Tag Archives: pimoroni HAT

Raspberry Pi + Furby = ‘Furlexa’ voice assistant

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-furby-furlexa-voice-assistant/

How can you turn a redundant, furry, slightly annoying tech pet into a useful home assistant? Zach took to howchoo to show you how to combine a Raspberry Pi Zero W with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service software and a Furby to create Furlexa.

Furby was pretty impressive technology, considering that it’s over 20 years old. It could learn to speak English, sort of, by listening to humans. It communicated with other Furbies via infrared sensor. It even slept when its light sensor registered that it was dark.

Furby innards, exploded

Zach explains why Furby is so easy to hack:

Furby is comprised of a few primary components — a microprocessor, infrared and light sensors, microphone, speaker, and — most impressively — a single motor that uses an elaborate system of gears and cams to drive Furby’s ears, eyes, mouth and rocker. A cam position sensor (switch) tells the microprocessor what position the cam system is in. By driving the motor at varying speeds and directions and by tracking the cam position, the microprocessor can tell Furby to dance, sing, sleep, or whatever.

The original CPU and related circuitry were replaced with a Raspberry Pi Zero W

Zach continues: “Though the microprocessor isn’t worth messing around with (it’s buried inside a blob of resin to protect the IP), it would be easy to install a small Raspberry Pi computer inside of Furby, use it to run Alexa, and then track Alexa’s output to make Furby move.”

What you’ll need:

Harrowing

Running Alexa

The Raspberry Pi is running Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to provide full Amazon Echo functionality. Amazon AVS doesn’t officially support the tiny Raspberry Pi Zero, so lots of hacking was required. Point 10 on Zach’s original project walkthrough explains how to get AVS working with the Pimoroni Speaker pHAT.

Animating Furby

A small motor driver board is connected to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins, and controls Furby’s original DC motor and gearbox: when Alexa speaks, so does Furby. The Raspberry Pi Zero can’t supply enough juice to power the motor, so instead, it’s powered by Furby’s original battery pack.

Software

There are three key pieces of software that make Furlexa possible:

  1. Amazon Alexa on Raspberry Pi – there are tonnes of tutorials showing you how to get Amazon Alexa up and running on your Raspberry Pi. Try this one on instructables.
  2. A script to control Furby’s motor howchooer Tyler wrote the Python script that Zach is using to drive the motor, and you can copy and paste it from Zach’s howchoo walkthrough.
  3. A script that detects when Alexa is speaking and calls the motor program – Furby detects when Alexa is speaking by monitoring the contents of a file whose contents change when audio is being output. Zach has written a separate guide for driving a DC motor based on Linux sound output.
Teeny tiny living space

The real challenge was cramming the Raspberry Pi Zero plus the Speaker pHAT, the motor controller board, and all the wiring back inside Furby, where space is at a premium. Soldering wires directly to the GPIO saved a bit of room, and foam tape holds everything above together nice and tightly. It’s a squeeze!

Zach is a maker extraordinaire, so check out his projects page on howchoo.

The post Raspberry Pi + Furby = ‘Furlexa’ voice assistant appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi–powered bonsai watering system

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-powered-bonsai-watering-system/

Bonsai trees are the most glorious of miniature shrubbery. But caring for them takes seriously green fingers. Luckily, this Raspberry Pi–powered bonsai watering system doesn’t require much to get started. Also, the Reddit user who shared the project is named Lord-of-the-Pis, so, we love.

You will need:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Submersible water pump
  • Jumper wires

The Pimoroni Explorer HAT Pro isn’t essential to make this project work, it just makes things a whole lot easier by removing the need for a relay. It also comes with a Python library for interfacing with Raspberry Pi. The project uses an I2C connection, so it would also be possible to not use the HAT and instead plug a moisture sensor into an analogue-to-digital converter and then into Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins.

How was it done?

Lord-of-the-Pis explains: “I used the Pimoroni Explorer HAT Pro in order to make the entire system on a small breadboard on top of  Raspberry Pi. The Explorer HAT has inbuilt analogue inputs over I2C, which I used for the input of the moisture sensor (two wires pushed into the soil as probes). Furthermore, the output GPIO pins on this HAT sink all current to ground when activated so they can be used as a transistor to power the small 5V motor (which was also attached to the 5V power pins on Raspberry Pi).”

Using the HAT also allowed this maker to simply hook the pump up to the GPIO pins and turn these on and off, so there’s no need for an on/off switch.

How does it work?

This project’s code is in Python 3, and you can find it all on GitHub.

The main watering program (plantWater.py) takes input from the moisture sensor, and if the soil moisture level is below a set amount, the bonsai gets watered.

Lord-of-the-Pis built a simple web interface for the project on a  localhost site that’s hosted using Apache. Apache SSI is used to execute the Python scripts. Due to the use of SSI, the index page is called index.shtml.

An image of the website. The Dip and then steadiness of the graph is due to the faulty moisture sensor. The maker has ordered another!

A lot more detail about the hardware and software involved is available in this second reddit post about the project.

Lord-of-the-Pis is now working on a dashboard that plots the soil moisture over time, as well as tracking other things like light intensity, temperature, and humidity.

May no other plant perish due to overwatering on our watch ever again!

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