Tag Archives: The MagPi

The MagPi 91: #MonthOfMaking is back for 2020!

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-magpi-91-monthofmaking-is-back-for-2020/

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:

  1. Find a new project, continue with one you’re working on, or finally crack on with something you’ve been putting off.
  2. Take pictures of your build progress and share it online with the hashtag #MonthOfMaking.
  3. If you can help someone with a problem, give them a hand.
  4. Have fun!

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

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.

And, as with all our Raspberry Pi Press publications, you can download the free PDF from our website.

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USA magazine subscriptions offer: 48% off standard prices

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/usa-magazine-subscriptions-offer-48-off-standard-prices/

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

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.

Your $60 subscription will get you twelve issues per year and a free Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, worth $25. Click here to subscribe today!

The MagPi magazine

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.

Your $60 subscription will get you twelve issues per year and a free Raspberry Pi Zero W with accessories. Click here to subscribe today!

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Free Raspberry Pi 4 cooling stand with The MagPi 90!

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/free-raspberry-pi-4-cooling-stand-with-the-magpi-90/

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.

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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

Don’t forget our amazing subscription offers either, which include a gift of a Raspberry Pi Zero W when you subscribe for twelve months.

And, as with all our Raspberry Pi publications, you can download this issue as a free PDF from our website.

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Design 3D prints with a Raspberry Pi and BlocksCAD

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/design-3d-prints-with-a-raspberry-pi-and-blockscad/

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.

This project was created by Dr Tracy Gardner and the above article was featured in this month’s issue of The MagPi magazine. Get your copy of The MagPi magazine issue 89 today from your local newsagent, the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, or online from Raspberry Pi Press.

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Hands-free Raspberry Pi Airdrum | The MagPi 89

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hands-free-raspberry-pi-airdrum-the-magpi-89/

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.

The Airdrum – speaker and MIDI song demo

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.

Panel beating

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.

Don’t forget our amazing subscription offers either, which include a free gift of a Raspberry Pi Zero W when you subscribe for twelve months.

And, as with all our Raspberry Pi publications, you can download the free PDF from our website.

The post Hands-free Raspberry Pi Airdrum | The MagPi 89 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

New book: Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-retro-gaming-with-raspberry-pi/

Raspberry Pi Press is delighted to announce the release of the latest addition to your bookshelf: Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi!

Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi

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.



Get it now

If you’d like to buy Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi as a physical book (and we do recommend you do – it’ll make a fantastic stocking-filler), you can purchase it now from the Raspberry Pi Press website with free international shipping, or from the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

As with all Raspberry Pi Press publications, Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi is available now as a free PDF, ready for you to download from The MagPi website.

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Securely tailor your TV viewing with BBC Box and Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/securely-tailor-your-tv-viewing-with-bbc-box-and-raspberry-pi/

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.

 

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New book (with added computer): Get Started with Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-book-get-started-with-raspberry-pi/

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.

A brilliant Christmas gift idea, it’s available now in the Raspberry Pi Press store. As always, we have also released the guide as a free PDF – minus the 3A+, case and SD card, of course!

Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide 3rd Edition

And that’s not all! We have also created a new edition of our popular Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide book.

As well as covering Raspberry Pi 4, this 252-page book features programming and physical computing projects updated for Scratch 3, which is available in the latest version of Raspbian.

It’s available now in the Raspberry Pi Press Store, with free worldwide delivery. And, as always, you can also download a free PDF version.

Free downloads: why?

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.

We publish new issues of Wireframe magazine every two weeks, new issues of HackSpace magazine and The MagPi magazine every month, and project books such as The Book of Making, Wearable Tech Projects, and An Introduction to C & GUI Programming throughout the year.

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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Build the ultimate 4K home theatre PC using a Raspberry Pi 4 and Kodi

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-the-ultimate-4k-home-theatre-pc-using-a-raspberry-pi-4-and-kodi/

We love Raspberry Pi for how it’s helping a new generation of children learn to code, how it’s resulted in an explosion of new makers of all ages, and how it’s really easy to turn any TV into a smart TV.

While we always have a few Raspberry Pi computers at hand for making robots and cooking gadgets, or just simply coding a Scratch game, there’s always at least one in the house powering a TV. With the release of the super-powered Raspberry Pi 4, it’s time to fully upgrade our media centre to become a 4K-playing powerhouse.

We asked Wes Archer to take us through setting one up. Grab a Raspberry Pi 4 and a micro-HDMI cable, and let’s get started.

Get the right hardware

Only Raspberry Pi 4 can output at 4K, so it’s important to remember this when deciding on which Raspberry Pi to choose.

Raspberry Pi has been a perfect choice for a home media centre ever since it was released in 2012, due to it being inexpensive and supported by an active community. Now that 4K content is fast becoming the new standard for digital media, the demand for devices that support 4K streaming is growing, and fortunately, Raspberry Pi 4 can handle this with ease! There are three versions of Raspberry Pi 4, differentiated by the amount of RAM they have: 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB. So, which one should you go for? In our tests, all versions worked just fine, so go with the one you can afford.

Raspberry Pi Cases

Flirc Raspberry Pi 4 case

Made of aluminium and designed to be its own heatsink, the Flirc case for Raspberry Pi 4 is a perfect choice and looks great as part of any home media entertainment setup. This will look at home in any home entertainment system.

Official Raspberry Pi 4 case (in black and grey)

The official Raspberry Pi 4 case is always a good choice, especially the black and grey edition as it blends in well within any home entertainment setup. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hack the case to hold a small fan for extra cooling.

Aluminium Heatsink Case for Raspberry Pi 4

Another case made of aluminium, this is effectively a giant heatsink that helps keep your Raspberry Pi 4 cool when in use. It has a choice of three colours – black, gold, and gunmetal grey – so is a great option if you want something a little different.

Optional Raspberry Pi add-ons

Maxtor 2TB external USB 3.0 HDD

4K content can be quite large and your storage will run out quickly if you have a large collection. Having an external hard drive connected directly to your Raspberry Pi using the faster USB 3.0 connection will be extremely handy and avoids any streaming lag.

Raspberry Pi Fan SHIM

The extra power Raspberry Pi 4 brings means things can get quite hot, especially when decoding 4K media files, so having a fan can really help keep things cool. Pimoroni’s Fan SHIM is ideal due to its size and noise (no loud buzzing here). There is a Python script available, but it also “just works” with the power supplied by Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins.

Raspberry Pi TV HAT

If you are feeling adventurous, you can add a Raspberry Pi TV HAT to your 4K media centre to enable the DVR feature in Kodi to watch live TV. You may want to connect your main aerial for the best reception. This will add a perfect finishing touch to your 4K media centre.

Rii i8+ Mini Wireless Keyboard

If your TV does not support HDMI-CEC, allowing you to use your TV remote to control Kodi, then this nifty wireless keyboard is extremely helpful. Plug the USB dongle into your Raspberry Pi, turn on the keyboard, and that’s it. You now have a mini keyboard and mouse to navigate with.

Read more for free…

Looking to read the rest of this article? We don’t blame you. Build the ultimate 4K home theatre PC using a Raspberry Pi 4 and Kodi is this month’s feature article for the brand-new MagPi magazine issue 87, out today.

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 post Build the ultimate 4K home theatre PC using a Raspberry Pi 4 and Kodi appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Rob’s Raspberry Pi Dungeons and Dragons table

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/robs-raspberry-pi-dungeons-and-dragons-table/

Rob made an interactive Dungeons and Dragons table using a Raspberry Pi and an old TV. He thought it best to remind me, just in case I had forgotten. I hadn’t forgotten. Honest. Here’s a photo of it.

The table connects to Roll20 via Chromium, displaying the quest maps while the GM edits and reveals the layout using their laptop. Yes, they could just plug their laptop directly into the monitor, but using the Raspberry Pi as a bridge means there aren’t any awkward wires in the way, and the GM can sit anywhere they want around the table.

Rob wrote up an entire project how-to for The MagPi magazine. Go forth and read it!

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Gamified boxing with Pi Fighter

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gamified-boxing-with-pi-fighter/

Gamifying boxing with a special punchbag that allows you to fight Luke Skywalker? Rob Zwetsloot starts a training montage to check it out.

Not Rob

Street Fighter

Did you know that the original version of Street Fighter had a variant where you could punch the buttons to get Ryu to attack? The harder you smacked the kick button, the more damage it would do. These apparently wore out very quickly, which is why watching Street Fighter tournaments these days is akin to watching someone playing the piano. Albeit with six buttons and a joystick.

What if you could bring this back? And combine it with other arcade classics and staples? Meet Richard Kirby’s Pi Fighter.

A new challenger!

“Pi Fighter is essentially a real-world old-school fighting video game,” Richard tells us. “The player chooses an opponent and challenges them to a sparring match. Each player has a certain number of health points that decrement each time the other player lands an attack. Instead of clicking a joystick or mouse button, the player hits a heavy bag. The strength of the hit is measured by an accelerometer. [A Raspberry] Pi translates the acceleration of the heavy bag (measured in G) into the number of health points to decrement from the opponent. [Raspberry] Pi runs your opponent, which attacks you — you don’t actually get hit, but your health points decrement each time they attack.”

Use a heavy bag to get a good workout and a good idea of your punch strength, Rocky IV style

It’s a remarkably simple idea, and it started off as just an app that used a smartphone’s accelerometer. Translating that to a Raspberry Pi is just a case of adding an accelerometer of its own.

3… 2… 1… Fight!

“I realised it could be used to measure the overall strength of a punch, but it was hard to know how that would translate into an actual punch, hence the idea to use a heavy bag,” Richard explains. “This appealed to me as I studied karate and always enjoyed hitting a heavy bag. It is always difficult to gauge your own strength, so I thought it would be useful to actually measure the force. The project ended up consuming a good amount of time, as you would expect when you are learning.”



Finish them?

While Pi Fighter is already used at events, Richard says “[i]t needs a bit of tuning and coding to get everything right […]. It could be a never-ending project for me. You can always fix things and make the software more robust, the user interface more usable, etc. It isn’t mass-rollout ready, but I have never had it fail at a key moment such as presenting at a Raspberry Jam or Raspberry Pint. It (mostly) gets better every time I put some effort into it.”

If you find yourself at Raspberry Pint in London, make sure to do a bit of a warm-up first — you might find yourself head-to-head in a boxing match with a Jedi. Here’s hoping they don’t know Teräs Käsi.

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Raspberry Pi 4: a full desktop replacement?

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-4-a-full-desktop-replacement/

The MagPi magazine puts Raspberry Pi 4 to the ultimate test as writer and all-round tech tinkerer PJ Evans uses it for a week as his desktop computer.

When Raspberry Pi 4 was launched earlier in 2019, the significant improvements in processor speed, data throughput, and graphics handling lead to an interesting change of direction for this once humble small computer. Although it’s impressive that you can run a full Linux operating system on a $35 device, a lot of people were just using their Raspberry Pi to get Scratch or Python IDLE up and running. Many people were skipping the graphical side altogether and using smaller models, such as Raspberry Pi Zero, for projects previously covered by Arduino and other microcontrollers.

Raspberry Pi desktop experience

Raspberry Pi 4 was different. Tellingly, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released a new all-in-one kit and named it the Desktop Kit. For the first time truly in Raspberry Pi history, the new model was considered powerful enough to be used as a daily computer without any significant compromise. Challenge accepted. We asked PJ Evans to spend a week using a Raspberry Pi 4 as his only machine. Here’s what happened.

Day 1 | Monday

Decisions, decisions

Our new favourite single-board computer comes in a selection of RAM sizes: 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB. Given a price difference of £20 between the 1GB and 4GB versions, it made sense to go right for the top specification. That’s the version included in the official Desktop Kit that I went out and bought for £105 (inc. VAT) at the official Raspberry Pi store; it normally retails for $120 plus local taxes. My last laptop was £1900. I’m not suggesting that the two can be reasonably compared in terms of performance, but £1795 minus the cost of a monitor is a difference worth remarking upon.

Back at the office, I inspected the contents. For your money you get: a 4GB version of Raspberry Pi 4, thoughtfully already installed in the new official case; the official keyboard and mouse; the new USB-C power supply; a 16GB microSD card preloaded with the Raspbian Buster operating system; and a copy of The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide 252-page book. It’s very well packaged and presented, with little plastic waste. The book is the icing on the cake if you are looking at this set for a young person’s first computer, short-circuiting the ‘now what do I do?’ stage. What pleased me, in particular, was the inclusion of two micro-HDMI cables in the kit, allowing me to set up a dual-screen system without delay.

First tests

I set up my new workstation next to my existing laptop, with two 1080p monitors that only had DVI connectors, so I had to get a couple of £2 adapters and an additional cable to get sound out of the audio jack of my Raspberry Pi. Time for an initial test-drive. Booting up into Raspbian Buster was quick, about ten seconds, and connection to WiFi easy. There’s no doubting the feel of the speed improvements. Yes, I’ve read all the benchmark tests, but I wanted to know how that translates to user experience. This new kit does not disappoint.

Raspbian has matured impressively as an OS. For my daily desktop scenario, the jewel in the crown is Chromium: having such a capable web browser is what makes this whole experiment feasible. Others have upped their game, too: Firefox has come a long way, and many other browsers are now available, such as Vivaldi. A check of some of my most visited sites showed Chromium to be just as capable as Chrome on my regular machine. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t as snappy and I hit a few bumps, but we’ll get to that.

A day of impressions

I’m no expert when it comes to GPUs, but I was impressed with the dual-monitor support. The setup worked first time and didn’t seem to have any detrimental effect on the machine’s performance. I was expecting slow window drawing or things getting ‘stuck’, but this wasn’t the case.

By the end of the first day, I was getting used to the keyboard and mouse too. They are a nice mixture of being both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The keyboard comes with a three-port hub, so you can connect the mouse if you wish. It does not have the build quality and precision of my daily wireless keyboard and trackpad, but for a fraction of the price, I was surprised how much I got for my money. By the end of the week, I’d grown quite fond of it.

Day 2 | Tuesday

Back to basics…


If you’d like to see what PJ got up to for the rest of his week spent using Raspberry Pi as a desktop replacement, head over to The MagPi magazine’s website, where you can either buy the magazine with international home delivery or download the PDF for FREE!

The MagPi magazine is also available from most high street newsagents in the UK, or from the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge.

What we’re trying to say, dear reader, is that there is absolutely no reason for you not to read the rest of this article. And when you have, let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.

And while we have your attention, here’s the latest video from The MagPi — a teaser of their review for the rather nifty RockyBorg, available now from PiBorg.

RockyBorg: the £99 Raspberry Pi robot!

Power. Performance. Pint-sized. The new RockyBorg has it all. Read our review in The MagPi 85: https://magpi.cc/get85 Would you like a FREE #RaspberryPi? Subscribe today to twelve months print subscription! You can see all our subscription offers on The MagPi magazine website: https://magpi.cc/subscribe

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Raspberry Pi summer projects with The MagPi magazine

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-summer-projects-with-the-magpi-magazine/

Take your Raspberry Pi outside for some fun outdoor making with The MagPi magazine’s summer projects feature, available to read now. Right now. Right this second. Go read it…but read the rest of this blog post first. Thanks. #analytics

Digital making outdoors

Sure, there may be a few obstacles in your way whenever you try to complete a digital making project outside. Poor WiFi connections are always a problem, the sun will most certainly glare off your screen, and don’t even get me started on the lack of power supplies. But that’s where The MagPi magazine comes in, providing you with every tip and trick you need to move your making into the fresh air of the great outdoors.

Visit The MagPi magazine’s website, where you’ll be able to download the PDF for free, saving money, time, and trees! Woohoo!

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Build Demolition Man’s verbal morality ticketing machine

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-demolition-mans-verbal-morality-ticketing-machine/

In the 1993 action movie Demolition Man, Sylvester Stallone stars as a 1990s cop transported to the near-future. Technology plays a central role in the film, often bemusing the lead character. In a memorable scene, he is repeatedly punished by a ticketing machine for using bad language (a violation of the verbal morality statute).

In the future of Demolition Man, an always-listening government machine detects every banned word and issues a fine in the form of a receipt from a wall-mounted printer. This tutorial shows you how to build your own version using Raspberry Pi, the Google Voice API, and a thermal printer. Not only can it replicate detecting banned words, but it also doubles as a handy voice-to-paper stenographer (if you want a more serious use).

Prepare the hardware

We built a full ‘boxed’ project, but you can keep it simple if you wish. Your Raspberry Pi needs a method for listening, speaking, and printing. The easiest solution is to use USB for all three.

After prototyping using Raspberry Pi 4 and various USB devices, we settled on Raspberry Pi Zero W with a small USB mic and Pimoroni Speaker pHAT to save space. A Pico HAT Hacker allowed the connection of both the printer and Speaker pHAT, as they don’t share GPIO pins. This bit of space-saving means we could install the full assembly inside the 3D-printed case along with the printer.

Connect the printer

To issue our receipts we used a thermal printer, the kind found in supermarket tills. This particular model is surprisingly versatile, handling text and graphics.

It takes standard 2.25-inch (57mm) receipt paper, available in rolls of 15 metres. When printing, it does draw a lot of current, so we advise using a separate power supply. Do not attempt to power it from your Raspberry Pi. You may need to fit a barrel connector and source a 5V/1.5A power supply. The printer uses a UART/TTL serial connection, which neatly fits on to the GPIO. Although the printer’s connection is listed as being 5V, it is in fact 3.3V, so it can be directly connected to the ground, TX, and RX pins (physical pins 6, 8, 10) on the GPIO.

Install and configure Raspbian

Get yourself a copy of Raspbian Buster Lite and burn it to a microSD card using a tool like Etcher. You can use the full version of Buster if you wish. Perform the usual steps of getting a wireless connection and then updating to the latest version using sudo apt update && sudo apt -y upgrade. From a command prompt, run sudo raspi-config and go to ‘Interfacing options’, then ‘Enable serial’. When asked if you would like the login shell to be accessible, respond ‘No’. To the next question, ‘Would you like the serial port hardware to be enabled?’, reply ‘Yes’. Now reboot your Raspberry Pi.

Test the printer

Make sure the printer is up and running. Double-check you’ve connected the header to the GPIO correctly and power up the printer. The LED on the printer should flash every few seconds. Load in the paper and make sure it’s feeding correctly. We can talk to the printer directly, but the Python ‘thermalprinter‘ library makes coding for it so much easier. To install the library:

sudo apt install python3-pip
pip3 install thermalprinter

Create a file called printer.py and enter in the code in the relevant listing. Run the code using:

python3 printer.py

If you got a nice welcoming message, your printer is all set to go.

Test the microphone

Once your microphone is connected to Raspberry Pi, check the settings by running:

alsamixer

This utility configures your various sound devices. Press F4 to enter ‘capture’ mode (microphones), then press F6 and select your device from the list. Make sure the microphone is not muted (M key) and the levels are high, but not in the red zone.

Back at the command line, run this command:

arecord -l

This shows a list of available recording devices, one of which will be your microphone. Make a note of the card number and subdevice number.

To make a test recording, enter:

arecord --device=hw:1,0 --format S16_LE --rate 44100 -c1 test.wav

If your card and subdevice numbers were not ‘0,1’, you’ll need to change the device parameter in the above command.

Say a few words, then use CTRL+C to stop recording. Check the playback with:

aplay test.wav

Choose your STT provider

STT means speech to text and refers to the code that can take an audio recording and return recognised speech as plain text. Many solutions are available and can be used in this project. For the greatest accuracy, we’re going to use Google Voice API. Rather than doing the complex processing locally, a compressed version of the sound file is uploaded to Google Cloud and the text returned. However, this does mean Google gets a copy of everything ‘heard’ by the project. If this isn’t for you, take a look at Jasper, an open-source alternative that supports local processing.

Create your Google project

To use the Google Cloud API, you’ll need a Google account. Log in to the API Console at console.developers.google.com. We need to create a project here. Next to ‘Google APIs’, click the drop-down menu, then ‘New Project’. Give it a name. You’ll be prompted to enable APIs for the project. Click the link, then search for ‘speech’. Click on ‘Cloud Speech-to-Text API’, then ‘Enable’. At this point you may be prompted for billing information. Don’t worry, you can have up to 60 minutes of audio transcribed for free each month.

Get your credentials

Once the Speech API is enabled, the screen will refresh and you’ll be prompted to create credentials. This is the info our code needs to be granted access to the speech-to-text API. Click on ‘Create Credentials’ and on the next screen select ‘Cloud Speech-to-text API’. You’re asked if you’re planning to use the Compute Engine; select ‘no’. Now create a ‘service account’. Give it a different name from the one used earlier, change the role to ‘Project Owner’, leave the type of file as ‘JSON’, and click ‘Continue’. A file will be downloaded to your computer; transfer this to your Raspberry Pi.

Test Google recognition

When you’re happy with the recording levels, record a short piece of speech and save it as test.wav. We’ll send this to Google and check our access to the API is working. Install the Google Speech-To-Text Python library:

sudo apt install python3-pyaudio
pip3 install google-cloud-speech

Now set an environment variable that the libraries will use to locate your credentials JSON:

export GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS="/home/pi/[FILE_NAME].json"

(Don’t forget to replace [FILE_NAME] with the actual name of the JSON file).

Using a text editor, create a file called speech_to_text.py and enter the code from the relevant listing. Then run it:

python3 speech_to_text.py

If everything is working correctly, you’ll get a text transcript back within a few seconds.

Live transcription

Amazingly, Google’s speech-to-text service can also support streaming recognition, so rather than capture-then-process, the audio can be sent as a stream, and a HTTP stream of the recognised text comes back. When there is a pause in the speech, the results are finalised, so then we can send the results to the printer. If all the code you’ve entered so far is running correctly, all you need to do is download the stenographer.py script and start it using:

python3 stenographer.py

You are limited on how long you can record for, but this could be coupled with a ‘push to talk’ button so you can make notes using only your voice!

Banned word game

Back to Demolition Man. We need to make an alarm sound, so install a speaker (a passive one that connects to the 3.5mm jack is ideal; we used a Pimoroni Speaker pHAT). Download the banned.py code and edit it in your favourite text editor. At the top is a list of words. You can change this to anything you like (but don’t offend anyone!). In our list, the system is listening for a few mild naughty words. In the event anyone mentions one, a buzzer will sound and a fine will be printed.

Make up your list and start the game by running:

python3 banned.py

Now try one of your banned words.

Package it up

Whatever you decide to use this project for, why not finish it up with a 3D-printed case so you package up the printer and Raspberry Pi with the recording and playback devices and create a portable unit? Ideal for pranking friends or taking notes on the move!

See if you can invent any other games using voice recognition, or investigate the graphics capability of the printer. Add a Raspberry Pi Camera Module for retro black and white photos. Combine it with facial recognition to print out an ID badge just using someone’s face. Over to you.

The MagPi magazine issue 84

This project was created by PJ Evans for The MagPi magazine issue 84, available now online, from your local newsagents, or as a free download from The MagPi magazine website.

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IT’S SO HOT OVER HERE. WE’RE MELTING. SEND HELP.

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/its-so-hot-over-here-were-melting-send-help/

[Today’s temperatures are set to reach a whopping 38ºC/101ºF degrees in the UK, and none of us know what to do with ourselves. This doesn’t happen here and we have nothing prepared: we live in a society devoid of air conditioning, and we’re are unable to comprehend weather conditions more friendly than a slight chill and drizzle.

I can’t handle it. I have desk fan, but it’s in a cupboard somewhere, covered in dust and sadness. My local corner shop is already out of ice pops and ice cube trays. And anyway, I believe the tarmac on the road outside my house has melted and will suck down anything that dares step or drive on it.

I think I’m melting too. I feel sloshy, and, while I’m not 100% sure this is scientifically possible, I believe I may be partly barbequed. If someone presented me at a restaurant, I would probably be described as medium rare.

So yes, it’s hot. Very hot. It only makes sense that we share a Raspberry Pi project that fits with this theme: here’s an article from the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, out today, that shows you how Ishmael Vargas built his own smart fan for his home in hot and humid Chicago.

It’s a very clever idea, and one we wish we’d thought up ourselves before today’s sudden heatwave/opening of the Hell Mouth.

Enjoy — Alex]

When you need to keep your home cool during the summer months, a smart window fan could be just the thing.

Summer days, and nights, can be uncomfortably hot and humid in the Chicago area. As the sun goes down, the outside temperature drops, but homes may remain hot. This is where a window fan comes in useful, blowing cooler air into the house. Last summer, Ishmael Vargas was using a small window fan upstairs and, after turning it on in the afternoon, he found he had to get up in the middle of the night to turn it off. “That is when I thought there must be a better way to control this fan,” he recalls, “and I started putting this project together.”

Viewable via VNC on a smartphone, the program window features temperature data and control buttons.

As he was already using a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor for another project, he opted to use that, connected to a Raspberry Pi Zero running a Python program, to monitor the room temperature. This is then compared with the external temperature; if the latter is cooler, the window fan is turned on via a smart WiFi power plug (TP-Link HS100) — a much simpler method than wiring the fan up to a relay.

Weather report

To keep things simple, Ishmael opted to source the outdoor temperature from Weather.com (The Weather Channel) using the pywapi Python library, rather than wiring up an external sensor. “The temperature provided by Weather.com as compared to the temperature in my car could differ by one or two degrees. This is close enough for this project,” he explains. “In other parts of the world or rural areas where they do not have as many weather stations, an outdoor sensor might be required.”

A smart WiFi socket is used to turn the window fan on and off.

One issue he discovered was that in the early morning, the fan could end up blowing warm air into the house. “Depending on the size of the fan, the size of the room, and the house materials, the inside temperature might never be as cool as outside,” he says. “For example, if the temperature outside is 65 °F (18°C), the temperature inside might only drop to 67 °F (19.5°C) through the night. As the temperature outside starts to climb, you want to keep the fan off.” This resulted in him adding an ‘inhibit’ mode to turn the fan off at 6am.

Remote control

Rather than having the fan program run automatically on bootup, Ishmael opted to start and control it manually via an Android smartphone. The latter runs the VNC Viewer app, enabling remote access to Raspberry Pi’s desktop, on which there is a shortcut to start the fan application; this then displays a Pygame window with temperature information and control buttons.

The DHT22 sensor is connected to power, ground, and GPIO 4 pins on a Raspberry Pi Zero — a 10kΩ resistor is recommended.

“The fan application has two buttons to change the [desired temperature] set-point up or down,” reveals Ishmael. “Also, the button on the upper right is to close the application and return to the desktop.” His aim is to have more than one project running on his Raspberry Pi, and have a desktop shortcut for each application.

While the original project used a single fan, he has since modified it to add another. “I have been reading that two fans are required for best performance,” he says. “One to blow in and another to blow out.”

This certainly is a cool project, in more than one way. If you’d like to have a go at building a similar system, you can read Ishmael’s Hackster guide and check out his GitHub repo for the code.

You should read The MagPi magazine

The latest edition of The MagPi magazine is out today, packed full of Raspberry Pi goodness. If you’re new to The MagPi magazine, welcome! As with all publications produced by Raspberry Pi Press, today’s new issue is available as a free download on The MagPi website, as well as in physical form from your local newsagent, the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge, or the Raspberry Pi Press online store.

Subscribers to The MagPi magazine get discounts and free stuff, and anyone purchasing any of our publications with actual currency will help fund the production of the magazine as well as the charitable work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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NASA, Raspberry Pi and a mini rover

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/nasa-raspberry-pi-and-a-mini-rover/

NASA scientist Dr Jamie Molaro plans to conduct potentially ground-breaking research using a Raspberry Pi seismometer and a mini rover.

Jamie has been working on a payload-loaded version of NASA’s Open Source Rover

In the summer of 2018, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built a mini planetary rover with the aim of letting students, hobbyists, and enthusiasts create one for themselves. It uses commercial off-the-shelf parts and has a Raspberry Pi as its brain. But despite costing about $5333 in total, the Open Source Rover Project has proven rather popular, including among people who actually work for the USA’s space agency.

One of those is Dr Jamie Molaro, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. Her main focus is studying the surfaces of rocky and icy airless bodies such as comets, asteroids, and the moons orbiting Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn. So when she decided to create her mini-rover – which she dubbed PARSLEE, or Planetary Analog Remote Sensor and ‘Lil Electronic Explorer – she also sought to shake things up a little.

Brought to life

Constructing the robot itself was, she says, rather straightforward: the instructions were detailed and she was able to draw upon the help of others in a forum. Jamie also built the robot with her husband, a software engineer at Adobe. “My interest in the Open Source Rover Project was driven by my scientific background, but not my ability to build it”, she tells us, of what is essentially a miniature version of the Curiosity rover trundling over the surface of Mars.

After building the rover wheel assembly, Jamie worked on the head assembly and then the main body itself

Jamie’s interest in science led to her considering the rover’s potential payload before the couple had even finished building it. She added a GoPro camera and a Kestrel 833, which measures temperature, pressure, elevation, wind speed, and humidity. In addition, she opted to use a Raspberry Shake seismometer – a device costing a few hundred dollars which comprises a device sensor, circuit board, and digitiser – with a Raspberry Pi board and a preprogrammed microSD card.

With the electronics assembly complete, Jamie and her husband could get on with integrating PARSLEE’s parts

The sensor records activity, converts the analogue signals to digital, and allows the recorded data to be read on Raspberry Shake servers. Jamie hopes to use PARSLEE to study the kinds of processes active at the surface of other planets. A seismometer helps us understand our physical environment in a very different way than images from a camera, she says.

Seismic solutions

To that end, with funding, Jamie would like to heat and cool boulders and soils in the lab and in the field and analyse their seismic signature. Thermally driven shallow moonquakes were recorded by instruments used by the Apollo astronauts, she says. “We believe these quakes may reflect signals from a thermal fracturing process that breaks down lunar boulders, or from the boulders and surrounding soil shifting and settling as it changes temperature throughout the day. We can do experiments on Earth that mimic this process and use what we learn to help us understand the lunar seismic data.”

A Raspberry Pi processes the data recorded from the sensor and powers the whole device, with the whole unit forming a payload on PARSLEE

Jamie is also toying with optimum locations for the Shake-fitted rover. The best planetary analogue environments are usually deserts, due to the lack of moisture and low vegetation, she reveals. Places like dry lake beds, lava flows, and sand dunes all provide good challenges in terms of testing the rover’s ability to manoeuvre and collect data, as well as to try out technology being developed with and for it. One thing’s for sure, it is set to travel and potentially make a scientific breakthrough: anyone can use the rover for DIY science experiments.

Read more about PARSLEE on Jamie’s website.

The MagPi magazine #83

This article is from the brand-new issue of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Buy it from all good newsagents, subscribe to pay less per issue and support our work, or download the free PDF to give it a try first.


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IoT community sprinkler system using Raspberry Pi | The MagPi issue 83

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/iot-community-sprinkler-system-using-raspberry-pi-the-magpi-issue-83/

Saving water, several thousand lawns at a time: The MagPi magazine takes a look at the award-winning IoT sprinkler system of Coolest Projects USA participant Adarsh Ambati.

At any Coolest Projects event, you’re bound to see incredible things built by young makers. At Coolest Projects USA, we had the chance to talk to Adarsh Ambati about his community sprinkler and we were, frankly, amazed.

“The extreme, record-breaking drought in California inspired me to think of innovative ways to save water,” Adarsh tells us. “While going to school in the rain one day, I saw one of my neighbours with their sprinklers on, creating run-offs. Through research, I found that 25% of the water used in an average American household is wasted each day due to overwatering and inefficient watering methods. Thus, I developed a sprinkler system that is compliant with water regulations, to cost-effectively save water for entire neighbourhoods using a Raspberry Pi, moisture sensors, PyOWM (weather database), and by utilising free social media networks like Twitter.”

Efficient watering

In California, it’s very hot year round, so if you want a lush, green lawn you need to keep the grass watered. The record-breaking drought Adarsh was referring to resulted in extreme limitations on how much you could water your grass. The problem is, unless you have a very expensive sprinkler system, it’s easy to water the grass when it doesn’t need to be.

“The goal of my project is to save water wasted during general-purpose landscape irrigation of an entire neighbourhood by building a moisture sensor-based smart sprinkler system that integrates real-time weather forecast data to provide only optimum levels of water required,” Adarsh explains. “It will also have Twitter capabilities that will be able to publish information about when and how long to turn on the sprinklers, through the social networks. The residents in the community will subscribe to this information by following an account on Twitter, and utilise it to prevent water wasted during general-purpose landscaping and stay compliant with water regulations imposed in each area.”

Using the Raspberry Pi, Adarsh was able to build a prototype for about $50 — a lot cheaper than smart sprinklers you can currently buy on the market.

“I piloted it with ten homes, so the cost per home is around $5,” he reveals. “But since it has the potential to serve an entire community, the cost per home can be a few cents. For example, there are about 37000 residents in Almaden Valley, San Jose (where I live). If there is an average of two to four residents per home, there should be 9250 to 18500 homes. If I strategically place ten such prototypes, the cost per house would be five cents or less.”

Massive saving

Adarsh continues, “Based on two months of data, 83% of the water used for outdoor landscape watering can be saved. The average household in northern California uses 100 gallons of water for outdoor landscaping on a daily basis. The ten homes in my pilot had the potential to save roughly 50000 gallons over a two-month period, or 2500 gallons per month per home. At $0.007 per gallon, the savings equate to $209 per year, per home. For Almaden Valley alone, we have the potential to save around $2m to $4m per year!”

The results from Adarsh’s test were presented to the San Jose City Council, and they were so impressed they’re now considering putting similar systems in their public grass areas. Oh, and he also won the Hardware project category at Coolest Projects USA.

The MagPi magazine #83

This article is from today’s brand-new issue of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Buy it from all good newsagents, subscribe to pay less per issue and support our work, or download the free PDF to give it a try first.

The post IoT community sprinkler system using Raspberry Pi | The MagPi issue 83 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Yuri 3 rover | The MagPi #82

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/yuri-3-rover-the-magpi-82/

In honour of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, this year’s Pi Wars was space-themed. Visitors to the two-day event — held at the University of Cambridge in March — were lucky enough to witness a number of competitors and demonstration space-themed robots in action.

Yuri 3 rover

Among the most impressive was the Yuri 3 mini Mars rover, which was designed, lovingly crafted, and operated by Airbus engineer John Chinner. Fascinated by Yuri 3’s accuracy, we got John to give us the inside scoop.

Airbus ambassador

John is on the STEM Ambassador team at Airbus and has previously demonstrated its prototype ExoMars rover, Bridget (you can drool over images of this here: magpi.cc/btQnEw), including at the BBC Stargazing Live event in Leicester. Realising the impressive robot’s practical limitations in terms of taking it out and about to schools, John embarked on a smaller but highly faithful, easily transportable Mars rover. His robot-building experience began in his teens with a six-legged robot he took along to his technical engineering apprenticeship interview and had walk along the desk. Job deftly bagged, he’s been building robots ever since.

Inside the Yuri 3 Mars rover

Yuri is a combination of an Actobotics chassis based on one created by Beatty Robotics plus 3D-printed wheels and six 12 V DC brushed gears. Six Hitec servo motors operate the steering, while the entire rover has an original Raspberry Pi B+ at its heart.

Yuri 3 usually runs in ‘tank steer’ mode. Cannily, the positioning of four of its six wheels at the corners means Yuri 3’s wheels can each be turned so that it spins on the spot. It can also ‘crab’ to the side due to its individually steerable wheels.

Servo motors

The part more challenging for home users is the ‘gold thermal blanket’. The blanket ensures that the rover can maintain working temperature in the extreme conditions found on Mars. “I was very fortunate to have a bespoke blanket made by the team who make them for satellites,” says John. “They used it as a training exercise for the apprentices.”

John has made some bookmarks from the leftover thermal material which he gives away to schools to use as prizes.

Yuri 3 rover thermal blanket samples

Rover design

While designing Yuri 3, it probably helped that John was able to sneak peeks of Airbus’s ExoMars prototypes being tested at the firm’s Mars Yard. (He once snuck Yuri 3 onto the yard and gave it a test run, but that’s supposed to be a secret!) Also, says John, “I get to see the actual flight rover in its interplanetary bio clean room”.

A young girl inspects the Yuri 3 Mars rover

His involvement with all things Raspberry Pi came about when he was part of the Astro Pi programme, in which students send code to two Raspberry Pi devices aboard the International Space Station every year. “I did the shock, vibration, and EMC testing on the actual Astro Pi units in Airbus, Portsmouth,” John proudly tells us.

A very British rover

As part of the European Space Agency mission ExoMars, Airbus is building and integrating the rover in Stevenage. “What a fantastic opportunity for exciting outreach,” says John. “After all the fun with Tim Peake’s Principia mission, why not make the next British astronaut a Mars rover? … It is exciting to be able to go and visit Stevenage and see the prototype rovers testing on the Mars Yard.”

The Yuri 3 Mars rover

John also mentions that he’d love to see Yuri 3 put in an appearance at the Raspberry Pi Store; in the meantime, drooling punters will have to build their own Mars rover from similar kit. Or, we’ll just enjoy John’s footage of Yuri 3 in action and perhaps ask very nicely if he’ll bring Yuri along for a demonstration at an event or school near us.

John wrote about the first year of his experience building Yuri 3 on his blog. And you can follow the adventures of Yuri 3 over on Twitter: @Yuri_3_Rover.

Read the new issue of The MagPi

This article is from today’s brand-new issue of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Buy it from all good newsagents, subscribe to pay less per issue and support our work, or download the free PDF to give it a try first.

Cover of The MagPi issue 82

The post Yuri 3 rover | The MagPi #82 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 2

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/retro-console-with-retropie-raspberry-pi-2/

Here’s part two of Lucy Hattersley’s wonderful retro games console tutorial. Part 1 of the tutorial lives here, for those of you who missed it.

Choose the network locale

RetroPie boots into EmulationStation, which is your starter interface. It’s currently displaying just the one option, RetroPie, which is used to set up the emulation options. As you add games to RetroPie, other systems will appear in EmulationStation.

With RetroPie selected, press the A button on the gamepad to open the configuration window. Use the D-pad to move down the options and select WiFi. You will see a warning message: ‘You don’t currently have your WiFi country set…’. Press the D-pad left to choose Yes, and press A. The interface will open raspi-config. At this point, it’s handy to switch to the keyboard and use that instead.

Choose 4 Localisation Options, and press the right arrow key on the keyboard to highlight Select, then press Enter.

Now choose 4 Change Wi-fi Country and pick your country from the list. We used GB Britain (UK). Highlight OK and press Enter to select it.

Now move right twice to choose Finish and press Enter. This will reboot the system.

Connect to wireless LAN

If you have a Raspberry Pi with an Ethernet connection, you can use an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router/modem or network.

More likely, you’ll connect the Raspberry Pi to a wireless LAN network so you can access it when it’s beneath your television.

Head back into RetroPie from EmulationStation and down to the WiFi setting; choose Connect to WiFi network.

The window will display a list of nearby wireless LAN networks. Choose your network and use the keyboard to enter the wireless LAN password. Press Enter when you’re done. Choose the Exit option to return to the RetroPie interface.

Configuration tools

Now choose RetroPie Setup and then Configuration Tools. Here, in the Choose an option window, you’ll find a range of useful tools. As we’re using a USB gamepad, we don’t need the Bluetooth settings, but it’s worth noting they’re here.

We want to turn on Samba so we can share files from our computer directly to RetroPie. Choose Samba and Install RetroPie Samba shares, then select OK.

Now choose Cancel to back up to the Choose an option window, and then Back to return to the RetroPie-Setup script.

Run the setup script

Choose Update RetroPie-Setup script and press Enter. After the script has updated, press Enter again and you’ll be back at the Notice: window. Press Enter and choose Basic install; press Enter, choose Yes, and press Enter again to begin the setup and run the configuration script.

When the script has finished, choose Perform a reboot and Yes.

Turn on Samba in Windows

We’re going to use Samba to copy a ROM file (a video game image) from our computer to RetroPie.

Samba used to be installed by default in Windows, but it has recently become an optional installation. In Windows 10, click on the Search bar and type ‘Control Panel’. Click on Control Panel in the search results.

Now click Programs and Turn Windows features on or off. Scroll down to find SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support and click the + expand icon to reveal its options. Place a check in the box marked SMB 1.0/CIFS Client. Click OK. This will enable Samba client support on your Windows 10 PC so it can access the Raspberry Pi.

We’ve got more information on how Samba works on The MagPi’s website.

Get the game

On your Windows PC or Mac, open a web browser, and visit the Blade Buster website. This is a homebrew video game designed by High Level Challenge for old NES systems. The developer’s website is in Japanese — just click BLADE BUSTER Download to save the ROM file to your Downloads folder.

Open a File Explorer (or Finder) window and locate the BB_20120301.zip file in your Downloads folder. Don’t unzip the file.

Click on Network and you’ll see a RETROPIE share. Open it and locate the roms folder. Double-click roms and you’ll see folders for many classic systems. Drag and drop the BB_20120301.zip file and place it inside the nes folder.

Play the game

Press the Start button on your gamepad to bring up the Main Menu. Choose Quit and Restart EmulationStation. You’ll now see a Nintendo Entertainment System option with 1 Games Available below it. Click it and you’ll see BB_20120301 — this is Blade Buster. Press A to start the game. Have fun shooting aliens. Press Start and Analog (or whatever you’ve set as your hotkey) together when you’re finished; this will take you back to the game selection in EmulationStation.

If you’ve been setting up RetroPie on your monitor, now is the time to move it across to your main television. The RetroPie console will boot automatically and connect to the network, and then you can move ROM files over to it from your PC or Mac. At this point, you may notice black borders around the screen; if so, see the Fix the borders tip.

Enjoy your gaming system!

More top tips from Lucy

Change the resolution

Some games were designed for a much lower resolution, and scaling them up can look blocky on modern televisions. If you’d prefer to alter the resolution, choose ‘RetroPie setup’. Open raspi-config, Advanced Options, and Resolution. Here you’ll find a range of other resolution options to choose from.

Fix the borders

These are caused by overscan. Choose RetroPie from EmulationStation and raspi-config. Now select Advanced Options > Overscan and select No on the ‘Would you like to enable compensation for displays with overscan?’ window. Choose OK and then Finish. Choose Yes on the Reboot Now window. When the system has rebooted, you will see the borders are gone.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

This article is from the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, which is out today and can be purchased online, at the Raspberry Pi Store, or from many newsagents and bookshops, such as WHSmith and Barnes & Noble.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

You can also download issue 81 for free from The MagPi website, where you’ll also find information on subscription options, and the complete MagPi catalogue, including Essentials guides and books, all available to download for free.

the MagPi subscription

The post Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 2 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 1

Post Syndicated from Lucy Hattersley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/retro-console-with-retropie-raspberry-pi-1/

Discover classic gaming on the Raspberry Pi and play homebrew ROMs, with this two-part tutorial from The MagPi Editor Lucy Hattersley.

Raspberry Pi retro games console

Turning a Raspberry Pi device into a retro games console is a fun project, and it’s one of the first things many a new Pi owner turns their hand to.

The appeal is obvious. Retro games are fun, and from a programming perspective, they’re a lot easier to understand than modern 3D powerhouses. The Raspberry Pi board’s small form factor, low power usage, HDMI connection, and wireless networking make it a perfect micro-console that can sit under your television.

RetroPie

There are a bunch of different emulators around for Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial, we’re going to look at RetroPie.

RetroPie combines Raspbian, EmulationStation, and RetroArch into one handy image. With RetroPie you can emulate arcade games, as well as titles originally released on a host of 8-bit, 16-bit, and even 32- and 64-bit systems. You can hook up a joypad; we’re going to use the Wireless USB Game Controller, but most other USB game controllers will work.

You can also use Bluetooth to connect a controller from most video games consoles. RetroPie has an interface that will be very familiar to anyone who has used a modern games console, and because it is open-source, it is constantly being improved.

You can look online for classic games, but we prefer homebrew and modern releases coded for classic systems. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of setting up RetroPie, configuring a gamepad, and running a homebrew game called Blade Buster.

Get your microSD card ready

RetroPie is built on top of Raspbian (the operating system for Raspberry Pi). While it is possible to install RetroPie from the desktop interface, it’s far easier to format a microSD card† and copy a new RetroPie image to the blank card. This ensures all the settings are correct and makes setup much easier. Our favourite method of wiping microSD cards on a PC or Apple Mac is to use SD Memory Card Formatter.

Attach the microSD card to your Windows or Mac computer and open SD Card Formatter. Ensure the card is highlighted in the Select card section, then click Format.

Download RetroPie

Download the RetroPie image. It’ll be downloaded as a gzip file; the best way to expand this on Windows is using 7-Zip (7-zip.org).

With 7-Zip installed, right-click the retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img.gz file and choose 7-Zip > Extract here. Extract GZ files on a Mac or Linux PC using gunzip -k <filename.gz> (the -k option keeps the original GZ file).

gunzip -k retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img.gz

Flash the image

We’re going to use Etcher to copy the retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img file to our freshly formatted microSD card. Download Etcher. Open Etcher and click Select Image, then choose the retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img image file and click Open.

Etcher should have already located the microSD card; remove and replace it if you see a Select Drive button. Click Flash! to copy the RetroPie image to the microSD card.

See our guide for more information on how to use Etcher to flash SD cards.

Set up the Raspberry Pi

Insert the flashed microSD card to your Raspberry Pi. Now attach the Raspberry Pi to a TV or monitor using the HDMI cable. Connect the USB dongle from the Wireless USB Game Controller to the Raspberry Pi. Also attach a keyboard (you’ll need this for the setup process).

Insert the batteries in the Wireless USB Game Controller and set the power switch (on the back of the device) to On. Once everything is connected, attach a power supply to the Raspberry Pi.

See our quickstart guide for more detailed information on setting up a Raspberry Pi.

Configure the gamepad

When RetroPie starts, you should see Welcome screen displaying the message ‘1 gamepad detected’. Press and hold one of the buttons on the pad, and you will see the Configuring screen with a list of gamepad buttons and directions.

Tap the D-pad (the four-way directional control pad on the far left) up on the controller and ‘HAT 0 UP’ will appear. Now tap the D-pad down.
Map the A, B, X, Y buttons to:

A: red circle
B: blue cross
X: green triangle
Y: purple square

The Left and Right Shoulder buttons refer to the topmost buttons on the rear of the controller, while the Triggers are the larger lower buttons.

Push the left and right analogue sticks in for the Left and Right Thumbs. Click OK when you’re done.

Top tips from Lucy

Install Raspbian desktop

RetroPie is built on top of the Raspbian operating system. You might be tempted to install RetroPie on top of the Raspbian with Desktop interface, but it’s actually much easier to do it the other way around. Open RetroPie from EmulationStation and choose RetroPie setup. Select Configuration tools and Raspbian tools. Then choose Install Pixel desktop environment and Yes.

When it’s finished, choose Quit and Restart EmulationStation. When restarted, EmulationStation will display a Ports option. Select it and choose Desktop to boot into the Raspbian desktop interface.

Username and password

If RetroPie asks you for the username and password during boot, the defaults are pi and raspberry.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

The rest of this article can be found in the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, which is out now and can be purchased online, at the Raspberry Pi Store, or from many independent bookshops, such as WHSmith and Barnes & Noble. We’ll also post the second half on the blog tomorrow!

The MagPi magazine issue 81

You can also download issue 81 for free from The MagPi website, where you’ll find information on subscription options, and the complete MagPi catalogue, including Essentials guides and books, all available to download for free.

the MagPi subscription

The post Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 1 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.