MagPi issue 33 – out now!

I can’t believe we’re on our third issue of the new MagPi already. Your free Raspberry Pi magazine is ready to download here. This month’s magazine is a doozy, with 70 pages of tutorials, some incredible projects to build, reviews, and much, much more.

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One feature in this month’s magazine has me jumping up and down like a schoolgirl (bear with me here; we did trampolining at school).  Mike Cook is an electronics wizard extraordinaire and an absolute childhood hero of mine thanks to his regular Body Building column in Micro User Magazine. Mike has joined the MagPi team to start a new column called Mike’s Pi Bakery, where, just like in the good old days, he’ll be creating little electronic projects which will be well within the grasp of beginners. This month he’ll show you how to make an interactive PiGlow reaction game, for which you’ll be building your own controller. I had the good fortune to get to hog a lot of Mike’s time at our 3rd birthday party in February, where he taught me a great deal about why specific blues are less easy to recall than specific reds; about different generations of LEGO motors; and that I have a pathetically limp wrist when it comes to dealing with ketchup bottles with attached accelerometers.

There are more amazing Minecraft tips and tricks from Martin O’Hanlon; an interview with one of my favourite people in UK computing (who? You’ll have to download the magazine to find out); a super-test of four popular Raspberry Pi desktops; a competition to win £200 of PiBorg goodies; and much, much more – like this magic retro gaming glove.

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As always, the magazine is completely free to download. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it!

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Windows 10 for IoT

Back in February, when we launched Raspberry Pi 2, the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed the folks at Microsoft making an announcement about bringing Windows 10 for IoT to the Raspberry Pi. We’re excited to share that it landed today – along with a ridiculously cool demo. The chap in the video is HoloLens designer Alex Kipman.

I’m guessing that this video will leave a lot of you wanting to get your hands on a version of Windows 10 for IoT (called Windows 10 IoT Core) that you can use with your own Pi 2. This is all in Insider Preview mode still, so it comes with all the usual stability warnings. Microsoft has made the instructions on how to download the Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview and install it on your Pi 2 in one nice, tidy HTML page here. (I know a couple of our forum mods did so overnight because I got excited messages about robots from them which I found when I woke up this morning). The page is on GitHub, so you can issue pull requests. And yes, you will also need to have a copy of Windows 10 on your PC. You can get that by signing up to the Windows 10 Insider Program.

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Steve Teixeira at Microsoft says:

We’re embracing the simple principle of helping Makers and device builders do more by bringing our world-class development tools, the power of the Universal Windows Platform, direct access to hardware capabilities, and the ability to remotely debug, update, and manage the software running on Raspberry Pi 2 devices. This Insider Preview release of Windows 10 IoT Core is our conversation-starter. Our goal is to give Makers the opportunity to play with the software bits early and to listen to the feedback on what’s working well and what we can do better. You may notice some missing drivers or rough edges; we look forward to receiving your feedback to help us prioritize our development work. We’ll be incorporating the feedback we receive into regular software updates along with additional drivers, bug fixes and new features. Those looking for a commercial-quality release should wait for general availability this summer.

Matt Richardson, who is at the Build conference (hanging out with that little robot: B2 is spending the next day living on the Raspberry Pi stand with Matt, and we fully expect Matt to have trained him to make tea by the time the conference is ready to wrap up), and who was able to have a bit of a play with the setup while we in the UK were all fast asleep, seems impressed.

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Matt’s new best friend

We’ll be watching to see what the community does with Windows 10 for IoT on the Pi with great interest.

 

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Welcome Philip!

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that a couple of months back, we were advertising for a new CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  

Today we’re really excited to announce that Philip Colligan will be joining us in July as the new CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  Philip will be responsible for overseeing all of our charitable activities – that’s everything from our outreach and learning resources to grant-giving and partnerships with government and other organisations.  He’ll be working closely with Eben, who continues as the CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading.  

We are concerned that Eben and Philip's very similar facial styling may cause identity problems in the office.

Philip joins us from Nesta, a charity that supports innovation, where he is the Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Nesta’s Innovation Lab. In his role at Nesta, he’s supported hundreds of innovators in public services, charities and social enterprises, and has also been an adviser to government.

One of Nesta’s areas of work is helping young people get involved in digital making and creativity, so with Philip on board, we’re hoping that there will be lots of opportunities to work together in future.

Before his time at Nesta, Philip had a career in national and local government, working at the Home Office and Camden Council.  Outside of work he’s a dad, school governor and craft cider maker; a skill we plan on making full use of. (We also hope that his experience in wrangling the Home Office will be helpful when he is called to deal with the weekly détente in the office when Gordon annexes the biscuit tin.)

Philip’s perfectly qualified to come and drive the next phase of the Foundation’s charitable work; we’re delighted he’s decided to come and join us. We want to see the Foundation grow in scope and ambition, and we think he’s exactly the person to help us do that. Welcome aboard, Philip! 

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Picademy South West

Next stop on the great Raspberry Pi Education Team Tour of Great Britain is the South West of England! That’s right: we’re taking Picademy, the official Raspberry Pi Professional Development course for teachers, on the road again, thanks to our friends at Exeter Library in Devon! I’m already packing my bucket, spade and kiss-me-quick hat. As always, Picademy is completely free to attend.

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Raspberry Pi Certified Educators – April 2015 from cohort no. 8. All demonstrating their best super hero pose!

Exeter Library is an appealing venue for Picademy, with an onsite Fab Lab (fabrication workshop) equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers, and more. I expect we will see some fantastic project ideas realised on day two of the course. Maybe even ‘Biscuits’ the robot will get a shiny new hat courtesy of Clive’s mega-making skills.

Picademy South West will take place on 4th and 5th June. We have space for 24 enthusiastic teachers from Primary, Secondary and Post-16 who are open to getting hands on with their learning and having some fun. We’d like to see lots of teachers from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset take full advantage of this two day event. Sign-ups for teachers are open!

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Our Raspberry Pi Certified Educators Map shows that the team are needed in the South West!

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Growth at Devon County Council, said:

 “We’re really pleased and excited that the Picademy is coming to Devon, as this is a fantastic opportunity for local teachers to benefit from the expertise that the two day course will offer – all for free.

We’re keen to try and spread technology training as far and as wide as possible, and have already invested in modern fabrication facilities through the Fab Lab at Exeter Library, which anyone attending the course will be able to see.

The Picademy really complements what we’re already doing here in Devon and provides an opportunity to ensure that we continue to look at new ways in which we can encourage the next generation of experts in technology development, rather than just technology consumers.”

 

For educators in and around Leeds, remember that our Picademy@Google training events are open for sign-ups too, as we continue to spread free training opportunities across the UK. In the coming months we will announce other venues as part of the Google series.

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The Wheel of (BASIC) Excuses

Back in the day, over at IEEE Spectrum magazine, the editorial elves had a sheet of paper stuck on a wall, with a spinning arm which pointed to any number of plausible excuses for not having handed in homework an article in time.

The offices were renovated last year, and Stephen Cass thought that it was time to update the paper version, bringing it kicking and screaming into the 1980s with a Raspberry Pi-based BASIC system. You can’t fit many excuses on wheel drawn on a sheet of paper. With a big enough SD card, you can fit all the excuses onto a Raspberry Pi.

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I remember struggling with getting BASIC to do things fast enough to be useful when I was at school back in the dark ages. The RISC OS version on your Pi is much evolved from the BBC BASIC we knew and loved in (squints) 1980-something; it’s also much, much faster by virtue of all that extra RAM. Stephen was pleased and alarmed by this.

Stephen didn’t put the code for the spinner in his original piece, because he had the aberrant view that nobody would be interested. Happily, he’s fixed that and pasted everything into a comment below his article. (Hit “See more” to view the whole block.)

There are, of course, plenty of non-journalist applications for this snippet of code: games for the kids, allocating chores, automating decision-making…we hope some of you will end up adapting it and letting us know what you did below.

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Plotter made from scrap computer parts

Our old friend HomoFaciens (who has the best voice of any Raspberry Pi user we’ve met) has another fantastic piece of work to share. He’s recycled old optical drives for their stepper motors, and made a tiny plotter, controlled over WiFi, from those motors, a servo, four H-bridges and a Raspberry Pi.

HF has made a full writeup, including all the source code you’ll need, available at his website. As always, he’s also made the whole video and writeup available in German. HomoFaciens’ website is one of those bits of the internet you’ll find yourself wandering around for ages if you’re even slightly interested in this sort of thing. He’s got some fascinating stuff on there; I heartily recommend giving one of his camera-equipped robots a spin via the web interface they’re hooked up to. (No prizes for guessing which is my favourite.)

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If you decide to make your own plotter, be aware that not all old optical drives have stepper motors – HomoFaciens’ hit rate was about 50% when he started pulling them apart.

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Stream PC games to your TV

Why spend hundreds of quid on a Steam Machine when you can do exactly the same thing with a humble Raspberry Pi? (The B+ is available for $25, which is about £16, at RS Components at the moment, if you’re really on a budget.)

Here are the Possibly Unsafe guys to walk you through setup.

I’ve swiped the instructions below from their YouTube channel:

Setup:
You’ll first need to install the latest Rasbian from here:
http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/

Next download Limelight Embedded. Grab the latest limelight.jar and libopus.so from here:
https://github.com/irtimmer/limelight…

Make sure that your gaming PC has an NVIDIA GTX 600+ graphics card and GeForce Experience installed.

Pairing:
To make things easier, enable SSH on the RPi and tunnel in to the machine. Here are some useful commands:

List compatible PCs
java -jar limelight.jar list

Pair with PC
java -jar limelight.jar pair PC-IP

Map a controller
java -jar limelight.jar map -input /dev/input/eventX mapfile.map

Start streaming
java -jar limelight.jar stream -1080/720 -60fps/30fps PC-IP -app Steam -mapping mapfile.map

Make sure to check the Limelight help file in case things have changed since this post!

Possibly Unsafe’s a rather brilliant channel; I’m making their homemade Sriracha chilli sauce just as soon as I can get my hands on enough habaneros. You can support them via their Patreon if you like the things they do.

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Benton Park Live Coding Orchestra – The Planets

The kids from Benton Park have gone on to media superstardom in this short from the BBC. You’ve met the Benton Park Live Coding Orchestra before – they live-code music in Sonic Pi for school performances. This time, they’re making music about the planets, using Holst’s Planets Suite as a jumping-off point.

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The Live Coding Orchestra kids are in years 5 and 6 (so they’re all between nine and eleven years old); the dancers in this performance are all from the Reception class and the Nursery group (aged five and under). As well as providing music for the little kids to dance to, the Live Coding Orchestra spent some time teaching them how to create music in Sonic Pi – you can see them doing some training at the start of the video.

The music sets the mood for dancing on three different planets, with a rocket trip between each planet orchestrated by Holst. Best thing we’ve seen in ages – thanks Live Coders, and thanks dancers! (If your adblocker has made the video below invisible, you can check it out at the BBC’s website.)

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Droplet photography

I get asked sometimes what my favourite projects from this blog are. Dave Hunt’s water droplet photography’s right up there: Dave rigged up a Pi to trigger a solenoid valve and a camera shutter at the same time, to take perfectly timed macro photos of water drops. You can see his original, beautiful pictures here in our archives.

Over in Germany, Markus May has based his own rig on Dave’s, with a few alterations; he’s also put a lot of effort into lighting and colour effects, with spectacular results.

Markus’ original blog post is in German, but Google Translate does a pretty bang-up job of making things understandable for idiots like me who promptly forgot all the German they knew moments after taking a GCSE exam in it. (I still remember that Zwiebel means onion, but that won’t get you far on holiday unless you really like onions.)

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We love this stuff: bringing the sort of thing you could only do with an expensive professional rig inside the budget an amateur with a DSLR might have gets us really excited.

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This rig is more involved than Dave’s original, with a couple of Mariotte’s bottles which produce an equal flow rate, however full the bottles are. Guar gum for thickening, milk for opacity and food colouring went into the liquid for extra gorgeousness.

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Markus has made a circuit diagram available, and Dave’s original post still contains everything you’ll need to make your own rig. There are more of these spectacular photographs at Markus’ Flickr, and you’ll find a great writeup of the original session, with behind-the-scenes pictures at his blog post.

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Visualising core load on the Pi 2

Since we released Raspberry Pi 2 back in February, a lot of you have been asking questions about how work gets divided between the four cores. David (what’s your last name, David? Let us know and I’ll update this post) in Cambridge has written a remote CPU-monitoring webserver, which outputs a nice scrolling graph of CPU load on all four cores onto a webpage, so you can view it remotely while your Pi 2 works, along with CPU temperature.

CPU usage

The monitoring software itself is lightweight, so it shouldn’t be a big consumer of resources on your Pi – the Pi’s sending a series of numbers representing load, and all the heavy lifting, turning it into visual data, is being done in Javascript by the browser on whatever machine you’re viewing it on. Here are the results, running on a simulated iPhone 4s.

This is very easy to set up; everything’s embedded in the executable, so all you have to do is to run the program. You’ll find full instructions and code in Dave’s GitHub repo here – if you already have another webserver running on your Pi you may need to change ports, but that aside, this is an absolute doddle to run.

Let us know if you have a play; we’d be interested to learn about what you find!

 

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