Guest blogs #3, #4 and #5

With all of the amazing projects we see using the Raspberry Pi it’s easy to become a bit complacent. But one of the main reasons that the Raspberry Pi was invented was to encourage a new generation of young people to get into computing. The following guest blogs are all shining examples of why the Raspberry Pi was developed. They are all quite different but have a common message: that it’s never too early to learn computing. Or to start creating things.

Thanks to Jake, Matthew and Ross for helping put things into perspective.

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Jake’s Raspberry Pi in near space

We like the fact that Raspberry Pis are being sent into near space (and coming down to earth unharmed!). The website is well worth a visit–it has some fantastic photos and lots of interesting data. And expanding marshmallows.

“My 13 year old son Jake designed and built a high altitude balloon for his 7th grade science fair. It reached an altitude of 85,011 feet. That is considered “near space”. At that height, the sky is black, and the curvature of the earth is significant.

The balloon capsule included a Raspberry Pi with an attached GPS and pressure sensor. The Pi was used to record the balloon’s coordinates, speed, altitude, heading, and pressure data throughout the flight on an SD card. My son used this data in his experiments. I am a developer, so I wrote a small Python script to gather the data.

The Raspberry Pi performed flawlessly during the flight. While other more expensive electronic devices in the capsule failed, the Raspberry Pi never stopped functioning, even through extreme low temperature and pressure, and a violent descent. Furthermore, after we found the capsule (about 5 hours after launch), the Pi was still recording accurate GPS and pressure data!

We were so impressed by the Raspberry Pi that we featured it on the project website: http://www.projectblacksky.com

Three marshmallows and a grape at 55,999 feet.

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Matthew, The Raspberry Pi Guy

The Raspberry Pi Guy has created a huge amount of excellent Raspberry Pi videos. Matthew, his alter ego, explains:

“Hello, my name is Matthew. I am 13 years old and I recently started my own YouTube channel; all about the Raspberry Pi! I am called ‘The Raspberry Pi Guy’ and on my channel I cover a huge variety of subjects from GPIO related tinkering to Overclocking to Robots to Linux basics. Please don’t let my age tint your thoughts on it! Have a look.

I cannot thank the foundation enough for their amazing work! In fact Eben and Liz have become my personal heroes! I hope to take a computer science GCSE and then have a career in Technology… I have recently written a 3 page article in the MagPi on Overclocking and I hope that you will give it a look when it comes out this November! I am open to any suggestions/ ideas about my videos and please do not hesitate to voice them.  Please take a look at my channel and I wish all of you the best of luck when it comes to everything Pi based!”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpkI2JGdtAA[/youtube]

Ross’ web server

There’s a reason that the Raspberry Pi was kept so affordable. Ross, 12, tells us how he built a web server–and other things–on a budget. And please do run that Raspberry Pi club Ross!

“A few months ago, around June, a friend of mine told me about a Raspberry Pi. During an IT lesson I looked at your website and loved the project.  A few months later, the Pi arrived at my door.

My Pi comes in its Farnell box

The next problem was all the other parts. 2 days and all my pocket money later, just before I went on holiday, my Raspberry Pi was running (and this was without a keyboard – I used quemu to program it so it auto boots, then wrote quemu’s image file to the Pi).

I find out how tiny the Pi really is

Using my Pi, I have learnt a lot about python, Linux, and engineering. Whilst I was into programming before my Raspberry Pi (visual basic, HTML, java, action script etc) the raspberry pi really helped me learn python, which I use a lot now.

My Pi boots for the first time, the day before holiday. As you can see, no keyboard.

My school are waiting for theirs, and I may run a raspberry pi club in the future. My projects are:

  • A web server
  • An HTML editor in python
  • Programming your Raspberry Pi without needing to download anything, just point your browser to it.

So far, the last project is going okay. I call it chocolate ice cream (a joke on all the sweet android names). It is programmed in flash. When it is nearer to being ready I will put it on my website.”

17 comments

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Superb work guys, warms the heart to see these enthused youngsters taking up the engineering chalice.

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If ever you are asked what is the point of Raspberry Pi? This is the answer.

Awesome, guys, just awesome. Hats off to all three of you.

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Raspberry Pi Guy I just finished watching your video.
I have been dithering for months on whether to buy a RPi, couldn’t really find justification for getting one. As a 50 year old with absolutely no knowlege or experience of programming or electronics, this, I think this has just tipped the balance in favour of buying.
So clear and concise, and made to look simple, you are a natural teacher, with a bright future in this field.

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Thank you so much for your kind words… It has made my day! I am so glad that you decided to get a RPi and I wish you all the best with it! If you ever need any help please don’t hesitate to contact me through my YouTube channel.

Matt
The Raspberry Pi Guy

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“a 50 year old with absolutely no knowlege or experience of programming or electronics”

Sounds like an excellent justification right there.

These things are cheap enough that I don’t really feel like I have wasted any money if I don’t ever do much with mine.

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Awesome. I have a Raspberry Pi, but have yet to boot it, however, with having seen what these three have done, and no knowledge of programming, I will soon be changing all of that. These projects are simply amazing. Matthew, I will be watching your videos for sure!!

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Why a grape and not a raspberry in space!

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This is excellent!

I love the fact that afterwards you have awesome pictures to look at and data to examine.

Another item to put on my wishlist for my Pi to do.

Great youtube channel btw.

PS: What is your next project with the Pi???? :)

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My couple of next projects (which I will be videoing for your entertainment!) are hopefully going to be some robot based type things! Problem is I am finding it quite hard to control 2 motors at the same time… Anyone got a solution for this?

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Obviously it depends on the type of motor you want to control.
DC Brush-less, H-Bridge controlled, Servo, Stepper motor?

Most motors are easily enough to control with a few GPIO’s, the exception are servo’s and motors that need PWM control, as the PI only has a single hardware PWM, and creating a reliable PWM signal in software is hard especially under Linux. There is a simple solution in using an I2C controlled PWM generator such as the PCA9685. Problem is, these are all SMT devices with tiny pin-pitches, so not very useable for most people. However companies like Adafruit have developed special low-priced boards for this purpose, like this one http://www.adafruit.com/products/815

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read about background processing via interrupts or threads depending on your environment. I use an interrupt driven process to monitor position and a background process to regulate speed. In the foreground, I just make decisions like how far and how fast.

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Hi You will need a minimum of 1 microcontrolller like an Atmel ATMega 8 (Arduino uses such a controller).

You actually have more problems than just “the pi has only one PWM pin”.
The problem is the fact that the Pi is using a kernel, which is using pre-emtive scheuduling, and in embbede systems with PWM (pulse width modulation) used to control mortors you have so called deadlines. Deadlines is that some task must be finished in a fixed amount of time, and with pre-emptime scheduling you get the opposite.

With a microcontroller you let it do the hard job, and the raspi control the microcontroller by issuing commands from the raspi.

Granted, this stuff from the following links is a bit advanced, but may useful to you so i post it anyway:
http://www.atmel.com/dyn/resources/prod_documents/doc2542.pdf and
https://sites.google.com/site/qeewiki/books/avr-guide/pwm-atmega8

Finally you have the datasheet that tells you everything about that the microcontroller can do for you, how it works:
http://www.atmel.com/Images/doc2486.pdf
Also, read the application notes, which contains exsample of how the device can be used: http://www.atmel.com/devices/atmega8.aspx?tab=documents

Using a Arduino via a USB cable or flash the ATmega chip on the Gertboard with a Arduino image could be a better (read: easier) solution for now. I mean, it is much easier to use, so i suggest that you use a Arduino now:

Try to Google this : “Arduino PWM control” (w/o the “-quote) – you will get a lots of useful results.


As a engineer (bachelor of engineering) in embedded software I has to tell you this very useful embedded software programming technique:

When you are developing embedded software, you normally don’t store a result from a hardware register in a variable. You use the data from the hardware registers directly.
If you that, your can discard your inner while loop completely.

BTW nice video. If you continuing like that i guess you have a bright future in technology / science.

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Matt
The Raspberry Pi Guy
When i was your age my dad gave me a load of old GPO ( google it) relays i built an adding Machine, YES i invented the AND gate,,,,,,,,,,,,, 50 year to late … i had never heard of Babbage, Turing,,,,,,,,
Thanks to you i turned on and off a LED.
Thanks
I am X mumble years older than you………..
Humbled

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These kids are extraordinary. I shouldn’t even call them kids, actually. They know more than many of us are likely to ever know :)

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Hi!
What’s about the Summer Programming Contest?

Thank you!

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Hey it is really nice to see such young enthusiast, we hardly get any such exposure. I would like to follow up on the posts you put and will be really helpful for a 22 yr old guy like me. I like to program but new to such adventure.

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