Monthly Archives: May 2018

#FreePCB via Twitter to 2 random RTs

via Dangerous Prototypes

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Every Tuesday we give away two coupons for the free PCB drawer via Twitter. This post was announced on Twitter, and in 24 hours we’ll send coupon codes to two random retweeters. Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times a every week:

  • Hate Twitter and Facebook? Free PCB Sunday is the classic PCB giveaway. Catch it every Sunday, right here on the blog
  • Tweet-a-PCB Tuesday. Follow us and get boards in 144 characters or less
  • Facebook PCB Friday. Free PCBs will be your friend for the weekend

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • Check out how we mail PCBs worldwide video.
  • We’ll contact you via Twitter with a coupon code for the PCB drawer.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.

We try to stagger free PCB posts so every time zone has a chance to participate, but the best way to see it first is to subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

Scaling Open-Source Conservation Technology

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

This post is part of a series of guest posts by GroupGets and their appointed experts to talk about project crowdfunding and early-stage product development, from successes to battle wounds.


Conservation technology - software and devices used by professional conservation scientists to monitor animals and their environment - is going through a rapid change. Individuals with exposure to online maker communities are increasingly using open-source software and hardware to develop their own bespoke monitoring devices. These are typically much lower cost than commercial alternatives, and most significantly, can be modified and adapted to their specific deployment setting.

For example, Open Acoustic Devices - a research project at the universities of Oxford and Southampton - have been developing a low-cost acoustic sensor called AudioMoth. In contrast to commercial devices, AudioMoth uses a low-cost sensitive MEMS microphone mounted directly on the printed circuit board to provide a single-board solution that requires minimal packaging prior to deployment. A low-power, 32-bit microcontroller provides sufficient computational resources to run acoustic detection algorithms to trigger recordings, and yet allows long-term deployments with just three AA batteries. These devices have been used in a number of deployments to record insects, bats and birds, and to detect gunshots from illegal hunting in tropical forests in Belize.

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However, sharing projects such as these with a wider user community continues to be a challenge. The users who might most benefit - typically professional conservation biologists - often lack the coding and electronics knowledge to adapt designs to their own use. As such, the Arribada Initiative is exploring how to best support conservation groups who wish to make use of open-source technology such as AudioMoth.

The first challenge is how to manufacture and physically distribute devices to a large user community spread all around the world. To do so, the Arribada Initiative have been running a series of group purchase campaigns through GroupGets: taking orders for devices until a sufficiently large batch size has been achieved, and then manufacturing and assembling devices to order from CircuitHub (who host the open-source design of AudioMoth). This provides economies of scale that are impossible for individuals to achieve, and also builds a community of users who are keen to help and support each other’s use of new devices.

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Adding a small margin to the manufacturing costs also generates proceeds that can be put back into development activities to refine existing hardware, and to help build a community of users by providing funding to technologists for small projects to develop new firmware and hardware for specific deployments. Plans are already developing for AudioMoth 2, which will incorporate the lessons learned from building and distributing over 2000 AudioMoth devices over the last six months.


About the authors: Alex Rogers is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, and leads the Open Acoustic Devices team.

Andy Hill and Peter Price are completing their PhDs at the University of Southampton developing the hardware design of AudioMoth and the detection algorithms that run on it.

Alasdair Davies is Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a Conservation Technology Specialist at the Zoological Society of London and leads the Arribada Initiative.

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Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera

via Raspberry Pi

Warning: a GIF used in today’s blog contains flashing images.

Students at the University of Bremen, Germany, have built a wearable camera that records the seconds of vision lost when you blink. Augenblick uses a Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera Module alongside muscle sensors to record footage whenever you close your eyes, producing a rather disjointed film of the sights you miss out on.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Blink and you’ll miss it

The average person blinks up to five times a minute, with each blink lasting 0.5 to 0.8 seconds. These half-seconds add up to about 30 minutes a day. What sights are we losing during these minutes? That is the question asked by students Manasse Pinsuwan and René Henrich when they set out to design Augenblick.

Blinking is a highly invasive mechanism for our eyesight. Every day we close our eyes thousands of times without noticing it. Our mind manages to never let us wonder what exactly happens in the moments that we miss.

Capturing lost moments

For Augenblick, the wearer sticks MyoWare Muscle Sensor pads to their face, and these detect the electrical impulses that trigger blinking.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Two pads are applied over the orbicularis oculi muscle that forms a ring around the eye socket, while the third pad is attached to the cheek as a neutral point.

Biology fact: there are two muscles responsible for blinking. The orbicularis oculi muscle closes the eye, while the levator palpebrae superioris muscle opens it — and yes, they both sound like the names of Harry Potter spells.

The sensor is read 25 times a second. Whenever it detects that the orbicularis oculi is active, the Camera Module records video footage.

Augenblick blink recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Pressing a button on the side of the Augenblick glasses set the code running. An LED lights up whenever the camera is recording and also serves to confirm the correct placement of the sensor pads.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

The Pi Zero saves the footage so that it can be stitched together later to form a continuous, if disjointed, film.

Learn more about the Augenblick blink camera

You can find more information on the conception, design, and build process of Augenblick here in German, with a shorter explanation including lots of photos here in English.

And if you’re keen to recreate this project, our free project resource for a wearable Pi Zero time-lapse camera will come in handy as a starting point.

The post Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Microsoft “Intellimouse” teardown

via Dangerous Prototypes

ms_mouse_total-600

Microsoft “Intellimouse” teardown from Electronupdate:

Before the advent of optical mice, the go to technology was a steel ball which moved two drive shafts to indicate position.
A good example of this is this Microsoft “Intellimouse”.
As expected the electronics are built around a small micro controller

Check out the video after the break.

Raspberry Pi GPIO programming in C

via Dangerous Prototypes

Raspberry-GPIO

Steve Chamberlin has written an article about Raspberry Pi GPIO programming in C:

The Raspberry Pi’s 40-pin GPIO connector often gets overlooked. Typical Pi projects use the hardware as a very small desktop PC (RetroPie, Pi-hole, media center, print server, etc), and don’t make any use of general-purpose IO pins. That’s too bad, because with a little bit of work, the Raspberry Pi can make a powerful physical computing device for many applications.

More details at Big Mess o’ Wires homepage.

Project Floofball and more: Pi pet stuff

via Raspberry Pi

It’s a public holiday here today (yes, again). So, while we indulge in the traditional pastime of barbecuing stuff (ourselves, mainly), here’s a little trove of Pi projects that cater for our various furry friends.

Project Floofball

Nicole Horward created Project Floofball for her hamster, Harold. It’s an IoT hamster wheel that uses a Raspberry Pi and a magnetic door sensor to log how far Harold runs.

Project Floofball: an IoT hamster wheel

An IoT Hamsterwheel using a Raspberry Pi and a magnetic door sensor, to see how far my hamster runs.

You can follow Harold’s runs in real time on his ThingSpeak channel, and you’ll find photos of the build on imgur. Nicole’s Python code, as well as her template for the laser-cut enclosure that houses the wiring and LCD display, are available on the hamster wheel’s GitHub repo.

A live-streaming pet feeder

JaganK3 used to work long hours that meant he couldn’t be there to feed his dog on time. He found that he couldn’t buy an automated feeder in India without paying a lot to import one, so he made one himself. It uses a Raspberry Pi to control a motor that turns a dispensing valve in a hopper full of dry food, giving his dog a portion of food at set times.

A transparent cylindrical hopper of dry dog food, with a motor that can turn a dispensing valve at the lower end. The motor is connected to a Raspberry Pi in a plastic case. Hopper, motor, Pi, and wiring are all mounted on a board on the wall.

He also added a web cam for live video streaming, because he could. Find out more in JaganK3’s Instructable for his pet feeder.

Shark laser cat toy

Sam Storino, meanwhile, is using a Raspberry Pi to control a laser-pointer cat toy with a goshdarned SHARK (which is kind of what I’d expect from the guy who made the steampunk-looking cat feeder a few weeks ago). The idea is to keep his cats interested and active within the confines of a compact city apartment.

Raspberry Pi Automatic Cat Laser Pointer Toy

Post with 52 votes and 7004 views. Tagged with cat, shark, lasers, austin powers, raspberry pi; Shared by JeorgeLeatherly. Raspberry Pi Automatic Cat Laser Pointer Toy

If I were a cat, I would definitely be entirely happy with this. Find out more on Sam’s website.

And there’s more

Michel Parreno has written a series of articles to help you monitor and feed your pet with Raspberry Pi.

All of these makers are generous in acknowledging the tutorials and build logs that helped them with their projects. It’s lovely to see the Raspberry Pi and maker community working like this, and I bet their projects will inspire others too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m late for a barbecue.

The post Project Floofball and more: Pi pet stuff appeared first on Raspberry Pi.