Tag Archives: Your Projects

YouTube and Google Photos add-ons for your magic mirror

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/youtube-google-photos-magic-mirror-modules/

Bring YouTube videos, Google Photos, and more to your magic mirror, with third-party modules and the MagicMirror² open-source software platform.

NEW Raspberry Pi Magic Mirror Modules!

Today I walk you through two fun modules to add top your Raspberry Pi Magic Mirror! Music in this video was from Epidemic Sound! Green Screen Subscribe Button: Its Frida MAGIC MIRROR Magic Mirror Builder (Michael Teeuw): https://magicmirror.builders/ Magic Mirror Modules in this video: YouTube: https://forum.magicmirror.builders/topic/8481/mmm-iframe-ping Google Photos: https://forum.magicmirror.builders/topic/8437/mmm-googlephotos/18 USB Audio: ROCCAT – Juke Virtual 7.1 USB Stereo Gaming Soundcard Music in this video was from Epidemic Sound.

Magic mirror

Mention Raspberry Pi to the uninitiated, and they’ll probably ask if it’s “that green thing people use for game emulation and smart mirrors?”. The popularity of magic mirrors has grown massively over the past few years, thanks to how easy it’s become to find cheap displays and great online tutorials.An image of a Raspberry Pi Magic Mirror

While big-brand smart mirrors cost upwards of a bajillion dollars, a homemade magic mirror costs pennies in comparison. The basic homemade model consists of a screen (usually an old computer monitor or flatscreen TV), a piece of two-way mirrored acrylic or glass, a frame, and a Raspberry Pi. Once it’s set up, you have yourself both a mirror and a notification board complete with calendar events, memos, and more.

Introducing MagicMirror²!

MagicMirror² is an open source platform for smart mirrors. It provides an extensive API for module development and is easy to setup and use. For more information and downloads visit http://magicmirror.builders and the forum http://forum.magicmirror.builders 🙂

The software most people use for setting up their magic mirror is MagicMirror², a free, group-maintained open-source platform created by Michael Teeuw.

And you know what open-source means…

Third-party add-ons!

The modular nature of MagicMirror² lets third-party developers easily bring their own ideas to the platform. As Brian Cotter explains in the video above, he used AgP42’s MMM-iFrame-Ping and eouia’s MMM-GooglePhotos to integrate YouTube videos and photographs into his magic mirror.

A screenshot from Brian Cotter's Magic Mirror add-on YouTube video.

And of course that’s not all! Other magic mirror add-ons let you implement 3D gesture detection or display international currency values, Google Fit totals, and more. Find a whole host of such third-party add-ons in this GitHub wiki.

Brian Cotter

Looking for more Raspberry Pi videos from Brian? Check out his Raspberry Pi playlist and be sure, as always, to subscribe to his channel.

Inside My Raspberry Pi Magic Mirror!

Checkout this inside look of my Rasberry Pi Magic Mirror build! Magic Mirror Builder (Michael Teeuw): https://magicmirror.builders/ Two-Way Mirror: https://www.tapplastics.com/ Monitor: https://amzn.to/2EusyhQ Raspberry Pi: https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/… Music Credit: Ikson – Paradise New Here? Follow Me Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/techcoderun/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/bfcotter Hi! My name is Brian Cotter and I live in New York City.

We’re forever grateful to all the content creators who make videos of their Raspberry Pi projects. If you have your own, be sure to let us know the link in the comments!

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Tinkernut’s Beginners’ Guide to SSH

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/tinkernuts-beginners-guide-to-ssh/

We often mention SSH (Secure Shell) when we talk about headless Raspberry Pi projects — projects that involve accessing a Pi remotely. If you’re a coding creative who doesn’t know what SSH involves, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive online guide to using SSH with your Raspberry Pi.

SSH in terminal

You know who’s also got you covered? YouTube favourite Tinkernut, with his great beginners’ guide to SSH, what it is, why we use it, and how you can use it with your device:

Beginners Guide To SSH

Me: “I have a question about controlling another computer over the internet” You: “SSH” Me: “Don’t tell me to ‘shhh’, I’m asking you a question”. Ok, enough with the play on words. If you’ve ever wanted to securely control another computer over the internet, then you’ve probably heard of SSH.

SSHhhhhhhhhh

Between our guide and Tinkernut’s video, I don’t think I need to add anything else on the subject.

So here, have this GIF, and have yourself a lovely weekend!

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Build your own South Park Buddha Box

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/south-park-raspberry-pi-buddha-box/

Escape the distractions of the world around you and focus your attention on the thing you love the most in life: your smartphone! It’s easy with the all-new Buddha Box, brought to you by South Park and the 8 Bits and a Byte team!

Introducing The All New Buddha Box | South Park

A brand new invention is sweeping South Park. The Buddha Box will let you escape from anything in the world so that you can focus on the thing you love the most… your phone.

The Buddha Box

Introduced in a recent episode of the cult show South Park, the Buddha Box is an ingenious invention that allows its user to ignore the outside world and fully immerse themselves in their smartphone. With noise-cancelling headphones and a screen so close to your eyes you’ll be seeing light spots for weeks to come, the Buddha Box is the must-have accessory for 2019.

We jest, obviously. It’s a horrible idea. And here’s how to make your own!

Build your own Buddha Box

Using a Raspberry Pi, noise-cancelling headphones, a screen, and a cardboard box, the wonderful 8 Bits and a Byte team has created a real-life Buddha Box that you definitely shouldn’t make yourself. As we said — horrible idea.

But it would be a great way to try out screensharing software on your Pi!

To make it, you’ll need to secure the headphones and a screen inside a suitably sized cardboard box, and then set up your Raspberry Pi to run Screencast.

The inside of the Raspberry Pi-enabled South Park Buddha Box showing the headphones, screen and Pi secured inside

The Screencast software allows you to cast the screen of your smartphone to the screen within the box — hence its name.

Here’s the tutorial from 8 Bits and a Byte, and a working demonstration:

South Park’s Buddha Box

A real, working version of South Parks Buddha Box, made using a pair of headphones, an LCD screen, a powerbank and a Raspberry Pi.

If you have an Android phone that you want to use with your Raspberry Pi, check out this guide for enabling Screencast, written by Make Tech Easier. And if you want to share the screen of an iPhone with your Pi, this Instructables guide will walk you through setting up the RPlay software.

Building props

We love prop builds using Raspberry Pi — if you do too, check out the posts in our ‘props’ blog category. And if you’ve made a prop from TV or film using a Pi, be sure to share it with us!

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Adding the Pi to Picasso with wireless digital graffiti

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/wiimote-graffiti-raspberry-pi/

It looks like the Nintendo Wii Remote (Wiimote) has become a staple in many maker toolkits! Case in point: with the help of a Raspberry Pi and the cwiid Python library, David Pride turned the popular piece of tech into a giant digital graffiti spraycan.

Raspberry Pi-powered Nintento Wiimote digital art

Using the Wiimote with a Raspberry Pi

While it’s no longer being updated and supported, the cwiid library is still a handy resource for creators who want to integrate the Wiimote with their Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi-powered Nintento Wiimote digital art

Over the years, makers have used the Wiimote to control robots, musical instruments, and skateboards; the accessibility of the library plus the low cost and availability of the remote make using this tool a piece of cake…or pie, in this instance.

Digital graffiti

Using aWiimote, a Wii Sensor Bar, and a large display, David Pride hacked his way to digital artistry wonderment and enabled attendees of the Open University Knowledge Makers event to try their hand at wireless drawing. It’s kinda awesome.

OK, it’s all kinds of awesome. We really like it.

Digital graffiti ingredients

To construct David’s digital graffiti setup, you’ll need:

  • A Raspberry Pi
  • A Nintendo Wii Remote and a Wii Sensor Bar
  • A power supply and DC/DC power converter
  • A large display, e.g. a TV or projector screen
  • A 30mm × 30mm mirror and this 3D-printed holder

Putting it all together

David provides the step-by-step instructions for setting up the Wiimote and Raspberry Pi on his website, including a link to the GitHub repository with the complete project code. The gist of the build process is as follows:

Raspberry Pi-powered Nintento Wiimote digital art

After installing the cwiid library on the Raspberry Pi, David connected the Pi to the Wiimote via Bluetooth. And after some digging into the onboard libraries of the remote itself, he was able to access the infrared technology that lets the remote talk to the Sensor Bar.

Raspberry Pi-powered Nintento Wiimote digital art

The 3D-printed holder with which David augmented the Wiimote lets the user hold the remote upright like a spray can, while the integrated mirror reflects the IR rays so the Sensor Bar can detect them.

Raspberry Pi-powered Nintento Wiimote digital art

The Sensor Bar perceives the movement of the Wiimote, and this data is used to turn the user’s physical actions into works of art on screen. Neat!

If you’ve used the Nintendo Wiimote for your Raspberry Pi projects, let us know. And, speaking of the Wii, has anyone hacked their Balance Board with a Pi?

On a completely unrelated note…

How cool is this?!

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Bike dashcam from RaspiTV

Post Syndicated from Liz Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/bike-dashcam-raspitv/

It’s that time of year again: Pi Towers is locking its doors as we all scoot off into the night to spend some time with our families. There will be a special post on Christmas Day for people who have been given a new Raspberry Pi and need some pointers for getting started. Normal service will resume when we’ve dealt with our New Year headaches: until then, have a wonderful Christmas holiday!

Our good friend Alex Eames has been live-blogging a new project over the last week or so, and has just wrapped up. (Seasonal pun. Not sorry.) He’s recently been bitten by the cycling bug.

I’ve ridden about 1100 miles in the last 6 months and have learned enough to bore you to death with talk of heart zones and various items of clothing you can buy to make winter rides more bearable.

Here is Darth Alex demonstrating fashion-forward winter 2018 cycling wear.

Moving swiftly on.

Alex has been working on a dashcam for his bike, mostly intended for use as a rear-view “mirror”, but also to work as an evidence-collecting camera in case of any accidents.

dashcam test

This is really one of the most interesting and enjoyable project write-ups we’ve come across in a while: working on this dashcam as a daily live blog means that Alex has been able to take us down all the rabbit holes he investigated, explain changes of direction and dead ends, and show us exactly how the design and engineering process came together. And this, being an Alex project, has great attention to detail; he made custom mounts for his bike to keep everything as unobtrusive as possible, so it looks great as well.

There’s a ton of detail on hardware (which went through several iterations before Alex settled on something he was happy with), software, implementation, unexpected hiccups, and more. And if you’re someone who would rather skip to the end, here’s Alex’s road test.

Raspberry Pi Bike Dashcam Rearview Mirror Road Test – no audio

First and second road tests of my Raspberry Pi Rearview mirror/Dashcam bike project as blogged here https://raspi.tv/2018/making-a-fairly-simple-bike-dashcam-live-project-blog

I really hope we’ll see more write-ups like this one in 2019. We don’t get to read as much about other project makers’ process as we’d like to; it’s really fascinating to get a glimpse into the way someone else thinks about and approaches a problem.

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Minecraft-controlled real world Christmas tree

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/minecraft-controlled-christmas-tree/

Interact with the real world via the block world, with the Minecraft-controlled Christmas tree from the team at BroCraft Gaming.

Illuminating

David Stevens of BroCraft Gaming reached out to us last month to let us know about the real-life Christmas tree he and his team were planning to hack using Minecraft. Intriguing? Obviously. And after a few more emails, David has been back in touch to let us know the tree hack is now live and ready for the world to interact with.

Here’s a blurb from the BroCraft team:

Join our Minecraft server at brocraftlive.net, complete the tutorial if you haven’t already, and type /mcct to join our snowy wonderland. Collect power from power blocks dotted everywhere, then select a pattern with the Technician, and watch as the tree lights up on the camera stream LIVE before your very eyes! Visit the attractions, play our minigames, and find out what else our server has to offer.

The tree uses individually addressable LEDs and the Adafruit Neopixel Python library. And with the help of a bespoke Java plugin, all instructions from within the Minecraft server are fed to the lights via a Raspberry Pi.

You can view the live Christmas tree camera stream here, along with a brief FAQ on interacting with the tree within the BroCraft Minecraft server.

Minecraft Pi

You’ll need access to Minecraft to be able to interact with the tree. And, lucky for you, Minecraft Pi comes free with Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi!

To flash the Raspbian image onto an SD card, follow this video tutorial from the team at The MagPi. And to get more acquainted with Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi, check out our free resources, including the getting started guide, Minecraft selfies, and the big Minecraft piano.



Find more free Raspberry Pi resources on our projects site, and immerse yourself even further into the world of Minecraft Pi with The MagPi’s Hacking and Making in Minecraft Essentials Guide, available in print and as a free PDF download!

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Google AIY Projects Kit vs Star Wars Porgs

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/star-wars-porg-google-aiy-translator/

Here at Pi Towers, we have a love/hate relationship with the Star Wars creatures known as Porgs. Love, because anything cute and annoying will instantly get our attention; hate, primarily because of this GIF:

Star Wars Porg Raspberry Pi Google AIY Projects Kit translator

So when hackster.io tweeted about the following project, you can imagine the unfiltered excitement and fear with which I shared the link in the comms team Slack channel.

It looked a little something like this:

Star Wars Porg Raspberry Pi Google AIY Projects Kit translator

Google AIY Projects Kit

When we announced the Google AIY Projects Kit as a freebie included in issue 57 of The MagPi, I don’t think we realised how well it would do. OK, no, we knew it would do well. After we gave away a free $5 computer on the front cover of issue 40, we knew giving tech away with The MagPi would always do well. But the wave of projects and applications that started on the day of the release was a wonderful surprise, as community members across the world immediately began to implement voice control in their builds.

Star Wars Porg Raspberry Pi Google AIY Projects Kit translator

And now, twenty months later, we’re still seeing some wonderful applications of the kit, including this glorious Porg project.

Learn Spanish with a Porg — because of course

Hackster.io user Paul Trebilcox-Ruiz shared his Translation Toy project on the site yesterday, providing a step-by-step guide to hacking the motors of the Star Wars Porg toy so that it moves in time with verbal responses from the AIY kit. It’s all rather nifty, and apart from a Raspberry Pi you only need some wires and a soldering iron to complete the project yourself.

…some wires, a soldering iron, and the cold-heartedness to pull apart the innards of a stuffed toy, Paul, you monster!

“Hello” Translation Toy

Uploaded by Paul Trebilcox-Ruiz on 2018-12-10.

As soon as Paul realised that the Porg’s motors would run if he simply applied voltage, he extended the wires inside the Porg with the help of jumper leads and so attached the Porg to the GPIO pins on his Raspberry Pi.

For this setup, I hooked the two speaker wires from the Porg into the speaker connectors on the HAT, the button wires into the GPIO pin 24 and ground connectors under the ‘Servos’ heading, and for the motors I needed to hook up a relay for a 5V connection driven by the signal off of GPIO pin 26. The microphone that came with the AIY Voice Projects Kit was attached to the board using the pre-defined mic connector.

Then Paul wrote code that uses the AIY kit to translate any voice command it hears into Spanish.

For the full code and instructions, check out Paul’s hackster.io project page. And for more Porg love, here’s every Porg scene from The Last Jedi:

Porgs! Love Them Or Hate Them – Every Porg Scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi HD

Porgs are now part of the Star Wars universe for better or worse thanks to director Rian Johnson. How do you feel about the tasty critters? Thanks for watching

Bonus facts

  • Porgs were introduced into the Star Wars universe as a means of hiding the many puffins that traipse the landscape of Skellig Michael, the location used for filming Luke Skywalker’s home, Ahch-To. Bless you.
  • A group of Porgs is called a murder.
  • A baby Porg is called a Porglet.
  • And no, you can’t get a physical copy of The MagPi issue 40 or issue 57. They’re gone now. Done. Forever. But you can still download the PDFs.

 

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We tried out Valve’s Steam Link on Raspberry Pi and…

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/steam-link-raspberry-pi/

… it worked well!

tl;dr: really, really well.

But if “it worked really well” isn’t enough of a reason for you to give Steam Link on Raspberry Pi a go, here’s the rest of today’s blog post…

Steam Link on Raspberry Pi

The internet (mainly Reddit) was all aflutter last week due to the release of the Steam Link app beta version for the Raspberry Pi.

Steam Link, for the uninitiated, is a service that allowed users of the digital distribution platform Steam to stream video games from their PC to a display of choice — without the need to weave a mile-long HDMI cable between rooms and furniture to connect computer and television.

The original Steam Link

Up until now, if Steam users wanted to stream games to other displays, they had to do so with Valve’s own Steam Link device — a small black box available for purchase on the Valve website — and the device did pretty well. But with the new Steam Link app for Raspberry Pi, any Pi owner can get up and running with Steam Link using one single line of code.

And that’s all sorts of convenient!

Trying out Steam Link for ourselves

We didn’t just want to put out a blog post to let you folks know that the app’s beta version is now live. Instead, we wanted to collar one of our own to try the new app out at home and let us know exactly what they think. And since we knew that Simon, our Asset Management Assistant Keeper of the Swag, Organiser of the Stuff, Lord Commander of the Things, had a Steam Link at home, it made sense to ask him nicely to give the app a try over the weekend.

And he did, because Simon = ❤

One line of code later…

It took Simon all of five minutes to get Steam Link up and running on his TV. He even went so far as to copy and paste the short line of code via a Chromium search for the announcement, instead of typing it in for himself.

And then Simon just had to sign into his Steam account and boom, Bob’s your uncle, Sally’s your aunt, the process was complete.

“Took less than five minutes before I was investigating strange cults from the comfort of my sofa,” explained Simon, as we all nodded, inwardly judging him a little for his game of choice. But in case you’re interested, Cultist Simulator is made by Factory Weather, and there are currently some photos of a tiny kitten on their homepage, so go check it out.

User experience

Let us know if you’ve tried the Steam Link app on Raspberry Pi, and what you think of it. Oh, and what games you’re playing on it, especially if they include Cultist Simulator.

And to make your Steam Link setup process easier, type rpf.io/steamlinkblog into your Chromium browser on your Raspberry Pi to open this blog post, and then copy and paste the following into a terminal window to run install the app:

curl -#Of http://media.steampowered.com/steamlink/rpi/steamlink_1.0.7_armhf.deb
sudo dpkg -i steamlink_1.0.7_armhf.deb

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Reef-Pi: the ultimate Raspberry Pi fish tank management system

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/reef-pi-raspberry-pi-fish-tank-management-system/

If you’ve ever had a pet fish, even the saddest of fairground goldfish, you’ll appreciate how much work and attention they require. And to those who have never owned a fish: believe me, it’s more than you’d assume.

Reef-Pi

And the moment you upgrade from goldfish to brightly coloured, tropical beauties, and replace the standard silk reeds and gravel with live aquatic plants and soil, you suddenly have to factor in things like optimum temperature and chemical levels.

Reef-Pi

Reef-Pi

Thankfully, Adafruit Learning System author and loving fish parent Ranjib Dey has been working on a tutorial series called Reef-Pi, a collection of how-to guides that help you build the ultimate in Raspberry Pi reef aquarium management system.

Ranjib Dey on Twitter

@reef_pi at makerfaire #MFBA18

Reef-Pi monitors pH, chemical, and water levels, controls temperature, light, and power, and automates the management of these aspects so you don’t have to think about them. Phew!

And if you don’t fancy a massive coral-filled saltwater tank like Ranjib’s, you can use parts the Reef-Pi series for your own tank, whatever its setup, because many of the operations are similar or easy to adjust for your needs.

Jean Tannen

Any excuse to show off beautiful Jean to the world

Take, for example, my new Betta, Jean Tannen. While Jean’s tank is a much smaller size, and Jean its only resident (for now), I still need to keep an eye on the chemical balance of his water, the heat of his tank, and when his lights should be turned on or off. Even the most commonplace goldfish will appreciate many of the services Reef-Pi automates.

The Reef-Pi system uses a variety of components, including Raspberry Pi Zero and/or Raspberry Pi 3, and each stage of building the project is well-documented on the Adafruit Learning System. So if you’re looking to upgrade your tank, or have always fancied having pet fish but don’t want the hassle of tank management, give Reef-Pi a gander and see what you think.

We’re going to try it!

Sarah, our new Operations Manager, has been looking to upgrade her giant fish tank with a Raspberry Pi or two, so we’ll be sure to share her progress in the new year. If you decide to give Reef-Pi a try, or have already automated your tank with a Pi, let us know in the comments, or tag us on Twitter or Instagram!

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The age of the Twitter bot

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-age-of-the-twitter-bot/

Despite changes to the process, setting up a Raspberry Pi as a Twitter bot is a fairly easy process. And while many such bots simply share time-lapse snapshots, or change the colour of LEDs across the globe, we know some that fill our timelines with fun, random joyfulness of a daily basis. Here are a few of them:

@DaphneFlap

Celebrated by cat worshippers the world over, Daphne’s Catflap documents the comings and goings of Daphne, the fluffy feline housemate of Kate Bevan. While my own cat is now too big to fit through his catflap, Daphne uses her catflap several times a day, and thanks to the Raspberry Pi connected to it, the catflap does a marvellous job of celebrating Daphne every time she graces us with her presence.

Daphne’s Catflap on Twitter

Adored Daphne, graceful empress of floof, floofybum. No adoring catflap could possibly be more blessed than me.

@raspberrypi_otd

Ben made a thing.

The Raspberry Pi OTD Twitter bot shares past posts from this very blog you are reading RIGHT NOW, and thus traces the evolution of Raspberry Pi through its tweets. One day, probably in twelve months, this very blog post will resurface on the Raspberry Pi OTD timeline, and then we shall all meet back here and say hi.

Raspberry Pi OTD on Twitter

On this day in 2015: Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer https://t.co/1GRhq0TYuz

@randspberrypi

Sharing posts generated by Rand’s Raspberry Pi, this twitter bot posts random GIF-packed tweets, usually with a retro 1980s vibe and the hashtags #80s, #MusicVideo, #GIF, and #raspberrypi

Rand’s RaspberryPi on Twitter

Random #80s #MusicVideo #GIF #raspberrypi https://t.co/ieraOHGFjr

@falalala_la

Though it seems to be taking a hiatus right now, the Deck the Halls bot searches Twitter for tweets that fit perfectly to the tune of Deck the Halls, and retweets these with the classic “Falalalala, la la, la la!” as a comment. Be warned, a few of the tweets it recovers may be NSFW, but on the whole, it’s a joyful, joyful experience.

Deck the Halls on Twitter

Falalalala, la la, la la! https://t.co/r2dkE8wMFm

@bert_the_plant

I promise we haven’t killed him.

Bert is a ficus tree that lives in one of the meeting rooms here at Pi Towers. When connected to the internet, his Raspberry Pi and moisture monitor update followers about whether he needs watering, alongside a photo of his current state. And while his last tweet, dated 10 June 2017, claims he’s “so thirsty”, accompanied by a photo of pure darkness, I assure you this is simply because the light was off…and the Pi has since been unplugged…and Bert’s alive, I swear it, I swear!

Hold on, I just need to go for a walk to Meeting Room 5. No reason. *runs*

Bert Plant on Twitter

I’m so thirsty!

Connecting your Raspberry Pi to Twitter

The process of setting up a Developer Account so you can build your own Twitter bot has changed recently. But once you follow their new steps, you can still use our free resources for connecting your Raspberry Pi to Twitter.

In our Tweeting Babbage resource, you will learn how to write code that sends images from your Pi to the Twittersphere.

And if you’re a more experienced coder, you could try your hand at our Naughty and nice resource, which will walk you through creating a program that checks whether a Twitter user is in Santa’s good or bad books. After all, Christmas is just under a month away!

Santa angrily staring at a Twitter account

And from there, the world (the Twitter world at least) is your oyster.

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Has someone cured the common cold with a Raspberry Pi?

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/has-someone-cured-the-common-cold-with-a-raspberry-pi/

No. They haven’t. What’s taking you all so long?

Alex has a cold

I felt it coming on last night. That heavy-headedness. The slight tickle in my throat. Blurry vision, sudden chills, a desperate need for snuggles. Colds can go from zero to a hundred within minutes, and then, no matter how much you hydrate, how early a night you get, or how much medication you take, you know you’re going to wake up feeling rough.

gif of monica from friends feeling ill

As I have done today.

So I turned to the internet

And I typed this…

googling screengrab

And nothing came up. Nothing at all. I mean, I know you’re all busy living your best lives and all that, but c’mon, team — I was counting on at least one of you to have fixed this by now!

Somebody do something!

You’ve let me down, but I am going to give you all another chance to make amends.

In the comments below, or in reply to the social media posts on Facebook and Twitter about the publication of this blog post, I’d like you to invent a Raspberry Pi project that will aid me in getting over my cold.

It may be a robot that hands me a tissue, or one that rocks me to sleep. It could be an algorithm for predicting when I’ll next get sick based on certain factors such as climate, schedule, or my poor, vitamin-deprived diet.

It could even be a drone that will deliver my mother to my house whenever I need attention and a hug.

Whatever your invention, however wild and unlikely it seems, I want to hear about it. And the best ones will receive some stickers or something — whatever cool Raspberry Pi thingers I’ll find in my desk when I return to Pi Towers on Monday. #SuchPrepared #MuchProfessional #wow

And no, you don’t have to actually make the thing. Just tell me what it would do and, if you like, include pictures!

And while you’re all doing that…

I’m going to make another cup of tea and curl up on the sofa with She-Ra on Netflix. Ta!

She-Ra gif

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From inspiration to innovation: Hands-On Coding blocks

Post Syndicated from Dana Augustin original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hands-on-coding-marcos-navas-picademy/

Marcos Navas is a Union City Technology Facilitator with Union City school district in New Jersey and an active member of the maker, STEM, and coding communities. He was part of the first cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators in the United States. Recently, he completed a fellowship with IDEO’s Teachers Guild and launched Hands-on Coding, a company that makes physical coding blocks for learners. Hands-On Coding blocks allow students to physically build computer programs and act out their code in the real world. They turn the human into a computer and teach children not only how to solve problems, but also how to express themselves.

In this blog post, Marcos shares how his experience at Picademy helped him successfully combine his skills as a teacher with an entrepreneurial drive.

Marcos Navas — Hands-On Coding

At Picademy North America

The day before my flight to San Jose Airport to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, I was busy in my garage makerspace. It’s strange when and how inspiration strikes, but it did — at 1am while I was preparing for Picademy. While looking at the Raspberry Pi and all the coding languages, I began thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could hold the code in my hands and manipulate it?” So I began tinkering with the 3D printer and created a repeat block — and that’s how the story of Hands-On Coding begins.

A girl playing with hands-on coding blocks at a desk

The following day, I was part of the first cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators (RCEs) in America. I walked into a room full of innovative and creative teachers from all over the country. Over the next two days, we were introduced to the world of Raspberry Pi and the coding basics we needed to create our first project. It was here that I understood the power of coding and how it is the language of the future. I truly believed then — and now! — how impactful coding could be if integrated into schools.

With so many talented people in attendance, I decided to share my 3D-printed coding blocks. After receiving many “oohs” and “aahs” from my peers along with several order requests, I realized that my idea could turn into something much bigger!

Marcos Navas selfie — Hands-On Coding

FAIL: First Attempt In Learning

One of the major takeaways from Picademy was Carrie Anne Philbin’s intro slide titled “FAIL: First Attempt In Learning.” But, for me, the word ‘fail’ turned into ‘fear’: being new to coding and the Raspberry Pi was daunting. Through persistence, though, I embraced growth, and worked my way out of those fears; I began to gain more confidence, which led to new ideas and experiences. And I learned that changing my perspective on failure was the key to embracing it. Some time after Picademy, this same message was repeated to me by Reshma Suajani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, who saw my coding blocks and said: “Don’t let the fear of failure get in your way.” So I let failure drive me instead.

kids playing with hands-on coding blocks

Hands-On Coding blocks

After Picademy, I met with Sam Patterson, another amazing RCE, at his local makerspace. During our conversation, I handed him one of my first coding block prototypes and asked for his thoughts. His words got me thinking about kinesthetic coding and the physical movements of acting out code to build understanding.

Two years later, in July 2018, after developing partnerships, distribution channels, and a fantastic shipping department (me), we delivered our first Hands-On Coding blocks! Hands-On Coding now consists of me and my partners Laura Fleming and Joann Presby, and our goal is to revolutionize coding by making it a more physical and tangible educational idea open to various types of learners. We hope to teach the fundamentals of computational thinking and computer science through the use of blocks and the absence of any technological device; you don’t need to learn coding in front of a screen. Our endgame is to help humanity learn to design solutions to problems in our world.

Kids playing with hands-on coding blocks

After Picademy

My experience at Picademy was just the start of my journey. I not only gained an understanding of the importance of coding in education and the versatility of the Raspberry Pi computer, but also grew out my shell and gained the confidence I needed to put ideas into actions. I became a TED Innovative Educator and an IDEO Teachers Guild Fellow, I launched Hands-on Coding, and I created numerous relationships and ambassadorships with an array of edtech companies. I understood that just because I am an educator or teacher that doesn’t mean I can’t follow my own dreams and aspirations and be a teacherpreneur! I do not have any secrets or magic to this process. Rather, a dream, action, and hard work can lead you to many worlds of possibilities.

Picademy and online training

Keep up to date with Picademy, including the release of 2019 dates, by following the #Picademy hashtag on Twitter. You’ll also find more information on our Picademy page.

Our free online training courses offer another way to learn about introducing coding into the classroom, and much more. And you can discover more stories and support from educators like Marcos in Hello World, the computing and digital making magazine for educators, which is available for free.

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Three-factor authentication is the new two-factor authentication

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/three-factor-authentication-raspberry-pi/

Two-factor authentication continues to provide our online selves with more security for our email and online banking. Meanwhile, in the physical world, protecting our valuables is now all about three-factor authentication.

A GIF of a thumbprint being scanned for authentication - three-factor authentication

Not sure what I mean? Here’s a video from Switched On Network that demonstrates how to use a Raspberry Pi to build a three-factor door lock comprised of an RFID keyring, 6-digit passcode, and one-time access code sent to your mobile phone.

Note that this is a fairly long video, so feel free to skip it for now and read my rather snazzy tl;dr. You can come back to the video later, with a cup of tea and 20 minutes to spare. It’ll be worth it, I promise.

Build a Raspberry Pi Smart Door Lock Security System with Three Factor Authentication!

https://amzn.to/2A98EaZ (UK) / https://amzn.to/2LDlxyc (US) – Get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial of Audible from Amazon! Build the ultimate door lock system, effectively turning your office or bedroom into a high-security vault!

The tl;dr of three-factor door locks by Alex Bate

To build Switched On Network’s three-factor door lock, you need to source a Raspberry Pi 3, a USB RFID reader and fob, a touchscreen, a electronic door strike, and a relay switch. You also need a few other extras, such as a power supply and a glue gun.

A screenshot from the three-factor authentication video of a glue gun

Once you’ve installed the appropriate drivers (if necessary) for your screen, and rotated the display by 90 degrees, you can skip ahead a few steps by installing the Python script from Switched On Network’s GitHub repo! Cheers!

A screenshot from the three-factor authentication video of the screen attached to the Pi in portrait mode

Then for the physical build: you need to attach the door strike, leads, and whatnot to the Pi — and all that together to the door and door frame. Again, I won’t go into the details, since that’s where the video excels.

A screenshot from the video of the components of the three-factor authentication door lock

The end result is a superior door lock that requires you to remember both your keys and your phone in order to open it. And while we’d never suggest using this tech to secure your house from the outside, it’s a perfect setup for inside doors to offices or basement lairs.

A GIF of Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory

Everyone should have a lair.

Now go watch the video!

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I feel the earth move under my feet (in Michigan)

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/michigan-seismic-activity-raspberry-pi/

The University of Michigan is home to the largest stadium in the USA (the second-largest in the world!). So what better place to test for spectator-induced seismic activity than The Big House?

The Big House stadium in Michigan

The Michigan Shake

University of Michigan geology professor Ben van der Pluijm decided to make waves by measuring the seismic activity produced during games at the university’s 107601 person-capacity stadium. Because earthquakes are (thankfully) very rare in the Midwest, and therefore very rarely experienced by van der Pluijm’s introductory geology class, he hoped this approach would make the movement of the Earth more accessible to his students.

“The bottom line was, I wanted something to show people that the Earth just shakes from all kinds of interactions,” explained van der Pluijm in his interview with The Michigan Daily. “All kinds of activity makes the Earth shake.”

The Big House stadium in Michigan

To measure the seismic activity, van der Pluijm used a Raspberry Pi, placing it on a flat concrete surface within the stadium.

Van der Pluijm installed a small machine called a Raspberry Pi computer in the stadium. He said his only requirements were that it needed to be able to plug into the internet and set up on a concrete floor. “Then it sits there and does its thing,” he said. “In fact, it probably does its thing right now.”

He then sent freshman student Sahil Tolia to some games to record the moments of spectator movement and celebration, so that these could be compared with the seismic activity that the Pi registers.

We’re not sure whether Professor van der Pluijm plans on releasing his findings to the outside world, or whether he’ll keep them a close secret with his introductory students, but we hope for the former!

Build your own Raspberry Pi seismic activity reader

We’re not sure what other technology van der Pluijm uses in conjunction with the Raspberry Pi, but it’s fairly easy to create your own seismic activity reader using our board. You can purchase the Raspberry Shake, an add-on board for the Pi that has vertical and horizontal geophones, MEMs accelerometers, and omnidirectional differential pressure transducers. Or you can fashion something at home, for example by taking hints from this project by Carlo Cristini, which uses household items to register movement.

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Can’t Drive This, the 4D arcade machine

Post Syndicated from Rob Zwetsloot original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/4d-arcade-machine/

A Raspberry Pi–powered arcade display with hidden interactive controls won over the crowds at Gamescom. Rosie Hattersley and Rob Zwetsloot got the inside scoop.

Pixel Maniacs is a Nuremberg-based games maker that started out making mobile apps. These days it specialises in games for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. You Can’t Drive is its first foray into gaming with a Raspberry Pi.

If you’re going to add a little something extra to wow the crowd at the Gamescom video games trade fair, a Raspberry Pi is a surefire way of getting you noticed. And that’s the way Pixel Maniacs went about it.

The Nuremberg-based games developer retrofitted an arcade machine with a Raspberry Pi to showcase its intentionally silly Can’t Drive This precarious driving game at Gamescom.

This two-player co-operative game involves one player building the track while the other drives along it.

Complete with wrecking balls, explosions, an inconvenient number of walls, and the jeopardy of having to construct your road as you negotiate your way, at speed, across an ocean to the relative safety of the next lump of land, Can’t Drive This is a fast‑paced racing game.

Splash action

Pixel Maniacs then took things up a notch by providing interactive elements, building a mock 4D arcade game (so-named because they feature interactive elements such as motion cabinets). The fourth dimension, in this case, saw the inclusion of a water spray, fan, and console lights. For its Gamescom debut, Pixel Maniacs presented Can’t Drive This in a retro arcade cabinet, where hordes of gaming fans gathered round its four-way split screen to enjoy the action.

Getting to the heart of the matter and replacing the original 1980s kit with modern-day processors and Pi-powered additions

Adding Raspberry Pi gaming to the mix was about aiding the game development process as much as anything. Andy Holtz, Pixel Maniacs’ software engineer, told The MagPi that the team wanted an LED matrix with 256 RGB LEDs to render sprite-sheet animations. “We knew we needed a powerful machine with enough RAM, and a huge community, to get the scripts running.”

Pixel Maniacs’ offices have several Raspberry Pi–controlled monitors and a soundboard, so the team knew the Pi’s potential.

The schematic for the 4D arcade machine, showing the importance of the Raspberry Pi as a controller.

The arcade version of the game runs off a gaming laptop cunningly hidden within the walls of the cabinet, while the Raspberry Pi delivers the game’s surprise elements such as an unexpected blast from a water spray. A fan can be triggered to simulate stormy weather, and lights start flashing crazily when the cars crash. Holtz explains that the laptop “constantly sends information about the game’s state to the Raspberry Pi, via a USB UART controller. The Pi reads these state messages, converts them, and sends according commands to the fans, water nozzle, camera, and the LED light matrix. So when players drive through water, the PC sends the info to the Pi, and [the latter] turns on the nozzle, spraying them.”

Having played your heart out, you get a photo-booth-style shot of you in full-on gaming action.

The arcade idea came about when Pixel Maniacs visited the offices of German gaming magazine M! Games and spied an abandoned, out-of-order 1980s arcade machine lurking unloved in a corner. Pixel Maniacs set about rejuvenating it, Da Doo Ron Ron soundtrack and all.

Sustained action

Ideas are one thing; standing up to the rigours of a full weekend’s uninterrupted gameplay at the world’s biggest games meet is something else. Holtz tells us, “The Raspberry Pi performed like a beast throughout the entire time. Gamescom was open from 9am till 8pm, so it had to run for eleven hours straight, without overheating or crashing. Fortunately, it did. None of the peripherals connected to the Pi had any problems, and we did not have a single crash.”

A Raspberry Pi 3B+ was used to trigger the water spray, lights, and fans, bringing an extra element to the gameplay, as well as rendering the arcade machine’s graphics.

Fans were enthusiastic too, with uniformly positive feedback, and one Gamescom attendee attempting to buy the arcade version there and then. As Andy Holtz says, though, you don’t sell your baby. Instead, Pixel Maniacs is demoing it at games conventions in Germany this autumn, before launching Can’t Drive This across gaming platforms at the end of the year.

This article was printed in The MagPi issue 75. Get your copy of The MagPi in stores now, or download it as a free PDF here.

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Raspberry Pi would like you to remember…

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fireworks-2018/

…remember, the 5th of November. Happy Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night…Day!

A brief history of the Gunpowder Plot

In 1605, York-born Guy Fawkes was arrested, along with other conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, for their attempt to blow up the House of Lords that, at the time, was occupied by members of parliament, including King James I.

To celebrate their king surviving the attempt on his life, residents of London lit bonfires, and this became a recognised custom across England on every 5 November to follow. 413 years on, we continue the tradition by burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on bonfires, setting off fireworks, and eating over-priced hotdogs while getting a little tipsy on mulled cider at council-organised events.

Guy Fawkes, in case you’re wondering, was sentenced to death and, after breaking his neck while climbing the gallows, was quartered, and his body parts were distributed to the four corners of the kingdom — another tradition at the time. Good thing we haven’t kept that one going!

Bonfire Night and Raspberry Pi

“Okay, Alex, we get it. You like Bonfire Night. But what has this got to do with Raspberry Pi?”

I’m glad you asked.

While I do enjoy Bonfire Night, I’m not a massive fan of too many fireworks. Or rather, I’m not a fan of the way too many fireworks upset my cat Jimmy.

So when I saw this cute digital fireworks display by Mike ‘Recantha’ Horne, I cheered with delight. He says:

This is a nice little project that I wrote the code for a couple of Sundays ago. It uses the Pimoroni Mote to appear as fireworks and then uses Pygame to play the sound of fireworks as each Mote stick ‘explodes’ in a shower of sparkles! You can see the effect in the video below and see the code here. You can get hold of your own Mote from Pimoroni. This is all in aid of the Milton Keynes Raspberry Jam on 10 November, which is a “Fireworks Special”!

Mike’s project is a great example of using tech to overcome an everyday issue — in this case, letting me have pretty flashing lights in the dark that don’t scare my cat but still make me go “Oooh!” and “Aaah!”.

Fireworks on the Raspberry Pi with the Pimoroni Mote

Uploaded by Michael Horne on 2018-10-28.

If you’ve created any similar indoor versions of usually outdoor activities using a Raspberry Pi, now is the time to share them with us, either in the comments below or on social media.

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Dance magic, dance

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/dance-magic-dance/

 Firstly, I’d like to apologise for rickrolling you all yesterday. I would LIKE to, but I can’t — it was just too funny to witness.

But as I’m now somewhat more alive and mobile, here’s a proper blog post about proper things. And today’s proper thing is these awesome Raspberry Pi–powered dance costumes from students at a German secondary school:

In the final two years at German gymnasiums (the highest one of our secondary school types), every student has to do a (graded) practical group project. Our school is known for its superb dancing groups, which are formed of one third of the students (voluntarily!), so our computer science teacher suggested to make animated costumes for our big dancing project at the end of the school year. Around 15 students chose this project, firstly because the title sounded cool and secondly because of the nice teacher 😉.

Let me just say how lovely it is that students decided to take part in a task because of how nice the teacher is. If you’re a nice teacher, congratulations!

The students initially tried using Arduinos and LED strips for their costumes. After some failed attempts, they instead opted for a Raspberry Pi Zero WH and side-emitting fibre connected to single RGB LEDs — and the result is rather marvellous.

To power the LEDs, we then had to shift the voltage up from the 3.3V logic level to 12V. For this, we constructed a board to hold all the needed components. At its heart, there are three ULN2803A to provide enough transistors at the smallest possible space still allowing hand-soldering.

Using pulse-width modulation (PWM), the students were able to control the colour of their lights freely. The rest of the code was written during after-school meetups; an excerpt can be found here, along with a complete write-up of the project.

I’m now going to hand this blog post over to our copy editor, Janina, who is going to write up a translated version of the above in German. Janina, over to you…

[Ed. note: Nein, danke.]

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Build your own robotic cat: Petoi returns

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/robotic-cat-petoi-nybble/

Who wouldn’t want a robot kitten? Exactly — we knew you’d understand! And so does the Petoi team, hence their new crowdfunding campaign for Petoi Nybble.

Petoi Nybble

Main campaign video. Back our Indiegogo campaign to adopt Nybble the robo kitten! Share with your friends who may love it! Indiegogo: https://igg.me/at/nybble A more technical post: https://www.hackster.io/RzLi/petoi-nybble-944867 Don’t forget to follow Twitter @PetoiCamp and subscribe to Petoi.com for our newsletters! Most importantly, enjoy our new kitten!

Petoi mark 2

Earlier this year, we shared the robotic cat project Petoi by Rongzhong Li. You all loved it as much as we did, and eagerly requested more information on making one.

Petoi Raspberry Pi Robot Cat

Rongzhong’s goal always was for Petoi to be open-source, so that it can be a teaching aid as much as it is a pet. And with his team’s crowdfunding campaign, he has made building your own robot cat even easier.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

Laser kitty

In the new Nybble version of Petoi, the team replaced 3D-printed parts with laser-cut wood, and cut down the parts list to be more manageable: a Raspberry Pi 3B+, a Sparkfun Arduino Pro Mini, and the Nybble kit, available in the Nybble IndieGoGo campaign.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

The Nybble kit! “The wooden frame is a retro design in honor of its popstick-framed ancestor. I also borrowed the wisdom from traditional Chinese woodwork (in honor of my ancestors), to make the major frame screw-free.”

But Nybble is more than just wooden parts and servo motors! The robotic cat’s artificial intelligence lets users teach it as well as control it,  so every kitty will be unique.

Nybble’s motion is driven by an Arduino-compatible micro-controller. It stores instinctive “muscle memory” to move around. An optional AI chip, such as a Raspberry Pi, can be mounted on top of Nybble’s back, to help Nybble with perception and decision. You can program in your favorite language, and direct Nybble to walk around simply by sending short commands, such as “walk” or “turn left”!

The NyBoard

For this version, the Petoi team has created he NyBoard, an all-in-one controller board for the Raspberry Pi. It’s available to back for $45 if you don’t want to pledge $200 for the entire cat kit.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about Nybble, visit its IndieGoGo campaign page, find more technical details on its Hackster.io project page, or check out the OpenCat GitHub repo.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

And if you’ve built your own robotic pet, such as a K-9–inspired dog, or Raspberry Pi–connected android sheep, let us know!

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Rescuing old cine film with Raspberry Pi Zero

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/rescuing-old-cine-film-raspberry-pi-zero/

When Electrical Engineer Alan Platt was given the task of converting old cine film to digital footage for his father-in-law’s 70th birthday, his first instinct was to look online.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

“There are plenty of companies happy to convert old films”, he explains, “but they are all extremely expensive. In addition, you have to send your original films away by post, and there’s no way to guarantee that they’ll be safe in transit.”

Alan was given a box of Super 8 films covering 15 years of family holidays and memories. A huge responsibility, and an enormous challenge. Not content to let someone else do the hard work, Alan decided to convert the films himself — and learn how to program a Raspberry Pi at the same time.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Alan’s cine film digitising machine

The best-laid plans

Alan’s initial plan involved using his father-in-law’s cine projector as the base for the conversion process, but this soon proved impossible. There was no space in the projector to house both the film-playing mechanism, and the camera for the digitisation process. Further attempts to use the projector came to an end when, on powering it up for the first time, the 50-year-old machine produced a loud bang and a large cloud of smoke.

Undeterred, Alan examined the bust projector’s mechanism and decided to build his own. This began with a large eBay order: 3-D printed components from Germany, custom-shaped PTFE sheets from the UK, and optical lenses from China. For the skeleton of the machine, Alan’s box of Technic LEGO was dusted off and unpacked; an old TV was dug out of storage to interface with the Raspberry Pi Zero.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Experimentation: Technic LEGO, clamps, and Blu Tack hold the equipment together

The build commenced with several weeks of trial and error using scraps of cine film, a Camera Module, and a motor. With the Raspberry Pi Zero, Alan controlled the motion of the film through the machine, and took photos of each frame.

“At one point, setting the tension on the film required a helper to stand next to me, holding a sledgehammer connected to the pick-up reel. Moving the sledgehammer up or down varied the tension, and allowed me to work out what power of motor I would need to make the film run smoothly.”

He refined the hardware and software until the machine could produce reliable, focused, and stable images.

A slow process

Over a period of two months, the finished machine was used to convert all the cine films. The process involves loading a reel onto a Technic LEGO arm, feeding the film through the mechanism with tweezers, and winding the first section on to the pick-up reel. The Raspberry Pi controls a stepper motor and the Camera Module, advancing the film frame by frame and taking individual photos of each film cell. The film is backlit through a sheet of translucent PTFE serving as a diffuser; the Camera Module is focused by moving it up and down on its aluminium mounting.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Alan taught himself to program in Python while working on this project

Finally, Alan used Avidemux, a free video-editing program, to stitch all the images together into an MP4 digital film.

The verdict

“I’m incredibly proud of this machine”, Alan says. “It has taken more than a quarter of a million photos, digitised hundreds of meters of film — and taught me to program in Python. It demonstrates you don’t need to be an expert software engineer to make something really cool!”

And Alan’s father-in-law?

“He was thrilled! Being able to watch the films on his TV without having to set up the projector was fantastic. It was a great present!”

Here, exclusively for the Raspberry Pi blog, we present the first moments of footage to be digitised using Alan’s machine.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Gripping footage, filmed at Windsor Safari Park in 1983

Digital footage

Have you used a Raspberry Pi to digitise family memories? Do you have a box of Super 8 films in the attic, waiting for a machine like Alan’s?

Tell us about it in the comments!

Thanks again, Rachel

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Beer Cooler or: a Raspberry Pi Zero W walks into a bar…

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-beer-cooler/

You know how it is. You move into a house that used to be a pub, and you can’t bring yourself to do away with the bar. In fact, after several years of planning, you find yourself buying a hand pump on eBay, and a polypin of craft ale from the local microbrewery. Suddenly, you’re the landlord. The barkeep. Everyone’s best friend.

A GIF from the movie Shaun of the Dead - Raspberry Pi Beer Cooler

And yet …

There’s something not quite right about this setup. Something not quite perfect. You’re pulling pints and drinking your craft ale one day when you realise — the beer isn’t cold enough!

You need a beer cooler.

Cool customer

Electrical engineer Alan Platt found himself in this enviable position, and he decided to design his own draft ale fridge.

‘The original pub cellar had been filled in, so I couldn’t keep my beer underground and pipe it up to the handpump — it had to sit under the bar. I needed to build my own beer cooler, because there is only so much space under the bar, and a commercial fridge wouldn’t fit.”

Alan set about constructing a box for the beer using sheets of insulation board and elastic bands. He then installed two Peltier cooling pumps in the lid of the box, and routed a pipe up to the handpump for the beer. One trip to the microbrewery later, and the craft ale was chilling nicely.

The outside of Alan's beer cooler showing the cooling apparatus and insulation boards

Alan’s beer cooler

But there was a problem.

‘The Peltiers ran happily for an hour or two, but after that, they proved to be too effective. A layer of ice built up on the heat sink connected to the cold side of the Peltiers, jamming the fans, and allowing the beer to grow warm. They also made a horrible rattling sound, and disturbed everyone in the house.”

It seemed that the perfect pint was still out of reach.

Complex circuitry

Not to be defeated, Alan realised he would need a way to control the power to the Peltier units. Switching the power using a simple thermostat would cause damaging thermal shock in the Peltiers, so Alan turned to Raspberry Pi Zero W as his solution.

A photo of the inside of Alan’s beer cooler complete with Raspberry Pi and a heap of wiring (as described in the paragraph below)

Testing the completed control circuit

In order to fine-tune the cooling process, Alan decided to control the current running through the Peltier units. He used a hardware PWM output on a Raspberry Pi Zero W alongside a power MOSFET, an inductor, a capacitor, and a current measurement circuit to create a switched-mode variable current power supply. By measuring the temperature on the cold side of the Peltier units, and using a PID control loop to adjust the PWM output, Alan was able to maintain the cold side at just above freezing. He used a second PID control loop to keep the beer inside the fridge at a perfect cellar temperature of 8°C.

Aware that this cooling system was both overcomplicated and built from very high-power components, Alan designed multiple failsafes using hardware and software to ensure that the control unit would not spontaneously combust while attempting to cool the beer.

The perfect pint was within reach.

Consultation

And then Alan tried to explain the failure modes to his wife, in case he wasn’t in the house when the electronics overheated, or the failsafes kicked in.

“I wanted her to know what to do if the cooler failed”, Alan explains. “But this required her to check the beer fridge regularly. It’s on the floor, under the bar, and she didn’t seem keen.”

The project was about to get significantly more complicated.

What about an audible alarm?

It was an innocent suggestion, but the idea grew from a simple beeping alarm to a series of spoken alerts. What could be used to produce these alerts?

“I found myself programming a second Raspberry Pi Zero with a DAC HAT, audio amp, and speaker, just to communicate the status of the beer cooler. Originally, the spoken alert was to indicate a fault in the control circuits, but it seemed a waste to stop at a single message.”

A breadboard covered in wires - Raspberry Pi Beer Cooler

Prototype for the audio amplifier

After days of planning, programming, and searching for MP3 files online, the fridge can now inform Alan (and his wife) when it is switched on, when the Peltiers power up, when it reaches maximum power, when it is switched off, and when there is a fault.

The alert messages are all quotes from sci-fi shows and films: Han Solo claiming he has a bad feeling about this; Scotty telling Captain Kirk that the Enterprise is giving it all she’s got; and Kaylee telling Captain Reynolds that everything is shiny.

And the fault alert?

“If there’s a problem with the beer cooler, the Raspberry Pi declares ‘Danger, Will Robinson, danger.’ on a loop, until someone checks it and resets the controls. It’s annoying and effective!”

The perfect pint

The Raspberry Pi also acts as a web server, using the REMI library to display and change the temperatures, currents, and control parameters, so the beer temperature can be monitored and regulated from anywhere on the home WiFi network.

The final build next to a laptop displaying the beer cooler web interface for maintenance on the go

Control box and web interface

Alan’s beer cooler has been successfully tested, and several polypins of local craft ale have been drunk and enjoyed — and it’s only taken two Raspberry Pis; some high-current circuitry; two Peltier units; a pile of household insulation board; and Han Solo, Scotty, Kaylee, and the robot from Lost In Space to achieve the perfect pint.

Over-engineering

Use the comments to tell us about your own over-engineered projects and any excuses you’ve found for including an extra Raspberry Pi in your build!

And thank you to Rachel, aka ‘the wife’, for this wonderful blog post!

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