Monthly Archives: February 2019

MagPi 79: get making in March with #MonthOfMaking

via Raspberry Pi

Hi folks! Rob from The MagPi here. This month in issue 79 of The MagPi, we’re doing something a little different: we invite all of you (yes, you!) to join us in the #MonthOfMaking.

Learn more about the #MonthOfMaking inside issue 79!


What does this mean? Well, throughout March, we want you to post pictures of your works-in-progress and completed projects on Twitter with the hashtag #MonthOfMaking.


As well as showing off the cool stuff you’re creating, we also want you to feel comfortable to ask for help with projects, and to share top tips for those that might be struggling.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve put together a massive feature in issue 79 of The MagPi, out now, to help you decide. On top of various project ideas for different skill levels, our feature includes some essential resources to look at, as well as inspirational YouTubers to follow, and some competitions you might want to take part in!

So, go forth and make! I’m really looking forward to seeing what you all get up to during this inaugural #MonthOfMaking!

Get The MagPi 79

You can get The MagPi 79 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 for a print copy. You can also get the issue online: check it out on our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF.

Free Raspberry Pi 3A+ offer!

We’re still running our super special Raspberry Pi 3A+ subscription offer! If you subscribe to twelve months of The MagPi, you’ll get a Raspberry Pi 3A+ completely free while stocks last. Make sure to check out our other subs offers while you’re there, like three issues for £5, and our rolling monthly subscription.

Get a 3A+ completely free while stocks last!

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Enginursday: The Maker Community IRL

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Don't get me wrong, the internet community is awesome. Put aside most of the arguing and egos brought on by the feeling of anonymity, and it's still really cool to find and talk with people on the other side of the globe with the same interests as you. There are always the big conferences and events: Maker Faire, Hackaday Superconference, etc. But while it may seem like you live in an area void of other makers, or even those interested in technology, it's probably not the case. If it is, maybe you can be the catalyst to start such a scene.

I hope most of this is nothing new, but it's something I wish I had read years ago and learned about the local resources and community available to me. I'm lucky that Boulder and the surrounding areas have an incredible tech community, but there are plenty of areas where it might not be as apparent (I grew up in Central, PA, and the only tech company/presence I can name from there was MapQuest). If you're in an area not necessarily booming with tech, here are some places to look for like-minded individuals.

Canoe at Makerspace Exhibit Night

The Boulder Public Library recently had a showcase night for some of the projects coming out of their makerspace, BLDG 61


This is hopefully the first thing you search for. These days it's difficult to find an area that doesn't have a makerspace – in fact, more libraries are starting to include them. In addition to being a great resource for tools and space to work, a fair amount of them hold public events such as classes, open-houses, talks or meetups (more on those later). Occasionally, some are not as well-staffed, or are less able to accommodate random public drop-ins, so an email ahead of time is usually good practice if there isn't an explicit invitation.


Even if you're not looking to meet other makers in your area (sounds like a dating site tagline), I suggest checking out the site Meetup. Meetup helps people form groups and manage attendance for events. Through Meetup I have attended recurring group discussions, talks and panels with some pretty big names – even just morning coffee sessions where it was 3-4 of us discussing current technology events. For those looking to get into giving talks about their areas of expertise, a lot of the meetup groups start or end their events with a talk, and are frequently looking for new topics.

Startup Week/Events

These days it's difficult to find a town or city not trying their best to attract tech companies - for better or worse, everyone is vying to be the next tech hub. One hallmark of this is frequent events directed at fostering a startup community (mostly catering to tech startups). Some of the next generation of tech startups - IoT especially - will likely be drawn to (more affordable) areas with real-world problems best solved by connected devices: agriculture tools, home automation and manufacturing. It makes sense that a lot of these startup events frequently border on the maker community, a group prized for their ability to create working prototypes or finished products on hobbyist budgets (great job everyone!). These events are also a good place to look for jobs where your maker skills apply, a question I receive very frequently.

Education Institutions

A lot of these events also occur on college campuses or other education institutions. Unfortunately, most are limited to students and faculty, but there are usually some events open to the public as well. If it's not readily apparent, a quick email to one of the STEAM departments might yield results. You'll find mostly talks on technology or project demos, but they can hold a lot of value if the topics pique your interest.

If None of the Above are Happening

There is a chance that none of these events are happening in your area, in which case the internet is still a way to connect with other makers, but it could also be an opportunity for you to start something yourself. Meetups are some of the cheapest and easiest ways to get a regular discussion group going; I've been to events that took place at a table in the back of a restaurant in the beginning, and are now booked to capacity. If you're looking to create a local maker scene, think about these options above as first steps.

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Celebrate with us this weekend!

via Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Jam Big Birthday is almost here! In celebration of our seventh birthday, we’re coordinating with over 130 community‑led Raspberry Jams in 40 countries across six continents this weekend, 3-4 March 2019.

Raspberry Jams come in all shapes and sizes. They range from small pub gatherings fueled by local beer and amiable nerdy chatter to vast multi-room events with a varied programme of project displays, workshops, and talks.

To find your nearest Raspberry Jam, check out our interactive Jam map.

And if you can’t get to a Jam location this time, follow #PiParty on Twitter, where people around the world are already getting excited about their Big Birthday Weekend plans. Over the weekend you’ll see Raspberry Jams happening from the UK to the US, from Africa to – we hope – Antarctica, and everywhere in between.

Coolest Projects UK

The first of this year’s Coolest Projects events is also taking place this weekend in Manchester, UK. Coolest Projects is the world’s leading technology fair for young people, showcasing some of the very best creations by young makers across the country (and beyond), and it’s open for members of the public to attend.

Tickets are still available from the Coolest Projects website, and you can follow the action on #CoolestProjects on Twitter.

CBeebies’ Maddie Moate and the BBC’s Greg Foot will be taking over Raspberry Pi’s Instagram story on the day, so be sure to follow @RaspberryPiFoundation on Instagram.

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Having Fun and VR Gaming with the Razor IMU

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

A few years back, just after I first started at SparkFun, Jim released the SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU M0. Like most products, this wonderful board had its own little quirks, but it got me digging into the example firmware and datasheet for the IMU. If you have never played around or used an IMU before, you should check out this According to Pete video on IMUs, and some extra research online never hurts. Since the release of the SparkFun 9DoF Razor, I have found some really cool applications for the board. I will go over my recent project and a commonly requested task from when I was in technical support.

Serial Output over TX pin and Bluetooth

These are some of the more commonly requested items for this board from technical support. Since the two can be tied together, I decided to provide an example that applies to both.

Serial Output over TX pin

If you haven't done so already, you should start with the 9DoF Razor IMU M0 Hookup Guide. Specifically, the comment in the hookup guide where my coworker Bobby has already detailed the changes needed to output serial data over the TX pin. Otherwise, you should to look over the example firmware and configuration file, and you will notice the changes that need to be made. I have also provided a modified code below for you to download. The baudrate for the serial output is set to 115200bps; this can be changed, but I am using it for the Bluetooth module in the next section.

Adding Bluetooth

To add Bluetooth capability to the SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU, I am using the BlueSMiRF Silver, a few jumper cables and the Bluetooth USB Module Mini on my PC. Again, if you haven't done so already, you should start with the Using the BlueSMiRF hookup guide. (*I used the BlueSMiRF because we had one lying around, but all modules listed in the BlueSMiRF hookup guide are essentially the same except for the pin layout and range.)

Troubleshooting Tip: Not all computers will be compatible with the BlueSMiRF modules. Mac computers can have issues with them due to the licensing required by Apple for Bluetooth devices.

With the modified code linked above, this is how I setup the hardware connections. There is no need to modify the code, because the default baudrate of the Bluetooth module is the 115200bps already. Additionally, the default password for paring the Bluetooth module is already known to be 1234.

Hardware pin connections
Hardware pin connections between the BlueSMiRF Silver and the SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU.

Once you have paired your Bluetooth module to your computer and opened a serial terminal for the COM port of that connection, you should see a green light on the Bluetooth module. Double check that the baudrate is set to 115200bps and you should see the output from the SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU.

Starting on a VR Headset

If you've been part of the recent first-person shooter gaming craze, then you are already familiar with the titles PUBG or Fortnite. What if I told you there was a program that allowed you to VNC to your desktop with minimal lag... and what if that program also allowed you to connect from a Raspberry Pi?

Well, Parsec, a gaming streaming company that came onto the scene a few years ago, has done just that. How does this all work? Well, the short version is that Parsec takes advantage of UDP to reduce lag or traffic needed to verify each frame in a TCP-based connection. From a gaming perspective, each frame marks only a split second on your screen – who cares if it isn't perfect, you will have a new frame in a few milliseconds anyways.

That's right... I have been playing Fortnite remotely using a Raspberry Pi! Well, at least when I don't want to drag my desktop with me. There are a few caveats to this setup: Parsec does have minimum requirements to run, the graphics settings in the game need to be on low, and the frame rates drop to about 30 fps on the Raspberry Pi. However, the game is still playable and if you are up to tweaking the settings, you can get slightly better graphic renderings and frame counts.

You can also use Parsec for other things like streaming your XBox games to your PC and over to a Raspberry Pi!!!

Mic Drop
Mic Drop!

How does this all tie into a VR headset? Well, if you are familiar with the mouse library in Arduino, then you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you aren't familiar with this library, you can the find details on the Arduino website. However, the quick and fast detail is that the SAMD21 microcontroller on the SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU M0 can be used to emulate a mouse. Together with the IMU, this means that you can take rotational movements from your head to look around in the game.

Now this is just part of the interface you need to control your character, but it does demonstrate that it can be done with hobbyist electronics. Again, you will want to start with the example firmware code, the 9DoF Razor IMU M0 Hookup Guide and the mouse library. Unfortunately, this is about as far as I have taken this project but if you have anything you'd like to add, please let me know in the comments below; I have also made my code available below for you to continue without me. It is a modified version of Jim's original example firmware adapted to work with the mouse library.

I do have a few things to add:

  • I have only gotten Parsec to run on larger screens. I have had issues trying to run Parsec on smaller 3.5" or 5" screens with lower resolutions. However, I haven't really dug into the issue or reached out to Parsec for help yet.
  • You do need to manually adjust the mouse sensitivity in the Arduino code. I thought of using a potentiometer to possibly dial that in without constant reprogramming.
  • The code takes movements from the gyroscope to create mouse movements. I envisioned using the Euler angles to get more accurate readings without having to home the mouse position, but I would need to dig into how to define an exact mouse position on the screen and adjust for scaling.
  • Once programmed, the SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU will move to its secondary COM port and will be unavailable for programming. To reprogram the board, you need to force it into the bootloader mode by holding the SCL pin LOW on start up. Then, you can upload new code to it using the available COM port.

To setup Parsec on your Raspberry Pi head over to their web page, or you can follow their instructional Youtube video:

They also have setup guides online:

Once you have Parsec running on your Raspberry Pi and your SparkFun 9DoF Razor IMU coded, all you need to do is plug your Razor into the Pi with a USB cable. You should start seeing the Razor act as a mouse once it is recognized as a device. I usually turn off the Razor until I am logged on to the host computer and up and running on the game. Have fun and enjoy!

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Supply Chain Security Talk

via Hacking – bunnie's blog

I recently gave an invited talk about supply chain security at BlueHat IL 2019. I was a bit surprised at the level of interest it received, so I thought I’d share it here for people who might have missed it.

In the talk, I relay some of my personal trials authenticating my supply chains, then I go into the why of the supply chain attacks to establish some scenarios for evaluating different approaches. The talk attempts to broadly categorize the space of possible attacks, ranging from attacks that cost a penny and a few seconds to pull off to hundreds of thousands of dollars and months. Finally, I try to outline the depth of the supply chain attack surface, highlighting the overall TOCTOU (time of check, time of use) problem that is the supply chain.

The main insight is that transparency or openness of design by itself does little to secure a supply chain, because the entire situation is one huge TOCTOU problem. Checking hardware design files, locking down the assembly line, and Fedexing the product to your office is like hashing and signing your source code, running it through a trusted compiler, and then sending the binary unencrypted over the Internet and trusting it because it was “thoroughly checked”.

The inverse analysis is equally daunting: in software, one may copy each binary into RAM, hash and check its cryptographic signature, and run it only if it checks out. For hardware, there is no equivalent of “hash this instance of hardware and check its cryptographic signature” before use: “hashing” hardware involves taking it apart and inspecting every transistor and wire, which is both impractical and likely to render the hardware non-functional.

Thus while open source hardware does engender some benefits for security (such as disclosing μ-state for Spectre side-channel analysis and ensuring no backdoors due to design oversight), it addresses a separate problem domain from supply chain attacks. While an open source hardware phone is arguably more trustable than a closed source one, open source is necessary but not sufficient for it to be trusted.

I do have some ideas on the practical mitigation of supply chain attacks, but they are still a bit too green to blog about. Stay tuned…

Name that Ware February 2019

via Hacking – bunnie's blog

The ware for this month is shown below:

One of the ideas of name that ware is to learn by taking apart everyday objects. This one came across my desk under unfortunate circumstances, which lead to me dissecting it and snapping a couple photos to share!

Also, in the pantheon of wires I have known, the wire below holds a special place: it was literally part of me for several months. In fact, if you look very closely, you can still see bits of me attached to the wire.

Most interesting is how my body built a custom cable chase for the wire as the bones healed:

Now if I can only get my robots to learn this trick, it’d save me a lot on zip ties…🤔