Monthly Archives: November 2017


via Arduino Blog


Starting tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 1st, the Arduino team will be exhibiting at 5th annual Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition. Those heading to Rome over this weekend (December 1st -3rd) are invited to swing by our booth at Pavilion 7 (Interaction) and join us for some inspiring talks. This year Arduino is also operating the official Maker Shop with lots of products and ideas that can help you find original gifts for Christmas.

The booth

We’ve been preparing a series of demos for adults and kids at the booth to showcase the new Arduino Education products and programs and the latest developments of the MKR family boards and IoT solutions. Moreover, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the AUG (Arduino User Group) Program, to meet the winner of the Arduino MKR FOX 1200 Contest, and to play with an interactive installation by Supsi university!

The store

At Pavillon 7, close to Arduino Booth there will be a Maker Shop by Arduino selling most of the Arduino products (including the latest Arduino MKR WAN 1300 (Lora) and Arduino MKR GSM 1400 recently announced!). You’ll find also some other interesting kits and Christmas gift ideas for kids, makers and developers, plus a selection of Arduino goodies.


The Arduino team will join the Maker Faire Rome’s program with some unmissable talks and presentations about Arduino innovations, new products and partnership programs with the following schedule:

We look forward to seeing you all at Pavilion 7 (check out the Makerfaire MAP in PDF)!

Enginursday: Cardboard Circuits

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Maker education is something very close to my heart. It is a gateway to STE(A)M fields and a great way to learn creative problem solving. Two of the traditional challenges — barriers to entry — of bringing electronics into maker education are cost and accessibility.

This week I have been experimenting with different ways to drastically reduce cost and increase accessibility with custom circuit stickers and cardboard circuits that don’t remove the circuit design in the process of exploration and play. The idea for cardboard circuits came from DIY Electronic Modules for Tinkerers on Microsoft’s GitHub. And the stickers came from the cost constraint of something like $0.25/circuit.

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It’s hard to see, but the top strip of tape has traces and tabs cut out, the second row has outlines of bats, and the third has outlines of unicorns. The second and third rows of tape are for a cap-touch project.

I’m using the Silhouette Curio, a programmable vinyl and paper cutter, to cut through copper tape. It isn’t a trivial piece of equipment, and it is costly at $120 (on sale at Michaels). I still haven’t wrapped my head around the software either, which is why the current stickers don’t look so nice (but they work!). The end-game is to hammer out the 10 or so essential beginner circuits and get those designs to a die-cutting sticker manufacturer.

At first, I was soldering the parts to the copper tape. Without soldering, a tiny dab of jewelry glue and then Bare Conductive paint dabbed over the connection worked great. I’m now experimenting with mixing different glues in with the conductive paint and characterizing the results.

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The micro:bit is a great piece of introductory hardware priced just right at $14.95 and packed with tons of attractive features. One of the features I’m most fond of is how agnostic it is toward programming environments. Beginners can choose the block-based/JavaScript IDE MakeCode developed by Microsoft or the MicroPython IDE, while more advanced programmers can use MicroPython or straight C++ on the mbed platform.

The six teachable moments in microcontroller basics have been drilled into me so well by Jeff Branson that I can’t escape them — and they hold to be very effective when teaching. They are:

  • Input/Output

  • Analog/Digital

  • Read/Write

With these six themes, I created the modules. I’ve organized the pile by type: rounds are inputs, and rectangles are outputs. For the inputs I made an Electret Mic BOB module, a two-button board module, a photocell module, a switch module and a tilt sensor module. For the outputs I made a buzzer module, an RGB LED module, a servo module and a larger speaker module.

I also have this weird thing — the bigger something is, the easier it is for me to understand it. Troubleshooting a problem on a breadboard usually means ripping up and starting over. With everything connected through alligator clips and visible/large/labeled traces it is much easier.

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The current-limiting resistors are part of the cardboard circuit. The black spots are where I used the Bare Conductive paint

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The micro:bit is plotting the analog values on the 5x5 LED matrix, which represent the noise level in the room.

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All you need to get started is a roll of copper tape, a few components and conductive paint. One roll of tape and tube of paint can make about 200 circuits.

As I continue to develop around this idea, I want to incorporate ways to up the difficulty. Currently these are single layer, but with the addition of paper or more cardboard and possibly the use of coiled paper clips to use as vias, the concept of multilayered PCB design can be explored. I’m also looking into creating a “library” of through-hole and SMD parts for the Curio machine. I want to get an ATmega 328 DIP in some cardboard and see what I can come up with.

The goal is to not abstract the circuit design as part of the process of learning microcontroller basics and to take a more holistic approach (cost and accessibility included) to learning about circuits and programming.

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MagPi 64: get started with electronics

via Raspberry Pi

Hey folks, Rob here again! You get a double dose of me this month, as today marks the release of The MagPi 64. In this issue we give you a complete electronics starter guide to help you learn how to make circuits that connect to your Raspberry Pi!

The front cover of MagPi 64


Wires, wires everywhere!

In the electronics feature, we’ll teach you how to identify different components in circuit diagrams, we’ll explain what they do, and we’ll give you some basic wiring instructions so you can take your first steps. The feature also includes step-by-step tutorials on how to make a digital radio and a range-finder, meaning you can test out your new electronics skills immediately!

Christmas tutorials

Electronics are cool, but what else is in this issue? Well, we have exciting news about the next Google AIY Projects Vision kit, which forgoes audio for images, allowing you to build a smart camera with your Raspberry Pi.

We’ve also included guides on how to create your own text-based adventure game and a kaleidoscope camera. And, just in time for the festive season, there’s a tutorial for making a 3D-printed Pi-powered Christmas tree star. All this in The MagPi 64, along with project showcases, reviews, and much more!

Kaleido Cam

Using a normal web cam or the Raspberry Pi camera produce real time live kaleidoscope effects with the Raspberry Pi. This video shows the normal mode, along with an auto pre-rotate, and a horizontal and vertical flip.

Get The MagPi 64

Issue 64 is available today from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, head over to your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center in the next few days. You can also get the new issue online from our store, or digitally via our Android and iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF as well.

Subscribe for free goodies

Want to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the magazine, and get some cool free stuff? If you take out a twelve-month print subscription to The MagPi, you’ll get a Pi Zero W, Pi Zero case, and adapter cables absolutely free! This offer does not currently have an end date.

We hope you enjoy this issue!


Brandon gets an n64 for christmas 1998 and gets way too excited inquiries about usage / questions / comments? ©

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SIK v4.0 Extra Projects

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

One of the most exciting aspects of the new SparkFun Inventor’s Kit (SIK) v4.0 is that the parts and experiments were chosen to create finished, functional projects. Because of this new, project-focused spin on our popular beginner’s kit, I found that taking things further to create even more new projects was a breeze. If you’ve worked through the projects in the SIK (or if you’re hoping to get one for the holidays), I’ve put together three additional projects that you can complete (with few or no extra parts required).

Clap On Lamp

The phrase “Clap On! Clap Off!” might arouse fond nostalgia from TV commercials of yesteryear. If not, don’t worry! We’ll use a Sound Detector board and parts from the SIK to detect two successive, sharp noises to pull a chain on a lamp.

Adding a servo to a pull-chain lamp is an amusing way to create an automated lighting system. In addition to the sound detector board, you could use a light sensor to pull the chain when the ambient room lighting falls below a certain level, or you could add an ultrasonic sensor to work as a virtual trip wire so that the light turns on whenever something gets near the lamp.

A full walkthrough for building the sound detecting lamp system can be found here:


Clap On Lamp

November 28, 2017

Modify a simple desk lamp to respond to a double clap (or other sharp noise) using parts from the SparkFun Inventor's Kit v4.0.

Light-Seeking Robot

One of the final projects in the SIK v4.0 guide is a fully autonomous robot that detects and avoids obstacles. We can expand on the robot by replacing the ultrasonic sensor with the included photocell in order to detect areas of bright light.

For educators, this might be a useful project for showing how simple organisms, like Euglena, seek out light for assisting with photosynthesis. The tutorial shows how to perform a very simple search algorithm: look left, right and center; choose the direction with the most light; and move in that direction. Computer scientists (or anyone interested in learning about artificial intelligence) could take the project even further to implement a Q-Learning algorithm with additional sensors to help the robot learn its environment.


Light-Seeking Robot

November 28, 2017

We use parts from the SparkFun Inventor's Kit v4.0 to create a light-seeking robot that mimics the behavior of single-celled organisms.

Endless Runner Game

Any gamers in the audience might remember the endless running (or endless flying, I suppose) games Temple Run and Flappy Bird. The premise is simple in these endless-style games: your character moves forward, and the player must make one or more simple choices to avoid obstacles (turn left/right, jump, etc.). Instructables user joshua.brooks created a wonderfully addicting endless runner game using an Arduino, a character LCD and a single button (the original project can be found here).

We’ve updated the project to show how it can be made with parts from the SIK.

As the terrain flies by, players must time their jumps by pressing the button at the right moment to avoid hitting the rather rectangular hills. Points are awarded based on distance — and if you hit something, it’s game over. The circuit and code for the game can be found here:


Endless Runner Game

November 28, 2017

We make a simple side-scrolling endless runner game using parts from the SparkFun Inventor's Kit v4.0.

These three projects should be fun additions to your SIK repertoire. What other simple Arduino projects have you seen that would be good for beginners and students? Let us know in the comments below.

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Our brand-new Christmas resources

via Raspberry Pi

It’s never too early for Christmas-themed resources — especially when you want to make the most of them in your school or Code Club! So here’s the ever-wonderful Laura Sach with an introduction of our newest festive projects.

A cartoon of people singing Christmas carols - Raspberry Pi Christmas Resources

In the immortal words of Noddy Holder: “it’s Christmaaaaaaasssss!” Well, maybe it isn’t quite Christmas yet, but since the shops have been playing Mariah Carey on a loop since the last pumpkin lantern hit the bargain bin, you’re hopefully well prepared.

To get you in the mood with some festive fun, we’ve put together a selection of seasonal free resources for you. Each project has a difficulty level in line with our Digital Making Curriculum, so you can check which might suit you best. Why not try them out at your local Raspberry Jam, CoderDojo, or Code Club, at school, or even on a cold day at home with a big mug of hot chocolate?

Jazzy jumpers

A cartoon of someone remembering pairs of jumper designs - Raspberry Pi Christmas Resources

Jazzy jumpers (Creator level): as a child in the eighties, you’d always get an embarrassing and probably badly sized jazzy jumper at Christmas from some distant relative. Thank goodness the trend has gone hipster and dreadful jumpers are now cool!

This resource shows you how to build a memory game in Scratch where you must remember the colour and picture of a jazzy jumper before recreating it. How many jumpers can you successfully recall in a row?

Sense HAT advent calendar

A cartoon Sense HAT lit up in the design of a Christmas pudding - Raspberry Pi Christmas Resources

Sense HAT advent calendar (Builder level): put the lovely lights on your Sense HAT to festive use by creating an advent calendar you can open day by day. However, there’s strictly no cheating with this calendar — we teach you how to use Python to detect the current date and prevent would-be premature peekers!

Press the Enter key to open today’s door:

(Note: no chocolate will be dispensed from your Raspberry Pi. Sorry about that.)

Code a carol

A cartoon of people singing Christmas carols - Raspberry Pi Christmas Resources

Code a carol (Developer level): Have you ever noticed how much repetition there is in carols and other songs? This resource teaches you how to break down the Twelve days of Christmas tune into its component parts and code it up in Sonic Pi the lazy way: get the computer to do all the repetition for you!

No musical knowledge required — just follow our lead, and you’ll have yourself a rocking doorbell tune in no time!

Naughty and nice

A cartoon of Santa judging people by their tweets - Raspberry Pi Christmas Resources

Naughty and nice (Maker level): Have you been naughty or nice? Find out by using sentiment analysis on your tweets to see what sort of things you’ve been talking about throughout the year. For added fun, why not use your program on the Twitter account of your sibling/spouse/arch nemesis and report their level of naughtiness to Santa with an @ mention?

raspberry_pi is 65.5 percent NICE, with an accuracy of 0.9046692607003891

It’s Christmaaaaaasssss

With the festive season just around the corner, it’s time to get started on your Christmas projects! Whether you’re planning to run your Christmas lights via a phone app, install a home assistant inside an Elf on a Shelf, or work through our Christmas resources, we would like to see what you make. So do share your festive builds with us on social media, or by posting links in the comments.

The post Our brand-new Christmas resources appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Automated Room Signage Update

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

In the first installment of this two-part post, we built a conference room sign that automatically updates based on a Google Calendar resource. We used a Raspberry Pi and a 7-inch touchscreen as our hardware platform and wrote the software in HTML, JS and CSS, using ElectronJS to run it on a kiosk OS for single-board computers called BenjaOS. If you missed that post, you can check it out here.

At the time of part one, I was still waiting on some enclosures and cable covers to arrive before I could install the first signs next to their respective meeting rooms. Well, when the enclosures finally arrived (all the way from Shenzhen) they seemed a little bulky. To be clear, I got exactly what I ordered. But when I looked at the display mounted in place the enclosure seemed excessively deep and heavy. I set about designing one in Fusion 360 to print on our TAZ 5 3D printer.

The enclosure itself didn’t need to be very rigorously designed. The basic requirements were: 1) to cover the Pi and make it look nice, 2) to accommodate the cable cover I’ll be using for cable management and 3) to provide an interface between the mounting holes on the LCD panel and the wall. If there were openings for LEDs to shine onto the wall behind the unit, that was a plus. Luckily, we happened to have a very nice 3D Model of the LCD panel in question on the product page, so I imported that to Fusion and built up from there. Here’s what I ended up with:

I printed a pair of these enclosures on the TAZ 5 – with its new cardboard heat tent – and got very lucky on my first try! The only modifications I had to make to the printed parts for them to properly fit was to use a drill to widen the bolt holes slightly. The enclosures bolted to the LCDs using M3 hardware and provided some nice flat surface on the backside for mounting the device with double-sided foam tape. The opening in the bottom perfectly accommodates the profile of the cable management solution that I bought on Amazon, so there’s no gap where you can see the cable poking through.

Very clean, my dude.

My next step was to grab some CAT5 and barrel jack extension cables and run my wiring for the signs. The two premier locations for this system were chosen because they’re close to my office and just around the corner from one another. There is a network drop and a power outlet located midway between them, allowing me to power both signs and give them dependable network connections. My cable management solution was a home theater cable race kit from Wiremold. It took two kits to have enough fittings and races but it installed cleanly and easily. All of the cable races are backed with foam tape - just peel and stick. After the cable races are stuck to the wall, they can be hinged open to hide your cables. I put a T-junction over the network drop and power outlets and split off in the direction of each conference room, using my smartphone as a level (with mixed results). Then each end got a 90° elbow and another cable race up to the sign enclosures.

a photo of the conference room signs mounted outside of their respective rooms highlighting my cable management solution

I powered the Raspberry Pis by making an adapter out of a micro-b plug breakout and a female barrel jack adapter. The breakout plugged into the USB jack on the LCD hat, and the barrel jack adapter allowed me to use barrel jack extension cables to get a long, clean run of DC wiring to the 5VDC wall adapter. The Pi with the 7-inch LCD attached is – admittedly – unhappy about its power situation and continually shows a low power warning in the top corner of the screen, but it isn’t distracting and is unlikely to cause damage to the unit so I’m leaving it alone for now. If the wall adapter fails, I’ll replace it with something a little beefier. At 2 amps, the wall adapter is bare minimum for running both the Pi and the LCD backlight.

a photo of the conference room sign for our room named Spaceball One

The signs have been in regular use for about a week now and so far I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I’m certainly not the first person in the building to have thought of doing this, so people are excited to see one working. No word yet on whether it’s prevented any mid-meeting surprises, but as for staying stable and accurate running continuously for days on end? High scores all around. I think the Raspberry Pi is an excellent platform for exactly this type of project. Moving forward, I’d like to add LED splash lighting to indicate the “occupied” status of the conference room (as suggested by jma89 on part one of this series) and I’d also like to add some animated splash screens that can be interrupted by touching the display. For now, though, these seem like a step in the right direction.

a photo of the conference room sign for our room named Bebop

Wanna make your own? Check out the GitHub Repo! It contains the ElectronJS app as well as STEP, IGES, Mesh and Fusion 360 files for the 3D-printed enclosure.

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