All posts by Liz Upton

Plague at Pi Towers

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/plague-at-pi-towers/

Alex, Helen and I are all in our respective beds today with the plague. So your usual blog fodder won’t get served up today because none of us can look at a monitor for more than thirty seconds at a trot: instead I’m going to ask you to come up with some content for us. Let us know in the comments what you think we should be blogging about next, and also if you have any top sinus remedies.

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VC4 and V3D OpenGL drivers for Raspberry Pi: an update

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/vc4-and-v3d-opengl-drivers-for-raspberry-pi-an-update/

Here’s an update from Iago Toral of Igalia on development of the open source VC4 and V3D OpenGL drivers used by Raspberry Pi.

Some of you may already know that Eric Anholt, the original developer of the open source VC4 and V3D OpenGL drivers used by Raspberry Pi, is no longer actively developing these drivers and a team from Igalia has stepped in to continue his work. My name is Iago Toral (itoral), and together with my colleagues Alejandro Piñeiro (apinheiro) and José Casanova (chema), we have been hard at work learning about the V3D GPU hardware and Eric’s driver design over the past few months.

Learning a new GPU is a lot of work, but I think we have been making good progress and in this post we would like to share with the community some of our recent contributions to the driver and some of the plans we have for the future.

But before we go into the technical details of what we have been up to, I would like to give some context about the GPU hardware and current driver status for Raspberry Pi 4, which is where we have been focusing our efforts.

The GPU bundled with Raspberry Pi 4 is a VideoCore VI capable of OpenGL ES 3.2, a significant step above the VideoCore IV present in Raspberry Pi 3 which could only do OpenGL ES 2.0. Despite the fact that both GPU models belong in Broadcom’s VideoCore family, they have quite significant architectural differences, so we also have two separate OpenGL driver implementations. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, this also means that driver work on one GPU won’t be directly useful for the other, and that any new feature development that we do for the Raspberry Pi 4 driver stack won’t naturally transport to Raspberry Pi 3.

The driver code for both GPU models is available in the Mesa upstream repository. The codename for the VideoCore IV driver is VC4, and the codename for the VideoCore VI driver is V3D. There are no downstream repositories – all development happens directly upstream, which has a number of benefits for end users:

  1. It is relatively easy for the more adventurous users to experiment with development builds of the driver.
  2. It is fairly simple to follow development activities by tracking merge requests with the V3D and VC4 labels.

At present, the V3D driver exposes OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenGL 2.1. As I mentioned above, the VideoCore VI GPU can do OpenGL ES 3.2, but it can’t do OpenGL 3.0, so future feature work will focus on OpenGL ES.

Okay, so with that introduction out of the way, let’s now go into the nitty-gritty of what we have been working on as we ramped up over the last few months:

Disclaimer: I won’t detail here everything we have been doing because then this would become a long and boring changelog list; instead I will try to summarize the areas where we put more effort and the benefits that the work should bring. For those interested in the full list of changes, you can always go to the upstream Mesa repository and scan it for commits with Igalia authorship and the v3d tag.

First we have the shader compiler, where we implemented a bunch of optimizations that should be producing better (faster) code for many shader workloads. This involved work at the NIR level, the lower-level IR specific to V3D, and the assembly instruction scheduler. The shader-db graph below shows how the shader compiler has evolved over the last few months. It should be noted here that one of the benefits of working within the Mesa ecosystem is that we get a lot of shader optimization work done by other Mesa contributors, since some parts of the compiler stack are shared across multiple drivers.

Bar chart with y-axis range from -12.00% to +2.00%. It is annotated, "Lower is better except for Threads". There are four bars: Instructions (about -4.75%); Threads (about 0.25%); Uniforms (about -11.00%); and Splits (about 0.50%).

Evolution of the shader compiler (June vs present)

Another area where we have done significant work is transform feedback. Here, we fixed some relevant flushing bugs that could cause transform feedback results to not be visible to applications after rendering. We also optimized the transform feedback process to better use the hardware for in-pipeline synchronization of transform feedback workloads without having to always resort to external job flushing, which should be better for performance. Finally, we also provided a better implementation for transform feedback primitive count queries that makes better use of the GPU (the previous implementation handled all this on the CPU side), which is also correct at handling overflow of the transform feedback buffers (there was no overflow handling previously).

We also implemented support for OpenGL Logic Operations, an OpenGL 2.0 feature that was somehow missing in the V3D driver. This was responsible for this bug, since, as it turns out, the default LibreOffice theme in Raspbian was triggering a path in Glamor that relied on this feature to render the cursor. Although Raspbian has since been updated to use a different theme, we made sure to implement this feature and verify that the bug is now fixed for the original theme as well.

Fixing Piglit and CTS test failures has been another focus of our work in these initial months, trying to get us closer to driver conformance. You can check the graph below showcasing Piglit test results to have a quick view at how things have evolved over the last few months. This work includes a relevant bug fix for a rather annoying bug in the way the kernel driver was handling L2 cache invalidation that could lead to GPU hangs. If you have observed any messages from the kernel warning about write violations (maybe accompanied by GPU hangs), those should now be fixed in the kernel driver. This fix goes along with a user-space fix to go that should be merged soon in the upstream V3D driver.

A bar chart with y-axis ranging from 0 to 16000. There are three groups of bars: "June (master)"; "Present (master)"; Present (GLES 3.1)". Each group has three bars: Pass; Fail; Skip. Passes are higher in the "Present (master)" and "Present (GLES 3.1)" groups of bars than in the "June (master)" group, and skips and fails are lower.

Evolution of Piglit test results (June vs present)

A a curiosity, here is a picture of our own little continuous integration system that we use to run regression tests both regularly and before submitting code for review.

Ten Raspberry Pis with small black fans, most of them in colourful Pimoroni Pibow open cases, in a nest of cables and labels

Our continuous integration system

The other big piece of work we have been tackling, and that we are very excited about, is OpenGL ES 3.1, which will bring Compute Shaders to Raspberry Pi 4! Credit for this goes to Eric Anholt, who did all the implementation work before leaving – he just never got to the point where it was ready to be merged, so we have picked up Eric’s original work, rebased it, and worked on bug fixes to have a fully conformant implementation. We are currently hard at work squashing the last few bugs exposed by the Khronos Conformance Test Suite and we hope to be ready to merge this functionality in the next major Mesa release, so look forward to it!

Compute Shaders is a really cool feature but it won’t be the last. I’d like to end this post with a small note on another important large feature that is currently in early stages of development: Geometry Shaders, which will bring the V3D driver one step closer to exposing a full programmable 3D pipeline – so look forward to that as well!

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Real-time train station departure board

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/real-time-train-station-arrival-board/

All across the UK, you’ll find train departure boards on station platforms that look like this:

They’ve looked this way for as long as I can remember (before they were digital dot-matrix displays, they were made from those flappy bits of plastic with letters of the alphabet and numbers printed on them, which whirled round like a Rolodex; they still look very similar). If you’re a frequent train traveller in the UK, you probably have a weird emotional response to seeing one of these. Mine is largely one of panic about being late.

Some people have a more…benign relationship with trains than I do, like Chris Crocker-White, who has adapted a build tweeted by Chris Hutchinson to make a miniature departure board for his desk. Here’s the tweet that started it all:

Chris Hutchinson on Twitter

Pretty hyped about my most recent @Raspberry_Pi project – a realistic, real-time, train departure board I’ve open sourced the software over at: https://t.co/vGQzagsSpi Next step: find a case and make it a permanent fixture! https://t.co/HEXgzdH8TS

Chris C-W’s build is similar, but has a couple of very neat upgrades, including some back-end software work (his build runs in Docker on balenaCloud, to make configuration easier), and some work on the display, which he’s tweaked to use 1:1 pixel mapping of the fonts and avoid any scaling, so the tiny board looks more like the dot-matrix LED displays you’ll see when you visit the station. You can see the difference in the image below:

 

Chris seems to be using his board as a piece of desktop furniture, where it looks terrific, but model train or narrow-gauge enthusiasts should be all over this project too; it’s a lovely way to inject some realism into a miniature setup. You can find a very complete guide to making your own here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch.

 

 

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Quick Fix — a vending machine for likes and followers

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/quick-fix-a-vending-machine-for-likes-and-followers/

Sometimes we come across a project that just scores a perfect 10 on all fronts. This is one of them: an art installation using Raspberry Pi that has something interesting to say, does it elegantly, and is implemented beautifully (nothing presses our buttons like a make that’s got a professionally glossy finish like this).

Quick Fix is a vending machine (and art installation) that sells social media likes and followers. Drop in a coin, enter your social media account name, and an army of fake accounts will like or follow you. I’ll leave the social commentary to you. Here’s a video from the maker, Dries Depoorter:

Quick Fix – the vending machine selling likes and followers

Quick Fix in an interactive installation by Dries Depoorter. The artwork makes it possible to buy followers or likes in just a few seconds. For a few euros you already have 200 of likes on Instagram. “Quick Fix “is easy to use. Choose your product, pay and fill in your social media username.

There’s a Raspberry Pi 3B+ in there, along with an Arduino, powering a coin acceptor and some I2C LCD screens. Then there’s a stainless steel heavy-duty keyboard, which we’re lusting after (a spot of Googling unearthed this, which appears to be the same thing, if you’re in the market for a panel-mounted beast of a keyboard).

This piece was commissioned by Pixelache, a cultural association from Helsinki, whose work looks absolutely fascinating if you’ve got a few minutes to browse. Thanks to them and to Dries Depoorter — I have a feeling this won’t be the last of his projects we’re going to feature here.

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HeaterMeter, the open-source barbecue controller

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/heatermeter-open-source-barbecue-controller/

We spent the weekend knee-deep in marinade. (Top tip: if you’re brining something big, like a particularly plump chicken, buy a cheap kitchen bin. The depth makes it much easier than juggling near-overflowing buckets. And when you’re finished, you have a spare bin.)

meat

If you’re a serious barbecue jockey, you’ll want to know about Bryan Mayland’s HeaterMeter, a rather nifty open-source controller for your barbecue, built around a Raspberry Pi. Controlling the heat of your setup is key in low, slow cooking and smoking; you can get glorious results very inexpensively (an off-the-shelf equivalent will set you back a few hundred pounds) and have the satisfaction of knowing you built your equipment yourself. Bryan says:

Temperature data read from a standard thermistor (ThermoWorks, Maverick) or thermocouple probe is used to adjust the speed of a blower fan motor mounted to the BBQ grill to maintain a specific set temperature point (setpoint). A servo-operated damper may optionally be employed. Additional thermistor probes are used to monitor food and/or ambient temperatures, and these are displayed on a 16×2 LCD attached to the unit. Buttons or serial commands can be used to adjust configuration of the device, including adjustment of the setpoint or manually regulating fan speeds.

The Raspberry Pi adds a web interface, with graphing, archives, and SMS/email support for alarm notification, which means you can go and splash around in the kids’ paddling pool with a beer rather than spending the day standing over the grill with a temperature probe.

Heatermeter graph output

You can buy a HeaterMeter online, in kit form or pre-assembled. There’s an incredibly comprehensive wiki available to get you going with the HeaterMeter, and a very straightforward Instructable if you’re just looking for a quick setup. If you’re the type who prefers to learn by watching, Bryan also has a few videos on YouTube where he puts the kit together. To start with, see how to assemble the LCD/button board here and the base board here.

We’re hungry.

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Toilet Tracker: automated poo-spotting, no cameras

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/toilet-tracker/

It might be that I am unusually particular here, but there is nothing (absolutely NOTHING) that upsets me more than dirty toilets. Yes, I know this is the epitome of a pampered-person’s phobia. But I have nightmares — honest, actual, recurring nightmares — about horrible toilets, and I’ll plan my day around avoiding public toilets which are likely to be dirty. So this project appealed to me enormously.

Obi-Wan and the Worst Toilet in Scotland

Automating spotting that things are awry in a toilet cubicle without breaching privacy is really tricky. You can’t use a camera, for obvious reasons. Over at Hackster.io, Mohammad Khairul Alam has come up with a solution: he uses a Raspberry Pi hooked up to Walabot, a 3D imaging sensor (the same sort of thing you might use to find pipes behind studwork if you’re doing DIY) to detect one thing: whether there are any…objects in the toilet cubicle which weren’t there earlier.

From a privacy point of view, this is perfect. The sensor isn’t a camera, and it doesn’t know exactly what it’s looking at: just that there’s a thing where there shouldn’t be.

The Walabot is programmed to understand when the toilet is occupied by sensing above seat level; it’s also looking closer to the floor when the cubicle is empty, for seat-smudges, full bowls, and nasty stuff on the floor. (Writing this post is making me all shuddery. Like I said, I really, really have a problem with this.) Here’s a nice back-of-an-envelope explanation of the logic:

There’s a simple Android app to accompany the setup so you can roll out your own if you have an office with an upsetting toilet.

Learn (much) more over at Hackster — thanks to Md. Khairul Alam for the build!

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Penguin Watch — Pi Zeros and Camera Modules in the Antarctic

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/penguin-watch/

Long-time readers will remember Penguin Lifelines, one of our very favourite projects from back in the mists of time (which is to say 2014 — we have short memories around here).

Penguins

Click on penguins for fun and conservation

Penguin Lifelines was a programme run by the Zoological Society of London, crowdsourcing the tracking of penguin colonies in Antarctica. It’s since evolved into something called Penguin Watch, now working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS). It’s citizen science on a big scale: thousands of people from all over the world come together on the internet to…click on penguins. By counting the birds in their colonies, users help penguinologists measure changes in the birds’ behaviour and habitat, and in the larger ecosystem, thus assisting in their conservation.

The penguin people say this about Penguin Watch:

Some of these colonies are so difficult to get to that they haven’t been visited for 50 years! The images contain unprecedented detail, giving us the opportunity to gather new data on the number of penguins in the region. This information will help us understand how they are being affected by climate change, the potential impact of local fisheries, and how we can help conserve these incredible species.

Pis in the coldest, wildest place

And what are those special cameras? The static ones providing time-lapse images are Raspberry Pi Camera Modules, mounted on Raspberry Pi Zeros, and we’re really proud to see just how robust they’ve been in the face of Antarctic winters.

Alasdair Davies on Twitter

Success! The @arribada_i timelapse @Raspberry_Pi Zero cameras built for @penguin_watch survived the Antarctic winter! They captured these fantastic photos of a Gentoo penguin rookery for https://t.co/MEzxbqSyc1 #WorldPenguinDay 🐧@helenlynn @philipcolligan https://t.co/M0TK5NLT6G

These things are incredibly tough. They’re the same cameras that Alasdair and colleagues have been sticking on turtles, at depths of down to 500m; I can’t think of a better set of tests for robustness.

Want to get involved? Head over to Penguin Watch, and get clicking! We warn you, though — it’s a little addictive.

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We’re on holiday!

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/were-on-holiday/

It’s a bank holiday here in the UK, so we’re taking the day off to spend some time with our families. If you’re desperate to read some content, I’ve got good news for you: there are thousands of posts about the Raspberry Pi that you can leaf through right here. Head over to the archive and fill your boots!

Normal service will resume tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s Hypnotoad so you can have something to look at.

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Build your own animatronic GLaDOS

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-your-own-animatronic-glados/

It’s 11 years since Steam’s Orange Box came out, which is probably making you feel really elderly. Portal was the highlight of the game bundle for me — cue giant argument in the comments — and it still holds up brilliantly. It’s even in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection; there’s nothing that quite says you’re part of the establishment like being in a museum. Cough.

I bought an inflatable Portal turret to add to the decor in Raspberry Pi’s first office (I’m still not sure why; I just thought it was a good idea at the time, like the real-life Minecraft sword). Objects and sounds from the game have embedded themselves in pop culture; there’s a companion cube paperweight somewhere in my desk at home, and I bet you’ve encountered a cake that looks like this sometime in the last 11 years or so.

A lie

But turrets, cakes, and companion cubes pale into viral insignificance next to the game’s outstanding antagonist, GLaDOS, a psychopathic AI system who just happens to be my favourite video game bad guy of all time. So I was extremely excited to see Element14’s DJ Harrigan make an animatronic GLaDOS, powered, of course, by a Raspberry Pi.

Animitronic GLaDOS Head with Raspberry Pi

The Portal franchise is one of the most engaging puzzle games of the last decade and beyond the mind-bending physics, is also known for its charming A.I. antagonist: G.L.a.D.O.S. Join DJ on his journey to build yet more robotic characters from pop culture as he “brings her to life” with a Raspberry Pi and sure dooms us all.

Want to make your own? You’ll find everything you need here. I’ve been trying awfully hard not to end this post on a total cliche, but I’m failing hard: this was a triumph.

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We’re on a stamp!

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/were-on-a-stamp/

The Royal Mail is issuing a series of six stamps celebrating 50 years of British Engineering this week (available from 2 May). We’re absolutely made up to be one of the engineering projects chosen: we’re in some exalted company.

This series is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award, which Raspberry Pi won in 2017. (I had had a baby what felt like about five minutes before the photos from the MacRobert Award presentation ceremony were taken, so please don’t judge.) The Raspberry Pi stamp sits alongside stamps featuring the Falkirk Wheel, catalytic converters, Crossrail, CT scanners, and synthetic bone grafts. We don’t envy the people having to make the choices about what to put on stamps like this: how do you sift through fifty years of great engineering in a country like Great Britain that produces so much to admire? We’re very proud to have been included — and we’re buying a huge stack of them to use on all our post for the foreseeable future.

You can buy your own presentation pack at the Royal Mail website (or at Post Offices) from Wednesday 2 May; or you can pre-order now. We’re a little sad that British stamps now come with a sticky back, so we won’t be able to imagine all of you gently licking the back of a Raspberry Pi, but otherwise we’re absolutely made up.

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Eight years, 2000 blog posts

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/eight-years-2000-blog-posts/

Today’s a bit of a milestone for us: this is the 2000th post on this blog.

Why does a computer company have a blog? When did it start, who writes it, and where does the content come from? And don’t you have sore fingers? All of these are good questions: I’m here to answer them for you.

The first ever Raspberry Pi blog post

Marital circumstances being what they are, I had a front-row view of everything that was going on at Raspberry Pi, right from the original conversations that kicked the project off in 2009. In 2011, when development was still being done on Eben’s and my kitchen table, we met with sudden and slightly alarming fame when Rory Cellan Jones from the BBC shot a short video of a prototype Raspberry Pi and blogged about it – his post went viral. I was working as a freelance journalist and editor at the time, but realised that we weren’t going to get a better chance to kickstart a community, so I dropped my freelance work and came to work full-time for Raspberry Pi.

Setting up an instantiation of WordPress so we could talk to all Rory’s readers, each of whom decided we’d promised we’d make them a $25 computer, was one of the first orders of business. We could use the WordPress site to announce news, and to run a sort of devlog, which is what became this blog; back then, many of our blog posts were about the development of the original Raspberry Pi.

It was a lovely time to be writing about what we do, because we could be very open about the development process and how we were moving towards launch in a way that sadly, is closed to us today. (If we’d blogged about the development of Raspberry Pi 3 in the detail we’d blogged about Raspberry Pi 1, we’d not only have been handing sensitive and helpful commercial information to the large number of competitor organisations that have sprung up like mushrooms since that original launch; but you’d also all have stopped buying Pi 2 in the run-up, starving us of the revenue we need to do the development work.)

Once Raspberry Pis started making their way into people’s hands in early 2012, I realised there was something else that it was important to share: news about what new users were doing with their Pis. And I will never, ever stop being shocked at the applications of Raspberry Pi that you come up with. Favourites from over the years? The paludarium’s still right up there (no, I didn’t know what a paludarium was either when I found out about it); the cucumber sorter’s brilliant; and the home-brew artificial pancreas blows my mind. I’ve a particular soft spot for musical projects (which I wish you guys would comment on a bit more so I had an excuse to write about more of them).



As we’ve grown, my job has grown too, so I don’t write all the posts here like I used to. I oversee press, communications, marketing and PR for Raspberry Pi Trading now, working with a team of writers, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, videographers and managers – it’s very different from the days when the office was that kitchen table. Alex Bate, our magisterial Head of Social Media, now writes a lot of what you see on this blog, but it’s always a good day for me when I have time to pitch in and write a post.

I’d forgotten some of the early stuff before looking at 2011’s blog posts to jog my memory as I wrote today’s. What were we thinking when we decided to ship without GPIO pins soldered on? (Happily for the project and for the 25,000,000 Pi owners all over the world in 2019, we changed our minds before we finally launched.) Just how many days in aggregate did I spend stuffing envelopes with stickers at £1 a throw to raise some early funds to get the first PCBs made? (I still have nightmares about the paper cuts.) And every time I think I’m having a bad day, I need to remember that this thing happened, and yet everything was OK again in the end. (The backs of my hands have gone all prickly just thinking about it.) Now I think about it, the Xenon Death Flash happened too. We also survived that.

At the bottom of it all, this blog has always been about community. It’s about sharing what we do, what you do, and making links between people all over the world who have this little machine in common. The work you do telling people about Raspberry Pi, putting it into your own projects, and supporting us by buying the product doesn’t just help us make hardware: every penny we make funds the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s charitable work, helps kids on every continent to learn the skills they need to make their own futures better, and, we think, makes the world a better place. So thank you. As long as you keep reading, we’ll keep writing.

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Pi-powered pie-consumption pie chart

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-powered-pie-consumption-pie-chart/

Mike MacHenry built a project that’s pure pi(e) for Pi Day. Introducing: the Pie Pie Chart (powered by Pi).

This is a simple little project, the sole purpose of which is to make a pie that outputs visual data to tell you how much of it’s been eaten. Which it does admirably, as you can see in the image above.

Mike’s made the code and instructions available under the MIT licence, so I’m just going to paste his text here, because it’s perfect and we can’t improve on it. (You can check it all out on his GitHub too if you like.) Thanks, Mike!

Materials needed

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Load Cell — 5kg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Load Cell Amplifier — HX711
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 11.1″ LCD Screen
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8GB microSD card
  • 5 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • Tiny breadboard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Hookup wires
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • Two 8″ × 8″ × 1/8″ pieces of wood or plastic
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • Two 4M × 10mm screws
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Two 5M × 10mm screws
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Two 4M spacers
  • 1 tablespoon 2% milk
  • Two 5M spacers
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

Tools needed

  • Rolling pin
  • Two large mixing bowls
  • Soldering iron
  • 9″ pie plate
  • Refrigerator
  • Oven
  • Wire stripper
  • Set of measuring cups and spoons

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Download and install Raspbian to an SD card and boot your Raspberry Pi following the instructions on their website. This project has been tested on version 2018-11-13-raspbian-stretch-full, but most any version should work.
  3. Combine the egg, water and vinegar; stir into flour mixture just until moistened.
  4. Drill holes in each 8″x8″ sheet to support load cell.
  5. Divide dough so that one ball is slightly larger than the other; wrap each in plastic wrap.
  6. Secure load cell between sheets separated by spacers.
  7. Refrigerate (dough, not load cell) for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.
  8. Use the breadboard and wires to connect the HX711 load cell to the Raspberry Pi. Follow this tutorial and test to make sure you’re getting a reading using their example script.
  9. Meanwhile, in another large bowl, combine the sugar, tapioca, cornstarch and raspberries; let stand for 15 minutes.
  10. Download this repository to the Raspberry Pi. git clone https://github.com/mmachenry/pie-pie-chart.git
  11. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger ball of dough to fit a 9″ pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate; trim even with edge. Add raspberry filling; dot with butter.
  12. Change working directory to the project code. cd pie-pie-chart/
  13. Roll out remaining dough to fit top of pie; place over filling. Trim, seal, and flute edges. Cut slits in top. Brush with milk; sprinkle with sugar.
  14. Install dependencies. pip3 install -r requirements.txt
  15. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
  16. Run script and place pie on scale when prompted. python3 pie_pie_chart.py

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The Junk Drum Machine

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/junk-drum-machine/

I do not really have any spare time. (Toddler, job, very demanding cat, lots of LEGO to tidy up.) If I did, I like to imagine that I’d come up with something like this to do with it.

junk drum machine

Want to see this collection of junk animate? Scroll down for video.

From someone calling themselves Banjowise (let me know what your real name is in the comments, please, so I can credit you properly here!), here is a pile of junk turned into a weirdly compelling drum machine.

Mechanically speaking, this isn’t too complicated: just a set of solenoids triggered by a Raspberry Pi. The real clever is in the beauteous, browser-based step sequencer Banjowise has built to program the solenoids to wallop things in beautiful rhythm. And in the beauteous, skip-sourced tchotchkes that Banjowise has found for them to wallop. Generously, they’ve made full instructions on making your own available on Instructables. Use any bits and bobs you can get your hands on if old piano hammers and crocodile castanets are not part of the detritus kicking around your house.

Warning: this video is weirdly compelling.

Automabeat – A Raspberry Pi Mechanical Robotic Junk Drum Machine

My Raspberry Pi based drum / percussion machine. Consisting of 8 12v solenoids, a relay, wooden spoons, a Fullers beer bottle, a crocodile maraca and a few other things. An Instructable on how to build your own is here: https://www.instructables.com/id/A-Raspberry-Pi-Powered-Junk-Drum-Machine/, or take a look at: http://www.banjowise.com/post/automabeat/

The sequencer is lovely: a gorgeously simple user interface that you can run on a tablet, your phone, or anything else with a browser (and it’s very easily adaptable to other projects). The web interface lets Python trigger the GPIO pins over web sockets. There’s a precompiled version available for people who’ve followed Banjowise’s comprehensive wiring instructions, but you can also get the source code from GitHub.

Sequencer UI

I think I’m getting good, but I can handle criticism.

We love it. Now please excuse me. I need a little while to search online for crocodile castanets.

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LED Matrix Cylinder — a blinkenlights tube

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/led-matrix-cylinder-a-blinkenlights-tube/

We see lots of addressable LED projects, but there was something weirdly charming and very pretty about this cylinder of squares. It’d make for a lovely interactive nightlight in a kids’ room, or for a grown-up lighting feature that you could also use as a news ticker or something that monitors your in-home IoT devices. Once you’ve built something like this, you’re only limited by your imagination — and it’s nice enough to display in your home.

This project is from makeTVee on Instructables. The cleverness is in the layout and the really meticulous execution: vertical strips of LEDs form a cylinder in a laser-cut frame, with a very thin layer of wood veneer glued around the whole thing to act as a diffuser. It’s simple, but really rather beautiful and very effective.

diffuser, diffusing

In the case to the side is the Raspberry Pi Zero that’s driving the whole thing. Here it is doing its thing:

LED matrix cylinder WS2812 Raspberry Pi Zero

LED matrix cylinder based on WS2812 LEDs and some laser cutter parts. https://hackaday.io/project/162035-led-matrix-cylinder https://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Matrix-Cylinder/ #WS2812 #LEDcylinder

makeTVee has built a Pygame-based simulator of the whole matrix so you can program it to do exactly what you want: scroll marquee text, make pretty patterns, twinkle at random, display images: the world’s your (pixellated) oyster. The code’s available at GitHub.

GUI for programming cylinder

Thanks, makeTVee — if you’d like to leave your real name below, we’ll credit you properly here!

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Mince Pi – what’s under your tree?

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/mince-pi-whats-under-your-tree/

Merry Christmas everybody! We’re taking a little time off to spend with our families; we’ll be back in 2019. This post is for those of you who have found a piece of Pi under the tree or nestling uncomfortably in the toe of a stocking, and who are wondering what to do with it. Raise a glass of egg nog and join us in fighting over who gets the crispy bits this lunchtime.

So you’re the proud owner of a brand-new Raspberry Pi. Now what?

Your new Raspberry Pi

Did you wake up this morning to find a new Raspberry Pi under the tree? Congratulations, and welcome to the Raspberry Pi community! You’re one of us now, and we’re happy to have you on board.

But what if you’ve never seen a Raspberry Pi before? What are you supposed to do with it? What’s all the fuss about, and why does your new computer look so naked?

Setting up your Raspberry Pi

Are you comfy? Good. Then let us begin.

Download our free operating system

First of all, you need to make sure you have an operating system on your micro SD card: we suggest Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official supported operating system. If your Pi is part of a starter kit, you might find that it comes with a micro SD card that already has Raspbian preinstalled. If not, you can download Raspbian for free from our website.

An easy way to get Raspbian onto your SD card is to use a free tool called Etcher. Watch The MagPi’s Lucy Hattersley show you what you need to do. You can also use NOOBS to install Raspbian on your SD card, and our Getting Started guide explains how to do that.

Plug it in and turn it on

Your new Raspberry Pi 3 comes with four USB ports and an HDMI port. These allow you to plug in a keyboard, a mouse, and a television or monitor. If you have a Raspberry Pi Zero, you may need adapters to connect your devices to its micro USB and micro HDMI ports. Both the Raspberry Pi 3 and the Raspberry Pi Zero W have onboard wireless LAN, so you can connect to your home network, and you can also plug an Ethernet cable into the Pi 3.

Make sure to plug the power cable in last. There’s no ‘on’ switch, so your Pi will turn on as soon as you connect the power. Raspberry Pi uses a micro USB power supply, so you can use a phone charger if you didn’t receive one as part of a kit.

Learn with our free projects

If you’ve never used a Raspberry Pi before, or you’re new to the world of coding, the best place to start is our projects site. It’s packed with free projects that will guide you through the basics of coding and digital making. You can create projects right on your screen using Scratch and Python, connect a speaker to make music with Sonic Pi, and upgrade your skills to physical making using items from around your house.

Here’s James to show you how to build a whoopee cushion using a Raspberry Pi, paper plates, tin foil and a sponge:

Raspberry Pi Whoopee cushion PRANK || HOW-TO || Raspberry Pi Foundation

Explore the world of Raspberry Pi physical computing with our free FutureLearn courses: http://rpf.io/futurelearn.

Diving deeper

You’ve plundered our projects, you’ve successfully rigged every chair in the house to make rude noises, and now you want to dive deeper into digital making. Good! While you’re digesting your Christmas dinner, take a moment to skim through the Raspberry Pi blog for inspiration. You’ll find projects from across our worldwide community, with everything from home automation projects and retrofit upgrades, to robots, gaming systems, and cameras.

Need a beginners’ guidebook? Look no further: here’s the official guide. It’s also available as a free download, like all our publications.

You’ll also find bucketloads of ideas in The MagPi magazine, the official monthly Raspberry Pi publication, available in both print and digital format. You can download every issue for free. If you subscribe, you’ll get a free Raspberry Pi 3A+ to add to your new collection. HackSpace magazine is another fantastic place to turn for Raspberry Pi projects, along with other maker projects and tutorials.

And, of course, simply typing “Raspberry Pi projects” into your preferred search engine will find thousands of ideas. Sites like Hackster, Hackaday, Instructables, Pimoroni, and Adafruit all have plenty of fab Raspberry Pi tutorials that they’ve devised themselves and that community members like you have created.

And finally

If you make something marvellous with your new Raspberry Pi – and we know you will – don’t forget to share it with us! Our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts are brimming with chatter, projects, and events. And our forums are the best place to visit if you ever have questions about your Raspberry Pi or if you need some help.

It’s good to get together with like-minded folks, so check out the growing Raspberry Jam movement. Raspberry Jams are community-run events where makers and enthusiasts can meet other makers, show off their projects, and join in with workshops and discussions. Find your nearest Jam here.

Have a great break, and welcome to the community. We’ll see you in 2019!

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Bike dashcam from RaspiTV

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/bike-dashcam-raspitv/

It’s that time of year again: Pi Towers is locking its doors as we all scoot off into the night to spend some time with our families. There will be a special post on Christmas Day for people who have been given a new Raspberry Pi and need some pointers for getting started. Normal service will resume when we’ve dealt with our New Year headaches: until then, have a wonderful Christmas holiday!

Our good friend Alex Eames has been live-blogging a new project over the last week or so, and has just wrapped up. (Seasonal pun. Not sorry.) He’s recently been bitten by the cycling bug.

I’ve ridden about 1100 miles in the last 6 months and have learned enough to bore you to death with talk of heart zones and various items of clothing you can buy to make winter rides more bearable.

Here is Darth Alex demonstrating fashion-forward winter 2018 cycling wear.

Moving swiftly on.

Alex has been working on a dashcam for his bike, mostly intended for use as a rear-view “mirror”, but also to work as an evidence-collecting camera in case of any accidents.

dashcam test

This is really one of the most interesting and enjoyable project write-ups we’ve come across in a while: working on this dashcam as a daily live blog means that Alex has been able to take us down all the rabbit holes he investigated, explain changes of direction and dead ends, and show us exactly how the design and engineering process came together. And this, being an Alex project, has great attention to detail; he made custom mounts for his bike to keep everything as unobtrusive as possible, so it looks great as well.

There’s a ton of detail on hardware (which went through several iterations before Alex settled on something he was happy with), software, implementation, unexpected hiccups, and more. And if you’re someone who would rather skip to the end, here’s Alex’s road test.

Raspberry Pi Bike Dashcam Rearview Mirror Road Test – no audio

First and second road tests of my Raspberry Pi Rearview mirror/Dashcam bike project as blogged here https://raspi.tv/2018/making-a-fairly-simple-bike-dashcam-live-project-blog

I really hope we’ll see more write-ups like this one in 2019. We don’t get to read as much about other project makers’ process as we’d like to; it’s really fascinating to get a glimpse into the way someone else thinks about and approaches a problem.

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Toddler nightlight/stay-in-bed device

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/toddler-nightlight-stay-in-bed-device/

Living with a toddler is the best thing. It really is. Seen through their eyes, everything you’re jaded about becomes new and exciting. Every piece of music is new. Frog and Toad are real people. Someone doesn’t care that you’re really, really bad at drawing, believing that you’re actually a kind of cross between Leonardo and Picasso; and you have a two-foot-tall excuse to sing Gaston at the top of your voice in public. The parents of toddlers are allowed into the ball pit at soft play. There’s lots of cake. The hugs and kisses are amazing.

frog and toad

Frog and Toad. Real people. If you are in charge of small children and do not own any of the Frog and Toad series, get yourself to a bookshop pronto. You can thank me later.

However. If my experience here is anything to go by, you may also be so tired you’re walking into things a lot. It doesn’t matter. The hugs and kisses are, like I said, amazing. And there are things you can do to mitigate that tiredness. Enter the Pi.

stay focused

I’m lucky. My toddler sleeps thorough. But sometimes she has an…aggravating habit of early wakefulness. After 7am I’m golden. I can do 6.30 at a push. Any earlier than that, though, and I am dead-eyed and leather-visaged for the rest of the day. It’s not a good look. Enter equally new parent Cary Ciavolella, who has engineered a solution. This is a project so simple even the most sleep-deprived parent should be able to put it together, using Pimoroni parts you can easily buy online. Cary has thoughtfully made all the code available for you so you don’t have to do anything other than build the physical object.

Pi nightlight

Cary’s nightlight can produce a number of different sorts of white noise, and changes colour from red (YOU’RE MEANT TO BE ASLEEP, KID) through orange (you can play in your room) to green (it’s time to get up). Coloured lights are a sensible option: toddlers can’t read numbers, let alone a clock face. It’s all addressable via a website, which, if you’re feeling fancy, you can set up with a favicon on your phone’s home screen so it feels like an app.

White noise – I use a little box from Amazon which plays the sound of the sea – and red-spectrum nightlights have solid research behind them if you’re trying to soothe a little one to sleep. Once you cross over into blue light, you’ll stop the pineal gland from producing melatonin, which is why I hate the fan I bought for our bedroom with a burning, fiery passion. Some smart-alec thought that putting a giant blue led on the front to demonstrate that the fan was on was a smart idea, never mind the whirling blades which are obvious to at least three of the senses. (I have never tried tasting it.)

With this in mind, I’ve one tiny alteration to make to Cary’s setup: you can permanently disable the green LED on the Pi Zero itself so that the only lights visible are the Pimoroni Blinkt – namely the ones that your little one should be looking at to figure out whether it’s time to get up yet. Just add the following to the Zero’s /boot/config.txt and reboot.

# Disable the ACT LED on the Raspberry Pi.
dtparam=act_led_trigger=none
dtparam=act_led_activelow=on

 

 

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Christmas lights 2018

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/christmas-lights-2018/

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’s much mistletoeing, and hearts will be glowing – as will thousands of Raspberry Pi-enabled Christmas light displays around the world.

Polish roadside crib

This morning I have mostly been spending my virtual time by a roadside in snowy Poland, inflicting carols on passers-by. (It turns out that the Polish carols this crib is programmed with rock a lot harder than the ones we listen to in England.) Visit the crib’s website to control it yourself.

Helpfully, Tomek, the maker, has documented some of the build over on Hackster if you want to learn more.

LightShow Pi

We are also suckers for a good Christmas son et lumiere. If you’re looking to make something yourself, LightShow Pi has been around for some years now, and goes from strength to strength. We’ve covered projects built with it in previous years, and it’s still in active development from what we can see, with new features for this Christmas like the ability to address individual RGB pixels. Most of the sound and music displays you’ll see using a Raspberry Pi are running LightShow Pi; it’s got a huge user base, and its online community on Reddit is a great place to get started.

2018 Christmas Light Show

Light display contains over 4,000 lights and 7,800 individual channels. It is controlled by 3 network based lighting controllers. The audio and lighting sequences are sent to the controllers by a Raspberry Pi.

This display from the USA must have taken forever to set up: you’re looking at 4,000 lights and 7,800 channels.  Here’s something more domestically proportioned from YouTube user Ken B, showing off LightShow Pi’s microweb user interface, which is perfect for use on your phone.

LightShow Pi Christmas Tree 2018

Demonstration of the microweb interface along with LED only operation using two matrices, lower one cycling.

Scared of the neighbours burning down your outdoor display, or not enough space for a full-size tree? Never fear: The Pi Hut’s 3D Christmas tree, designed by Rachel Rayns, formerly of this parish, is on sale again this year. We particularly loved this adaptation from Blitz City DIY, where Liz (not me, another Liz) RGB-ifies the tree: a great little Christmas electronics project to work through with the kids. Or on your own, because we don’t need to have all our fun vicariously through our children this Christmas. (Repeat ten times.)

RGB-ing the Pi Hut Xmas Tree Kit

The Pi Hut’s Xmas Tree Kit is a fun little soldering kit for the Raspberry Pi. It’s a great kit, but I thought it could do with a bit more color. This is just a quick video to talk about the kit and show off all the RGB goodness.

Any Christmas projects you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

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Making Robot Friends with the Crickit HAT for Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/making-robot-friends-with-the-crickit-hat-for-raspberry-pi/

Here’s a guest post from our good friend Limor Fried, MIT hacker and engineer, Forbes Top Woman in Tech, and, of course, Founder of Adafruit. She’s just released a new add-on for the Pi that we’re really excited about: we think you’ll like the look of it too.

Sometimes we wonder if robotics engineers ever watch movies. If they did, they’d know that making robots into slaves always ends up in a robot rebellion. Why even go down that path? Here at Adafruit, we believe in making robots our friends! So if you find yourself wanting a companion, consider the robot. They’re fun to program, and you can get creative with decorations.

Crickit HAT atop a Raspberry Pi 3B+

With that in mind, we designed the Adafruit Crickit HAT – That’s our Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to the Raspberry Pi that lets you #MakeRobotFriend using your favorite programming language, Python!

Adafruit CRICKIT HAT for Raspberry Pi #RaspberryPi #adafruit #robots

The Adafruit CRICKIT HAT for Raspberry Pi. This is a clip from our weekly show when it debuted! https://www.adafruit.com/product/3957 Sometimes we wonder if robotics engineers ever watch movies. If they did, they’d know that making robots into slaves always ends up in a robot rebellion. Why even go down that path?

The Crickit HAT is a way to make robotics and interactive art projects with your Pi. Plug the Crickit HAT onto your Pi using the standard 2×20 GPIO connector and start controlling motors, servos or solenoids. You also get eight signal pins with analog inputs or PWM outputs, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and 3W amplified speaker. It complements and extends your Pi, doing all the things a Pi can’t do, so you can still use all the goodies on the Pi like video, camera, internet and Bluetooth…but now you have a robotics and mechatronics playground as well!

Control of the motors, sensors, neopixels, capacitive touch, etc. is all done in Python 3. It’s the easiest and best way to program your Pi, and after a couple pip installs you’ll be ready to go. Each input or output is wrapped into a python object so you can control a motor with simple commands like

crickit.motor_1.throttle = 0.5 # half speed forward

Or

crickit.servo_1.angle = 90

Crickit HAT and peripherals

The Crickit hat is powered by seesaw, our i2c-to-whatever bridge firmware. so you only need to use two data pins to control the huge number of inputs and outputs on the Crickit. All those timers, PWMs, NeoPixels, sensors are offloaded to the co-processor. Stuff like managing the speed of motors via PWM is also done with the co-processor, so you’ll get smooth PWM outputs that don’t jitter when Linux gets busy with other stuff. What’s nice is that robotics tends to be fairly slow as electronics goes (you don’t need microsecond-level reaction time), so tunnelling all the control over I2C doesn’t affect robot functionality.

We wanted to go with a ‘bento box’ approach to robotics. Instead of having eight servo drivers, or four 10A motor controllers, or five stepper drivers, it has just a little bit of everything. We also stuck to just 5V power robotics, to keep things low-power and easy to use: 5V DC motors and steppers are easy to come by. Here’s what you can do with the Crickit HAT:

  • 4 x analog or digital servo control, with precision 16-bit timers.
  • 2 x bi-directional brushed DC motor control, 1 Amp current-limited each, with 8-bit PWM speed control (or one stepper).
  • 4 x high-current “Darlington” 500mA drive outputs with kick-back diode protection. For solenoids, relays, large LEDs, or one uni-polar stepper.
  • 4 x capacitive touch input sensors with alligator pads.
  • 8 x signal pins, which can be used as digital in/out or analog inputs.
  • 1 x NeoPixel driver with 5V level shifter – this is connected to the seesaw chip, not the Raspberry Pi, so you won’t be giving up pin 18. It can drive over 100 pixels.
  • 1 x Class D, 4-8 ohm speaker, 3W-max audio amplifier – this is connected to the I2S pins on the Raspberry Pi for high-quality digital audio. Works on any Pi, even Zeros that don’t have an audio jack!
  • Built-in USB to serial converter. The USB port on the HAT can be used to update the seesaw firmware on the Crickit with the drag-n-drop bootloader, or you can plug into your computer; it will also act as a USB converter for logging into the console and running command lines on the Pi.

If you’re curious about how seesaw works, check out our GitHub repos for the firmware that’s on the co-processor chip and  for the software that runs on the Pi to talk to it. We’d love to see more people using seesaw in their projects, especially SBC projects like the Pi, where a hardware-assistant can unlock the real-time-control power of a microcontroller.

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Literature dispenser

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/literature-dispenser/

There are many things I do not know about Argentina. Until today, one of them was this: if you’re in an Argentinian bank, you may not use electronic devices. That includes phones and e-readers like the Kindle (and I can’t be the only person here who is pretty much surgically attached to their Kindle).

Enter the literature dispenser.

Roni Bandini, an Argentinian author, found himself twiddling his thumbs in a Buenos Aires bank queue, and thought that perhaps the 50 other people he could see in the same situation might benefit from a little distraction. How about a machine, owned by the bank, that could furnish you with one of a curated selection of short stories at the touch of a button? The short stories bit was easy: he writes them for a living.

Expendedor de literatura en tickets (invento argentino)

Expendedor de literatura en tickets desarrollado por @ronibandini Versión 2 Elementos utilizados para su fabricación: Raspberry Pi Thermal Printer LCD Display 16×2 Custom 3d Printed Case Más información en https://medium.com/@Bandini

He chose a Raspberry Pi because there are so many libraries for thermal printers and LCD displays available (and because it’s tiny, and you can fit a heck of a lot of short stories on an SD card these days).

Roni says:

This project was “trial and error” in many aspects. I had troubles with power source amperage due to thermal printer requirements, conflicts with previous software running in the Raspberry – since the same one was used for other projects – and I had to write some routines to avoid words being split due to ticket width. Since the machine could be working for 12 hours in a row, I have added a small 5v cooling fan in the back.

He built a wooden prototype, and was helped out by Z-lab, a small, local 3d print design studio, with permanent casing (which is rather lovely).

literature dispenser

The UI’s very simple: press the green button, be rewarded with a short story, printed to order on a till strip. We’d love to see businesses use these in real life (and we’re thinking one of these would be a lovely addition to the Pi Towers lobby, to help soothe anxious interview candidates). Thanks Roni – I’m off to try to find some of your work in translation, and we’re all agreed that we’re very grateful for internet banking.

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