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.
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.
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!
Once I had the three separate files, I laser-engraved them onto 4cm-wide pieces of 3mm-thick clear acrylic. As there are four lines of LEDs on the Unicorn pHAT, I cut the fourth piece to illuminate the background.
To keep the engraved acrylic pieces together, I cut out a pair of acrylic brackets (see above) with four 3mm indentations. Then, after a bit of fiddling with the Unicorn pHAT library, I was able to light the pHAT’s rows of LEDs in white, red, green, and white.
The final result looks pretty spectacular, especially in the dark, and you can build on this basic idea to create fun animations — especially if you use a HAT with more rows of LEDs.
This is just a prototype. I plan on building a sturdier frame for the pieces that securely fits a Raspberry Pi Zero W and lets users replace layers easily. As with many projects, I’m sure this will grow and grow as each interaction inspires a new add-on.
Living with a toddler is the best thing. It really is. Seen through their eyes, everything you’re jaded about becomes new and exciting. Every piece of music is new. Frog and Toad are real people. Someone doesn’t care that you’re really, really bad at drawing, believing that you’re actually a kind of cross between Leonardo and Picasso; and you have a two-foot-tall excuse to sing Gaston at the top of your voice in public. The parents of toddlers are allowed into the ball pit at soft play. There’s lots of cake. The hugs and kisses are amazing.
Frog and Toad. Real people. If you are in charge of small children and do not own any of the Frog and Toad series, get yourself to a bookshop pronto. You can thank me later.
However. If my experience here is anything to go by, you may also be so tired you’re walking into things a lot. It doesn’t matter. The hugs and kisses are, like I said, amazing. And there are things you can do to mitigate that tiredness. Enter the Pi.
I’m lucky. My toddler sleeps thorough. But sometimes she has an…aggravating habit of early wakefulness. After 7am I’m golden. I can do 6.30 at a push. Any earlier than that, though, and I am dead-eyed and leather-visaged for the rest of the day. It’s not a good look. Enter equally new parent Cary Ciavolella, who has engineered a solution. This is a project so simple even the most sleep-deprived parent should be able to put it together, using Pimoroni parts you can easily buy online. Cary has thoughtfully made all the code available for you so you don’t have to do anything other than build the physical object.
Cary’s nightlight can produce a number of different sorts of white noise, and changes colour from red (YOU’RE MEANT TO BE ASLEEP, KID) through orange (you can play in your room) to green (it’s time to get up). Coloured lights are a sensible option: toddlers can’t read numbers, let alone a clock face. It’s all addressable via a website, which, if you’re feeling fancy, you can set up with a favicon on your phone’s home screen so it feels like an app.
White noise – I use a little box from Amazon which plays the sound of the sea – and red-spectrum nightlights have solid research behind them if you’re trying to soothe a little one to sleep. Once you cross over into blue light, you’ll stop the pineal gland from producing melatonin, which is why I hate the fan I bought for our bedroom with a burning, fiery passion. Some smart-alec thought that putting a giant blue led on the front to demonstrate that the fan was on was a smart idea, never mind the whirling blades which are obvious to at least three of the senses. (I have never tried tasting it.)
With this in mind, I’ve one tiny alteration to make to Cary’s setup: you can permanently disable the green LED on the Pi Zero itself so that the only lights visible are the Pimoroni Blinkt – namely the ones that your little one should be looking at to figure out whether it’s time to get up yet. Just add the following to the Zero’s /boot/config.txt and reboot.
# Disable the ACT LED on the Raspberry Pi.
…remember, the 5th of November. Happy Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night…Day!
A brief history of the Gunpowder Plot
In 1605, York-born Guy Fawkes was arrested, along with other conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, for their attempt to blow up the House of Lords that, at the time, was occupied by members of parliament, including King James I.
To celebrate their king surviving the attempt on his life, residents of London lit bonfires, and this became a recognised custom across England on every 5 November to follow. 413 years on, we continue the tradition by burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on bonfires, setting off fireworks, and eating over-priced hotdogs while getting a little tipsy on mulled cider at council-organised events.
Guy Fawkes, in case you’re wondering, was sentenced to death and, after breaking his neck while climbing the gallows, was quartered, and his body parts were distributed to the four corners of the kingdom — another tradition at the time. Good thing we haven’t kept that one going!
Bonfire Night and Raspberry Pi
“Okay, Alex, we get it. You like Bonfire Night. But what has this got to do with Raspberry Pi?”
I’m glad you asked.
While I do enjoy Bonfire Night, I’m not a massive fan of too many fireworks. Or rather, I’m not a fan of the way too many fireworks upset my cat Jimmy.
So when I saw this cute digital fireworks display by Mike ‘Recantha’ Horne, I cheered with delight. He says:
Mike’s project is a great example of using tech to overcome an everyday issue — in this case, letting me have pretty flashing lights in the dark that don’t scare my cat but still make me go “Oooh!” and “Aaah!”.
Students taking Design of Mechatronics at the Technical University of Denmark have created some seriously elegant and striking Raspberry Pi speakers. Their builds are part of a project asking them to “explore, design and build a 3D printed speaker, around readily available electronics and components”.
The students have been uploading their designs, incorporating Raspberry Pis and HiFiBerry HATs, to Thingiverse throughout April. The task is a collaboration with luxury brand Bang & Olufsen’s Create initiative, and the results wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end showroom; I’d happily take any of these home.
Tue Thomsen’s six-person team Mechatastic have produced the B&O TILE. “The speaker consists of four 3D-printed cabinet and top parts, where the top should be covered by fabric,” they explain. “The speaker insides consists of laser-cut wood to hold the tweeter and driver and encase the Raspberry Pi.”
The team aimed to design a speaker that would be at home in a kitchen. With a removable upper casing allowing for a choice of colour, the TILE can be customised to fit particular tastes and colour schemes.
Build your own speakers with Raspberry Pis
Raspberry Pi’s onboard audio jack, along with third-party HATs such as the HiFiBerry and Pimoroni Speaker pHAT, make speaker design and fabrication with the Pi an interesting alternative to pre-made tech. These builds don’t tend to be technically complex, and they provide some lovely examples of tech-based projects that reflect makers’ own particular aesthetic style.
If you have access to a 3D printer or a laser cutter, perhaps at a nearby maker space, then those can be excellent resources, but fancy kit isn’t a requirement. Basic joinery and crafting with card or paper are just a couple of ways you can build things that are all your own, using familiar tools and materials. We think more people would enjoy getting hands-on with this sort of thing if they gave it a whirl, and we publish a free magazine to help.
Looking for a new project to build around the Raspberry Pi Zero, I came across the pHAT DAC from Pimoroni. This little add-on board adds audio playback capabilities to the Pi Zero. Because the pHAT uses the GPIO pins, the USB OTG port remains available for a wifi dongle.
This video by Frederick Vandenbosch is a great example of building AirPlay speakers using a Pi and HAT, and a quick search will find you lots more relevant tutorials and ideas.
Have you built your own? Share your speaker-based Pi builds with us in the comments.
As they sail aboard their floating game design studio Pino, Rekka Bellum and Devine Lu Linvega are starting to explore the use of Raspberry Pis. As part of an experimental development tool and a weather station, Pis are now aiding them on their nautical adventures!
Pino is on its way to becoming a smart sailboat! Raspberry Pi is the ideal device for sailors, we hope to make many more projects with it. Also the projects continue still, but we have windows now yay!
Using a haul of Pimoroni tech including the Enviro pHat, Scroll pHat HD and Mini Black HAT Hack3r, Rekka and Devine have been experimenting with using a Raspberry Pi Zero as an onboard barometer for their sailboat. On their Hundred Rabbits YouTube channel and website, the pair has documented their experimental setups. They have also built another Raspberry Pi rig for distraction-free work and development.
“The Pi computer is currently used only as an experimental development tool aboard Pino, but could readily be turned into a complete development platform, would our principal computers fail.” they explain, before going into the build process for the Raspberry Pi–powered barometer.
The use of solderless headers make this weather station an ideal build wherever space and tools are limited.
The barometer uses the sensor power of the Pimoroni Enviro HAT to measure atmospheric pressure, and a Raspberry Pi Zero displays this data on the Scroll pHAT HD. It thus advises the two travellers of oncoming storms. By taking advantage of the solderless header provided by the Sheffield-based pirates, the Hundred Rabbits team was able to put the device together with relative ease. They provide all information for the build here.
This is us, this what we do, and these are our intentions! We live, and work from our sailboat Pino. Traveling helps us stay creative, and we feed what we see back into our work. We make games, art, books and music under the studio name ‘Hundred Rabbits.’
Less than four years ago, Magda Jadach was convinced that programming wasn’t for girls. On International Women’s Day, she tells us how she discovered that it definitely is, and how she embarked on the new career that has brought her to Raspberry Pi as a software developer.
“Coding is for boys”, “in order to be a developer you have to be some kind of super-human”, and “it’s too late to learn how to code” – none of these three things is true, and I am going to prove that to you in this post. By doing this I hope to help some people to get involved in the tech industry and digital making. Programming is for anyone who loves to create and loves to improve themselves.
In the summer of 2014, I started the journey towards learning how to code. I attended my first coding workshop at the recommendation of my boyfriend, who had constantly told me about the skill and how great it was to learn. I was convinced that, at 28 years old, I was already too old to learn. I didn’t have a technical background, I was under the impression that “coding is for boys”, and I lacked the superpowers I was sure I needed. I decided to go to the workshop only to prove him wrong.
Later on, I realised that coding is a skill like any other. You can compare it to learning any language: there’s grammar, vocabulary, and other rules to acquire.
To my surprise, the workshop was completely inspiring. Within six hours I was able to create my first web page. It was a really simple page with a few cats, some colours, and ‘Hello world’ text. This was a few years ago, but I still remember when I first clicked “view source” to inspect the page. It looked like some strange alien message, as if I’d somehow broken the computer.
At times, I felt very isolated. Was I the only girl learning to code? I wasn’t aware of many female role models until I started going to more workshops. I met a lot of great female developers, and thanks to their support and help, I kept coding.
Another struggle I faced was the language barrier. I am not a native speaker of English, and diving into English technical documentation wasn’t easy. The learning curve is daunting in the beginning, but it’s completely normal to feel uncomfortable and to think that you’re really bad at coding. Don’t let this bring you down. Everyone thinks this from time to time.
Play with Raspberry Pi and quit your job
I kept on improving my skills, and my interest in developing grew. However, I had no idea that I could do this for a living; I simply enjoyed coding. Since I had a day job as a journalist, I was learning in the evenings and during the weekends.
I spent long hours playing with a Raspberry Pi and setting up so many different projects to help me understand how the internet and computers work, and get to grips with the basics of electronics. I built my first ever robot buggy, retro game console, and light switch. For the first time in my life, I had a soldering iron in my hand. Day after day I become more obsessed with digital making.
solderingiron Where have you been all my life? Weekend with #raspberrypi + @pimoroni + @Pololu + #solder = best time! #electricity
One day I realised that I couldn’t wait to finish my job and go home to finish some project that I was working on at the time. It was then that I decided to hand over my resignation letter and dive deep into coding.
For the next few months I completely devoted my time to learning new skills and preparing myself for my new career path.
I went for an interview and got my first ever coding internship. Two years, hundreds of lines of code, and thousands of hours spent in front of my computer later, I have landed my dream job at the Raspberry Pi Foundation as a software developer, which proves that dreams come true.
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Where to start?
I recommend starting with HTML & CSS – the same path that I chose. It is a relatively straightforward introduction to web development. You can follow my advice or choose a different approach. There is no “right” or “best” way to learn.
Below is a collection of free coding resources, both from Raspberry Pi and from elsewhere, that I think are useful for beginners to know about. There are other tools that you are going to want in your developer toolbox aside from HTML.
HTML and CSS are languages for describing, structuring, and styling web pages
Scratch is a graphical programming language that lets you drag and combine code blocks to make a range of programs. It’s a good starting point
Git is version control software that helps you to work on your own projects and collaborate with other developers
Once you’ve got started, you will need a code editor. Sublime Text or Atom are great options for starting out
Coding gives you so much new inspiration, you learn new stuff constantly, and you meet so many amazing people who are willing to help you develop your skills. You can volunteer to help at a Code Club or Coder Dojo to increase your exposure to code, or attend a Raspberry Jam to meet other like-minded makers and start your own journey towards becoming a developer.
Jason Barnett used the pots feature of the Monzo banking API to create a simple e-paper display so that his kids can keep track of their pocket money.
For those outside the UK: Monzo is a smartphone-based bank that allows costumers to manage their money and payment cards via an app, removing the bank clerk middleman.
In the Monzo banking app, users can set up pots, which allow them to organise their money into various, you guessed it, pots. You want to put aside holiday funds, budget your food shopping, or, like Jason, manage your kids’ pocket money? Using pots is an easy way to do it.
Jason’s Monzo Pot ePaper tracker
After failed attempts at keeping track of his sons’ pocket money via a scrap of paper stuck to the fridge, Jason decided to try a new approach.
He started his build by installing Stretch Lite to the SD card of his Raspberry Pi Zero W. “The Pi will be running headless (without screen, mouse or keyboard)”, he explains on his blog, “so there is no need for a full-fat Raspbian image.” While Stretch Lite was downloading, he set up the Waveshare ePaper HAT on his Zero W. He notes that Pimoroni’s “Inky pHAT would be easiest,” but his tutorial is specific to the Waveshare device.
Before ejecting the SD card, Jason updated the boot partition to allow him to access the Pi via SSH. He talks makers through that process here.
Among the libraries he installed for the project is pyMonzo, a Python wrapper for the Monzo API created by Paweł Adamczak. Monzo is still in its infancy, and the API is partly under construction. Until it’s completed, Paweł’s wrapper offers a more stable way to use it.
After installing the software, it was time to set up the e-paper screen for the tracker. Jason adjusted the code for the API so that the screen reloads information every 15 minutes, displaying the up-to-date amount of pocket money in both kids’ pots.
Here is how Jason describes going to the supermarket with his sons, now that he has completed the tracker:
“Daddy, I want (insert first thing picked up here), I’ve always wanted one of these my whole life!” […] Even though you have never seen that (insert thing here) before, I can quickly open my Monzo app, flick to Account, and say “You have £3.50 in your money box”. If my boy wants it, a 2-second withdrawal is made whilst queueing, and done — he walks away with a new (again, insert whatever he wanted his whole life here) and is happy!
Jason’s blog offers a full breakdown of his project, including all necessary code and the specs for the physical build. Be sure to head over and check it out.
Have you used an API in your projects? What would you build with one?
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.
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.
Solving problems that are meaningful to us is at the core of our approach to teaching and learning about technology here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Over the last eight months, I’ve noticed that the types of digital making projects that motivate and engage me have changed (can’t think why). Always looking for ways to save money and automate my life and the lives of my loved ones, I’ve been thinking a lot about how digital making projects could be the new best friend of any new parent.
I never knew how much equipment one small child needs until very recently. I also had no idea of the range of technology that is on offer to support you as a new parent to ensure the perfect environment outside of the womb. Baby monitors are at the top of this list. There are lots of Raspberry Pi baby monitor projects with a range of sensing functionality already in existence, and we’ve blogged about some of them before. They’re a great example of how an understanding of technology can open up a range of solutions that won’t break the bank. I’m looking forward to using all the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi to keep an eye on baby.
Baby name generator
Another surprising discovery was just how difficult it is to name a human being. Surprising because I can give a name to an inanimate object in less than three seconds, and come up with nicknames for colleagues in less than a day. My own offspring, though, and I draw a blank. The only solution: write a Python program to randomly generate names based on some parameters!
from time import sleep
from guizero import App, ButtonGroup, Text, PushButton, TextBox
boyname = names.get_first_name(gender='male')
girlname = names.get_first_name(gender='female')
othername = names.get_first_name()
if babygender.get() == "male":
elif babygender.get() == "female":
app = App("Baby name generator")
surname_label = Text(app, "What is your surname?")
babylastname = TextBox(app, width=50)
babygender = ButtonGroup(app, options=[["boy", "male"], ["girl", "female"], ["all", "all"]], selected="male", horizontal=True)
intro = Text(app, "Your baby name could be")
name = Text(app, "")
button = PushButton(app, get_name, text="Generate me a name")
Thanks to the names and GUIZero Python libraries, it is super simple to create, resolving any possible parent-to-be naming disputes in mere minutes.
Food, Poo, or Love?
I love data. Not just in Star Trek, but also more generally. Collecting and analysing data to understand my sleep patterns, my eating habits, how much exercise I do, and how much time I spend watching YouTube videos consumes much of my time. So of course I want to know lots about the little person we’ve made, long before he can use language to tell us himself.
I’m told that most newborns’ needs are quite simple: they want food, they want to be changed, or they just want some cuddles. I’m certain it’s more complicated than this, but it’s a good starting point for a data set, so stick with me here. I also wondered whether there might be a correlation between the amplitude of the cry and the type of need the baby has. A bit of an imprecise indicator, maybe, but fun to start to think about.
This build’s success is mostly thanks to Pimoroni’s Rainbow HAT, which, conveniently, has three capacitive touch buttons to record the newborn’s need, four fourteen-segment displays to display the words “FOOD”, “POO”, and “LOVE” when a button is pressed, and seven multicoloured LEDs to indicate the ferociousness of the baby’s cry in glorious technicolour. With the addition of a microphone, the ‘Food, Poo, Love Machine’ was born. Here it is in action:
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a beloved maker in your life? Maybe you’d like to give a relative or friend a taste of the world of coding and Raspberry Pi? Whatever you’re looking for, the Raspberry Pi Christmas shopping list will point you in the right direction.
For those getting started
Thinking about introducing someone special to the wonders of Raspberry Pi during the holidays? Although you can set up your Pi with peripherals from around your home, such as a mobile phone charger, your PC’s keyboard, and the old mouse dwelling in an office drawer, a starter kit is a nice all-in-one package for the budding coder.
If you’re looking for something for a confident digital maker, you can’t go wrong with adding to their arsenal of electric and electronic bits and bobs that are no doubt cluttering drawers and boxes throughout their house.
Components such as servomotors, displays, and sensors are staples of the maker world. And when it comes to jumper wires, buttons, and LEDs, one can never have enough.
You could also consider getting your person a soldering iron, some helpings hands, or small tools such as a Dremel or screwdriver set.
And to make their life a little less messy, pop it all inside a Really Useful Box…because they’re really useful.
For kit makers
While some people like to dive into making head-first and to build whatever comes to mind, others enjoy working with kits.
The Naturebytes kit allows you to record the animal visitors of your garden with the help of a camera and a motion sensor. Footage of your local badgers, birds, deer, and more will be saved to an SD card, or tweeted or emailed to you if it’s in range of WiFi.
Coretec’s Tiny 4WD is a kit for assembling a Pi Zero–powered remote-controlled robot at home. Not only is the robot adorable, building it also a great introduction to motors and wireless control.
Looking for something small to keep your loved ones occupied on Christmas morning? Or do you have to buy a Secret Santa gift for the office tech? Here are some wonderful stocking fillers to fill your boots with this season.
The Pi Hut 3D Xmas Tree: available as both a pre-soldered and a DIY version, this gadget will work with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi and allows you to create your own mini light show.
Google AIY Voice kit: build your own home assistant using a Raspberry Pi, the MagPi Essentials guide, and this brand-new kit. “Google, play Mariah Carey again…”
LEGO Idea’s bought out this amazing ‘Women of NASA’ set, and I thought it would be fun to build, play and learn from these inspiring women! First up, let’s discover a little more about Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, two AWESOME ASTRONAUTS!
Treat the kids, and big kids, in your life to the newest LEGO Ideas set, the Women of NASA — starring Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, and Mae Jemison!
Explore the world of wearables with Pimoroni’s sewable, hackable, wearable, adorable Bearables kits.
With so many amazing kits, HATs, and books available from members of the Raspberry Pi community, it’s hard to only pick a few. Have you found something splendid for the maker in your life? Maybe you’ve created your own kit that uses the Raspberry Pi? Share your favourites with us in the comments below or via our social media accounts.
We start you off with a neat beginners guide to programming in Python, walking you from the very basics all the way through to building the classic videogame Pong from scratch!
Check out what’s inside!
Then we showcase some of the most inspiring projects from around the community, such as a camera for taking photos of the moon, a smart art installation, amazing arcade machines, and much more.
Emulate the Apollo mission computers on the Raspberry Pi
Next, we ease you into a series of tutorials that will help you get the most out of your Raspberry Pi. Among other things, you’ll be learning how to sync your Pi to Dropbox, use it to create a waterproof camera, and even emulate an Amiga.
We’ve also assembled a load of reviews to let you know what you should be buying if you want to extend your Pi experience.
Learn more about Pimoroni’s Enviro pHAT
I am extremely proud of what the entire MagPi team has put together here, and I know you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed creating it.
How to get yours
In the UK, you can get your copy of the new Official Raspberry Pi Projects Book at WH Smith and all good newsagents today. In the US, print copies will be available in stores such as Barnes & Noble very soon.
Or order a copy from the Raspberry Pi Press store — before the end of Sunday 26 November, you can use the code BLACKFRIDAY to get 10% off your purchase!
There’s also the digital version, which you can get via The MagPi Android and iOS apps. And, as always, there’s a free PDF, which is available here.
We think this new projects book is the perfect stocking filler, although we may be just a tad biased. Anyway, I hope you’ll love it!
We created Pip so that anyone can tinker with technology. From beginners to those who know more — Pip makes it easy, simple, and fun!
Pip’s smart design may well remind you of a certain handheld gaming console released earlier this year. With its central screen and detachable side controllers, Pip has a size and shape ideal for gaming.
Those who have used a Raspberry Pi with the Raspbian OS might be familiar with Minecraft Pi, a variant of the popular Minecraft game created specifically for Pi users to play and hack for free. Users of Pip will be able to access Minecraft Pi from the portable device and take their block-shaped creations with them wherever they go.
And if that’s not enough, Pip’s Pi brain allows coders to create their own games using Scratch, in addition to giving access a growing library of games in Curious Chip’s online arcade.
Pip’s GPIO pins are easily accessible, so that you can expand upon your digital making skills with physical computing projects. Grab your Pip and a handful of jumper leads, and you will be able to connect and control components such as lights, buttons, servomotors, and more!
Maker Pack and add-ons
Backers can also pledge their funds for additional hardware, such as the Maker Pack, an integrated camera, or a Pip Breadboard Kit.
The breadboard and the optional PipHAT are also compatible with any Raspberry Pi 2 and 3. Nice!
Curiosity from Curious Chip
Users of Pip can program their device via Curiosity, a tool designed specifically for this handheld device.
Back the project
If you’d like to back Curious Chip and bag your own Pip, you can check out their Kickstarter page here. And if you watch their promo video closely, you may see a familiar face from the Raspberry Pi community.
Are you planning on starting your own Raspberry Pi-inspired crowd-funded campaign? Then be sure to tag us on social media. We love to see what the community is creating for our little green (or sometimes blue) computer.
Using a @Raspberry_Pi with @pimoroni tilt hat to make a cool puppet for #Halloween https://t.co/pOeTFZ0r29
Made with a Pimoroni Pan-Tilt HAT, a Raspberry Pi, and some VR software on her phone, Lorraine Underwood‘s puppet is going to be a rather fitting doorman to interact with this year’s trick-or-treaters. Follow her project’s progress as she posts it on her blog.
First #pumpkin of the season for Friday the 13th! @PaintYourDragon’s snake eyes bonnet for the #RaspberryPi to handle the eye animation. https://t.co/TSlUUxYP5Q
The Animated Snake Eyes Bonnet is definitely one of the freakiest products to come from the Adafruit lab, and it’s the perfect upgrade for any carved pumpkin this Halloween. Attach the bonnet to a Raspberry Pi 3, or the smaller Zero or Zero W, and thus add animated eyes to your scary orange masterpiece, as Justin Smith demonstrates in his video. The effect will terrify even the bravest of trick-or-treaters! Just make sure you don’t light a candle in there too…we’re not sure how fire-proof the tech is.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of the zombie virus must be in want of braaaaaaains.
No matter whether you share your Halloween builds on Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram, or YouTube, we want to see them — make sure to tag us in your posts. We also have a comment section below this post, so go ahead and fill it with your ideas, links to completed projects, and general chat about the world of RasBOOrry Pi!
…sorry, that’s a hideous play on words. I apologise.
October has come at last, and with it, the joy of Halloween is now upon us. So while I spend the next 30 days quoting Hocus Pocus at every opportunity, here’s Adafruit’s latest spooky build … the spooktacular Haunted Portrait.
If you’ve visited a haunted house such as Disney’s Haunted Mansion, or walked the halls of Hogwarts at Universal Studios, you will have seen a ‘moving portrait’. Whether it’s the classic ‘did that painting just blink?’ approach, or occupants moving in and out of frame, they’re an effective piece of spooky decoration – and now you can make your own!
John Park, maker extraordinaire, recently posted a live make video where he used the contents of the Raspberry Pi-themed AdaBox 005 to create a blinking portrait.
The Adabox is Adafruit’s own maker subscription service where plucky makers receive a mystery parcel containing exciting tech and inspirational builds. Their more recent delivery, the AdaBox 005, contains a Raspberry Pi Zero, their own Joy Bonnet, a case, and peripherals, including Pimoroni’s no-solder Hammer Headers.
While you can purchase the AdaBoxes as one-off buys, subscribers get extra goodies. With AdaBox 005, they received bonus content including Raspberry Pi swag in the form of stickers, and a copy of The MagPi Magazine.
The contents of AdaBox 005 allows makers to build their own Raspberry Pi Zero tiny gaming machine. But the ever-working minds of the Adafruit team didn’t want to settle there, so they decided to create more tutorials based on the box’s contents, such as John Park’s Haunted Portrait.
Bringing a portrait to life
Alongside the AdaBox 005 content, all of which can be purchased from Adafruit directly, you’ll need a flat-screen monitor and a fancy frame. The former could be an old TV or computer screen while the latter, unless you happen to have an ornate frame that perfectly fits your monitor, can be made from cardboard, CNC-cut wood or gold-painted macaroni and tape … probably.
You’ll need to attach headers to your Raspberry Pi Zero. For those of you who fear the soldering iron, the Hammer Headers can be hammered into place without the need for melty hot metal. If you’d like to give soldering a go, you can follow Laura’s Getting Started With Soldering tutorial video.
In his tutorial, John goes on to explain how to set up the Joy Bonnet (if you wish to use it as an added controller), set your Raspberry Pi to display in portrait mode, and manipulate an image in Photoshop or GIMP to create the blinking effect.
Blinking eyes are just the start of the possibilities for this project. This is your moment to show off your image manipulation skills! Why not have the entire head flash to show the skull within? Or have an ethereal image appear in the background of an otherwise unexceptional painting of a bowl of fruit?
In the final stages of the tutorial, John explains how to set an image slideshow running on the Pi, and how to complete the look with the aforementioned ornate frame. He also goes into detail about the importance of using a matte effect screen or transparent gels to give a more realistic ‘painted’ feel.
You’ll find everything you need to make your own haunted portrait here, including a link to John’s entire live stream.
We’re going to make this for Pi Towers. In fact, I’m wondering whether I could create an entire gallery of portraits specifically for our reception area and see how long it takes people to notice …
… though I possibly shouldn’t have given my idea away on this rather public blog post.
If you make the Haunted Portrait, or any other Halloween-themed Pi build, make sure you share it with us via social media, or in the comments below.
Hi folks, Rob here from The MagPi. I’m excited to introduce to you all issue 62 of The MagPi, in which we go block crazy with LEGO! This month’s magazine is brimming with 14 pages of magnificent Raspberry Pi projects using these ubiquitous building blocks.
LEGO of everything and get one from the shops right now!
LEGO + Raspberry Pi
In our cover feature you’ll find fun tutorials from our friends at Dexter Industries, such as a Rubik’s cube-solving robot and a special automaton that balances on two wheels. We also show you how to build a retro console case for your Pi out of LEGO, and we have eight other projects to inspire you to make your own incredible brick creations.
Back at school and looking for a weekend distraction? Check out our weekend projects feature, and build yourself a smart fridge or a door trigger that plays your theme song as you enter the room! Mine is You’re Welcome from Moana. What’s yours?
We have a ton of other wonderful projects, tutorials, and reviews in this issue as well, including a GIF camera, a hydroponic garden, and a Halloween game!
You can’t escape our annual spooktacular puns. That would be impossi-ghoul.
Get The MagPi 62
Grab the latest issue of The MagPi from WH Smith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, check out your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center over the next few days. You can also get the new issue online from our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS app. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF as well.
Subscribe for free goodies
Some of you have asked me about the goodies that we give out to subscribers. This is how it works: if you take out a twelve-month print subscription to The MagPi, you’ll get a Pi Zero W, Pi Zero case, and adapter cables absolutely free! This offer does not currently have an end date.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a large record collection must be in want of a good shelving system. Valentin Galea has solved this problem by developing the Vinyl Shelf Finder. In this build, a web-based app directs a pan-and-tilt laser to point out your record of choice among your collection.
People love to collect stuff. Stamps; soap bars; Troll dolls; belly button fluff (no, really); if you can think of a tangible item, someone out there in the world is collecting it. Of course, every collector needs to solve two issues — which system to use for cataloguing and sorting their collection, and how to best retrieve items from it. This is where Valentin’s Vinyl Shelf Finder comes in. He says:
My vinyl collection is pretty modest — about 500 records in one vertical shelf and a couple of boxes. This is enough to get cumbersome when I’m searching for specific stuff, so I came up with the idea of a automated laser pointer finder.
The Vinyl Shelf Finder
Valentin keeps an online record of his vinyl collection using Discogs. He entered each LP’s shelf position into the record, and wrote a Node.js app to access the Discogs database. The mobile app has a GUI from which he chooses records based on their name and cover image. To build the hardware, he mounted a Pimoroni Pan-Tilt HAT on a Raspberry Pi, and affixed a laser pointer to the HAT. When he selects a record in the app, the pan-and-tilt laser moves to point out the LP’s location.
my latest hobby prj: #vinyl finder – with lazers and #raspberrypi #iot and #nodejs – https://t.co/IGGzQDgUFI https://t.co/7YBE3svGyE
Not only does the app help Valentin find records – he has also set it up to collect listening statistics using the Last.fm API. He plans to add more sophisticated statistics, and is looking into how to automate the entry of the shelf positions into his database.
If you’re interested in the Vinyl Shelf Finder, head over to Valentin’s GitHub to learn more, and to find out about updates he is making to this work in progress.
Vinyl + Pi
We’ve previously blogged about Mike Smith’s kaleidoscopic Recordshelf build — maybe he and Valentin could team up to create the ultimate, beautiful, practical vinyl-shelving system!
If you listen to lots of LP records and would like to learn about digitising them, check out this Pi-powered project from Mozilla HQ. If, on the other hand, you have a vinyl player you never use, why not make amazing art with it by hacking it into a CNC Wood Burner?
Are you a collector of things common or unusual? Could Raspberry Pi technology help make your collection better? Share your ideas with us in the comments!
The Raspberry Pi is not a chunky computer. Nonetheless, tech treasure merchants Pimoroni observed that at almost 20mm tall, it’s still a little on the large side for some applications. So, in their latest live-streamed YouTube Bilge Tank episode, they stripped a Pi 3 down to the barest of bones.
The Raspberry Pi is easy to connect to peripherals. Grab a standard USB mouse, keyboard, and HDMI display, plug them in, and you’re good to go.
But it’s possible to connect all these things without the bulky ports, if you’re happy to learn how, and you’re in possession of patience and a soldering iron. You might want to do this if, after prototyping your project using the Pi’s standard ports, you want to embed it as a permanent part of a slimmed-down final build. Safely removing the USB ports, the Ethernet port and GPIO pins lets you fit your Pi into really narrow spaces.
As Jon explains:
A lot of the time people want to integrate a Raspberry Pi into a project where there’s a restricted amount of space. but they still want the power of the Raspberry Pi 3’s processor
While the Raspberry Pi Zero and Zero W are cheaper and have a smaller footprint, you might want to take advantage of the greater power the Pi 3 offers.
How to slim down a Raspberry Pi 3
Removing components is a matter of snipping in the right places and desoldering with a hot air gun and a solder sucker, together with the judicious application of brute force. I should emphasise, as the Pimoroni team do, that this is something you should only do with care, after making sure you know what you’re doing.
The project was set to take half an hour, though Jon and Sandy ended up taking slightly more time than planned. You can watch the entire process below.
This week, we attempt to completely strip down a Raspberry Pi 3, removing the USB, Ethernet, HDMI, audio jack, CSI/DSI connectors, and GPIO header in an audacious attempt to create the world’s slimmest Raspberry Pi 3 (not officially ratified by the Guinness Book of World Records).
If Pimoroni’s video has given you ideas, you’ll also want to check out N-O-D-E‘s recent Raspberry Pi 3 Slim build. N-O-D-E takes a similar approach, and adds new micro USB connectors to one end of the board for convenience. If you decide to give something like this a go, please let us know how it went: tell us in the comments, or on Raspberry Pi’s social channels.
Hey folks! Rob here, with another roundup of the latest The MagPi magazine. MagPi 61 focuses on some incredible ‘must make’ Raspberry Pi Zero W projects, 3D printers and – oh, did someone mention the Google AIY Voice Projects Kit?
Make amazing Raspberry Pi Zero W projects with our latest issue
Inside MagPi 61
In issue 61, we’re focusing on the small but mighty wonder that is the Raspberry Pi Zero W, and on some of the very best projects we’ve found for you to build with it. From arcade machines to robots, dash cams, and more – it’s time to make the most of our $10 computer.
And if that’s not enough, we’ve also delved deeper into the maker relationship between Raspberry Pi and Ardunio, with some great creations such as piano stairs, a jukebox, and a smart home system. There’s also a selection of excellent tutorials on building 3D printers, controlling Hue lights, and making cool musical instruments.
Spin it, DJ!
Get the MagPi 61
The new issue is out right now, and you can pick up a copy at WH Smith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, check out your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center over the next few days. You can also get the new issue online from our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS app. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF as well.
Subscribe for free goodies
Some of you have asked me about the goodies that we give out to subscribers. This is how it works: if you take out a twelve-month print subscription to The MagPi, you’ll get a Pi Zero W, Pi Zero case, and adapter cables, absolutely free! This offer does not currently have an end date.
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