Time to pull out all the stops for the biggest Super Make Something project to date! Using 3D printing, laser cutting, a Raspberry Pi, computer vision, Python, and nearly 600 Neopixel LEDs, I build a low resolution LED mirror that displays your reflection on a massive 3 foot by 3 foot grid made from an array of 24 by 24 RGB LEDs!
If you’re into cool uses of tech, you may be aware of Daniel Rozin, the creative artist building mechanical mirrors out of wooden panels, trash, and…penguins, to name but a few of his wonderful builds.
Yup, this is a mechanical mirror made of toy penguins.
A digital mechanical mirror?
Inspired by Daniel Rozin’s work, Alex, the person behind Super Make Something, put an RGB LED spin on the concept, producing this stunning mirror that thoroughly impressed visitors at Cleveland Maker Faire last month.
“Inspired by Danny Rozin’s mechanical mirrors, this 3 foot by 3 foot mirror is powered by a Raspberry Pi, and uses Python and OpenCV computer vision libraries to process captured images in real time to light up 576 individual RGB LEDs!” Alex explains on Instagram. “Also onboard are nearly 600 3D-printed squares to diffuse the light from each NeoPixel, as well as 16 laser-cut panels to hold everything in place!”
The video above gives a brilliantly detailed explanation of how Alex made the, so we highly recommend giving it a watch if you’re feeling inspired to make your own.
Seriously, we really want to make one of these for Raspberry Pi Towers!
As always, be sure to subscribe to Super Make Something on YouTube and leave a comment on the video if, like us, you love the project. Most online makers are producing content such as this with very little return on their investment, so every like and subscriber really does make a difference.
Standard clocks with easily recognisable numbers are so last season. Who wants to save valuable seconds simply telling the time, when a series of LEDs and numerical notation can turn every time query into an adventure in mathematics?
In this video I’ll be showing how I built a binary clock using a Raspberry Pi, NeoPixels and a few lines of Python. I also take a stab at explaining how the binary number system works so that we can decipher what said clock is trying to tell us.
How to read binary
I’ll be honest: I have to think pretty hard to read binary. It stretches my brain quite vigorously. But I am a fan of flashy lights and pretty builds, so YouTube and Instagram rising star Mattias Jähnke, aka engineerish, had my full attention from the off.
“If you have a problem with your friends being able to tell the time way too easily while in your house, this is your answer.”
Mattias offers a beginners’ guide in to binary in his video and then explains how his clock displays values in binary, before moving on to the actual clock build process. So make some tea, pull up a chair, and jump right in.
To build the clock, Mattias used a Raspberry Pi and NeoPixel strips, fitted snugly within a simple 3D-printed case. With a few lines of Python, he coded his clock to display the current time using the binary system, with columns for seconds, minutes, and hours.
418 Likes, 14 Comments – Mattias (@engineerish) on Instagram: “The real kicker with a binary clock is that by the time you’ve deciphered what time it is – you’re…”
The Python code isn’t currently available on Mattias’s GitHub account, but if you’re keen to see how he did it, and you ask politely, and he’s not too busy, you never know.
Make your own
In the meantime, while we batter our eyelashes in the general direction of Stockholm and hope for a response, I challenge any one of you to code a binary display project for the Raspberry Pi. It doesn’t have to be a clock. And it doesn’t have to use NeoPixels. Maybe it could use an LED matrix such as the SenseHat, or a series of independently controlled LEDs on a breadboard. Maybe there’s something to be done with servo motors that flip discs with different-coloured sides to display a binary number.
Whatever you decide to build, the standard reward applies: ten imaginary house points (of absolutely no practical use, but immense emotional value) and a great sense of achievement to all who give it a go.
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.
In his Christmas lights project, Caleb Johnson uses an app as a control panel to switch between predefined displays. The full code is available on his GitHub, and it connects a Raspberry Pi A+ to a strip of programmable LEDs that change their pattern at the touch of a phone screen.
What’s great about this project, aside from the simplicity of its design, is the scope for extending it. Why not share the app with friends and family, allowing them to control your lights remotely? Or link the lights to social media so they are triggered by a specific hashtag, like in Alex Ellis’ #cheerlights project below.
Here we have a smart holiday light which will only run when it detects your presence in the room through a passive infrared PIR sensor. I’ve used hot glue for the fixings and an 8-LED NeoPixel strip connected to port 18.
Cheerlights, an online service created by Hans Scharler, allows makers to incorporate hashtag-controlled lighting into the projects. By tweeting the hashtag #cheerlights, followed by a colour, you can control a network of lights so that they are all displaying the same colour.
For his holiday light hack using Cheerlights, Alex incorporated the Pimoroni Blinkt! and a collection of cheap Christmas decorations to create cute light-up ornaments for the festive season.
To make your own, check out Alex’s blog post, and head to your local £1/$1 store for hackable decor. You could even link your Christmas tree and the trees of your family, syncing them all in one glorious, Santa-pleasing spectacular.
With just a few bucks of extra material, I walk you through converting your regular Christmas lights into a whole-house light show. The goal here is to go from scratch. Although this guide is intended for people who don’t know how to use linux at all and those who do alike, the focus is for people for whom linux and the raspberry pi are a complete mystery.
Looking to outdo your neighbours with your Christmas light show this year? YouTuber Makin’Things has created a beginners guide to setting up a Raspberry Pi–based musical light show for your facade, complete with information on soldering, wiring, and coding.
Once you’ve wrapped your house in metres and metres of lights and boosted your speakers so they can be heard for miles around, why not incorporate #cheerlights to make your outdoor decor interactive?
Still not enough? How about controlling your lights using a drum kit? Christian Kratky’s MIDI-Based Christmas Lights Animation system (or as I like to call it, House Rock) does exactly that.
Project documentation and source code: https://www.hackster.io/cyborg-titanium-14/light-pi-1c88b0 The song is taken from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6r1dAire0Y
We know these projects are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Raspberry Pi–powered Christmas projects out there, and as always, we’d love you to share yours with us. So post a link in the comments below, or tag us on social media when posting your build photos, videos, and/or blog links. ‘Tis the season for sharing after all.
Using a Raspberry Pi, an Arduino, an Adafruit NeoPixel Ring and a servomotor, Japanese makers HomeMadeGarbage produced this Pronunciation Training Machine to help their parents distinguish ‘L’s and ‘R’s when speaking English.
23 Likes, 1 Comments – Home Made Garbage (@homemadegarbage) on Instagram: “L R 発音矯正ギブス お母ちゃん編 Pronunciation training machine #right #light #raspberrypi #arduino #neopixel”
How does an Pronunciation Training Machine work?
As you can see in the video above, the machine utilises the Google Cloud Speech API to recognise their parents’ pronunciation of the words ‘right’ and ‘light’. Correctly pronounce the former, and the servo-mounted arrow points to the right. Pronounce the later and the NeoPixel Ring illuminates because, well, you just said “light”.
You can find the full code for the project on its hackster page here.
Variations on the idea
It’s a super-cute project with great potential, and the concept could easily be amended for other training purposes. How about using motion sensors to help someone learn their left from their right?
Or use random.choice to switch on LEDs over certain images, and speech recognition to reward a correct answer? Light up a picture of a cat, for example, and when the player says “cat”, they receive a ‘purr’ or a treat?
Obligatory kitten picture image c/o somewhere on the internet!
Raspberry Pi-based educational aids do not have to be elaborate builds. They can use components as simple as a servo and an LED, and still have the potential to make great improvements in people’s day-to-day lives.
Your own projects
If you’ve created an educational tool using a Raspberry Pi, we’d love to see it. The Raspberry Pi itself is an educational tool, so you’re helping it to fulfil its destiny! Make sure you share your projects with us on social media, or pop a link in the comments below. We’d also love to see people using the Pronunciation Training Machine (or similar projects), so make sure you share those too!
A massive shout out to Artie at hackster.io for this heads-up, and for all the other Raspberry Pi projects he sends my way. What a star!
Build your own lottery! Thingiverse Files: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2494568 Pi How-to: http://www.idlehandsproject.com/raspberry-pi-bitcoin-lottery/ Instructables: https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Bitcoin-Lottery-With-Raspberry-Pi/ Send me bitcoins if you want!
What is Bitcoin mining?
According to the internet, Bitcoin mining is:
[A] record-keeping service. Miners keep the blockchain consistent, complete, and unalterable by repeatedly verifying and collecting newly broadcast transactions into a new group of transactions called a block. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, using the SHA-256 hashing algorithm, which links it to the previous block, thus giving the blockchain its name.
If that makes no sense to you, welcome to the club. So here’s a handy video which explains it better.
For more information: https://www.bitcoinmining.com and https://www.weusecoins.com What is Bitcoin Mining? Have you ever wondered how Bitcoin is generated? This short video is an animated introduction to Bitcoin Mining. Credits: Voice – Chris Rice (www.ricevoice.com) Motion Graphics – Fabian Rühle (www.fabianruehle.de) Music/Sound Design – Christian Barth (www.akkord-arbeiter.de) Andrew Mottl (www.andrewmottl.com)
Okay, now I get it.
Sean’s Bitcoin Lottery
As a retired Bitcoin miner, Sean understands how the system works and what is required for mining. And since news sources report that Bitcoin is currently valued at around $4000, Sean decided to use a Raspberry Pi to bring to life an idea he’d been thinking about for a little while.
He fitted the Raspberry Pi into a 3D-printed body, together with a small fan, a strip of NeoPixels, and a Block Eruptor ASIC which is the dedicated mining hardware. The Pi runs a Python script compatible with CGMiner, a mining software that needs far more explanation than I can offer in this short blog post.
The Neopixels take the first 6 characters of the 64-character-long number of the current block, and interpret it as a hex colour code. In this way, the block’s data is converted into colour, which, when you think about it, is kind of beautiful.
The device moves on to trying to solve a new block every 20 minutes. When it does, the NeoPixel LEDs play a flashing ‘Win’ or ‘Lose’ animation to let you know whether you were the one to solve the previous block.
Sean has done the maths to calculate the power consumption of the device. He says that the annual cost of running his Bitcoin Lottery is roughly what you would pay for two lottery scratch cards. Now, the odds of solving a block are much lower than those of buying a winning scratch card. However, since the mining device moves on to a new block every 20 minutes, the odds of being a winner with Bitcoin using Sean’s build are actually better than those of winning the lottery.
Commenting on the convenient size of the Raspberry Pi Zero W, Amanda explains on her blog “I decided that I wanted to make something that would fully take advantage of the compact size of the Pi Zero, that was somewhat useful, and that I could take with me and share with my maker friends during my summer tech travels.”
Awesome grandmothers and wearable tech are an instant recipe for success!
With access to her grandmother’s “high-tech embroidery machine”, Amanda was able to incorporate various maker skills into her project.
Amanda used five clear white LEDs and the Raspberry Pi Zero for the project. Taking inspiration from the LED-adorned Babbage Bear her team created at Picademy, she decided to connect the LEDs using female-to-female jumper wires
Poor Babbage really does suffer at Picademy events
It’s worth noting that she could also have used conductive thread, though we wonder how this slightly less flexible thread would work in a sewing machine, so don’t try this at home. Or do, but don’t blame me if it goes wonky.
Having set the LEDs in place, Amanda worked on the code. Unsure about how she wanted the LEDs to blink, she finally settled on a random pulsing of the lights, and used the GPIO Zero library to achieve the effect.
Check out the GPIO Zero library for some great LED effects
The GPIO Zero pulse effect allows users to easily fade an LED in and out without the need for long strings of code. Very handy.
Inspiration for the bag’s final design came thanks to a YouTube video, and Amanda and her grandmother were able to recreate the make using their fabric of choice.
Learn how to make this cute tote bag. A great project for beginning seamstresses!
A small pocket was added on the outside of the bag to allow for the Raspberry Pi Zero to be snugly secured, and the pattern was stitched into the front, allowing spaces for the LEDs to pop through.
Amanda shows off her bag to Philip at ISTE 2017
You can find more information on the project, including Amanda’s initial experimentation with the Sense HAT, on her blog. If you’re a maker, an educator or, (and here’s a word I’m pretty sure I’ve made up) an edumaker, be sure to keep her blog bookmarked!
Make your own wearable tech
Whether you use jumper leads, or conductive thread or paint, we’d love to see your wearable tech projects.
Getting started with wearables
To help you get started, we’ve created this Getting started with wearables free resource that allows you to get making with the Adafruit FLORA and and NeoPixel. Check it out!
We at the Raspberry Pi Foundation find it incredibly rewarding to help people make and share things they love. It’s amazing to be part of an incredibly creative community of makers. And we’re not the only ones who feel this way: for this year’s Maker Faire UK, the team over at NUSTEM created the Heart of Maker Faire, a Pi-powered art installation that is a symbol of this unique community. And to be perfectly frank, it’s bloody gorgeous.
NUSTEM’s new installation for Maker Faire UK 2017, held on 1st & 2nd April at the Centre for Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Visitors wrote notes about things they love, and sealed them in jars. They then read their heart rates, and used the control boxes to associate their jar and heart rate with a space on the shelves.
A heart for the community
NUSTEM is a STEM outreach organisation from Northumbria University, and the makers there are always keen to build interactive projects that get people excited about technology. So at this year’s Faire, attendees passing their installation were invited to write down something close to their heart, put that note in a jar, and measure their heart rate. Then they could connect their heart rate, via a QR code, to a space on a shelf lined with LEDs. Once they placed the jar in their space, the LEDs started blinking to imitate their heart beat. With this art piece, the NUSTEM team wants to say something about “how we’re all individuals, but about our similarities too”.
This is no small build – it uses more than 2,000 NeoPixel LEDs, as well as five Raspberry Pis, among other components. Two Pi 3s are in charge of registering people’s contributions and keeping track of their jars. A Pi Zero W acts as a central hub, connecting its bigger siblings via WiFi, and storing a MySQL database of the jars’ data. Finally, two more Pi 3s control the LEDs of the Heart via a script written in Processing. The NUSTEM team has made the code available here for you “to laugh at” (their words, not mine!)
The heart, ready to be filled with love
A heart for art
Processing is an open-source programming language used to create images, graphs, and animations. It can respond to keyboard and mouse input, so you can write games with it as well. Moreover, it runs on the Pi, and you can use it to talk to the Pi’s GPIO pins, as the Heart of Maker Faire team did. Hook up buttons, sensors, and LEDs, and get ready to create amazing interactive pieces of art! If you’d like to learn more, read Matt’s blog post, or watch the talk he gave about Processing at our fifth birthday party earlier this year.
Matt Richardson: Art with Processing on the Raspberry Pi Sunday 5th March 2017 Raspberry Pi Birthday Event 2017 Filmed and edited by David and Andrew Ferguson. This video is not an official video published by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. No copyright infringement intended.
To help you get started, we’re providing a free learning resource introducing you to the basics of Processing. We’d love to see what you create, so do share a link to your masterworks in the comments!
World Maker Faire
We’ll be attending World Maker Faire in New York on the 23rd and 24th of September. Will you be there?
Are you tired of friends borrowing your books and never returning them? Maybe you’re sure you own 1984 but can’t seem to locate it? Do you find a strange satisfaction in using the supermarket self-checkout simply because of the barcode beep? With the ShelfChecker smart shelf from maker Annelynn described on Instructables, you can be your own librarian and never misplace your books again! Beep!
Harry Potter and the Aesthetically Pleasing Smart Shelf
The ShelfChecker smart shelf
Annelynn built her smart shelf utilising a barcode scanner, LDR light sensors, a Raspberry Pi, plus a few other peripherals and some Python scripts. She has created a fully integrated library checkout system with accompanying NeoPixel location notification for your favourite books.
This build allows you to issue your book-borrowing friends their own IDs and catalogue their usage of your treasured library. On top of that, you’ll be able to use LED NeoPixels to highlight your favourite books, registering their removal and return via light sensor tracking.
Using light sensors for book cataloguing
Once Annelynn had built the shelf, she drilled holes to fit the eight LDRs that would guard her favourite books, and separated them with corner brackets to prevent confusion.
Corner brackets keep the books in place without confusion between their respective light sensors
Due to the limitations of the MCP3008 Adafruit microchip, the smart shelf can only keep track of eight of your favourite books. But this limitation won’t stop you from cataloguing your entire home library; it simply means you get to pick your ultimate favourites that will occupy the prime real estate on your wall.
Obviously, the light sensors sense light. So when you remove or insert a book, light floods or is blocked from that book’s sensor. The sensor sends this information to the Raspberry Pi. In response, an Arduino controls the NeoPixel strip along the ‘favourites’ shelf to indicate the book’s status.
The book you are looking for is temporarily unavailable
Code your own library
While keeping a close eye on your favourite books, the system also allows creation of a complete library catalogue system with the help of a MySQL database. Users of the library can log into the system with a barcode scanner, and take out or return books recorded in the database guided by an LCD screen attached to the Pi.
I won’t go into an extensive how-to on creating MySQL databases here on the blog, because my glamourous assistant Janina has pulled up these MySQL tutorials to help you get started. Annelynn’s Github scripts are also packed with useful comments to keep you on track.
Raspberry Pi and books
We love books and libraries. And considering the growing number of Code Clubs and makespaces into libraries across the world, and the host of book-based Pi builds we’ve come across, the love seems to be mutual.
Did I say we love books? In fact we love them so much that members of our team have even written a few.*
If you’ve set up any sort of digital making event in a library, have in some way incorporated Raspberry Pi into your own personal book collection, or even managed to recreate the events of your favourite story using digital making, make sure to let us know in the comments below.
* Shameless plug**
Fancy adding some Pi to your home library? Check out these publications from the Raspberry Pi staff:
The staff of Pi Towers are currently melting into puddles while making ‘Aaaawwwwwww’ noises as Mira, the adorable little Pi-controlled robot made by Pixar 3D artist Alonso Martinez, steals their hearts.
If you want to get updates on Mira’s progress, sign up for the mailing list! http://eepurl.com/bteigD Mira is a desk companion that makes your life better one smile at a time. This project explores human robot interactivity and emotional intelligence. Currently Mira uses face tracking to interact with the users and loves playing the game “peek-a-boo”.
Honestly, I can’t type words – I am but a puddle! If I could type at all, I would only produce a stream of affectionate fragments. Imagine walking into a room full of kittens. What you would sound like is what I’d type.
No! I can do this. I’m a professional. I write for a living! I can…
SHE BLINKS OHMYAAAARGH!!!
Weebl & Bob meets South Park’s Ike Broflovski in an adorable 3D-printed bundle of ‘Aaawwwww’
Introducing Mira (I promise I can do this)
Right. I’ve had a nap and a drink. I’ve composed myself. I am up for this challenge. As long as I don’t look directly at her, I’ll be fine!
Here I go.
As one of the many über-talented 3D artists at Pixar, Alonso Martinez knows a thing or two about bringing adorable-looking characters to life on screen. However, his work left him wondering:
In movies you see really amazing things happening but you actually can’t interact with them – what would it be like if you could interact with characters?
So with the help of his friends Aaron Nathan and Vijay Sundaram, Alonso set out to bring the concept of animation to the physical world by building a “character” that reacts to her environment. His experiments with robotics started with Gertie, a ball-like robot reminiscent of his time spent animating bouncing balls when he was learning his trade. From there, he moved on to Mira.
Many, many of the views of this Tested YouTube video have come from me. So many.
Mira swivels to follow a person’s face, plays games such as peekaboo, shows surprise when you finger-shoot her, and giggles when you give her a kiss.
Mira’s inner workings
To get Mira to turn her head in three dimensions, Alonso took inspiration from the Microsoft Sidewinder Pro joystick he had as a kid. He purchased one on eBay, took it apart to understand how it works, and replicated its mechanism for Mira’s Raspberry Pi-powered innards.
Alonso used the smallest components he could find so that they would fit inside Mira’s tiny body.
Mira’s axis of 3D-printed parts moves via tiny Power HD DSM44 servos, while a camera and OpenCV handle face-tracking, and a single NeoPixel provides a range of colours to indicate her emotions. As for the blinking eyes? Two OLED screens boasting acrylic domes fit within the few millimeters between all the other moving parts.
More on Mira, including her history and how she works, can be found in this wonderful video released by Tested this week.
We’re gushing with grins and delight at the sight of these adorable animated robots created by artist Alonso Martinez. Sean chats with Alonso to learn how he designed and engineered his family of robots, using processes like 3D printing, mold-making, and silicone casting. They’re amazing!
You can also sign up for Alonso’s newsletter here to stay up-to-date about this little robot. Hopefully one of these newsletters will explain how to buy or build your own Mira, as I for one am desperate to see her adorable little face on my desk every day for the rest of my life.
Inspired by the tempescope, The Modern Inventor’s Storm Glass is a weather-simulating lamp that can recreate the weather of any location in the world, all thanks to the help of a Raspberry Pi Zero W.
Image c/o The Modern Inventor
The lamp uses the Weather Underground API, which allows the Raspberry Pi to access current and predicted weather conditions across the globe. Some may argue “Why do I need a recreation of the weather if I can look out my window?”, but I think the idea of observing tomorrow’s weather today, or keeping an eye on conditions in another location, say your favourite holiday destination, is pretty sweet.
Building a Storm Glass
The Modern Inventor, whose name I haven’t found out yet so I’ll call him TMI, designed and 3D printed the base and cap for the lamp. The glass bottle that sits between the two is one of those fancy mineral water bottles you’ve seen in the supermarket but never could justify buying before.
The base holds the Pi, as well as a speaker, a microphone, and various other components such as a Speaker Bonnet and NeoPixel Ring from Adafruit.
Image c/o The Modern Inventor
“The rain maker is a tiny 5V centrifuge pump I got online, which pumps water along some glass tubing and into the lid where the rain falls from”, TMI explains on his Instructables project page. “The cloud generator is a USB-powered ultrasonic diffuser/humidifier. I just pulled out the guts and got rid of the rest. Make sure to keep the electronics which create the ultrasonic signal that drives the diffuser.”
Image c/o The Modern Inventor
With the tech in place, TMI (yes, I do appreciate the irony of using TMI as a designator for someone about whom I lack information) used hot glue like his life depended on it, bringing the whole build together into one slick-looking lamp.
Coding the storm
TMI set up the Storm Glass to pull data about weather conditions in a designated location via the Weather Underground API and recreate these within the lamp. He also installed Alexa Voice Service in it, giving the lamp a secondary function as a home automation device.
Image c/o The Modern Inventor
Code for the Storm Glass, alongside a far more detailed explanation of the build process, can be found on TMI’s project page. He says the total cost of this make comes to less than $80.
Changed the stair lights from a string to a strip & they look awesome! #neopixel #raspberrypi https://t.co/dksLwy1SE1
Simply running the lights up the stairs, blinking and flashing to a random code, wasn’t enough for her. By using an API to check the outdoor weather, Lorraine’s lights went from decorative to informative: they now give an indication of outside weather conditions through their colour and the quantity illuminated.
“The idea is that more lights will light up as it gets warmer,” Lorraine explains. “The temperature is checked every five minutes (I think that may even be a little too often). I am looking forward to walking downstairs to a nice warm yellow light instead of the current blue!”
In total, Lorraine had 240 lights in the strip; she created a chart indicating a range of outside temperatures and the quantity of lights which for each value, as well as specifying the colour of those lights, running from chilly blue through to scorching red.
Oh, Lorraine! We love your optimistic dreams of the British summer being more than its usual rainy 16 Celsius…
The lights are controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero running a code that can be found on Lorraine’s blog. The code dictates which lights are lit and when.
“Do I need a coat today? I’ll check the stairs.”
Lorraine is planning some future additions to the build, including a toddler-proof 3D housing, powering the Zero from the lights’ power supply, and gathering her own temperature data instead of relying on a third-party API.
While gathering the temperature data from outside her house, she may also want to look into building an entire weather station, collecting extra data on rain, humidity, and wind conditions. After all, this is the UK: just because it’s hot outside, it doesn’t mean it’s not also raining.
Dr Lucy Rogers is more than just a human LED. She’s also an incredibly imaginative digital maker, ready and willing to void warranties in her quest to take things apart and put them back together again, better than before. With her recipe for legal, digital indoor fireworks, she does exactly that, leaving an electronic cigarette in a battered state as it produces the smoke effects for this awesome build.
In her IBM blog post, Lucy offers a basic rundown of the build. While it may not be a complete how-to for building the firecrackers, the provided GitHub link and commentary should be enough for the seasoned maker to attempt their own version. If you feel less confident about producing the complete build yourself, there are more than enough resources available online to help you create something flashy and bangy without the added smoke show.
For the physical build itself, Lucy used a plastic soft drink bottle, a paper plate, and plastic tubing. Once painted, they provided the body for her firecrackers, and the support needed to keep the LED NeoPixels in place. She also drilled holes into the main plastic tube that ran up the centre of the firecracker, allowing smoke to billow out at random points. More of that to come.
Spray paint and a touch of gold transform the pieces of plastic piping into firecrackers
The cracking, banging sounds play via a USB audio adapter due to complications between the NeoPixels and the audio jack. Lucy explains:
The audio settings need to be set in the Raspberry Pi’s configuration settings (raspi-config). I also used the Linux program ‘alsamixer’ to set the volume. The firecrackers sound file was made by Phil Andrew. I found that using the Node-RED ‘exec node’ calling the ‘mpg123’ program worked best.
Lucy states that the hacking of the e-cigarette was the hardest part of the build. For the smoke show itself, she reversed its recommended usage as follows:
On an electronic cigarette, if you blow down the air-intake hole (not the outlet hole from which you would normally inhale), smoke comes out of the outlet hole. I attached an aquarium pump to the air-intake hole and the firecracker pipe to the outlet, to make smoke on demand.
For the power, she gingerly hacked at the body with a pipe cutter before replacing the inner LiPo battery with a 30W isolated DC-DC converter, allowing for a safer power flow throughout the build (for “safer flow”, read “less likely to blow up the Raspberry Pi”).
The pump and e-cigarette fit snugly inside the painted bottle, while the Raspberry Pi remains outside
The project was partly inspired by Lucy’s work with Robin Hill Country Park. A how-to of that build can be seen below:
www.farnell.com Dr Lucy Rogers presents her exciting Fire Crackers project, taking you from the initial concept right through to installation. Whilst working in partnership with the Robin Hill country park on the Isle of Wight, Lucy wanted to develop a solution for creating safe electronic Fire Crackers, for their Chinese New year festival.
Although I won’t challenge you all to dismantle electric cigarettes, nor do I expect you to spend money on strobe lights, sensors, and other such peripherals, it would be great to see some other attempts at digital home fireworks. If you build, or have built, anything flashy and noisy, please share it in the comments below.
If you’re a bit Grinchy when it comes to Christmas, there’s plenty of non-festive fun to be found too:
Learn to use VNC Viewer
Find out how to build a sunrise alarm clock
Read our in-depth guide to Amiga emulation
Discover the joys of parallel computing
There’s also a huge amount of community news this month. The MagPi has an exclusive feature on Pioneers, our new programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, and news about Astro Pi winning the Arthur Clarke Award.
The MagPi outlines our new Pioneers programme in detail
After that, we see some of the most stylish projects ever. Inside is the beautiful Sisyphus table; that’s a moving work of art, a facial recognition door lock, and a working loom controlled by a Raspberry Pi.
The MagPi interviews the maker of this amazing Sisyphus table
If that wasn’t enough, we also have a big feature on adding sensors to your robots. These can be used to built a battle-bot ready for the upcoming Pi Wars challenge.
Nice LED wall I built with 426 RGB LEDs and a Raspberry Pi with WIFI. Renders live user feedback that comes in from all over the world by pulling data from the public API. A ‘little’ present for in the new office.
Joshua spent a decent amount of time using a CNC machine to drill the 426 holes needed, while distributing 30 amps of power to produce the beautiful effect.
More photos of the build can be found at the project’s Hackaday page. While we figure out what we could use this map for at Pi Towers, why not tell us how you would use one in the comments below?
Happy Halloween, one and all. Whether you’ve planned a night of trick-or-treating, watching scary movies, or hiding from costumed children with the lights off, our How to Pi guide should get you ready for the evening’s festivities. Enjoy!
This is definitely a Pi Towers favourite. The Disco Ball costume by Wolfie uses a drone battery and Raspberry Pi to create, well, a child-sized human disco ball. The video links on the project page seem to be down; however, all the ingredients needed for the project are listed at Thingiverse, and a walkthrough of the wiring can be seen here. Below, you’ll see the full effect of the costume, and I’m sure we can all agree that we need one here in the office.
lsquo;The Jacket’ 2.0 My Cyberpunk inspired jacket was completed just in time for a Halloween party last night. This year’s upgrades added to the EL tape and 5″ LCD, with spikes, a pi zero and an action cam (look for the missing chest spike).
Dealing with Trick-or-treaters
Trick or Trivia, the trivia-based Halloween candy dispenser from YouTube maker TheMakersWorkbench, dispenses candy based on correct answers to spooky themed questions. For example, Casper is a friendly what? Select ‘Ghost’ on the touchscreen and receive three pieces of candy. Select an incorrect answer and receive only one.
It’s one of the best ways to give out candy to trick-or-treaters, without having to answer the door or put in any effort whatsoever.
This video is a companion video to a project series I am posting on Element14.com. The video demonstrates the candy dispensing system for the Trick or Trivia candy dispenser project. You can find the post that this video accompanies at the following link: http://bit.ly/TrickorTrivia If you like this video, please consider becoming out patron on Patreon.
Or just stop them knocking in the first place with this…
A Raspberry Pi running Ubuntu Mate connected to an old laptop screen. I have a motion sensor hidden in the letterbox. When you approach the door it detects you. Next the pi sends a signal to a Wi Fi enabled WeMo switch to turn on the screen.
When it comes to using a Raspberry Pi to prank people, the team at Circuit-Help have definitely come up with the goods. By using a setup similar to the magic mirror project, they fitted an ultrasonic sensor to display a zombie video within the mirror whenever an unsuspecting soul approaches. Next year’s The Walking Dead-themed Halloween party is sorted!
Check out our quick Halloween Project, make your own Raspberry Pi powered spooky portrait! http://www.instructables.com/id/Halloween-painting-with-moving-eyes/
We’ve seen a flurry of Raspberry Pi pumpkins this year. From light shows to motion-activated noise makers, it’s the year of the pimped-up pumpkin. Here’s Oliver with his entry into the automated pumpkin patch, offering up a motion-activated pumpkin jam-packed with LEDs.
Inspired by the many Halloween electronics projects we saw last year, we tried our own this year. Source code is on github https://github.com/mirkin/pi-word-clock
Ignore the world and get coding
If you’re one of the many who would rather ignore Halloween, close the curtains, and pretend not to be home, here are some fun, spooky projects to work on this evening. Yes, they’re still Halloween-themed… but c’mon, they’ll be fun regardless!
Halloween Music Light Project – Follow the tutorial at Linux.com to create this awesome and effective musical light show. You can replace the tune for a less Halloweeny experience.
Spooky Spot the Difference – Let the Raspberry Pi Foundation team guide you through this fun prank, and use the skills you learn to replace the images for other events and holidays.
Whatever you get up to with a Raspberry Pi this Halloween, make sure to tag us across social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, G+, and Vine. You can also check out our Spooky Pi board on Pinterest.
Mike Smith wanted to be able to locate specific records in his collection with ease, so he turned to a Raspberry Pi for assistance.
A web server running on the Pi catalogues his vast vinyl collection. Upon selecting a specific record, the appropriate shelf lights up, followed by a single NeoPixel highlighting the record’s location.
recordShelf helps organize and visualize dat about your record collection. This is my second video demonstrating it’s latest form.
The lights are controlled with Adafruit’s FadeCandy, a dithering USB controller driver with its own software that allows for easier direction of a NeoPixel. It also puts on a pretty nifty light show.
Records can be selected via artist, title, record label, a unique index number, or even vinyl colour. This also allowed for Mike to select all records in a specific category and highlight them at once; how many records by a specific artist or label, for example.
Further down the line, Mike is also planning on RFID support, allowing him to scan a record and have the appropriate shelf light up to indicate where it should be stored. Keep up to date with the build via the project’s Hackaday.io page.
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