Monthly Archives: May 2019

Friday Product Post: High Seven!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello everyone and happy Friday! Today we have the new OpenMV H7 camera for a new machine vision option. We also have a buck-boost SparkFun Original and a few updates to three of our micro:bit kits. Last up is a new latching solenoid offering that should help with your next door project.

Upgrade to the H7 today!

OpenMV H7 Camera

OpenMV H7 Camera


The OpenMV H7 Camera is a small, low-power microcontroller board that allows you to easily implement applications using machine vision in the real world. The OpenMV Cam is programmed in high-level Python scripts (courtesy of the MicroPython Operating System) instead of C/C++, which makes it easier to deal with the complex outputs of machine vision algorithms and high-level data structures. You'll still have total control over your OpenMV Cam and its I/O pins in Python, and you can easily trigger photo and video on external events or execute machine vision algorithms to figure out how to control your I/O pins.

Get the boost you need!

SparkFun Buck-Boost Converter

SparkFun Buck-Boost Converter


The SparkFun Buck-Boost Converter is a handy power accessory board that allows you to fine tune the amount of power your project receives. This converter can take an input voltage of anywhere from 3-16V and regulate it to an output voltage between 2.5-9V. With the switch on the bottom of the board, you can set the common output voltages of 3.3V and 5V, but we've also added a custom setting that allows you to solder a resistor based on your custom voltage needs. The GPIO pins have also been broken out along the top of the board for even more control!

SparkFun Inventor's Kit for micro:bit

SparkFun Inventor's Kit for micro:bit

SparkFun Inventor's Kit for micro:bit Lab Pack

SparkFun Inventor's Kit for micro:bit Lab Pack

SparkFun micro:climate kit for micro:bit

SparkFun micro:climate kit for micro:bit


We've updated three of our most popular micro:bit kits with a new battery pack! The SparkFun Inventor's Kit for micro:bit, SparkFun Inventor's Kit for micro:bit Lab Pack and SparkFun micro:climate kit for micro:bit now feature an updated AAA battery pack that allows for much easier battery swapping and detachment.

Latching solenoid

Latching solenoid


Does controlling door and cabinet access with the power of electromagnetism interest you? Excellent! In effect, this latching solenoid is an electronic lock. When powered with 12VDC source, the latch is pulled in, allowing movement. Without power, the latch is extended to block movement, and your secret drawer is safe and secure.

That's it for this week! As always, we can't wait to see what you make! Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what projects you’ve made!

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Enginursday: Using an ESP32 for Home Automation

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

In a previous Enginursday, I showed off our MQTT tutorial using an ESP32 Thing and a Raspberry Pi. I mentioned at the end that you could use open source software such as Home Assistant to have your ESP32 control your house, and after many months the wait is finally over.


Using Home Assistant to Expand Your Home Automations

May 9, 2019

An introduction to Home Assistant, an open source home automation hub.

In this new tutorial, we load Home Assistant (specially on to a Raspberry Pi and get MQTT back up and running. Unlike the previous tutorial, with Home Assistant you can use much more than just MQTT. You can add Z-wave devices, smart thermostats like Nest, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and much more. By having control over both the hardware and software, you can use Home Assistant to create automations that are triggered from MQTT and control devices on other protocols. If you'd like to learn how to create a remote trigger switch over MQTT to control a WiFi plug, check out the tutorial linked above!

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Get the new-look Custom PC magazine for free!

via Raspberry Pi

After buying top PC hobbyist mag Custom PC earlier this year, we’ve buffed it to a shine and we’re now ready to share our slightly tweaked formula with you.

We’re offering 5000 free copies of Issue 190 of Custom PC

Raspberry Pi and Custom PC

“We’ve been fans of Custom PC for a long time, so when the opportunity arose to add it to the Raspberry Pi Press stable, we couldn’t resist,” says Raspberry Pi co-founder and Raspberry Pi Trading CEO, Eben Upton.

“You’ll already have seen some of the investments we’ve made in the title, from higher-quality paper to more (and more technical) feature content, and this redesign is the next step in that process. This is the Custom PC that we always wanted to see and that our shared communities deserve.”

“We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback, and to many more years of hacking, modding, and learning. The engineering skills you learn as you work through the trade-offs of building a custom gaming rig on a budget are every bit as valuable as those you learn from building a robot or writing a computer game on a Raspberry Pi.”

Get the relaunch issue for free

The first issue with our new-look design is now on sale at all good newsagents. With a dash of electric pink and a lovely spot-gloss finish, it will be easy to spot on the shelf. What’s more, you can try it out for free! We’re giving away 5000 copies to the first people who take advantage of this offer. Postage is free in the UK and heavily subsidised overseas.

Custom PC has regularly featured computer hobbyist content

Custom PC issue 190

Custom PC is all about making the computer that you want, and issue 190’s lead cover feature is a great example, showing you how to turn a standard PC into a lavish system with your own personal stamp. We take you through the whole process of building a dream PC, from the initial inspiration, through to design, planning, and cooling considerations, and then onto painting and cutting.

Also in this issue:

  • Monitors with FreeSync and G-Sync
  • How to cut air vents
  • How LCD monitors work
  • £200–£300 graphics cards group test

The latest issue’s lead cover feature is all about turning a standard PC into something really special

We hope you enjoy reading the new-look Custom PC as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. And while we were at it, we’ve also launched a new Custom PC website. If you’re interested in the wonderful world of PC building, overclocking, modding, and gaming, then visit the site to order your free copy now!

The post Get the new-look Custom PC magazine for free! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Video: How to Say Pololu!

via Pololu Blog

The name Pololu is simple, but over the years, we’ve noticed some customers mispronouncing our name or hesitating to say it. And if you can’t say our name, how will you tell your friends about us? So if you are unsure about how to say Pololu, I hope this little video will help you out:

SparkFun at the CU Engineering Projects Expo 2019

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

The University of Colorado Boulder is, quite literally, just down the road from SparkFun HQ. Several SparkFunions are graduates of CU (including our founder, Nathan Seidle), so any time they hold an event promoting their engineering school, it piques our interest! On April 26th, CU held their second annual Engineering Projects Expo and completely took over the Indoor Practice Facility next to Folsom Stadium. We were pretty excited to attend and catch a glimpse at all of the new inventions and technologies created by teams of CU engineering students.

More than 140 teams of students displayed their capstone engineering projects that they spent the past year developing, building, and more than likely losing sleep over. Some of the teams are sponsored by industry partners like Visa, Inc. and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, some by CU Boulder faculty, and others are entrepreneurial ideas developed by students.

Last year, Dean Bobby Braun described the Expo as "a great opportunity for community members, future engineers and hiring managers looking for new talent to see what we're up to at CU Engineering," and each engineering department is represented including architectural, aerospace, electrical, mechanical and more!

As you saw in the video, there were so many teams in attendance this year that we simply didn't have enough time to talk to all of them. Luckily, we did have the time to take an in-depth look at five specific teams, including the winner of the New Venture Challenge, Stride Tech!

Stride Tech

The SmartStep is a universally attachable walker accessory that detects and corrects dangerous walker use habits, and monitors walking to generate actionable insights for a physician. Data and insights from Smart Step are tracked and given to physicians using accompanying software. The software displays the user’s walking health on a live dashboard and analyzes abnormal patterns, so that a physician can better treat, diagnose and monitor their patients. Team members include Timothy Visos-Ely, former SparkFun intern Humsini Acharya, Maxwell Watrous, Andrew Plum and Thomas Saunders.


The HEREMES, or Hazard Examination & Reconnaissance Messenger for Extended Surveillance, is a child scout rover (CSR) that will deploy, take images and videos of the surrounding terrain, determine a viable path to a location of interest (LOI), and upon arrival to the LOI, will send the viable path to the mother rover to help in search-and-recovery situations. This project was sponsored by NASA JPL, and team members include Marcos Mejia, Colin Chen, Quinter Nyland, Katelyn Griego, Brindan Adhikari, Chase Pellazar, Ashley Montalvo, Brandon Santori, Alexander Sandoval, Alexis Sotomayor, Junzhe He and Michely Tendari.

Fraud Detection

Fraud Detection uses machine and deep learning to catch and mitigate credit card fraud before damages occur. Utilizing TensorFlow, Jupyter and other technologies allowed for great accuracy in their fraud detection algorithms. This project was sponsored by Visa, Inc., and team members include Jacob Hallberg, Ryan Murphy, Woosung Jang, Yangkuang Du and Yifan Li.


SACS, or Smart Agricultural Control System, was developed to help bring clean water to arid parts of the world to help increase crop growth in areas that have previously been unable to support sustained growth. Team members include Ruben Vargas, Dhruva Kholey, Heinz Boehmer, Gabriel Anhalzer and Bennett Miller.

HAZMAT Cut & Seal Tool

The HAZMAT Cut and Seal Tool is a prototype tool for a technician to cut and seal ⅛-inch diameter stainless steel tubing. The tool fits within a 2-inch diameter constraint, and has a 2-foot standoff distance. With reliability as the top priority, this tool houses a high force linear actuator within an aluminum frame. This project was sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory, and team members include Yousef AlWeqayyan, Yousef AlQattan, Alexis Nibbelink, Eric Strom, Mohamad Azman and Ryan Goh.

Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough time to interview each team at this year's expo, but there's always next year and we can't wait to go back! Learn more about all the winners here, check out the album below for even more photos of the expo and be sure to check it out next year if you are in the area – you won't be let down!

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Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 2

via Raspberry Pi

Here’s part two of Lucy Hattersley’s wonderful retro games console tutorial. Part 1 of the tutorial lives here, for those of you who missed it.

Choose the network locale

RetroPie boots into EmulationStation, which is your starter interface. It’s currently displaying just the one option, RetroPie, which is used to set up the emulation options. As you add games to RetroPie, other systems will appear in EmulationStation.

With RetroPie selected, press the A button on the gamepad to open the configuration window. Use the D-pad to move down the options and select WiFi. You will see a warning message: ‘You don’t currently have your WiFi country set…’. Press the D-pad left to choose Yes, and press A. The interface will open raspi-config. At this point, it’s handy to switch to the keyboard and use that instead.

Choose 4 Localisation Options, and press the right arrow key on the keyboard to highlight Select, then press Enter.

Now choose 4 Change Wi-fi Country and pick your country from the list. We used GB Britain (UK). Highlight OK and press Enter to select it.

Now move right twice to choose Finish and press Enter. This will reboot the system.

Connect to wireless LAN

If you have a Raspberry Pi with an Ethernet connection, you can use an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router/modem or network.

More likely, you’ll connect the Raspberry Pi to a wireless LAN network so you can access it when it’s beneath your television.

Head back into RetroPie from EmulationStation and down to the WiFi setting; choose Connect to WiFi network.

The window will display a list of nearby wireless LAN networks. Choose your network and use the keyboard to enter the wireless LAN password. Press Enter when you’re done. Choose the Exit option to return to the RetroPie interface.

Configuration tools

Now choose RetroPie Setup and then Configuration Tools. Here, in the Choose an option window, you’ll find a range of useful tools. As we’re using a USB gamepad, we don’t need the Bluetooth settings, but it’s worth noting they’re here.

We want to turn on Samba so we can share files from our computer directly to RetroPie. Choose Samba and Install RetroPie Samba shares, then select OK.

Now choose Cancel to back up to the Choose an option window, and then Back to return to the RetroPie-Setup script.

Run the setup script

Choose Update RetroPie-Setup script and press Enter. After the script has updated, press Enter again and you’ll be back at the Notice: window. Press Enter and choose Basic install; press Enter, choose Yes, and press Enter again to begin the setup and run the configuration script.

When the script has finished, choose Perform a reboot and Yes.

Turn on Samba in Windows

We’re going to use Samba to copy a ROM file (a video game image) from our computer to RetroPie.

Samba used to be installed by default in Windows, but it has recently become an optional installation. In Windows 10, click on the Search bar and type ‘Control Panel’. Click on Control Panel in the search results.

Now click Programs and Turn Windows features on or off. Scroll down to find SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support and click the + expand icon to reveal its options. Place a check in the box marked SMB 1.0/CIFS Client. Click OK. This will enable Samba client support on your Windows 10 PC so it can access the Raspberry Pi.

We’ve got more information on how Samba works on The MagPi’s website.

Get the game

On your Windows PC or Mac, open a web browser, and visit the Blade Buster website. This is a homebrew video game designed by High Level Challenge for old NES systems. The developer’s website is in Japanese — just click BLADE BUSTER Download to save the ROM file to your Downloads folder.

Open a File Explorer (or Finder) window and locate the file in your Downloads folder. Don’t unzip the file.

Click on Network and you’ll see a RETROPIE share. Open it and locate the roms folder. Double-click roms and you’ll see folders for many classic systems. Drag and drop the file and place it inside the nes folder.

Play the game

Press the Start button on your gamepad to bring up the Main Menu. Choose Quit and Restart EmulationStation. You’ll now see a Nintendo Entertainment System option with 1 Games Available below it. Click it and you’ll see BB_20120301 — this is Blade Buster. Press A to start the game. Have fun shooting aliens. Press Start and Analog (or whatever you’ve set as your hotkey) together when you’re finished; this will take you back to the game selection in EmulationStation.

If you’ve been setting up RetroPie on your monitor, now is the time to move it across to your main television. The RetroPie console will boot automatically and connect to the network, and then you can move ROM files over to it from your PC or Mac. At this point, you may notice black borders around the screen; if so, see the Fix the borders tip.

Enjoy your gaming system!

More top tips from Lucy

Change the resolution

Some games were designed for a much lower resolution, and scaling them up can look blocky on modern televisions. If you’d prefer to alter the resolution, choose ‘RetroPie setup’. Open raspi-config, Advanced Options, and Resolution. Here you’ll find a range of other resolution options to choose from.

Fix the borders

These are caused by overscan. Choose RetroPie from EmulationStation and raspi-config. Now select Advanced Options > Overscan and select No on the ‘Would you like to enable compensation for displays with overscan?’ window. Choose OK and then Finish. Choose Yes on the Reboot Now window. When the system has rebooted, you will see the borders are gone.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

This article is from the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, which is out today and can be purchased online, at the Raspberry Pi Store, or from many newsagents and bookshops, such as WHSmith and Barnes & Noble.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

You can also download issue 81 for free from The MagPi website, where you’ll also find information on subscription options, and the complete MagPi catalogue, including Essentials guides and books, all available to download for free.

the MagPi subscription

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