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!

Watching VinylVideo with a Raspberry Pi A+

Play back video and sound on your television using your turntable and the VinylVideo converter, as demonstrated by YouTuber TechMoan.

VinylVideo – Playing video from a 45rpm record

With a VinylVideo convertor you can play video from a vinyl record played on a standard record player. Curiosity, tech-demo or art?

A brief history of VinylVideo

When demand for vinyl dipped in the early nineties, Austrian artist Gebhard Sengmüller introduced the world to his latest creation: VinylVideo. With VinylVideo you can play audio and visuals from an LP vinyl record using a standard turntable and a converter box plugged into a television set.

Gebhard Sengmüller original VinylVideo

While the project saw some interest throughout the nineties and early noughties, in the end only 20 conversion sets were ever produced.

However, when fellow YouTuber Randy Riddle (great name) got in touch with UK-based tech enthusiast TechMoan to tell him about a VinylVideo revival device becoming available, TechMoan had no choice but to invest.

Where the Pi comes in

After getting the VinylVideo converter box to work with an old Sony CRT unit, TechMoan decided to take apart the box to better understand how it works

You’ll notice a familiar logo at the top right there. Yes, it’s using a Raspberry Pi, a model A+ to be precise, to do the video decoding and output. It makes sense in a low-volume operation — use something that’s ready-made rather than getting a custom-made board done that you probably have to buy in batches of a thousand from China.

There’s very little else inside the sturdy steel casing, but what TechMoan’s investigation shows is that the Pi is connected to a custom-made phono preamp via USB and runs software written specifically for the VinylVideo conversion and playback.

Using Raspberry Pi for VinylVideo playback

For more information on the original project, visit the extremely dated VinylVideo website. And for more on the new product, you can visit the revival converter’s website.

Be sure to subscribe to TechMoan’s YouTube channel for more videos, and see how you can support him on Patreon.

And a huge thank you to David Ferguson for the heads-up! You can watch David talk about his own Raspberry Pi project, PiBakery, on our YouTube channel.

3 Comments

Hello World Issue 6: Ethical Computing

Join us for an in-depth exploration of ethical computing in the newest issue of Hello World, our magazine for computing and digital making educators. It’s out today!

 

We need to talk about ethics

Whatever area of computing you hail from, how to take an ethical approach to the projects we build with code is an important question. As educators, we also need to think about the attitudes we are passing on to our students as we guide them along their computing journey.

Ensuring that future generations use technology for good and consider the ethical implications of their creations is vital, particularly as self-learning AI systems are becoming prevalent. Let’s be honest: none of us want to live in a future resembling The Terminator’s nightmarish vision, however unlikely that is to come true.

With that in mind, we’ve brought together a wide range of experts to share their ideas on the moral questions that teaching computing raises, and on the social implications of computing in the wider context of society.

More in this issue

We’ve also got the latest news about exciting online courses from Raspberry Pi and articles on Minecraft, Scratch, and the micro:bit. As usual, we also answer your latest questions and bring you an excellent collection of helpful features, guides, and lesson plans!

Highlights of issue 6 include:

  • Doing the right thing: can computing help create ‘good citizens’?
  • Ethics in the curriculum: how to introduce them to students
  • Microblocks: live programming for microcontrollers
  • The 100-word challenge: a free resource to unlock creative writing

You can download your PDF of Hello World #6 from our website right now! It’s freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

Subscribe to Hello World

We offer free print copies of the magazine to all computing educators in the UK. This includes teachers, Code Club and CoderDojo volunteers, teaching assistants, teacher trainers, and others who help children and young people learn about computing and digital making.

Subscribe to have your free print magazine posted directly to your home, or subscribe digitally — 24000 educators have already signed up to receive theirs!

If you live outside the UK and are interested in computer science and digital making education (and since you’ve read this far, I think you are!), subscribe to always get the latest issue as a PDF file straight to your inbox.

Get in touch!

You could write for us about your experiences as an educator to share your advice with the community. Wherever you are in the world, get in touch by emailing our editorial team about your article idea — we would love to hear from you!

Hello World magazine is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Computing At School, which is part of the British Computing Society.

No Comments

How to mod your Etch A Sketch, or Toy Story in real life

We’d like to file this under ‘things we wish we’d had when we were younger’. Who else is envious of the kids of today and all the cool things they can make with our old classic toys?

Etch A Sketch Robot – Elephant

Read about how this works on my blog! http://sunnybala.com/2018/09/10/python-etch-a-sketch.html

To a wave of upvotes and comments, Sunny Balasubramanian shared their Etch A Sketch project on Reddit, including all the information and code you need to build your own. Thanks, Sunny!

Dismantling the toys of our childhoods

The physical set up of the automated Etch A Sketch is pretty simple: motors attached to couplers replace the original plastic nobs, and a connected Raspberry Pi 3 controls the motors as directed by the code.

Etch a Sketch modded with a Raspberry Pi

For stability, Sunny attached a wooden block to the plastic housing that keeps the motors in place.

Coding new life into an Etch A Sketch

Sunny explains:

There’s a few different ways to go about this portion of the project. When I started out, I googled to see if anyone had done things like this before. A few projects popped up. They seemed to approach the drawing in one of two ways. I wanted to do it in a fully automated way where the only input is a picture and the output is a cleanly drawn image.

The code Sunny ended up using first takes an image and simplifies it into a line drawing using Canny edge detection. It then turns each pixel to a node and draws a path between the nodes, connecting them one by one. So that the Etch A Sketch draws the picture, the Raspberry Pi then directs the motors to follow the connections and create uncannily precise sketches.

Head to Sunny’s website for more information about their project, and download the full code from GitHub.

Two down, more to go…

With this automated Etch A Sketch, and this talking Fisher Price Chatter Telephone, the Raspberry Pi community is well on the way to recreating the entire Toy Story cast, and we are fully on board with that!

A GIF of Toy Story characters

So what’s next? A remote-controlled Slinky? A falling with style flying Buzz Lightyear? What would you build?

2 Comments

Vote for your 50 favourite projects!

Hi folks, Rob from The MagPi here. While we’re working on the next issue of The MagPi, we’re very aware that we’re almost at issue 75!

Rob didn’t give Alex an image to put here so she made one

To celebrate this milestone, we’re doing another countdown of projects. We ranked 50 projects for issue 50 of The MagPi, and this time we’re ranking 75 of the greatest Raspberry Pi projects — and we need your help to do that!

Vote for your favourite

You folks in the community never stop amazing us with the things you make, so our list will be full of the outstanding projects you’ve made since we released issue 50 for October 2016! Like last time, you can vote for your favourites, but we’re upping the ante: we want you to choose the top 50 projects from the list of 75 we’ve compiled.

Want to know more about the projects before you vote? Visit our blog post detailing all the options.

Make sure to choose your favourites before Tuesday 2 October!

24 Comments

You wouldn’t download a car…

You wouldn’t download a car…but is that just because none of us know how to? And OF COURSE none of us know how to: it’s a really hard thing to do!

Raspberry Pi Tesla

Dramatic reenactment using a Mini because, c’mon, as if I can afford a Tesla!

Nikola Tesla was in love with a pigeon 😍🐦

True story. He was also the true father of the electrical age (sorry, not sorry, Edison) and looked so much like David Bowie that here’s David Bowie playing Nikola Tesla:

David Bowie as Nicola Tesla — Raspberry Pi Tesla

Not even pigeon love

Which is the perfect segue, as here’s a Tesla playing David Bowie, and here’s also where our story truly begins…

Some people dislike Tesla (the car manufacturer, not the scientist) but we love them

But some people also dislike going to the dentist, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. (I also love going to the dentist.)

I’m pretty sure the reason some people have issues with Tesla is that electric cars still seem like a form of magic we’re not quite comfortable with.

Whatever people’s reason for holding a grudge against Tesla, recent findings at a university in Belgium this week have left the tech community aflutter: the academics announced that, with the aid of a “$35 computer”, they can clone your Tesla car key and steal. Your. Car.

If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re the ones behind the $35 computer. (Hi!)

Says WIRED: A team of researchers at the KU Leuven University in Belgium on Monday plan to present a paper at the Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems conference in Amsterdam, revealing a technique for defeating the encryption used in the wireless key fobs of Tesla’s Model S luxury sedans. With about $600 in radio and computing equipment, they can wirelessly read signals from a nearby Tesla owner’s fob. Less than two seconds of computation yields the fob’s cryptographic key, allowing them to steal the associated car without a trace.

When I said that the tech community was all aflutter, what I meant was, on the whole, we find this hack somewhat entertaining but aren’t all that shocked by it. Not because we hate Tesla, but because these things happen. Technology is ever evolving, and that $600 worth of kit can do a thing to another thing isn’t all that unbelievable.

Sweet Cyber Jones on Twitter

The keys to my new Tesla https://t.co/jNViEZBxrB

The academics showed an example of the hack using “just” a couple of radios, a Raspberry Pi, some batteries, and your basic, off-the-shelf “pre-computed table of keys on a portable hard drive”. And through the magic of electric car IoT technology, Tesla instantly released a series of fixes to allow existing Tesla users to protect their cars against the attack, which is all kinds of cool.

Alex, why are you making such light of this?!

Because The Fast and the Furious isn’t real. And I highly doubt there’s a criminal enterprise out there that’s capable of building the same technology as well-funded university researchers.

Yes, this study from KU Leuven University is interesting. And yes, we all had a good laugh at the expense of Tesla and Elon Musk, but we don’t need academics to provide material for that. And I genuinely love Tesla and the work Elon is doing. True love.

Instead, we should be seeing this as a reminder that data encryption and online security are things we all need to take seriously in this digital world. So stop connecting your phone to whatever free WiFi network you can find, stop using PASSWORD123 for all your online accounts, and spend a little more time learning how you can better protect yourself and your family from nasty people on the internet.

And leave Britney Tesla alone!

17 Comments

The European Astro Pi Challenge is back for 2018/2019

Ever wanted to run your own experiment in space? Then you’re in luck! ESA Education, in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of the 2018/2019 European Astro Pi Challenge!

Astro Pi returns for a new 2018/19 challenge!

Ever wanted to run your own experiment in space? Then you’re in luck! ESA Education, in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of the 2018/2019 European Astro Pi Challenge!

In this challenge, we offer students and young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space by writing computer programs that run on Astro Pis — special Raspberry Pi computers aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques are the Challenge’s ambassadors. They will accompany our Astro Pis on the ISS and oversee your programs while these run and collect scientific data.

Two missions are part of the Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Mission Space Lab opens today!

If you are 19 or younger and live in an ESA Member or Associate Member State*, we invite you to form a team with at least one friend of yours and apply to the Astro Pi Challenge’s Mission Space Lab by sending us your experiment idea by the end of October. We can’t wait to see your ideas!

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

Mission Space Lab gives you the chance to have your scientific experiment run on the ISS. Your challenge is to design and code an experiment using the environmental sensors and cameras of the Astro Pi computers, called Ed and Izzy, aboard the ISS.

You can choose between two themes for your experiment: Life in space and Life on Earth. If you pick the ‘Life on Earth’ theme, you’ll use the Astro Pi computer Izzy, fitted with a near-infrared camera facing out of an ISS window, to study the Earth. For ‘Life in space’, you’ll use the Astro Pi computer Ed, which is equipped with a camera for light sensing, and investigate life inside the Columbus module of the ISS. The best experiments will be deployed on the ISS, and you’ll have the opportunity to analyse your experimental data to write a report with your results. The ten teams who send us the best reports will become the Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2018/2019 winners!

There are four phases to Mission Space Lab:

  • Phase 1 – Design (until end of October 2018)
    • Come up with an idea for your experiment
  • Phase 2 – Create (November 2018 to March 2019)
    • Code your program and test your experiment on Earth
  • Phase 3 – Deploy (April 2019)
    • Your program is deployed on the ISS
  • Phase 4 – Analyse (May 2019)
    • Use the data from your experiment to write your report

In the first phase, Design, you just need an idea for an experiment. You won’t need to do any coding yet, but you should think about how you might write the program for your experiment to make sure your goal is achievable. Have a look at our Astro Pi Mission Space Lab guidelines for everything you need to know to take part the challenge. Your deadline to register and submit your idea via the Astro Pi website is 29 October 2018.

We will select teams and notify them of their acceptance to Phase 2 of Mission Space Lab by mid-November 2018.

Mission Zero — open soon

Mission Zero, the simpler level of the Astro Pi Challenge, also offers you the chance to have something you’ve coded run on the ISS, in the form of a simple program that displays a message to the astronauts on-board. For this mission, you don’t need special equipment and you can be a complete beginner at coding; if your entry follows a few simple rules, it’s guaranteed to run in space!

Astro Pi Mission Zero logo

If you are 14 or younger and live in an ESA Member or Associate Member State*, we would like you to take part in Mission Zero. You can submit your program from 29 October 2018 onward. For more details, head to the Mission Zero page.

Find out more about the Astro Pi Challenge

What is the Astro Pi Challenge?

Announcing the 2018-19 European Astro Pi Challenge in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). It’s open to students from all 22 ESA member countries, including associate members Canada and Slovenia. In Mission Zero, students aged up to 14 write a simple Python program that will display a message on the International Space Station for 30 seconds.

*ESA Member States in 2018:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

ESA Associate States in 2018: Canada, Slovenia

In the framework of the current collaboration agreement between ESA and the Republic of Malta, teams from Malta can also participate in the European Astro Pi Challenge. ESA will also accept entries from primary or secondary schools located outside an ESA Member or Associate State only if such schools are officially authorised and/or certified by the official Education authorities of an ESA Member or Associate State (for instance, French school outside Europe officially recognised by the French Ministry of Education or delegated authority).

5 Comments

Cabin Cloud: bump-free travel on the night bus

Planes, trains, and automobiles — we all have our preference. And at one company in California, the team is trying to smooth bus travel to broaden commuters’ options for a blissful night’s sleep.

Cabin bus Raspberry Pi Wired

Leaving on a jet plane

Not everyone wants to fly. While many enjoy the feel of take-off and landing and the high speed at which they can travel from A to B, others see planes as worrisome tin cans of doom, suspended in the air by unreliable magic. I consider myself mostly the former, with a hint of the latter for balance.

In truth, I’d rather catch a train, where the smooth ride sends me into blissful sleep, only occasionally interrupted by a snap of “Damn, did I miss my stop?!”.

But trains are limited to where their tracks lead, which is why so many people still opt to travel by bus. But who can sleep on a bus when the roads are dotted with potholes and cracks? I can’t, and neither can many of the 10000 passengers of the Cabin bus, an overnight service running between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Cabin bus travel

To address complaints about the road conditions affecting costumers’ sleep, the Cabin team decided to challenge gravity using a Raspberry Pi and the electric motor from a hoverboard in their new venture Cabin Cloud.

Introducing the first active suspension system designed specifically with passenger sleep in mind. Combining patent-pending software and hardware, our technology mutes ‘road turbulence’ and dramatically reduces vibration, so you can get a good night’s sleep while on a moving vehicle.

“We can isolate a passenger’s body, and input frequencies that help people relax and fall asleep,” explains Cabin CTO Tom Currier. “We have a set of sensors that are measuring the acceleration of the vehicle, and also the bed, to compute in real time what we should be cancelling out.”

Cabin bus Raspberry Pi Wired

The sensors are accelerometers, two per bed, that measure the bumps from the road and adjust the bed accordingly — up to 1000 times a second. The Cabin Cloud beds only adjust for motion up and down: the team isn’t too concerned about back-and-forth movements due to braking too hard or turning corners, since Cabin busses predominantly travel on wide, open highways.

Delve a little deeper

Check out this article from Wired for more about the project, and about how similar tech is implemented in trucks for long-haul drivers, and in aeroplanes for turbulence-free travel. You can also sign up for the Cabin Cloud newsletter here.

But the big question about Cabin Cloud is…

Does it have Bluetooth?

3 Comments

Guess the weight, win a thing!

Today marks the four-year anniversary of Nicola Early joining the Raspberry Pi team. Nicola works as Administrator at Pi Towers and is responsible for so many things that I dare not try to list them all. But among all her tasks, the most important one is the care and maintenance of the office rubber band ball.

Pi Towers Raspberry Pi Rubber Band Ball

The rubber band ball chronicles

Every working day for the last four years, whenever the postman delivers the packs of letters, Nicola has had at least one new rubber band to collect. And so over time, the ball has grown and grown and grown.

Nicola is very protective of the ball, so if you come to her desk in search for a rubber band, you’ll have to withstand her glare as she reluctantly removes one from her expanding collection.

Pi Towers Raspberry Pi Rubber Band Ball

If we are to consider that, in the UK, there are about 261 working days in a year, and Nicola has been working at Pi Towers for four years, it’s fair to estimate the ball consists of at least 1044 bands.

So our question for you is this:

How much does the ball weigh?

Submit your guess in the comments below*, or in the tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram post for this blog, and the closest guess will win a Raspberry Pi T-shirt and, if we can manage it without her noticing, a band from the very ball in question.

Pi Towers Raspberry Pi Rubber Band Ball

To take part, you need to submit your guess in grams by midnight next Monday 17 September. Multiple guesses on the same platform from the same account will be ignored — so behave.

*Members of the Raspberry Pi team may not take part, as there are scales on Nicola’s desk, and I don’t trust any of you.

174 Comments

Build a Raspberry Pi pocket projector…how awesome is that?!

YouTuber MickMake has been working hard on producing a Raspberry Pi pocket projector with the Raspberry Pi Zero W. We’re excited. We know you’re excited. So enough of us talking, here’s Mick with more!

#210 Build a Pi Zero W pocket projector! // Project

2 for 10 PCBs (48 hour quick turn around): https://jlcpcb.com/?ref=mickmake Make a pocket projector based on the DLP2000EVM and Raspberry Pi Zero W! Nice!

Sharing is caring

YouTuber Novaspirit Tech released a new video yesterday, reviewing MickMake’s Raspberry Pi Zero W pocket projector, and the longer the video ran on, the more we found ourselves wanting our own!

Thank you, Novaspirit Tech, for reminding us to subscribe to MickMake. And thank you, MickMake, for this awesome project!

The Pi Zero W pocket projector of your dreams

In his project video, Mick goes into great detail about the tech required for the project, along with information on the PCB he’s created to make it simpler and easier for other makers to build their own version.

raspberry pi pocket pi projector mickmakes

The overall build consists of the $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W, a DLP2000 board, and MickMake’s homemade $4 PCB, which allows you to press-fit the projector together into a very tidy unit with the same footprint as a Raspberry Pi 3B+ — perfectly pocket-sized.

Specs and things

While the projected images obviously aren’t as clear as those of high-end projectors, MickMake’s projector is definitely good enough to replace a cheap desktop display, or to help you show off your projects on the go at events such as Raspberry JamsCoolest Projects, and Maker Faire. And due to its low power consumption, the entire unit can run off the kind of rechargeable battery pack you may already be carrying around for your mobile phone. Nice!

In his review video, NovaSpirit Tech goes through more of the projector’s playback and spec details, and also does a series of clarity tests in various lights. So why read about it when you can watch it? Here you go:

Pi Projector by MickMake | The Raspberry Pi Zero Pocket Projector

this is a small footprint low power consumption raspberry pi zero powered projector using DLP2000 by mickmake ○○○ LINKS ○○○ MickMake PiProjector Video ► https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFciR-U7yhc MickMake Channel ► https://youtube.com/mickmake DLP2000 digikey ► https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/texas-instruments/DLPDLCR2000EVM/296-47119-ND/7598640 raspberry pi zero ► https://amzn.to/2Q8h1Hz ○○○ SHOP ○○○ Novaspirit Shop ► https://goo.gl/gptPNf Amazon Store ► http://amzn.to/2AYs3dI ○○○ SUPPORT ○○○ patreon ► https://goo.gl/xpgbzB ○○○ SOCIAL ○○○ novaspirit tv ► https://goo.gl/uokXYr twitter ► https://twitter.com/novaspirittech discord chat ► https://discord.gg/v8dAnFV FB Group Novaspirit ► https://www.facebook.com/groups/novas…

Custom PCBs

We see more and more makers designing their own custom PCBs to make everyone’s life that little bit easier.

Raspberry Pi pocket pi projector mickmakes

If you’ve created a custom PCB for your Raspberry Pi project, feel free to use the comments section as free advertising space for one day only! You’re welcome.

11 Comments

Hang out with Raspberry Pi this month in California, New York, and Boston

This month sees two wonderful events where you can meet the Raspberry Pi team, both taking place on the weekend of September 22 and 23 in the USA.

And for more impromptu fun, you can also hang out with our Social Media Editor and fellow Pi enthusiasts on the East Coast on September 24–28.

Coolest Projects North America

In the Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana, California, team members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation North America, CoderDojo, and Code Club will be celebrating the next generation of young makers at Coolest Projects North America.

Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that empowers and inspires the next generation of digital creators, innovators, changemakers, and entrepreneurs. This year, for the first time, we are bringing Coolest Projects to North America for a spectacular event!

While project submissions for the event are now closed, you can still get the last FREE tickets to attend this showcase on Sunday, September 23.

To get your free tickets, click here. And for more information on the event, visit the Coolest Projects North America homepage.

World Maker Faire New York

For those on the east side of the continent at World Maker Faire New York, we’ll have representation in the form of Alex, our Social Media Editor.

The East Coast’s largest celebration of invention, creativity, and curiosity showcases the very best of the global Maker Movement. Get immersed in hundreds of projects and multiple stages focused on making for social good, health, technology, electronics, 3D printing & fabrication, food, robotics, art and more!

Alex will be adorned in Raspberry Pi stickers while exploring the cornucopia of incredible projects on show. She’ll be joined by Raspberry Pi’s videographer Brian, and they’ll gather footage of Raspberry Pis being used across the event for videos like this one from last year’s World Maker Faire:

Raspberry Pi Coffee Robot || Mugsy || Maker Faire NY ’17

Labelled ‘the world’s first hackable, customisable, dead simple, robotic coffee maker’, and powered by a Raspberry Pi, Mugsy allows you to take control of every aspect of the coffee-making process: from grind size and water temperature, to brew and bloom time.

So if you’re planning to attend World Maker Faire, either as a registered exhibitor or an attendee showing off your most recent project, we want to know! Share your project in the comments so we can find you at the event.

A week of New York and Boston meetups

Lastly, since she’ll be in New York, Alex will be out and about after MFNY, meeting up with members of the Raspberry Pi community. If you’d be game for a Raspberry Pi-cnic in Central Park, Coffee and Pi in a cafe, or any other semi-impromptu meetup in the city, let us know the best days for you between Monday, September 24 to Thursday, September 27! Alex will organise some fun gatherings in the Big Apple.

You can also join her in Boston, Massachusetts, on Friday, September 28, where Alex will again be looking to meet up with makers and Pi enthusiasts — let us know if you’re game!

This is weird

Does anyone else think it’s weird that I’ve been referring to myself in the third person throughout this post?

10 Comments