Fans of the Stargate SG-1 series, prepare to be inspired: a fellow aficionado has fashioned his own model of the show’s iconic portal. Nicola King takes an interstellar trip in the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine.
When Kristian Tysse began making some projects on his new 3D printer, he soon became aware that the possibility of printing his own ‘working’ Stargate SG-1 model was within his grasp at last. “I suddenly realised I might now have enough knowledge about 3D printing, Raspberry Pi, motors, and programming to actually make a Stargate model of my own,” he tells us. “I wanted people who are familiar with the show to immediately know what it was, and tried to make it work as best I could, while staying as true as possible to the feeling and essence of the TV show.”
Kristian also wanted to use a Raspberry Pi within this fully interactive, light-up, moving-parts project as “it is a powerful device with lots of flexibility. I do like that it functions as a full computer with an operating system with all the possibility that brings.”
You only have to look at the model to see just how much 3D printing was needed to get all of the parts ready to piece together, and Kristian created it in segments. But one of the key parts of his model is the DHD or Dial Home Device which viewers of the series will be familiar with. “The DHD functions as a USB keyboard and, when the keys are used, it sends signals to the (Python) program on Raspberry Pi that engages the different motors and lights in a proper Stargate way,” he enthuses. “If a correct set of keys/symbols are pressed on the DHD, the wormhole is established – illustrated on my Stargate with an infinity mirror effect.”
However, the DHD was a challenge, and Kristian is still tweaking it to improve how it works. He admits that writing the software for the project was also tricky, “but when I think back, the most challenging part was actually making it ‘functional’, and fitting all the wires and motors on it without destroying the look and shape of the Stargate itself.”
Kristian admits to using a little artistic licence along the way, but he is keen to ensure the model replicates the original as far as possible. “I have taken a few liberties here and there. People on the social media channels are quick to point out differences between my Stargate and the one in the series. I have listened to most of those and done some changes. I will implement some more of those changes as the project continues,” he says. He also had to redesign the project several times, and had a number of challenges to overcome, especially in creating the seven lit, moving chevrons: “I tried many different approaches before I landed on the right one.”
The results of Kristian’s time-intensive labours are truly impressive, and show what you can achieve when you are willing to put in the hours and the attention to detail. Take a look at Kristian’s extremely detailed project pageto see more on this super-stellar make.
Issue #101 of The MagPi Magazine out NOW
Never want to miss an issue? Subscribe to The MagPi and we’ll deliver every issue straight to your door. Also, if you’re a new subscriber and get the 12-month subscription, you’ll get a completely free Raspberry Pi Zero bundle with a Raspberry Pi Zero W and accessories.
The official Raspberry Pi magazine turned 100 this month! To celebrate, the greatest Raspberry Pi moments, achievements, and events that The MagPi magazine has ever featured came back for a special 100th issue.
100 Raspberry Pi Moments is a cracking bumper feature (starting on page 32 of issue 100, if you’d like to read the whole thing) highlighting some influential projects and educational achievements, as well as how our tiny computers have influenced pop culture. And since ’tis the season, we thought we’d share the How Raspberry Pi made a difference section to bring some extra cheer to your festive season.
Projects for good
The Raspberry Pi Foundation was originally launched to get more UK students into computing. Not only did it succeed at that, but the hardware and the Foundation have also managed to help people in other ways and all over the world. Here are just a few examples!
Computers for good
The Raspberry Pi Foundation provides free learning resources for everyone; however, not everyone has access to a computer to learn at home. Thanks to funding from the Bloomfield Trust and in collaboration with UK Youth and local charities, the Foundation has been able to supply hundreds of Raspberry Pi Desktop Kits to young people most in need. The computers have allowed these children, who wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, to learn from home and stay connected to their schools during lockdown. The Foundation’s work to distribute Raspberry Pi computers to young people in need is ongoing.
Elsewhere, a need for more medical equipment around the world resulted in many proposals and projects being considered for cheap, easy-to produce machines. Some included Raspberry Pi Zero, with 40,000 of these sold for ventilator designs.
While there’s no global project or standard to say what an offline internet should contain, some educational projects have tried to condense down enough online content for specific people and load it all onto a Raspberry Pi. RACHEL-Pi is one such solution. The RACHEL-PI kit acts as a server, hosting a variety of different educational materials for all kinds of subjects, as well as an offline version of Wikipedia with 6000 articles. There’s even medical info for helping others, math lessons from Khan Acadamy, and much more.
17,000 ft is another great project, which brings computing to schools high up in the Himalayas through a similar method in an attempt to help children stay in their local communities.
Education in other countries
The free coding resources available on our projects site are great, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation works to make them accessible to people whose first language isn’t English: we have a dedicated translation team and, thanks to volunteers around the world, provide our free resources translated into up to 32 other languages. From French and Welsh to Korean and Arabic, there’s a ton of projects that learners from all over the world can access in their first language.
And through the Code Club and CoderDojo programmes, the Foundation supports volunteers around the world to run free coding clubs for young people.
That’s not all: several charitable groups have set up Raspberry Pi classrooms to bring computing education to poorer parts of the world. People in African countries and parts of rural India have benefited from these programmes, and work is being done to widen access to ever more people and places.
The HAM radio community loves Raspberry Pi for amateur radio projects; however, sometimes people need radio for more urgent purposes. In 2016, German group Media in Cooperation and Transition created the Pocket FM 96 , micro radio transmitters with 4–6km range. These radios allowed Syrians in the middle of a civil war to connect to free media on Syrnet for more reliable news.
Raspberry Pi powered these transmitters, chosen because of how easy it is to upgrade and add components to. Each transmitter is powered by solar power, and Syrnet is still transmitting through them as the war continues into its tenth year.
Most of you probably know that The MagPi didn’t start off official, though: eight and a half years ago, intrepid community members came together to create The MagPi as a fanzine, and it ran as one for 30 issues (plus one special) until early 2015, when it became part of Raspberry Pi and went official.
For 70 issues now, the rest of the team and I have worked hard to bring Raspberry Pi fans a monthly magazine packed full of amazing content from the global Raspberry Pi (and wider maker) community. In the last six-ish years, I’ve built robots with you, stuffed Raspberry Pi Zeros into games controllers, lit up my Christmas tree, written far too many spooky puns, gone stargazing, recorded videos for numerous Raspberry Pi launches, and tried to help everyone who wanted to get their hands on the (in)famous issue 40.
Celebrating a milestone
I could go on, but I already have: for issue 100 we’re celebrating 100 incredible moments in Raspberry Pi history, from its humble beginnings to becoming the third best-selling computer ever, and one of the few to be on the International Space Station.
One of those moments was the release of Raspberry Pi 400, an incredibly cool model of Raspberry Pi that elicited a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from me when mine arrived in the post. We give it the full MagPi breakdown with benchmarks and interviews, courtesy of our good friend Gareth Halfacree.
How to get issue 100
But wait, there’s more! We’ve managed to squeeze in our usual array of projects, tutorials, reviews, and community reports as well. Expect cool robots, funky guitars, handheld console building guides, and case reviews.
Never want to miss an issue? Subscribe to The MagPi and we’ll deliver every issue straight to your door. Also, if you’re a new subscriber and get the 12-month subscription, you’ll get a completely free Raspberry Pi Zero bundle with a Raspberry Pi Zero W and accessories.
I really think you’ll like this issue. Here’s to another 100.
A sci-fi writer wanted to add some realism to his fiction. The result: a Raspberry Pi-based Martian timepiece. Rosie Hattersley clocks in from the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine.
Ever since he first clapped eyes on Mars through the eyepiece of a telescope, Philip Ide has been obsessed with the Red Planet. He’s written several books based there and, many moons ago, set up a webpage showing the weather on Mars. This summer, Phil adapted his weather monitor and created a Raspberry Pi-powered Mars Clock.
After writing several clocks for his Mars Weather page, Phil wanted to make a physical clock: “something that could sit on my desk or such like, and tell the time on Mars.” It was to tell the time at any location on Mars, with presets for interesting locations “plus the sites of all the missions that made it to the surface – whether they pancaked or not.”
Another prerequisite was that the clock had to check for new mission file updates and IERS bulletins to see if a new leap second had been factored into Universal Coordinated Time.
“Martian seconds are longer,” explains Phil, “so everything was pointing at software rather than a mechanical device. Raspberry Pi was a shoo-in for the job”. However, he’d never used one.
“I’d written some software for calculating orbits and one of the target platforms was Raspberry Pi. I’d never actually seen it run on a Raspberry Pi but I knew it worked, so the door was already open.” He was able to check his data against a benchmark NASA provided. Knowing that the clocks on his Mars Weather page were accurate meant that Phil could focus on getting to grips with his new single-board computer.
He chose a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 and official-inch touchscreen with a SmartiPi Touch 2 case. “Angles are everything,” he reasons. He also added a fan to lower the CPU temperature and extend the hardware’s life. Along with a power lead, the whole setup cost £130 from The Pi Hut.
Since his Mars Clock generates a lot of data, he made it skinnable so the user can choose which pieces of information to view at any one time. It can display two types of map – Viking or MOLA – depending on the co-ordinates for the clock. NASA provides a web map-tile service with many different data sets for Mars, so it should be possible to make the background an interactive map, allowing you to zoom in/out and scroll around. Getting these to work proved rather a headache as he hit incompatibilities with the libraries.
Learn through experience
Phil wrote most of the software himself, with the exception of libraries for the keyboard and FTP which he pulled from GitHub. Here’s all the code.
His decades as a computer programmer meant other aspects were straightforward. The hardware is more than capable, he says of his first ever experience of Raspberry Pi, and the SmartiPi case makers had done a brilliant job. Everything fit together and in just a few minutes his Raspberry Pi was working.
Since completing his Mars Clock Phil has added a pi-hole and a NAS to his Raspberry Pi setup and says his confidence using them is such that he’s now contemplating challenging himself to build an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system). “I have decades of programming experience, but I was still learning new things as the project progressed,” he says. “The nerd factor of any given object increases exponentially if you make it yourself.”
How do you create a 3D model of a historic graveyard? With eight Raspberry Pi computers, as Rob Zwetsloot discovers in the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, out now.
“In the city centre of Dundee is a historical burial ground, The Howff,” says Daniel Muirhead. We should probably clarify that he’s a 3D artist. “This old graveyard is densely packed with around 1500 gravestones and other funerary monuments, which happens to make it an excellent technical challenge for photogrammetry photo capture.”
This architecture, stone paths, and vibrant flora is why Daniel ended up creating a 3D-scanning rig out of eight Raspberry Pi computers. And the results are quite stunning.
“The goal of this project was to capture photos for use in generating a 3D model of the ground,” he continues. “That model will be used as a base for attaching individual gravestone models and eventually building up a full composite model of this complex subject. The ground model will also be purposed for rendering an ultra-high-resolution map of the graveyard. The historical graveyard has a very active community group that are engaged in its study and digitisation, the Dundee Howff Conservation Group, so I will be sharing my digital outputs with them.”
To move the rig throughout the graveyard, Daniel used himself as the major moving part. With the eight Raspberry Pi cameras taking a photo every two seconds, he was able to capture over 180,000 photos over 13 hours of capture sessions.
“The rig was held above my head and the cameras were angled in such a way as to occlude me from view, so I was not captured in the photographs which instead were focused on the ground,” he explains. “Of the eight cameras, four were the regular model with 53.5 ° horizontal field of view (FoV), and the other four were a wide-angle model with 120 ° FoV. These were arranged on the rig pointing outwards in eight different directions, alternating regular and wide-angle, all angled at a similar pitch down towards the ground. During capture, the rig was rotated by +45 ° for every second position, so that the wide-angles were facing where the regulars had been facing on the previous capture, and vice versa.” Daniel worked according to a very specific grid pattern, staying in one spot for five seconds at a time, with the hopes that at the end he’d have every patch of ground photographed from 16 different positions and angles.
“With a lot of photo data to scan through for something fairly complex, we wondered how well the system had worked. Daniel tells us the only problems he had were with some bug fixing on his code: “The images were separated into batches of around 10,000 (1250 photos from each of the eight cameras), plugged into the photogrammetry software, and the software had no problem in reconstructing the ground as a 3D model.”
Accessible 3D surveying
He’s now working towards making it accessible and low-cost to others that might want it. “Low-cost in the triple sense of financial, labour, and time,” he clarifies. “I have logged around 8000 hours in a variety of photogrammetry softwares, in the process capturing over 300,000 photos with a regular camera for use in such files, so I have some experience in this area.”
“With the current state of technology, it should be possible with around £1000 in equipment to perform a terrestrial photo-survey of a town centre in under an hour, then with a combined total of maybe three hours’ manual processing and 20 hours’ automated computer processing, generate a high-quality 3D model, the total production time being under 24 hours. It should be entirely plausible for a local community group to use such a method to perform weekly (or at least monthly) 3D snapshots of their town centre.”
Adrien Castel’s idea of converting an old electronic toy into a retro games machine was no flight of fancy, as David Crookes discovers
The 1980s was a golden era for imaginative electronic toys. Children would pester their parents for a Tomytronic 3D or a Nintendo Game & Watch. And they would enviously eye anyone who had a Tomy Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard with its promise of replicating the thrill of driving (albeit without the traffic jams).
All of the buttons, other than the joystick, are original to the toy – as are the seven red LED lights
Two years ago, maker Matt Brailsford turned that amazing toy into a fully working Out Run arcade machine and Adrien Castel was smitten. “I loved the fact that he’d upcycled an old toy and created something that could be enjoyed as a grown-up,” he says. “But I wanted to push the simulation a bit further and I thought a flying sim could do the trick.”
“I didn’t want to modify the look of the toy”
Ideas began flying around Adrien’s mind. “I knew what I wanted to achieve so I made an overall plan in my head,” he recalls. First he found the perfect toy: a battery-powered Sky Fighter F-16 tabletop game made by Dival. He then decided to base his build around a Raspberry Pi 3A+. “It’s the perfect hardware for projects like this because of its flexibility,” Adrien says.
The toy needed some work. Its original bright red joystick was missing and Adrien knew he’d have to replace the original screen with a TFT LCD. To do this, he 3D-printed a frame to fit the TFT display and he created a smaller base for the replacement joystick. Adrien also changed the microswitches for greater sensitivity but he didn’t go overboard with the changes.
The games can make use of the full screen. Adrien would have liked a larger screen, but the original ratio oddly lay between 4:3 and 16:9, making a bigger display harder to find
“I knew I would have to adapt some parts for the joystick and for the screen, but I didn’t want to modify the look of the toy,” Adrien explains. “To be honest, modifying the toy would have involved some sanding and painting and I was worried that it would ruin the overall effect of the project if it was badly executed.”
A Raspberry Pi 3A+ sits at the heart of the Pi Commander, alongside a mini audio amplifier, and it’s wired up to components within the toy
As such, a challenge was set. “I had to keep most of the original parts such as throttle levers and LEDs and adapt them to the new build,” he says. “This meant getting them to work together with the system and it also meant using the original PCB, getting rid of the components and re-routing the electronics to plug on the GPIOs.”
There were some enhancements. Adrien soldered a PAM8403 3W class-D audio amplifier to Raspberry Pi and this allowed a basic speaker to replace the original for better sound. But there were some compromises too.
The original PCB was used and the electronics were re-routed. All the components need to work between 3.3 to 5V with the lowest possible amperage while fitting into a tight space
“At first I thought the screen could be bigger than the one I used, but the round shape of the cockpit didn’t give much space to fit a screen larger than four inches.” He also believes the project could be improved with a better joystick: “The one I’ve used is a simple two-button arcade stick with a jet fighter look.”
By using the retro gaming OS Recalbox (based on EmulationStation and RetroArch), however, he’s been able to perfect the overall feel. “Recalbox allowed me to create a custom front end that matches the look of a jet fighter,” he explains. It also means the Pi Commander plays shoot-’em-up games alongside open-source simulators like FlightGear (flightgear.org). “It’s a lot of fun.”
Read The MagPi for free!
Find more fantastic projects, tutorials, and reviews in The MagPi #93, out now! You can get The MagPi #95 online at our store, or in print from all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
Don’t forget our super subscription offers, which include a free gift of a Raspberry Pi Zero W when you subscribe for twelve months.
Keeping an eye on bee life cycles is a brilliant example of how Raspberry Pi sensors help us understand the world around us, says Rosie Hattersley
The setup featuring an Arduino, RF receiver, USB cable and Raspberry Pi
Getting to design and build things for a living sounds like a dream job, especially if it also involves Raspberry Pi and wildlife. Glyn Hudson has always enjoyed making things and set up a company manufacturing open-source energy monitoring tools shortly after graduating from university. With access to several hives at his keen apiarist parents’ garden in Snowdonia, Glyn set up BeeMonitor using some of the tools he used at work to track the beehives’ inhabitants.
Glyn checking the original BeeMonitor setup
“The aim of the project was to put together a system to monitor the health of a bee colony by monitoring the temperature and humidity inside and outside the hive over multiple years,” explains Glyn. “Bees need all the help and love they can get at the moment and without them pollinating our plants, weíd struggle to grow crops. They maintain a 34∞C core brood temperature (± 0.5∞C) even when the ambient temperature drops below freezing. Maintaining this temperature when a brood is present is a key indicator of colony health.”
Wi-Fi not spot
BeeMonitor has been tracking the hives’ population since 2012 and is one of the earliest examples of a Raspberry Pi project. Glyn built most of the parts for BeeMonitor himself. Open-source software developed for the OpenEnergyMonitor project provides a data-logging and graphing platform that can be viewed online.
BeeMonitor complete with solar panel to power it. The Snowdonia bees produce 12 to 15 kg of honey per year
The hives were too far from the house for WiFi to reach, so Glyn used a low-power RF sensor connected to an Arduino which was placed inside the hive to take readings. These were received by a Raspberry Pi connected to the internet.
Diagram showing what information BeeMonitor is trying to establish
At first, there was both a DS18B20 temperature sensor and a DHT22 humidity sensor inside the beehive, along with the Arduino (setup info can be found here). Data from these was saved to an SD card, the obvious drawback being that this didn’t display real-time data readings. In his initial setup, Glyn also had to extract and analyse the CSV data himself. “This was very time-consuming but did result in some interesting data,” he says.
Almost as soon as BeeMonitor was running successfully, Glyn realised he wanted to make the data live on the internet. This would enable him to view live beehive data from anywhere and also allow other people to engage in the data.
“This is when Raspberry Pi came into its own,” he says. He also decided to drop the DHT22 humidity sensor. “It used a lot of power and the bees didn’t like it – they kept covering the sensor in wax! Oddly, the bees don’t seem to mind the DS218B20 temperature sensor, presumably since it’s a round metal object compared to the plastic grille of the DHT22,” notes Glyn.
Unlike the humidity sensor, the bees don’t seem to mind the temperature probe
The system has been running for eight years with minimal intervention and is powered by an old car battery and a small solar PV panel. Running costs are negligible: “Raspberry Pi is perfect for getting projects like this up and running quickly and reliably using very little power,” says Glyn. He chose it because of the community behind the hardware. “That was one of Raspberry Pi’s greatest assets and what attracted me to the platform, as well as the competitive price point!” The whole setup cost him about £50.
Glyn tells us we could set up a basic monitor using Raspberry Pi, a DS28B20 temperature sensor, a battery pack, and a solar panel.
Eagle-eyed Raspberry Pi Press fans might have noticed some changes over the past few months to the look and feel of our website. Today we’re pleased to unveil a new look for the Raspberry Pi Press website and its online store.
Did you know?
Raspberry Pi Press is the publishing imprint of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd, which is part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity that does loads of cool stuff with computers and computer education.
The Raspberry Pi Press online store ships around the globe, with copies of our publications making their way to nearly every single continent on planet earth. Antarctica, we’re looking at you, kid.
It’s upgrade time!
With all this exciting work going on, it seemed only fair that Raspberry Pi Press should get itself a brand new look. We hope you’ll enjoy skimming the sparkling shelves of our online newsagents and bookshop.
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little tsundoku
You can pick up all the latest issues of your favourite magazines or treat yourself to a book or three, and you can also subscribe to all our publications with ease. We’ve even added a few new payment options to boot.
New delivery options
We’ve made a few changes to our shipping options, with additional choices for some regions to make sure that you can easily track your purchases and receive timely and reliable deliveries, even if you’re a long way from the Raspberry Pi Press printshop.
Customers in the UK, the EU, North America, Australia, and New Zealand won’t see any changes to delivery options. We continue to work to make sure we’re offering the best price and service we can for everyone, no matter where you are.
If you find yourself working or learning, or simply socialising from home, Raspberry Pi can help with everything from collaborative productivity to video conferencing. Read more in issue #92 of The MagPi, out now.
01 Install the camera
If you’re using a USB webcam, you can simply insert it into a USB port on Raspberry Pi. If you’re using a Raspberry Pi Camera Module, you’ll need to unpack it, then find the ‘CAMERA’ port on the top of Raspberry Pi – it’s just between the second micro-HDMI port and the 3.5mm AV port. Pinch the shorter sides of the port’s tab with your nails and pull it gently upwards. With Raspberry Pi positioned so the HDMI ports are at the bottom, insert one end of the camera’s ribbon cable into the port so the shiny metal contacts are facing the HDMI port. Hold the cable in place, and gently push the tab back home again.
If the Camera Module doesn’t have the ribbon cable connected, repeat the process for the connector on its underside, making sure the contacts are facing downwards towards the module. Finally, remove the blue plastic film from the camera lens.
02 Enable Camera Module access
Before you can use your Raspberry Pi Camera Module, you need to enable it in Raspbian. If you’re using a USB webcam, you can skip this step. Otherwise, click on the raspberry menu icon in Raspbian, choose Preferences, then click on Raspberry Pi Configuration.
When the tool loads, click on the Interfaces tab, then click on the ‘Enabled’ radio button next to Camera. Click OK, and let Raspberry Pi reboot to load your new settings. If you forget this step, Raspberry Pi won’t be able to communicate with the Camera Module.
03 Set up your microphone
If you’re using a USB webcam, it may come with a microphone built-in; otherwise, you’ll need to connect a USB headset, a USB microphone and separate speakers, or a USB sound card with analogue microphone and speakers to Raspberry Pi. Plug the webcam into one of Raspberry Pi’s USB 2.0 ports, furthest away from the Ethernet connector and marked with black plastic inners.
Right-click on the speaker icon at the top-right of the Raspbian desktop and choose Audio Inputs. Find your microphone or headset in the list, then click it to set it as the default input. If you’re using your TV or monitor’s speakers, you’re done; if you’re using a headset or separate speakers, right-click on the speaker icon and choose your device from the Audio Outputs menu as well.
04 Set access permissions
Click on the Internet icon next to the raspberry menu to load the Chromium web browser. Click in the address box and type hangouts.google.com. When the page loads, click ‘Sign In’ and enter your Google account details; if you don’t already have a Google account, you can sign up for one free of charge.
When you’ve signed in, click Video Call. You’ll be prompted to allow Google Hangouts to access both your microphone and your camera. Click Allow on the prompt that appears. If you Deny access, nobody in the video chat will be able to see or hear you!
05 Invite friends or join a chat
You can invite friends to your video chat by writing their email address in the Invite People box, or copying the link and sending it via another messaging service. They don’t need their own Raspberry Pi to participate – you can use Google Hangouts from a laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet. If someone has sent you a link to their video chat, open the message on Raspberry Pi and simply click the link to join automatically.
You can click the microphone or video icons at the bottom of the window to temporarily disable the microphone or camera; click the red handset icon to leave the call. You can click the three dots at the top-right to access more features, including switching the chat to full-screen view and sharing your screen – which will allow guests to see what you’re doing on Raspberry Pi, including any applications or documents you have open.
06 Adjust microphone volume
If your microphone is too quiet, you’ll need to adjust the volume. Click the Terminal icon at the upper-left of the screen, then type alsamixer followed by the ENTER key. This loads an audio mixing tool; when it opens, press F4 to switch to the Capture tab and use the up-arrow and down-arrow keys on the keyboard to increase or decrease the volume. Try small adjustments at first; setting the capture volume too high can cause the audio to ‘clip’, making you harder to hear. When finished, press CTRL+C to exit AlsaMixer, then click the X at the top-right of the Terminal to close it.
Adjust your audio volume settings with the AlsaMixer tool
Work online with your team
Just because you’re not shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate, thanks to these online tools.
Google Docs is a suite of online productivity tools linked to the Google Drive cloud storage platform, all accessible directly from your browser. Open the browser and go to drive.google.com, then sign in with your Google account – or sign up for a new account if you don’t already have one – for 15GB of free storage plus access to the word processor Google Docs, spreadsheet Google Sheets, presentation tool Google Slides, and more. Connect with colleagues and friends to share files or entire folders, and collaborate within documents with simultaneous multi-user editing, comments, and change suggestions.
Designed for business, Slack is a text-based instant messaging tool with support for file transfer, rich text, images, video, and more. Slack allows for easy collaboration in Teams, which are then split into multiple channels or rooms – some for casual conversation, others for more focused discussion. If your colleagues or friends already have a Slack team set up, ask them to send you an invite; if not, you can head to app.slack.com and set one up yourself for free.
Built more for casual use, Discord offers live chat functionality. While the dedicated Discord app includes voice chat support, this is not yet supported on Raspberry Pi – but you can still use text chat by opening the browser, going to discord.com, and choosing the ‘Open Discord in your browser’ option. Choose a username, read and agree to the terms of service, then enter an email address and password to set up your own free Discord server. Alternatively, if you know someone on Discord already, ask them to send you an invitation to access their server.
If you need to send a document, image, or any other type of file to someone who isn’t on Google Drive, you can use Firefox Send – even if you’re not using the Firefox browser. All files transferred via Firefox Send are encrypted, and can be protected with an optional password, and are automatically deleted after a set number of downloads or length of time. Simply open the browser and go to send.firefox.com; you can send files up to 1GB without an account, or sign up for a free Firefox account to increase the limit to 2.5GB.
For programmers, GitHub is a lifesaver. Based around the Git version control system, GitHub lets teams work on a project regardless of distance using repositories of source code and supporting files. Each programmer can have a local copy of the program files, work on them independently, then submit the changes for inclusion in the master copy – complete with the ability to handle conflicting changes. Better still, GitHub offers additional collaboration tools including issue tracking. Open the browser and go to github.com to sign up, or sign in if you have an existing account, and follow the getting started guide on the site.
Read The MagPi for free!
Find more fantastic projects, tutorials, and reviews in The MagPi #93, out now! You can get The MagPi #92 online at our store, or in print from all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
Don’t forget our super subscription offers, which include a free gift of a Raspberry Pi Zero W when you subscribe for twelve months.
You don’t need me to tell you about the unprecedented situation that the world is facing at the moment. We’re all in the same boat, so I won’t say anything about it other than I hope you stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
The other thing I will say is that every year, Raspberry Pi Press produces thousands of pages of exciting, entertaining, and often educational content for lovers of computing, technology, games, and photography.
In times of difficulty, it’s not uncommon for people to find solace in their hobbies. The problem you’ll find yourself with is that it’s almost impossible to buy a magazine at the moment, at least in the UK: most of the shops that sell them are closed (and even most of their online stores are too).
We’re a proactive bunch, so we’ve done something about that:
From today, you can subscribe to The MagPi, HackSpace magazine, Custom PC, or Digital SLR Photography at a cost of three issues for £10 in the UK – and we’re giving you a little extra too.
We like to think we produce some of the best-quality magazines on the market today (and you only have to ask our mums if you want a second opinion). In fact, we’d go as far as to say our magazines are exactly the right mix of words and pictures for making the most of all the extra home-time you and your loved ones are having.
Take your pick for three issues at £10 and get a free book worth £10!
If you take us up on this offer, we’ll send the magazines direct to your door in the UK, with free postage. And we’re also adding a gift to thank you for signing up: on top of your magazines, you’ll get to choose a book that’s worth £10 in itself.
In taking up this offer, you’ll get some terrific reading material, and we’ll deliver it all straight to you — no waiting around. You’ll also be actively supporting our print magazines and the charitable work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
I hope that among our magazines, you’ll find something that’s of interest to you or, even better yet, something that sparks a new interest. Enjoy your reading!
Designed to celebrate a new home, Instaclock uses two Raspberry Pi computers to great visual effect. Rosie Hattersley introduces maker Riccardo Cereser’s eyecatching build in issue #92 of The MagPi, out now.
There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind! Copenhagen-based illustrator and UX designer Riccardo Cereser was about to move into a new apartment with his girlfriend, and was determined his new home would have a unique timepiece. Instaclock is the result.
Having studied at the Copenhagen Institute of Interactive Design, Italian-born Riccardo was keen that his new apartment would include an object that reflected his skills. He began sketching out ideas in Photoshop, starting with the idea of images representing numbers. “A hand showing fingers; a bicycle wheel resembling the number 0; candles on a cake; or the countdown numbers that appear in the beginning of a recording…” he suggests.
Having decided the idea could be used for an interactive clock, he quickly worked out how such an image-based concept might work displaying the hour, minutes, and seconds on displays in three wooden boxes.
Next, he set off around Copenhagen. “I started taking photos of anything that could resemble a number, aiming to create sets of ten pictures each based on a specific theme,” he recalls. “I then thought how awesome it would be to be able to switch the theme and create new sets on the go, potentially by using Instagram.”
This, Riccardo explains, is how the project became known as Instaclock. He was able to visualise his plan using Photoshop and made a prototype for his idea. It was clear that there was no need to display seconds, for example. Minute-by-minute updates would be fine.
Next up was figuring out how to call up and refresh the images displayed. Riccardo had some experience of using Raspberry Pi, and had even made a RetroPie games console. He also had a friend on the interactive design course who might just be able to help
Having spent dozens of hours looking into how an API might be used to pull in specific images for his clock, Riccardo was grateful that Andreas immediately grasped how it could be done. Riccardo then set parameters in cron for each Raspberry Pi used, so the Instaclock loaded images at startup and moved on to the next image set every ten seconds.
Because Riccardo wanted Instaclock to be as user-friendly as possible, they also added a rule that shuts a screen down if the button on top of it is pressed for ten seconds or more. The script was one he got from The MagPi.
One of the most fun aspects of this project was the opportunity to photograph, draw, or source online images that represent numerals. It was also the most time-consuming, of course. Images reside in Dropbox folders, so can be accessed from anywhere. Deciding on a suitable set of screens to display them, and boxes or frames for them, could also have dragged on but for an impromptu visit to Ikea. Riccardo fortuitously found that the Waveshare screens he selected would fit neatly into the store’s Dragan file organiser boxes. He was then able to laser-cut protective overlays secured with tiny magnets.
Read The MagPi for free!
Find more fantastic projects, tutorials, and reviews in The MagPi #92, out now! You can get The MagPi #92 online at our store, or in print from all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
Don’t forget our super subscription offers, which include a free gift of a Raspberry Pi Zero W when you subscribe for twelve months.
Most Raspberry Pi projects we feature debut privately and with little fanfare – at least until they’re shared by us.
The El Carrillon project, however, could hardly have made a more public entrance. In September 2019 it was a focal point of Argentina’s 49th annual Fiesta Nacional de la Flor (National Flower Festival), where its newly overhauled bell tower proudly rang out a brand-new, Raspberry Pi-enabled tune.
Many years ago, festival organisers created custom hardware with a PIC (programmable interface) microcontroller to control 18 tuned bells. Each bell is associated with a musical note, from A3 to D5 with all the semitones. Until its long overdue update, the tower’s 18 bells had rung the tune to Ayer, also known as Yesterday by The Beatles. They now have a brand-new repertoire of MIDI-based tunes, including the theme from Star Wars.
For Gerardo Richarte, the originator of the project, there was a little extra pressure: his dad is on the board of the NGO that organises Fiesta Nacional de la Flor, and challenged his son to come up with a way to update the bells so different songs could be played.
Ringing the changes
With the challenge accepted, Mariano Martinez Peck explains, “We chose Raspberry Pi because it was inexpensive, yet powerful enough to run Linux, Python, and VA Smalltalk. We could find ready-made HATs that actually matched the pinout of the existing flat cables without much hacking, and only a minimal amount of other hardware was needed. In addition, there was plenty of documentation, materials, tutorials, and GPIO libraries available.”
The bells had a pre-existing driver module
The project aim was to be able to run a mobile-friendly website within Raspberry Pi Zero that allowed control, configuration, and playback of MIDI songs on the bell tower. “In addition, we wanted to allow live playing from a MIDI keyboard,” says Mariano. The project developed as a live test and iteration update, but the final build only came together when Mariano and Gerardo’s moment in the spotlight arrived and El Carrillon rang out the first new tunes.
Coding a classic
The decades-old chimes were controlled by assembly code. This was superseded by Python when the team made the switch to Raspberry Pi Zero. Mariano explains, “Raspberry Pi allowed us to use Python to directly interface with both the old and new hardware and get the initial project working.”
However, the Python code was itself replaced by object-oriented VA Smalltalk code – an environment both Mariano and Gerardo are adept at using. Mariano says, “Smalltalk’s live programming environment works really well for fast, iterative development and makes software updates quick and easy without the need for recompilation that lower-level languages [such as assembly or C/C++] would need.”
El Carrillon’s bells can now play any MIDI file on Raspberry Pi, and the notes of the song will be mapped to the tuned bells. However, as the testing process revealed, some songs are more recognisable than others when reproduced on chimes.
A final feature enabled Gerardo to bag some brownie points with his father-in-law. He recently added a web interface for controlling, configuring, and playing songs, meaning the bells can now be controlled remotely and the song selected via a smartphone app.
The El Carrillon bell tower forms a striking backdrop to the flower festival and other cultural events
Read The MagPi for free!
Find more amazing projects and tutorials in The MagPi #92, out now! You can get The MagPi #92 online at our store, or in print from all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
If you read The MagPi, it’s safe to say you like making in some way. The hobby has exploded in popularity over the last few years, thanks in no small part to a burgeoning online community and the introduction of low-cost computing with Raspberry Pi.
Last year we decided to celebrate making with a month-long online event called #MonthOfMaking. The idea was simply to get people to share what they’re making online, whatever it was. Whether you’re turning on your first LED with code or sending rockets to the moon, we want to create a space where you can share your proud achievements. So, let’s get making.
What is #MonthOfMaking?
#MonthOfMaking is simply an excuse to get people inspired to make something. And by make, we mean electronics, engineering, art, and craft projects. Get your creative powers buzzing and make something that you can show to the world.
There’s no skill-level threshold to participating either. If you’ve been wanting to start learning, this can be your jumping-on point. By sharing your builds with the community, you can learn and grow. Here are some simple rules to sum it all up:
Find a new project, continue with one you’re working on, or finally crack on with something you’ve been putting off.
Take pictures of your build progress and share it online with the hashtag #MonthOfMaking.
If you can help someone with a problem, give them a hand.
Getting ideas and inspiration
We’ve all been there. Sat down at a work bench or desk, staring at some components and thinking… what can I make with this? What would I like to make? Like any other creative pursuit, you’ll need some inspiration. If the projects in the magazine haven’t inspired you, then here are some website suggestions…
Instructables is one of the oldest sites out there for finding amazing project guides and ideas, and we’ve been fans of it for years. The best part is you can search by specific project types as well, including Raspberry Pi if you’d like to keep it on‑brand. They’ve recently added more arts and crafts stuff if you fancy trying your hand at knitting.
Hackaday and Hackster
For more serious hacks for more advanced makers, Hackaday and Hackster have some great projects that really take a deep dive into a project. If you’re curious as to the limits of electronics and programming, these may be the place to look. Equally, if you want to do something huge with a lot of computer power, they should be your first stop.
Raspberry Pi projects
There are so many amazing things on the Raspberry Pi projects site that can help you with your first steps in just about any field of making. It’s also home to loads of great and simple home-grown projects that are perfect for young makers and older makers alike.
Planning your build
Step 01 Read and understand
Basing your build on a tutorial you’ve seen? Seen a few things you’d like to combine into something else? Always make sure to read the instructions you’ve found properly so that you know if it’s within your skill level.
Step 02 Order supplies Write a list of what you need. Always double‑check you have the component you think you have. Sometimes you may need to buy from separate places, so just make sure the delivery times work for you.
Step 03 Follow along and be safe
Need adult supervision for a project? Absolutely get some. Even adults need to be wary, so always take safety precautions and wear protective clothing when needed. Make sure to follow any tutorials you’ve found as closely as you can.
Read The MagPi for free!
The rest of our #MonthOfMaking guide, along with loads more amazing projects and tutorials, can be found in The MagPi #91, out today, including our starter electronics guide! You can get The MagPi #91 online at our store, or in print from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge and all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
We have a new US subscription offer!
Don’t forget our amazing subscription offers, which include a free gift of a Raspberry Pi Zero W when you subscribe for twelve months. Until the end of March, you can get a twelve-month subscription in the US for only $60! Head to magpi.cc/usa to find out more.
Today we’re launching a time-limited special offer on subscriptions to HackSpace magazine and The MagPi magazine for readers in the USA, saving you a whopping 48% compared to standard overseas subscriptions. We want to help as many people as possible get their hands on our fantastic publications.
Starting today, you can subscribe to these magazines for the discounted price of $60 a year – just $5 per issue. Not only will you receive twelve issues direct to your door, but you’ll also receive a free gift and save up to 35% compared with newsstand prices!
You’ll need to be quick – this discounted offer is only running until 31 March 2020.
HackSpace magazine is packed with projects for fixers and tinkerers of all abilities. We’ll teach you new techniques and give you refreshers on familiar ones, from 3D printing, laser cutting, and woodworking to electronics and the Internet of Things. HackSpace magazine will inspire you to dream bigger and build better.
The MagPi is the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Written by and for the community, it’s packed with Raspberry Pi-themed projects, computing and electronics tutorials, how-to guides, and the latest news and reviews.
In issue 88 of The MagPi, we discovered that Raspberry Pi 4 can be kept cooler than usual if placed on its side. This gave us an idea, and thanks to many Top People, it resulted in the small, simple, and very practical Raspberry Pi 4 stand that you will find on the cover of all physical copies of The MagPi 90.
To complement this gift, we also got heat tester extraordinaire Gareth Halfacree to put the stand and several cooling cases through their paces to see just how well they can keep Raspberry Pi 4 nice and cool.
The stand also has an extra benefit: you can place three Raspberry Pis in it at once! A good idea if you plan to do a little cluster computing with a few Raspberry Pi 4s.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall…
While the Raspberry Pi 4 stand is a pretty big deal all by itself, issue 90 of The MagPi also includes a guide to building the ultimate smart mirror — including a bit of voice control!
While a magic mirror may not show you who the fairest of them all is (I can answer that question for you: it’s me), our guide will definitely show you the easiest way to set up your own magic mirror. It’ll be straightforward, thanks to the complete step-by-step tutorial we’ve put together for you.
Projects and more!
Feeling the urge to make something new with Raspberry Pi? Then take a look at our amazing selection of project showcases, and at a feature of some easy starter projects to help you get inspired. All this, along with our usual selection of reviews, tutorials, and community news, in The MagPi 90!
Get The MagPi 90 today
You can get The MagPi issue 90 online in our store with international delivery available, or from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge and all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
The stand is available with print copies of the magazine
BlocksCAD is a 3D model editor that you use in a web browser, and it runs on Raspberry Pi. You drag and drop code blocks to design 3D models that can be exported for 3D printing.
In this project, you will use BlocksCAD to design a 3D pendant. The pendant uses a geometric pattern based on ‘the flower of life’, a design which is often found in historical art.
The finished pendant with a cord threaded through the small hanging hoop
If you have access to a 3D printer, then you can print your pendant. The pendant is small and only uses a little bit of filament. There’s a hoop on top of the pendant so that you can put it on a necklace or cord. The pendant has a diameter of 40 mm, plus the hoop for hanging. It is 2 mm thick, so it will 3D-print quite quickly.
After this project, you’ll also be able to code your own design and create a custom pendant.
Step 01: create a hoop
This project can be completed in a web browser using BlocksCAD. Open Chromium and enter the BlocksCAD editor URL: blockscad3d.com/editor.
The design uses six interlocking hoops in the centre, and a larger hoop around the outside. As mentioned, the pendant is 40 mm wide, plus the hoop for hanging, which is 2 mm thick.
Click 3D Shapes and drag a cylinder block to the project. Create a cylinder with a radius of 12, and a height of 2 (the unit here is millimetres). Cylinders are automatically centred along the X and Y axes. Select not centered so that the pendant sits on the surface. (This means that the Z-axis value is greater than 0.)
Click on the Render button after each change to your code to see the results.
Step 02: add more hoops
Now, drag a difference block from Set Ops to encase the cylinder. Add another cylinder block in the bottom space, and this time give it a radius of 11 mm. This will remove a smaller cylinder from the centre. This creates a hoop. Click Render again to see it.
If you like, you can click on the coloured square to change the colour used in the viewer. This does not affect the colour of your pendant, as that depends on the colour of the filament that you use.
The design uses six intersecting hoops, and each hoop is moved out from the centre and rotated a different number of degrees.
In the final design, there is no central hoop: the hoops are all moved out from the centre.
Drag a translate block (from Transforms) around your code, and set X and Y to 5. This moves the first hoop into position.
Step 03: centre the hoop
Now the hoop is a little off-centre. You need multiple copies of this hoop, rotated around the centre. First, create three equally spaced hoops.
Add a count Loops block to create three hoops. To space the hoops, add a rotate Transforms block between the count loop and the translate block.
In the count block, set the i variable from 1 to 3. You’ll need to insert an arithmetic block from Math and a variable (i) block from Variables into the Z field of the rotate block.
The rotation moves each hoop by 120 × i degrees, so that the three hoops are distributed equally around the 360 degrees of a circle (360 / 3 = 120). Look at the code and make sure you understand how it works. The finished design has six hoops rather than three. In the count block, set i from 1 to 6, and set the Z rotation to 60, so it creates six equally spaced hoops.
Step 04: add a border
Next, add a border around the edge of the design. Create a centred hoop that touches the edges of the design. You can either do the maths to work out what the radius of the circle needs to be, or you can just create a circle and change the radius until it works. Either approach is fine!
Encase your code with a union block from Set Ops, to join the border to the other hoops. Add a difference block to the plus section of union, and two cylinder blocks to make the hoop.
The six hoops each have a radius of 12 mm, so the border cylinder that you are making needs to be bigger than that. You could try setting the radius to 24 mm.
To make a hoop, the radius of the second cylinder in the difference block needs to be 1 mm smaller than the radius of the first cylinder.
Adjust the size of the cylinders until the border hoop just touches the outer edges of the six inner hoops.
The radius should be around 20 mm. (As mentioned in the introduction, the finished pendant will be 40 mm in diameter.)
Step 05: work it out
You could also use maths to work out the diameter. The diameter of each inner hoop is 24 mm. If the hoops met at the centre of the pendant, the border hoop would need to have a radius of 24 mm. But the inner hoops overlap, as they are translated 5 mm along the X and Y axes.
This removes a section from the radius. This section is on the arc, 5 mm from the origin, so we need to remove 5 mm from 24 mm. Thus the inner radius of the border hoop should be 19 mm.
Maths is really useful when you need to be accurate. But it’s fine to just change things until you get the result you need.
Step 06: add a hanging hoop
Now, add a small hanging hoop through which you can thread a cord to make a necklace.
Click the [+] on the union block to add another section to add the new hoop.
At the moment, the position of the hanging hoop isn’t very visually pleasing.
Add a rotate block to move the inner hoops so that the hanging hoop is centred over one of the gaps between them.
Step 07: experiment with shapes
Experiment and change some values in your pendant. For example, change the number of hoops, or the rotation.
You could also try to use cuboids (cubes) instead of cylinders to create a pattern.
Step 08: export to STL
BlocksCAD 3D can export an STL file for 3D printing. Render your model and then click on Generate STL. Remember where you save the STL file. Now 3D-print your pendant using a filament of the colour of your choice. Very carefully remove the 3D print from the print bed. The pendant is thin, so it’s quite delicate.
You might need to remove small strands of filament (especially from the hanging hoop) to tidy up the print.
Thread the pendant on to a chain or cord. If you want to use a thicker cord or necklace, then you can adjust the design to have a larger hanging hoop.
Check your code
You can download the full code and check it against your own. You can also check out our projects page, where you’ll find more images and step-by-step instructions for using BlocksCAD.
We’re always going to beat the drum for projects that seek to improve the lives of people with disabilities. That’s why we fell in love with the Airdrum, which was created to allow anyone, in particular people with disabilities, to play a musical instrument.
This video demonstrates the speaker functionality with playing a song from a midi file on the Raspberry pi using Fluidsynth. (The hand movement is just for fun) The Airdrum is powered by a power supply for demonstration purposes.
Raspberry Pi Airdrum
Designed by two Dutch electrical engineering students, Alessandro Verdiesen and Luuk van Kuijk, the project came to life during their first year at university. “We aimed to develop a musical instrument that could be used to generate music by moving,” explains Alessandro, who has recently been working on a fully modular version 2.0.
After speaking with therapists and health care institutions, the pair decided to make a drum that could be played by moving objects above a set of panels and they put Raspberry Pi at its heart. “The basic functionality of the Airdrum is to detect the distance of an object above each connected panel and play a sound,” says Alessandro. “These panels contain IR distance sensors and coloured LEDs for visual feedback.”
Sorting the bass-ics
From the outset, Alessandro and Luuk needed their project to be accessible, affordable, adjustable and, in the latest iteration, modular, with each drummable section containing an Arduino Mini, an IR sensor, and LEDs. They also wanted the instrument to have a broader appeal and be suitable for everybody, including professional musicians, so it had to sound as good as it played.
“We needed it to be as versatile as it can be and allow people to choose custom sounds, colours, and lights while being a standalone instrument and a multi-purpose input/output device,” Alessandro reveals. To make it easy to place the modules together, they used magnetic connections between the panels. This allowed them to be placed together in various configurations, with a minimum of two per Airdrum.
These speaker modules can bookend the sensor panels, although the sound can be outputted via the Raspberry Pi to a different sound system too
With a structured plan that divided milestones into electrical, mechanical, and software components, the pair used 3D printing for the enclosure, which allowed rapid prototyping for quick interactions. They used speaker panels to bookend the modules for auditive feedback.
Each of the panels includes a buck converter so that the current through the connectors can be drawn to a minimum. The master module panel contains Raspberry Pi 3 running custom programs written in C and Python, as well as the free, open-source software synthesiser FluidSynth. It connects to the other panels through I2C, constantly polling the panels for their measurements and for the configuration of their colour.
“If an object has been detected, the Raspberry Pi generates a sound and outputs it on the AUX audio jack,” says Alessandro. “This output is then used by the mono D-class amplifiers in the speaker panels to make the tones audible.”
Custom-made Airdrum detecting modules fit snugly into their 3D-printed cases and can be arranged in a full circle if you have enough of them
The pair chose Raspberry Pi because of its versatility and technical prowess. “The Airdrum needed something powerful enough to run software to generate audio through MIDI using the input from the panels and the Raspberry Pi is a great universal and low-cost development board with integrated DAC for audio,” explains Alessandro. “It also has a I2C bus to act as a data transfer master unit and they’re compact enough to fit inside of the casing. The Raspberry Pi enables easy implementation of future upgrades, too.”
Indeed, the pair want to explore the MIDI possibilities and connect the Airdrum with a smartphone or tablet. An app is being planned, as is a built-in synthesiser. “The people we have shown the Airdrum to have been very enthusiastic,” Alessandro says. “That has been very motivating.”
Read The MagPi for free!
There’s loads more amazing projects and tutorials in The MagPi #89, out today, including our 50 tools and tips for makers, and a huge accessory guide! You can get The MagPi #89 online at our store, or in print from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge and all good newsagents and supermarkets. You can also access The MagPi magazine via our Android and iOS apps.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?
Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi
This 164-page book shows you how to set up a Raspberry Pi to play classic games; and how to build your own portable console, a full-size arcade cabinet, and a pinball machine with clear step-by-step guides.
Learn how to program your own games
You’ll learn how to program your own games using Python and Pygame Zero, allowing you to recreate some of your favourite retro games, as well as learning how lines of code can produce gorgeous graphics and hours of nostalgia-driven fun.
If that’s not enough, you’ll also find reviews of some of the best retro gamer kit, such as cases and controllers; tips on setting up emulators; and showcases of some gorgeous retro-fit Raspberry Pi systems.
Thanks to BBC Box, you might be able to enjoy personalised services without giving up all your data. Sean McManus reports:
One day, you could watch TV shows that are tailored to your interests, thanks to BBC Box. It pulls together personal data from different sources in a household device, and gives you control over which apps may access it.
“If we were to create a device like BBC Box and put it out there, it would allow us to create personalised services without holding personal data,” says Max Leonard.
TV shows could be edited on the device to match the user’s interests, without those interests being disclosed to the BBC. One user might see more tech news and less sport news, for example.
BBC Box was partly inspired by a change in the law that gives us all the right to reuse data that companies hold on us. “You can pull out data dumps, but it’s difficult to do anything with them unless you’re a data scientist,” explains Max. “We’re trying to create technologies to enable people to do interesting things with their data, and allow organisations to create services based on that data on your behalf.”
Building the box
BBC Box is based on Raspberry Pi 3B+, the most powerful model available when this project began. “Raspberry Pi is an amazing prototyping platform,” says Max. “Relatively powerful, inexpensive, with GPIO, and able to run a proper OS. Most importantly, it can fit inside a small box!”
That prototype box is a thing of beauty, a hexagonal tube made of cedar wood. “We created a set of principles for experience and interaction with BBC Box and themes of strength, protection, and ownership came out very strongly,” says Jasmine Cox. “We looked at shapes in nature and architecture that were evocative of these themes (beehives, castles, triangles) and played with how they could be a housing for Raspberry Pi.”
The core software for collating and managing access to data is called Databox. Alpine Linux was chosen because it’s “lightweight, speedy but most importantly secure”, in Max’s words. To get around problems making GPIO access work on Alpine Linux, an Arduino Nano is used to control the LEDs. Storage is a 64GB microSD card, and apps run inside Docker containers, which helps to isolate them from each other.
Combining data securely
The BBC has piloted two apps based on BBC Box. One collects your preferred type of TV programme from BBC iPlayer and your preferred music genre from Spotify. That unique combination of data can be used to recommend events you might like from Skiddle’s database.
Another application helps two users to plan a holiday together. It takes their individual preferences and shows them the destinations they both want to visit, with information about them brought in from government and commercial sources. The app protects user privacy, because neither user has to reveal places they’d rather not visit to the other user, or the reason why.
The team is now testing these concepts with users and exploring future technology options for BBC Box.
The MagPi magazine
This article was lovingly yoinked from the latest issue of The MagPi magazine. You can read issue 87 today, for free, right now, by visiting The MagPi website.
You can also purchase issue 87 from the Raspberry Pi Press website with free worldwide delivery, from the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, and from newsagents and supermarkets across the UK.
The Raspberry Pi Press is really excited to announce the release of Get Started with Raspberry Pi. This isn’t just a book about a computer: it’s a book with a computer.
Ideal for beginners, this official guide and starter kit contains everything you need to get started with Raspberry Pi.
Inside you’ll find a Raspberry Pi 3A+, the official case, and a 16GB microSD memory card – preloaded with NOOBS, containing the Raspbian operating system. The accompanying 116-page book is packed with beginner’s guides to help you master your new Raspberry Pi!
Set up your new Raspberry Pi 3A+ for the first time.
Discover amazing software built for creative learning.
Learn how to program in Scratch and Python.
Control electronics: buttons, lights, and sensors.
Curious minds should make note that Raspberry Pi Press releases free downloadable PDFs of all publications on launch day. Why? Because, in line with our mission statement, we want to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world, and that includes the wealth of information we publish as part of Raspberry Pi Press.
If you’d like to own a physical copy of any of our publications, we offer free international shipping across our product range. You’ll also find many of our magazines in top UK supermarkets and newsagents, and in Barnes and Noble in the US.
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