All posts by Richard Hayler

3D print you own replica Astro Pi flight case

Post Syndicated from Richard Hayler original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/3d-print-astro-pi-flight-case-mark-ii/

We’ve put together a new how-to guide for 3D printing and assembling your own Astro Pi unit replica, based on the upgraded units we sent to the International Space Station in December.

Astro Pi MK II hardware.
The new, upgraded Astro Pi units.

The Astro Pi case connects young people to the Astro Pi Challenge

It wasn’t long after the first Raspberry Pi computer was launched that people started creating the first cases for it. Over the years, they’ve designed really useful ones, along with some very stylish ones. Without a doubt, the most useful and stylish one has to be the Astro Pi flight case.

Animation of how the components of the Mark 2 Astro Pi hardware unit fit together.
What’s inside the new units.

This case houses the Astro Pi units, the hardware young people use when they take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge. Designed by the amazing Jon Wells for the very first Astro Pi Challenge, which was part of Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the ISS in 2015, the case has become an iconic part of the Astro Pi journey for young people.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

As Jon says: “The design of the original flight case, although functional, formed an emotional connection with the young people who took part in the programme and is an engaging and integral part of the experience of the Astro Pi.”

People love to 3D print Astro Pi cases

Although printing an Astro Pi case is absolutely not essential for participating in the European Astro Pi Challenge, many of the teams of young people who participate in Astro Pi Mission Space Lab, and create experiments to run on the Astro Pi units aboard the ISS, do print Astro Pi cases to house the hardware that we send them for testing their experiments.

An aluminium-encased Astro Pi unit next to a 3D-printed Astro Pi unit replica.
An aluminium Astro Pi case, and a 3D printed case.

When we published the first how-to guide for 3D printing an Astro Pi case and making a working replica of the unit, it was immediately popular. We saw an exciting range of cases being produced. Some people (such as me) tried to make theirs look as similar as possible to the original aluminium Astro Pi flight unit, even using metallic spray paint to complete the effect. Others chose to go for a multicolour model, or even used glow-in-the-dark filament.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise that when we announced that we were sending upgraded Astro Pi units to the ISS — with cases again designed by Jon Wells — we received a flurry of requests for the files needed to 3D print these new cases.

The mark 2 Astro Pi units spin in microgravity on the International Space Station.
The new Astro Pi units are on board the ISS now.

Now that the commissioning of the new Astro Pi units, which arrived on board the International Space Station in December, is complete, we’ve been able to put together an all-new how-to guide to 3D printing your own Mark II Astro Pi case and assembling your own Astro Pi unit replica at home or in the classroom.

The guide also includes step-by-step instructions to completing the internal wiring so you can construct a working Astro Pi unit. We’re provided a custom version of the self-test software that is used on the official Astro Pis, so you can check that everything is operational.

If you’re new to 3D printing, you might like to try one of our BlocksCAD projects and practice printing a simpler design before you move on the the Astro Pi case.

Changes and improvements to the guide

We’ve made some changes to the original CAD designs to make printing the Mark II case parts and assembling a working Astro Pi replica unit as easy as possible. Unlike the STL files for the Mark I case, we’ve kept the upper and lower body components as single parts, rather than splitting each into two thinner halves. 3D printers have continued to improve since we wrote the first how-to guide. Most now have heated beds, which prevent warping, and we’ve successfully printed the Mark II parts on a range of affordable machines.

An Astro Pi case front is being printed on a 3D printer.
Printing an Astro Pi case.

The guide contains lots of hints and tips for getting the best results. As usual with 3D printing, be prepared to make some tweaks for the particular printer that you use.

In addition to the upper and lower case parts, there are also some extra components to print this time: the colour sensor window, the joystick cap, the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera housing, and the legs that protect the lenses and allow the Astro Pi units on the ISS to be safely placed up against the nadir window.

Four 3D-printed Astro Pi case fronts.
You can choose between four variants of the upper case part.

We’ve included files for four variants of the upper case part (see above). In order to keep costs down, the kits that we send to Astro Pi Mission Space Lab teams have a different PIR sensor to the ones of the proper Astro Pi units. So we’ve produced files for upper case parts that allow that sensor to be fitted. If you’re not taking part in the European Astro Pi Challenge, this also offers a cheaper alternative to creating an Astro Pi replica which still includes the motion detection capability:

We’ve also provided versions for the upper case part that have smaller holes for the push buttons. So, if you don’t fancy splashing out on the supremely pressable authentic buttons, you can use other colourful alternatives, which typically have a smaller diameter.

A 3D-printed Astro Pi unit replica with legs attached.
The guide includes files for printing the Astro Pi’s protective legs.

Do share photos of your 3D-printed Astro Pi cases with us by tweeting pictures of them to @astro_pi and @RaspberryPi_org.

One week left to help young people make space history with Astro Pi Mission Zero

It’s still not too late for young people to take part in this year’s Astro Pi beginners’ coding activity, Mission Zero, and suggest their ideas for the names for the two new Astro Pi units! Astro Pi Mission Zero is still open until next Friday, 18 March.

Logo of Mission Zero, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

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Build your own weather station with our new guide!

Post Syndicated from Richard Hayler original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-your-own-weather-station/

One of the most common enquiries I receive at Pi Towers is “How can I get my hands on a Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station?” Now the answer is: “Why not build your own version using our guide?”

Build Your Own weather station kit assembled

Tadaaaa! The BYO weather station fully assembled.

Our Oracle Weather Station

In 2016 we sent out nearly 1000 Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station kits to schools from around the world who had applied to be part of our weather station programme. In the original kit was a special HAT that allows the Pi to collect weather data with a set of sensors.

The original Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station HAT – Build Your Own Raspberry Pi weather station

The original Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station HAT

We designed the HAT to enable students to create their own weather stations and mount them at their schools. As part of the programme, we also provide an ever-growing range of supporting resources. We’ve seen Oracle Weather Stations in great locations with a huge differences in climate, and they’ve even recorded the effects of a solar eclipse.

Our new BYO weather station guide

We only had a single batch of HATs made, and unfortunately we’ve given nearly* all the Weather Station kits away. Not only are the kits really popular, we also receive lots of questions about how to add extra sensors or how to take more precise measurements of a particular weather phenomenon. So today, to satisfy your demand for a hackable weather station, we’re launching our Build your own weather station guide!

Build Your Own Raspberry Pi weather station

Fun with meteorological experiments!

Our guide suggests the use of many of the sensors from the Oracle Weather Station kit, so can build a station that’s as close as possible to the original. As you know, the Raspberry Pi is incredibly versatile, and we’ve made it easy to hack the design in case you want to use different sensors.

Many other tutorials for Pi-powered weather stations don’t explain how the various sensors work or how to store your data. Ours goes into more detail. It shows you how to put together a breadboard prototype, it describes how to write Python code to take readings in different ways, and it guides you through recording these readings in a database.

Build Your Own Raspberry Pi weather station on a breadboard

There’s also a section on how to make your station weatherproof. And in case you want to move past the breadboard stage, we also help you with that. The guide shows you how to solder together all the components, similar to the original Oracle Weather Station HAT.

Who should try this build

We think this is a great project to tackle at home, at a STEM club, Scout group, or CoderDojo, and we’re sure that many of you will be chomping at the bit to get started. Before you do, please note that we’ve designed the build to be as straight-forward as possible, but it’s still fairly advanced both in terms of electronics and programming. You should read through the whole guide before purchasing any components.

Build Your Own Raspberry Pi weather station – components

The sensors and components we’re suggesting balance cost, accuracy, and easy of use. Depending on what you want to use your station for, you may wish to use different components. Similarly, the final soldered design in the guide may not be the most elegant, but we think it is achievable for someone with modest soldering experience and basic equipment.

You can build a functioning weather station without soldering with our guide, but the build will be more durable if you do solder it. If you’ve never tried soldering before, that’s OK: we have a Getting started with soldering resource plus video tutorial that will walk you through how it works step by step.

Prototyping HAT for Raspberry Pi weather station sensors

For those of you who are more experienced makers, there are plenty of different ways to put the final build together. We always like to hear about alternative builds, so please post your designs in the Weather Station forum.

Our plans for the guide

Our next step is publishing supplementary guides for adding extra functionality to your weather station. We’d love to hear which enhancements you would most like to see! Our current ideas under development include adding a webcam, making a tweeting weather station, adding a light/UV meter, and incorporating a lightning sensor. Let us know which of these is your favourite, or suggest your own amazing ideas in the comments!

*We do have a very small number of kits reserved for interesting projects or locations: a particularly cool experiment, a novel idea for how the Oracle Weather Station could be used, or places with specific weather phenomena. If have such a project in mind, please send a brief outline to [email protected], and we’ll consider how we might be able to help you.

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2017 Weather Station round-up

Post Syndicated from Richard Hayler original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/2017-weather-station/

As we head into 2018 and start looking forward to longer days in the Northern hemisphere, I thought I’d take a look back at last year’s weather using data from Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Stations. One of the great things about the kit is that as well as uploading all its readings to the shared online Oracle database, it stores them locally on the Pi in a MySQL or MariaDB database. This means you can use the power of SQL queries coupled with Python code to do automatic data analysis.

Soggy Surrey

My Weather Station has only been installed since May, so I didn’t have a full 52 weeks of my own data to investigate. Still, my station recorded more than 70000 measurements. Living in England, the first thing I wanted to know was: which was the wettest month? Unsurprisingly, both in terms of average daily rainfall and total rainfall, the start of the summer period — exactly when I went on a staycation — was the soggiest:

What about the global Weather Station community?

Even soggier Bavaria

Here things get slightly trickier. Although we have a shiny Oracle database full of all participating schools’ sensor readings, some of the data needs careful interpretation. Many kits are used as part of the school curriculum and do not always record genuine outdoor conditions. Nevertheless, it appears that Adalbert Stifter Gymnasium in Bavaria, Germany, had an even wetter 2017 than my home did:


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Where the wind blows

The records Robert-Dannemann Schule in Westerstede, Germany, is a good example of data which was most likely collected while testing and investigating the weather station sensors, rather than in genuine external conditions. Unless this school’s Weather Station was transported to a planet which suffers from extreme hurricanes, it wasn’t actually subjected to wind speeds above 1000km/h in November. Dismissing these and all similarly suspect records, I decided to award the ‘Windiest location of the year’ prize to CEIP Noalla-Telleiro, Spain.


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This school is right on the coast, and is subject to some strong and squally weather systems.

Weather Station at CEIP Noalla - Telleiro

Weather Station at CEIP Noalla-Telleiro

They’ve mounted their wind vane and anemometer nice and high, so I can see how they were able to record such high wind velocities.

A couple of Weather Stations have recently been commissioned in equally exposed places — it will be interesting to see whether they will record even higher speeds during 2018.

Highs and lows

After careful analysis and a few disqualifications (a couple of Weather Stations in contention for this category were housed indoors), the ‘Hottest location’ award went to High School of Chalastra in Thessaloniki, Greece. There were a couple of Weather Stations (the one at The Marwadi Education Foundation in India, for example) that reported higher average temperatures than Chalastra’s 24.54 ºC. However, they had uploaded far fewer readings and their data coverage of 2017 was only partial.


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At the other end of the thermometer, the location with the coldest average temperature is École de la Rose Sauvage in Calgary, Canada, with a very chilly 9.9 ºC.

Ecole de la Rose sauvage Weather Station

Weather Station at École de la Rose Sauvage

I suspect this school has a good chance of retaining the title: their lowest 2017 temperature of -24 ºC is likely to be beaten in 2018 due to extreme weather currently bringing a freezing start to the year in that part of the world.


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Analyse your own Weather Station data

If you have an Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station and would like to perform an annual review of your local data, you can use this Python script as a starting point. It will display a monthly summary of the temperature and rainfall for 2017, and you should be able to customise the code to focus on other sensor data or on a particular time of year. We’d love to see your results, so please share your findings with [email protected], and we’ll send you some limited-edition Weather Station stickers.

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Visualising Weather Station data with Initial State

Post Syndicated from Richard Hayler original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/initial-state/

Since we launched the Oracle Weather Station project, we’ve collected more than six million records from our network of stations at schools and colleges around the world. Each one of these records contains data from ten separate sensors — that’s over 60 million individual weather measurements!

Weather station measurements in Oracle database - Initial State

Weather station measurements in Oracle database

Weather data collection

Having lots of data covering a long period of time is great for spotting trends, but to do so, you need some way of visualising your measurements. We’ve always had great resources like Graphing the weather to help anyone analyse their weather data.

And from now on its going to be even easier for our Oracle Weather Station owners to display and share their measurements. I’m pleased to announce a new partnership with our friends at Initial State: they are generously providing a white-label platform to which all Oracle Weather Station recipients can stream their data.

Using Initial State

Initial State makes it easy to create vibrant dashboards that show off local climate data. The service is perfect for having your Oracle Weather Station data on permanent display, for example in the school reception area or on the school’s website.

But that’s not all: the Initial State toolkit includes a whole range of easy-to-use analysis tools for extracting trends from your data. Distribution plots and statistics are just a few clicks away!

Humidity value distribution (May-Nov 2017) - Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station Initial State

Looks like Auntie Beryl is right — it has been a damp old year! (Humidity value distribution May–Nov 2017)

The wind direction data from my Weather Station supports my excuse as to why I’ve not managed a high-altitude balloon launch this year: to use my launch site, I need winds coming from the east, and those have been in short supply.

Chart showing wind direction over time - Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station Initial State

Chart showing wind direction over time

Initial State credientials

Every Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station school will shortly be receiving the credentials needed to start streaming their data to Initial State. If you’re super keen though, please email [email protected] with a photo of your Oracle Weather Station, and I’ll let you jump the queue!

The Initial State folks are big fans of Raspberry Pi and have a ton of Pi-related projects on their website. They even included shout-outs to us in the music video they made to celebrate the publication of their 50th tutorial. Can you spot their weather station?

Your home-brew weather station

If you’ve built your own Raspberry Pi–powered weather station and would like to dabble with the Initial State dashboards, you’re in luck! The team at Initial State is offering 14-day trials for everyone. For more information on Initial State, and to sign up for the trial, check out their website.

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The Weather Station and the eclipse

Post Syndicated from Richard Hayler original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/weather-station-eclipse/

As everyone knows, one of the problems with the weather is that it can be difficult to predict a long time in advance. In the UK we’ve had stormy conditions for weeks but, of course, now that I’ve finished my lightning detector, everything has calmed down. If you’re planning to make scientific measurements of a particular phenomenon, patience is often required.

Oracle Weather Station

Wake STEM ECH get ready to safely observe the eclipse

In the path of the eclipse

Fortunately, this wasn’t a problem for Mr Burgess and his students at Wake STEM Early College High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They knew exactly when the event they were interested in studying was going to occur: they were going to use their Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station to monitor the progress of the 2017 solar eclipse.

Wake STEM EC HS on Twitter

Through the @Celestron telescope #Eclipse2017 @WCPSS via @stemburgess

Measuring the temperature drop

The Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Stations are always active and recording data, so all the students needed to do was check that everything was connected and working. That left them free to enjoy the eclipse, and take some amazing pictures like the one above.

You can see from the data how the changes in temperature lag behind the solar events – this makes sense, as it takes a while for the air to cool down. When the sun starts to return, the temperature rise continues on its pre-eclipse trajectory.

Oracle Weather Station

Weather station data 21st Aug: the yellow bars mark the start and end of the eclipse, the red bar marks the maximum sun coverage.

Reading Mr Burgess’ description, I’m feeling rather jealous. Being in the path of the Eclipse sounds amazing: “In North Carolina we experienced 93% coverage, so a lot of sunlight was still shining, but the landscape took on an eerie look. And there was a cool wind like you’d experience at dusk, not at 2:30 pm on a hot summer day. I was amazed at the significant drop in temperature that occurred in a small time frame.”

Temperature drop during Eclipse Oracle Weather Station.

Close up of data showing temperature drop as recorded by the Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station. The yellow bars mark the start and end of the eclipse, the red bar marks the maximum sun coverage.

 Weather Station in the classroom

I’ve been preparing for the solar eclipse for almost two years, with the weather station arriving early last school year. I did not think about temperature data until I read about citizen scientists on a NASA website,” explains Mr Burgess, who is now in his second year of working with the Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station. Around 120 ninth-grade students (ages 14-15) have been involved with the project so far. “I’ve found that students who don’t have a strong interest in meteorology find it interesting to look at real data and figure out trends.”

Wake STEM EC Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station installation

Wake STEM EC Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station installation

As many schools have discovered, Mr Burgess found that the biggest challenge with the Weather Station project “was finding a suitable place to install the weather station in a place that could get power and Ethernet“. To help with this problem, we’ve recently added two new guides to help with installing the wind sensors outside and using WiFi to connect the kit to the Internet.

Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station

If you want to keep up to date with all the latest Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station activities undertaken by our network of schools around the world, make sure you regularly check our weather station forum. Meanwhile, everyone at Wake STEM ECH is already starting to plan for their next eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024. I wonder if they’d like some help with their Weather Station?

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