source license, and writing documentation to help you use their code. How awesome it that?!

Many people who write code are eager to share their programs and allow others to use and remix them according to their own needs. This is why the open source community is so inviting for makers, especially those who want to make projects that are yet beyond their ability to build from scratch.

So unless you plan on turning your code into a money-making commodity, you’re writing scripts that you can share with others. By adding clear, supporting online documentation to your code, you’ll help people all over the world to not only use your software but to also understand what everything does and become better programmers themselves.

Our resource

In our latest resource, we show you how to use docstrings to automatically create documentation for your Python code. Then, we walk you through using Sphinx to build a website showcasing this documentation and any example scripts you want to share with the world.

You’ll learn how to create supporting documentation to guide users through elements of your code, add multiple pages to your website, and use themes to costumise the site’s layout and make it stand out.

You can find the resource here, and our full list of free resources here on our projects site.

More free resources


We’ve also recently released a new Sense HAT music player project, along with a resource teaching basic Raspberry Pi terminal navigation skills with a fun game to find all the Pac-Man ghosts.

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Eight(ish) Raspberry Pi projects for the summer

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-summer-projects/

The sun is actually shining here in Cambridge, and with it, summer-themed Raspberry Pi projects are sprouting like mushrooms across our UK-based community (even though mushrooms don’t like hot weather…). So we thought we’d gather some of our favourite Pi-powered projects perfect for the sun-drenched outdoors.

Air quality monitors and solar radiation

With the sun out in all its glory, we’re spending far more time outside than is usual for UK summer. To protect yourself and your adventurous loved ones, you might want to build a Raspberry Pi device to monitor solar radiation.

Raspberry Pi summer project

“Solar radiation is the radiation, or energy, we get from the sun.” explains project designer Uladzislau Bayouski. “Measurements for solar radiation are higher on clear, sunny day and usually low on cloudy days. When the sun is down, or there are heavy clouds blocking the sun, solar radiation is measured at zero.”

To measure more health-related environmental conditions, you could build this air quality monitor and keep an eye on local pollution.

Particulater air quality Oliver Crask Raspberry Pi summer project

Maker Oliver Crask describes the project:

Data is collected by the particulates sensor and is combined with readings of temperature, humidity, and air pressure. This data is then transferred to the cloud, where it is visualised on a dashboard.

If you’ve been building your own hackable weather station using our free guide, these are also great add-ons to integrate into that project.

Build Your Own weather station kit assembled Raspberry Pi summer project

Automatic pet and plant feeders

While we’re spending our days out in the sun, we need to ensure that our pets and plants are still getting all the attention they need.

This automatic chicken feeder by Instructables user Bertil Vandekerkhove uses a Raspberry Pi to remotely control the release of chicken feed. No more rushing to get home to feed your feathered friends!

Raspberry Pi summer project

And while we’re automating our homes, let us not forget the plants! iPlanty is an automated plant-watering system that will ensure your favourite plant babies get all the moisture they need while you’re away from your home or office.

Planty Project

An automated Plant watering solution that waters my plant every day at 8:30

Electromagnetic bike shed lock

If, like me, you live in constant fear that your beloved bike may be stolen, this electromagnetic bike shed lock is the solution you need.

Raspberry Pi summer project

The lock system allows for only one user per lock at any one time, meaning that your bike needs to be removed before anyone else can use their RFID card to access the shed.

Time-lapse cameras

With so much sunlight available, now is the perfect time to build a time-lapse camera for your garden or local beauty spot. Alex D’s Zero W time-lapse HAT allows for some glorious cinematic sliding that’s really impressed us.

Slider Test Sunset

Slider settings: -960 mm drive distance -400 steps -28 seconds interval Camera settings (Canon EOS 550D): – Magic Lantern auto ettr – max ISO 1600 – max Exposure 10 seconds

If you don’t think you can match Alex’s PCB milling skills, you can combine our free Raspberry Pi timelapse resource and Adafruit’s motorised camera slider for a similar project!

Infrared laser tag

Raspberry Pi summer project

While it’s sunny and warm, why not make this Raspberry Pi Zero W laser tag for the kids…

…and then lock them outside, and enjoy a Pimms and a sit-down in peace. We’re here for you, suffering summer holiday parents. We understand.

Self-weighing smart suitcase

“We’re all going on a summer holiday”, and pj_dc’s smart suitcase will not only help you track of your case’s location, it’ll also weigh your baggage.

Raspberry Pi summer project

Four 50kg load cells built into the base of the case allow for weight measurement of its contents, while a GPS breakout board and antenna let you track where it is.

Our free resources

While they’re not all summer-themed, our free Raspberry Pi, Code Club, and CoderDojo resources will keep you and your family occupied over the summer months whenever you’ve had a little too much of the great outdoors. From simple Scratch projects through to Python and digital making builds, we’ve got something for makers of all levels and tastes!

Getting started with Raspberry Pi summmer projects

If you’re new to Raspberry Pi, begin with our Getting started guide. And if you’re looking for even more projects to try, our online community shares a sea of tutorials on Twitter every week.

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Dialling into local stories with Jura whisky phones

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/local-stories-jura-whisky-phones/

Raspberry Pis? Check. Iconic phoneboxes? Check. Whisky? Check, check, check. Find out how Bright Signals incorporated all three for the launch of the latest range of Jura whisky.

Raspberry Pi Bright Signal Jura whisky

Jura whisky from Jura

When Jura, a distillery on the Scottish island of Jura — population 200 — wanted to promote their new range of whisky, they and creative agency Punk decided to install a series of phoneboxes on the island that tell the stories of locals.

Grant Gibson, Bright Signals’ Deputy Managing Director, has taken the time to explain the process of retrofitting UK pay phones with Raspberry Pis. Here’s a brief time-lapse of the process:

Building phones for Jura

In June 2018 I built three custom pay phones for Jura Whisky. You can read all about the build here.

Retrofitting phoneboxes

The process wasn’t as easy as the video would have you believe — Grant met a series of bumps in the road along the way.

I started by buying a standard UK pay phone. Made by Solitaire, it’s the kind of vandal-proof steel unit you might find in a shopping centre or airport. The good news is that it looked the part and was really sturdy. The bad news is that the whole inside of the phone was a single PCB, with everything from the LCD display to the on-hook sensor surface mounted.

Eventually, Grant decided to remove the PCB entirely and rebuild the innards using an Adafruit Membrane Keypad, a Raspberry Pi, and a Pimoroni Display-O-Tron.

Raspberry Pi Bright Signal Jura whisky

Motion sensor–triggered phone calls

“I mounted a Raspberry Pi to act as the brains of the device,” explains Grant. “The on-board sound from the headphone port does double duty, providing both the sound heard through the handset and the incoming ringtone, which is in turn triggered by a PIR sensor; the phone automatically starts ringing whenever anyone walks past the phone box.”

Raspberry Pi Bright Signal Jura whisky

The phone boxes will go on tour across the UK and the rest of the world, so if you’d like to see them in person, and try some Jura whisky, keep your eye on the Jura Twitter account.

For more information on the project, visit Grant’s website. And while you’re there, be sure to check out Bright Signal’s other Raspberry Pi-based builds: the bicycle-powered beer dispenser for Menabrea, the Magners #6Stringer guitar built of cans, and Rude-olf, the animatronic reindeer.

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Your own Grand Theft Auto San Andreas radio

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/grand-theft-auto-radio/

Relive the San Andreas glory days with this Grand Theft Auto radio built by Raphaël Yancey.

Raphaël Yancey on Twitter

With the “tuned” status LED. https://t.co/PuIi6sY78V

…and now I have Barracuda stuck in my head.

The music of GTA

Anyone who has played Grand Theft Auto knows that one of the best parts of the series is the radio stations: a mix of classic tunes and often comical DJ interludes make driving haphazardly through the streets of San Andreas a joy.

GTA

And much like fans of the Fallout series, many of us GTA players are guilty of listening to the in-game music outside of gaming sessions.

Hacking a radio

Maker Raphaël Yancey loves the San Andreas tunes so much, he decided to build his own Grand Theft Auto radio, complete with the MP3s available from Rockstar, the game’s creators.

Raphaël used a 1970s Optalix TO100 portable radio for this project, along with a Raspberry Pi 3. While this would be enough to create a music player, he also added two potentiometers for volume control and frequency tuning, as shown in the video above.

GTA Radio

Python code allows the potentiometers to move within a virtual frequency range of 88.7Mhz to 108.0Mhz, with five stations to find along the way. A LED comes on whenever the player finds a station, and the Pi then plays the music.

You can find Raphaël’s complete code for building your own GTA radio here. We’re keen to see what other game-based music projects our community will come up with. Here at Pi Towers, we have a spare Fallout Pip-Boy that’s aching to play the sweet sounds of the post-apocalyptic Commonwealth…

Raspberry Pi and music

The integration of Raspberry Pi within music projects is a theme we’re very fond of. From rejuvenated jukeboxes such as Tijuana Rick’s 1960’s Wurlitzer, to The Nest, a USB music download system built into Table Mountain, we’ve seen a host of imaginative projects and are always eager to discover more.

So if you’ve used a Raspberry Pi in your music project, whether it be a jukebox, a guitar pedal, or an instrument, be sure to share it with us.

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World Cup fever: Raspberry Pi football projects to try

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

Rumour has it that there’s a worldwide football tournament on, and that England, surprisingly, are doing quite well. In celebration, here are some soccer-themed Raspberry Pi projects for you to try out at home between (or during) matches.

FutureLearn Football

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2018-07-09.

Beat the goalie

Score as many goals as you can in 30 seconds with our code-it-yourself Beat the Goalie game for Scratch. You can access Scratch in any web browser, or offline with your Raspberry Pi.

Beat the goalie scratch raspberry pi

Start by coding a moving football in Scratch, and work through the project to build a game that tallies your successful attempts on goal within a time limit that you choose. Up the stakes by upgrading your game to include second-player control of the penguin goalie.

Table football

Once you’ve moved on from penalty practice, it’s time to recruit the whole team!

Table football Scratch

Our Table Football project – free, like all of our learning projects – comes with all the ingredients you need to recreate the classic game, including player sprites, graphics, and sounds.

Instant replay!

Scratch is all well and good, but it’s time we had some real-life table football, with all the snazzy upgrades you can add using a Raspberry Pi.

Foosball Instant Replay

Demo of Foosball Instant Replay system More info here: * https://github.com/swehner/foos * https://github.com/netsuso/foos-tournament Music: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jahzzar/Blinded_by_dust/Magic_Mountain_1877

Stefan Wehner’s build is fully documented, so you can learn how to add automatic goal detection, slow-motion instant replay, scorekeeping, tallying, and more.

Ball tracking with Marty

Marty is a 3D-printable educational robot powered by a Raspberry Pi. With the capacity to add the Raspberry Pi camera module, Marty is a great tool for practising object tracking – in this case, ball tracking – for some football fun with robots!

Teaching Marty the Robot to Play Football

In this video we start to program Marty The Robot to play football, using a camera and Raspberry Pi on board to detect the ball and the goal. With the camera, Marty can spot a ball, and detect a pattern next to the goal.

You can also check out Circuit Digest’s ball-tracking robot using a Raspberry Pi, and this ball tracking tutorial by amey_s on Instructables.

What did we miss?

Have you built a football-themed project using a Raspberry Pi? What projects did we miss in our roundup? Share them with us here in the comments, or on social media.

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Ten awesome 3D-printable Raspberry Pi goodies

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/3d-printable-raspberry-pi/

3D printing has become far more accessible for hobbyists, with printer prices now in the hundreds instead of thousands of pounds. Last year, we covered some of the best 3D-printable cases for the Pi, and since then, Raspberry Pi enthusiasts have shared even more cool designs on sites such as MyMiniFactory and Thingiverse!

Here are ten of our recent favourites:

World Cup Sputnik

“With the World Cup now underway, I wanted a Russia-themed football sculpture to hang over the desk,” explains creator Ajax Jones. “What better than a football-styled Sputnik!”

Raspberry Pi 3d-printable World Cup Sputnik

The World Cup Sputnik comes complete with a Raspberry Pi that transmits the original Sputnik ‘beeps’ on an FM frequency, allowing co-workers to tune in for some 1960s nostalgia.

Radios

We see an abundance of musical Raspberry Pi projects online, and love looking out for the ones housed in interesting, unique cases like these:

Raspberry Pi 3d-printable radio
Raspberry Pi 3d-printable radio

The MiniZ is a streaming radio based on the Zenith Cube, created by Thingiverse user thisoldgeek.

This is a case for a small, retro radio powered by Logitech Media Server. It uses a Raspberry Pi Zero W and displays a radio dial (tunes via a knob), a clock, and ‘Now Playing’ album art.

For something a little more simple to use, Lukas2040‘s NFC radio for children comes with illustrated, NFC-tagged cards to allow his two-year-old daughter to pick her own music to play.

Gaming

Whether it’s console replicas or tabletop arcade cabinets, the internet is awash with gaming-themed Raspberry Pi projects. Here are a few of our favourites!

The Okama Gamesphere is a fictional game console from South Park. Leodym has taken the rather stylish design and converted it into a Raspberry Pi 3 case.

Okama Gamesphere 3d-printable Raspberry Pi case
Okama Gamesphere 3d-printable Raspberry Pi case
Okama Gamesphere 3d-printable Raspberry Pi case

Canino‘s Yet Another Mini Arcade is exactly that. We really like how it reminds us of old, imported gaming consoles from our childhoods.

3d-printable Raspberry Pi arcade case

“I really love the design and look of the HP OMEN Accelerator,” writes designer STIG_. “So I decided to draw up a case for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.”

OMEN Accelerator 3D-printable Raspberry Pi case
OMEN Accelerator 3D-printable Raspberry Pi case
OMEN Accelerator 3D-printable Raspberry Pi case

We really love it too, STIG_. Well done.

Ironman, Ironman, does whatever an Ironman can…

atlredninja‘s Ironman Mark 7 torso housing for the Google AIY Projects Voice Kit is pretty sweet!

Iron man AIY case Neopixel Rings Adafruit

Iron man AIY case Neopixel Rings Adafruit 16 and 12 LEDS. 3d files and instructions for assembly here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2950452 This is just a test to make sure the LEDs are working and the A.I. is working correctly. This took me about 3 weeks to design, print, and assemble.

This model is atlredninja‘s second version of an Ironman-themed AIY project: the first fits within a replica helmet. We’re looking forward to a possible third edition with legs. And a fourth that flies.

We can dream, can’t we?

Speaking of Marvel

How often have you looked at Thor’s hammer and thought to yourself “If only it had a Raspberry Pi inside…”

Raspberry Pi Thor case

This case from furnibird is one of several pop culture–themed Raspberry Pi cases that the designer has created. Be sure to check out the others, including a Deathstar and Pac-Man.

3D-printable bird box

chickey‘s 3D-printable Raspberry Pi Bird Box squeezes a Raspberry Pi Zero W and a camera into the lid, turning this simple nesting box into a live-streaming nature cam.

3D-printed raspberry pi bird box
3D-printed raspberry pi bird box
3D-printed raspberry pi bird box

The Raspberry Pi uploads images directly to a webpage, allowing you to check in on the feathered occupants from any computer or mobile device. Nifty.

Print a Raspberry Pi!

Using a 3D-printed Raspberry Pi in place of the real deal while you’re prototyping in the workshop may save you from accidentally damaging your tiny computer.

3D-printed Raspberry Pi 3
3D-printed Raspberry Pi 3
3D-printed Raspberry Pi 3

AlwaysComputing designed this Raspberry Pi Voxel Model using MagicaVoxel, stating “I like to tinker and play with the program MagicaVoxel. I find it therapeutic!”

What else?

What Raspberry Pi–themed 3D prints have you seen lately? Share your favourites with us in the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook.

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Tired of queuing for the office toilet? Meet Occu-Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/office-toilet-occu-pi/

This is the story of Occu-Pi, or how a magnet, a Raspberry Pi, and a barrel bolt saved an office team from queuing for the toilet.

Occu Pi Raspberry Pi toilet signal

The toil of toilet queuing

When Brian W. Wolter’s employer moved premises, the staff’s main concern as the dearth of toilets at the new office, and the increased queuing time this would lead to:

Our previous office had long been plagued by unreasonably long bathroom lines. At several high-demand periods throughout the day we’d be forced to wait three, four, five people deep while complaining bitterly to each other until our turn to use the facilities arrived. With even fewer bathrooms in our new office, concern about timely access was naturally high.

Faced with this problem, the in-house engineers decided to find a technological solution.

Occu-Pi

The main thing the engineers had to figure out was just how to determine the difference between a closed door and an occupied stall. Brian explains in his write-up:

There is one notable wrinkle: it’s not enough to know the door is closed, you need to know if the bathroom is actually in use — that is, locked from the inside. After considering and discarding a variety of ‘creative’ solutions (no thank you, motion sensors and facial recognition), we landed on a straightforward and reliable approach.

The team ended up using a magnet attached to the door’s barrel bolt to trigger a notification. Simply shutting the door doesn’t act as a trigger — the bolt needs to lock the door to set off a magnetic switch. That switch then triggers both LED notifications and updates to a dedicated Slack channel.

Occu-Pi Raspberry Pi toilet signal

For the technically-minded, Occu-Pi is a pretty straightforward build. And those wanting to learn more about it can find a full write-up in Brian’s Medium post.

We’ve seen a few different toilet notification projects over the years, for example this project from DIY Tryin’ using a similar trigger plus a website. What’s nice about Occu-Pi, however, is the simplicity of its design and the subtle use of Slack — Pi Tower’s favoured platform for office shenanigans.

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Track your speed and distance while skateboarding

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/speed-distance-tracking-skateboard/

Fight the urge to chant the Avril Lavigne song as you cruise the streets on Pieter Thomas’s speed- and distance-tracking skateboard.

Speed and distance tracking Raspberry Pi skateboard

Instant approval

“That is sweet!” exclaimed Ben Nuttall when I shared this project on the Raspberry Pi Slack channel. And indeed it is — a simple idea, perfectly executed, resulting in a final product that actually managed to coax a genuine and positive response from Ben!

Prove your worth ☑

Project creator Pieter Thomas, a student at Howest Kortrijk University, needed to show off his skills by building a ‘something’ for his course. His inspiration?

I came up with this idea because I like to skate and cruise around. While I’m cruising, it would be handy to see how much distance I’ve travelled and see my speed.

So he decided to incorporate an odometer, a speedometer, and an RFID reader into a skateboard to produce this neat build.

Make and skate

While Pieter has an Arduino manage the onboard RFID reader, he’s put a Raspberry Pi 3 in charge of everything else, including the speed and distance readings taken with the help of a hall effect sensor (a transducer that uses magnetic fields to manage voltage output).

Speed and distance tracking Raspberry Pi skateboard

Pieter added the RFID reader to identify different users, with databases allowing for session data collection — perfect for time and speed challenges among friends!

Home-brew casing

All the electronics live in a Tupperware-like container that Pieter screwed to the bottom of the board. Holes in the deck display an LCD screen, a potentiometer, and a buzzer.

Speed and distance tracking Raspberry Pi skateboard

To allow speed and distance calculations, Pieter drilled a hole into one of the wheels and inserted a magnet. Once per wheel rotation, the hall effect sensor recognises the passing magnet. The build records the time taken between passes, computes the speed and distance covered, and shows them on the LCD screen.

Pieter’s Instructables project page goes into a lot more detail of how to build your own skate-o-meter. If you’ve used a Pi for your skateboarding project, make sure to let us know!

Skateboard + Pi

Other impressive Raspberry Pi–based board builds include Tim Maier’s motorised skateboard, aka the first blog post I ever wrote for Raspberry Pi, and Matt ‘The Raspberry Pi Guy’ Timmons-Brown’s 30kmph longboard, aka the project that resulted in this video of Raspberry Pi’s Director of Software Engineering:

Sk8r Pi ft. The Raspberry Pi Guy… and Gordon

The Raspberry Pi Guy popped into Pi Towers to show off his new creation. While skating up and down the office on his Pi-powered skateboard, our Director of Software Engineering, Gordon Hollingworth, decided to have a go.

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Make your own custom LEDs using hot glue!

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/homemade-custom-leds-using-hot-glue/

Tired of using the same old plastic LEDs in your projects? It’s time to grab a hot glue gun and some confectionary moulds to create your own custom LEDs!

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

Blinky LEDs!

Lighting up an LED is the standard first step into the world of digital making with a Raspberry Pi. For example, at our two-day Picademy training events, budding Raspberry Pi Certified Educators are shown the ropes of classroom digital making by learning how to connect an LED to a Pi and use code to make it blink.

Anastasia Hanneken on Twitter

Blinking LED Light @Raspberry_Pi #picademy! https://t.co/zhTODYsBxp

And while LEDs come in various sizes, they’re all pretty much the same shape: small, coloured domes of plastic with pointy legs that always manage to draw blood when I grab them from the depths of my maker drawer.

So why not do away with the boring and make some new LEDs based on your favourite characters and shapes?

Making custom LEDs with a whole lotta hot glue

The process of creating your own custom LEDs is pretty simple, but it’s not without its risk — namely, burnt fingertips and sizzled LEDs! So be careful when making these, and supervise young children throughout the process.

The moulds

I used flexible ice cube trays, but you could also use chocolate moulds. As long as the mould is flexible, this should work — I haven’t tried hard plastic moulds, so I can’t make any promises for those. Also be sure to test whether your mould will withstand the heat of the hot glue!

Check your LEDs

Before you submerge your LEDs in hot glue, check to make sure they work. The easiest way to do this is to set up a testing station using a Pi, a breadboard, some jumper wires, and a resistor. To save having to write code, I used the 3V3 pin and a ground pin.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

Remember, the shorter of the two legs connects to the ground pin, while the longer goes to 3V3. If you mix this up, you may end up with a fried LED like this poor LEGO man.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

Everything isn’t awesome.

Once you’ve confirmed that your LED works, bend its legs to make it easier to insert it into the glue.

Glue

Next, grab a hot glue gun and fill a mould. The glue will take a while to cool, so you have some time to make sure that all nooks and crannies are filled before you insert an LED.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

Tip: test a corner of your mould with the tip of your glue gun to check how heat-resistant it is. One of my moulds didn’t enjoy heat and began to bubble.

Once your mould is properly filled, push an LED into the glue, holding on to the legs to keep your fingertips safe. Have a wiggle around to find the bottom and sides of your mould and ensure that your LED is in the centre.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

Pick a colour best suited to your mould. You could try using multiple LEDs on larger moulds to introduce more colours!

You may notice that the LED tries to sink a little and the legs begin to drop. Keep an eye out and adjust them if you need to. They’ll stop moving once the glue begins to set.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

These took about ten minutes to cool down.

Be patient

Don’t rush. The hot glue will take time to cool down, especially if you’re using a larger mould like the one for this Stormtrooper helmet.

Custom hot glue LED

Here I used a gumdrop LED, which is larger than your standard maker kit LED.

You’ll know that the glue has set when the shape pulls away easily from the mould. It should just pop out when its ready.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

Pop!

Light it up

Test your new custom LED one more time on your testing rig to ensure you haven’t damaged the connections.

make your own custom LEDs for Raspberry Pi

As with all LEDs, they look better in the dark (and terrible when you try to take a photo of them), so try testing them in a dim room or at night. You could also use a box to create a small testing lab if you’re planning to make a lot of these.

Custom hot glue LED
Custom hot glue LED
Custom hot glue LED

Now it’s your turn

What custom LED would you want to make? How would you use it in your next project? And what other fun hacks have you used to augment tech for your builds?

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Fancy making a motion-tracking eye in a jar?

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/motion-tracking-eye-in-a-jar/

Using motion detection and a Raspberry Pi Zero W, Lukas Stratmann has produced this rather creepy moving eye in a jar. And with a little bit of, ahem, dissection, you can too!

Floating Eye in a Jar With Motion Tracking

Made for an Arts seminar I attended for my General Studies, i.e. classes not organized by the faculty for CompSci: “Interaktive Exponate entwickeln mit dem RaspberryPi” (translation: Development of interactive exhibitions with the RaspberryPi). Music: Rise by Meydän: CC-BY http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Meydan/For_Creators/Rise_1709 I embedded some neodymium magnets in a ping-pong ball that I’d cut open.

Eww!

We hear you. Among the Raspberry Pi projects we’ve shared on this blog, Lukas’s eye in a jar is definitely one of the eww-est. But the idea and the tech behind it is quite fascinating.

Here’s what we know…

Lukas hasn’t shared the code for his project online. But with a bit of sleuthing, we’re sure the Raspberry Pi community can piece it together.

What we do know is that the project uses a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a camera, some magnets, a servo, and a ping pong ball, with a couple of 3D-printed parts to keep everything in place. Lukas has explained:

I embedded some neodymium magnets in a ping-pong ball that I’d cut open. The magnets and weights (two 20 Euro cent coins) are held in place by a custom 3D-printed mount. Everything is glued in with hot glue, and I sealed the ping-pong ball with silicone sealant and painted it with acrylic paint.

Beneath the jar, a servo motor is connected to a second set of magnets. When the servo moves, these magnets cause the eyeball to move in tandem, by magnet magic.

eye in a jar raspberry pi

Using this tutorial by , Lukas incorporated motion detection into his project, allowing the camera to track passers-by, and the Pi to direct the servo and eyeball.

Build your own eye in a jar

The best skill of makers is their ability to figure out how things work to recreate them. So if you’re up for the challenge, we’d love to see you try to build your own tribute to Lukas’s eye in a jar.

And why stop there? Using magnets and servos with your Raspberry Pi opens up a world of projects, such as Bethanie’s amazing Harry Potter–inspired wizard chess set!

Wizard's Chess gif

How would you use them in your builds?

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How to build a competiton-ready Raspberry Pi robot

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/how-to-build-raspberry-pi-robot/

With the recent announcement of the 2019 Pi Wars dates, we’ve collected some essential online resources to help you get started in the world of competitive robots.

bbc robot wars raspberry pi robot

Robotics 101

Before you can strap chainsaws and flamethrowers to your robot, you need to learn some basics. Sorry.

As part of our mission to put digital making into the hands of people across the globe, the Raspberry Pi Foundation creates free project tutorials for hardware builds, Scratch projects, Python games, and more. And to get you started with robot building, we’ve put together a series of buggy-centric projects!



Begin with our Build a robot buggy project, where you’ll put together a simple buggy using motors, a Raspberry Pi 3, and a few other vital ingredients. From there, move on to the Remotely control your buggy tutorial to learn how to command your robot using an Android phone, a Google AIY Projects Voice Kit, or a home-brew controller. Lastly, train your robot to think for itself using our new Build a line-following robot project.

Prepare your buggy for battle

Put down the chainsaw — we’re not there yet!

raspberry pi robot

For issue 51, The MagPi commissioned ace robot builder Brian Cortiel to create a Build a remote control robot feature. The magazine then continued the feature in issue 52, adding a wealth of sensors to the robot. You can download both issues as free PDFs from The MagPi website. Head here for issue 51 and here for issue 52.

Pi Wars

To test robot makers’ abilities, previous Pi Wars events have included a series of non-destructive challenges: the balloon-popping Pi Noon, the minimal maze, and an obstacle course. Each challenge calls for makers to equip their robot with various abilities, such as speed, manoeuvrability, or line-following functionality.

Tanya Fish on Twitter

Duck shoot, 81 points! Nice one bub. #piwars https://t.co/UCSWaEOJh8

The Pi Wars team has shared a list of hints and tips from Brian Corteil that offer a great place to start your robotics journey. Moreover, many Pi Wars competitors maintain blogs about their build process to document the skills they learn, and the disasters along the way.

raspberry pi robot

This year’s blog category winner, David Pride’s Pi and Chips website, has a wealth of robot-making information.

If you’d like to give your robot a robust, good-looking body, check out PiBorg, robot-makers extraordinaire. Their robot chassis selection can help you get started if you don’t have access to a laser cutter or 3D printer, or if you don’t want to part with one of your Tupperware boxes to house your robot.

And now for the chainsaws!

Robot-building is a great way to learn lots of new skills, and we encourage everyone to give it a go, regardless of your digital making abilities. But please don’t strap chainsaws to your Raspberry Pi–powered robot unless you are trained in the ways of chainsaw-equipped robot building. The same goes for flamethrowers, cattle prods, and anything else that could harm another person, animal, or robot.

Pi Wars raspberry pi robot

Pi Wars 2019 will be taking place on 30 and 31 March in the Cambridge Computer Laboratory William Gates Building. If you’d like to take part, you can find more information here.

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Using E Ink displays with a Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/using-e-ink-raspberry-pi/

Are you interested in using an E Ink display in your next Raspberry Pi project? Let us help you get started!

Raspberry Pi E Ink Displays

Weather and new display using a Raspberry Pi Zero and Kindle e-reader by Luke Haas

E Ink displays

E Ink displays are accessible, they don’t need a lot of power, and they can display content without any power connection whatsoever — think Amazon Kindle if you’ve only a vague knowledge of the technology.

E Ink displays work using negative and positive charges. They contain tiny microcapsules suspended in a liquid within a film layer. The microcapsules consist of negatively charged black particles and positively charged white particles. By applying the correct charge, you control whether the black or white particles come to the surface.

</e_ink_101_with_alex>

E Ink displays for your Raspberry Pi projects

So how and why would you use an E Ink display in your project? Simple! Aside from their low power consumption and indefinite display time, E Ink displays are relatively cheap, light, and interesting to look at. Plus, they’re easy to read in sunny conditions, which isn’t always true of LCD screens. And with e-readers now in their teens, there are plenty of forgotten devices collecting dust in drawers, ready to be repurposed.

Repurposing old e-readers

If you’ve ever tried to use the ‘experimental browser’ on a Kindle device, you’ll have found yourself transported back to the glory days of dial-up refresh rates and half-downloaded images. The only thing missing is the screeching connection tone. However, by connecting your Kindle to the same network as your Raspberry Pi, you can create a web page accessible to the e-reader to display data to your E Ink screen.

This bike computer by David Schneider makes use of that trick:

DIY: Build A Better Bike Computer

A Raspberry Pi and Kindle make vital information about your bicycle journey readable. Read more: http://spectrum.ieee.org/video/geek-life/hands-on/video-build-a-better-bike-computer

Secondhand e-readers are fairly easy to pick up from websites such as eBay, from your local carboot/yard sale, or from book-loving friends or family members. If you have one to hand and want to get making, you’ll find an abundance of tutorials for notification displays and low-power minimalist computers using e-readers.

Brand-new E Ink displays

If you want to buy a smaller display, or don’t have access to an old e-reader, you’ll find many online hobby retailers selling E Ink screens in several sizes and colours. The Pi Supply PaPiRus comes in many shapes and sizes as an easy-to-use Raspberry Pi HAT (Hardware Attached on Top). Simply push it in place on the GPIO pins, download the library to your Pi, and you’re good to go.

Raspberry Pi E Ink Displays

In case you’re looking to add a little more colour to your display, the Pimoroni red, white, and black Inky pHAT is an add-on designed for the Raspberry Pi Zero.

Raspberry Pi E Ink Displays

A quick and effective project for a smaller display like this is a Raspberry Pi Zero name badge, and we’ve seen our share of them at tech events and Picademy training sessions.

Brian Corteil 🤖 on Twitter

@MKRaspberryJam Yes, just like this one, pHat badge is a case for showing of your pHats, look mum no power!

Once you’ve programmed your Pi and updated your E Ink screen, you can detach it from the Pi and wow those you meet with your magic power-free digital name badge!

And if you buy yourself an E Ink HAT, you can even have a go at this Monzo-powered money tracker.

Raspberry Pi E Ink Monzo Display

Past predictions of Liz Upton

Back in 2013, our Director of Communication, Liz Upton, wrote a post about Max Ogden’s Kindleberry Pi build, commenting the following:

Here at the Foundation, we’re watching the development of e-ink products with great interest. At the moment it’s nigh-on impossible to buy an e-ink display as a consumer unless it comes bundled as part of an e-reader like a Kindle or a Nook; and that makes them very expensive. The technology has all kinds of potential for applications we want to see the Pi being used for: the low energy requirement makes an e-ink screen a perfect choice for places where you’re off the grid or reliant on solar power. We’re looking forward to seeing prices come down and displays becoming more easily available to consumers.

How lovely to be sat here in 2018, writing a post about the growing use of E Ink displays and the wide availability of the technology to hobbyists and digital makers! It shows how far the electronics industry for home builders has come, and we’re excited to see where it’s heading next.

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A working original Doctor Who K-9 prop

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/k-9-working-doctor-who-prop/

When Abertay University purchased some unwanted Doctor Who props from the BBC in 2011, they could never have known that their future computer science student Gary Taylor would transform a water-damaged robot corpse into a working K-9, the cutest (and snarkiest) of all the Doctor’s companions.

K-9 Doctor Who Raspberry Pi Prop

image c/o The Courier

K-9

If you’re unfamiliar with Doctor Who, you may not be aware of the Doctor’s robotic-canine best friend, K-9. I won’t wax lyrical about the long and winding history of this iconic science fiction character (though I could), but those of you who want to learn more can watch the video below.

History of K9 – History of Doctor Who

Hello and welcome to the Whoniverse and to another instalment of the History of Doctor Who series, this time I’m not looking at a universe conquering species but a tin dog. Yes the Doctor’s past travelling companion K9. There have been many versions of K9 and he has appeared alongside numerous Doctor’s and other companions.

Tl;dw: K-9 is basically a really clever, robotic dog invented in the year 5000.

Resurrecting a robotic dog

For his final-year dissertation, computer science student Gary Taylor decided to bring K-9 back to life, having discovered the prop damaged by a water leak in the university hackspace.

“I love robotics, I love programming, I love dogs, and I love Doctor Who.” Don’t we all, Gary. Don’t we all.
Image c/o The Courier

For his dissertation, titled Creating an Autonomous Robot Utilizing Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Ultrasound Sensors for Mapping a Room, Gary used modern-day technology to rebuild K-9’s original and often unreliable radio-controlled electronics from the 1970s.

However, Gary’s K-9 is more than a simple remote-controlled robot. As the dissertation title states, the robot uses ultrasound sensors for room mapping, and this function is controlled by both an Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

A block diagram taken from Gary’s dissertation

An Arduino Mega 2560 controls the wheels and three ultrasound sensors located at the bottom of K-9’s body. It passes the sensor data to the onboard Raspberry Pi 3, and the Pi plots obstacles and walls to create a map of K-9’s surroundings.

The three ultrasonic sensors can be seen along the bottom of K-9’s body

The Raspberry Pi also connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth, where Gary runs a custome app to remotely control K-9 and view the map it creates.

More information? Affirmative!

The team at the Electronic Engineering Journal has written up a very thorough explanation of Gary’s dissertation. Those interested in the full details of the robot won’t be disappointed!

For a video of Gary and K-9 that refuses to embed itself in this blog post, head over to The Courier’s website.

And for more Doctor Who–related Raspberry Pi builds, check out Jeremy Lee’s remake of Captain Jack’s Vortex Manipulator, a synthesised rendition of the classic theme using a Raspberry Pi Zero, and a collection of builds and props in this Doctor Who roundup, including a sonic screwdriver, a Dalek, and a TARDIS in near-space.

Oh, and another thing…

BBC released some cool behind-the-scenes images and photos from season ten of Doctor Who, including this production art for Nardole’s tracking device:

The Pi Towers staff may have let out a little squee of delight when we noticed the Raspberry Pi included within.

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Echoing the Newcastle of yesteryear with Pi-powered whistles

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/steve-messam-whistle/

Artist Steve Messam is celebrating the North of England’s historic role in railway innovation with 16 Raspberry Pi–controlled steam engine whistles around the city of Newcastle.

Steve Messam Raspberry Pi Whistle The Great Exhibition of the North

The Great Exhibition of the North

The Great Exhibition of the North is a summer-long celebration of the pioneering spirit of the North of England. Running over 80 days, the event will feature live performances, exhibitions, artworks, and displays of innovation from 22 June – 9 September 2018.

As part of the celebration, artist Steve Messam is introducing his Whistle project in Newcastle in honour of the North’s part in the innovation of the railway. “Listen out for the evocative sound of steam engine whistles once again echoing across the city of Newcastle,” states the project page of The Great Exhibition of the North. “The sound installation is designed to recall the role of the North in engineering and the invention of the railway, sparking memories and forging links between past and present.”

Whistle

Steve first developed the idea for Whistle as a pitch to the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park back in 2014. He originally wanted to install a line of whistles along the 22-mile course of the old railway line between Callander and Glen Dochart, with whistles sounding off in one-second intervals, recreating the sound of the old line.

Below is a very nice roundup of the initial 2-mile test run, including the original whistle designs.

Steve Messam | Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

The Artistic Reflections publication will be available from June 2017 For more information, or to order a copy, please contact: [email protected] Designed by Marco Scerri, edited by Susan Christie and supported by Creative Scotland Steve Messam Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park 186,340 hectares Project website: www.mistandmountains.wordpress.com Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park was designated in 2002 and covers 720 square miles of outstanding landscape adjacent to the central belt of Scotland.

Fast forward to 2018 and The Great Exhibition of the North, where Steve is surrounding the city of Newcastle with 16 newly casted brass whistles. The new installation follows the old city wall of Newcastle, with each whistle sounding at exactly 1pm on every day of the exhibition.

Steve Messam Raspberry Pi Whistle The Great Exhibition of the North

Original plans for the whistle

The William Lane Foundry cast the 16 whistles to match a design by William Armstrong based on measurements of an original whistle held by the North East Locomotive Preservation Group.

Steve Messam Raspberry Pi Whistle The Great Exhibition of the North

Whistle casting at the William Lane Foundry

Each whistle is equipped with a Raspberry Pi that controls the release of compressed air through the brass to replicate the sound of a steam whistle.

Steve Messam on Twitter

Another roof, another day of testing #whistle for #getnorth2018 https://t.co/j5Yszx1Crl

Each unit is powered by solar panels and registers the time from the National Physical Laboratory’s atomic clock in London to ensure accurate timings. As a fallback in case of WiFi issues, the whistles are also linked to the clock set on the Raspberry Pi itself.

Steve Messam on Twitter

The more I think about it the more I really like that ‘Whistle’ only really exists for about 20 seconds each day.

For more information on Whistle, check out this wonderful article by the Teesdale Mercury. You can also find out more about Steve Messam projects, such as his paper bridge that can support the weight of a Land Rover, on his website or by following his Twitter account.

Steve Messam Raspberry Pi Whistle The Great Exhibition of the North

A Whistle-stop tour of Newcastle

And if you’re in Newcastle while The Great Exhibition of the North is running and you spot one of the 16 whistles, be sure to tag us in your pics and videos on social media so we can see it in action.

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Build your own Solo: A Star Wars Story L3-37 droid

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-star-wars-l3-37-droid/

It is a truth universally acknowledged…that everyone wants their own Star Wars droid. If you’re now thinking “No, not me!”, then you obviously haven’t met the right droid yet. But Patrick ‘PatchBOTS‘ Stefanski has, and that droid is L3-37 from the newly released Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Release the droids

Visit your local maker event, such as Maker Faire, and you’re sure to meet at least one droid builder. Building a Star Wars droid is pretty much every maker’s dream, and YouTube droid-building sensation Patrick Stefanski is living that dream. On his Youtube channel PatchBOTS, Patrick is showcasing his maker chops with truly impressive recreations of characters such as BB-8 and our personal favourite, Chopper from Star Wars Rebels.

L3-37

Patrick’s new L3-37 build uses the free Alexa Voice Service and a Raspberry Pi 3 to augment a 3D-printed base model with robotics and AI.

Solo Star Wars Story L3-37 droid PatchBOTs

He designed L3-37’s head based on press images and trailers, and then adjusted some of the visual aesthetic after watching the movie. When he realised that the Amazon Echo Dot he’d started the build with wouldn’t allow him to implement some of the features he had planned, including a unique wake word, Patrick decided to use a Raspberry Pi instead.

Solo Star Wars Story L3-37 droid PatchBOTs

A wake word is the word a home assistant uses to recognise that you’re addressing it. For Amazon Alexa, the standard wake words are ‘Alexa’, ‘Echo’, ‘Amazon’, and ‘computer’. While these are fine for standard daily use, Patrick wanted his droid to acknowledge its own name, L3-37. He also wanted to make L3-37 react with a voice response and movement whenever it heard its name. Using the Raspberry Pi enabled him to edit the home assistant code to include these functionalities, and in this way he made L3-37 truly come to life.

Build your own L3-37 home assistant

If you’d like to build your own L3-37 (and why wouldn’t you), Patrick is in the process of adding the complete set of instructions and code to his Github account. The 3D printer files are available now to get you started, along with the list of ingredients for the build, including servos, NeoPixels, and every propmaker’s staple: Rub n Buff.

If you want buy the parts for this project, why not use the affiliate links Patrick provides in the L3-37 video description to help him fund future projects? And while you’re there, leave a comment to show him some love for this incredible droid build, and also subscribe to his channel to see what he comes up with next.

Solo Star Wars Story L3-37 droid

We’re definitely going to be taking some of the lessons learned in this project to work on our own builds, and we hope you’ll do the same and share your work with us via social media.

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Build your own Arthur satellite dish for tracking the ISS

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/arthur-iss-tracker/

Construct a 3D paper model of the iconic Arthur satellite dish that notifies you whenever the International Space Station passes overhead!

Project_Arthur

Project_Arthur is a fun project allowing you to construct a 3d paper model of the Antenna 1 dish called Arthur from Goonhilly. The model will track the location of the ISS (International Space Station) using an embedded Raspberry PI and notify you when it is over your chosen location!

The Arthur satellite dish at Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station

Based in Cornwall, UK, the Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station was once the largest satellite earth station in the world. It has been home to more than 60 dishes since its first dish, Arthur, was built in 1962.

Arthur satellite dish

Arthur is responsible for bringing many iconic moments in television history to the UK. For example, it transmitted man’s first steps on the moon on 11 June 1962. Since then, it’s become a protected Grade II listed structure.

Project Arthur

Apollo 50’s Project Arthur is an open-source 3D papercraft project that allows you to build your own desktop Arthur satellite dish model, complete with LED notifications via a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

The entire body of the satellite dish is built using ten sheets of 160gsm cardstock, printed with the Arthur design that you can download for free from the Project Arthur website. A Raspberry Pi Zero W fits within the base of the model, and you can push a small LED through the feedhorn — the bit that sticks out the front of the dish.

Arthur satellite dish - raspberry pi iss indicator

The Apollo 50 team created a simple IFTTT web applet that accesses an API to find out the location of the International Space Station (ISS).

The project uses a conditional web applet that we created on the IFTTT (If This Then That) platform. The applet monitors an API via NASA and Open Notify that we give a specific location on Earth (such as your home/school). It computes whether the ISS is overhead, and in that case sends a tweet to you with a particular hashtag (such as #ISS_overGoonhilly). When this hashtag is picked up by the code running on the Pi, the LED will flash to indicate that the ISS is overhead!

Raspberry Pi and the International Space Station

Our two Astro Pi units, Ed and Izzy, are currently aboard the International Space Station as part of the ongoing Astro Pi Challenge we’re running in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). The Astro Pi units consist of a Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ and a Sense HAT inside a 6063-grade aluminium flight case, and they allow school children from all ESA member countries to write code to run experiments in space. You can learn more about the Astro Pi Challenge here.

Astro Pi in space - Arthur satellite dish

If you’d like to try out more space-themed Pi projects, our free project resources include ‘People in space’ indicator — a handy LED-packed gadget for checking how many people (that we know of 👽) are currently in space.

Raspberry Pi ISS People in Space indicator - Arthur satellite dish

There are many more free resources on our projects site, including our own take on an ISS tracker, and the files to print your own Astro Pi case. And you can learn more about papercraft in issue 6 of HackSpace magazine, our monthly maker publication available in print and as a free PDF download that makes a sneaky appearance in the Project Arthur video!

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Archimedes, the Google AIY Projects Vision familiar

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/archimedes-google-aiy-vision/

hackster.io‘s ‘resident hardware nerd’ Alex Glow has gifted the world of makers with Archimedes, a shoulder-mounted owl that judges your emotions using the Google AIY Project Vision Kit.

Say Hi to Archimedes – the AI Robot Owl

Say hi to Archimedes – the robot owl with a Google AIY brain. Built with Raspberry Pi + Arduino! Here are some insights into pitfalls of the build process. I made this li’l guy to demo the AIY Vision Kit for Maker Faire 2018… but he’s not going away anytime soon!

Google AIY Project Kits

Google released the Pi-powered AIY Projects Voice Kit last year, providing the entire set of build ingredients with issue 57 of The MagPi Magazine. You loved it, we loved it, and later that year they followed up the Voice Kit’s success with the Vision Kit, also based on the Raspberry Pi.

google aiy vision kit

As the name indicates, the Voice Kit completes tasks in response to voice commands, just like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. The Vision Kit allows makers to experiment with neural networking to implement image recognition in their projects.

Planning for Maker Faire

When the hackster.io team was asked to contribute a project to Google’s stand at Maker Faire Bay Area this year, their in-house self-confessed hardware and robotics nerd Alex Glow took on the challenge.

I took a really, really long time to figure out what to build — what it would look like, how it would animate, how it would dispense the stickers…in the end, I went with this cute and fairly challenging design.

And so, Alex brought Archimedes the robotic owl into the world — and the world is a cuter place for it.

Archimedes the owl

Having set up the Google AIY Vision Kit — you can find Alex’s live build video here — she raided a HackerBox for a pan/tilt gimble. The gimble was far more robust than simple servos, and since Alex wanted to bring Archimedes to more events after Maker Faire, she needed something that would take the wear and tear.

it’ll be fun trying to explain this one // i tried: bit.ly/robotowl

337 Likes, 18 Comments – Alex Glow (@glowascii) on Instagram: “it’ll be fun trying to explain this one // i tried: bit.ly/robotowl”

For Maker Faire, she modified Archimedes to be a shoulder-mounted familiar, but Alex initially mounted him on a box that would open to reveal a prize if Archimedes detected a certain facial expression. For this, she introduced an Arduino into the mix, using the board to control three servos: two for the gimble and the third for the box lid.

Archimedes’s main objective is to hunt out faces and read their expressions. Because of this, his head is always moving so he can take in his surroundings like a real owl.

I combined the AIY Kit’s LED and Joy Detection demos (found in /gpiozero and /joy, respectively). I wanted to make the LED pin turn on when it finds a happy face, but weirdly, this code does the opposite. Someday, I will be enough of a software wizard to figure out why…

Alex designed the owl’s body using OnShape, with the intention of keeping the Raspberry Pi and AIY tech inside. Then she 3D printed the body using the Lulzbot Taz 6 and very hackster-blue filament.

Shawn Hymel on Twitter

Testing out @glowascii ‘s familiar, Archimedes. It knows when I’m sad or happy, but I have to *really* force that happy 😅 #aiy #computervision #ai #3dprinting https://t.co/77pQk9pOHm

Build your own robot familiar

For full instructions on building and coding your own Archimedes, head to Alex’s hackster.io project page. You can keep up to date on the pair’s adventures via Alex’s Twitter account.

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Gliding to earth with the Raspberry Pi Zero

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/zero-hab-glider/

RaptorTech’s goal was to drop a glider from the edge of space, and with a Raspberry Pi and a high-altitude weather balloon, their vision became a reality.

Dropping a glider from 10km with a high-altitude weather balloon

The goal of this project was to drop a glider from the edge of space using a high altitude weather balloon. The glider is entirely homemade and uses the opensource Pixhawk flight controller + a Raspberry Pi Zero to disconnect at the desired altitude and fly to a predetermined landing location.

High-altitude ballooning

Here at Pi Towers, we thoroughly enjoy the link between high-altitude balloon (HAB) enthusiasts and the Raspberry Pi community, from Dave Akerman‘s first attempt at sending a Raspberry Pi to near-space, to our own Skycademy programme training educators in high-altitude ballooning. HABs and the Pi go together like the macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, chips and gravy…you get the idea.

The RaptorTech glider

The RaptorTech team equipped their glider with a Pixhawk flight controller and the small $5 Raspberry Pi Zero to control the time point when the glider disconnects from the HAB, and to allow the glider to autonomously navigate back to a specific landing site.

RaptorTech high-altitude balloon Raspberry Pi Zero glider

They made the glider out of foam core and coroplast, with a covering of tape to waterproof the body. Inside it were two cameras, two servos, the Raspberry Pi Zero, and the Pixhawk flight controller with added GPS tracker (in case the glider got lost on the way home). The electronics were protected by handwarmers from freezing at high altitude.

The Raspberry Pi Zero ran a Python script to control the Pixhawk. At take-off, the Zero set the controller into manual mode to keep the glider from trying to fly off toward its final destination. When the glider reached a pre-determined altitude, the Zero disconnected the glider from the HAB by setting off a solid state relay to burn through the connecting wire. Then the Pi started up the flight controller to direct the glider home. You can find the code for this process here.

All systems go

Due to time limitations and weather restrictions, the RaptorTech team had to drop their glider from 10km instead of 30km as they’d planned. They were pleased to report the safe, successful return of their glider to about 10m from the pre-set landing point.

RaptorTech high-altitude balloon Raspberry Pi Zero glider

If you’d like to follow the adventures of RaptorTech, check out their Facebook page. You can also follow them on YouTube and on their website for more RC plane-based mayhem.

A note from Dave Akerman: “It’s worth pointing out that not only do all HAB flights need permission but that such permission would normally ONLY be for payloads being dropped by parachute. Free-flying gliders, planes, drones etc. are not allowed with specific permission. My understanding, from a HABber in the USA (where this flight was), is that the FAA will not provide such permission. In any case, before dropping anything from a HAB without a parachute, get specific permission first.”

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Randomly generated, thermal-printed comics

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/random-comic-strip-generation-vomit-comic-robot/

Python code creates curious, wordless comic strips at random, spewing them from the thermal printer mouth of a laser-cut body reminiscent of Disney Pixar’s WALL-E: meet the Vomit Comic Robot!

The age of the thermal printer!

Thermal printers allow you to instantly print photos, data, and text using a few lines of code, with no need for ink. More and more makers are using this handy, low-maintenance bit of kit for truly creative projects, from Pierre Muth’s tiny PolaPi-Zero camera to the sound-printing Waves project by Eunice Lee, Matthew Zhang, and Bomani McClendon (and our own Secret Santa Babbage).

Vomiting robots

Interaction designer and developer Cadin Batrack, whose background is in game design and interactivity, has built the Vomit Comic Robot, which creates “one-of-a-kind comics on demand by processing hand-drawn images through a custom software algorithm.”

The robot is made up of a Raspberry Pi 3, a USB thermal printer, and a handful of LEDs.

Comic Vomit Robot Cadin Batrack's Raspberry Pi comic-generating thermal printer machine

At the press of a button, Processing code selects one of a set of Cadin’s hand-drawn empty comic grids and then randomly picks images from a library to fill in the gaps.

Vomit Comic Robot Cadin Batrack's Raspberry Pi comic-generating thermal printer machine

Each image is associated with data that allows the code to fit it correctly into the available panels. Cadin says about the concept behing his build:

Although images are selected and placed randomly, the comic panel format suggests relationships between elements. Our minds create a story where there is none in an attempt to explain visuals created by a non-intelligent machine.

The Raspberry Pi saves the final image as a high-resolution PNG file (so that Cadin can sell prints on thick paper via Etsy), and a Python script sends it to be vomited up by the thermal printer.

Comic Vomit Robot Cadin Batrack's Raspberry Pi comic-generating thermal printer machine

For more about the Vomit Comic Robot, check out Cadin’s blog. If you want to recreate it, you can find the info you need in the Imgur album he has put together.

We ❤ cute robots

We have a soft spot for cute robots here at Pi Towers, and of course we make no exception for the Vomit Comic Robot. If, like us, you’re a fan of adorable bots, check out Mira, the tiny interactive robot by Alonso Martinez, and Peeqo, the GIF bot by Abhishek Singh.

Mira Alfonso Martinez Raspberry Pi

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Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/augenblick-camera/

Warning: a GIF used in today’s blog contains flashing images.

Students at the University of Bremen, Germany, have built a wearable camera that records the seconds of vision lost when you blink. Augenblick uses a Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera Module alongside muscle sensors to record footage whenever you close your eyes, producing a rather disjointed film of the sights you miss out on.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Blink and you’ll miss it

The average person blinks up to five times a minute, with each blink lasting 0.5 to 0.8 seconds. These half-seconds add up to about 30 minutes a day. What sights are we losing during these minutes? That is the question asked by students Manasse Pinsuwan and René Henrich when they set out to design Augenblick.

Blinking is a highly invasive mechanism for our eyesight. Every day we close our eyes thousands of times without noticing it. Our mind manages to never let us wonder what exactly happens in the moments that we miss.

Capturing lost moments

For Augenblick, the wearer sticks MyoWare Muscle Sensor pads to their face, and these detect the electrical impulses that trigger blinking.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Two pads are applied over the orbicularis oculi muscle that forms a ring around the eye socket, while the third pad is attached to the cheek as a neutral point.

Biology fact: there are two muscles responsible for blinking. The orbicularis oculi muscle closes the eye, while the levator palpebrae superioris muscle opens it — and yes, they both sound like the names of Harry Potter spells.

The sensor is read 25 times a second. Whenever it detects that the orbicularis oculi is active, the Camera Module records video footage.

Augenblick blink recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Pressing a button on the side of the Augenblick glasses set the code running. An LED lights up whenever the camera is recording and also serves to confirm the correct placement of the sensor pads.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

The Pi Zero saves the footage so that it can be stitched together later to form a continuous, if disjointed, film.

Learn more about the Augenblick blink camera

You can find more information on the conception, design, and build process of Augenblick here in German, with a shorter explanation including lots of photos here in English.

And if you’re keen to recreate this project, our free project resource for a wearable Pi Zero time-lapse camera will come in handy as a starting point.

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