All posts by Liz Upton

We have the plague

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/we-have-the-plague/

Apologies to our daily visitors (we love you guys); we don’t have a proper blog post for you today because we’re all really ill. (I have food poisoning, Helen is coughing up goo and can barely speak or breathe, and Alex is being sick.)

You’ve got a day until Halloween; if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got several years of archived spooky project posts for you to check out. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and have a little lie down.

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Autonomous drones (only slightly flammable)

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/autonomous-drones-only-slightly-flammable/

I had an email a little while ago, which opened: “I don’t know if you remember me, but…”

As it happens, I remembered Andy Baker very well, in large part because an indoor autonomous drone demo he ran at a Raspberry Pi birthday party a couple of years ago ACTUALLY CAUGHT FIRE. Here’s a refresher.

Raspberry Pi Party Autonomous drone demo + fire

At the Raspberry Pi IV party and there is a great demo of an Autonomous drone which is very impressive with only using a Pi. However it caught on fire. But i believe it does actually work.

We’ve been very careful since then to make sure that speakers are always accompanied by a fire extinguisher.

I love stories like Andy’s. He started working with the Raspberry Pi shortly after our first release in 2012, and had absolutely no experience with drones or programming them; there’s nothing more interesting than watching someone go from a standing start to something really impressive. It’s been a couple of years since we were last in touch, but Andy mailed me last week to let me know he’s just completed his piDrone project, after years of development. I thought you’d like to hear about it too. Over to Andy!

Building an autonomous drone from scratch

I suffer from “terminal boredom syndrome”; I always need a challenging hobby to keep me sane. In 2012, the Raspberry Pi was launched just as my previous hobby had come to an end. After six months of playing (including a Raspberry Pi version of a BBC Micro Turtle robot I did at school 30+ years ago), I was looking for something really challenging. DIY drones were emerging, so I set out making one with a Raspberry Pi and Python, from absolute ignorance but loads of motivation.  Six years later, with only one fire (at the Raspberry Pi 4th Birthday Party, no less!), the job is done.

Here’s smaller Zoë, larger Hermione and their remote-controller, Ivy:

Zoë (as in “Ball”), the smallest drone, is based on a Pi ZeroW, supporting preset- and manual-flight controls. Hermione (as in “Granger”) is a Pi3 drone, supporting the above along with GPS and obstacle-avoidance.

Penelope (as in “Pitstop”), not shown above, is a B3+ with mix of the two above.

Development history

It probably took four years(!) to get the drone to simply hover stably for more than a few seconds. For example, the accelerometer (IMU) tells gravity and acceleration in 3D; and from sum math(s), angles, speed and distance. But IMU output is very noisy. It drifts with temperature, and because gravity is huge compared to the propeller changes, it doesn’t take long before the calculated speed and distance values drift significantly. It took a lot of time, experimentation and guesswork to get accelerometer, gyrometer, ground-facing LiDAR and a Raspberry Pi camera to work together to get a stable hover for minutes rather than seconds. And during that experimentation, there were plenty of crashes: replacement parts were needed many many times! However, with a sixty-second stable hover finally working, adding cool features like GPS tracking, object avoidance and human control were trivial in comparison.

GNSS waypoint tracked successfully!

See http://blog.pistuffing.co.uk/whoohoo/

Obstruction avoidance test 2 – PASSED!!!!!

Details at http://pidrone.io/posts/obstruction-avoidance-test-2-passed/

Human control (iPhone)

See http://pidrone.io/posts/human-i-am-human/

In passing, I’m a co-founder and assistant at the Cotswold Raspberry Jam (cotswoldjam.org). I’m hoping to take Zoë to the next event on September 15th – tickets are free – and there’s so much more learn, interact and play with beyond the piDrone.

Finally, a few years ago, my goal became getting the piDrone exploring a maze: all but minor tweaks are now in places. Sadly, piDrone battery power for exploring a large maze currently doesn’t exist. Perhaps my next project will be designing a nuclear-fusion battery pack?  Deuterium oxide (heavy water) is surprisingly cheap, it seems…

More resources

If you want to learn more, there’s years of development on Andy’s blog at http://pidrone.io, and he’s made considerable documentation available at GitHub if you want to explore things further after this blog post. Thanks Andy!

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Astronaut-made virtual co-pilot

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/virtual-co-pilot-solar-pilot-guard/

This project features several of our favourite things. Astronauts! Machine learning! High-altitude danger! Graphs! (It could only get slightly better with the addition of tap-dancing centaurs.) Read on to have your nerdliest pleasure centres tickled.

Solar Pilot Guard - wing of a plane in flight

Your interest should be focussed on the strange fin with the red tip. Although we agree the mountains look nice too.

Solar Pilot Guard, a Foale family project

Michael Foale is a former astronaut with dual British/American citizenship; and thanks to that dual citizenship was revered by British kids like me as some kind of Superman when he spent time on the Russian Mir space station back in the 1990s. It’s always great to see one of our heroes using the Raspberry Pi, but it’s doubly great when the use it’s being put to is so very, very cool.

Foale’s daughter Jenna is a PhD candidate in computational fluid dynamics, and together they have engineered a machine-learning system called Solar Pilot Guard to help prevent aircraft crashes, using the Wolfram Language on a Raspberry Pi. A solar-powered probe (that fin in the image above) detects changes in acceleration and air pressure to spot potential loss-of-control (LOC) events in flight, calculating the probability of each pressure/acceleration event representing a possible LOC event.

Solar Pilot Guard schematic cross-section

Click to embiggen

If it detects a possible LOC event, the system issues a voice command to the pilot over Bluetooth speakers, using machine learning to tell the pilot what corrective measures they should take.

Here it is in action:

Solar Pilot Guard use in-flight

An example of in-flight operation of the Solar Pilot Guard (SPG), issuing commands for correction of flight behavior that could lead to loss of control (LOC). Demonstrated commands: Push, Power – Left, Left – Right, Right Submitted to EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh 2017.

Losing control to generate training data

In order to train the network, Michael Foale had to feed the machine data about what LOCs and normal flight look like — which meant flying the kit in ways which would make the plane lose control, not just once, but over and over, until the neural net had the data it needed to differentiate different sorts of LOC events. Told you he was a superhero.

A stack of different machine learning functions at different levels of abstraction are working together here. This is a training set from one of the (presumably terrifying) training flights:

Solar Pilot Guard training set

The Pi processes and learns from this data; if you’re interested in a very deep dive into the way this all works, and how you can build your own neural networks using the Wolfram Language, there’s a very comprehensive treatment over at the Wolfram blog.

We love seeing projects like this that recognise just how robust and powerful a little Raspberry Pi can be. Jenna and Michael: thank you for sharing what you’ve been working on here. It’s one of the coolest and most audacious projects we’ve seen in a long time.

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Raspberry Pi as car computer

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-as-car-computer/

Carputers! Fabrice Aneche is documenting his ongoing build, which equips an older (2011) car with some of the features a 2018 model might have: thus far, a reversing camera (bought off the shelf, with a modified GUI to show the date and the camera’s output built with Qt and Golang), GPS and offline route guidance.

rearcam

We’re not sure how the car got through that little door there.

It was back in 2013, when the Raspberry Pi had been on the market for about a year, that we started to see carputer projects emerge. They tended to be focussed in two directions: in-car entertainment, and on-board diagnostics (OBD). We ended up hiring the wonderful Martin O’Hanlon, who wrote up the first OBD project we came across, just this year. Being featured on this blog can change your life, I tell you.

In the last five years, the Pi’s evolved: you’re now working with a lot more processing power, there’s onboard WiFi, and far more peripherals which can be useful in a…vehicular context are available. Consequently, the flavour of the car projects we’re seeing has changed somewhat, with navigation systems and cameras much more visible. Fabrice’s is one of the best examples we’ve found.

solarised map

Night-view navigation system

GPS is all very well, but you, the human person driver, will want directions at every turn. So Fabrice wrote a user interface to serve up live maps and directions, mostly in Qt5 and QML (he’s got some interesting discussion on his website about why he stopped using X11, which turned out to be too slow for his needs). All the non-QML work is done in Go. It’s all open-source, and on GitHub, if you’d like to contribute or roll your own project. He’s also worked over the Linux GPS daemons, found them lacking, and has produced his own:

…the Linux gps daemons are using obscure and over complicated protocols so I’ve decided to write my own gps daemon in Go using a gRPC stream interface. You can find it here.

I’m also not satisfied with the map matching of OSRM for real time display, I may rewrite one using mbmatch.

street map display

We’ll be keeping an eye on this project; given how much clever has gone into it already, we’re pretty sure that Fabrice will be adding new features. Thanks Fabrice!

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Zelda casemod with levitating Triforce

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/zelda-casemod-with-levitating-triforce/

I know: you’ve seen a bajillion RetroPie implementations before, and a bajillion casemods to go with them. But this one’s so hopelessly, magnificently splendid that we felt we had to share. Magnetic levitation. It’s not just for trains and frogs.

This Zelda casemod, covered with engraved pine from the forests of Hyrule and shiny brass mouldings hammered by…dwarves or something, would be gorgeous as-is. The levitating, mirrored Triforce twizzling away on top is the icing on the cake; and a very lovely cake it is too. Here’s some video (in Spanish, with English subtitles) from Tuberviejuner in Spain, walking you through the build.

Raspberry pi Zelda mod: MagicBerry WindWaker by Makomod & Tuberviejuner.

Raspberry pi Zelda mod: Magic Berry WindWaker The Legend of Zelda by Makomod & Tuberviejuner alucinad con el triforce levitador.

This magical piece of work is by MakoMod, a case modder who splits his time between Barcelona and Texas. There’s a Pi inside running RetroPie, and a separate electromagnetic device levitating the Triforce up top. If you’re interested in incorporating something like this into one of your own builds, there are two ways to go: make your own from scratch, as DrewPaul Designs has done here, or buy a pre-built kit.

If you get in there quickly, you’ve a chance to own this one-off case: MakoMod is auctioning it on eBay. You’ve got until July 14 2018 to bid – good luck!

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Video: Five Years of Pi

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/video-five-years-of-pi/

Matthew “Raspberry Pi Guy” Timmons-Brown puts together a video of what the Raspberry Pi community has achieved every year. He’s just published 2017’s update, and it’s a doozy: have a look, and see how many of these projects and people you recognise!

What is Raspberry Pi? – Five years of Pi!

Half a decade. 12 million Raspberry Pis. On the 28th February 2017, Raspberry Pi will be five years old. As with previous years, I thought that I would make a video to commemorate this historic landmark and to show everyone just what Raspberry Pi is about.

We’re going to be celebrating the community that comes up with this amazing stuff all this weekend at our fifth Big Birthday Weekend, here in Cambridge. Tickets (£5 for over-16s, free for people under 16) are sold out for Saturday, but there are still some left for Sunday: grab them while they’re hot! You’ll see some of the projects featured in this video, discover some completely new ones, have the chance to attend drop-in sessions on digital making, robotics and more, meet with hundreds of like-minded Pi fans, and hang out with the team that makes your Raspberry Pi.

There will also be cake. See you there!

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Fake cases for your Raspberry Pi – make sure you don’t end up with one!

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fake-cases-raspberry-pi-make-sure-dont-end-one/

If you’re a Pi fan, you’ll recognise our official case, designed by Kinneir Dufort. We’re rather proud of it, and if sales are anything to go by, you seem to like it a lot as well.

Raspberry Pi case design sketches

Unfortunately, some scammers in China have also spotted that Pi owners like the case a lot, so they’ve been cloning it and trying to sell it in third-party stores.

We managed to get our hands on a sample through a proxy pretending to be a Pi shop, and we have some pictures so you can see what the differences are and ensure that you have the genuine article. The fake cases are not as well-made as the real thing, and they also deprive us of some much-needed charitable income. As you probably know, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity. All the money we make from selling computers, cases, cameras, and other products goes straight into our charitable fund to train teachers, provide free learning resources, teach kids, help build the foundations of digital making in schools, and much more.

Let’s do a bit of spot-the-difference.

Fake case. Notice the poor fit, the extra light pipes (the Chinese cloner decided not to make different cases for Pi2 and Pi3), and the sunken ovals above them.

Real case. Only one set of light pipes (this case is for a Pi3), no ovals, and the whole thing fits together much more neatly. There’s no lip in the middle piece under the lid.

There are some other telltale signs: have a close look at the area around the logo on the white lid.

This one’s the fake. At about the 7 o’clock position, the plastic around the logo is uneven and ripply – the effect’s even more pronounced in real life. 

This is what a real case looks like. The logo is much more crisp and cleanly embossed, and there are no telltale lumps and bumps around it.

The underside’s a bit off as well:

The cloners are using a cheaper, translucent non-slip foot on the fake case, and the feet don’t fit well in the lugs which house them. Again, you can see that the general fit is quite bad.

Real case. Near-transparent non-slip feet, centred in their housing, and with no shreds of escaping glue. There’s no rectangular tooling marks on the bottom. The SD card slot is a different shape.

Please let us know if you find any of these fake cases in the wild. And be extra-vigilant if you’re buying somewhere like eBay to make sure that you’re purchasing the real thing. We also make a black and grey version of the case, although the pink and white is much more popular. We haven’t seen these cloned yet, but if you spot one we’d like to know about it, as we can then discuss them with the resellers. It’s more than possible that retailers won’t realise they’re buying fakes, but it damages our reputation when something shonky comes on the market and it looks like we’ve made it. It damages the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s pockets too, which means we can’t do the important work in education we were set up to do.

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Robocod

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/robocod/

Fishbowl existence is tough. There you are, bobbing up and down in the same dull old environment, day in, day out; your view unchanging, your breakfast boringly identical every morning; that clam thing in the bottom of the tank opening and closing monotonously – goldfish can live for up to 20 years. That’s a hell of a long time to watch a clam thing for.

fishbowl on wheels

Two fish are in a tank. One says “How do you drive this thing?”

Indeed, fishbowl existence is so tough that several countries have banned the boring round bowls altogether. (There’s a reason that your childhood goldfish didn’t live for 20 years. You put it in an environment that bored it to death.) So this build comes with a caveat – we are worried that this particular fish is being driven from understimulus to overstimulus and back again, and that she might be prevented from making it to the full 20 years as a result. Please be kind to your fish.

What’s going on here? Over in Pittsburgh, at Carnegie Mellon University, Alex Kent and friends have widened the goldfish’s horizons, by giving it wheels. Meet the free-range fish.

Just Keep Swimming

Build18 @CMU . . . . . . . . . . . . * Jukin Media Verified * Find this video and others like it by visiting https://www.jukinmedia.com/licensing/view/949380 For licensing / permission to use, please email licensing(at)jukinmedia(dot)com.

Alex K, negligent fishparent, says that the speed and direction of the build is determined by the position of the fish relative to the centre of the tank. The battery lasts for five hours, and by all accounts the fish is still alive. Things are a bit jerky in this prototype build. Alex explains:

The jerking is actually caused by the Computer Vision algorithm losing track of the fish because of the reflection off of the lid, condensation on the lid, water ripples, etc.

Alex and co: before you look at more expensive solutions, try fixing a polarising filter to the camera you’re using.

All the code you’ll need to torture your own fish is available at GitHub.

Of course, Far Side fans will observe that there is nothing new under the sun.

Fishbowl on wheels by Gary Larson

Image from Gary Larson, The Far Side.

If you’ve got any good fish puns, let minnow in the comments.

 

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CD Tea

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/cd-tea/

Caffeination is an important cornerstone of Raspberry Pi development. Gordon in particular drinks so much tea in any given day that we are concerned for the sustainability of Sri Lanka’s plantations, not to mention the colour of his insides. (Conversation at 10.30 this morning: “Gordon, how many cups of tea would you estimate you drink in a day?” “Em…fifteen? I’ve already had five this morning, I drink it through the day and I usually have at least one in bed at night.”)

In an act of one-upmanship, Carrie Anne, James and the other people who write our educational resources have been showing us the state of their mugs this morning too.

Because we love you and want to make you happy, we are not illustrating this post with a picture of Gordon’s insides.

We like to make sure that Gordon, Carrie and the rest of the office tea-drinkers are doing as much work as possible, and are undistracted by the need to steep yet another bag. So we were delighted to happen upon this project from Andrey Chilikin. This is what happens when you are innovative enough to turn one of those antique computer-cup-holders on its end and add that standby of makers everywhere, the trusty lollipop stick. Hook it up to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins, and Bob’s your uncle.

tea bag

If you’d like to automate your own tea habit with old hardware, you’ll find all the code you need and a wiring schematic at Andrey’s GitHub. Thanks Andrey!

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Fly AI

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fly_ai/

Happy 2017, everybody! We’re back in the office (for values of “we” equal to me and a cup of coffee – the rest of your friendly Comms team is still on vacation). I hope your New Year’s resolutions are still unbroken. Mine involves that coffee, which doesn’t have any sugar in it and is making January feel much bleaker than necessary. I’ll be fascinated to see how long I can keep it up.

On to the Pi stuff.

I spotted this magnificently creepy art installation from David Bowen just before Christmas, and have been looking forward to showing it to you, because I like to know I’m not the only person having specific nightmares. In this project, a Raspberry Pi AI is mothering a colony of flies: whenever if spots and correctly identifies a fly, it releases a dose of nutrients and water.

flyAI

flyAI creates a situation where the fate of a colony of living houseflies is determined by the accuracy of artificial intelligence software. The installation uses the TensorFlow machine learning image recognition library to classify images of live houseflies. As the flies fly and land in front of a camera, their image is captured.

David says: “The system is setup to run indefinitely with an indeterminate outcome.”

Which means there’s potential for an awful lot of tiny corpses.

It all sounds simple enough, but there’s something about the build – the choice of AI voice, the achingly slow process of enunciating everything it believes it might have seen before it feeds its wards…the fact that the horrible space-helmet-bubble thing is full of flies – that makes for the most unsettling project we’ve seen in a long time.

Fly AI

If you are inspired by this arthropod chamber of horrors, you can read about more of David’s projects on his blog. You’ll be delighted to learn than this is not the only one employing house-fly labourers. More power to all six of your elbows, David.

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Fireside romance at your command

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fireside-romance-at-your-command/

Redditor Hovee has a sense of romance firmly cemented in 1975. With a Google Home device, a Raspberry Pi, a gas fire and the pants-removing tones of Marvin Gaye, he’s rigged up his sitting room for seduction.

The setup does not yet open a box of chocolates and a bottle of red wine, or unfurl a rug made out of something fluffy and dead, but we’re sure that with some iteration it’ll start doing just that.

Ok, Google turn on my FirePlace!

Instructions here on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/homeautomation/comments/5doqs8/ok_google_turn_on_my_fireplace/da6h33o/ I connected my google home to ifttt which does an API call to my raspberry pi running home-assistant controlling my global cache itach which is wired up to my gas logs.

Whats going on here? Hovee’s Google Voice is talking to the Raspberry Pi, which has Google’s Home Assistant installed on it. The fireplace (which is some newfangled thing that does things my fireplace doesn’t) has three positions: on, off and remote control. By switching the fireplace to remote and adding a switch (a nice long way away from the hot fire), the Pi can control both the flames and the music. Hovee has documented what he’s done on Reddit.

It was felt by most people at Pi Towers that it would be inappropriate to illustrate this post with that picture of Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug, however well it captures the mood, so we’ve edited it slightly for delicate sensibilities.

A photo Burt Reynolds turning on the Raspberry Pi romance

We like projects that involve setting things on fire. Got your own? Drop us a line and you might see it featured here.

 

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The Raspberry Pi-powered loom

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-raspberry-pi-powered-loom/

We’re a small organisation full of makers, and I think at least two of us own a hand loom for weaving textiles. (One of the reasons I enjoy the TV show Vikings so much is the casual looming that’s going on as backdrop in many of the indoor scenes – the textile sort, not the impending-doom sort, although there’s plenty of that too.)

siggy laergatha loom

Siggy and Laergatha (personal role model) get down to a spot of light weaving before commencing to crush skulls and pillage.

Here in the 21st century, Lorna and I use hand looms because powered looms are very expensive. They’re also usually pretty enormous, being meant for enterprise rather than home use. This is pesky, because there’s a lot of repetitive action involved, which can be hell on the carpal tunnels; weaving can be slow, tough work.

loom

Suspicious automation

Enter the Raspberry Pi.

Fred Hoefler has taken a desktop loom and added a Raspberry Pi to automate it. (Your computer’s fine: this video has no sound.)

Loom Operation

The general sequence of events for running my Raspberry Pi controlled loom. The project was really a proof of concept idea rather than an actual production model. This video is intended to supplement my blog at www.photographic-perspectives.com Sorry, there is not audio with this.

Fred wrote about the project on his website, explaining that he came up with the idea for very personal reasons. His wife Gina has been a weaver for 30 years, but she began to experience difficulties with the physical aspects of using her loom as she grew older. Conversations with other unwillingly retired weavers told Fred that Gina’s situation was not uncommon, and led him to design something to help. His device is intended to help older weavers who have trouble with the hard work of throwing the shuttle and holding down the pedals. Assistive looms cost upwards of $10,000: Fred’s solution comes in at a tidy $150, factoring in loom, Pi, and some motors from Amazon. So this isn’t for hobbyists like me: this loom can be a way for people whose livelihoods depend on being able to weave to continue working long after they might have had to retire.

One of the most satisfying things about the Raspberry Pi for me is its power to drive cost out of devices like this, and to change the way we work. This is a simple build, but it has so much potential to keep someone’s income flowing: we hope to see more as Fred develops the project.

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30kmph Bluetooth skateboard from the Raspberry Pi Guy

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/30kmph-bluetooth-skateboard-raspberry-pi-guy/

We are immensely fond of tutorial-maker extraordinaire Matt Timmons-Brown, who you may know as The Raspberry Pi Guy, and we treasure his widdle brain. Matt, please wear a helmet consistently next time you use this skateboard monster thing.

DIY 30KM/H ELECTRIC SKATEBOARD – RASPBERRY PI POWERED

Over the summer, I made my own electric skateboard using a £4 Raspberry Pi Zero. Controlled with a Nintendo Wiimote, capable of going 30km/h, and with a range of over 10km, this project has been pretty darn fun. In this video, you see me racing around Cambridge and I explain the ins and outs of this project.

This is a beautiful build, with a Bluetooth-connected Raspberry Pi Zero controlling the speed of the brushless motor that drives the board. Matt’s using a Wiimote to control the speed, and terrifying the residents of Cambridge into the bargain.

The metal boxes underneath the skateboard that Matt’s made to house the battery and electronics are, in a way, the most important part of the build. When you’re tooling along at 30kmph, the last thing you want to do is to grate your lithium-ion battery on the tarmac at speed.

Matt visited Pi Towers to show us what he’d made, and Gordon had a go. You’ll want to turn the sound on.

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.

Beautiful build, Matt – thanks for sharing!

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Ten things you (probably) didn’t know about Ada Lovelace

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/ten-things-probably-didnt-know-ada-lovelace/

Today it’s Ada Lovelace Day, when we celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

screen-shot-2015-10-01-at-14-38-14

Start Ada Lovelace Day with this poetry generator Scratch project from Code Club.

Once you’ve done that, have a little ponder. A quick poll of Pi Towers revealed that while we think we all know all about Ada Lovelace herself, the sum of knowledge of most of us appears to be “Um…First computer programmer. Analytical engine. Yeah?”

We’ve made a list of Ada Lovelace Facts to fill in your blanks.

  1. Although she was Lord Byron’s (yes, that Lord Byron) daughter, Ada Lovelace had no relationship with him. He left her and Lady Byron to go and pursue an actress before little Ada was a month old, and she never saw him again – he died when she was eight years old.Ada Lovelace
  2. Lady Byron herself was no slouch when it came to what we now call STEM. She was particularly interested in astronomy and mathematics: Byron called her his “Princess of Parallelograms”.
  3. Lady Byron was worried that some of Lord Byron’s famously lascivious behaviour might rub off on her little daughter, so she made the decision to build a maths and science curriculum for Ada to follow from the age of 4 to distract her from more worldly concerns – vanishingly unusual for a 19th century English noblewoman.miniature_of_ada_byron
  4. At the age of 17, Lovelace met Charles Babbage, and saw a demo of a model portion of his proposed Difference Engine. Her work with the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine (neither the Difference Engine nor the Analytical Engine was ever built in Babbage’s or Lovelace’s lifetimes) are what we primarily remember her for.
  5. Ada also had an important female mentor: Mary Somerville, a Scottish mathematician and astronomer, who, elected at the same time as Caroline Herschel, was one of the first two women to be made a member of the Royal Astronomical Society.
  6. When she was 28, Ada Lovelace translated an Italian paper on Babbage’s Analytical Engine into English – and added enough original material to it to increase its length three times over. Her additions to that paper showed how Babbage’s Analytical Engine could be coded to calculate Bernoulli numbers: the first machine algorithm, and the first computer program.1210-ada-lovelace-charles-babbage
  7. Ada Lovelace was a musician as well as a scientist, and worked on musical compositions based on numbers, an application which she intended for the Analytical Engine.
  8. Lovelace came up with a method for the Analytical Engine to repeat a series of instructions: the first documented loop in computing.
  9. She attempted to use her mathematical and analytical skills to give her the upper hand in gambling, particularly on horses. It wasn’t a great success, despite the development of complicated mathematical schemes: she had to pawn the family jewels, and on one occasion lost a staggering £3,200 on one horse race.ada-lovelace2
  10. After her death, Ada Lovelace’s contributions to science were forgotten – until 1953, when her notes were published by B.V. in Faster Than Thought: A Symposium on Digital Computing Machines. Since then she’s had a programming language (Ada) named after her, many books written about her – and we celebrate her, and other women in STEM, every year.

 

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Bloomberg Business visits Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/bloomberg-business-visits-raspberry-pi/

Last month, Bloomberg Business’s Hello World show sent reporter Ashlee Vance to the UK to cover the Raspberry Pi story. We thought you might get as much of a kick out of the final segment as we did: there’s some great insight here into the wider Raspberry Pi community, as well as some great footage from here in Cambridge, where Ashlee does some punting, “which is like canoeing, but dumber and more frustrating,” with Eben and visits Pi Towers.

This Tiny Device Is All You Need to Build Your Own Robot

In this segment of ‘Hello World: United Kingdom,’ Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance takes a trip to Gloucester to meet the creator of 4 Bot, a little robot which might be the world’s best Connect Four player. Then he travels to Cambridge to meet Eben Upton, the inventor of the Raspberry Pi computer, and learns a lot about computer science…

(We still can’t believe Ashlee went there with the last line of the segment. You’ll have to watch it to see what I’m talking about.)

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World’s smallest working MAME cabinet

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/worlds-smallest-working-mame-cabinet/

We are confident that nobody out there has built a working MAME cabinet that’s any smaller than this. Adafruit’s Phillip Burgess posted this project on Twitter last week, and you guys went absolutely nuts for it. So he’s produced a video, and a quick and dirty explainer so you can make your own.

Miniature MAME cabinet

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: that backplate is a Pi Zero. You’re going to need tiny elf fingers for this one.

Really: it’s teeny. That OLED screen is only 0.96″.

Phillip’s at pains to point out that their walkthrough is not a complete, step-by-step tutorial of the sort that Adafruit usually provide:

It’s lessons learned during an impromptu weekend hacking session which, to be honest, was a lot of trouble to build and only marginally fun to play, aside from the incredible “gee whiz that’s tiny!” factor. But it may provide insights for others looking to build small gadgets…

You may not enjoy playing it, Phillip, but I’m sure any mice haunting the Adafruit factory will be having a field day.

World’s Smallest MAME Arcade Cabinet @adafruit #adafruit @raspberry_pi

Tempest in a Teacup https://learn.adafruit.com/worlds-smallest-mame-arcade-cabinet —————————————– Visit the Adafruit shop online – http://www.adafruit.com Subscribe to Adafruit on YouTube: http://adafru.it/subscribe Join our weekly Show & Tell on G+ Hangouts On Air: http://adafru.it/showtell Watch our latest project videos: http://adafru.it/latest New tutorials on the Adafruit Learning System: http://learn.adafruit.com/ Music by bartlebeats: http://soundcloud.com/bartlebeats —————————————–

You can find a writeup for what has to be the coolest MAME cabinet build I’ve seen this year at Adafruit. Thanks gang!

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Face-tracking fan

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/face-tracking-fan/

Today’s downpour notwithstanding, the UK has just experienced its hottest September day since 1911. Here at Pi Towers, we were acutely aware of this. The office roared with the noise from sixty-odd CPU fans at full tilt. The air conditioning conked out. And things got especially bad when we realised that it was buy-one-get-one-free day at the local noodle place, which meant we were also trying to justify the eating of hot food in an office that was feeling a lot like one of those spa steam rooms, but stinkier.

nerd-sweat

Artist’s rendering of the general situation at Pi Towers for much of this week

Sensible people would have engineered their way out of this mess, like DevinL9 (please let us know your real name in the comments if you’d like us to use it here). DevinL9 is the possessor of an internet statistic: he reckons that a full-sized human can produce between two and four litres of sweat in an hour.

This is disgusting, so DevinL9 has come up with a nice little OpenCV hack to evaporate as much of it as possible. This is a “use what you have” hack: it’s not beautiful, but it’s effective, and if your desk is anything like mine you’ve probably got almost everything you need for the build in a drawer. Meet the fan that recognises your face, and swivels to track it.

f0vlf4ciscbemgc-large

Meet FanBot. Devin L9 says:

Welcome FanBot, the personal desktop fan that follows your face and keeps you cool when things are getting a little too spicy!

This is more of a proof of concept than a finished beautified product. It is for a intermediate developer. However, I wouldn’t write yourself off if you’re a beginner, it’ll just be a little more difficult. That being said, this project will get you a working version of openCV 3.0.0 on the Raspberry Pi 2 (RPi). [Liz notes: or any other model of Raspberry Pi! ] It will teach you a little about pulse width modulation (PWM) and how to control a servo with the general purpose input/output (GPIO) pins on the RPi. Let me know if you have problems. I’ll do my best to fix anything. It should be noted that this is not going to be a completely optimized solution in code or execution. The purpose of this project is to get a simple working version of openCV, play around with it by means of face detection, and move a servo so that a small fan can cool you off!

It works, too. There’s a complete build diary and full parts list and instructions, including all the code you’ll need, over at Instructables.

No soldering’s required: just breadboard and superglue for mounting. What are you waiting for?

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Raspberry Pi Chiptune Player

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-chiptune-player/

I have been staring at a blank screen for whole minutes. There are no words for just how much I love this project. I’ve already been on eBay to find a General Instrument AY-3-8910 series sound chip so I can play with one myself. Before we get into details, feast your ears.

vmw ay-3-8910 ym player

Raspeberry Pi Driving an AY-3-8910 sound chip It’s playing “intro2.ym” by Surgeon (Aleksy Lutsenko) More details on the setup can be found here: http://www.deater.net/weave/vmwprod/hardware/ay-3-8910/

What’s going on here? The Raspberry Pi is playing chiptunes by serving the files directly on to a AY-3-8910 (brought direct to you from the 1980s), while doing some rather jolly LED visualisation too.

The AY-3-8910 is no longer made: it was a piece of kit you’d find in most arcade machines, games consoles and home computers in the 1980s (if you had a ZX Spectrum, an Amstrad CPC or an Apple II, you’ll be familiar with its gorgeously grungy bleeps and bloops). Nowadays there’s dwindling stock that goes to service old machines, or to make entirely new things that’ll play chiptunes – like this beast.

chiptune player

Vince Weaver, the maker, says:

The AY-3-8910 is fairly straightforward. Three channels of square waves plus various noise and envelope effects. Provide a clock (1MHz in our case) and there are 16 (well, 14) on-chip registers you write to. Just put the address then the 8 bit value on the bus, toggle the 3 bus control pins, and you are set. You’ll want to do this fairly fast. A typical YM music file wants you to write all 14 registers every 50Hz.

I use the Pi’s GPIOs to shift an 8 bit value into a shift register. Then I use a few more to drive the control bus.

Visualization is done with some i2c LED displays.

The amplifier is an LM386 design from the AY-3-8910 datasheet.

Vince has plans to make some improvements (adding stereo, printing a PCB, swapping out for a better amplifier, using SPI to drive the shift register instead of GPIO and refining the software), but even in this prototype version, this is a piece of kit I’d love to have on my desk. Fortunately, we can replicate the project: everything you need is on Vince’s website and on GitHub. Thanks Vince!

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Now with added cucumbers

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/now-added-cucumbers/

Working here at Pi Towers, I’m always a little frustrated by not being able to share the huge number of commercial businesses’ embedded projects that use Raspberry Pis. (About a third of the Pis we sell go to businesses.) We don’t get to feature many of them on the blog; many organisations don’t want their work replicated by competitors, or aren’t prepared for customers and competitors to see how inexpensively they’re able to automate tasks. Every now and then, though, a company is happy to share what they’re using Pis for.

cucumber-farmer-3

Makoto Koike, centre, with his parents on the family cucumber farm

Here’s a great example: a cucumber farm in Japan, which is using a Raspberry Pi to sort thorny cucumbers, saving the farmer eight to nine hours’ manual work a day.

Makoto Koike is the son of farmers, who works as an embedded systems designer for the Japanese car industry. He started helping out at his parents’ cucumber farm (which he will be taking over when they retire), and spotted a process that was ripe for automation.

cucumber-farmer-7

Cucumbers from the Makotos’ farm

At the Makotos’ farm, cucumbers are graded into nine categories: the straightest, thickest, freshest, most vivid cucumbers (which must have plenty of characteristic spurs) are the best, and can be sold at the highest price. Makoto-san’s mother was in charge of sorting the cucumbers every day, which took eight hours at the peak of the harvest. Makoto-san had an epiphany after reading about Google’s AlphaGo beating the world number one professional Go player. He realised that machine learning and deep learning meant the sorting process could be automated, so he built a process using Google’s open-source machine learning library, TensorFlow, and some machinery to process the cucumbers into graded batches.

cucumber-farmer-10

Sorting in action

cucumber-farmer-6

Camera interface

Google have put together a diagram showing how the system works:

cucumber-farmer-14

There are difficulties in building this sort of system, not least the 7000 cucumbers, pre-graded by his mother, that Makoto-san had to photograph and label over a period of three months to give the model material to train with. He says:

“When I did a validation with the test images, the recognition accuracy exceeded 95%. But if you apply the system with real use cases, the accuracy drops down to about 70%. I suspect the neural network model has the issue of “overfitting” (the phenomenon in neural networks where the model is trained to fit only the small training dataset) because of the insufficient number of training images.”

Still, it’s an impressive feat, and a real-world >95% accuracy rate is not unfeasible with a big enough data set. We’d be interested to see how the setup progresses, especially as more automation is added; right now, cucumbers are added to the processing hopper by hand, and a human has to interact with the touchscreen grading panel. Here’s the system at work:

TensorFlow powered cucumber sorter by Makoto Koike

Uploaded by Kazunori Sato on 2016-08-05.

We’re hoping to see some updates from the Makoto family as the system evolves. And in the meantime, if you have an embedded project you’d like to share with us, let us know in the comments!

 

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Raspberry Shake – your personal seismograph

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-shake-personal-seismograph/

There are some applications for the Raspberry Pi that were a very long way from our minds back in 2009, when we were trying to come up with a computer to get kids programming again. I think it’s fair to say that we did not think we were building a personal seismograph.

Raspberry Shake has blown past its Kickstarter target of $7,000 to raise ten times that amount, and it’s still got a couple of days to go.

Raspberry Shake is sensitive enough to detect earthquakes of magnitude 2 and higher at a distance of 50 miles, and earthquakes of magnitude 4 or greater from 300 miles away. Angel Rodriguez, the maker, says:

It will also record earthquakes of larger magnitudes farther away but it will miss some of the subtleties. Raspberry Shake can detect and record short period (0.5 – 15 Hz) earthquakes; the farther away an earthquake, the less of that range of frequencies can be recorded.

Raspberry Shake seismograph

At the heart of this kit is a geophone: a device that converts movement into voltage. (Think of it as being a bit like a microphone for geology.) Inside the little geophone a coil moves relative to a magnet, creating current. Angel has a nice demonstration of how a geophone works:

What’s inside a Geophone

In order to get data coming from the ground we need a sensor able to detect these data. A geophone is a ground motion transducer that convert ground movement into voltage. Raspberry Shake use a geophone and in this video we are going to show you what’s inside of it.

The little add-on board amplifies and digitises the signal from the geophone, and feeds it to your Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi time-stamps the data and stores it in a seismic industry standard format and sends it in answer to client requests. Those requests are displayed on your smartphone or computer monitor. The complete system is called a seismograph.

Angel and the other instrument builders behind the Raspberry Shake make seismographs and other equipment for a living. This device is the little brother of a seismograph his team makes for universities and other earthquake observers. It runs the same open-source software that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) uses.

Angel says:

Don’t be fooled by the size and the price. Raspberry Shake is better than many of short-period seismometers in current use by the local networks of the USGS and many developing countries. Several software vendors have, for the first time, provided personal no-cost licenses for this project.

Raspberry Shake will make observatory quality data that can be shared in the worldwide standard SEED format. All modern automated seismology programs used by observatories can use the data from the Raspberry Shake. It’s the Volkswagen of seismometers – yes there are Lamborgini seismographs but both the Lamborghini and the Volkswagen will get you from point A to point B.

To prove it, here’s some data from a Raspberry Shake ($99 if you back the Kickstarter now) against data from a $50,000 professional seismograph. In this image the Raspberry Shake’s data is displayed at the top. Both devices are showing data from the same regional earthquake.

Raspberry Shake (upper) and Nanometric Trillium Compact (lower)

Data from Raspberry Shake (top) and Nanometric Trillium Compact (bottom)

Bringing the affordability of a piece of kit like this down to consumer levels is a real achievement: previously this sort of equipment has only been available to universities, governments and other bodies with the ability to make very big investments. As you’ve probably gathered, we love it: head over to back Raspberry Shake on Kickstarter quickly, before the opportunity’s gone!

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