Author Archives: Alex Bate

Laser-engraved Raspberry Pi hologram

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Inspired by an old episode of Pimoroni’s Bilge Tank, and with easy access to the laser cutter at the Raspberry Pi Foundation office, I thought it would be fun to create a light-up multi-layered hologram using a Raspberry Pi and the Pimoroni Unicorn pHAT.

Raspberry Pi layered light

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Break it to make it

First, I broke down the Raspberry Pi logo into three separate images — the black outline, the green leaves, and the red berry.

RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM

Fun fact: did you know that Pimoroni’s Paul Beech designed this logo as part of the ‘design us a logo’ contest we ran all the way back in August 2011?

Once I had the three separate files, I laser-engraved them onto 4cm-wide pieces of 3mm-thick clear acrylic. As there are four lines of LEDs on the Unicorn pHAT, I cut the fourth piece to illuminate the background.

RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM

To keep the engraved acrylic pieces together, I cut out a pair of acrylic brackets (see above) with four 3mm indentations. Then, after a bit of fiddling with the Unicorn pHAT library, I was able to light the pHAT’s rows of LEDs in white, red, green, and white.

RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM

The final result looks pretty spectacular, especially in the dark, and you can build on this basic idea to create fun animations — especially if you use a HAT with more rows of LEDs.

Iterations

This is just a prototype. I plan on building a sturdier frame for the pieces that securely fits a Raspberry Pi Zero W and lets users replace layers easily. As with many projects, I’m sure this will grow and grow as each interaction inspires a new add-on.

How would you build upon this basic principle?

Oh…

…we also laser-engraved this Cadbury’s Creme Egg.

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Win a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and signed case this Pi Day 2019

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Happy Pi Day everyone

What is Pi Day, we hear you ask? It’s the day where countries who display their date as month/day/year celebrate the first three digits of today displaying Pi, or 3.14.2019 to be exact.

In celebration of Pi Day, we’re running a Raspberry Pi 3B+ live stream on YouTube. Hours upon hours of our favourite 3B+ in all it’s glorious wonderment.

PI DAY 2019

Celebrate Pi Day with us by watching this Pi

At some point today, we’re going to add a unique hashtag to that live stream, and anyone who uses said hashtag across Instagram and/or Twitter* before midnight tonight (GMT) will be entered into a draw to win a Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+ and an official case, the latter of which will be signed by Eben Upton himself.

Raspberry Pi - PI Day 2019

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the most pointless, yet wonderful, live stream to ever reach the shores of YouTube!

*For those of you who don’t have a Twitter or Instagram account, you can also comment below with the hashtag when you see it.

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FREE NOODS with FOODBEAST and Nissin

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Push a button and share a hashtag to get free ramen, games, or swag with the Dream Machine, a Raspberry Pi–driven vending machine built by FOODBEAST and Nissin.

foodbeast.com on Twitter

This Instagram-powered vending machine gives away FREE @OrigCupNoodles and VIDEO GAMES 🍜🎮!! Where should it travel next? #ad https://t.co/W0YyWOCFVv

Raspberry Pi and marketing

Digital viral marketing campaigns are super popular right now, thanks to the low cost of the technology necessary to build bespoke projects for them. From story-telling phoneboxes to beer-pouring bicycles, we see more and more examples of such projects appear in our inbox every week.

The latest campaign we like is the Dream Machine, a retrofit vending machine that dispenses ramen noodles, video games, and swag in exchange for the use of an Instagram hashtag.

Free ramen from FOODBEAST and Nissin

With Dream Machines in Torrance, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, I’ve yet to convince Liz that it’s worth the time and money for me to fly out and do some field research. But, as those who have interacted with a Dream Machine know, the premise is pretty simple.

The Dream Machine vending machine from FOODBEAST and NissanPress the big yellow button on the front of the vending machine, and it will tell you a unique hashtag to use for posting a selfie with the Dream Machine on Instagram. The machine’s internet-enabled Raspberry Pi brain then uses its magic noodle powers (or, more likely, custom software) to detect the hashtag and pop out a tasty treat, video game, or gift card as a reward.

The Dream Machine vending machine from FOODBEAST and Nissan

The Dream Machines appeared at the start of March, and online sources suggest they’ll stay in their current locations throughout the month. I’d like to take this moment to suggest their next locations: Cambridge, UK and Oakland, California. Please and thank you!

Hold your horses…

We know this is a marketing ploy. We know its intention is to get Joe Public to spread the brand across social media. We know it’s all about money. We know. But still, it’s cool, harmless, and delicious. So let’s not have another robocall debate, OK 😂

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Instaframe: image recognition meets Instagram

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Bringing the digital photo frame into an even more modern age than the modern age it already resides in, Sean Tracey uses image recognition and social media to update his mother on the day-to-day happenings of her grandkids.

Sharing social media content

“Like every grandmother, my mum dotes on her grandchildren (the daughter and son of my sister, Grace and Freddie),” Sean explains in his tutorial for the project, “but they don’t live nearby, so she doesn’t get to see them as much as she might like.”

Sean tells of his mother’s lack of interest in social media platforms (they’re too complex), and of the anxiety he feels whenever she picks up his phone to catch up on the latest images of Grace and Freddie.

So I thought: “I know! Why don’t I make my mum a picture frame that filters my Instagram feed to show only pictures of my niece and nephew!”

Genius!

Image recognition and Instagram

Sean’s Instaframe project uses a Watson Visual Recognition model to recognise photos of his niece and nephew posted to his Instagram account, all via a Chrome extension. Then, via a series of smaller functions, these images are saved to a folder and displayed on a screen connected to a Raspberry Pi 3B+.

Sean has written up a full rundown of the build process on his website.

Photos and Pi

Do you like photos and Raspberry Pi? Then check out these other photo-focused Pi projects that we’re sure you’ll love (because they’re awesome) and will want to make yourself (because they’re awesome).

FlipFrame

FlipFrame, the rotating picture frame, rotates according to the orientation of the image on display.

FlipFrame

Upstagram

This tiny homage to the house from Up! takes bird’s-eye view photographs of Paris and uploads them to Instagram as it goes.

Pi-powered DSLR shutter

Adrian Bevan hacked his Raspberry Pi to act as a motion-activated shutter remote for his digital SLR — aka NatureBytes on steroids.

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Make our light-up Raspberry Pi box for #MonthOfMaking

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On Tuesday, Rob at The MagPi magazine tweeted this:

The MagPi magazine on Twitter

Hey @Raspberry_Pi, wanna join us in making some stuff for #MonthOfMaking? Rob has some cosplay to do this week and other plans for the rest of the month…

And we said YES!

At this point in time, Alex was hiding in the Raspberry Pi Foundation makerspace, creating thingamabobs and whatsit with the laser cutter, and an idea came into her mind.

(Is it weird that I’m referring to myself in the third person? It is. I’ll stop.)

The idea started with this:

Raspberry Pi laser cut box #MonthOfMaking

Oddly satisfying, right?

And ended like this:

Raspberry Pi laser cut box #MonthOfMaking

Raspberry Crepe Cake?

With a little bit of this in between:

Raspberry Pi laser cut box #MonthOfMaking

For hiding treasures

And thanks to some cheap battery-powered lights and magnets from Poundland…

#MonthOfMaking

Whosits and whatsits galore

…it lights up too!

Raspberry Pi laser cut box #MonthOfMaking

Photograph taken inside my rucksack for ambience

Make your own

So, do you want to make your own? Of course you do.

Ideally, you need access to a laser cutter, but if you don’t have one, you can just cut out the layers from some thick cardboard using a craft knife.

You’ll need these four files:

Raspberry Pi laser cut box Raspberry Pi laser cut box Raspberry Pi laser cut box Raspberry Pi laser cut box

These are slightly different to the ones I used, so the acrylic should press-fit without the need for the backing frame you see in the image above.

Feel free to resize the files and change the box design to better fit whatever you want to put inside, but remember: making these boxes to sell, or diverging from our brand guidelines when using the Raspberry Pi logo, is against our trademark rules.

#MonthOfMaking

Join Raspberry Pi and The MagPi magazine in the #MonthOfMaking by using the hashtag in your social posts sharing your makes online. And, just as you can see from my light-up box, your make doesn’t have to use any digital technology. Bake a cake, stitch loop art, restore a car — whatever you plan on making this month, make sure we see your creation! Have fun!

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Handheld text-based adventure gaming with Quest Smith

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Play text-based adventure games that print out in real time, with Quest Smith: the Raspberry Pi Zero W–driven handheld gaming device from Bekir Dağ.

Quest Smith

Quest Smith is a raspberry pi zero driven thermal printing text based game. In each level, it gives you options to choose so every game is different than the other one.

Text-based adventure games

Today I learned:

Around 1975, Will Crowther, a programmer and an amateur caver, wrote the first text adventure game, Adventure (originally called ADVENT because a filename could only be six characters long in the operating system he was using, and later named Colossal Cave Adventure).

But I’m sure you already knew that.

According to the internet, text-based games in their most simple form are video games that use text instead of graphics to let players progress. You read the description of your surroundings and choose from a set of options, or you type in your next step and hope the game understands what you’re talking about.

Colossal Cave Adventure

We have a conversation going in our team right now about whether the term ‘text-based games’ is solely used for video games of this nature, or whether choose your own adventure books also fall into the category of text-based games. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Anyway…

Quest Smith!

After encountering a similar handheld gaming device in a Berlin games museum, Bekir Dağ decided to build his own using a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

Quest Smith text-based game

For Quest Smith’s body, Bekir Dağ designed a 3D print, and he provides the STL files for free on Thingiverse. And for the inner workings?

A Raspberry Pi Zero W fits snugly into the body alongside a thermal printer, a battery, and various tactile buttons. The battery is powered by a solar panel mounted on the outer shell, and all components are connected to a TP4056 board that allows the battery to power the Pi.

Quest Smith text-based game

The Quest Smith software is still somewhat of a work-in-progress. While users can build Quest Smith today and start playing, Bekir has put out the call for the community to submit their own parts of the story.

Each level requires two versions of the story, which makes the possiblities grow exponentially. So it will be very difficult for me to finish a single story by myself. For the player to reach level 9, we will need to have 1023 story parts to be written. If you can help me with that, it would be amazing!

To see more of Quest Smith’s build process, find the files to make your own device, and instructions on how to contribute toward the story, visit the Quest Smith Hackster.io page.

More text-based adventuring with Python

If you’re interested in writing your own text-based adventure game in Python, we’ve got a free online course available in which you can learn about object-oriented programming while creating a text-based game. And for a briefer intro, check out Wireframe magazine issue 6, where game developer Andrew Gillett explains how to make a simple Python text adventure.

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