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!

Programming your Pi Zero over USB

Here’s a really neat solution from the inestimable Dan “PiGlove, mind where you put the capitals” Aldred. If you’re not able to get to another screen or monitor, or if you’re on the move, this is a very tidy way to get set up.

Programming the Pi over USB

A comprehensive video covering how to set up your Raspberry Pi Zero so that you can access it via the USB port. Yes, plug it in to a USB port and you can use the command line or with a few tweaks a full graphical desktop.

This is a really comprehensive guide, taking you all the way from flashing an SD card, accessing your Pi Zero via Putty, installing VNC and setting up a graphical user interface, to running Minecraft. Dan’s a teacher, and this video is perfect for beginners; if you find it helpful, please let us know in the comments!

 

 

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American Library Association Annual Conference 2016

Here at Raspberry Pi, we get to attend all sorts of exciting events, from Maker Faires and Raspberry Jams to education and technology gatherings. So far, we have never made it to the American Library Association’s annual conference and exhibition. There’s a first time for everything, though, so at the end of June, Matt, Courtney, and I packed our bags with stickers, books, and heavy-duty sunscreen, and headed off to the enormous Orange County Convention in Orlando, Florida to spread the word about Raspberry Pi to the library and information science community.

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You may wonder what libraries have to do with coding in general and with Raspberry Pi in particular. Remember that libraries have transformed their spaces to respond to the needs of modern users, and deal with coding and digital making on many levels, as well as providing an inclusive venue for teaching and learning within the local community. We met many librarians, both from school libraries and from public ones, who were either already running makerspaces within their library service, or were figuring out how to offer makerspace facilities to their users. While libraries, particularly those outside the school system, may not have a formal requirement to support the local educational curriculum, it is clear that the vast majority of staff were keenly aware of current developments in ICT education, and were eager to support these to the best of their abilities. On the second full day of the conference, Matt Richardson delivered his talk, Library of the Future – Learning with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which sparked an enormous amount of interest from conference attendees. At our stand in the exhibition hall’s Maker Pavilion, we met many people who had heard Matt speak, and who were now full of excitement about the ways in which they could use Raspberry Pis in their own library service, as well as those who were delighted to hear that their own programmes were inspirational to others.

Raspberry Pi on Twitter

Hello #alaac16 librarians! Come meet some of the Raspberry Pi team at booth 875! Try out our $35 computer!pic.twitter.com/GUvxsvSAed

Makerspaces and coding lessons within the library itself may be one way in which services can provide innovate resources for users, but these were far from being the only ways in which we saw Raspberry Pis being used in the industry. Many libraries were using Raspberry Pis to provide educational resources for children and young people of all ages, while others were providing similar services to adult users. Others were thinking of ways to put the tools for learning literally into the hands of their users, by making up kits of Raspberry Pis and necessary peripherals, which could then be put into circulation for home use. Gratifyingly, nobody reported problems with hardware going missing, and the potential danger of personal data going astray was dealt with by a policy of formatting and re-imaging the SD cards of returned Pis. The low cost of the Pi was also instrumental in its integration into other aspects of library service life: many Pis were reportedly being used to drive digital display screens, or as general public workstations. At least one library is using Raspberry Pis to drive their OPACs (web-catalogue terminals, for the uninitiated!), and there was a great deal of interest in the possibility of Pis being used to run self-service book checkout kiosks. This would, however, mean that the Pi would also have to deal with the deactivation of RFID tags, which might make for a more complicated conversion process.

ALA 2016Collage

Our stand in the Maker Pavilion. The stickers proved to be very popular!

Elsewhere, Raspberry Pis were being used in more unexpected projects: the ResCarta Foundation are a non-profit organisation working on low-cost digitisation projects and open-source software and community metadata standards to support them. They are currently using Raspberry Pis to run their scanners, and are working on making their cataloguing and indexing software able to run on Raspbian. It’s easy to see how this could be an extremely important resource for archives and records management services anywhere where budgets are tight. ResCarta already have plans to work with archives in the developing world to help safeguard historic documents, photographs, and recordings. Another wonderful Pi-powered device with a very different intended user group was the Call Me Ishmael telephone. This retro telephone, controlled by a Pi, can be installed in libraries, bookshops, and other places, and functions as in interactive book-recommendation device. It’s a lot of fun!

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Perhaps one of the most cheering things about attending the ALA conference, though, was how very inclusive we found it. In an exhibition hall full of publishers, zine makers, LMS software vendors, and, at one point, several full-size bookmobiles, a computing charity might have expected to feel a little out of place. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and we were welcomed with open arms.

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An impromptu bookclub meeting which sprang up in one of the meeting areas.

In a broader sense, the entire conference was marked by a widespread drive towards inclusion, tolerance, and embracing diversity. Opening less than two weeks after the devastating mass shooting at the city’s Pulse nightclub, the conference’s organisers and delegates were to be commended for their outspoken and all-pervading commitment to all ALA members and library service users, and to the LGBTQ community in particular. Pride flags were in evidence throughout the venue, and all attendees were offered rainbow ribbons to wear, with most people sporting them proudly throughout the event. The conference website featured a page on support activities which might be helpful in the wake of the tragedy, and several bathrooms were specifically designated for the use of any person regardless of gender identity or expression.

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In a statement released the day after the shooting, and shortly before the conference opened, ALA president Sari Feldman underlined the important role libraries play in society: “Our nation’s libraries serve communities with equity, dignity and respect. ALA will carry this legacy to Orlando. In defiance of fear, ignorance, and intolerance, the library community will continue its profound commitment to transforming communities by lending its support…Librarians and library workers are community leaders, motivators, and social change agents”. On a more personal level, one librarian who visited our stand proudly told me, “whenever someone comes into the library, no matter who they are – whatever race, sexuality, or religion – it’s my job to help them. And that’s what I do”. Although we were only a small part of a very large conference, we at Raspberry Pi are delighted to work with such a wise and welcoming group of people as the bad-ass librarians of ALA.

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ETA: How could I have forgotten to include this ALA moment? A rather bemused Matt (not a Harry Potter reader) meeting Dobby the elf for the first time…

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Forums project: humidity-controlled cellar ventilation

The Raspberry Pi official forums are the central online meeting place for the Raspberry Pi community. They’re where you’ll find support from hundreds of thousands (141,183, as of this morning) of other Pi users, including people from our own engineering team; lots of inspiration for your own projects, and loads of advice. You can chat to a selection of those of us who work at Raspberry Pi there too – we’re usually poking around in there for part of the day.

Commence to poking

Commence to poking.

We found this rather brilliant hack to ventilate and maintain a cellar’s humidity on the forums. Forum member DasManul, from Frankfurt, put this together to measure temperature and relative humidity inside and outside his cellar, and to use those values to calculate absolute humidity. The setup then ventilates the space if the humidity inside is higher than it is outside.

On reading what he was up to, I assumed DasManul was looking after a cellarful of wine. Then I saw his pictures. He’s actually tending bottles of fabric softener and yoghurt.

installation

Nestled next to the nonalcoholic liquids, you’ll find a touchscreen controller for the system, along with a USB receiver. Here’s a closer look at the display:

touchscreen

(For non-German speakers, DasManul says: “Keller – cellar, Aussen – outside, TP (Taupunkt) – dew point, RF/AF (Relative/Absolute Feuchte) – relative/absolute humidity, Lüfter – fan, An/Aus – on/off”.)

The system also outputs more detailed graphs (daily, weekly, or monthly) to a website served by ngnix, which allows you to control the system remotely if you don’t happen to be down in the cellar conditioning your fabric.

1Mavg 1w

DasManul says that he’s not much for hardware tinkering, and didn’t want to start drilling into his house’s infrastructure, so he used off-the-shelf parts for sensing and controlling. Two inexpensive wireless sensors, one indoors and one outdoors, from elv.de, do all the work checking the humidity; they feed information to the USB receiver, and intake and exhaust fans are controlled with an Energenie plug strip. (These things are great – I use an Energenie plug strip to turn lamps on and off via a remote PIR sensor in my living room).

DasManul has made all the code available (with German and English documentation) over at BitBucket so you can replicate the project. There’s plenty more like this over at the Raspberry Pi Forums – get stuck in!

 

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Wearable Pi Zero Camera from Adafruit

Over in a land of palm trees and breezy sunsets, Adafruit’s Noe Ruiz has been making things. (My Noe story: I waltzed up to him in the Adafruit factory once, grabbed his hand, pumped his arm up and down and said: “SO good to see you again. How’s your brother?” He looked deeply confused. Turns out we’d never met; I’d just recognised him, and his brother Pedro, from YouTube. I’m still red with embarrassment a couple of years later.)

Anyway. Camera.

adafruit camera_hero-lanyard

This build‘s a great project for those of you with access to a 3d printer. It’s a teeny-weeny wearable camera which you can program to take a continuous stream or (more fun) use to take a time-lapse recording of your day.

Wearable Camera using Raspberry Pi Zero #3DPrinting

Worn on a lanyard or clipped to a pocket or pack, this adorable camera snaps a photo every few seconds. Slide the SD card into your computer to review the day’s activities or merge all the images into a timelapse animation. Powered by the diminutive and affordable Raspberry Pi Zero, this DIY project is eminently configurable and customizable!

Sample time-lapse output was showcased on Adafruit’s 3d Thursday Hangout. You can see some here:

3D Hangouts – Wearable Pi #3DThursday #3DPrinting

Hang out with Noe & Pedro Ruiz and discover 3D printing! Get your 3D news, projects, design tutorials and more each week on Google+ Hangouts On Air. Subscribe to the Adafruit and follow us on Google+ to catch future broadcasts. We’re warming up our printers, come hang out with us this Thursday!

Wearable cameras are fun – they’re great for recording events like parties or weddings, for keeping a record of holidays, or for dedicated diarists. They’ve also got a more serious side; there’s plenty of research available on using wearable cameras to aid people with memory impairments, not only acting as a piece of bionic memory, but also supporting the brain’s ability to build memories by enabling it to review material.

This being an Adafruit project, it’s documented down to the tiniest detail; there are even instructions to build the device using other models of Raspberry Pi if you haven’t got your hands on a Zero yet. (Good news: Zero availability at the four distributors, Pimoroni, The Pi Hut, Adafruit and Micro Center, is much improved, with stock appearing at each location weekly now – sign up to their newsletters to be notified when stock arrives.)

camera_test-circuit

Adafruit have made files for your 3d printer available, and they’ve provided a ready-to-download SD card image for the project along with instructions on rolling your own if you want a bit more of a challenge. You’ll find an easy-to-follow wiring tutorial, and a user-guide.

Big thanks are due to Philip Burgess and both Ruiz brothers. We loved the whole thing: it’s a brilliant project, a perfect write-up, and it offers so much opportunity for expansion. Thanks all!

 

 

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Hamsters all the way down

This project from Neil Mendoza harnesses the raw power of hamsters.

Joji, hamster artist, has been equipped with a wheel that drives a Raspberry Pi-aided plotter. Whenever he uses his wheel, he is also powering…a hamster selfie. Recursive hamstering, if you will.

Hamster Powered Hamster Drawing Machine

The Hamster Powered Hamster Drawing Machine is the machine hamsters everywhere have been waiting for, finally bringing workout selfies to the animal kingdom. The hamster drawing is encoded in two large wooden cams. The cams were generated by creating a simulation of the drawing machine using openFrameworks and Box2D.

Neil says:

The hamster drawing is encoded in two large wooden cams. The cams were generated by creating a simulation of the drawing machine using openFrameworks and Box2D. They were then exported as vectors and CNC milled from plywood. To be able to have the drawing encoded on the inside, rather than the outside, edge of the cams, it was necessary for them not to have a central axis. This was achieved by milling two aluminium circles with a groove in each of them for a roller chain to sit in. The sandwiched chain then sits on three sprockets around the edges of the back part machine. The drawing arms were also milled from aluminium with pockets for laser cut acrylic inserts.

The hamster is displayed on a small LCD screen connected to a Raspberry Pi hidden behind the screen. The Raspberry Pi is running software written in openFrameworks that sends ASCII commands to an Applied Motion STM23IP-3EE stepper motor over ethernet to control its speed.

Your average hamster covers a distance of about five and a half miles every night. Joji, we salute your muscular, artistic little legs. And Neil – that’s genius. Thanks ever so much for sharing.

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Creative computing at Eastwood Academy

It’s nearly two years since Computing became a subject for all children in England to study, and we’re now seeing some amazing work to bring opportunities for digital making into schools. Recently I visited Eastwood Academy in Southend-on-Sea, where teacher Lucas Abbot has created a digital making room, and built a community of young programmers and makers there.
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Lucas trained as a physics teacher and got hold of a Raspberry Pi for projects at home back in 2012. His head teacher heard about his hobby, and when the move towards all children learning programming started, Lucas was approached to take up the challenge of developing the new subject of Computing in the school. With the help of friends at the local Raspberry Jam, Linux user group, and other programming meetups, he taught himself the new curriculum and set about creating an environment in which young people could take a similarly empowered approach.

In Year 7, students start by developing an understanding of what a computer is; it’s a journey that takes them down memory lane with their parents, discussing the retro technology of their own childhoods. Newly informed of what they’re working with, they then move on to programming with the Flowol language, moving to Scratch, Kodu and the BBC micro:bit. In Year 8 they get to move on to the Raspberry Pi, firing up the fifteen units Lucas has set up in collaborative workstations in the middle of the room. By the time the students choose their GCSE subjects at the end of Year 8, they have experienced programming a variety of HATs, hacking Minecraft to run games they have invented, and managing a Linux system themselves.
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Fifteen Raspberry Pi computers have been set up in the centre of the room, at stations specifically designed to promote collaboration. While the traditional PCs around the edges of the room are still used, it was the Pi stations where pupils were most active, connecting things for their projects, and making together. A clever use of ceiling-mounted sockets, and some chains for health and safety reasons, has allowed these new stations to be set up at a low cost.

The teaching is based on building a firm foundation in each area studied, before giving students the chance to invent, build, and hack their own projects. I spent a whole day at the school; I found the environment to be entirely hands-on, and filled with engaged and excited young people learning through making. In one fabulous project two girls were setting up a paper rocket system, propelled using compressed air with a computer-based countdown system. Problem-solving and learning through failure are part of the environment too. One group spent a session trying to troubleshoot a HAT-mounted display that wasn’t quite behaving as they wanted it to.

Lessons were impressive, but even more so was the lunchtime making club which happens every single day. About 30 young people rushed into the room at lunchtime and got started with projects ranging from figuring out how to program a robot Mr Abbot had brought in, to creating the IKEA coffee table arcade machines from a recent MagPi tutorial.
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I had a great conversation with one female student who told me how she had persuaded her father to buy a Raspberry Pi, and then taught him how to use it. Together, they got inspired to create a wood-engraving machine using a laser. Lunchtime clubs are often a place for socialising, but there was a real sense of purpose here too, of students coming together to achieve something for themselves.

Since 2014 most schools in England have had lessons in computing, but Eastwood Academy has also been building a community of young digital makers. They’re linking their ambitious lessons with their own interests and aspirations, building cool projects, learning lots, and having fun along the way. We’d love to hear from other schools that are taking such an ambitious approach to computing and digital making.

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Blast off with The MagPi 47 Astro Pi special!

Get your free poster and mission patch exclusively in the print edition of The MagPi 47!

Get your free poster and mission patch exclusively in the print edition of The MagPi 47!

We’ve been avidly following Tim Peake’s adventures in space in The MagPi for the last six months, especially all the excellent work he’s been doing with the Astro Pis running code from school students across the UK. Tim returned to Earth a couple of weeks ago, so we thought we’d celebrate in The MagPi 47 with a massive feature about his time in space, along with the results of the Astro Pi experiments and the project’s future…

The space celebration doesn’t stop there: print copies of The MagPi 47 come with an exclusive Astro Pi mission patch and a Tim Peake Astro Pi poster!

The results of what Tim, Ed, and Izzy have been up to for the past six months

The results of what Tim, Ed, and Izzy have been up to for the past six months

The issue also has our usual range of excellent tutorials, from programming dinosaurs to creating motion sensor games and optical illusions. We also have the hottest news on high-altitude balloons and how you can get involved in sending a Pi to the edge of space, as well as the details on the next Pi Wars Pi-powered robot competition.

You can get your latest spaceworthy issue in-store from WH Smith, Tesco, Sainsburys, and Asda. Our American cousins will be able to buy issues from Barnes & Noble and Micro Center when the issue makes its way over there. It’s also available right now in print on our online store, which delivers internationally. If you prefer digital, it’s ready to download on the Android and iOS apps.

Get a free Pi Zero
Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and start with issue 47 to not only get the poster and mission patch, but also a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

Free Pi Zeros and posters: what’s not to love about a MagPi subscription?

Free Creative Commons download
As always, you can download your copy of The MagPi completely free. Grab it straight from the issue page for The MagPi 47.

Don’t forget, though, that like sales of the Raspberry Pi itself, all proceeds from the print and digital editions of the magazine go to help the Foundation achieve its charitable goals. Help us democratise computing!

This is not the end of Astro Pi. It’s only the beginning.

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Instant-replay table football

So, England, nominally the home of football, is out of the European Cup, having lost to Iceland. Iceland is a country with a population of 330,000 hardy Vikings, whose national sport is handball. England’s population is over 53 million. And we invented soccer.

Iceland’s only football pitch is under snow for much of the year, and their part-time manager is a full-time dentist.

I think perhaps England should refocus their sporting efforts on something a little less challenging. Like table football. With a Raspberry Pi on hand, you can even make it feel stadium-like, with automatic goal detection, slow-motion instant replay, score-keeping, tallying for a league of competitors and more. Come on, nation. I feel that we could do quite well with this; and given that it cuts the size of the team down to two people, it’d keep player salaries at a minimum.

Foosball Instant Replay

Demo of Foosball Instant Replay system More info here: * https://github.com/swehner/foos * https://github.com/netsuso/foos-tournament Music: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jahzzar/Blinded_by_dust/Magic_Mountain_1877

This build comes from Stefan Wehner, who has documented it meticulously on GitHub. You’ll find full build instructions and a parts list (which starts with a football table), along with all the code you’ll need.

Well done Iceland, by the way. We’re not bitter or anything.

 

 

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Get to know the Raspberry Pi Foundation

One of the best things about the Raspberry Pi Foundation is our awesome community. Anything we achieve is only possible because of the growing movement of makers, educators, programmers, volunteers and young people all over the world who share our mission. We work really hard to celebrate that community on this blog, across social media, in our magazine, and pretty much every other opportunity we get.

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But how much do you know about Raspberry Pi Foundation as an organisation? What kind of organisation are we? Who works here? What do they do?

Trustees

Our founders set Raspberry Pi up as an educational charity. That means we are an organisation that exists for the public benefit and, like all charities in the UK, we are governed by a board of trustees who are responsible for making sure that we use our resources effectively to achieve our charitable goals. It’s not an easy gig being trustee of a charity. There’s a lot of legal and other responsibility; endless paperwork, meetings and decisions; and you don’t get paid for any of it.

We’re insanely lucky to have a fantastic board of trustees, which includes several of our co-founders. In all sorts of different ways they add huge value to our work and we are very grateful to the whole board for their time and expertise.

Pete Lomas: Founder, Trustee and hardware designer of the first-gen Raspberry Pi

Pete Lomas: founder, trustee and hardware designer of the first-gen Raspberry Pi

The board of trustees is chaired by David Cleevely, who is a successful technology entrepreneur, angel investor, founder of charities, adviser to governments, and much, much more besides. If the role of a trustee can be tough, then the role of the chair is an order of magnitude more so. David makes it look effortless, but he puts in a huge amount of his personal time and energy into the Foundation, and we simply wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

cleevely

David Cleevely and some friends

Members

Charities in the UK also have members: if the trustees are like the board of directors of a commercial company, the members are like its shareholders (except without the shares). At the end of last year, we expanded the membership of the Foundation, appointing 20 outstanding individuals who share our mission and who can help us deliver on it. It’s a seriously impressive group already and, over the next few years, we want to expand the membership further, making it even more diverse and international. It’s important we get this right, in future the trustees of the Foundation will be selected from, and elected by the membership.

You can now find a full list of our members and trustees on the Foundation’s website.

A few of our Members - click through to see the rest.

A few of our members and trustees – click through to see the rest.

Trading

Our commercial activity (selling Raspberry Pi computers and other things) is done through a wholly-owned trading subsidiary (Raspberry Pi Trading Limited), which is led by Eben Upton. Any profits we make from our trading activity are invested in our charitable mission. So, every time you buy a Raspberry Pi computer you’re helping young people get involved in computing and digital making.

Eben Upton, Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading

Eben Upton, Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading

Like any company, Raspberry Pi Trading Limited has a board of directors, including a mix of executives, trustees of the Foundation and independent non-executives.

We’re delighted to have recently appointed David Gammon as a non-executive director on the board of Raspberry Pi Trading Limited. David has widespread experience in developing and building technology based businesses. He is the non-executive chairman of Frontier Developments and the founding CEO of investment firm Rockspring. He’s only been with us for a couple of weeks and is already making an impact.

Reading

We’ve also added a new section to the website which makes it easier for you to find the key documents that describe what we do, including our strategy, annual reviews from 2014 and 2015, and our Trustees’ report and financial statements for the past few years.

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Click through to read our Annual Review, reports, strategy document, and more.

Team

The final part of our new and improved About Us section is an introduction to our fabulous team.

A few of our team members - we're working on getting pictures of the people who are currently ghosts!

A few of our team members – we’re working on getting pictures of the people who are currently ghosts!

The Foundation has grown quite a lot over the past year, not least as a result of the merger with Code Club last autumn. Altogether we now have 65 people beavering away at Pi Towers (and other locations), designing awesome products and software, delivering educational programmes, supporting Code Clubs around the world, producing magazines, books and educational resources, training educators and lots more.

It’s a fantastically diverse and creative bunch of programmers, educators and makers. We love talking to members of the community, so please do look out for us at events, on the forums, on Twitter, and elsewhere.

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Learn to code with Scratch with The MagPi’s latest e-book

Scratch is the world-leading visual programming language, created by the boffins at MIT. It’s designed to help kids of all ages learn about computer science within minutes. We think it’s rather cool, and it’s been a core part of Raspberry Pi’s software offering since day one for very obvious reasons.

We’ve been working for a while now to dedicate a new Essentials book to it, and we’re ultra-chuffed to let you know that it’s out now!

Scratch-Cover

Click the cover to download it today!

The book, which you can download as a free PDF, includes chapters built from some of the excellent articles we’ve featured in the magazine, the amazing learning resources from Raspberry Pi, and even the outstanding material created by our chums at Code Club.

It features 13 jam-packed chapters that help you:

  • Master the different block types
  • Create animations and add interactive elements
  • Build your first games and applications
  • Make and control electronic circuits
  • Understand every block
  • and much, much more!

With our help, we think you’ll find that Scratch isn’t just a great way to learn to program, but lots of fun too!

You can buy Learn to Code with Scratch as an in-app purchase on our free Android and iOS app, as well as the usual PDF download.

Excuse us – we’re off to celebrate!

Learn to Code with Scratch is freely licensed under Creative Commons (BY-SA-NC 3.0). You can download the PDF free now and forever, but buying digitally supports the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s charitable mission to democratise computing and educate kids all over the world.

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