To help you get the most of out of your Raspberry Pi computer, this official Handbook features 200 pages of essential information, inspiring projects, practical tutorials, and definitive reviews.
If you’re an absolute beginner, you can learn from the Handbook how to set up your Raspberry Pi and start using it. Then you can move on to the step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to code and make with your Raspberry Pi.
Shiny new stuff
You’ll also (re)discover the new Raspberry Pi 400 and High Quality Camera, both released this year. And you’ll find out about the top kits and accessories for your projects.
And finally, we’ve also picked out some incredible Raspberry Pi projects made by people in the community to inspire you to get making and coding.
Personally, we prefer new book smell and the crackle of physical pages but, if you’re less picky and don’t mind on-screen reading, the lovely folks at The MagPi have a PDF version you can download for free.
You can use an Ethernet cable, but Mike wanted to utilise Raspberry Pi 4’s wireless connectivity to boot the Volumio app. This way, the Raspberry Pi music player can be used anywhere in the house, as it’ll create its own wireless hotspot within your home network called ‘Volumio’.
You’ll need a different version of the Volumio app depending on whether you have an Android phone or iPhone. Mike touts the app as “super easy, really robust”. You just select the music app you usually use from the ‘Plugins’ section of the Volumio app, and all your music, playlists, and cover art will be there ready for you once downloaded.
And that’s basically it. Just connect to the Volumio OS via the app and tell your Raspberry Pi what to play.
Maker Jen Fox took to hackster.io to share a Raspberry Pi–powered trash classifier that tells you whether the trash in your hand is recyclable, compostable, or just straight-up garbage.
Jen reckons this project is beginner-friendly, as you don’t need any code to train the machine learning model, just a little to load it on Raspberry Pi. It’s also a pretty affordable build, costing less than $70 including a Raspberry Pi 4.
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
Raspberry Pi Camera Module
Adafruit push button
The code-free machine learning model is created using Lobe, a desktop tool that automatically trains a custom image classifier based on what objects you’ve shown it.
Training the image classifier
Basically, you upload a tonne of photos and tell Lobe what object each of them shows. Jen told the empty classification model which photos were of compostable waste, which were of recyclable and items, and which were of garbage or bio-hazardous waste. Of course, as Jen says, “the more photos you have, the more accurate your model is.”
Loading up Raspberry Pi
As promised, you only need a little bit of code to load the image classifier onto your Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module acts as the image classifier’s “eyes” so Raspberry Pi can find out what kind of trash you hold up for it.
The push button and LEDs are wired up to the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins, and they work together with the camera and light up according to what the image classifier “sees”.
You’ll want to create a snazzy case so your trash classifier looks good mounted on the wall. Kate cut holes in a cardboard box to make sure that the camera could “see” out, the user can see the LEDs, and the push button is accessible. Remember to leave room for Raspberry Pi’s power supply to plug in.
The trick with spy devices is to make sure they look as much like the object they’re hidden inside as possible. Where Raspberry Pi comes in is making sure the foam camera can be used as a real photo-taking camera too, to throw the baddies off the scent if they start fiddling with your spyware.
The foam-firing bit of Nathan’s invention was relatively simple to recreate – a modified chef’s squirty cream dispenser, hidden inside a camera-shaped box, gets the job done.
Ruth and Shawn drew a load of 3D-printed panels to mount on the box frame in the image above. One of those cool coffee cups that look like massive camera lenses hides the squirty cream dispenser and gives this build an authentic camera look.
Techy bits from the build:
Mini display screen
The infrared LED is mounted next to the camera module and switches on when it gets dark, giving you night vision.
The Raspberry Pi computer and its power bank are crammed inside the box-shaped part, with the camera module and infrared LED mounted to peek out of custom-made holes in one of the 3D-printed panels on the front of the box frame.
The foam-firing chef’s thingy is hidden inside the big fake lens, and it’s wedged inside so that when you lift the big fake lens, the lever on the chef’s squirty thing is depressed and foam fires out of a tube near to where the camera lens and infrared LED peek out on the front panel of the build.
The most wonderful time of the year is approaching! “Most wonderful” meaning the time when you have to figure out what gift best expresses your level of affection for various individuals in your life. We’re here to take away some of that stress for you — provided your favourite individuals like Raspberry Pi, of course. Otherwise you’re on your own. Sorry.
We’ve got ideas for the gamers in your life, what to get for the Raspberry Pi “superfan” who has everything, and options that allow you to keep giving all year round.
Newest and hottest
If keeping up with the Joneses is your thing, why not treat your nearest Raspberry Pi fan to one of our newest products…
Raspberry Pi 400 | $70
This year, we released Raspberry Pi 400: a complete personal computer, built into a compact keyboard, costing just $70. Our community went wild about the possibilities that Raspberry Pi 400 opens up for home learners and for those who don’t have expensive tech options at their fingertips.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may need to pre-order or join a waiting list, as Raspberry Pi 400 is in such high demand. But you could give a homemade ‘IOU’ voucher letting the recipient know that they will soon get their hands on one of our newest and most popular bits of kit.
Our latest book of coding coolness | £10
We publish some cool books around these parts. Laura Sach and Martin O’Hanlon, who are both Learning Managers at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, have written the very newest one, which is designed to help you to get more out of your Python projects.
So, if you’ve a keen coder in your midst, this book is the best choice to stretch their skills and keep them entertained throughout 2021. Buy it online from the official Raspberry Pi Press store.
Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming Kit | £88
The Pi Hut’s Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming Kit costs £88 and includes everything you need to create your very own retro gaming console. All your lucky kit recipient has to find is a screen to plug into, and a keyboard to set up their new Raspberry Pi, which comes as part of the kit along with a case for it. The Pi Hut has also thrown in a 16GB microSD card, plus a reader for it, as well as our official micro HDMI cable. Job done.
Picade 8″ or 10″ display | from £165
How cool does Picade look?! It’s sold by Pimoroni and you can buy an 8″ display set for £165,or a 10″ display version for £225. Show me a self-respecting gamer who doesn’t want a desktop retro arcade machine in their own home.
Picade is a Raspberry Pi–powered mini arcade that you build yourself. All you’ll need to add is your own Raspberry Pi, a power supply, and a micro SD card.
Code the Classics, Volume 1 | £12
And if the gamer on your gift list prefers to create their own retro video games, send them a copy of Code the Classics, Volume 1. It’s a stunning-looking hardback book packed with 224 pages telling the stories of some of the seminal video games of the 1970s and 1980s, and showing you how to create your own. Putting hours of projects in the hands of your favourite gamer will only set you back £12. Buy it online from the official Raspberry Pi Press store.
Raspberry Pi superfans
Raspberry Pi Zero W | $10
For just $10 apiece, you can drop a couple Raspberry Pi Zero W into any tinkerer’s stocking and they’ll be set for their next few projects. They will LOVE you for allowing them try a new, risky build without having to tear down something else they created to retrieve an old Raspberry Pi.
Babbage Bear | $9
What to get the superfan who already has a desk full of Raspberry Pi? An official Babbage Bear to oversee the proceedings! Babbage only costs £9 and will arrive wearing their own Raspberry Pi–branded T-shirt. A special Raspberry Pi Towers inhabitant made our Babbage this Christmassy outfit before we photographed them.
Official t-shirts | $12
If you’ve a superfan on your gift list, then it’s likely they already own a t-shirt with the Raspberry Pi logo on it — so why not get them one of these new designs?
Both costing just £12, the black Raspberry Pi “Pi 4” t-shirt was released to celebrate the launch of Raspberry Pi 4 and features an illustration of the powerful $35 computer. The white Raspberry Pi “Make Cool Stuff” option was created by Raspberry Pi’s own illustrator/animator extraordinaire Sam Alder. Drop that inside fact on the gift tag for extra superfan points.
Wearable tech projects | £7
And if they’re the kind of superfan who would like to make their own Raspberry Pi-–themed clothing, gift them with our Wearable Tech Projects book. This 164-page book gathers up the best bits of wearable technology from HackSpace magazine, with tutorials such as adding lights to your favourite cosplay helmet, and creating a glowing LED skirt. It’s on sale for just £7 and you can buy it online from the official Raspberry Pi Press store.
Keep giving all year
What if you could give the joy of opening a Raspberry Pi–themed gift every single month for a whole year? Our magazine subscriptions let you do just that, AND they come with a few extra gifts when you sign up.
The MagPi magazine
The official Raspberry Pi magazine comes with a free Raspberry Pi Zero kit worth £20 when you sign up for a 12-month subscription. The magazine is packed with computing and electronics tutorials, how-to guides, and the latest news and reviews.
HackSpace magazine is packed with projects for fixers and tinkerers of all abilities. 12-month subscriptions comes with a free Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, which has been specially developed to teach programming novices from scratch and is worth £25.
Wireframe magazine lifts the lid on video games. In every issue, you’ll find out how games are made, who makes them, and how you can make your own using detailed guides. The latest deal gets you three issues for just £10, plus your choice of one of our official books as a gift.
A sci-fi writer wanted to add some realism to his fiction. The result: a Raspberry Pi-based Martian timepiece. Rosie Hattersley clocks in from the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine.
Ever since he first clapped eyes on Mars through the eyepiece of a telescope, Philip Ide has been obsessed with the Red Planet. He’s written several books based there and, many moons ago, set up a webpage showing the weather on Mars. This summer, Phil adapted his weather monitor and created a Raspberry Pi-powered Mars Clock.
After writing several clocks for his Mars Weather page, Phil wanted to make a physical clock: “something that could sit on my desk or such like, and tell the time on Mars.” It was to tell the time at any location on Mars, with presets for interesting locations “plus the sites of all the missions that made it to the surface – whether they pancaked or not.”
Another prerequisite was that the clock had to check for new mission file updates and IERS bulletins to see if a new leap second had been factored into Universal Coordinated Time.
“Martian seconds are longer,” explains Phil, “so everything was pointing at software rather than a mechanical device. Raspberry Pi was a shoo-in for the job”. However, he’d never used one.
“I’d written some software for calculating orbits and one of the target platforms was Raspberry Pi. I’d never actually seen it run on a Raspberry Pi but I knew it worked, so the door was already open.” He was able to check his data against a benchmark NASA provided. Knowing that the clocks on his Mars Weather page were accurate meant that Phil could focus on getting to grips with his new single-board computer.
He chose a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 and official-inch touchscreen with a SmartiPi Touch 2 case. “Angles are everything,” he reasons. He also added a fan to lower the CPU temperature and extend the hardware’s life. Along with a power lead, the whole setup cost £130 from The Pi Hut.
Since his Mars Clock generates a lot of data, he made it skinnable so the user can choose which pieces of information to view at any one time. It can display two types of map – Viking or MOLA – depending on the co-ordinates for the clock. NASA provides a web map-tile service with many different data sets for Mars, so it should be possible to make the background an interactive map, allowing you to zoom in/out and scroll around. Getting these to work proved rather a headache as he hit incompatibilities with the libraries.
Learn through experience
Phil wrote most of the software himself, with the exception of libraries for the keyboard and FTP which he pulled from GitHub. Here’s all the code.
His decades as a computer programmer meant other aspects were straightforward. The hardware is more than capable, he says of his first ever experience of Raspberry Pi, and the SmartiPi case makers had done a brilliant job. Everything fit together and in just a few minutes his Raspberry Pi was working.
Since completing his Mars Clock Phil has added a pi-hole and a NAS to his Raspberry Pi setup and says his confidence using them is such that he’s now contemplating challenging himself to build an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system). “I have decades of programming experience, but I was still learning new things as the project progressed,” he says. “The nerd factor of any given object increases exponentially if you make it yourself.”
Animator/engineer Ashok Fair has put witch-level finger pointing powers in your hands by sticking a SmartEdge Agile, wirelessly controlled by Raspberry Pi Zero, to a golf glove. You could have really freaked the bejeezus out of Halloween party guests with this (if we were allowed to have Halloween parties that is).
The build uses a Smart Edge Agile IoT device with Brainium, a cloud-based tool for performing machine learning tasks.
The Rapid IoT kit is interfaced with Raspberry Pi Zero and creates a thread network connecting to light, car, and fan controller nodes.
The Brainium app is installed on Raspberry Pi and bridges between the cloud and Smart Edge device. MQTT is running on Python and processes the Rapid IoT Kit’s data.
The device is mounted onto a golf glove, giving the wearer seemingly magical powers with the wave of a hand.
NXP Rapid IoT Prototyping Kit (the square blue screen stuck on the adaptor board with the Raspberry Pi Zero)
Brainium AI Studio app
To get started, the glove wearer draws a pattern above the screen attached to the Raspberry Pi to unlock it and wake up all the controller nodes.
The light controller node is turned on by drawing a clockwise circle, and turned off with an counter-clockwise circle.
The fan is turned on and off in the same way, and you can increase the fan’s speed by moving your hand upwards and reduce the speed by moving your hand down. You know it’s working by the look of the fan’s LEDs: they blinker faster as the fan speeds up.
Make a pushing motion in the air above the car to make it move forward, and you can also make it turn and reverse.
If you wear the glove while driving, it collects data in real time and logs it on the Brainium cloud so you can review your driving style.
Design Engineering student Ben Cobley has created a Raspberry Pi–powered sous-chef that automates the easier pan-cooking tasks so the head chef can focus on culinary creativity.
Ben named his invention OnionBot, as the idea came to him when looking for an automated way to perfectly soften onions in a pan while he got on with the rest of his dish. I have yet to manage to retrieve onions from the pan before they blacken so… *need*.
Ben’s affordable solution is much better suited to home cooking than the big, expensive robotic arms used in industry. Using our tiny computer also allowed Ben to create something that fits on a kitchen counter.
What can OnionBot do?
Tells you on-screen when it is time to advance to the next stage of a recipe
Autonomously controls the pan temperature using PID feedback control
Detects when the pan is close to boiling over and automatically turns down the heat
Reminds you if you haven’t stirred the pan in a while
How does it work?
A thermal sensor array suspended above the stove detects the pan temperature, and the Raspberry Pi Camera Module helps track the cooking progress. A servo motor controls the dial on the induction stove.
No machine learning expertise was required to train an image classifier, running on Raspberry Pi, for Ben’s robotic creation; you’ll see in the video that the classifier is a really simple drag-and-drop affair.
Ben has only taught his sous-chef one pasta dish so far, and we admire his dedication to carbs.
Ben built a control panel for labelling training images in real time and added labels at key recipe milestones while he cooked under the camera’s eye. This process required 500–1000 images per milestone, so Ben made a LOT of pasta while training his robotic sous-chef’s image classifier.
Ben open-sourced this project so you can collaborate to suggest improvements or teach your own robot sous-chef some more dishes. Here’s OnionBot on GitHub.
We love seeing how quickly our community of makers responds when we drop a new product, and one of the fastest off the starting block when we released the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 on Monday was YouTuber Jeff Geerling.
We made him keep it a secret until launch day after we snuck one to him early so we could see what one of YouTube’s chief advocates for our Compute Module line thought of our newest baby.
So how does our newest board compare to its predecessor, Compute Module 3+? In Jeff’s first video (above) he reviews some of Compute Module 4’s new features, and he has gone into tons more detail in this blog post.
Jeff also took to live stream for a Q&A (above) covering some of the most asked questions about Compute Module 4, and sharing some more features he missed in his initial review video.
His next video (above) is pretty cool. Jeff explains:
“Everyone knows you can overclock the Pi 4. But what happens when you overclock a Compute Module 4? The results surprised me!”
And again, there’s tons more detail on temperature measurement, storage performance, and more on Jeff’s blog.
Top job, Jeff. We have our eyes on your channel for more videos on Compute Module 4, coming soon.
Following on from Rob Zwetsloot’s Haunted House Hacks in the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, GitHub’s Martin Woodward has created a spooky pumpkin that warns you about the thing programmers find scariest of all — broken builds. Here’s his guest post describing the project:
“When you are browsing code looking for open source projects, seeing a nice green passing build badge in the ReadMe file lets you know everything is working with the latest version of that project. As a programmer you really don’t want to accidentally commit bad code, which is why we often set up continuous integration builds that constantly check the latest code in our project.”
“I decided to create a 3D-printed pumpkin that would hold a Raspberry Pi Zero with an RGB LED pHat on top to show me the status of my build for Halloween. All the code is available on GitHub alongside the 3D printing models which are also available on Thingiverse.”
Raspberry Pi Zero (I went for the WH version to save me soldering on the header pins)
Unicorn pHat from Pimoroni
Panel mount micro-USB extension
M2.5 hardware for mounting (screws, male PCB standoffs, and threaded inserts)
“For the 3D prints, I used a glow-in-the-dark PLA filament for the main body and Pi holder, along with a dark green PLA filament for the top plug.”
“I’ve been using M2.5 threaded inserts quite a bit when printing parts to fit a Raspberry Pi, as it allows you to simply design a small hole in your model and then you push the brass thread into the gap with your soldering iron to melt it securely into place ready for screwing in your device.”
“Once the inserts are in, you can screw the Raspberry Pi Zero into place using some brass PCB stand-offs, place the Unicorn pHAT onto the GPIO ports, and then screw that down.”
“Then you screw in the panel-mounted USB extension into the back of the pumpkin, connect it to the Raspberry Pi, and snap the Raspberry Pi holder into place in the bottom of your pumpkin.”
“Format the micro SD Card and install Raspberry Pi OS Lite. Rather than plugging in a keyboard and monitor, you probably want to do a headless install, configuring SSH and WiFi by dropping an ssh file and a wpa_supplicant.conf file onto the root of the SD card after copying over the Raspbian files.”
“You’ll need to install the Unicorn HAT software, but they have a cool one-line installer that takes care of all the dependencies including Python and Git.”
# How often to check (in seconds). Remember - be nice to the server. Once every 5 minutes is plenty.
REFRESH_INTERVAL = 300
“Finally you can run the script as root:”
sudo python ~/PumpkinPi/src/pumpkinpi.py &
“Once you are happy everything is running how you want, don’t forget you can run the script at boot time. The easiest way to do this is to use crontab. See this cool video from Estefannie to learn more. But basically you do sudo crontab -e then add the following:”
“Note that we are pausing for 10 seconds before running the Python script. This is to allow the WiFi network to connect before we check on the state of our build.”
“The current version of the pumpkinpi script works with all the SVG files produced by the major hosted build providers, including GitHub Actions, which is free for open source projects. But if you want to improve the code in any way, I’m definitely accepting pull requests on it.”
“Using the same hardware you could monitor lots of different things, such as when someone posts on Twitter, what the weather will be tomorrow, or maybe just code your own unique multi-coloured display that you can leave flickering in your window.”
“If you build this project or create your own pumpkin display, I’d love to see pictures. You can find me on Twitter @martinwoodward and on GitHub.”
DJ was pleased to learn that you don’t need to write any code to make your own security camera, you can just use a package called motionEyeOS. All you have to do is download the motionEyeOS image, pop the flashed SD card into your Raspberry Pi, and you’re pretty much good to go.
You’ll find that the default resolution is 640×480, so it will show up as a tiny window on your monitor of choice, but that can be amended.
While this build is very simple electronically, the 20-part 3D-printed shell is beautiful. A Raspberry Pi is positioned on a purpose-built platform in the middle of the shell, connected to the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, which sits at the front of that shell, peeking out.
The 5V power supply is routed through the main shell into the base, which mounts the build to the wall. In order to keep the Raspberry Pi cool, DJ made some vent holes in the lens of the shell. The red LED is routed out of the side and sits on the outside body of the shell.
This build is also screwless: the halves of the shell have what look like screw holes along the edges, but they are actually 3mm neodymium magnets, so assembly and repair is super easy as everything just pops on and off.
You can find all the files you need to recreate this build, or you can ask DJ a question, at element14.com/presents.
Have you perfected your particular combination of ‘eye widening then squinting’ to let people know you’re smiling at them behind your mask? Or do you need help expressing yourself from this text-scrolling creation by Caroline Dunn?
The NeoPixel Matrix is attached to a cloth face that which has a second translucent fabric layer. The translucent layer is to sew your Raspberry Pi project to, the cloth layer underneath is a barrier for germs.
You’ll need a separate 5V power source for the NeoPixel Matrix. Caroline used a 5V power bank, which involved some extra fiddling with cutting up and stripping an old USB cable. You may want to go for a purpose-made traditional power supply for ease.
Running the text
To prototype, Caroline connected the Raspberry Pi computer to the NeoPixel Matrix via a breadboard and some jumper wires. At this stage of your own build, you check everything is working by running this sample code from Adafruit, which should get your NeoPixel Matrix lighting up like a rainbow.
Once you’ve got your project up and running, you can ditch the breadboard and wires and set up the key script, app.py, to run on boot.
To change the text scrolling across your mask, you use the internal website that’s part of Caroline’s code.
And for a truly mobile solution, you can access the internal website via mobile phone by hooking up your Raspberry Pi using your phone’s hotspot functionality. Then you can alter the scrolling text while you’re out and about.
Caroline also created a version of her project using a 32×8 Neopixel Matrix, which fits on the across the headband of larger plastic face visors.
James Bruxton (or @xrobotosuk on Instagram) built an IoT-controlled e-paper message board using Raspberry Pi. Updating it is easy: just edit a Google sheet, and the message board will update with the new data.
Harnessing Google power
This smart message board uses e-paper, which has very low power consumption. Combining this with the Google Docs API (which allows you to write code to read and write to Google Docs) and Raspberry Pi makes it possible to build a message board that polls a Google Sheet and updates whenever there’s new data. This guide helped James write the Google Docs API code.
James’s original plan was to hook up his Raspberry Pi to a standard monitor and use Google Docs so people could update the display via mobile app. However, a standard monitor consumes a lot of power, due to its backlight, and if you set it to go into sleep mode, people would just walk past it and not see updates to the list unless they remember to wake the device up.
Enter e-paper (the same stuff used for Kindle devices), which only consumes power when it’s updating. Once you’ve got the info you want on the e-paper, you can even disconnect it entirely from your power source and the screen will still display whatever the least update told it to. James’s top tip for your project: go for the smallest e-paper display possible, as those things are expensive. He went with this one, which comes with a HAT for Raspberry Pi and a ribbon cable to connect the two.
The HAT has an adaptor for plugging into the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins, and a breakout header for the SPI pins. James found it’s not as simple as enabling the SPI on his Raspberry Pi and the e-paper display springing to life: you need a bit of code to enable the SPI display to act as the main display for the Raspberry Pi. Luckily, the code for this is on the wiki of Waveshare, the producer of HAT and display James used for this project.
Making it pretty
A 3D-printed case, which looks like a classic photo frame but with a hefty in-built stand to hold it up and provide enough space for the Raspberry Pi to sit on, is home to James’s finished smart to-do list. The e-paper is so light and thin it can just be sticky-taped into the frame.
If you’re into e-paper stuff but are wedded to your handwritten to-do lists, then why not try building this super slow movie player instead? The blog squad went *nuts* for it when we posted it last month.
Amol Dwshmukh from the University of Glasgow got in touch with us about a social robot designed to influence young people’s handwashing behaviour, which the design team piloted in a rural school in Kerala, India.
In the pilot study, the hand-shaped Pepe robot motivated a 40% increase in the quality and levels of handwashing. It was designed by AMMACHI Labs and University of Glasgow researchers, with a Raspberry Pi serving as its brain and powering the screens that make up its mouth and eyes.
How does Pepe do it?
The robot is very easy to attach to the wall next to a handwashing station and automatically detects approaching people. Using AI software, it encourages, monitors, and gives verbal feedback to children on their handwashing, all in a fun and engaging way.
Amol thinks the success of the robot was due to its eye movements, as people change their behaviour when they know they are being observed. A screen displaying a graphical mouth also meant the robot could show it was happy when the children washed their hands correctly; positive feedback such as this promotes learning new skills.
Amol’s team started work on this idea last year, and they were keen to test the Pepe robot with a group of people who had never been exposed to social robots before. They presented their smiling hand-face hybrid creation at the IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (see photo below). And now that hand washing has become more important than ever due to coronavirus, the project is getting mainstream media attention as well.
The team is now planning to improve Pepe’s autonomous intelligence and scale up the intervention across more schools through the Embracing the World network.
Welcome to October, the month in which spiderwebs become decor and anything vaguely gruesome is considered ‘seasonal’. Such as bats. Bats are in fact cute, furry creatures, but as they are part of the ‘Halloweeny animal’ canon, I have a perfect excuse to sing their praises.
Tegwyn Twmffat was tasked with doing a bat survey on a derelict building, and they took to DesignSpark to share their Raspberry Pi–powered solution.
UK law protects nesting birds and roosting bats, so before you go knocking buildings down, you need a professional to check that no critters will be harmed in the process.
The problem with bats, compared to birds, is they are much harder to spot and have a tendency to hang out in tiny wall cavities. Enter this big ultrasonic microphone.
After the building was declared safely empty of bats, Tegwyn decided to keep hold of the expensive microphone (the metal tube in the image above) and have a crack at developing their own auto-classification system to detect which type of bats are about.
How does it work?
The ultrasonic mic picks up the audio data using an STM M0 processor and streams it to Raspberry Pi via USB. Raspberry Pi runs Alsa driver software and uses the bash language to receive the data.
It turns out there are no publicly available audio records of bats, so Tegwyn took to their own back garden and found 6 species to record. And with the help of a few other bat enthusiasts, they cobbled together an audio dataset of 9 of the 17 bat species found in the UK!
We’ve been following the work of Dominique Laloux since he first got in touch with us in May 2013 ahead of leaving to spend a year in Togo. 75% of teachers in the region where he would be working had never used a computer before 2012, so he saw an opportunity to introduce Raspberry Pi and get some training set up.
We were so pleased to receive another update this year about Dominique and his Togolese team’s work. This has grown to become INITIC, a non-profit organisation that works to install low cost, low power consumption, low maintenance computer rooms in rural schools in Togo. The idea for the acronym came from the organisation’s focus on the INItiation of young people to ICT (TIC in French).
The story so far
INITIC’s first computer room was installed in Tokpli, Togo, way back in 2012. It was a small room (see the photo on the left below) donated by an agricultural association and renovated by a team of villagers.
Fast forward to 2018, and INTIC had secured its own building (photo on the right above). It has a dedicated a Raspberry Pi Room, as well as a multipurpose room and another small technical room. Young people from local schools, as well as those in neighbouring villages, have access to the facilities.
The first dedicated Raspberry Pi Room in Togo was at the Collège (secondary school) in the town of Kuma Adamé. It was equipped with 21 first-generation Raspberry Pis, which stood up impressively against humid and dusty conditions.
In 2019, Kpodzi High School also got its own Raspberry Pi Room, equipped with 22 Raspberry Pi workstations. Once the projector, laser printer, and scanners are in place, the space will also be used for electronics, Arduino, and programming workshops.
What’s the latest?
Now we find ourselves in 2020 and INTIC is still growing. Young people in the bountiful, but inaccessible, village of Danyi Dzogbégan now have access to 20 Raspberry Pi workstations (plus one for the teacher). They have been using them for learning since January this year.
We can’t wait to see what Dominique and his team have up their sleeve next. You can help INTIC reach more young people in rural Togo by donating computer equipment, by helping teachers get lesson materials together, or through a volunteer stay at one of their facilities. Find out more here.
Adrian Hanft is our favourite kind of maker: weird. He’s also the guy who invented the Lego camera, 16 years ago. This time, he spent more than a year creating what he describes as “one of the strangest cameras you may ever hear about.”
What’s with all the straws?
OK, here’s why it’s weird: it takes photos with a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera through a ‘lens’ of tiny drinking straws packed together. 23,248 straws, to be exact, are inside the wooden box-shaped bit of the machine above. The camera itself sits at the slim end of the black and white part. The Raspberry Pi, power bank, and controller all sit on top of the wooden box full of straws.
Here’s what an image of Yoda looks like, photographed through that many straws:
Ground glass lenses
The concept isn’t as easy as it may look. As you can see from the images below, if you hold up a load of straws, you can only see the light through a few of them. Adrian turned to older technology for a solution, taking a viewfinder from an old camera which had ground glass (which ‘collects’ light) on the surface.
Even though Adrian was completely new to both Raspberry Pi and Python, it only took him a week of evenings and weekends to code the software needed to control the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.
An original Nintendo controller runs the show and connects to the Raspberry Pi with a USB adapter. The buttons are mapped to the functions of Adrian’s software.
What does the Nintendo controller do?
In his original post, Adrian explains what all the buttons on the controller do in order to create images:
“The Start button launches a preview of what the camera is seeing. The A button takes a picture. The Up and Down buttons increase or decrease the exposure time by 1 second. The Select button launches a gallery of photos so I can see the last photo I took. The Right and Left buttons cycle between photos in the gallery. I am saving the B button for something else in the future. Maybe I will use it for uploading to Dropbox, I haven’t decided yet.”
A mobile phone serves as a wireless display so he can keep an eye on what’s going on. The phone communicates with the Raspberry Pi connected to the camera via a VPN app.
Follow Adrian on Instagram to keep up with all the photography captured using the final camera, as well as the prototypes that came before it.
High-school student Eleanor Sigrest successfully crowdfunded her way onto a zero-G flight to test her latest Raspberry Pi-powered project. NASA Goddard engineers peer reviewed Eleanor’s experimental design, which detects unwanted movement (or ‘slosh’) in spacecraft fluid tanks.
The apparatus features an accelerometer to precisely determine the moment of zero gravity, along with 13 Raspberry Pis and 12 Raspberry Pi cameras to capture the slosh movement.
What’s wrong with slosh?
The Broadcom Foundation shared a pretty interesting minute-by-minute report on Eleanor’s first hyperbolic flight and how she got everything working. But, in a nutshell…
You don’t want the fluid in your space shuttle tanks sloshing around too much. It’s a mission-ending problem. Slosh occurs on take-off and also in microgravity during manoeuvres, so Eleanor devised this novel approach to managing it in place of the costly, heavy subsystems currently used on board space craft.
Eleanor wanted to prove that the fluid inside tanks treated with superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic coatings settled quicker than in uncoated tanks. And she was right: settling times were reduced by 73% in some cases.
At just 13 years old, Eleanor won the Samueli Prize at the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS for her mastery of STEM principles and team leadership during a rigorous week-long competition. High praise came from Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation, who said: “Eleanor is the epitome of a young woman scientist and engineer. She combines insatiable curiosity with courage: two traits that are essential for a leader in these fields.”
That week-long experience also included a Raspberry Pi Challenge, and Eleanor explained: “During the Raspberry Pi Challenge, I learned that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. I also learned it’s important to try everyone’s ideas because you never know which one might work the best. Sometimes it’s a compromise of different ideas, or a compromise between complicated and simple. The most important thing is to consider them all.”
We loved the filmic flair of Tom Whitwell‘s super slow e-paper display, which takes months to play a film in full.
His creation plays films at about two minutes of screen time per 24 hours, taking a little under three months for a 110-minute film. Psycho played in a corner of his dining room for two months. The infamous shower scene lasted a day and a half.
Tom enjoys the opportunity for close study of iconic filmmaking, but you might like this project for the living artwork angle. How cool would this be playing your favourite film onto a plain wall somewhere you can see it throughout the day?
Four simple steps
Luckily, this is a relatively simple project – no hardcore coding, no soldering required – with just four steps to follow if you’d like to recreate it:
Get the Raspberry Pi working in headless mode without a monitor, so you can upload files and run code
Connect to an e-paper display via an e-paper HAT (see above image; Tom is using this one) and install the driver code on the Raspberry Pi
Use Tom’s code to extract frames from a movie file, resize and dither those frames, display them on the screen, and keep track of progress through the film
Find some kind of frame to keep it all together (Tom went with a trusty IKEA number)
The entire build cost £120 in total. Tom chose a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 and a NOOBS 64gb SD Card, which he bought from Pimoroni, one of our approved resellers. NOOBS included almost all the libraries he needed for this project, which made life a lot easier.
His original post is a dream of a comprehensive walkthrough, including all the aforementioned code.
Head to the comments section with your vote for the creepiest film to watch in ultra slow motion. I came over all peculiar imaging Jaws playing on my living room wall for months. Big bloody mouth opening slooooowly (pales), big bloody teeth clamping down slooooowly (heart palpitations). Yeah, not going to try that. Sorry Tom.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.