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!

The Android Things flower that smiles with you

Smile, and the world smiles with you — or, in this case, a laser-cut flower running Android Things on a Raspberry Pi does.

Android Things flower Raspberry Pi Smile recognition Expression Flower

Expression Flower

The aim of the Expression Flower is to “challenge the perception of what robotics can be while exploring the possibility for a whimsical experience that is engaging, natural, and fun.”

Tl;dr: cute interactive flower. No Skynet.

Android Things

The flower is powered by Google’s IoT platform Android Things, running on a Raspberry Pi, and it has a camera mounted in the centre. It identifies facial expressions using the ML Kit machine learning package, also from Google. The software categorises expressions, and responds with a specific action: smile at the flower, and it will open up its petals with a colourful light show; wink at it, and its petals will close up bashfully.

Android Things flower Raspberry Pi Smile recognition Expression Flower

The build is made of laser-cut and 3D-printed parts, alongside off-the-shelf components. The entire build protocol, including video, parts, and code, is available on hackster.io, so all makers can give Expression Flower a go.

Android Things flower Raspberry Pi Smile recognition Expression Flower

Seriously, this may be the easiest-to-follow tutorial we’ve ever seen. So many videos. So much helpful information. It’s pure perfection!

Machine learning and Android Things

For more Raspberry Pi–based machine learning projects, see:

And for more Android Things projects, we highly recommend:

Aaaand, for getting started with all things Android on your Raspberry Pi, check out issue 71 of The MagPi!

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Some of the best bicycle projects for #CycleToWorkDay

Avid followers of our Raspberry Pi Twitter account may be aware of just how bike-loving the residents of Pi Towers are. From the weekend cyclists to Cambridge-London-Cambridge racers, the flat land around our office calls us to jump on a bike and explore the fenlands.

#CycleToWorkDay

In celebration of #CycleToWorkDay, we’ve brought together a collection of some of our favourite bike-themed Raspberry Pi projects, perfect for those of you who enjoy a bike ride — or a pint!

Bicycle-powered beer dispenser

The Glaswegian company Bright Signals was tasked with a tasty project: create something for Menabrea that ties in with the Giro d’Italia cycle race passing close to the beer brewery in Biella, Northern Italy.

Menabrea Beer Bike Raspberry Pi #CycleToWorkDay

The result? This pedal- and Pi-powered beer dispenser that went on a 4-week celebratory tour ending in Glasgow.

You can learn more about this project here.

A rather dandy Pi-assisted Draisine

For a minute in the 1800s, before the introduction of pedal power, the balance bike, or Draisine, was the fun new way of getting from A to B.

Draisine 200.0

Uploaded by ecomentode on 2017-06-08.

A team at Saarland University, Germany, headed by Prof. Holger Hermanns modernised the Draisine, bringing this old vehicle up to date with power assistance thanks to the Raspberry Pi.

Read more about this Draisine here.

Raspberry Pi–powered cycle helmet

Jen Fox’s Raspberry Pi safety helmet prototype uses an accelerometer and a Raspberry Pi Zero to monitor impact force, notifying the cyclist whether or not the impact of their fall deserves medical attention.

Make an Impact Force Monitor!

Check out my latest Hacker in Residence project for SparkFun Electronics: the Helmet Guardian! It’s a Pi Zero powered impact force monitor that turns on an LED if your head/body experiences a potentially dangerous impact. Install in your sports helmets, bicycle, or car to keep track of impact and inform you when it’s time to visit the doctor.

While you should always seek medical attention if you have a bike accident, the notification LED on the helmet is a great way of reminding stubborn cyclists that their accident was more than just a tumble.

Learn more about Jen’s build here!

Matt’s smart bike light

This one comes up in conversation A LOT at Pi Towers. Matt Richardson’s smart bike light project uses a Raspberry Pi and hall effect sensor to determine the speed you’re cycling at; a project displays your speed in front of the bike.

Raspberry Pi Dynamic Bike Headlight Prototype and Test

Here’s the first prototype of the Dynamic Bike Headlight. I managed to get it out onto the street to try it out, too! My previous video about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzRAcZq0imM View other videos on the vlog: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOPvnSRDf2EuIYj18l7iBdgt-27ZnOAdP&feature=view_all Subscribe here: http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=mrichardson23 Visit my site: http://mattrichardson.com/

For those who know Matt Richardson, we hope you appreciated this blast-from-the-past, beardless Matt. In fact, we know you did.

Find out more about this bike light here.

The Bicrophonic Sonic Bike

British sound artist Kaffe Matthews has created a new type of cycling experience. The cyclist divides a virtual map into zones, and the Bicrophonic Sonic Bike plays back music to the rider based on which zone they are in, courtesy of an on-board Raspberry Pi with GPS dongle and speakers.

What is Bicrophonics?

Bicrophonics is about the mobility of sound, experienced and shared within a moving space, free of headphones and free of the internet. Music made by the journey you take, played with the space that you move through. The Bicrophonic Research Institute (BRI) http://sonicbikes.net

As you can see from the video, the sound played can range from the calming peace of the countryside to the rather loud, disturbing buzz of the city.

Learn more about the tech behind the project here.

Hacked Kindle bike computer

David Schneider’s bike computer displays speed, distance, time and more on a Kindle he hacked with the help of a Raspberry Pi.

DIY: Build A Better Bike Computer

A Raspberry Pi and Kindle make vital information about your bicycle journey readable. Read more: http://spectrum.ieee.org/video/geek-life/hands-on/video-build-a-better-bike-computer

The experimental browser on the Kindle displays a web page hosted on the Raspberry Pi. And the glare-free E Ink display makes the screen easy to view regardless of light conditions — perfect for sunny weekend bike rides.

Find out more here.

Any others?

Have you hacked your cycling experience with a Raspberry Pi? Do you have a pedal-powered project in the works? Or would you simple like to boast about your bike and cycling achievements? Let’s get the cycle conversation going in the comments below. I’ll start!

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Getting started with your Raspberry Pi

Here on the Raspberry Pi blog, we often share impressive builds made by community members who have advanced making and coding skills. But what about those of you who are just getting started?

Getting started with Raspberry Pi

For you, we’ve been working hard to update and polish our Getting started resources, including a brand-new video to help you get to grips with your new Pi.

Getting started with Raspberry Pi

Whether you’re new to electronics and the Raspberry Pi, or a seasoned pro looking to share your knowledge and skills with others, sit back and watch us walk you through the basics of setting up our powerful little computer.

How to set up your Raspberry Pi || Getting started with #RaspberryPi

Learn how to set up your Raspberry Pi for the first time, from plugging in peripherals to loading Raspbian.

We’ve tried to make this video as easy to follow as possible, with only the essential explanations and steps.

getting started with raspberry pi

As with everything we produce, we want this video to be accessible to the entire world, so if you can translate its text into another language, please follow this link to submit your translation directly through YouTube. You can also add translations to our other YouTube videos here! As a thank you, we’ll display your username in the video descriptions to acknowledge your contributions.

New setup guides and resources

Alongside our shiny new homepage, we’ve also updated our Help section to reflect our newest tech and demonstrate the easiest way for beginners to start their Raspberry Pi journey. We’re now providing a first-time setup guide, and also a walk-through for using your Raspberry Pi that shows you all sort of things you can do with it. And with guides to our official add-on devices and a troubleshooting section, our updated Help page is your one-stop shop for getting the most out of your Pi.

getting started with raspberry pi

For parents and teachers, we offer guides on introducing Raspberry Pi and digital making to your children and students. And for those of you who are visual learners, we’ve curated a collection of our videos to help you get making.

As with our videos, we’re looking for people whose first language isn’t English to help us translate our resources. If you’re able to donate some of your time to support this cause, please sign up here.

The forums

We’re very proud of our forum community. Since the birth of the Raspberry Pi, our forums have been the place to go for additional support, conversation, and project bragging.

Raspberry Pi forums

If your question isn’t answered on our Help page, there’s no better place to go than the forums. Nine times out of ten, your question will already have been asked and answered there! And if not, then our friendly forum community will be happy to share their wealth of knowledge and help you out.

Events and clubs

Raspberry Pi and digital making enthusiasts come together across the world at various events and clubs, including Raspberry Jams, Code Club and CoderDojo, and Coolest Projects. These events are perfect for learning more about how people use Raspberry Pi and other technologies for digital making — as a hobby and as a tool for education.

getting started with raspberry pi

Keep up to date

To keep track of all the goings-on of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up to our Raspberry Pi Weekly newsletter and the monthly Raspberry Pi LEARN education newsletter.

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The affordable Raspberry Pi night vision goggles of your dreams

I just searched online for night vision goggles, and the prices seem to vary between £600 and £27000. That’s a little bit higher than my budget of ‘as cheap as humanly possible’, but lucky for me (and you!), Redditor Mtnbikerdunn has created a set of Raspberry Pi Zero–powered night vision goggles that come in at around $100. Nice. Finally my Silence of the Lambs cosplay is complete!

Silence of the Lambs night vision GIF

Dreamspiration

“They came to be in a dream.” begins Redditor mtnbikerdunn in his r/raspberrry_pi post. “I woke up to my idea whiteboard full of notes and diagrams drawn by a half-asleep version of myself”

night vision goggles raspberry pi zero

A view through the night vision goggles

A Raspberry Pi Zero and…

mtnbikerdunn goes on to explain how the few pieces of tech required to build the goggles came in at less than $100/£78. The results are impressive!

It’s basically a first-person viewdrone headset with a Raspberry Pi Zero mounted within, some infrared LED lights, an infrared camera, and a few 18650 Lithium-ion batteries to power it all. Charges with a standard micro USB cable and doesn’t require anything to get it running except an on/off switch.

The headset in this project is the Yuneec SkyView FPV HDMI, used by drone pilots to gain a first-person view while flying. And since the headset has HDMI connectivity, mtnbikerdunn was able to hook it up directly to the Pi Zero. The camera is a third-party Raspberry Pi fisheye camera, while the rest of the tech consists of the standard gubbins any maker should have lying around, such as a micro SD card, a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, and a button.

night vision goggles Raspberry Pi Zero

The power pack contains two 18650 Lithium-ion batteries, providing the goggles with roughly three hours of runtime. To make the charge last longer, mtnbikerdunn stripped down Raspbian Stretch Lite, removing any unnecessary programs that could run in the background and eat up juice.

night vision goggles Raspberry Pi Zero

Dream big

All that’s left is for me to sit and hope that mtnbikerdunn has a dream about how to make a working TARDIS using a Pi Zero, and then I’ll be the talk of the town at next year’s London Film and Comic Con!

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There’s Waldo! Finding the elusive traveller using AI

Let me start by stating that here in the UK, we call Waldo Wally. And as I’m writing this post at my desk at Pi Towers, Cambridge, I have taken the decision to refer to the red and white-clad fellow as Wally moving forward.

Just so you know.

There’s Waldo is a robot that finds Waldo

There’s Waldo is a robot built to find Waldo and point at him. The robot arm is controlled by a Raspberry Pi using the PYARM Python library for the UARM Metal. Once initialized the arm is instructed to extend and take a photo of the canvas below.

The magical mind of Matt Reed

Both in his work and personal time, Matt Reed is a maker. In a nutshell, he has the job we all want — Creative Technologist — and gets to spend his working hours building interesting marketing projects for companies such as Redbull and Pi Towers favourite, Oreo. And lucky for us, he uses a Raspberry Pi in many of his projects — hurray!

Where’s Waldo Wally

With There’s Waldo, Matt has trained the AutoML Vision app, Google’s new image content analysis AI service, to recognise Wally in a series of images. With an AI model trained to recognise the features of the elusive traveller, a webcam attached to a Raspberry Pi 3B snaps a photo and the AI algorithm scans all faces, finding familiarities.

Matt Reed on Twitter

model is predicting WAAAYYY better than expected as this webcam image here wasn’t even part the training set. You can run from #ai but apparently can’t hide from #GoogleCloud

Once a match for Wally’s face is found with 95% or higher confidence, a robotic arm, controlled by the Pyarm Python library, points a comically small, plastic hand at where it believes Wally to be.

Deep learning and model training

We’ve started to discover more and more deep learning projects using Raspberry Pi — and with the recent release of TensorFlow 1.9 for the Pi, we’re sure this will soon become an even more common occurrence.

Adrian Rosebeck deep learning pokemon pokedex

For more projects using deep learning and the Raspberry Pi, check out Adrian Rosebrock’s deep learning Pokédex, and his Santa Detector.

And for more projects from Matt Reed and the redpepper team, you can follow Matt’s Twitter, visit his website, and check out his community profile in The MagPi.

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A list of Raspberry Pi books for #BookLoversDay

While yesterday’s blog post covered YouTubers who create video tutorials about using the Raspberry Pi, today we want to focus on a more traditional medium in honour of #BookLoversDay.

Raspberry Pi books

Since we launched the Raspberry Pi back in 2012, staff and community members alike have been writing guides and projects books about our little green board, with some releasing them as free PDFs and others donating a portions of the revenue to the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Here are a few of our favourite books, written by our colleagues and you, our glorious community.

Getting started

For beginners just entering the world of Raspberry Pi, there is no end of ‘Getting started’ resources available online. For those of you who want a physical reference work, or who plan on giving a Raspberry Pi as a gift, here are some of the best beginners’ guides available:

Raspberry Pi for Dummies - Raspberry Pi booksAlmost all of us will have at least one for Dummies book lying around at home. Easy to read and full of information, the series is a go-to for many. The third edition of the Raspberry Pi for Dummies book came out in late 2017, and you can read the first two chapters on co-author Sean McManus’s website.

The Raspberry Pi User GuideRaspberry Pi User Guide - Raspberry Pi books was co-written by Eben Upton, creator of the Raspberry Pi and co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. So it’s fair to say that the information in this guide comes directly from the horse’s mouth…so to speak. You can read an excerpt of the book on the publisher’s website.

Adventures in Raspberry Pi - Raspberry Pi booksFor younger users, Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi is both an introduction guide and project book, taking young beginners from the basics of setting up and using their Raspberry Pi through to trying out coding and digital making projects. Now in its third edition, the book is available in both paperback and e-book format.

 

You may also like:

Projects

If you’re looking for some projects to try out, whether they be Scratch or Python, screen-based or physical, the following books will help you get making:

Simon Monk Raspberry Pi Cookbook - Raspberry Pi booksSimon Monk has been writing tutorials and producing Raspberry Pi kits for both beginners and advanced makers. With his Raspberry Pi Cookbook, Simon has written over 200 ‘practical recipes’ for you to try with your Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Electronics Projects for the Evil Genius - Raspberry Pi booksForget James Bond. If you’d rather be working for the dark side, try Donald Norris’ Raspberry Pi Electronics Projects for the Evil Genius* and build everything you need to take over the world.

*Swivel chair and fluffy white cat not included.

Creative Projects with Raspberry Pi - Raspberry Pi booksMore inspirational rather than instructive, Creative Projects with Raspberry Pi by Kirsten Kearney and Will Freeman is a gorgeous coffee table book of Raspberry Pi projects from across the globe. From small gadgets to art installations and robots to weather stations, if this book doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, nothing will.

 

 

You may also like:

Computer science

Computer science is more than just writing code and lighting LEDs. If you’d like to learn more about the history and science behind STEM, these books are marvelous resources for the inquisitive mind:

The Pragmatic Programmer - Raspberry Pi booksThose wishing to go deeper into learning programming should check out The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas. Some consider it the classic go-to for novice programmers, with many veterans returning to it when they need a reminder of best practices in the field.

Jacquard's Web - Raspberry Pi booksHistory buffs may want to look into Jacquard’s Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age by James Essinger. This book explores the development of technology, from the invention of the handloom by Joseph-Marie Jacquard in Napoleonic France to technological advancements of the digital age.

 

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage - Raspberry Pi booksWith its lighthearted fun mixed with historical events, the Eisner Award–nominated The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage by Sydney Padua is a Pi Towers favourite, and should be the staple of every STEM enthusiast’s book collection. In fact, we’re sure that even those with no interest in the field will find this collection of stories entertaining. So there’s really no reason not to try it.

 

 

You may also like:

Magazines

If you’re looking for a periodical or two, may we suggest:

 - Raspberry Pi booksThe MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Available in both hardcopy and free digital PDF every month, The MagPi covers community projects and tutorials as well as Raspberry Pi–related add-on tech. You may also be interested in the MagPi Essentials Guides, written by community members to help you advance in various areas of Raspberry Pi creativity.

The front cover of Hello World Issue 3 - Raspberry Pi booksHello World, the magazine for educators, is released termly and includes articles and advice from STEM educators across the globe. UK-based educators can get Hello World delivered free to their door, and everyone can download the free PDFs from the Hello World website.

 - Raspberry Pi booksHackSpace magazine covers more than just the Raspberry Pi. Consider it the maker magazine, covering a wide variety of different topics, skills, and techniques. An interesting monthly read that your eager hobbyist mind will love…but your wallet and free space/time, not so much. It’s out in both hardcopy and as a free PDF each month.

 

You may also like:

  • AQUILA — while not specifically STEM-related, AQUILA will keep young minds engaged and inquisitive
  • WIRED — WIRED offers a broad taste of emerging technologies and more
  • The Beano — OK, so it’s not STEM, but c’mon, the Beano is awesome!

Add to the list

If you have a favourite book that we’ve left out, let us know so we can add it. Maybe you have a childhood classic that first got you into coding, or a reference guide you go back to again and again. So tell us in the comments which books we have missed!

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10 YouTubers you should be following

When it comes to finding Raspberry Pi tutorials on the internet, many makers’ first port of call is YouTube. From professional content creators to part-time hobbyists, the video-sharing platform is full of makers documenting their projects for the world to see.

animated classic movie count down

Here are some of Youtube’s finest who use Raspberry Pi at the heart of many of their builds.

JenFoxBot

Jen’s channel is a collection of educational videos about computer science, explorations into the inner workings of tech, and build videos using Raspberry Pi. We’ve covered her work on the blog a few times, sharing her IoT Pet Monitor and her safety helmet, and we get excited about our subscriber notifications whenever she posts a new video.

Let’s Make a (Local) Internet Server!

What is the Internet and how does it work? Also, what the heck is a server?? Learn about all these awesome things & how you can make your very own with a Raspberry Pi computer! Hooray!

Sean Hodgins

Sean describes himself as someone who likes building, creating, and making, and his channel is brimming with examples of just how ingenious and interesting his makes are. From designing and creating his own PCBs for Kickstarter, to 3D-printing and Raspberry Pi project building, Sean’s channel has plenty to keep makers happy.

Haunted Jack in the Box – DIY Raspberry Pi Project

This project uses a raspberry pi and face detection using the pi camera to determine when someone is looking at it. Plenty of opportunities to scare people with it. You can make your own! Want to support these projects?

N-O-D-E

N-O-D-E tears Raspberry Pis to pieces and rebuilds them, turning them into mini servers, dongles, Pi slims, and more. N-O-D-E’s channel an interesting resource for those looking to modify their Pi, and it’s well documented and accessible, thanks to the supporting website.

The NODE Mini Server: A Computer For The Decentralized Age

More at N-O-D-E.net

Estefannie Explains It All

Estefannie started her video-making journey as a means to reassure herself that she knew what she was talking about. If she could successfully produce a tutorial video about algorithm analysis, this meant she had retained the information to begin with. Smart! From there, her channel has evolved into a kitchen table maker diary, with fun, entertaining tutorials on how to build using Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

ROBO SUIT | Halloween Build ft. Arduino + Raspberry Pi

I like making robots. So this Halloween I am going to be a robot. Check out the whole story and full tutorial on how to make your own Robo Suit here: https://www.hackster.io/estefanniegg/halloween-build-robosuit-c1a615 I used three Arduinos, one Raspberry Pi, servos, LEDs, and tons of wires to make this costume!

TucksProjects

With only a few videos so far, Tucker Shannon’s channel is a promising collection of rather wonderful Raspberry Pi builds. We covered his DIY CNC wood burner on the blog last year, and sat patiently waiting for more. And boy, were we happy with what came next. Check out his Raspberry Pi laser turret, and spend the rest of your day trying to figure out when you can make time to build your own.

Raspberry Pi Laser Turret (Draws on wall!) Pt1.

Glow in the dark laser pi tutorial PT. 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg1HivG02tw STL FILES https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2965798

Tinkernut

OMG, LOL, ROFLCOPTER, animated baby GIF, animated baby JIF — if you like YouTube and Raspberry Pi, we’d be shocked if you haven’t come across Tinkernut yet. With his well-documented projects and live comment aftershows, Tinkernut beautifully bridges the gap between his love of making and the interests of the community devouring his content.

BUILD: Coke Bottle SPY CAM! – Tinkernut Workbench

Learn how to take a regular Coke Zero bottle, cram a Raspberry Pi and webcam inside of it, and have it still look like a regular Coke Zero bottle. Why would you want to do this? To spy on those irritating April Fooligans!!!

Blitz City DIY

Looking to build a Raspberry Pi thermal camera? Need a review about Android TV OS for the Pi? Whatever your Raspberry Pi needs, Blitz City DIY will likely have you covered. With a collection of fun digital making builds using various tech; 3D-printing experiments; and reviews aplenty, Blitz City DIY is a gem amongst the maker channels of YouTube.

webOS Open Source Edition for Raspberry Pi

After reading an article in MagPi about the availability of webOS OSE for Raspberry Pi, I was curious to check it out. I think it definitely has potential and it’s always exciting when a new open source OS is available for the Pi.

engineerish

We’ve covered a few of engineerish’s projects here on the blog. He’s the king of creating projects you didn’t know you needed until you saw them, such as a Raspberry Pi binary clock, and a maze generator. While engineerish’s channel is fairly new, we’re excited to see where his builds will take him in the future.

Build a Binary Clock with Raspberry Pi – And how to tell the time

In this video I’ll be showing how I built a binary clock using a Raspberry Pi, NeoPixels and a few lines of Python. I also take a stab at explaining how the binary number system works so that we can decipher what said clock is trying to tell us.

Frederick Vandenbosch

Members of the Raspberry Pi Twitter community, you’ll recognise Frederick, who is an active contributor that often answers maker queries and takes part in the general Pi conversation. And on YouTube, his contributions are just as plentiful and rewarding.

Raspberry Pi Connected Picture Frame with Resin.io

▼ Info and links below ▼ For this project, I created a digital picture from which downloads its pictures from a shared Dropbox folder. A simple user interfaces allows the user to navigate the pictures and optionally like them. Upon liking a picture, a notification is sent via the IFTTT service.

Explaining Computers

Christopher Barnatt’s Explaining Computers channel reminds us a little of the educational videos our science teachers would record for us to play back during exam prep season. His videos are easy-to-follow explanations of various computing topics, well-presented, and with a theme tune that’ll be stuck in your head for days!

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Overclocking

Overclocking a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ using a Noctua cooling fan to stop it throttling. Here I show how to overclock a Pi 3B+, and steadily take the CPU speed as high as it can go . . . but how far is that?!

Shameless plug…

Not to be confused with this, a shameless pug:

Raspberry Pi YouTube

The MagPi magazine

Is this cheating? Never mind. The MagPi magazine’s YouTube channel is full of reviews of the latest third-party add-ons for your Pi. 99% hosted by Rob (the guy who accosts our blog once a month to talk about the magazine), the MagPi’s channel is a must subscription for any Raspberry Pi enthusiast.

DiddyBorg Raspberry Pi robot

The DiddyBorg v2 is the latest robot from the excellent PiBorg, complete with ThunderBorg motor controller. Is it as good as it looks? Get one here: http://magpi.cc/diddyborg Subscribe today to twelve months print subscription to never miss an issue and get a Raspberry Pi Zero W with accessories.

Raspberry Pi Foundation

OK, this IS cheating, but it’s our blog post so we say it’s OK. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s YouTube channel collects introduction videos for our free resources, live talks from events, portraits of your projects, and that one time our Director of Software Engineering decided to ride a Pi-powered motorised skateboard. Oh, and product releases like this…

A BRAND-NEW PI FOR π DAY

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is now on sale now for $35.

Who did we miss?

If you run, or follow, a YouTube channel with Raspberry Pi–related content, share it with us in the comments! We’ll be watching.

19 Comments

Sync modular synths and electronic instruments with a DIY kit

The Raspberry Pi community is wonderfully collaborative, with people all over the world supporting each other to make things they care about. It’s part of a much wider maker movement, and a new project from seismic industries, called spink0, brings the power of Raspberry Pi to another DIY community in the music world: modular synthesizer enthusiasts.

spink0 Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack modular synth

Modular synths

Modular synthesizers are dedicated machines for creating and controlling electrically generated sounds. Unlike the ubiquitous electronic keyboards, they don’t offer pre-set sounds. Instead, they allow players to deeply manipulate the nature of sounds: by connecting different modules with each other via cables, players use signals from one module to affect and alter the sounds from another, and generally get very creative with not just the musical notes but the sound itself.

MOTM modular - Synth patch for second commission (by Charles Hutchins)

A low to middling number of cables

Modular synths have seen a huge growth in popularity in the last few years. This year’s BBC Proms even featured an improvised modular synthesizer performance in the Royal Albert Hall.

Recent developments in technology, and enterprising module creators, have made these machines much more accessible, largely through a modular synth format called eurorack. A thriving DIY community has also grown, with people assembling their own modular synths using kits or even building their own modules from scratch.

spink0 syncs music

Enter the Raspberry Pi Zero W, just the right size for adding sophisticated computing power to a eurorack module. The spink0 eurorack module uses the power of a Zero W to allow musicians to keep their eurorack synth music in time with music created with more common electronic instruments like drum machines and computers. The Zero W connects to a wireless network and uses the Ableton Link protocol to share timing information across this network. It converts this digital data into the analogue square wave clock pulses that modular synths use for musical timing.

spink-0 jam with launchpad and ableton

jam with spink-0. launchpad, the two spinks and ableton are synchronized with their integrated LINK protocol via a WLAN accesspoint provided by the 2nd spink module. Tempochange in Ableton at 0:37

With spink0, seismic industries have developed shaduzLABS’ original prototype pink-0 into an open-source DIY kit including PCBs and a panel that rather neatly integrate a Pi Zero into a eurorack module (a CLK/RST generator, to be exact).

spink0 PCBs — Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack module.

The PCBs that seismic industries designed for spink0

Pi-powered electronic music jam sessions

This opens up a whole world of jamming potential to musicians who use these esoteric machines to make their sounds. A group of electronic musicians can get together, connect over a wireless network, and improvise ideas, all kept in time across the network. Thanks to spink0, eurorack synths can coexist with computers and even iPads and other tablets.

spink0 Raspberry Pi Zero W eurorack modular synth

spink0 without its top panel

Now anyone can link their modular synth with other music machines and computers for collaborative jams! Seismic industries offer the DIY kit, plus full instructions and code, so you can solder yours at home, or you can buy spink0 preassembled if you wish.

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Raspberry Pi as car computer

Carputers! Fabrice Aneche is documenting his ongoing build, which equips an older (2011) car with some of the features a 2018 model might have: thus far, a reversing camera (bought off the shelf, with a modified GUI to show the date and the camera’s output built with Qt and Golang), GPS and offline route guidance.

rearcam

We’re not sure how the car got through that little door there.

It was back in 2013, when the Raspberry Pi had been on the market for about a year, that we started to see carputer projects emerge. They tended to be focussed in two directions: in-car entertainment, and on-board diagnostics (OBD). We ended up hiring the wonderful Martin O’Hanlon, who wrote up the first OBD project we came across, just this year. Being featured on this blog can change your life, I tell you.

In the last five years, the Pi’s evolved: you’re now working with a lot more processing power, there’s onboard WiFi, and far more peripherals which can be useful in a…vehicular context are available. Consequently, the flavour of the car projects we’re seeing has changed somewhat, with navigation systems and cameras much more visible. Fabrice’s is one of the best examples we’ve found.

solarised map

Night-view navigation system

GPS is all very well, but you, the human person driver, will want directions at every turn. So Fabrice wrote a user interface to serve up live maps and directions, mostly in Qt5 and QML (he’s got some interesting discussion on his website about why he stopped using X11, which turned out to be too slow for his needs). All the non-QML work is done in Go. It’s all open-source, and on GitHub, if you’d like to contribute or roll your own project. He’s also worked over the Linux GPS daemons, found them lacking, and has produced his own:

…the Linux gps daemons are using obscure and over complicated protocols so I’ve decided to write my own gps daemon in Go using a gRPC stream interface. You can find it here.

I’m also not satisfied with the map matching of OSRM for real time display, I may rewrite one using mbmatch.

street map display

We’ll be keeping an eye on this project; given how much clever has gone into it already, we’re pretty sure that Fabrice will be adding new features. Thanks Fabrice!

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Coolest Projects: it’s for the whole family!

Wherever in the world I meet members of the Raspberry Pi community, I am always amazed by their enthusiasm for learning and making. And I often meet families that are enjoying computing together: kids who have introduced their parents to something that’s a whole new world for them, adults who are sharing a hobby they love with their children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews, and whole families that are learning alongside one another.

Coolest Projects logo Raspberry Pi

Earlier this summer, I met Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Heidi Baynes at Picademy in Denver, Colorado, and asked her about the Coolest Projects North America showcase event, which she and her son will be attending to on September 23 in Santa Ana, California. We hope you’ll join us there too, and to help you plan and build your own project to showcase, we’ve created a handy step-by-step guide for you to follow. Heidi and I talked about how she got involved with the Raspberry Pi community, and what she and her son are looking forward to at Coolest Projects.

Christina Foust: Heidi, what makes you excited about Coolest Projects?

Heidi Baynes: I love the idea of bringing kids together from all over North America to share their excitement about computer science and digital making. While I love all things Raspberry Pi, I like that this event includes projects from a variety of different sources. I’m excited to see projects built with Arduino, micro:bit, and other microcontrollers. I also can’t wait to see the digital creations that students have programmed as part of their coding classes and coding clubs. It’ll be a great celebration of computer science, robotics, and coding classes throughout North America.

CF: I can’t wait either! We’ve got some great projects registered. You’ve been part of the Raspberry Pi community for a few years. Can you tell me what first got you involved?

HB: As an educator, I was curious about Raspberry Pi and what it could mean for students and education. I applied to attend Picademy in the summer of 2016, and I was thrilled to be accepted to the Austin cohort. It was the most enriching professional development opportunity that I have ever attended, and I couldn’t wait to get back to my district and share everything I had learned. I’ve been lucky enough to continue my Picademy journey as a facilitator in Providence, Irvine, and just recently, in Denver. It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to experience Picademy across the country and connect with so many wonderful educators!

CF: We love that you’re a part of the Raspberry Pi community, and we’re excited to have you join us for Coolest Projects. Your son is registered to present his project, Star Wars Piano. Where did the idea for his project come from?

HB: Music in general is a big focus in our house, so we purchased the Piano HAT to explore music and coding. As we searched through soundbites, we ran across a bank of Star Wars sounds and knew what we had to do. My son has talked about incorporating the piano into a costume so that different sound effects could be easily played while in character.

Heidi Baynes on Twitter

My son and I had a blast working on this Star Wars themed 🎹🎩 project. #picademy #pichatusa #piparty @bquentin3 @kboyceq https://t.co/mYOlVp5UxX

CF: I love Star Wars! What is he most excited about for Coolest Projects?

HB: He loves seeing what other kids have done and gets inspired by their creativity. In fact, as we’ve been talking about Coolest Projects and preparing his Star Wars Piano, he’s decided that he’d also like to try building a robotic car to share at the event. We’ve purchased the kit, and hopefully he’ll have time to complete it so he can share that project as well.

CF: I love that he’s inspired to keep building. We’d love to have him share the car too. What is he doing to get ready to share his Star Wars Piano project?

HB: He’s been adding a few more sound effects to his piano and is hoping to add another octave of sounds before he shares it at the event. We’ve talked about him creating images on the Sense HAT to play along with the sounds, so we’ll see what happens between now and then!

CF: That’s super exciting! I can’t wait to see how the project evolves. Do you have any advice for educators or parents with kids considering Coolest Projects?

HB: Stop considering and sign up! Don’t hesitate to come and share what you are working on, no matter how big or small the project might be. The Raspberry Pi and CS educator community is the most welcoming group of people. You and your students are sure to walk away with a few new ideas and some questions answered. We all learn from what others are doing. Your project could be the spark for someone else!

Coolest Projects North America

Coolest Projects will take place the Discovery Cube Orange County on September 23, 2018, and projects from young people with all levels of experience are welcome: we love to celebrate what kids and teens have created, whether they’re beginners showcasing their first projects, or seasoned makers! Find out how to attend the event and register your project at coolestprojects.org/northamerica.

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