Author Archives: Alex Bate

The Pi Hut’s 3D Xmas Tree pre-order

via Raspberry Pi

We appreciate it’s only October, but hear us out. The Pi Hut’s 3D Xmas Tree is only available for pre-order until the 15th, and we’d hate for you to find out about it too late. So please share in a few minutes of premature Christmas cheer as we introduce you to this gorgeous kit.

The Pi Hut's 3D Xmas Tree for Raspberry Pi

Oooo…aaaaahhhh…

Super early Christmas prep

Designed by Pi Towers alumna Rachel Rayns, the 3D Xmas Tree kit is a 25-LED add-on board for the Raspberry Pi, on sale as a pre-soldered and as a ‘solder yourself’ version. You can control each LED independently via the GPIO pins, allowing you to create some wonderful, twinkly displays this coming holiday season.

The Pi Hut's 3D Xmas Tree for Raspberry Pi

The tree works with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi, including the Zero and Zero W.

You may remember the kit from last Christmas, when The Pi Hut teasingly hinted at its existence. We’ve been itching to get our hands on one for months now, and last week we finally received our own to build and play with.

3D Xmas Tree

So I took the time to record my entire build process for you…only to discover that I had managed to do most of the soldering out of frame. I blame Ben Nuttall for this, as we all rightly should, and offer instead this short GIF of me proudly showing off my finished piece.

The Pi Hut’s website has complete soldering instructions for the tree, as well as example code to get you started. Thus, even the most novice of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts and digital makers should be able to put this kit together and get it twinkling for Christmas.

If you don’t own helping hands for soldering, you’re missing out on, well, a helping hand when soldering.

If you need any help with soldering, check out our video resource. And once you’ve mastered this skill, how about upgrading your tree to twinkle in time with your favourite Christmas song? Or getting two or three, and having them flash in a beautiful synchronised multi-tree display?

Get your own 3D Xmas Tree

As mentioned above, you can pre-order the kit until Sunday 15 October. Once this deadline passes, that’s it — the boat will have sailed and you’ll be left stranded at the dock, waving goodbye to the missed opportunity.

The Pi Hut's 3D Xmas Tree for Raspberry Pi

Don’t be this kid.

With 2730 trees already ordered, you know this kit is going to be in the Christmas stocking of many a maker on 25 December.

And another thing

Shhh…while you’re there, The Pi Hut still has a few Google AIY Projects voice kits available for pre-order…but you didn’t hear that from me. Quick!

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Spooktacular Halloween Haunted Portrait

via Raspberry Pi

October has come at last, and with it, the joy of Halloween is now upon us. So while I spend the next 30 days quoting Hocus Pocus at every opportunity, here’s Adafruit’s latest spooky build … the spooktacular Haunted Portrait.

Adafruit Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait

Haunted Portraits

If you’ve visited a haunted house such as Disney’s Haunted Mansion, or walked the halls of Hogwarts at Universal Studios, you will have seen a ‘moving portrait’. Whether it’s the classic ‘did that painting just blink?’ approach, or occupants moving in and out of frame, they’re an effective piece of spooky decoration – and now you can make your own!

Adafruit’s AdaBox

John Park, maker extraordinaire, recently posted a live make video where he used the contents of the Raspberry Pi-themed AdaBox 005 to create a blinking portrait.

AdaBox 005 Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait

The Adabox is Adafruit’s own maker subscription service where plucky makers receive a mystery parcel containing exciting tech and inspirational builds. Their more recent delivery, the AdaBox 005, contains a Raspberry Pi Zero, their own Joy Bonnet, a case, and peripherals, including Pimoroni’s no-solder Hammer Headers.

AdaBox 005 Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait

While you can purchase the AdaBoxes as one-off buys, subscribers get extra goodies. With AdaBox 005, they received bonus content including Raspberry Pi swag in the form of stickers, and a copy of The MagPi Magazine.

AdaBox 005 Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait

The contents of AdaBox 005 allows makers to build their own Raspberry Pi Zero tiny gaming machine. But the ever-working minds of the Adafruit team didn’t want to settle there, so they decided to create more tutorials based on the box’s contents, such as John Park’s Haunted Portrait.

Bringing a portrait to life

Alongside the AdaBox 005 content, all of which can be purchased from Adafruit directly, you’ll need a flat-screen monitor and a fancy frame. The former could be an old TV or computer screen while the latter, unless you happen to have an ornate frame that perfectly fits your monitor, can be made from cardboard, CNC-cut wood or gold-painted macaroni and tape … probably.

Adafruit Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait

You’ll need to attach headers to your Raspberry Pi Zero. For those of you who fear the soldering iron, the Hammer Headers can be hammered into place without the need for melty hot metal. If you’d like to give soldering a go, you can follow Laura’s Getting Started With Soldering tutorial video.

Adafruit Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait Hammer Header

In his tutorial, John goes on to explain how to set up the Joy Bonnet (if you wish to use it as an added controller), set your Raspberry Pi to display in portrait mode, and manipulate an image in Photoshop or GIMP to create the blinking effect.

Adafruit Raspberry Pi Haunted Portrait

Blinking eyes are just the start of the possibilities for this project. This is your moment to show off your image manipulation skills! Why not have the entire head flash to show the skull within? Or have an ethereal image appear in the background of an otherwise unexceptional painting of a bowl of fruit?

In the final stages of the tutorial, John explains how to set an image slideshow running on the Pi, and how to complete the look with the aforementioned ornate frame. He also goes into detail about the importance of using a matte effect screen or transparent gels to give a more realistic ‘painted’ feel.

You’ll find everything you need to make your own haunted portrait here, including a link to John’s entire live stream.

Get spooky!

We’re going to make this for Pi Towers. In fact, I’m wondering whether I could create an entire gallery of portraits specifically for our reception area and see how long it takes people to notice …

… though I possibly shouldn’t have given my idea away on this rather public blog post.

If you make the Haunted Portrait, or any other Halloween-themed Pi build, make sure you share it with us via social media, or in the comments below.

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Adafruit’s read-only Raspberry Pi

via Raspberry Pi

For passive projects such as point-of-sale displays, video loopers, and your upcoming Halloween builds, Adafruit have come up with a read-only solution for powering down your Raspberry Pi without endangering your SD card.

Adafruit read-only raspberry pi

Pulling the plug

At home, at a coding club, or at a Jam, you rarely need to pull the plug on your Raspberry Pi without going through the correct shutdown procedure. To ensure a long life for your SD card and its contents, you should always turn off you Pi by selecting the shutdown option from the menu. This way the Pi saves any temporary files to the card before relinquishing power.

Dramatic reconstruction

By pulling the plug while your OS is still running, you might corrupt these files, which could result in the Pi failing to boot up again. The only fix? Wipe the SD card clean and start over, waving goodbye to all files you didn’t back up.

Passive projects

But what if it’s not as easy as selecting shutdown, because your Raspberry Pi is embedded deep inside the belly of a project? Maybe you’ve hot-glued your Zero W into a pumpkin which is now screwed to the roof of your porch, or your store has a bank of Pi-powered monitors playing ads and the power is set to shut off every evening. Without the ability to shut down your Pi via the menu, you risk the SD card’s contents every time you power down your project.

Read-only

Just in time of the plethora of Halloween projects we’re looking forward to this month, the clever folk at Adafruit have designed a solution for this issue. They’ve shared a script which forces the Raspberry Pi to run in read-only mode, so that powering it down via a plug pull will not corrupt the SD card.

But how?

The script makes the Pi save temporary files to the RAM instead of the SD card. Of course, this means that no files or new software can be written to the card. However, if that’s not necessary for your Pi project, you might be happy to make the trade-off. Note that you can only use Adafruit’s script on Raspbian Lite.

Find more about the read-only Raspberry Pi solution, including the script and optional GPIO-halt utility, on the Adafruit Learn page. And be aware that making your Pi read-only is irreversible, so be sure to back up the contents of your SD card before you implement the script.

Halloween!

It’s October, and we’re now allowed to get excited about Halloween and all of the wonderful projects you plan on making for the big night.

Adafruit read-only raspberry pi

Adafruit’s animated snake eyes

We’ll be covering some of our favourite spooky build on social media throughout the month — make sure to share yours with us, either in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or G+.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on a Game Boy?!

via Raspberry Pi

My evenings spent watching the Polygon Awful Squad play PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for hours on end have made me mildly obsessed with the record-breaking Steam game.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Raspberry Pi

So when Michael Darby’s latest PUBG-inspired Game Boy build appeared in my notifications last week, I squealed with excitement and quickly sent the link to my team…while drinking a cocktail by a pool in Turkey ☀️🍹

PUBG ON A GAMEBOY

https://314reactor.com/ https://www.hackster.io/314reactor https://twitter.com/the_mikey_d

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

For those unfamiliar with the game: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG for short, is a Battle-Royale-style multiplayer online video game in which individuals or teams fight to the death on an island map. As players collect weapons, ammo, and transport, their ‘safe zone’ shrinks, forcing a final face-off until only one character remains.

The game has been an astounding success on Steam, the digital distribution platform which brings PUBG to the masses. It records daily player counts of over a million!

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Raspberry Pi

Yeah, I’d say one or two people seem to enjoy it!

PUBG on a Game Boy?!

As it’s a fairly complex game, let’s get this out of the way right now: no, Michael is not running the entire game on a Nintendo Game Boy. That would be magic silly impossible. Instead, he’s streaming the game from his home PC to a Raspberry Pi Zero W fitted within the hacked handheld console.

Michael removed the excess plastic inside an old Game Boy Color shell to make space for a Zero W, LiPo battery, and TFT screen. He then soldered the necessary buttons to GPIO pins, and wrote a Python script to control them.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Raspberry Pi

The maker battleground

The full script can be found here, along with a more detailed tutorial for the build.

In order to stream PUBG to the Zero W, Michael uses the open-source NVIDIA steaming service Moonlight. He set his PC’s screen resolution to 800×600 and its frame rate to 30, so that streaming the game to the TFT screen works perfectly, albeit with no sound.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Raspberry Pi

The end result is a rather impressive build that has confused YouTube commenters since he uploaded footage for it last week. The video has more than 60000 views to date, so it appears we’re not the only ones impressed with Michael’s make.

314reactor

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may recognise Michael’s name from his recent Nerf blaster mod. And fans of Raspberry Pi may also have seen his Pi-powered Windows 98 wristwatch earlier in the year. He blogs at 314reactor, where you can read more about his digital making projects.

Windows 98 Wrist watch Raspberry Pi PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Player Two has entered the game

Now it’s your turn. Have you used a Raspberry Pi to create a gaming system? I’m not just talking arcades and RetroPie here. We want to see everything, from Pi-powered board games to tech on the football field.

Share your builds in the comments below and while you’re at it, what game would you like to stream to a handheld device?

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Laser Cookies: a YouTube collaboration

via Raspberry Pi

Lasers! Cookies! Raspberry Pi! We’re buzzing with excitement about sharing our latest YouTube video with you, which comes directly from the kitchen of maker Estefannie Explains It All!

Laser-guarded cookies feat. Estefannie Explains It All

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2017-09-18.

Estefannie Explains It All + Raspberry Pi

When Estefannie visited Pi Towers earlier this year, we introduced her to the Raspberry Pi Digital Curriculum and the free resources on our website. We’d already chatted to her via email about the idea of creating a collab video for the Raspberry Pi channel. Once she’d met members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation team and listened to them wax lyrical about the work we do here, she was even more keen to collaborate with us.

Estefannie on Twitter

Ahhhh!!! I still can’t believe I got to hang out and make stuff at the @Raspberry_Pi towers!! Thank you thank you!!

Estefannie returned to the US filled with inspiration for a video for our channel, and we’re so pleased with how awesome her final result is. The video is a super addition to our Raspberry Pi YouTube channel, it shows what our resources can help you achieve, and it’s great fun. You might also have noticed that the project fits in perfectly with this season’s Pioneers challenge. A win all around!

So yeah, we’re really chuffed about this video, and we hope you all like it too!

Estefannie’s Laser Cookies guide

For those of you wanting to try your hand at building your own Cookie Jar Laser Surveillance Security System, Estefannie has provided a complete guide to talk you through it. Here she goes:

First off, you’ll need:

  • 10 lasers
  • 10 photoresistors
  • 10 capacitors
  • 1 Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • 1 buzzer
  • 1 Raspberry Pi Camera Module
  • 12 ft PVC pipes + 4 corners
  • 1 acrylic panel
  • 1 battery pack
  • 8 zip ties
  • tons of cookies

I used the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Laser trip wire and the Tweeting Babbage resources to get one laser working and to set up the camera and Twitter API. This took me less than an hour, and it was easy, breezy, beautiful, Raspberry Pi.

I soldered ten lasers in parallel and connected ten photoresistors to their own GPIO pins. I didn’t wire them up in series because of sensitivity reasons and to make debugging easier.

Building the frame took a few tries: I actually started with a wood frame, then tried a clear case, and finally realized the best and cleaner solution would be pipes. All the wires go inside the pipes and come out in a small window on the top to wire up to the Zero W.

Using pipes also made the build cheaper, since they were about $3 for 12 ft. Wiring inside the pipes was tricky, and to finish the circuit, I soldered some of the wires after they were already in the pipes.

I tried glueing the lasers to the frame, but the lasers melted the glue and became decalibrated. Next I tried tape, and then I found picture mounting putty. The putty worked perfectly — it was easy to mold a putty base for the lasers and to calibrate and re-calibrate them if needed. Moreover, the lasers stayed in place no matter how hot they got.

Estefannie Explains It All Raspberry Pi Cookie Jar

Although the lasers were not very strong, I still strained my eyes after long hours of calibrating — hence the sunglasses! Working indoors with lasers, sunglasses, and code was weird. But now I can say I’ve done that…in my kitchen.

Using all the knowledge I have shared, this project should take a couple of hours. The code you need lives on my GitHub!

Estefannie Explains It All Raspberry Pi Cookie Jar

“The cookie recipe is my grandma’s, and I am not allowed to share it.”

Estefannie on YouTube

Estefannie made this video for us as a gift, and we’re so grateful for the time and effort she put into it! If you enjoyed it and would like to also show your gratitude, subscribe to her channel on YouTube and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. And if you make something similar, or build anything with our free resources, make sure to share it with us in the comments below or via our social media channels.

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Pioneers: only you can save us

via Raspberry Pi

Pioneers, we just received this message through our network — have you seen it?

Can you see me? Only YOU can save us!

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2017-09-14.

Only you can save us

We have no choice – we must help her! If things are as bad as she says they are, our only hope of survival is to work together.

We know you have the skills and imagination required to make something. We’ve seen that in previous Pioneers challenges. That’s why we’re coming directly to you with this: we know you won’t let her down.

What you need to do

We’ve watched back through the recording and pulled out as much information as we can:

  • To save us, you have ten weeks to create something using tech. This means you need to be done on 1 December, or it will be too late!
  • The build you will create needs to help her in the treacherous situation she’s in. What you decide to make is completely up to you.
  • Her call is for those of you aged between 11 and 16 who are based in the UK or Republic of Ireland. You need to work in groups of up to five, and you need to find someone aged 18 or over to act as a mentor and support your project.
  • Any tech will do. We work for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, but this doesn’t mean you need to use a Raspberry Pi. Use anything at all — from microcontrollers to repurposed devices such as laptops and cameras.

To keep in contact with you, it looks like she’s created a form for you to fill in and share your team name and details with her. In return she will trade some items with you — things that will help inspire you in your mission. We’ve managed to find the link to the form: you can fill it in here.

Only you can save us - Raspberry Pi Pioneers

In order to help her (and any others who might still be out there!) to recreate your project, you need to make sure you record your working process. Take photos and footage to document how you build your make, and put together a video to send to her when you’re done making.

If you manage to access social media, you could also share your progress as you go along! Make sure to use #MakeYourIdeas, so that other survivors can see your work.

We’ve assembled some more information on the Pioneers website to create a port of call for you. Check it out, and let us know if you have any questions. We will do whatever we can to help you protect the world.

Good luck, everybody! It’s up to you now.

Only you can save us.

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