Frederik and Ernest Lotter from Blue Horizon Embedded Systems in South Africa are driving from the UK to South Africa via Russia and the Middle East, taking in seventeen countries on their way.
They are making the journey in a Land Rover Defender which is fitted with a Raspberry Pi-based distributed light control system. The Raspberry Pi, and their lighting rig design, will be put to the test over 22000km of harsh conditions and rough terrain.
The Lotter brothers are experienced electronic engineers and are offering to meet up with groups of potential Raspberry Pi or ARM enthusiasts along the way. There may even be a Pi-themed reward available if you can find them using the live GPS tracking system they have installed.
You can track them live online, and if you want them to come and talk to your school, business or another group about Raspberry Pi and ARM processors while they’re in your country, they’re inviting you to email them - please get in touch as soon as possible if you’d like them to visit. Watch the video to learn more, and to find out what their route looks like. Thanks Fred and Ernest; we’re looking forward to tracking your progress!
Here’s a guest post from our friend Pete Wood at RS Component’s community arm, DesignSpark. Pete is one of the organisers of the Oxford Raspberry Jams. This post was first published at www.designspark.com.
Raspberry Jams are now being held all over the world; I’ve been trying to go to about one a month, and am lucky enough to be in Tokyo for some press and meetings while the Tokyo Jam is on later this month. There’s a list of events in each month’s MagPi, and if you’re looking for something near you, it’s worth checking the events page on our forums. If you can’t find a Jam near your home, why not look into setting one up? There’s information on how to get started at the Raspberry Jam website, which Alan O’Donohoe tells me will be getting a redesign in the coming months.
Over to Pete!
This month’s Jam held at DesignSpark HQ in Oxford UK was our biggest turnout yet, with over 30 Pi Geeks crammed into the room!
Raspberry Pi Camera
I kicked off the event by showing the new Raspberry Pi camera module, which will be available from RS Components later in May. In the picture is a pre-production module, the production version is a couple of millimetres taller. The camera gives stunning HD video from a 5MP sensor at 30 FPS.
Next up was one of my RS colleagues, Pete Milne, who showed us his Digital Signage application. Pete has connected up a network of Raspberry Pis to flat screen TVs here at the RS Oxford Offices and at our main facility in Corby, Northamptonshire. The Pis run a libreoffice slideshow in a continuous loop and display Health and Safety messages for RS employees. He’s been running these continuously for over 8 weeks without having to re-boot, so it’s very robust. The Pis runs without a keyboard or mouse and the content can be updated remotely over the network.
If you want to create your own Digital Signage Application, Pete has shared how to do it on GitHub. Just follow the INSTALL file for setup details.
Wii Controller Car
Oxford Raspberry Jam regular Alex Eames presented another cool little project using a Wii controller and Nunchuck. This one was for controlling a remote control car that has an on-board Raspberry Pi with Bluetooth dongle. It also allows the control of brake lights, headlights and indicators and also drives an aircraft propeller. Alex plans to build all this into the car itself, which would need to accommodate the Pi, the electronics hanging of the GPIO, some model aircraft batteries and the motor and fan. Alex, I think you need a bigger car… how about a Monster Truck?
Our next demo was one that has been featured on the Raspberry Pi site a few weeks ago for a Raspberry Pi powered video wall. Alex and Colin from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) have built this system in C and some Python Code. It has clever features like bezel compensation to accommodate different styles of screens. They showed a 4 screen setup, but have also run a 9+4 configuration. The software is scalable to any size or shape. Each screen needs a Pi, and one separate Pi is used as the master. This is a classic example showing that you can build your own video wall for a fraction of the price of a commercial solution that would certainly cost a lot more! Chaps, I can see a business opportunity here for screening big screen sporting events on a budget down my local pub. ;0) They expect to licence the software/design at some point. More details are available on their website.
Motion Detected Camera
Another Oxford Jam regular, Dave R, showed his Pi with a webcam motion detection system and linked to a DSLR. Dave created this for his bird table, to capture pictures of birds when they land on the table, I think I need to build a similar solution to stop my kids from stealing my Haribos…
Touch Screen Display
Paul had two projects to show. The first was a simple touch screen for the Pi to allow control and display. Paul was reading and displaying temperatures. The screens are semi-intelligent, storing screen images and having a sound output available. The screen images are loaded via a Windows app and USB connection. The Pi can then control the display of those images.
Sky Remote Controlled LED Lighting
The second demonstration was a programmable LED strip and infrared receiver, controlled by a Sky TV remote control. A simple Python script reads the codes from a remote control. He could the use this to flash the LEDs in various patterns and colours. The LEDs are driven by SPI and can be daisychained up to 1024 LEDs.
Paul M and Annierei L, showed us their ChiPhone box. ChiPi is an Electronic messaging system for children allowing them to send and receive voice messages. They have designed a child friendly box with large buttons and microphone. With simple record and ‘To/play’ buttons it makes for an easy messaging system connected to the internet via WiFi. You can find out more about their project on their website.
Pi Keyword Cruncher
Pi Jam regular and Data Geek John finished off our live demos by showing us his Pi based RSS feed collector and keyword analysis tool. The Pi collects data from various RSS feeds every 30 minutes and stores the results in a MySQL database. The data is then used to monitor trends in keywords, which over time show either peaks of activity or trends of ‘chatter’ about specific topics. The advantage of John using his Raspberry Pi Instead of his 50W laptop, is that it the Pi only takes 2W and can be left on all the time. It also frees up his laptop to do other tasks.
RaspBMC Toddler In-Car Entertainment System
The final presentation of the evening from one of my Jam co-hosts Alex Gibson, who in true Hollywood awards winners style couldn’t attend in person so sent a video message! Alex’s video featured his project for a Pi based RaspBMC In-Car Toddler entertainment system. One of the most impressive bits was a headrest bracket he had printed out on his Raspberry Pi-based 3D printer.
Thanks to all those who showed their projects. Looking forward to the next event!
Watch the video first. We’ll talk about it under the jump.
So, then. Philips have this lovely (and expensive) technology called Ambilight, which extends the lighting environment of what you’re watching on TV into your living room. It’s better watched than described, so if you haven’t hit play on the video above yet, please do!
I saw one of the original demos of this at CES a few years ago. It’s now consumer technology that you can buy in your local department store, and it’s a really impressive, and surprisingly immersive and effective piece of technology. But if, like me, you’re not in a hurry to replace the TV you spent a packet on, you’ll have made a sad decision to live without the flashing neon of CSI inveigling its way into the corners of your living room; and the fires of R’hllor, the Red God, will make no impression on your ceilings. Because this stuff costs money, and we’re all much too busy spending that on new binocular microscopes.
Oscar Andersson has made a Raspberry Pi-powered ambient lighting fix which I can’t distinguish from the Philips product – as you’ll see from the video above, it’s a lovely piece of work, and most importantly, it’s very affordable. You’ll find more pictures, more video and build instructions, using Adafruit’s Occidentalis distro (which is all about the hardware hacking) at Oscar’s Facebook page.
So many projects, so little time. This is the third thing I’ve blogged or stuck on Facebook this week that I want to make. Let us know if you make your own version – we’d love to hear how you get on! (Incidentally, the day someone makes a video demo that doesn’t reference Avatar is the day we at the Foundation cheer up dramatically.)
Jet lag has broken my brain. I spent the night in a special extended edition of one of those paralysed 3am panics about things left undone, slept through the alarm, and only woke up eight hours later, at 4.30pm. Please don’t talk to me. Sounds hurt.
I was planning a nice long post about robots today, but the screen is strobing at me and my eyes are watering. So instead, I’m going to embed a video and give you a link to this really excellent project from Rasathus, which has a special significance for anybody feeling the way I do today. Rasathus has made a Raspberry Pi version of NASA’s circadian lighting setup, used in the International Space Station. Astronauts on the ISS do not have access to the sleep-promoting tools that we here on earth do (hot baths, warm cats, fluffy pyjamas, too much email), so NASA and Boeing spent $11.2m on making the lights on the ISS cycle through red and blue. Rasathus has done much the same thing with a $35 Pi and some $40 LEDs. Suggestions for what NASA might have done with the savings in the comments, please.
In short, this project will allow you to fake up sunrises and sunsets, bright noontime light and all that good stuff. I plan to build one myself to avoid a repeat of today’s total failure of body clock for the next time I have to travel. You’ll need some bits and pieces you can get from Adafruit (there’s a hardware list on Rasathus’s website), and the code is all available on Github.
I’m going to have a nice soothing bath in my pyjamas with Mooncake. Thank you, Rasathus, for the clever.