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!

Fireside romance at your command

Redditor Hovee has a sense of romance firmly cemented in 1975. With a Google Home device, a Raspberry Pi, a gas fire and the pants-removing tones of Marvin Gaye, he’s rigged up his sitting room for seduction.

The setup does not yet open a box of chocolates and a bottle of red wine, or unfurl a rug made out of something fluffy and dead, but we’re sure that with some iteration it’ll start doing just that.

Ok, Google turn on my FirePlace!

Instructions here on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/homeautomation/comments/5doqs8/ok_google_turn_on_my_fireplace/da6h33o/ I connected my google home to ifttt which does an API call to my raspberry pi running home-assistant controlling my global cache itach which is wired up to my gas logs.

Whats going on here? Hovee’s Google Voice is talking to the Raspberry Pi, which has Google’s Home Assistant installed on it. The fireplace (which is some newfangled thing that does things my fireplace doesn’t) has three positions: on, off and remote control. By switching the fireplace to remote and adding a switch (a nice long way away from the hot fire), the Pi can control both the flames and the music. Hovee has documented what he’s done on Reddit.

It was felt by most people at Pi Towers that it would be inappropriate to illustrate this post with that picture of Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug, however well it captures the mood, so we’ve edited it slightly for delicate sensibilities.

A photo Burt Reynolds turning on the Raspberry Pi romance

We like projects that involve setting things on fire. Got your own? Drop us a line and you might see it featured here.

 

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Christmas Special: The MagPi 52 is out now!

The MagPi Christmas Special is out now.

For the festive season, the official magazine of the Raspberry Pi community is having a maker special. This edition is packed with fun festive projects!

The MagPi issue 52 cover

The MagPi issue 52

Click here to download the MagPi Christmas Special

Here are just some of the fun projects inside this festive issue:

  • Magazine tree: turn the special cover into a Christmas tree, using LED lights to create a shiny, blinky display
  • DIY decorations: bling out your tree with NeoPixels and code
  • Santa tracker: follow Santa Claus around the world with a Raspberry Pi
  • Christmas crackers: the best low-cost presents for makers and hackers
  • Yuletide game: build Sliders, a fab block-sliding game with a festive feel.

Sliders

A Christmas game from the MagPi No.52

Inside the MagPi Christmas special

If you’re a bit Grinchy when it comes to Christmas, there’s plenty of non-festive fun to be found too:

  • Learn to use VNC Viewer
  • Find out how to build a sunrise alarm clock
  • Read our in-depth guide to Amiga emulation
  • Discover the joys of parallel computing

There’s also a huge amount of community news this month. The MagPi has an exclusive feature on Pioneers, our new programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, and news about Astro Pi winning the Arthur Clarke Award.

The Pioneers

The MagPi outlines our new Pioneers programme in detail

After that, we see some of the most stylish projects ever. Inside is the beautiful Sisyphus table; that’s a moving work of art, a facial recognition door lock, and a working loom controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

The MagPi 52 Sisyphus Project Focus

The MagPi interviews the maker of this amazing Sisyphus table

If that wasn’t enough, we also have a big feature on adding sensors to your robots. These can be used to built a battle-bot ready for the upcoming Pi Wars challenge.

The MagPi team wishes you all a merry Christmas! You can grab The MagPi 52 in stores today: it’s in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the UK, and it will be in Micro Center and selected Barnes & Noble stores when it comes to the US. You can also buy the print edition online from our store, and it’s available digitally on our Android and iOS app.

Get a free Pi Zero
Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and get a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

If you subscribe to The MagPi before 7 December 2016, you will get a free Pi Zero in time for Christmas.

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Pioneers: #MakeYourIdeas

Every day, young people are using digital technologies to solve problems that they care about. They’re making cool stuff, learning how to bend technology to their will, and having lots of fun in the process. They are the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, and makers, and we can’t wait to show you what they can do!

Today we’re launching Pioneers, a series of challenges that will inspire young digital makers to develop new ideas and share them with the world.

This is Pioneers

Get together, get inspired, and get thinking. We’re looking for Pioneers to use technology to make something awesome. Get together in a team or on your own, post online to show us how you’re getting on, and then show the world your build when you’re done.

Young people aged between 12 and 15 will work together in teams, designing and building their idea to solve the series of challenges we set. Great makers always share what they’ve learned, so each team needs to make a short video about their idea to share with the community. We’ll create a showcase of all the submissions, then judge and highlight the ten best entries; these will win an amazing prize. There are so many different ways of being the best here: we’re looking for most creative, most ingenious, most brave, most bonkers, and so on.

You can find out lots more information about the programme at raspberrypi.org/pioneers, including projects to inspire you and help you get ready.

We’ll be announcing the first challenge in January 2017, initially for young makers in the UK. To be the first to hear about it, register your interest here.

Everyone can be part of the conversation and follow the progress of the teams on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube: keep an eye on #MakeYourIdeas on all those channels.

giphy

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SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi 3, with its quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, is our first 64-bit product, supporting ARM’s A64 instruction set and the ARMv8-A architecture. However, we’ve not yet taken the opportunity to ship a 64-bit operating system: our Raspbian images are designed to run on every Raspberry Pi, including the 32-bit ARMv6 Raspberry Pi 1 and Raspberry Pi Zero, and the 32-bit ARMv7 Raspberry Pi 2. We use an ARMv6 userland with selected ARMv7 fast paths enabled at run time.

There’s been some great work done in the community. Thanks to some heroic work from forum user Electron752, we have a working 64-bit kernel, and both Ubuntu and Fedora userlands have been run successfully on top of this.

SUSE and ARM distributed these natty cased Raspberry Pi units at last week's SUSEcon

SUSE and ARM distributed these natty cased Raspberry Pi units at last week’s SUSEcon

Which brings us to last week’s announcement: that SUSE have released a version of their Linux Enterprise Server product that supports Raspberry Pi 3.

Why is this important? Because for the first time we have an official 64-bit operating system release from a major vendor, with support for our onboard wireless networking and Bluetooth. SUSE have kindly upstreamed the patches that they needed to make this work, so hopefully official support from other vendors won’t be far behind.

You can download an image here. Give it a spin and let us know what you think.

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The Official Projects Book Volume 2 – out now!

The Official Raspberry Pi Projects Book Volume 2 is on sale now.

The Projects Book is packed with 200 pages of the finest coding and creating tutorials.

It comes from the same team that brings you The MagPi every month, which is the official community magazine, so you can be sure these are the highest-quality tutorials and projects around.

Pick up a copy of The Official Raspberry Pi Projects Book from the following places:

It’s an amazing-looking magazine with a superbly shiny jet-black cover. Embossed on the cover is a metal reflective red and green Raspberry Pi logo. You can’t miss it!

Inside The Official Raspberry Pi Projects Book

“The Raspberry Pi is the best-selling British computer of all time,” says  Managing Editor Russell Barnes. “It’s known the world over for making incredible things, from robots to mirrors and even art. It’s also helping to revolutionise computing.”

You can learn all about the world’s favourite credit card-sized computer in this one book:

  • 200 pages of Raspberry Pi
  • Learn how easy it is to use your Raspberry Pi
  • Find out about amazing community creations
  • Follow expert guides to make your first project
  • Read definitive reviews of add-ons and accessories
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Computer Aid Connect: taking the internet to remote areas

Computer Aid is aiming to bring offline access to educational websites to areas with limited internet access. Right now, it’s turning recycled Raspberry Pi boards into portable internet hotspots.

“It’s for offline students and teachers across the world,” said Nicola Gampell, E-Learning and Marketing Officer for Computer Aid International.

As a result, Connect will “bring them a local internet full of educational resources, ranging from scientific simulations to Wikipedia articles,” Nicola told us.

An internet for all, anywhere. Computer Aid Connect

Computer Aid’s ‘Connect’ device provides offline classrooms with a wealth of educational resources.

Computer Aid: recycling Raspberry Pis into remote routers

Inside the Connect is software based on RACHEL-Pi by World Possible.

“All too often we’re reminded of this reality,” wrote Jeremy Schwartz, Executive Director of World Possible. “There are places where young people aren’t given the resources they need to learn. For many, the internet has become a small equalising force, but for more, that equaliser does not exist.”

“In 2017, we’re going to test RACHEL against as many different use cases as we can,” said Jeremy. “We’ll be formalising our own testing through our social entrepreneurs, and intimately supporting a narrower group of other organisations”.

As a result, Computer Aid “currently has twenty units about to arrive at a project in Ethiopia and one in Mauritania,” said Nicola. “So hopefully we’ll be getting to see it in action soon.”

Computer Aid Connect

The Computer Aid Connect turns a Raspberry Pi into a router pre-packed with many websites

“The Raspberry Pi is a key component of the device, especially due to its low power usage and low cost,” said Nicola.

Also inside is a “UPS PIco Uninterruptible Power Supply,” said Nicola. As a result, Connect is “sustainable and stable during power outages.”

The Raspberry Pi is placed alongside a 64GB SD card and a Wireless N150 High-Power USB Adapter.

“The version of the Raspberry Pi changes between the Model 2 and the old A,” she explains. After all, “we receive donations of old Raspberry Pi devices.”

Visit the Computer Aid website if you’d like to donate a Raspberry Pi board to the project.

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The Raspberry Pi-powered loom

We’re a small organisation full of makers, and I think at least two of us own a hand loom for weaving textiles. (One of the reasons I enjoy the TV show Vikings so much is the casual looming that’s going on as backdrop in many of the indoor scenes – the textile sort, not the impending-doom sort, although there’s plenty of that too.)

siggy laergatha loom

Siggy and Laergatha (personal role model) get down to a spot of light weaving before commencing to crush skulls and pillage.

Here in the 21st century, Lorna and I use hand looms because powered looms are very expensive. They’re also usually pretty enormous, being meant for enterprise rather than home use. This is pesky, because there’s a lot of repetitive action involved, which can be hell on the carpal tunnels; weaving can be slow, tough work.

loom

Suspicious automation

Enter the Raspberry Pi.

Fred Hoefler has taken a desktop loom and added a Raspberry Pi to automate it. (Your computer’s fine: this video has no sound.)

Loom Operation

The general sequence of events for running my Raspberry Pi controlled loom. The project was really a proof of concept idea rather than an actual production model. This video is intended to supplement my blog at www.photographic-perspectives.com Sorry, there is not audio with this.

Fred wrote about the project on his website, explaining that he came up with the idea for very personal reasons. His wife Gina has been a weaver for 30 years, but she began to experience difficulties with the physical aspects of using her loom as she grew older. Conversations with other unwillingly retired weavers told Fred that Gina’s situation was not uncommon, and led him to design something to help. His device is intended to help older weavers who have trouble with the hard work of throwing the shuttle and holding down the pedals. Assistive looms cost upwards of $10,000: Fred’s solution comes in at a tidy $150, factoring in loom, Pi, and some motors from Amazon. So this isn’t for hobbyists like me: this loom can be a way for people whose livelihoods depend on being able to weave to continue working long after they might have had to retire.

One of the most satisfying things about the Raspberry Pi for me is its power to drive cost out of devices like this, and to change the way we work. This is a simple build, but it has so much potential to keep someone’s income flowing: we hope to see more as Fred develops the project.

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Physical therapy with a pressure-sensing football

Every year, eighth-grade science teacher Michele Chamberlain challenges her students to find a solution to a real-world problem. The solution must be environmentally friendly, and must demonstrate their sense of global awareness.

Amelia Day

Amelia with her project.

One of Michele’s students, 14-year-old Amelia Day, knew she wanted to create something that would help her practice her favourite sport, and approached Chamberlain with an idea for a football-related project.

I know you said to choose a project you love,” Amelia explained, “I love soccer and I want to do something with engineering. I know I want to compete.”

Originally, the tool was built to help budding football players practise how to kick a ball correctly. The ball, tethered to a parasol shaft, uses a Raspberry Pi, LEDs, Bluetooth, and pressure points; together, these help athletes to connect with the ball with the right degree of force, at the appropriate spot.

However, after a conversation with her teacher, it became apparent that Amelia’s ball could be used for so much more. As a result, the project was gradually redirected towards working with stroke therapy patients.

“It uses the aspect of a soccer training tool and that interface makes it fun, but it also uses Bluetooth audio feedback to rebuild the neural pathways inside the brain, and this is what is needed to recover from a stroke,” explains Amelia. 

“DE3MYSC Submission – [Press-Sure Soccer Ball]”

Uploaded by Amelia Day on 2016-04-20.

The video above comes as part of Amelia’s submission for the Discover Education’s 3M ‘Young Science Challenge 2016’, a national competition for fifth- to eighth-grade students from across the USA.

Down to the last ten finalists, Amelia travelled to 3M HQ in Minnesota this October, where she had to present her project to a panel of judges. She placed third runner up and received a cash prize.

LMS Hawks on Twitter

Our very own Amelia Day placed 3rd runner up @ the 3M National Junior Scientist competition this week. Proud to call her a Hawk!📓✏️🔎⚽️ #LMS

We’re always so proud to see young makers working to change the world and we wish Amelia the best of luck with her future. We expect to see great things from this Lakeridge Middle School Hawk.

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Making life changes

This column is from The MagPi issue 51. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Making things can change your life. It did for me, and I hear the same from others all the time.

After I graduated from university in 2003, I jumped immediately into the workforce. I landed in New York City’s entertainment industry, which is where I’d dreamed of working since I was young. I was excited to be a staffer on a major television show, where I learned what it takes to produce a weekly drama series. I slowly worked my way up the ladder in the industry over a few years.

There’s a lot to admire about how film and television content is produced. A crew of over one hundred people with creative and technical talents come together to create a piece of entertainment, under the watchful eye of the director. It’s an enormous piece of creative collaboration, but it’s also a business. Everyone does their part to make it happen. It’s incredible to see a show get made.

I had found a niche in the television industry that I did well in, but eventually I hit a rut. I had a small role in a big piece of work. I wanted to be more creative, and to have more autonomy and influence over what I was helping to create. It was at that time that I started closely following what makers were doing.

Feeling inspired by the work of others, I started to make things with microcontrollers and electronics. I’d then share information on how to recreate these projects online. Eventually, I was contributing projects to Make: magazine and I was soon able to make money from making things for companies, writing about how to make, and writing about what others were making. Soon enough, I was in a position to leave the television industry and work as a maker full-time.

That eventually led to my current job, doing outreach for Raspberry Pi in the United States. It’s incredibly gratifying work and despite the long road to get here, I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing. The spare time I invested in making things as a hobby has paid off greatly in a new career that gives me creative freedom and a much more interesting work day.

Matt meets maker Gerald Burkett at World Maker Faire New York 2016.

Matt meets maker Gerald Burkett at World Maker Faire New York 2016.

Make it happen

I meet people all the time who have stories about how making has had an impact on their lives. At World Maker Faire New York recently, I met student Gerald Burkett, who told me his story of becoming a maker. He said, “I’m doing things I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of just four years ago, and it’s changed my life for the better.” And Gerald is having an impact on others as well. Even though he will be graduating soon, he’s encouraging the school’s administration to foster makers in the student body. He says that they “deserve an inviting environment where creativity is encouraged, and access to tools and supplies they couldn’t otherwise obtain in order to prototype and invent.”

Because of more accessible technology like the Raspberry Pi and freely available online resources, it’s easier than ever to make the things that you want to see in the world. Whether you are a student or you are far down a particular career path, it’s easier than ever to explore making as a passion and, potentially, also a livelihood.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you’re stuck in a rut with your job, I understand that feeling and encourage you to pursue making with vigour. There’s a good chance that what you make can change your life. It worked for me.

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Raspberry Pi astrophotography

Tonight marks the appearance of the brightest supermoon to grace the sky since 1948, appearing 30% brighter and 14% bigger than the usual glowing orb. The moon will not be this close again until November 2034.

Given this, and assuming the sky remains clear enough tonight to catch a glimpse, here’s one of several Raspberry Pi-powered astrophotography projects to get your creative senses tingling.

Having already created a similar project with a Nokia Lumia, TJ “Lifetime tinkerer” Emsley decided to try attaching a Raspberry Pi and Camera Module to a newly adopted Tasco 45X refractor telescope. They added a $10 USB shield, wireless NIC, and the usual setup components, and the project was underway.

TJ EMSLEY Moon Photography

TJ designed and 3D-printed a mount and bracket; the files are available on Thingiverse for those interested in building their own. The two-part design allows for use with various telescopes, thanks to an adjustable eyepiece adapter.

A Pi Zero fits onto the bracket, the Pi camera snug to the eyepiece, and the build is ready.

TJ EMSLEY Moon Photography

The Pi runs code written by TJ, allowing for image preview and exposure adjustments. You can choose between video and still images, and you can trigger the camera via a keyboard; this way, you don’t unsettle the camera to capture an image by having to touch the adapter in any way.

TJ will eventually be uploading the project to GitHub, but a short search will help you to build your own camera code (start here), so why not share your astrophotography with us in the comments below?

Enjoy the supermoon!

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