We’ve seen many Raspberry Pi-powered music players over the years. But rarely are they as portable (and snazzy) as the PiPod by Hackaday user Bram.
My biggest regret in life? Convinced I wouldn’t need my 160GB iPod Classic anymore thanks to Spotify, I sold it to CEX for a painfully low price. But not only was I mistaken as to how handy it would have been to hold on to, the money I made doesn’t seem to justify parting ways with such an iconic piece of technology no longer available to purchase anew.
Which is why the PiPod project from Netherlands-based Hackaday user ‘Bram’ caught my attention instantly.
I made this music player because I wasn’t satisfied with the current playback methods that are available. The music streaming services available started to feel like radio stations with the same music repeating, they are also depended on an online internet connection while there might be offline functionality it is still limited by the available storage on your phone.
We hear ya, Bram.
With his mind set on creating a music player of their own to overcome the limitations on offer without having to pay hundreds of Euros for high-end portable devices, Bram got to work.
The PiPod, now in its third iteration, offers users a range of functionality and can be made fairly cheaply using Bram’s custom PCB.
For the display, Bram uses a 2.2″ TFT screen connected to a Raspberry Pi Zero. As can be seen above, the screen offers all the information you could ever require of your media player despite the low 320 by 240 resolution.
For music playback, the PCB also includes the PCM5102A a 24-bit I2S DAC that offers a high-quality audio output accessible via a 3.5mm jack. And for power, Bram has done his homework, incorporating a series of components to protect the device from overcurrent, thermal overload and various other power-related concerns.
We’re sure Bram’s PiPod isn’t the only portable music device with a Pi inside. What have we missed? Share yours with us in the comments or on social media so we may bathe in their glory and give them the attention they deserve.
Fred Fourie is building a low-cost underwater camera for shallow deployment, and his prototypes are already returning fascinating results. You can build your own PipeCam, and explore the undiscovered depths with a Raspberry Pi and off-the-shelf materials.
Materials and build
In its latest iteration, PipeCam consists of a 110mm PVC waste pipe with fittings and a 10mm perspex window at one end. Previous prototypes have also used plumbing materials for the body, but this latest version employs heavy-duty parts that deliver the good seal this project needs.
In testing, Fred and a friend determined that the rig could withstand 4 bar of pressure. This is enough to protect the tech inside at the depths Fred plans for, and a significant performance improvement on previous prototypes.
Inside the pipe are a Raspberry Pi 3, a camera module, and a real-time clock add-on board. A 2.4Ah rechargeable lead acid battery powers the set-up via a voltage regulator.
Using foam and fibreboard, Fred made a mount that holds everything in place and fits snugly inside the pipe.
PipeCam will be subject to ocean currents, not to mention the attentions of sea creatures, so it’s essential to make sure that everything is held securely inside the pipe – something Fred has learned from previous versions of the project.
It’s straightforward to write time-lapse code for a Raspberry Pi using Python and one of our free online resources, but Fred has more ambitious plans for PipeCam. As well as a Python script to control the camera, Fred made a web page to display the health of the device. It shows battery level and storage availability, along with the latest photo taken by the camera. He also made adjustments to the camera’s exposure settings using raspistill. You can see the effect in this side-by-side comparison of the default python-picam image and the edited raspistill one.
Fred has completed the initial first test of PipeCam, running the device under water for an hour in two-metre deep water off the coast near his home. And the results? Well, see for yourself:
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 making a delightful Bitcoin lottery using a Raspberry Pi, Sean Hodgins brings us more Pi-powered goodness in time for every maker’s favourite holiday: Easter! Just kidding, it’s Halloween. Check out his hair-raising new build, the Haunted Jack in the Box.
This project uses a raspberry pi and face detection using the pi camera to determine when someone is looking at it. Plenty of opportunities to scare people with it. You can make your own!
Imagine yourself wandering around a dimly lit house. Your eyes idly scan a shelf. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a twangy melody! What was that? You take a closer look…there seems to be a box in jolly colours…with a handle that’s spinning by itself?!
You freeze, unable to peel your eyes away, and BAM!, out pops a maniacally grinning clown. You promptly pee yourself. Happy Halloween, courtesy of Sean Hodgins.
Eerie disembodied voice: You’re welco-o-o-ome!
How has Sean built this?
Sean purchased a jack-in-the-box toy and replaced its bottom side with one that would hold the necessary electronic components. He 3D-printed this part, but says you could also just build it by hand.
The bottom of the box houses a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and a servomotor which can turn the windup handle. There’s also a magnetic reed switch which helps the Pi decide when to trigger the Jack. Sean hooked up the components to the Pi’s GPIO pins, and used an elastic band as a drive belt to connect the pulleys on the motor and the handle.
Sean explains that he has used a lot of double-sided tape and superglue in this build. The bottom and top are held together with two screws, because, as he describes it, “the Jack coming out is a little violent.”
But if I explain it, it won’t be scary anymore! OK, fiiiine.
With the help of a a Camera Module and OpenCV, Sean implemented facial recognition: Jack knows when someone is looking at his box, and responds by winding up and popping out.
Testing the haunting script
Sean’s Python script is available here, but as he points out, there are many ways in which you could adapt this code, and the build itself, to be even more frightening.
So very haunted
What would you do with this build? Add creepy laughter? Soundbites from It? Lighting effects? Maybe even infrared light and a NoIR Camera Module, so that you can scare people in total darkness? There are so many possibilities for this project — tell us your idea in the comments.
The maker of one of our favourite projects from this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area took the idea of an ’embedded device’ and ran with it: Ronald McCollam has created a wireless, completely epoxy-encased Pi build – screen included!
*cue epic music theme* “Welcome…to resin in resin.”
Of course, this build is not meant to be a museum piece: Ronald embedded a Raspberry Pi 3 with built-in wireless LAN and Bluetooth to create a hands-on demonstration of the resin.io platform, for which he is a Solution Architect. Resin.io is useful for remotely controlling groups of Linux-based IoT devices. In this case, Ronald used it to connect to the encased Pi. And yes, he named his make Resin-in-resin – we salute you, sir!
“Life uh…finds a way.”
Before he started the practical part of his project, he did his research to find a suitable resin. He found that epoxy types specifically designed for encasing electronics are very expensive. In the end, Ronald tried out a cheap type, usually employed to coat furniture, by encasing an LED. It worked perfectly, and he went ahead to use this resin for embedding the Pi.
This was the first time Ronald had worked with resin, so he learned some essential things about casting. He advises other makers to mix the epoxy very, very slowly to minimize the formation of bubbles; to try their hands on some small-scale casting attempts first; and to make sure they’re using a large enough mold for casting. Another thing to keep in mind is that some components of the make will heat up and expand while the device is running.
His first version of an encased Pi was still connected to the outside world by its USB cable:
Updates don’t get more “hands off” than a Raspberry Pi encased in epoxy — @resin_io inside resin! Come ask me about it at @DockerCon!
Not satisfied with this, he went on to incorporate an inductive charging coil as a power source, so that the Pi could be totally insulated in epoxy. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Matt Richardson got a look the finished project at Maker Faire Bay Area:
If you’re at @makerfaire, you must check out what @resin_io is showing. A @Raspberry_Pi completely enclosed in resin. Completely wireless. https://t.co/djVjoLz3hI
The charging coil delivers enough power to keep the Pi running for several hours, but it doesn’t allow secure booting. After some head-scratching, Ronald came up with a cool solution to this problem: he added a battery and a magnetic reed switch. He explains:
[The] boot process is to use the magnetic switch to turn off the Pi, put it on the charger for a few minutes to allow the battery to charge up, then remove the magnet so the Pi boots.
“God help us, we’re in the hands of engineers.”
He talks about his build on the resin.io blog, and has provided a detailed project log on Hackaday. For those of you who want to recreate this project at home, Ronald has even put together an Adafruit wishlist of the necessary components.
Does this resin-ate with you?
What’s especially great about Ronald’s posts is that they’re full of helpful tips about getting started with using epoxy resin in your digital making projects. So whether you’re keen to build your own wireless Pi, or just generally interested in embedding electronic components in resin, you’ll find his write-ups useful.
If you have experience in working with epoxy and electronic devices and want to share what you’ve learned, please do so in the comments!
Concrete Jungle started in 2009 as a volunteer-run, fruit and nut distribution organisation in the city of Atlanta. Utilising the vast number of urban fruit trees, the team, started by Craig Durkin and Aubrey Daniels, collect and deliver neglected fruit to shelters and food banks across the city.
While some urban trees are located in backyards, easily observed and maintained by their owners, others are less cared-for. And given the different harvest times for the multitude of fruit and nuts, knowing when to take the time (and a team) to pick the delicious bounty can be a bit of a hassle.
So for the last few months, Craig Durkin has been working on a Pi-powered means of using tech to notify him when fruit is ripe and ready for picking.
We’ve teamed up with Carl DiSalvo’s Public Design Workshop at Georgia Tech to try to create an electronic nose that can smell fruit ripening in a tree. This way, the tree could let us know when it’s ready to be picked.
The build has gone through several variations, all documented via a Hackaday project page. Titled ‘Electronic nose to detect fruit ripening’, Craig has tried and tested several boards, sensors, and fruits while trying to establish what gases he’s looking for, and how to detect them.
With the project still in the testing phase, it would be interesting to see what our community can suggest to help Concrete Jungle with their build.
This video shows a Linux drone made with the PXFmini (http://erlerobotics.com/blog/pxfmini/) autopilot shield for the Raspberry Pi Zero. The drone runs a customized Debian file system with real-time capabilities and the APM flight stack.
The small, lightweight nature of the Raspberry Pi makes it perfect for drone building. If you’ve made your own, we’d love to see it in the comments below.
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