Tag Archives: uk space

Sense HAT Emulator Upgrade

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/sense-hat-emulator-upgrade/

Last year, we partnered with Trinket to develop a web-based emulator for the Sense HAT, the multipurpose add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. Today, we are proud to announce an exciting new upgrade to the emulator. We hope this will make it even easier for you to design amazing experiments with the Sense HAT!

What’s new?

The original release of the emulator didn’t fully support all of the Sense HAT features. Specifically, the movement sensors were not emulated. Thanks to funding from the UK Space Agency, we are delighted to announce that a new round of development has just been completed. From today, the movement sensors are fully supported. The emulator also comes with a shiny new 3D interface, Astro Pi skin mode, and Pygame event handling. Click the ▶︎ button below to see what’s new!

Upgraded sensors

On a physical Sense HAT, real sensors react to changes in environmental conditions like fluctuations in temperature or humidity. The emulator has sliders which are designed to simulate this. However, emulating the movement sensor is a bit more complicated. The upgrade introduces a 3D slider, which is essentially a model of the Sense HAT that you can move with your mouse. Moving the model affects the readings provided by the accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer sensors.

Code written in this emulator is directly portable to a physical Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT without modification. This means you can now develop and test programs using the movement sensors from any internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world.

Astro Pi mode

Astro Pi is our series of competitions offering students the chance to have their code run in space! The code is run on two space-hardened Raspberry Pi units, with attached Sense HATs, on the International Space Station.

Image of Astro Pi unit Sense HAT emulator upgrade

Astro Pi skin mode

There are a number of practical things that can catch you out when you are porting your Sense HAT code to an Astro Pi unit, though, such as the orientation of the screen and joystick. Just as having a 3D-printed Astro Pi case enables you to discover and overcome these, so does the Astro Pi skin mode in this emulator. In the bottom right-hand panel, there is an Astro Pi button which enables the mode: click it again to go back to the Sense HAT.

The joystick and push buttons are operated by pressing your keyboard keys: use the cursor keys and Enter for the joystick, and U, D, L, R, A, and B for the buttons.

Sense Hat resources for Code Clubs

Image of gallery of Code Club Sense HAT projects Sense HAT emulator upgrade

Click the image to visit the Code Club projects page

We also have a new range of Code Club resources which are based on the emulator. Of these, three use the environmental sensors and two use the movement sensors. The resources are an ideal way for any Code Club to get into physical computing.

The technology

The 3D models in the emulator are represented entirely with HTML and CSS. “This project pushed the Trinket team, and the 3D web, to its limit,” says Elliott Hauser, CEO of Trinket. “Our first step was to test whether pure 3D HTML/CSS was feasible, using Julian Garnier’s Tridiv.”

Sense HAT 3D image mockup Sense HAT emulator upgrade

The Trinket team’s preliminary 3D model of the Sense HAT

“We added JavaScript rotation logic and the proof of concept worked!” Elliot continues. “Countless iterations, SVG textures, and pixel-pushing tweaks later, the finished emulator is far more than the sum of its parts.”

Sense HAT emulator 3d image final version Sense HAT emulator upgrade

The finished Sense HAT model: doesn’t it look amazing?

Check out this blog post from Trinket for more on the technology and mathematics behind the models.

One of the compromises we’ve had to make is browser support. Unfortunately, browsers like Firefox and Microsoft Edge don’t fully support this technology yet. Instead, we recommend that you use Chrome, Safari, or Opera to access the emulator.

Where do I start?

If you’re new to the Sense HAT, you can simply copy and paste many of the code examples from our educational resources, like this one. Alternatively, you can check out our Sense HAT Essentials e-book. For a complete list of all the functions you can use, have a look at the Sense HAT API reference here.

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European Astro Pi Challenge winners

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/european-astro-pi-winners/

In October last year, with the European Space Agency and CNES, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge. We asked students from all across Europe to write code for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Proxima mission. Today, we are very excited to announce the winners! First of all, though, we have a very special message from Thomas Pesquet himself, which comes all the way from space…

Thomas Pesquet congratulates Astro Pi participants from space

French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet floats in to thank all participants in the European Astro Pi challenge. In October last year, together with the European Space Agency, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of mission Proxima.

Thomas also recorded a video in French: you can click here to see it and to enjoy some more of his excellent microgravity acrobatics.

A bit of background

This year’s competition expands on our previous work with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, in which, together with the UK Space Agency and ESA, we invited UK students to design software experiments to run on board the ISS.

Astro Pi Vis (AKA Ed) on board the ISS. Image from ESA.

In 2015, we built two space-hardened Raspberry Pi units, or Astro Pis, to act as the platform on which to run the students’ code. Affectionately nicknamed Ed and Izzy, the units were launched into space on an Atlas V rocket, arriving at the ISS a few days before Tim Peake. He had a great time running all of the programs, and the data collected was transmitted back to Earth so that the winners could analyse their results and share them with the public.

The European challenge provides the opportunity to design code to be run in space to school students from every ESA member country. To support the participants, we worked with ESA and CPC to design, manufacture, and distribute several hundred free Astro Pi activity kits to the teams who registered. Further support for teachers was provided in the form of three live webinars, a demonstration video, and numerous free educational resources.

Image of Astro Pi kit box

The Astro Pi activity kit used by participants in the European challenge.

The challenge

Thomas Pesquet assigned two missions to the teams:

  • A primary mission, for which teams needed to write code to detect when the crew are working in the Columbus module near the Astro Pi units.
  • A secondary mission, for which teams needed to come up with their own scientific investigation and write the code to execute it.

The deadline for code submissions was 28 February 2017, with the judging taking place the following week. We can now reveal which schools will have the privilege of having their code uploaded to the ISS and run in space.

The proud winners!

Everyone produced great work and the judges found it really tough to narrow the entries down. In addition to the winning submissions, there were a number of teams who had put a great deal of work into their projects, and whose entries have been awarded ‘Highly Commended’ status. These teams will also have their code run on the ISS.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated. Massive congratulations are due to the winners! We will upload your code digitally using the space-to-ground link over the next few weeks. Your code will be executed, and any files created will be downloaded from space and returned to you via email for analysis.

In no particular order, the winners are:

France

  • Winners
    • @stroteam, Institut de Genech, Hauts-de-France
    • Wierzbinski, École à la maison, Occitanie
    • Les Marsilyens, École J. M. Marsily, PACA
    • MauriacSpaceCoders, Lycée François Mauriac, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
    • Ici-bas, École de Saint-André d’Embrun, PACA
    • Les Astrollinaires, Lycée général et technologique Guillaume Apollinaire, PACA
  • Highly Commended
    • ALTAÏR, Lycée Albert Claveille, Nouvelle Aquitaine
    • GalaXess Reloaded, Lycée Saint-Cricq, Nouvelle Aquitaine
    • Les CM de Neffiès, École Louis Authie, Occitanie
    • Équipe Sciences, Collège Léonce Bourliaguet, Nouvelle Aquitaine
    • Maurois ICN, Lycée André Maurois, Normandie
    • Space Project SP4, Lycée Saint-Paul IV, Île de la Réunion
    • 4eme2 Gymnase Jean Sturm, Gymnase Jean Sturm, Grand Est
    • Astro Pascal dans les étoiles, École Pascal, Île-de-France
    • les-4mis, EREA Alexandre Vialatte, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
    • Space Cavenne Oddity, École Cavenne, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
    • Luanda for Space, Lycée Français de Luanda, Angola
      (Note: this is a French international school and the team members have French nationality/citizenship)
    • François Detrille, Lycée Langevin-Wallon, Île-de-France

Greece

  • Winners
    • Delta, TALOS ed-UTH-robotix, Magnesia
    • Weightless Mass, Intercultural Junior High School of Evosmos, Macedonia
    • 49th Astro Pi Teamwork, 49th Elementary School of Patras, Achaia
    • Astro Travellers, 12th Primary School of Petroupolis, Attiki
    • GKGF-1, Gymnasium of Kanithos, Sterea Ellada
  • Highly Commended
    • AstroShot, Lixouri High School, Kefalonia
    • Salamina Rockets Pi, 1st Senior High School of Salamina, Attiki
    • The four Astro-fans, 6th Gymnasio of Veria, Macedonia
    • Samians, 2nd Gymnasio Samou, North Eastern Aegean

United Kingdom

  • Winners
    • Madeley Ad Astra, Madeley Academy, Shropshire
    • Team Dexterity, Dyffryn Taf School, Carmarthenshire
    • The Kepler Kids, St Nicolas C of E Junior School, Berkshire
    • Catterline Pi Bugs, Catterline Primary, Aberdeenshire
    • smileyPi, Westminster School, London
  • Highly Commended
    • South London Raspberry Jam, South London Raspberry Jam, London

Italy

  • Winners
    • Garibaldini, Istituto Comprensivo Rapisardi-Garibaldi, Sicilia
    • Buzz, IIS Verona-Trento, Sicilia
    • Water warmers, Liceo Scientifico Galileo Galilei, Abruzzo
    • Juvara/Einaudi Siracusa, IIS L. Einaudi, Sicilia
    • AstroTeam, IIS Arimondi-Eula, Piemonte

Poland

  • Winners
    • Birnam, Zespół Szkoły i Gimnazjum im. W. Orkana w Niedźwiedziu, Malopolska
    • TechnoZONE, Zespół Szkół nr 2 im. Eugeniusza Kwiatkowskiego, Podkarpacie
    • DeltaV, Gimnazjum nr 49, Województwo śląskie
    • The Safety Crew, MZS Gimnazjum nr 1, Województwo śląskie
    • Warriors, Zespół Szkół Miejskich nr 3 w Jaśle, Podkarpackie
  • Highly Commended
    • The Young Cuiavian Astronomers, Gimnazjum im. Stefana Kardynała Wyszyńskiego w Piotrkowie Kujawskim, Kujawsko-pomorskie
    • AstroLeszczynPi, I Liceum Ogolnokształcace w Jasle im. Krola Stanislawa Leszczynskiego, Podkarpackie

Portugal

  • Winners
    • Sampaionautas, Escola Secundária de Sampaio, Setúbal
    • Labutes Pi, Escola Secundária D. João II, Setúbal
    • AgroSpace Makers, EB 2/3 D. Afonso Henriques, Cávado
    • Zero Gravity, EB 2/3 D. Afonso Henriques, Cávado
    • Lua, Agrupamento de Escolas José Belchior Viegas, Algarve

Romania

  • Winners
    • AstroVianu, Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science, Bucharest
    • MiBus Researchers, Mihai Busuioc High School, Iași
    • Cosmos Dreams, Nicolae Balcescu High School, Cluj
    • Carmen Sylva Astro Pi, Liceul Teoretic Carmen Sylva Eforie, Constanța
    • Stargazers, Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science, Bucharest

Spain

  • Winners
    • Papaya, IES Sopela, Vizcaya
    • Salesianos-Ubeda, Salesianos Santo Domingo Savio, Andalusia
    • Valdespartans, IES Valdespartera, Aragón
    • Ins Terrassa, Institut Terrassa, Cataluña

Ireland

  • Winner
    • Moonty1, Mayfield Community School, Cork

Germany

  • Winner
    • BSC Behringersdorf Space Center, Labenwolf-Gymnasium, Bayern

Norway

  • Winner
    • Skedsmo Kodeklubb, Kjeller Skole, Akershus

Hungary

  • Winner
    • UltimaSpace, Mihaly Tancsics Grammar School of Kaposvár, Somogy

Belgium

  • Winner
    • Lambda Voyager, Stedelijke Humaniora Dilsen, Limburg

FAQ

Why aren’t all 22 ESA member states listed?

  • Because some countries did not have teams participating in the challenge.

Why do some countries have fewer than five teams?

  • Either because those countries had fewer than five teams qualifying for space flight, or because they had fewer than five teams participating in the challenge.

How will I get my results back from space?

  • After your code has run on the ISS, we will download any files you created and they will be emailed to your teacher.

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Announcing the first ever European Astro Pi Challenge!

Post Syndicated from Marc Scott original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/announcing-european-astro-pi-challenge/

Astro_Pi_Logo_WEB-300px

Right now, 400km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, are two very special pieces of hardware. Two Raspberry Pi computers are currently orbiting our planet, each equipped with a Sense HAT, a camera and a special aluminium flight case – and children all over Europe have the chance to program them.

Astro_Pi_1-01

Last year, in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, we ran a competition that allowed students all over the UK to design experiments to run on the Astro Pi units. We sent their code into space with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who had a great time running all their programs. The data collected was then transmitted back down to Earth, so the winners of the competition – and everyone else – could analyse the results of their experiments as well.

Tim is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is soon launching to the ISS, and he’s keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units too. So ESA, together with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, are launching a brand-new Astro Pi Challenge, and this time it’s open to children from every ESA member country.

Earthlights 2002

Children from across Europe can enter the European Astro Pi Challenge
Photo: Earthlights 2002 by NASA

This is an amazing opportunity for students all over Europe. What better way to learn about computing, science, and space than actually being able to run your very own experiments on board the International Space Station? Imagine being able to say that you played a part in a real ESA mission, that programs you wrote were executed in orbit, and that results from your experiments were analysed by children all over the world!

Astro Pi Mission

This is “Astro Pi Mission” by raspberrypi on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

If you’re a teacher or a student from an ESA member country, this is how you can take part:

  1. Assemble your mission team, which must include at least one support teacher as well as students under the age of 16.
  2. Use the Mission Plan Template to design a sample mission that showcases your approach to running a space mission, and demonstrates that you can break down your big idea into specific steps. Note that you don’t need to address the challenge at this stage. Submit your mission plan and register your participation**.
  3. If you’re picked to continue to the next phase, you will receive an Astro Pi kit and a mission challenge designed by Thomas Pesquet to test your team’s ingenuity and skills.
  4. If your solutions are picked, then your code will be beamed up to the ISS, installed on the Astro Pi units, and run by Thomas Pesquet.

To help you learn all about the Astro Pi units and gain the skills to use a Raspberry Pi equipped with a Sense HAT, we have a variety of resources that you can begin to work your way through. Just go to our resources section and have a look through the Astro Pi and Sense HAT resources. Even if you don’t have a Sense HAT yourself, you can still learn how to use one with either the stand-alone, desktop Sense HAT emulator or Trinket’s web-based emulator.

** Related links:

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Desktop Sense HAT emulator

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/desktop-sense-hat-emulator/

If this post gives you a sense of déjà-vu it’s because, last month, we announced a web-based Sense HAT emulator in partnership with US-based startup Trinket.

Today, we’re announcing another Sense HAT emulator designed to run natively on your Raspberry Pi desktop, instead of inside a browser. Developed by Dave Jones, it’s intended for people who own a Raspberry Pi but not a Sense HAT. In the picture below, the sliders are used to change the values reported by the sensors while your code is running.

sense-emu

So, why do we need two versions?

  • For offline use, possibly the most common way Raspberry Pis are used in the classroom.
  • To accommodate the oldest 256 MB models of Raspberry Pi which cannot run the web version.
  • To allow you to integrate your Sense HAT program with any available Python modules, or other Raspberry Pi features such as the Camera Module.

The emulator will come pre-installed in the next Raspbian release but, for now, you can just install it by typing the commands below into a terminal window:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu python-sense-emu-doc sense-emu-tools -y

You can then access it from the Desktop menu, under Programming.

The emulator closely simulates the Sense HAT hardware being attached to your Pi. You can read from the sensors or write to the LED matrix using multiple Python processes, for example.

sense-idle

Write your code in IDLE as before; there are also a number of examples that can be opened from the emulator’s built-in menu. If you then want to port your code to a physical Sense HAT, you just need to change

sense_emu

to

sense_hat

at the top of your program. Reverse this if you’re porting a physical Sense HAT program to the emulator, perhaps from one of our educational resources; this step isn’t required in the web version of the emulator.

sense-emu-prefs

There are a number of preferences that you can adjust to change the behaviour of the emulator, most notably sensor simulation, otherwise known as jitter. This costs some CPU time, and is disabled by default on the low-end Raspberry Pis, but it provides a realistic experience of how the hardware sensors would behave. You’ll see that the values being returned in your code drift according to the known error tolerances of the physical sensors used on the Sense HAT.

This emulator will allow more Raspberry Pi users to participate in future Astro Pi competitions without having to buy a Sense HAT: ideal for the classroom where 15 Sense HATs may be beyond the budget.

So, where do you start? If you’re new to the Sense HAT, you can just copy and paste many of the code examples from our educational resources, like this one. You can also check out our e-book Sense HAT Essentials. For a complete list of all the functions you can use, have a look at the Sense HAT API reference here.

You can even install this emulator on other types of Linux desktop, such as Ubuntu! For more information on how to do this, please visit the emulator documentation pages here.

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Raspberry Pi at Camp Bestival

Post Syndicated from Helen Drury original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-at-camp-bestival/

Festival goers relax on the grass in front of huge silver letters: "LOVE CAMP BESTIVAL"

Camp Bestival is the family-oriented version of the more adult-focused Bestival, and attracts 30,000 parents and children each year. Everything has been designed with families in mind, including shows and activity tents, all set within the beautiful grounds of Lulworth Castle.
A huge crowd in front of Lulworth Castle at Camp Bestival. The sun is setting behind the battlements.

This year’s theme was Space. We’re pretty keen on space ourselves, and we’re not ones to shirk a party, so we figured: why not take along something else fun and interesting for kids to do alongside watching Mr Tumble or the Clangers, by showing them how to create their own space animations and design LED displays? Not to mention having welcoming chats with curious parents to answer the all-important question “So what is a Raspberry Pi?” while their kids are off programming in Scratch.

So, having loaded up every square inch of the camper van with equipment and swag, we set off to Lulworth. Naturally, as the event was space-themed, we took along our office friend Flat Tim for support. He was very excited, if a little overdressed.

A life-sized cardboard cut-out of British astronaut Tim Peake wearing a spacesuit, standing in the gangway of a camper van. Plastic beach spades hang beside him

Located in the very busy Science Tent every day across the long weekend, we offered young visitors the chance to try out Code Club’s Lost in Space and Space Junk animation programming activities – why not try out Lost in Space for yourself? Alongside this, we set up workstations with Raspberry Pis showcasing Astro Pi and the Sense HAT’s capabilities, from programming LEDs to simple Python activities sensing the environment. At one point we were joined by a six-year-old who wowed us all with her new programming skills!

Montage: a photo of a young girl with a flower garland in her hair, lost in concentration at a Raspberry Pi workstation; and a photo of the screen showing some of the code she is working on. She is making the Sense HAT display messages including, "I like doing sports" and "I like having hugs with Mummy."

Four children concentrate on activities at Raspberry Pi workstations, with a crowd of older siblings and parents around

Raspberry Pi staff and volunteers talk to families in the Science Tent

We visited our friends at the UK Space Agency in the Mission Control tent, and they kindly lent us one of their spacesuits to go with our Astro Pi activities. Dan certainly looked the part in it.

Tony from UK Space helps Raspberry Pi's Dan Grammatica don a spacesuit
Raspberry Pi's Dan Grammatica, wearing a spacesuit, and Dave Hazeldean

Evenings were spent experiencing the festival at night, from parades to live music, before falling into bed exhausted but happy!

A giant astronaut, glowing purple and blue, towers above the crowd after dark
An actor dressed as an exotic alien, with glowing fairy wings and an exoskeleton that incorporates stilts, walks among the crowd at dusk

No festival is complete without fun giveaways, such as our Code Club, Raspberry Pi and Astro Pi temporary tattoos. They were almost as popular as our activities:

Philip Colligan on Twitter

It’s all about #tattoos at @CampBestival – @Raspberry_Pi and @CodeClub activities in the Science Tent #CampBestivalpic.twitter.com/wHPmpnyQ4l

The prize for best timing goes to this young person, who picked up the 1000th (and last!) Raspberry Pi/Code Club bag in the final half-hour before we went home!

A young girl smiles and holds up a red drawstring bag with a large white Raspberry Pi logo printed on it

To everyone who visited us and joined in with our digital making activities, thank you for stopping by! We hope you enjoyed visiting us, and that you feel inspired to try some more projects via our free learning resources.

Special thanks, too, to the rest of the Raspberry Pi Camp B crew – Carrie Anne, Daniel, Dave, Alex and Chris.

Finally, there’s one thing we couldn’t share with festival goers at Camp Bestival because it was too windy, but we did manage a quick photo, so we can share it with you now: flying the Raspberry Pi flag!

A white flag with the raspberry and green Raspberry Pi logo and the words "Raspberry Pi," flying in a stiff breeze against a cloudy sky

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Astro Pi: Mission Update 9 – Science Results

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-mission-update-9-science-results/

Liz: Before we get down to business, we’ve a notice to share. Laura Clay, who is behind the scenes editing this blog, The MagPi and much more, is also a fiction writer; and she’s been chosen as one of 17 Emerging Writers by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust. Each writer will be reading a short story at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and it’s a great way to discover writers living and working in the city at the start of their careers. Laura will be reading her story Loch na Bèiste on Friday 26 August at 3pm in the Spiegeltent, and entry is free, so why not come along and support her? Warning: story may contain murderous kelpies.

Now that British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake is back on the ground it’s time for the final Astro Pi mission update: the summary of the experiment results from the International Space Station (ISS). We’ve been holding this back to give the winners some time to publish the results of their experiments themselves.

Back in 2015 we ran a competition where students could design and program computer science experiments, to be run by Tim Peake on specially cased Raspberry Pis called Astro Pis. Here’s the original competition video, voiced by Tim himself:

Astro Pi

This is “Astro Pi” by raspberrypi on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

The competition ran from January to July 2015 and produced seven winning experiments, which were launched into space a few days before Tim started his mission. Between February and April 2016, these experiments were run on board the ISS under Tim Peake’s supervision. They’re mostly based around the sensors found on the Sense HAT, but a few also employ the Raspberry Pi Camera Module. Head over to the Astro Pi website now to check out the results, released today!

You might also know that we ran an extension to this competition involving a couple of music-based challenges. These challenges have no scientific output to discuss, because they were part of a crew care package for Tim’s enjoyment, but you can get your hands on the winning code to turn the Astro Pis into MP3 players and Sonic Pi tunes.

One of the main things we’ve learnt from running Astro Pi is that the biggest motivational factor for young people is the very tangible goal of having their code run in space. This eclipses any physical prize we could offer. Many people see space as quite distant and abstract, but with Astro Pi you can actually get your hands on space-qualified hardware, create something that would work up in space, and become an active participant in the European space programme.

Many of the Astro Pi winners now express an interest in studying aerospace and computer science. They’ve gained exposure to the real-life process of scientific endeavour, and faced industrial software development challenges along the way. We hope that everyone who participated in Astro Pi has been positively influenced by the programme. The results also demonstrate that the payload works reliably in space. This has been noticed by ESA, who are now planning to use it during upcoming missions. It’s really important for us that the payload continues to be used to run your code in space, so we’re working hard with ESA to make sure that we can do Astro Pi all over again.

This project has been a huge collaborative effort from the start and the Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to thank everyone who has participated in the competitions, and the following companies who have contributed staff time, facilities, and funding to make it all happen: UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, BIOTESC, TLOGOS, Surrey Satellite Technology, Airbus Defence and Space, CGI Group, QinetiQ Space, UK Space Trade Association, ESERO UK, KTN Space, and Nesta. Of course, Tim Peake himself has been hugely supportive and enthusiastic about the project from the start.

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with the prototype Astro Pi

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with the prototype Astro Pi. Image credit ESA.

We would also like to thank Libby Jackson, who is the Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency and a former flight director at ESA. She oversees all of the Principia educational activities, including Astro Pi.

libby-jackson-uksa

Libby Jackson, UK Space Agency. Image credit Imperial College London.

During the interview for her job at the UK Space Agency a few years ago, she pitched an idea for running a project on the ISS involving Raspberry Pi computers. Instead of launching traditional physical equipment, the experiments would be in the form of computer software, meaning that many more experiments could be accommodated. That kernel of an idea is what eventually became Astro Pi.

iss046e042740

Izzy deployed on the Nadir Hatch window of Node 2. Image credit ESA.

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Sense HAT emulator

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/sense-hat-emulator/

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with US-based startup Trinket to develop a web-based emulator for the Sense HAT, the multipurpose add-on board for the Raspberry Pi which is also the core component of the Astro Pi units on the International Space Station. We wanted to provide a unique, free learning resource that brings the excitement of programming our space-qualified hardware to students, teachers, and others all over the world.

We’re delighted to announce its release today, and you can try it for yourself right now. Click the Run button below and see what happens!

trinket-logo

The emulator will allow more people to participate in future Astro Pi competitions – you’ll be able to join in without needing to own a Raspberry Pi computer or a Sense HAT.

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with an Astro Pi unit on the International Space Station

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with the Astro Pi. Image credit ESA

The new emulator builds on Trinket’s existing Python-in-browser platform, and provides the following features:

  • Virtual Sense HAT with environmental controls and joystick input
  • Full Python syntax highlighting
  • Contextual auto-complete
  • Intuitive error reporting and highlighting
  • Image upload
  • HTML page embedding
  • Social media integration
  • Project sharing via direct URL
  • Project download as zip (for moving to Raspberry Pi)
  • All major browsers supported

sense_hat_emu

The Sense HAT has temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, and can change its behaviour according to the values they report. The Sense HAT emulator has sliders you can move to change these values, so you can test how your code responds to environmental variables.

Part of a screenshot of the Astro Pi emulator, showing three silders with buttons that can be dragged to change the temperature, pressure and humidity that the virtual Sense HAT's sensors are reporting

You can move the sliders to change what the sensors are reporting

Code written in this emulator is directly portable to a physical Raspberry Pi with a Sense HAT without modification. This means any code you write can be run by the Astro Pi units on board the ISS! It is our hope that, within the next 12 months, code that has been written in the emulator will run in space. Look out for news on this, coming soon on the Astro Pi site!

We owe huge thanks to Trinket, who have been wonderful partners in this project. The development work has been completed in just over two months, and has been a huge collaborative effort from the start. The software relies heavily on open-source technology and a global community of developers who are committed to making the power of code more accessible to students.

A closed group of beta testers, made up of previous Astro Pi participants and Code Club champions, has been putting the emulator through its paces over recent weeks. We’re proud to say that we’ve just had a bug-free open beta over the weekend, and now we’re looking forward to seeing it used as widely as possible.

So, where do you start? If you’re new to the Sense HAT, you can just copy and paste a lot of the code examples from our educational resources like this one. You can also check out our e-book Sense HAT Essentials. For a complete list of all the functions you can use, have a look at the Sense HAT API reference here; please note that the IMU (movement-sensing) functions will be supported in a future update. Head over to the main Sense HAT emulator site to see loads of other cool examples of what’s possible. Flappy LED, anyone?

Don’t forget to share your projects!

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Astro Pi: In Space, No One Can Hear You Code

Post Syndicated from Helen Lynn original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-space-no-one-can-hear-you-code/

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake has been on board the International Space Station with our Astro Pi units, Izzy and Ed, for exactly six months today. As Tim prepares to return to Earth this Saturday, we bring you the third part of their animated adventures: when our two spacefaring Raspberry Pi computers run into a problem even their hero Robonaut can’t fix, who can help them?

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During his time in space, Tim has been using Ed and Izzy to run apps, carry out science experiments and play music designed and coded by UK school students, and he’s taken some great photos of them on the station:

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Both computers have also spent some weeks in a flight recorder mode, saving sensor readings to a database every ten seconds, and we’ve made these space data available to everyone to download and analyse. Take a look at our Flight Data Analysis resource to explore what they recorded as they orbited our planet.

Ed and Izzy will say goodbye to Tim when he returns from space this Saturday; you’ll be able to watch him land. Our Astro Pi units will stay on board the ISS until 2022, and we hope we’ll soon be able to share exciting news about what they’ll be doing next. Stay tuned!

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Astro Pi Coding Challenges: a message from Tim Peake

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-coding-challenges-update/

Back in February, we announced an extension to the Astro Pi mission in the form of two coding challenges. The first required you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy (the Astro Pi computers) into an MP3 player, so that Tim Peake could plug in his headphones and listen to his music. The second required you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player.

Astro_Pi_Logo_WEB-300px

We announced the winners in early April. Since then, we’ve been checking your code on flight-equivalent Astro Pi units and going through the official software delivery and deployment process with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Crew time is heavily regulated on the ISS. However, because no science or experimentation output is required for this, they allowed us to upload it as a crew care package for Tim! We’re very grateful to the UK Space Agency and ESA for letting us extend the Astro Pi project in this way to engage more kids.

The code was uploaded and Tim deployed it onto Ed on May 15. He then recorded this and sent it to us:

Tim Peake with the Astro Pi MP3 player

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s message to the students who took part in the 2016 Astro Pi coding challenges to hack his Astro Pi mini-computer, on the International Space Station, into an MP3 player. The music heard is called Run to the Stars composed by one of the teams who took part.

In total, there were four winning MP3 players and four winning Sonic Pi tunes; the audio from the Sonic Pi entries was converted into MP3 format, so that it could be played by the MP3 players. The music heard is called Run to the Stars, composed with Sonic Pi by Iris and Joseph Mitchell, who won the 11 years and under age group.

Tim tested all four MP3 players, listened to all four Sonic Pi tunes, and then went on to load more tunes from his own Spacerocks collection onto the Astro Pi!

Tim said in an email:

As a side note, I’ve also loaded it with some of my Spacerocks music – it works just great. I was dubious about the tilt mechanism working well in microgravity, using the accelerometers to change tracks, but it works brilliantly. I tried inputting motion in other axes to test the stability and it was rock solid – it only worked with the correct motion. Well done to that group!!

“That group” was Lowena Hull from Portsmouth High School, whose MP3 player could change tracks by quickly twisting the Astro Pi to the left or right. Good coding, Lowena!

Thanks again to everyone who took part, to our special judges OMD and Ilan Eshkeri, and especially to Tim Peake, who did this during his time off on a Sunday afternoon last weekend.

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Principia schools conferences

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/principia-schools-conferences/

Principia

In November this year the UK Space Agency (UKSA) is holding two special conferences to celebrate the educational work linked to Tim Peake’s Principia mission. These events will be an opportunity for kids of all ages to show their projects to a panel of leading space experts – hopefully including Tim himself!

Tim’s schedule after he returns to Earth is hectically busy, but he’s very keen to be at the events and meet children, and everyone involved is working hard towards this goal. The conferences will be held at:

Attendance is free, and UKSA are offering travel bursaries to help with the cost of getting there. However, if you want to go, you’ll need to apply for one of the available places.

The Principia mission has a huge range of linked educational activities, one of which is our own Astro Pi, and the conferences will be attended by students selected from across them all. There are about 500 student places available for each event; the individuals and teams who submit the strongest applications presenting their projects will be invited to take part.

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Astro Pi is one of many Principia activities

You certainly don’t need to have won one of the Principia competitions to be invited to participate: the organisers want to see all kinds of work linked with Tim’s mission. They want your application to tell the story behind what you did, describe what you’ve learned by carrying out the project, and explain what long-term effects the work has had on your school. We expect the conferences will include students presenting a huge variety of work, from activities linked to official competitions to creative ideas that students and teachers have generated themselves.

To illustrate the kind of applications we’re hoping to see, it’s worth mentioning the testimonial about Astro Pi that maths teacher Gillian Greig, from The Priory School in Hitchin, wrote last year. We think it’s a great example of the kind of story the organisers will enjoy seeing. Gillian, we hope you and your students will apply!

Of course, we’d love to see a strong Astro Pi contingent at both conferences, so we strongly encourage anyone who engaged with Astro Pi to apply. You can apply as an individual, a group, a class, or even an entire school. The applications will be judged by a panel who will select projects that show dedication and thoughtfulness.

Laser-etched Astro Pi

Flight equivalent Astro Pi units will be available at the conferences

Dave Honess, who manages Astro Pi, will be at both conferences with a number of flight equivalent Astro Pi units that can be used by attendees for their presentations.

The deadline for applications is Thursday 15 September 2016 at 12 noon. Apply here!

You can find more details about the application process, the conference venues, and arrangements for travel and accommodation on the Principia website. And if you have any questions, feel free to post them below – we’ll do our best to answer them.

Good luck!

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Astro Pi: Coding Challenges Results!

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-coding-challenges-results/

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Back in early February we announced a new opportunity for young programmers to send their code up the International Space Station to be used by British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.

Two challenges were on offer. The first required you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy (the Astro Pi computers) into an MP3 player, so that Tim can plug in his headphones and listen to music. The second required you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player.

The competition closed on March 31st and the judging took place at Pi Towers in Cambridge last week. With the assistance of Flat Tim!

The judges were selected from companies who have contributed to the Astro Pi mission so far. These were;

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Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark (Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys)

We also wanted to have some judges to provide musical talent to balance the science and technology expertise from the aerospace people. Thanks to Carl Walker at ESA we were able to connect with synthpop giants OMD (Enola Gay, Electricity, Maid of Orleans) and British/French film composer Ilan Eshkeri (Stardust, Layer Cake, Shaun the Sheep).

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Ilan Eshkeri working on the Stardust soundtrack

We also secured Sam Aaron, the author of Sonic Pi and Overtone, a live coder who regularly performs in clubs across the UK.

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Sam Aaron at TEDx Newcastle

Entries were received from all over the UK and were judged across four age categories; 11 and under, 11 to 13, 14 to 16 and 17 to 18. So the outcome is that four MP3 players and four songs will be going up to the ISS for Tim to use. Note that the Sonic Pi tunes will be converted to MP3 so that the MP3 player programs can load and play the audio to Tim.

The judging took two days to complete: one full day for the MP3 players and one day for the Sonic Pi tunes. So without further ado, let’s see who the winners are!

MP3 Player Winners

11 and under

11 to 13

14 to 16

  • Winner: Joe Speers
  • School: n/a (Independent entry)
  • Teacher/Adult: Craig Speers
  • Code on Github

17 to 18

Sonic Pi Winners

11 and under

11 to 13

  • Winner: Isaac Ingram
  • School: Knox Academy
  • Teacher/Adult: Karl Ingram

14 to 16

17 to 18

Congratulations to you all. The judges had a lot of fun with your entries and they will very soon be uploaded to the International Space Station for Tim Peake. The Astro Pi Twitter account will post a tweet to indicate when Tim is listening to the music.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to thank all the judges who contributed to this competition, and especially our special judges: Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys from OMD, Ilan Eshkeri and Sam Aaron.

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Astro Pi cases!

Post Syndicated from Rachel Rayns original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-cases/

Last month we published a guide on how to 3D print your own Astro Pi flight case. Since then we’ve seen some amazing examples pop up over on Twitter. My favorites have to be the two below.
@KaceyandKristi posted this amazing rainbow flight case – great way to make the most of the layered design!
Kacey-Kristi-Lance on Twitter
@astro_timpeake Tim, our rainbow @astro_pi is ready for coding challenge. #principia inspiring future generations. pic.twitter.com/pf7Xnd9liv

You’ll never lose Jonny Teague‘s case in the dark!
Jonny Teague on Twitter
The @astro_pi case in all its glory and luminescence pic.twitter.com/iP7YIlmEtF

Dave has found some other fantastic examples:
John Chinner‘s neon orange case was made by Ryanteck.
John Chinner on Twitter
Found an excellent 3D printing shop in Singapore. Spent an hour talking about @astro_pi and they gave me this! pic.twitter.com/lMoHv3ljum

Love the red buttons on this sleek black one:
Mac the Hat on Twitter
@astro_pi 90% complete,few more parts and will be clone of @astro_pi_ir that @astro_timpeake has on @ISS_Research pic.twitter.com/CfSBpB12GR

Patrick Wiatt made this classy silver and blue case:
Patrick Wiatt on Twitter
Completed the @astro_pi 3d printable case today, now we just need the Sense HAT! #newellfonda @Raspberry_Pi pic.twitter.com/Wv9d9Th15n

PLA (a material often used by 3D printers) comes in all kinds of different colours – LEFRANCOIS has printed his case using a metallic gold, making it a perfect partner for our original aluminium one.
LEFRANCOIS on Twitter
@astro_pi hi there , here is mine 😉 pic.twitter.com/mCXZyPZ9rT

Richard Hayler, a Code Club mentor from Surrey, went for classic silver filament for his case. He even used the same buttons as the real units up on the International Space Station.
Richard Hayler ☀ on Twitter
Some more pics of our operational 3D printed @astro_pi flight case. http://richardhayler.blogspot.com/2016/02/3d-printed-astro-pi-flight-case.html … pic.twitter.com/u2x5zUgecK

Our absolute favourite photo is of one of Richard’s Code Club students, Ozzy, posing as mini-Tim to recreate a photo of Tim Peake with an Astro Pi flight unit that’s become famous in the community…
Tim with Astro PiOzzy as mini-Tim
These are fantastic and we’d love to see more of them, but I also have an additional challenge for you – hack our design! Maybe you’d like to add your name to the front, or add an extra handle – surprise us!
I added the words “Raspberry Pi” to my top layer very quickly in Tinkercad, a simple and free in-browser 3D-modelling program.
Screenshot 2016-03-23 11.56.09
I also successfully installed FreeCad on my Pi3 today, and I’m going to see what I can do over the UK Bank Holiday weekend.
Get your printer on and warming up! Here’s a link to the Astro Pi flight case STL files: go go go!
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Ten days to enter our Astro Pi competition

Post Syndicated from Rachel Rayns original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/ten-days-enter-astro-pi-competition/

Calling all space coders! A quick announcement:
T minus ten days to the deadline of our latest Astro Pi competition.
You have until 12 noon on Thursday 31st March to submit your Sonic Pi tunes and MP3 player code.
Send your code to space
British ESA astronaut Tim Peake wants students to compose music in Sonic Pi for him to listen to. Tim needs to be able to listen to your tunes on one of the Astro Pi flight units, so we are also looking for a Python program to turn the units into an MP3 media player.  You do need to be 18 or under and live in the UK.
We have some fantastic competition judges: musicians including synthpop giants OMD and film composer Ilan Eshkeri, as well as experts from the aerospace industry and our own crack team of developers.
If you haven’t used Sonic Pi before, here is a brilliant introduction from our Education Team:
Getting Started With Sonic Pi | Raspberry Pi Learning Resources
Sonic Pi is an open-source programming environment, designed for creating new sounds with code in a live coding environment; it was developed by Dr Sam Aaron at the University of Cambridge. He uses the software to perform live with his band.

You can find all the competition information, including how to enter, at astro-pi.org/coding-challenges.
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