Hi folks, Ladyada here from Adafruit. The Raspberry Pi folks said we could do a guest post on our Adafruit BrainCraft HAT & Voice Bonnet, so here we go!
I’ve been engineering up a few Machine Learning devices that work with Raspberry Pi: BrainCraft HAT and the Voice Bonnet!
The idea behind the BrainCraft HAT is to enable you to “craft brains” for machine learning on the EDGE, with microcontrollers and microcomputers. On ASK AN ENGINEER, we chatted with Pete Warden, the technical lead of the mobile, embedded TensorFlow Group on Google’s Brain team about what would be ideal for a board like this.
And here’s what we designed! The BrainCraft HAT has a 240×240 TFT IPS display for inference output, slots for camera connector cable for imaging projects, a 5-way joystick, a button for UI input, left and right microphones, stereo headphone out, stereo 1W speaker out, three RGB DotStar LEDs, two 3-pin STEMMA connectors on PWM pins so they can drive NeoPixels or servos, and Grove/STEMMA/Qwiic I2C port.
This will let people build a wide range of audio/video AI projects while also allowing easy plug-in of sensors and robotics!
A controllable mini fan attaches to the bottom and can be used to keep your Raspberry Pi cool while it’s doing intense AI inference calculations. Most importantly, there’s an on/off switch that will completely disable the audio codec, so that when it’s off, there’s no way it’s listening to you.
Next up, the Adafruit Voice Bonnet for Raspberry Pi: two speakers plus two mics. Your Raspberry Pi computer is like an electronic brain — and with the Adafruit Voice Bonnet you can give it a mouth and ears as well! Featuring two microphones and two 1Watt speaker outputs using a high-quality I2S codec, this Raspberry Pi add-on will work with any Raspberry Pi with a 2×20 GPIO header, from Raspberry Pi Zero up to Raspberry Pi 4 and beyond (basically all models but the very first ones made).
The on-board WM8960 codec uses I2S digital audio for great quality recording and playback, so it sounds a lot better than the headphone jack on Raspberry Pi (or the no-headphone jack on Raspberry Pi Zero). We put ferrite beads and filter capacitors on every input and output to get the best possible performance, and all at a great price.
Have you perfected your particular combination of ‘eye widening then squinting’ to let people know you’re smiling at them behind your mask? Or do you need help expressing yourself from this text-scrolling creation by Caroline Dunn?
The NeoPixel Matrix is attached to a cloth face that which has a second translucent fabric layer. The translucent layer is to sew your Raspberry Pi project to, the cloth layer underneath is a barrier for germs.
You’ll need a separate 5V power source for the NeoPixel Matrix. Caroline used a 5V power bank, which involved some extra fiddling with cutting up and stripping an old USB cable. You may want to go for a purpose-made traditional power supply for ease.
Running the text
To prototype, Caroline connected the Raspberry Pi computer to the NeoPixel Matrix via a breadboard and some jumper wires. At this stage of your own build, you check everything is working by running this sample code from Adafruit, which should get your NeoPixel Matrix lighting up like a rainbow.
Once you’ve got your project up and running, you can ditch the breadboard and wires and set up the key script, app.py, to run on boot.
To change the text scrolling across your mask, you use the internal website that’s part of Caroline’s code.
And for a truly mobile solution, you can access the internal website via mobile phone by hooking up your Raspberry Pi using your phone’s hotspot functionality. Then you can alter the scrolling text while you’re out and about.
Caroline also created a version of her project using a 32×8 Neopixel Matrix, which fits on the across the headband of larger plastic face visors.
Earlier this year, we released the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, a brand-new 12.3 megapixel camera that allows you to use C- and CS-mount lenses with Raspberry Pi boards.
We love it. You love it.
How do we know you love it? Because the internet is now full of really awesome 3D-printable cases and add-ons our community has created in order to use their High Quality Camera out and about…or for Octoprint…or home security…or SPACE PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT?!
We thought it would be fun to show you some of 3D designs we’ve seen pop up on sites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory, so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can build their own camera too!
Adafruit did a thing, obvs
Shout out to our friends at Adafruit for this really neat, retro-looking camera case designed by the Ruiz Brothers. The brown filament used for the casing is so reminiscent of the leather bodies of SLRs from my beloved 1980s childhood that I can’t help but be drawn to it. And, with snap-fit parts throughout, you can modify this case model as you see fit. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Nikon to Raspberry Pi
While the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera is suitable for C- and CS-mount lenses out of the box, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to only these sizes! There’s a plethora of C- and CS-mount adapters available on the market, and you can also 3D print your own adapter.
Thingiverse user UltiArjan has done exactly that and designed this adapter for using Nikon lenses with the High Quality Camera. Precision is key here to get a snug thread, so you may have to fiddle with your printer settings to get the right fit.
If you’re not interested in a full-body camera case and just need something to attach A to B, this minimal adapter for the Raspberry Pi Zero will be right up your street.
Designer ed7coyne put this model together in order to use Raspberry Pi Zero as a webcam, and according to Cura on my laptop, should only take about 2 hours to print at 0.1 with supports. In fact, since I’ve got Cura open already…
3D print a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera?!
Not a working one, of course, but if you’re building something around the High Quality Camera and want to make sure everything fits without putting the device in jeopardy, you could always print a replica for prototyping!
Thingiverse user tmomas produced this scale replica of the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with the help of reference photos and technical drawings, and a quick search online will uncover similar designs for replicas of other Raspberry Pi products you might want to use while building a prototype
Bonus content alert
We made this video for HackSpace magazine earlier this year, and it’s a really hand resource if you’re new to the 3D printing game.
…I wasn’t lying when I said I was going to print ed7coyne’s minimal adapter.
Donald wanted users to get as much interaction and feedback as possible, rather than simply pressing a button and receiving a random drink. So with this machine, the interaction comes in four ways: instructions provided on the screen, using a key card to bypass security, placing and removing a cup on the tray, and entering an order number on the keypad.
In addition to that, feedback is provided by way of lighting changes, music, video dialogue, pump motors whirring, and even the clicks of relays at each stage of the cocktail making process.
Ordering on the keypad
The keypad allows people to punch in a number to trigger their order, like on a vending machine. The drink order is sent to the Hello Drinkbot software running on the Raspberry Pi 3B that controls the pumps.
Getting your cup filled
In order for the machine to be able to tell when a vessel is placed under the dispenser spout, and when it’s removed, Donald built in a switch under a 3D-printed tray. Provided the vessel has at least one ice cube in it, even the lightest plastic up is heavy enough to trigger the switch.
The RFID card reader
Cocktail machine customers are asked to scan a special ID card to start. To make this work, Donald adapted a sample script that blinks the card reader’s internal LED when any RFID card is detected.
Interactive video screen
This bit is made possible by MP4Museum, a “bare-bones” kiosk video player software that the second Raspberry Pi inside the machine runs on boot. By connecting a switch to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO, Donald enabled customers to advance through the videos one by one. And yes, that’s an official Raspberry Pi Touch Display.
The Hello Drinkbot ‘bartender’
Donald used the Python-based Hello Drinkbot software as the brains of the machine. With it, you can configure which liquors or juices are connected to which pumps, and send instructions on exactly how much to pour of each ingredient. Everything is configured via a web interface.
Via a bank of relays, microcontrollers connect all the signals from the Touch Display, keypad, RFID card reader, and switch under the spout.
Donald shared an exhaustive kit list on his original post, but basically, what you’re looking at is…
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!
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
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’ve ever had a pet fish, even the saddest of fairground goldfish, you’ll appreciate how much work and attention they require. And to those who have never owned a fish: believe me, it’s more than you’d assume.
And the moment you upgrade from goldfish to brightly coloured, tropical beauties, and replace the standard silk reeds and gravel with live aquatic plants and soil, you suddenly have to factor in things like optimum temperature and chemical levels.
Thankfully, Adafruit Learning System author and loving fish parent Ranjib Dey has been working on a tutorial series called Reef-Pi, a collection of how-to guides that help you build the ultimate in Raspberry Pi reef aquarium management system.
Reef-Pi monitors pH, chemical, and water levels, controls temperature, light, and power, and automates the management of these aspects so you don’t have to think about them. Phew!
And if you don’t fancy a massive coral-filled saltwater tank like Ranjib’s, you can use parts the Reef-Pi series for your own tank, whatever its setup, because many of the operations are similar or easy to adjust for your needs.
Any excuse to show off beautiful Jean to the world
Take, for example, my new Betta, Jean Tannen. While Jean’s tank is a much smaller size, and Jean its only resident (for now), I still need to keep an eye on the chemical balance of his water, the heat of his tank, and when his lights should be turned on or off. Even the most commonplace goldfish will appreciate many of the services Reef-Pi automates.
The Reef-Pi system uses a variety of components, including Raspberry Pi Zero and/or Raspberry Pi 3, and each stage of building the project is well-documented on the Adafruit Learning System. So if you’re looking to upgrade your tank, or have always fancied having pet fish but don’t want the hassle of tank management, give Reef-Pi a gander and see what you think.
We’re going to try it!
Sarah, our new Operations Manager, has been looking to upgrade her giant fish tank with a Raspberry Pi or two, so we’ll be sure to share her progress in the new year. If you decide to give Reef-Pi a try, or have already automated your tank with a Pi, let us know in the comments, or tag us on Twitter or Instagram!
Some gaming consoles make it easy to stream to Twitch, some gaming consoles don’t (come on, Nintendo). So for those that don’t, I’ve made this beta version of the “Twitch-O-Matic”. No it doesn’t chop onions or fold your laundry, but what it DOES do is stream anything with HDMI output to your Twitch channel with the simple push of a button!
eSports and online game streaming
Interest in eSports has skyrocketed over the last few years, with viewership numbers in the hundreds of millions, sponsorship deals increasing in value and prestige, and tournament prize funds reaching millions of dollars. So it’s no wonder that more and more gamers are starting to stream live to online platforms in order to boost their fanbase and try to cash in on this growing industry.
Streaming to Twitch
Launched in 2011, Twitch.tv is an online live-streaming platform with a primary focus on video gaming. Users can create accounts to contribute their comments and content to the site, as well as watching live-streamed gaming competitions and broadcasts. With a staggering fifteen million daily users, Twitch is accessible via smartphone and gaming console apps, smart TVs, computers, and tablets. But if you want to stream to Twitch, you may find yourself using third-party software in order to do so. And with more buttons to click and more wires to plug in for older, app-less consoles, streaming can get confusing.
Side note: we Tinkernut
We’ve featured Tinkernut a few times on the Raspberry Pi blog – his tutorials are clear, his projects are interesting and useful, and his live-streamed comment videos for every build are a nice touch to sharing homebrew builds on the internet.
So, yes, we love him. [This is true. Alex never shuts up about him. – Ed.] And since he has over 500K subscribers on YouTube, we’re obviously not the only ones. We wave our Tinkernut flags with pride.
The Raspberry Pi Zero W is connected to the HDMI to CSI adapter via the camera connector, in the same way you’d attach the camera ribbon. Tinkernut uses a standard Raspbian image on an 8GB SD card, with SSH enabled for remote access from his laptop. He uses the simple command Raspivid to test the HDMI connection by recording ten seconds of video footage from his console.
One lead is all you need
Once you have the Pi receiving video from your console, you can connect to Twitch using your Twitch stream key, which you can find by logging in to your account at Twitch.tv. Tinkernut’s tutorial gives you all the commands you need to stream from your Pi.
To up the aesthetic impact of your project, adding buttons and backlights is fairly straightforward.
Pretty LED frills
To run the stream command, Tinketnut uses a button: press once to start the stream, press again to stop. Pressing the button also turns on the LED backlight, so it’s obvious when streaming is in progress.
For the full code and 3D-printable case STL file, head to Tinketnut’s hackster.io project page. And if you’re already using a Raspberry Pi for Twitch streaming, share your build setup with us. Cheers!
Discover new sounds and explore the role of machine learning in music production and sound research with the NSynth Super, an ongoing project from Google’s Magenta research team that you can build at home.
Part of the ongoing Magenta research project within Google, NSynth Super explores the ways in which machine learning tools help artists and musicians be creative.
“Technology has always played a role in creating new types of sounds that inspire musicians — from the sounds of distortion to the electronic sounds of synths,” explains the team behind the NSynth Super. “Today, advances in machine learning and neural networks have opened up new possibilities for sound generation.”
Using TensorFlow, the Magenta team builds tools and interfaces that let artists and musicians use machine learning in their work. The NSynth Super AI algorithm uses deep neural networking to investigate the character of sounds. It then builds new sounds based on these characteristics instead of simply mixing sounds together.
Using an autoencoder, it extracts 16 defining temporal features from each input. These features are then interpolated linearly to create new embeddings (mathematical representations of each sound). These new embeddings are then decoded into new sounds, which have the acoustic qualities of both inputs.
The team publishes all hardware designs and software that are part of their ongoing research under open-source licences, allowing you to build your own synth.
Build your own NSynth Super
Using these open-source tools, Andrew Black has produced his own NSynth Super, demoed in the video above. Andrew’s list of build materials includes a Raspberry Pi 3, potentiometers, rotary encoders, and the Adafruit 1.3″ OLED display. Magenta also provides Gerber files for you to fabricate your own PCB.
Once fabricated, the PCB includes a table of contents for adding components.
The Raspberry Pi has been widely used for music production and music builds. Be it retrofitting a boombox, distributing music atop Table Mountain, or coding tracks with Sonic Pi, the Pi offers endless opportunities for musicians and music lovers to expand their repertoire of builds and instruments.
HackSpace magazine is back with our brand-new issue 6, available for you on shop shelves, in your inbox, and on our website right now.
Inside Hackspace magazine 6
Paper is probably the first thing you ever used for making, and for good reason: in no other medium can you iterate through 20 designs at the cost of only a few pennies. We’ve roped in Rob Ives to show us how to make a barking paper dog with moveable parts and a cam mechanism. Even better, the magazine includes this free paper automaton for you to make yourself. That’s right: free!
At the other end of the scale, there’s the forge, where heat, light, and noise combine to create immutable steel. We speak to Alec Steele, YouTuber, blacksmith, and philosopher, about his amazingly beautiful Damascus steel creations, and about why there’s no difference between grinding a knife and blowing holes in a mountain to build a road through it.
Do it yourself
You’ve heard of reading glasses — how about glasses that read for you? Using a camera, optical character recognition software, and a text-to-speech engine (and of course a Raspberry Pi to hold it all together), reader Andrew Lewis has hacked together his own system to help deal with age-related macular degeneration.
It’s the definition of hacking: here’s a problem, there’s no solution in the shops, so you go and build it yourself!
60 years ago, the cutting edge of home hacking was the transistor radio. Before the internet was dreamt of, the transistor radio made the world smaller and brought people together. Nowadays, the components you need to build a radio are cheap and easily available, so if you’re in any way electronically inclined, building a radio is an ideal excuse to dust off your soldering iron.
If you’re a 12-month subscriber (if you’re not, you really should be), you’ve no doubt been thinking of all sorts of things to do with the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express we gave you for free. How about a sewable circuit for a canvas bag? Use the accelerometer to detect patterns of movement — walking, for example — and flash a series of lights in response. It’s clever, fun, and an easy way to add some programmable fun to your shopping trips.
We’re also making gin, hacking a children’s toy car to unlock more features, and getting started with robot sumo to fill the void left by the cancellation of Robot Wars.
All this, plus an 11-metre tall mechanical miner, in HackSpace magazine issue 6 — subscribe here from just £4 an issue or get the PDF version for free. You can also find HackSpace magazine in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and independent newsagents in the UK. If you live in the US, check out your local Barnes & Noble, Fry’s, or Micro Center next week. We’re also shipping to stores in Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, Belgium, and Brazil, so be sure to ask your local newsagent whether they’ll be getting HackSpace magazine.
Before Easter, we asked you to tell us your questions for a live Q & A with Raspberry Pi Trading CEO and Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton. The variety of questions and comments you sent was wonderful, and while we couldn’t get to them all, we picked a handful of the most common to grill him on.
You can watch the video below — though due to this being the first pancake of our live Q&A videos, the sound is a bit iffy — or read Eben’s answers to the first five questions today. We’ll follow up with the rest in the next few weeks!
Get your questions to us now using #AskRaspberryPi on Twitter
Any plans for 64-bit Raspbian?
Raspbian is effectively 32-bit Debian built for the ARMv6 instruction-set architecture supported by the ARM11 processor in the first-generation Raspberry Pi. So maybe the question should be: “Would we release a version of our operating environment that was built on top of 64-bit ARM Debian?”
And the answer is: “Not yet.”
When we released the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, we released an operating system image on the same day; the wonderful thing about that image is that it runs on every Raspberry Pi ever made. It even runs on the alpha boards from way back in 2011.
That deep backwards compatibility is really important for us, in large part because we don’t want to orphan our customers. If someone spent $35 on an older-model Raspberry Pi five or six years ago, they still spent $35, so it would be wrong for us to throw them under the bus.
So, if we were going to do a 64-bit version, we’d want to keep doing the 32-bit version, and then that would mean our efforts would be split across the two versions; and remember, we’re still a very small engineering team. Never say never, but it would be a big step for us.
For people wanting a 64-bit operating system, there are plenty of good third-party images out there, including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
Given that the 3B+ includes 5GHz wireless and Power over Ethernet (PoE) support, why would manufacturers continue to use the Compute Module?
Very large numbers of people are using the bigger product in an industrial context, and it’s well engineered for that: it has module certification, wireless on board, and now PoE support. But there are use cases that can’t accommodate this form factor. For example, NEC displays: we’ve had this great relationship with NEC for a couple of years now where a lot of their displays have a socket in the back that you can put a Compute Module into. That wouldn’t work with the 3B+ form factor.
An NEC display with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module
What are some industrial uses/products Raspberry is used with?
The NEC displays are a good example of the broader trend of using Raspberry Pi in digital signage.
A Raspberry Pi running the wait time signage at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios. Image c/o thelonelyredditor1
If you see a monitor at a station, or an airport, or a recording studio, and you look behind it, it’s amazing how often you’ll find a Raspberry Pi sitting there. The original Raspberry Pi was particularly strong for multimedia use cases, so we saw uptake in signage very early on.
Los Alamos Raspberry Pi supercomputer
Another great example is the Los Alamos National Laboratory building supercomputers out of Raspberry Pis. Many high-end supercomputers now are built using white-box hardware — just regular PCs connected together using some networking fabric — and a collection of Raspberry Pi units can serve as a scale model of that. The Raspberry Pi has less processing power, less memory, and less networking bandwidth than the PC, but it has a balanced amount of each. So if you don’t want to let your apprentice supercomputer engineers loose on your expensive supercomputer, a cluster of Raspberry Pis is a good alternative.
Why is there no power button on the Raspberry Pi?
“Once you start, where do you stop?” is a question we ask ourselves a lot.
There are a whole bunch of useful things that we haven’t included in the Raspberry Pi by default. We don’t have a power button, we don’t have a real-time clock, and we don’t have an analogue-to-digital converter — those are probably the three most common requests. And the issue with them is that they each cost a bit of money, they’re each only useful to a minority of users, and even that minority often can’t agree on exactly what they want. Some people would like a power button that is literally a physical analogue switch between the 5V input and the rest of the board, while others would like something a bit more like a PC power button, which is partway between a physical switch and a ‘shutdown’ button. There’s no consensus about what sort of power button we should add.
So the answer is: accessories. By leaving a feature off the board, we’re not taxing the majority of people who don’t want the feature. And of course, we create an opportunity for other companies in the ecosystem to create and sell accessories to those people who do want them.
We have this neat way of figuring out what features to include by default: we divide through the fraction of people who want it. If you have a 20 cent component that’s going to be used by a fifth of people, we treat that as if it’s a $1 component. And it has to fight its way against the $1 components that will be used by almost everybody.
Do you think that Raspberry Pi is the future of the Internet of Things?
Absolutely, Raspberry Pi is the future of the Internet of Things!
In practice, most of the viable early IoT use cases are in the commercial and industrial spaces rather than the consumer space. Maybe in ten years’ time, IoT will be about putting 10-cent chips into light switches, but right now there’s so much money to be saved by putting automation into factories that you don’t need 10-cent components to address the market. Last year, roughly 2 million $35 Raspberry Pi units went into commercial and industrial applications, and many of those are what you’d call IoT applications.
So I think we’re the future of a particular slice of IoT. And we have ten years to get our price point down to 10 cents 🙂
SPECIAL NOTE*** THE FULL TUTORIAL WILL BE AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK April Fools! What a terrible day. So many pranks. You can’t believe anything you read. People invading your space. The mental and physical anguish of enduring the day. It’s time to fight back! Let’s catch the perps in action by making a device that always watches.
A Raspberry Pi Zero W, a small camera, and a rechargeable Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery constitute the bulk of this project’s tech. A pair of 3D-printed parts, and gelatine-solidified Coke Zero make up the fake fizzy body.
“So let’s make this video as short as possible and just buy a cheap pre-made spy cam off of Amazon. Just kidding,” Tinkernut jokes in the tutorial video for the project, before going through the step-by-step process of using the Raspberry Pi to “DIY this the right way”.
After accessing the Zero W from his laptop via SSH, Tinkernut opted for using the rpi_camera_surveillance_system Python script written by GitHub user RuiSantosdotme to control the spy cam. Luckily, this meant no additional library setup, and basically no lag on the video feed.
What we want to do is create a script that activates the camera and serves it to a web page so that we can access it from any web browser. There are plenty of different ways to do this (Motion, Raspivid, etc), but I found a simple Python script that does everything I need it to do and doesn’t require any extra software or libraries to install. The best thing about it is that the lag time is practically unnoticeable.
With the code in place, every boot-up of the Raspberry Pi automatically launches both the script and a web page of the live video, allowing for constant monitoring of potential sneaks and thieves.
The projects is powered by a 1500mAh LiPo battery and the Adafruit LiPo charger. It also includes a simple on/off switch, which Tinkernut wired to the charger and the Pi’s PP1 and PP6 connector pads.
Tinkernut decided to use a Coke Zero bottle for the build, incorporating 3D-printed parts to house the Pi, and a mix of Coke and gelatine to create a realistic-looking filling for the bottle. However, the setup can be transferred to pretty much any hollow item in your home, say, a cookie jar or a cracker box. So get creative and get spying!
A complete spy cam how-to
If you’d like to make your own secret spy cam, you can find a tutorial for Tinkernut’s build at hackster.io, or follow along with his video below. Also make sure to subscribe his YouTube channel to be updated on all his newest builds — they’re rather splendid.
Learn how to take a regular Coke Zero bottle, cram a Raspberry Pi and webcam inside of it, and have it still look like a regular Coke Zero bottle. Why would you want to do this? To spy on those irritating April Fooligans!!!
There’s a new issue of HackSpace magazine on the shelves today, and as usual it’s full of things to make and do!
We love making hardware, and we’d also love to turn this hobby into a way to make a living. So in the hope of picking up a few tips, we spoke to the woman behind Adafruit: Limor Fried, aka Ladyada.
Adafruit has played a massive part in bringing the maker movement into homes and schools, so we’re chuffed to have Limor’s words of wisdom in the magazine.
Raspberry Pi 3B+
As you may have heard, there’s a new Pi in town, and that can only mean one thing for HackSpace magazine: let’s test it to its limits!
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is faster, better, and stronger, but what does that mean in practical terms for your projects?
Kids are amazing! Their curious minds, untouched by mundane adulthood, come up with crazy stuff that no sensible grown-up would think to build. No sensible grown-up, that is, apart from the engineers behind Kids Invent Stuff, the brilliant YouTube channel that takes children’s inventions and makes them real.
Kids Invent Stuff is the YouTube channel where kids’ invention ideas get made into real working inventions. Learn more about Kids Invent Stuff at www.kidsinventstuff.com Have you seen Connor’s Crazy Car invention? https://youtu.be/4_sF6ZFNzrg Have you seen our Flamethrowing piano?
We spoke to Ruth Amos, entrepreneur, engineer, and one half of the Kids Invent Stuff team.
It shouldn’t just be kids who get to play with fun stuff! This month, in the name of research, we’ve brought a Stirling engine–powered buggy from Shenzhen.
This ingenious mechanical engine is the closest you’ll get to owning a home-brew steam engine without running the risk of having a boiler explode in your face.
In this issue, turn a Dremel multitool into a workbench saw with some wood, perspex, and a bit of laser cutting; make a Starfleet com-badge and pretend you’re Captain Jean-Luc Picard (shaving your hair off not compulsory); add intelligence to builds the easy way with Node-RED; and get stuck into Cheerlights, one of the world’s biggest IoT project.
All this, plus your ultimate guide to blinkenlights, and the only knot you’ll ever need, in HackSpace magazine issue 5.
Individual copies of HackSpace magazine are available in selected stockists across the UK, including Tesco, WHSmith, and Sainsbury’s. They’ll also be making their way across the globe to USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Belgium in the coming weeks, so ask your local retailer whether they’re getting a delivery.
You can also purchase your copy on the Raspberry Pi Press website, and browse our complete collection of other Raspberry Pi publications, such as The MagPi, Hello World, and Raspberry Pi Projects Books.
Unless you’ve been AFK for the last two days, you’ll no doubt be aware of the release of the brand-spanking-new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. With faster connectivity, more computing power, Power over Ethernet (PoE) pins, and the same $35 price point, the new board has been a hit across all our social media accounts! So while we wind down from launch week, let’s all pull up a chair, make yet another cup of coffee, and look through some of our favourite reactions from the last 48 hours.
Our Twitter mentions were refreshing at hyperspeed on Wednesday, as you all began to hear the news and spread the word about the newest member to the Raspberry Pi family.
This sort of attention to detail work is exactly what I love about being involved with @Raspberry_Pi. We’re squeezing the last drops of performance out of the 40nm process node, and perfecting Pi 3 in the same way that the original B+ perfected Pi 1.” https://t.co/hEj7JZOGeZ
And I think we counted about 150 uses of this GIF on Twitter alone:
Is something going on with the @Raspberry_Pi today? You’d never guess from my YouTube subscriptions page… 😀
A few members of our community were lucky enough to get their hands on a 3B+ early, and sat eagerly by the YouTube publish button, waiting to release their impressions of our new board to the world. Others, with no new Pi in hand yet, posted reaction vids to the launch, discussing their plans for the upgraded Pi and comparing statistics against its predecessors.
Happy Pi Day World! There is a new Raspberry Pi 3, the B+! In this video I will review the new Pi 3 B+ and do some speed tests. Let me know in the comments if you are getting one and what you are planning on making with it!
It’s Pi day! Sorry, wondrous Mathematical constant, this day is no longer about you. The Raspberry Pi foundation just released a new version of the Raspberry Pi called the Rapsberry Pi B+.
If you have a YouTube or Vimeo channel, or if you create videos for other social media channels, and have published your impressions of the new Raspberry Pi, be sure to share a link with us so we can see what you think!
We shared a few photos and videos on Instagram, and over 30000 of you checked out our Instagram Story on the day.
5,609 Likes, 103 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “Some glamour shots of the latest member of the #RaspberryPi family – the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ ….”
As hot off the press (out of the oven? out of the solder bath?) Pi 3B+ boards start to make their way to eager makers’ homes, they are all broadcasting their excitement, and we love seeing what they plan to get up to with it.
On a day where science is making the headlines, lovely to see the scientists of the future in our office – getting tips from fab @Raspberry_Pi founder @EbenUpton #scientists #RaspberryPi #PiDay2018 @sirissac6thform
Principal Hardware Engineer Roger Thornton will also make a live appearance online this week: he is co-hosting Hack Chat later today. And of course, you can see more of Roger and Eben in the video where they discuss the new 3B+.
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is now on sale now for $35.
It’s been a supremely busy week here at Pi Towers and across the globe in the offices of our Approved Resellers, and seeing your wonderful comments and sharing in your excitement has made it all worth it. Please keep it up, and be sure to share the arrival of your 3B+ as well as the projects into which you’ll be integrating them.
A couple of weekends ago, we celebrated our sixth birthday by coordinating more than 100 simultaneous Raspberry Jam events around the world. The Big Birthday Weekend was a huge success: our fantastic community organised Jams in 40 countries, covering six continents!
We sent the Jams special birthday kits to help them celebrate in style, and a video message featuring a thank you from Philip and Eben:
To celebrate the Raspberry Pi’s sixth birthday, we coordinated Raspberry Jams all over the world to take place over the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend, 3-4 March 2018. A massive thank you to everyone who ran an event and attended.
The Raspberry Jam photo booth
I put together code for a Pi-powered photo booth which overlaid the Big Birthday Weekend logo onto photos and (optionally) tweeted them. We included an arcade button in the Jam kits so they could build one — and it seemed to be quite popular. Some Jams put great effort into housing their photo booth:
If you want to try out the photo booth software yourself, find the code on GitHub.
The great Raspberry Jam bake-off
Traditionally, in the UK, people have a cake on their birthday. And we had a few! We saw (and tasted) a great selection of Pi-themed cakes and other baked goods throughout the weekend:
Raspberry Jams everywhere
We always say that every Jam is different, but there’s a common and recognisable theme amongst them. It was great to see so many different venues around the world filling up with like-minded Pi enthusiasts, Raspberry Jam–branded banners, and Raspberry Pi balloons!
Thank you so much to all the attendees of the Ikana Jam in Krakow past Saturday! We shared fun experiences, some of them… also painful 😉 A big thank you to @Raspberry_Pi for these global celebrations! And a big thank you to @hubraum for their hospitality! #PiParty #rjam
Being one of the two places in Kenya where the #PiParty took place, it was an amazing time spending the day with this team and getting to learn and have fun. @TaitaTavetaUni and @Raspberry_Pi thank you for your support. @TTUTechlady @mictecttu ch
The Philly & Pi #PiParty event with @Bresslergroup and @TechGirlzorg was awesome! The Scratch and Pi workshop was amazing! It was overall a great day of fun and tech!!! Thank you everyone who came out!
Thanks everyone who came out to the @Raspberry_Pi Big Birthday Jam! Special thanks to @PBFerrell @estefanniegg @pcsforme @pandafulmanda @colnels @bquentin3 couldn’t’ve put on this amazing community event without you guys!
Personally, I managed to get to three Jams over the weekend: two run by the same people who put on the first two Jams to ever take place, and also one brand-new one! The Preston Raspberry Jam team, who usually run their event on a Monday evening, wanted to do something extra special for the birthday, so they came up with the idea of putting on a Raspberry Jam Sandwich — on the Friday and Monday around the weekend! This meant I was able to visit them on Friday, then attend the Manchester Raspberry Jam on Saturday, and finally drop by the new Jam at Worksop College on my way home on Sunday.
Thanks to everyone who came to our Jam and everyone who helped out. @phoenixtogether thanks for amazing cake & hosting. Ademir you’re so cool. It was awesome to meet Craig Morley from @Raspberry_Pi too. #PiParty
It’s @Raspberry_Pi 6th birthday and we’re celebrating by taking part in @amsterjam__! Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi, we’re so happy to be a part of the family! #PiParty
For more Jammy birthday goodness, check out the PiParty hashtag on Twitter!
The Jam makers!
A lot of preparation went into each Jam, and we really appreciate all the hard work the Jam makers put in to making these events happen, on the Big Birthday Weekend and all year round. Thanks also to all the teams that sent us a group photo:
Lots of the Jams that took place were brand-new events, so we hope to see them continue throughout 2018 and beyond, growing the Raspberry Pi community around the world and giving more people, particularly youths, the opportunity to learn digital making skills.
So many wonderful people in the @Raspberry_Pi community. Thanks to everyone at #PottonPiAndPints for a great afternoon and for everything you do to help young people learn digital making. #PiParty
Special thanks to ModMyPi for shipping the special Raspberry Jam kits all over the world!
Don’t forget to check out our Jam page to find an event near you! This is also where you can find free resources to help you get a new Jam started, and download free starter projects made especially for Jam activities. These projects are available in English, Français, Français Canadien, Nederlands, Deutsch, Italiano, and 日本語. If you’d like to help us translate more content into these and other languages, please get in touch!
PS Some of the UK Jams were postponed due to heavy snowfall, so you may find there’s a belated sixth-birthday Jam coming up where you live!
My mom is unable to read labels on grocery items anymore, so I went looking for solutions. After seeing that bar code readers for the blind run many hundreds of dollars, I wanted to see what could be done using a Raspberry Pi and a USB Barcode reader.
Exploring accessibility issues
As his mother is no longer able to read the labels on her groceries, Russell Grokett started exploring accessibility devices to help her out. When he came across high-priced barcode readers, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Camera vs scanner
Originally opting for a camera to read the codes, Russell encountered issues with light and camera angle. This forced him to think of a new option, and he soon changed his prototype to include a laser barcode reader for around $30. The added bonus was that Raspbian supported the reader out of the box, reducing the need for configuration — always a plus for any maker.
Russell’s laser barcode scanner, picked up online for around $30
No internet, please
With the issues of the camera neatly resolved, Russell had another obstacle to overcome: the device’s internet access, or lack thereof, when his mother was out of range of WiFi, for example at a store.
Another key requirement was that this should work WITHOUT an internet connection (such as at a store or friend’s house). So the database and text-to-speech had to be self-contained.
Russell tackled this by scouring the internet for open-source UPC code databases, collecting barcode data to be stored on the Raspberry Pi. Due to cost (few databases are available for free), he was forced to stitch together bits of information he could find, resigning himself to inputting new information manually in the future.
I was able to put a couple open-source databases together (sources in appendix below), but even with nearly 700000 items in it, a vast number are missing.
To this end, I have done two things: one is to focus on grocery items specifically, and the other is to add a webserver to the Raspberry Pi to allow adding new UPC codes manually, though this does require at least local network connectivity.
Read it aloud
For the text-to-speech function of the project, Russell used Flite, as this interface makes a healthy compromise between quality of audio and speed. As he explains in his Instructables tutorial, you can find out more about using Flite on the Adafruit website.
When an item is scanned, the Raspberry Pi plays back audio of its name
In order to maintain the handheld size of the scanner, Russell used a Raspberry Pi Zero W for the project, and he repurposed his audio setup of a previous build, the Earthquake Pi.
Make your own
Find a full breakdown of the build, including ingredients, code, and future plans on Instructables. And while you’re there, be sure to check out Russell’s other Raspberry Pi–based projects, such as PiTextReader, a DIY text-to-speech reader; and the aforementioned Earthquake Pi, a light-flashing, box-rattling earthquake indicator for your desk.
The Ruiz brothers at Adafruit have used Phillip Burgess’s PixieDust code to turn a 64×64 LED Matrix and a Raspberry Pi Zero into an awesome sand toy that refuses to defy the laws of gravity. Here’s how to make your own.
Simulated LED Sand Physics! These LEDs interact with motion and looks like they’re affect by gravity. An Adafruit LED matrix displays the LEDs as little grains of sand which are driven by sampling an accelerometer with Raspberry Pi Zero!
As the latest addition to their online learning system, Adafruit have produced the BIG LED Sand Toy, or as I like to call it, Have you seen this awesome thing Adafuit have made?
Alongside the aforementioned ingredients, the project utilises the Adafruit LIS3DH Triple-Axis Accelerometer. This sensor is packed with features, and it allows the Raspberry Pi to control the virtual sand depending on how the toy is moved.
The Ruiz brothers inserted an SD card loaded with Raspbian Lite into the Raspberry Pi Zero, installed the LED Matrix driver, cloned the Adafruit_PixieDust library, and then just executed the code. They created some preset modes, but once you’re comfortable with the project code, you’ll be able to add your own take on the project.
Accelerometers and Raspberry Pi
This isn’t the first time a Raspberry Pi has met an accelerometer: the two Raspberry Pis aboard the International Space Station for the Astro Pi mission both have accelerometers thanks to their Sense HATs.
Comprised of a bundle of sensors, an LED matrix, and a five-point joystick, the Sense HAT is a great tool for exploring your surroundings with the Raspberry Pi, as well as for using your surroundings to control the Pi. You can find a whole variety of Sense HAT–based projects and tutorials on our website.
And if you’d like to try out the Sense HAT, including its onboard accelerometer, without purchasing one, head over to our online emulator, or use the emulator preinstalled on Raspbian.
Big things are afoot in the world of HackSpace magazine! This month we’re running our first special issue, with wearables projects throughout the magazine. Moreover, we’re giving away our first subscription gift free to all 12-month print subscribers. Lastly, and most importantly, we’ve made the cover EXTRA SHINY!
Prepare your eyeballs — it’s HackSpace magazine issue 4!
In this issue, we’re taking an in-depth look at wearable tech. Not Fitbits or Apple Watches — we’re talking stuff you can make yourself, from projects that take a couple of hours to put together, to the huge, inspiring builds that are bringing technology to the runway. If you like wearing clothes and you like using your brain to make things better, then you’ll love this feature.
We’re continuing our obsession with Nixie tubes, with the brilliant Time-To-Go-Clock – Trump edition. This ingenious bit of kit uses obsolete Russian electronics to count down the time until the end of the 45th president’s term in office. However, you can also program it to tell the time left to any predictable event, such as the deadline for your tax return or essay submission, or the date England gets knocked out of the World Cup.
We’re also talking to Dr Lucy Rogers — NASA alumna, Robot Wars judge, and fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers — about the difference between making as a hobby and as a job, and about why we need the Guild of Makers. Plus, issue 4 has a teeny boat, the most beautiful Raspberry Pi cases you’ve ever seen, and it explores the results of what happens when you put a bunch of hardware hackers together in a French chateau — sacré bleu!
As always, we’ve got more how-tos than you can shake a soldering iron at. Fittingly for the current climate here in the UK, there’s a hot water monitor, which shows you how long you have before your morning shower turns cold, and an Internet of Tea project to summon a cuppa from your kettle via the web. Perhaps not so fittingly, there’s also an ESP8266 project for monitoring a solar power station online. Readers in the southern hemisphere, we’ll leave that one for you — we haven’t seen the sun here for months!
And there’s more!
We’re super happy to say that all our 12-month print subscribers have been sent an Adafruit Circuit Playground Express with this new issue:
This gadget was developed primarily with wearables in mind and comes with all sorts of in-built functionality, so subscribers can get cracking with their latest wearable project today! If you’re not a 12-month print subscriber, you’ll miss out, so subscribe here to get your magazine and your device, and let us know what you’ll make.
Note: the Pi Towers team have peeled away from their desks to spend time with their families over the festive season, and this blog will be quiet for a while as a result. We’ll be back in the New Year with a bushel of amazing projects, awesome resources, and much merriment and fun times. Happy holidays to all!
Now back to the matter at hand. Your brand new Christmas Raspberry Pi.
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:
Explore the world of Raspberry Pi physical computing with our free FutureLearn courses: http://rpf.io/futurelearn Free make your own Whoopi Cushion resource: http://rpf.io/whoopi For more information on Raspberry Pi and the charitable work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, including Code Club and CoderDojo, visit http://rpf.io Our resources are free to use in schools, clubs, at home and at events.
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.
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 Raspberry Pi Zero W 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.
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, Instagram and Google+ accounts are brimming with chatter, projects, and events. And our forums are a great place to visit if you 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.
After an incredible response to our first issue of HackSpace magazine last month, we’re excited to announce today’s release of issue 2, complete with cheese making, digital braille, and…a crochet Cthulhu?
This issue, we visit Swansea Hackspace to learn how to crochet, we hear about the superb things that Birmingham’s fizzPOP maker space is doing, and we’re extremely impressed by the advances in braille reader technology that are coming out of Bristol Hackspace. People are amazing.
We’ve also collected page upon page of projects for you to try your hand at. Fancy an introduction to laser cutting? A homemade sine wave stylophone? Or how about our first foray into Adafruit’s NeoPixels, adding blinkenlights to a pair of snowboarding goggles?
And (much) older technology gets a look in too, including a tutorial showing you how to make a knife in your own cheap and cheerful backyard forge.
As always, issue 2 of HackSpace magazine is available as a free PDF download, but we’ll also be publishing online versions of selected articles for easier browsing, so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And, of course, we want to hear your thoughts – contact us to let us know what you like and what else you’d like to see, or just to demand that we feature your project, interest or current curiosity in the next issue.
Get your copy
You can grab issue 2 of HackSpace magazine right now from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and independent newsagents. If you live in the US, check out your local Barnes & Noble, Fry’s, or Micro Center next week. We’re also shipping to stores in Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, Belgium, and Brazil, so be sure to ask your local newsagent whether they’ll be getting HackSpace magazine.
Standard Christmas tree ornaments are just so boring, always hanging there doing nothing. Yawn! Lucky for us, Sean Hodgins has created an ornament that plays classic nineties Christmas adverts, because of nostalgia.
This Christmas ornament will really take you back…
Sean first 3D printed a small CRT-shaped ornament resembling the family television set in The Simpsons. He then got to work on the rest of the components.
All images featured in this blog post are c/o Sean Hodgins. Thanks, Sean!
The ornament uses a Raspberry Pi Zero W, 2.2″ TFT LCD screen, Mono Amp, LiPo battery, and speaker, plus the usual peripherals. Sean purposely assembled it with jumper wires and tape, so that he can reuse the components for another project after the festive season.
By adding header pins to a PowerBoost 1000 LiPo charger, Sean was able to connect a switch to control the Pi’s power usage. This method is handy if you want to seal your Pi in a casing that blocks access to the power leads. From there, jumper wires connect the audio amplifier, LCD screen, and PowerBoost to the Zero W.
Then, with Raspbian installed to an SD card and SSH enabled on the Zero W, Sean got the screen to work. The type of screen he used has both SPI and FBTFT enabled. And his next step was to set up the audio functionality with the help of an Adafruit tutorial.
For video playback, Sean installed mplayer before writing a program to extract video content from YouTube*. Once extracted, the video files are saved to the Raspberry Pi, allowing for seamless playback on the screen.
When fully assembled, the entire build fit snugly within the 3D-printed television set. And as a final touch, Sean added the cut-out lens of a rectangular magnifying glass to give the display the look of a curved CRT screen.
Then finally, the ornament hangs perfectly on the Christmas tree, up and running and spreading nostalgic warmth.
If you’re looking for similar projects, have a look at this tutorial by Cabe Atwell for building a Pi-powered ornament that receives and displays text messages.
Have you created Raspberry Pi tree ornaments? Maybe you’ve 3D printed some of our own? We’d love to see what you’re doing with a Raspberry Pi this festive season, so make sure to share your projects with us, either in the comments below or via our social media channels.
*At this point, I should note that we don’t support the extraction of video content from YouTube for your own use if you do not have the right permissions. However, since Sean’s device can play back any video, we think it would look great on your tree showing your own family videos from previous years. So, y’know, be good, be legal, and be festive.
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