Raspberry Pi Blog

This is the official Raspberry Pi blog for news and updates from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, education initiatives, community projects and more!

Harry Potter and the Real-Life Wizard Duel

Walk around the commons of Cambridge and you’re bound to see one or more of the Cambridge University Quidditch Club players mounted upon sticks with a makeshift quaffle. But try as they might, their broomsticks will never send them soaring through the air.

The same faux-wizardry charge can’t be levelled at Allen Pan‘s Real-Life Wizard Duel. For when the wand-wielding witches or wizards cast one of four Harry Potter spells, their opponent is struck accordingly… as if by magic.

Real Life Wizard Duel with ELECTRICITY | Sufficiently Advanced

Body shocking wands with speech recognition…It’s indistinguishable from magic! Follow Sufficiently Advanced! https://twitter.com/AnyTechnology https://www.facebook.com/sufficientlyadvanced https://www.instagram.com/sufficientlyadvanced/ Check out redRomina: https://www.youtube.com/user/redRomina Watch our TENS unit challenge! https://youtu.be/Ntovn4N9HNs These peeps helped film, check them out too!

Real spells, real consequences

Harry Potter GIF

Allen uses Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines to deliver the mighty blows to both himself and his opponent, setting off various sticky pads across the body via voice recognition.

The Google Cloud Speech Recognition API recognises one of five spells – Expelliarmus, Stupefy, Tarantallegra, Petrificus Totalus, and Protego – via a microphone plugged into a Raspberry Pi.

Harry Potter GIF

When the spell is pronounced correctly and understood by the Pi, it tells an Arduino to ‘shoot’ the spell out of the wand via an infrared LED. If the infrared receiver attached to the opponent recognises the spell, it sets off the TENS machine to deliver an electric current to the appropriate body part. Expelliarmus, for example, sets off the TENS connected to the arm, while calling out a successful Petrificus Totalus renders the opponent near immobilised as every pad is activated. For a moment’s rest, calling out “Protego” toward your own infrared receiver offers a few moments of protection against all spells aimed in your direction. Phew.

“But people only die in proper duels, you know, with real wizards. The most you and Malfoy’ll be able to do is send sparks at each other. Neither of you knows enough magic to do any real damage. I bet he expected you to refuse, anyway.”
“And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?”
“Throw it away and punch him on the nose,” Ron suggested.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Harry Potter Wizard Duel Raspberry Pi

To prevent abuse of the spells, each one has its own recharge time, with available spells indicated via LEDs on the wand.

In the realm of Harry Potter fan builds, this has to be a favourite. And while visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter may feel the magical effect of reimagined Butterbeer as they wander around Hogsmead, I’d definitely prefer to play Real Life Wizard Duel with Allen Pan.

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Pi Wars 2017 is just a few days away!

On 1-2  April, Cambridge Raspberry Jam will be hosting Pi Wars 2017, the latest iteration of their successful robotics challenge competition.

For those unfamiliar with the setup, Pi Wars contestants use home-brew Raspberry Pi-powered robots to compete across seven challenge courses. There’s also a host of other categories, including prizes for Artistic and Technical Merit, as well as an award for ‘Funniest Robot’!

With only a few days to go until the big weekend, we’ve wrangled Pi Wars 2017 hosts, Mike and Tim, to give us the lowdown on everything you need to know before the main event.

Pi Wars 2015 obstacle course Pi Wars 2017

Crowds gather around the Obstacle Course from the 2015 competition

Pi Wars 2017

This is the third time the competition has been run, and this time we’re running the event over two days:

  • Saturday – School teams.
  • Sunday – Beginner, Intermediate and Pro/Veteran teams.

With teams coming all the way from the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Wales and Scotland as well as England, it truly is an international competition! There are more than 65 teams competing across the weekend. Judging by some of the tweets we’ve been seeing, there’s likely to be some fierce competition!

Special guest and head judge

Doctor Lucy Rogers Pi Wars 2017

Lucy rightly running from House Robot, Sir Killalot, on the set of BBC Robot Wars

We are very fortunate to welcome BBC Robot Wars judge Dr. Lucy Rogers as our special guest and head judge. Away from Robot Wars, Lucy is an independent designer and maker, and famously introduced Raspberry Pi-controlled animatronics to the Blackgang Chine theme park on the Isle of Wight.

Get tickets, come along and watch the action

If you’re in the Cambridge area, or even if you’re further afield, you can come along and watch. Pi Wars 2017 spectator tickets are available from Eventbrite. Children aged 16 and under go free, as do volunteers, and it’s just £5 per day (or £7 for the whole weekend) for everyone else.

What else is happening?

In addition to the competing teams, there will be plenty of show-and-tell tables featuring robotics projects, plus an extensive marketplace featuring your favourite vendors.

Where is it?

The event takes place at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory (William Gates Building). There is free parking a (very) short walk away, and there is catering on site (or bring a packed lunch!). It’s a nice family-friendly day out. You can chat to the stall holders and teams (when they’re not running between challenges!), and generally find out what is possible with the Raspberry Pi, some robotics components, a healthy dose of programming and a maker’s mindset!

The William Gates Building Pi Wars 2017

The William Gates Building

What have we been doing to prepare?

Tim has been hard at work designing and building courses for our seven challenges, which are:

  • Straight-line speed test (autonomous) – get down the course as fast as possible without touching the walls.
  • The minimal maze (autonomous) – get around the maze without touching the walls.
  • The line follower (autonomous) – follow the black line for as many circuits as possible.
  • Slightly deranged golf (remote-controlled) – a beautiful, mystery course that will have a special component added to it by Pi Borg!
  • The obstacle course (remote-controlled) – who knows what’s in store this year?
  • Skittles (remote-controlled) – knock the pins down, score points.
  • Pi Noon – the robot vs robot duel (remote-controlled) – pop the other robot’s balloon before the time runs out.
Pi Wars 2015 Pi Noon competition Pi Wars 2017

2015’s Pi Noon competition

Find out more about the courses and the rules on the Pi Wars 2017 website.

Mike has been fiercely sending out emails to competitors, exhibitors, volunteers, vendors and our wonderful Pi Wars 2017 sponsors, without whom we would be unable to run the event. He’s also busy constructing individual timetables for each team, so everyone knows exactly where they need to be for their challenge runs.

We’re really looking forward to the weekend – it’s all coming together, and with the help of our volunteers, you can be assured of a warm welcome to the venue. So, grab your tickets and prepare for an epic showdown between dozens of robots, all powered by your favourite single-board computer!

The future of Pi Wars

There is an upcoming Pi Wars-style competition in Pennsylvania, USA on 3 June (The MagPi Magazine published a blog about this today), and we’re expecting another USA competition at some point, as well as a possible Pi Wars Scotland. As for the future of the Cambridge-based event? Let’s get this one out of the way first!

Any questions? The best way to contact us is via the Pi Wars 2017 website. Alternatively, give us a shout on Twitter!

Mike and Tim

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European Astro Pi Challenge 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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Get wordy with our free resources

Here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we take great pride in the wonderful free resources we produce for you to use in classes, at home and in coding clubs. We publish them under a Creative Commons licence, and they’re an excellent way to develop your digital-making skills.

With yesterday being World Poetry Day (I’m a day late to the party. Shhh), I thought I’d share some wordy-themed [wordy-themed? Are you sure? – Ed] resources for you all to have a play with.

Shakespearean Insult Generator

Raspberry Pi Free Resources Shakespearean Insult Generator

Have you ever found yourself lost for words just when the moment calls for your best comeback? With the Shakespearean Insult Generator, your mumbled retorts to life’s awkward situations will have the lyrical flow of our nation’s most beloved bard.

Thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows!

Not only will the generator provide you with hours of potty-mouthed fun, it’ll also teach you how to read and write data in CSV format using Python, how to manipulate lists, and how to choose a random item from a list.

Talk like a Pirate

Raspberry Pi Free Resources Talk Like a Pirate

Ye’ll never be forced t’walk the plank once ye learn how to talk like a scurvy ol’ pirate… yaaaarrrgh!

The Talk like a Pirate speech generator teaches you how to use jQuery to cause live updates on a web page, how to write regular expressions to match patterns and words, and how to create a web page to input text and output results.

Once you’ve mastered those skills, you can use them to create other speech generators. How about a speech generator that turns certain words into their slang counterparts? Or one that changes words into txt speak – laugh into LOL, and see you into CU?

Secret Agent Chat

Raspberry Pi Free Resources Secret Agent Chat

So you’ve already mastered insults via list manipulation and random choice, and you’ve converted words into hilarious variations through matching word patterns and input/output. What’s next?

The Secret Agent Chat resource shows you how random numbers can be used to encrypt messages, how iteration can be used to encrypt individual characters, and, to make sure nobody cracks your codes, the importance of keeping your keys secret. And with these new skills under your belt, you can write and encrypt messages between you and your friends, ensuring that nobody will be able to read your secrets.

Unlocking your transferable skill set

One of the great things about building projects like these is the way it expands your transferable skill set. When you complete a project using one of our resources, you gain abilities that can be transferred to other projects and situations. You might never need to use a ‘Talk like a Pirate’ speech generator, but you might need to create a way to detect and alter certain word patterns in a document. And while you might be able to coin your own colourful insults, making the Shakespearean Insult Generator gives you the ability to select words from lists at random, allowing you to write a program that picks names to create sports or quiz teams without bias.

All of our resources are available for free on our website, and we continually update them to offer you more opportunities to work on your skills, whatever your age and experience.

Have you built anything from our resources? Let us know in the comments.

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Zelda-inspired ocarina-controlled home automation

Allen Pan has wired up his home automation system to be controlled by memorable tunes from the classic Zelda franchise.

Zelda Ocarina Controlled Home Automation – Zelda: Ocarina of Time | Sufficiently Advanced

With Zelda: Breath of the Wild out on the Nintendo Switch, I made a home automation system based off the Zelda series using the ocarina from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Help Me Make More Awesome Stuff! https://www.patreon.com/sufficientlyadvanced Subscribe! http://goo.gl/xZvS5s Follow Sufficiently Advanced!

Listen!

Released in 1998, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best game ever is still an iconic entry in the retro gaming history books.

Very few games have stuck with me in the same way Ocarina has, and I think it’s fair to say that, with the continued success of the Zelda franchise, I’m not the only one who has a special place in their heart for Link, particularly in this musical outing.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time screenshot

Thanks to Cynosure Gaming‘s Ocarina of Time review for the image.

Allen, or Sufficiently Advanced, as his YouTube subscribers know him, has used a Raspberry Pi to detect and recognise key tunes from the game, with each tune being linked (geddit?) to a specific task. By playing Zelda’s Lullaby (E, G, D, E, G, D), for instance, Allen can lock or unlock the door to his house. Other tunes have different functions: Epona’s Song unlocks the car (for Ocarina noobs, Epona is Link’s horse sidekick throughout most of the game), and Minuet of Forest waters the plants.

So how does it work?

It’s a fairly simple setup based around note recognition. When certain notes are played in a specific sequence, the Raspberry Pi detects the tune via a microphone within the Amazon Echo-inspired body of the build, and triggers the action related to the specific task. The small speaker you can see in the video plays a confirmation tune, again taken from the video game, to show that the task has been completed.

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Raspberry Pi Home Automation system setup image

As for the tasks themselves, Allen has built a small controller for each action, whether it be a piece of wood that presses down on his car key, a servomotor that adjusts the ambient temperature, or a water pump to hydrate his plants. Each controller has its own small ESP8266 wireless connectivity module that links back to the wireless-enabled Raspberry Pi, cutting down on the need for a ton of wires about the home.

And yes, before anybody says it, we’re sure that Allen is aware that using tone recognition is not the safest means of locking and unlocking your home. This is just for fun.

Do-it-yourself home automation

While we don’t necessarily expect everyone to brush up on their ocarina skills and build their own Zelda-inspired home automation system, the idea of using something other than voice or text commands to control home appliances is a fun one.

You could use facial recognition at the door to start the kettle boiling, or the detection of certain gasses to – ahem!– spray an air freshener.

We love to see what you all get up to with the Raspberry Pi. Have you built your own home automation system controlled by something other than your voice? Share it in the comments below.

 

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JavaWatch automated coffee replenishment system

With the JavaWatch system from Terren Peterson, there’s (Raspberry Pi) ZERO reason for you ever to run out of coffee beans again!

By utilising many of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) available to budding developers, Terren was able to create a Pi Zero-powered image detection unit. Using the Raspberry Pi Camera Module to keep tabs on your coffee bean storage, it automatically orders a fresh batch of java when supplies are running low.

JavaWatch Sales Pitch

Introducing JavaWatch, the amazing device that monitors your coffee bean supply and refills from Amazon.com.

Coffee: quite possibly powering Pi Towers’ success

Here at Pi Towers, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of staff members run on high levels of caffeine. In fact, despite hitting ten million Pi boards sold last October, sending two Astro Pi units to space, documenting over 5,000 Code Clubs in the UK, and multiple other impressive achievements, the greatest accomplishment of the Pi Towers team is probably the acquisition of a new all-singing, all-dancing coffee machine for the kitchen. For, if nothing else, it has increased the constant flow of caffeine into the engineers…and that’s always a positive thing, right?

Here are some glamour shots of the beautiful beast:

Anyway, back to JavaWatch

Terren uses the same technology that can be found in an Amazon Dash button, replacing the ‘button-press’ stimulus with image recognition to trigger a purchase request.

JavaWatch flow diagram

Going with the JavaWatch flow… 
Image from Terren’s hackster.io project page.

“The service was straightforward to get working,” Terren explains on his freeCodeCamp blog post. “The Raspberry Pi Camera Module captures and uploads photos at preset intervals to S3, the object-based storage service by AWS.”

The data is used to calculate the amount of coffee beans in stock. For example, the jar in the following image is registered at 73% full:

A jar which is almost full of coffee beans

It could also be 27% empty, depending on your general outlook on life.

A second photo, where the beans take up a mere 15% or so of the jar, registers no beans. As a result, JavaWatch orders more via a small website created specifically for the task, just like pressing a Dash button.

JavaWatch DRS Demo

Demonstration of DRS Capabilities with a project called JavaWatch. This orders coffee beans when the container runs empty.

Terren won second place in hackster.io’s Amazon DRS Developer Challenge for JavaWatch. If you are in need of regular and reliable caffeine infusions, you can find more information on the build, including Terren’s code, on his project page.

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NeoPixel Temperature Stair Lights

Following a post-Christmas decision to keep illuminated decorations on her stairway bannister throughout the year, Lorraine Underwood found a new purpose for a strip of NeoPixels she had lying around.

Lorraine Underwood on Twitter

Changed the stair lights from a string to a strip & they look awesome! #neopixel #raspberrypi https://t.co/dksLwy1SE1

Simply running the lights up the stairs, blinking and flashing to a random code, wasn’t enough for her. By using an API to check the outdoor weather, Lorraine’s lights went from decorative to informative: they now give an indication of outside weather conditions through their colour and the quantity illuminated.

“The idea is that more lights will light up as it gets warmer,” Lorraine explains. “The temperature is checked every five minutes (I think that may even be a little too often). I am looking forward to walking downstairs to a nice warm yellow light instead of the current blue!”

In total, Lorraine had 240 lights in the strip; she created a chart indicating a range of outside temperatures and the quantity of lights which for each value, as well as specifying the colour of those lights, running from chilly blue through to scorching red.

Lorraine Underwood Neopixel stair way lights

Oh, Lorraine! We love your optimistic dreams of the British summer being more than its usual rainy 16 Celsius…

The lights are controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero running a code that can be found on Lorraine’s blog. The code dictates which lights are lit and when.

Lorraine Underwood Neopixel stair way lights

“Do I need a coat today? I’ll check the stairs.”

Lorraine is planning some future additions to the build, including a toddler-proof 3D housing, powering the Zero from the lights’ power supply, and gathering her own temperature data instead of relying on a third-party API.

While gathering the temperature data from outside her house, she may also want to look into building an entire weather station, collecting extra data on rain, humidity, and wind conditions. After all, this is the UK: just because it’s hot outside, it doesn’t mean it’s not also raining.

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Community Profile: Alex Eames

This column is from The MagPi issue 52. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Alex purchased his first Raspberry Pi in May 2012, after a BBC article caught his eye. Already teaching ICT at his son’s school, he was drawn to the idea of a $35 computer to aid the education of his ten-year-old students.

Alex Eames

Alex is truly a member of the Raspberry Pi community, providing support and resources to those new to, and experienced in, the world of the Pi

Less than a month later, Alex started his website, RasPi.TV. The website allowed him to document his progress with the Raspberry Pi, and to curate an easy-to-use reference library for others.

“I found that when I wanted to learn something new, generally the ‘instructions’ on other Linux sites were either out of date or incomplete. I wanted a place where I could record procedures that I could use again, but that would also be available to others.”

Alex was determined to provide tutorials that worked first time, understanding the frustration for newcomers when their hard work didn’t always pay off. “It’s off-putting for people to follow a list of instructions, get it all right, and then find the process fails,” he says. RasPi.TV was all about “instructions that work first time – even if you’ve never done it before.”

Alex Eames Community Profile

The RasPi.TV website is packed full of tutorials, reviews, and videos, all of which have the aim of helping newcomers and seasoned Raspberry Pi users to expand their skill set and interests. Alex’s YouTube channel boasts more than 8,000 subscribers, with viewing figures of well over 1.5 million across his 121 videos.

In 2012, Alex began to build his own RasPiO boards, with the first releases making an appearance in March 2014. The GPIO labeller, Breakout, and Breakout Pro were successful across the community, earning an honourable mention on the official Raspberry Pi blog. The Pro has since been upgraded to the Pro HAT, while the labeller has been replaced with a newer 40-pin version. The RasPiO collection has now increased to ten different units, each available for direct purchase from the website. A few originally found their feet via successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Alex Eames Community Profile

The RasPiO family is a series of add-on boards, port labellers, GPIO rulers, and tools to aid makers in building with the Raspberry Pi. The ruler, for example, offers GPIO pin reference for easy identification, along with a code reference for using the GPIO Zero library.

Even if you’ve yet to visit either RasPi.TV or Alex’s YouTube channel, the chances are that you’ve seen one aspect of his online contribution to the Raspberry Pi Community. Alex maintains a Raspberry Pi ‘family photo’ on his website, showcasing every model built across the years. It’s a picture that often does the rounds of blogs, news articles, and social media.

Raspberry Pi Family Photo 2017

Updated 28th Feb 2017 to include the newly released Raspberry Pi Zero W

Outside of his life of Pi, Alex has a background in analytical chemistry, a profession that certainly explains his desire for the clean, precise, and well-tested tutorials that brought about the creation of RasPi.TV. From working as a translator to writing his own e-books, Alex is definitely well suited to the maker life, moving on from his past life of pharmaceutical development.

Duinocam designed by Alex Eames

The Duinocam is set up in Alex’s home in Poland. During daylight hours, it emails him photos and temperature data while also responding to tweeted commands
such as video capture and upload. Using a Pi Model B, a RasPiO Duino, a Camera Module, and two servos, the unit can pan and tilt to survey the area.

His tutorial and review videos on YouTube reach viewing figures in the thousands, with his popular Raspberry Pi DSI Display Launch video garnering close to 300,000 views at the time of writing of this article. While Alex has updated us on his newest unreleased projects and plans, we’ll keep them quiet for now. You’ll have to watch the RasPi.TV website for details.

Note – Since writing this article, Alex has continued his work, producing new content to support the Raspberry Pi Zero W, while also releasing his newest crowdfunding campaign, RasPiO InsPiRing.

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Pi for the connected home

This column is from The MagPi issue 55. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Since the original Raspberry Pi Zero came out, I’ve seen many makers using it for connected home projects. Its size, low price, low power consumption, and software package have made it a great option, even if makers had to use a USB peripheral to add connectivity. Now that wireless LAN and Bluetooth connectivity are built into Raspberry Pi Zero W, it makes this mini computer platform even better suited for home Internet of Things projects.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

Let me get this out of the way first: ‘Internet of Things’, or ‘IoT’, has all the trappings of an overhyped buzzword. But even if the term Internet of Things doesn’t stick around very long, the concept of connected devices is here to stay for good. It’s a clear side effect of increasingly affordable wireless connectivity technology.

It’s not just development boards that are becoming more connected. The consumer electronics devices that we buy for our homes are more likely to have wireless capabilities. Even a product as simple as a light bulb can be equipped with connectivity, so that you can control its intensity and colour with a mobile app or home automation platform. I recently connected our Google Home to our WeMo Smart Plugs so that I can control the lights in our home using my voice. Last week I was carrying a load of laundry into a dark bedroom. Being able to say “OK Google, turn the bedroom lights on” and having it instantly do just that was a magical moment.

As makers and technology enthusiasts, we have even more power available to us. We benefit from affordable connectivity when it arrives on hardware platforms like Zero W, and can create the connected devices that we hope to see on store shelves one day. We also benefit from being able to interface with consumer-connected devices. For example, a simple hack with a Raspberry Pi lets you use Amazon Dash buttons to control almost anything you want. (Dash buttons are usually used to order a particular product, such as laundry detergent, from Amazon with just a single press.)

Advanced IoT

If you want to go beyond the basics, there are cloud-based platforms that let you manage many devices at once, and create intelligent alerts and actions. Many platforms are already Raspberry Pi-friendly, including the Particle Cloud, Initial State, Cayenne, and Resin.io. Each has its distinct advantages. For example, Initial State makes it really easy for you to create custom web-based dashboards to show you the state of your own sensors and internet-connected devices.

And if you’re a beginner, there are platforms that make it easy to get started with connected devices. One in particular is called IFTTT, which stands for ‘If This, Then That’. It’s an easy-to-use service that lets you connect consumer and maker platforms together without needing to write any code. IFTTT can also go beyond your devices: it can interact with the news, weather, or even local government. In the first partnership of its kind, the City of Louisville, Kentucky recently announced that it’s now on IFTTT and sending real-time air quality data, which you can log or use to trigger your own projects. I hope that it’s just the beginning for IoT partnerships like these.

With all the recent developments in the Internet of Things realm, Raspberry Pi Zero W comes at the perfect time to offer affordable, portable, and connected computing power. The best part is that exploring IoT doesn’t mean that you need to go too far into uncharted territory… it’s still the same Raspberry Pi that you already know and love.

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Pie vs. π vs. Pi Day 2017

It’s the fourteenth day of the third month! And if you’re a Brit, that means absolutely nothing. But take that date, flip reverse it like you’re American, and BOOM! It’s 3.14 or, as the cool kids call it, Pi Day.

In honour of this wonderful day, here are some awesome Pi/pie/π doohickies that we hope you’ll all enjoy!

Pi versus pie

screenshot of text message conversational misunderstanding: Pi versus pie versus P.I.

Dramatised re-enactment of actual events

Have you found yourself embroiled in a textual or verbal conversation similar to the one above? Are you tired of having to explain that you’re not playing Minecraft on a piece of pastry, or that your lights aren’t being controlled by confectionery? Worry no more, for we have provided the following graphic as a visual aid to help you to introduce the uninitiated to the Raspberry Pi.*

Pi vs Pie Pi Day infographic

Print off the PDF version for your classroom, Code Club, office, bedroom, locker door, Grandma, neighbour, local bus stop, newsletter, Christmas cards, and more!

Do it for the Pi (but please don’t eat it!)

This gem of a music video found its way to us via Twitter, and, in the moment we watched the preview snippet, the earworm lodged itself firmly into our brains and hearts.

Creative Mind Frame / 1-UP

So this whole Pi(e) Day business I’ve been posting about… With 3.14 coming up Ohm-I and I decided it was appropriate to do our Patreon song about the Raspberry Pi computer. I mean it’s only right… right? But why stop there?

This is just one of many awesome videos from Creative Mind Frame and we highly recommend checking out more of his brilliant work.

But what about pie?

How could we publish a Pi Day blog post without mentioning pie? Here in the UK, I like to think we’re more of a savoury pie nation than our American friends. As far as desserts go, whether you head into a cafe, pull up a chair at your grandmother’s table, or simply browse the aisles of your local supermarket, you’re likely to find a wider array of tarts than pies on offer. Because of this, let me direct you towards our second Queen, Her Sublime Majesty Mary Berry, and this recipe for Mary’s Bakewell Tart. Raspberry jam and almonds? Yes, please!

Image of a Bakewell Tart

Nommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…
Photo from BBC Food.

If the Bakewell doesn’t do it for you, you heathens, check out Rosanna Pansino‘s Mini Raspberry Pi Pies.

MINI RASPBERRY PI PIES – NERDY NUMMIES

Today I made Mini Raspberry Pi Pies in celebration of Pi Day (March 14th)! I really enjoy making nerdy themed goodies and decorating them. I’m not a pro, but I love baking as a hobby. Please let me know what kind of treat you would like me to make next.

Last, but by no means least…

What exactly IS pi?

An excellent question. Here’s one of YouTube’s finest, maths-enthusiast The Odd 1s Out, to argue the case for his favourite number. Also, I stole his Pi/Pie Day artwork for today’s thumbnail so…thanks!

Why Pi is Awesome (Vi Hart Rebuttal)

Happy Pi day everyone! Go checkout Vi Hart’s channel➤ https://www.youtube.com/user/Vihart She’s made a 2016 version!! :O ➤https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vydPOjRVcSg&nohtml5=False 2014 version➤https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iUh_CSjaSw ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Website ➤ http://tinyurl.com/za5gw22 Tumblr ➤ http://theodd1sout.tumblr.com Facebook ➤ https://www.facebook.com/theodd1sout Twitter ➤ https://twitter.com/Theodd1sout Tapastic ➤ https://tapastic.com/theodd1sout

Whatever you do this Pi Day, make sure you have a great one. And if you build something great, learn something wonderful, or simply make a pie, be sure to share it using #PiDay and tag us so we can see it!

*Big up to Sam for the awesome graphic and the “YES!” he exclaimed when I asked him to draw a Pi versus a pie…Street Fighter-style.

 

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