Author Archives: Alex Bate

The NSFW Roomba that screams when it bumps into stuff

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Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife — today’s project is NSF(some)W, or for your kids. LOTS OF SWEARS. You have been warned. We’re not embedding the video here so you can decide for yourself whether or not to watch it — click on the image below to watch a sweary robot on YouTube.

Sweary Roomba

Michael Reeves is best known for such… educational Raspberry Pi projects as:

He’s back, this time with yet another NSFW (depending on your W) project that triggers the sensors in a Roomba smart vacuum to scream in pain whenever it bumps into an object.

Because why not?

How it’s made

We have no clue. So very done with fans asking for the project to be made — “I hate every single one of you!” — Michael refuses to say how he did it. But we know this much is true: the build uses optical sensors, relays, a radio receiver, and a Raspberry Pi. How do I know this? Because he showed us:

Roomba innards

But as for the rest? We leave it up to you, our plucky community of tinkerers, to figure it out. Share your guesses in the comments.

More Michael Reeves

Michael is one of our Pi Towers guilty pleasures and if, like us, you want to watch more of his antics, you should subscribe to him on YouTube.

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Play musical chairs with Marvel’s Avengers

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You read that title correctly.

I played musical chairs against the Avengers in AR

Planning on teaching a 12 week class on mixed reality development starting in June. Apply if interested – http://bit.ly/3016EdH

Playing with the Avengers

Abhishek Singh recently shared his latest Unity creation on Reddit. And when Simon, Righteous Keeper of the Swag at Pi Towers, shared it with us on Slack because it uses a Raspberry Pi, we all went a little doolally.

As Abhishek explains in the video, the game uses a Raspberry Pi to control sensors and lights, bridging the gap between augmented reality and the physical world.

“The physical world communicates with the virtual world through these buttons. So, when I sit down on a physical chair, and press down on it, the virtual characters know that this chair is occupied,” he explains, highlighting that the chairs’ sensors are attached to a Raspberry Pi. To save the physical-world player from accidentally sitting on Thanos’s lap, LEDs, also attached to the Pi, turn on when a chair is occupied in the virtual world.

Turning the losing Avenger to dust? Priceless 👌

Why do you recognise Abhishek Singh?

You might be thinking, “Where do I recognise Abhishek Singh from?” I was asking myself this for a solid hour — until I remembered Peeqo, his robot that only communicates through GIF reactions. And Instagif NextStep, his instant camera that prints GIFs!

First GIFs, and now musical chairs with the Avengers? Abhishek, it’s as if you’ve understood the very soul of the folks who work at Pi Towers, and for that, well…

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Raspberry Pi Press: what’s on our newsstand?

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Raspberry Pi Press, the publishing branch of Raspberry Pi Trading, produces a great many magazines and books every month. And in keeping with our mission to make computing and digital making as accessible as possible to everyone across the globe, we make the vast majority of our publications available as free PDFs from the day we release new print versions.

We recently welcomed Custom PC to the Press family and we’ve just published the new-look Custom PC 190. So this is a perfect time to showcase the full catalogue of Raspberry Pi Press publications, to help you get the most out of what we have on offer.

The MagPi magazine

The MagPi was originally created by a group of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts from the Raspberry Pi forum who wanted to make a magazine that the whole community could enjoy. Packed full of Pi-based projects and tutorials, and Pi-themed news and reviews, The MagPi now sits proudly upon the shelves of Raspberry Pi Press as the official Raspberry Pi magazine.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

Visit The MagPi magazine online, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

HackSpace magazine

The maker movement is growing and growing as ever more people take to sheds and makerspaces to hone their skills in woodworking, blacksmithing, crafting, and other creative techniques. HackSpace magazine brings together the incredible builds of makers across the world with how-to guides, tips and advice — and some utterly gorgeous photography.

Visit the HackSpace magazine website, and follow their Twitter account and Instagram account.

Wireframe magazine

“Lifting the lid on video games”, Wireframe is a gaming magazine with a difference. Released bi-weekly, Wireframe reveals to readers the inner workings of the video game industry. Have you ever wanted to create your own video game? Wireframe also walks you through how you can do it, in their ‘The Toolbox’ section, which features tutorials from some of the best devs in the business.

Follow Wireframe magazine on Twitter, and learn more on their website.

Hello World magazine

Hello World is our free magazine for educators who teach computing and digital making, and we produce it in association with Computing at Schools and the BCS Academy of Computing. Full of lesson plans and features from teachers in the field, Hello World is a unique resource for everyone looking to bring computing into the classroom, and for anyone interested in computing and digital making education.

Hello World issue 8

Educators in the UK can subscribe to have Hello World delivered for free to their door; if you’re based somewhere else, you can download the magazine for free from the day of publication, or purchase it via the Raspberry Pi Press online store. Follow Hello World on Twitter and visit the website for more.

Custom PC magazine

New to Raspberry Pi Press, Custom PC is the UK’s best-selling magazine for PC hardware, overclocking, gaming, and modding. With monthly in-depth reviews, special features, and step-by-step guides, Custom PC is the go-to resource for turning your computer up to 11.

Visit the shiny new Custom PC website, and be sure to follow them on Twitter.

Books

Magazines aren’t our only jam: Raspberry Pi Press also publishes a wide variety of books, from introductions to topics like the C programming language and Minecraft on your Pi, to our brand-new Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide and the Code Club Book of Scratch.

An Introduction to C and GUI programming by Simon Long

We also bridge the gap between our publications with one-off book/magazine hybrids, such as HackSpace magazine’s Book of Making and Wearable Tech Projects, and The MagPi’s Raspberry Pi Projects Book series.

Getting your copies

If you’d like to support our educational mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you can subscribe to our magazines, and you can purchase copies of all our publications via the Raspberry Pi Press website, from many high street newsagents, or from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge. And most of our publications are available as free PDFs so you can get your hands on our magazines and books instantly.

Whichever of our publications you choose to read, and however you choose to read them, we’d love to hear what you think of our Raspberry Pi Press offerings, and we hope you enjoy them all.

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Video call with a Raspberry Pi and Google Duo

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Use Google Duo and a Raspberry Pi to build a video doorbell for your home so you can always be there to answer your door, even when you’re not actually there to answer your door.

“Martin Mander builds a good build,” I reply to Liz Upton as she shares this project, Martin’s latest one, with me on Slack. We’re pretty familiar with his work here at Raspberry Pi! Previously, we’ve shared his Google AIY retrofit intercom, upcycled 1970s TV with built-in Raspberry Pi TV HAT, and Batinator. We love the extra step that Martin always takes to ensure the final result of each project is clean-cut and gorgeous-looking, with not even a hint of hot glue in sight.

Raspberry Pi video doorbell

“I’ve always fancied making a video doorbell using a Raspberry Pi,” explains Martin in the introduction to his project on Hackster.io. “[B]ut until recently I couldn’t find an easy way to make video calls that would both work in a project and be straightforward for others to recreate.”

By ‘recently’, he means February of this year, when Google released their Duo video chat application for web browsers.

With a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and a webcam in hand, Martin tested the new release, and lo and behold, he was able to video-call his wife with relative ease via Chromium, Raspbian‘s default browser.

“The webcam I tested had a built-in microphone, and even on the first thrown-together test call, the quality was great. This was a very exciting moment, unlocking the potential of the video doorbell project as well as many other possibilities.”

By accident, Martin also discovered that you can run Google Duo out of the browser, even on the Raspberry Pi. This allowed him to strip away all the unnecessary “Chromium furniture”.

But, if this was to be a video doorbell, how was he to tell the Raspberry Pi to call his mobile phone when the doorbell was activated?

“If Duo were a full app, then command line options might be available, for example to launch the app and immediately call a specific contact. In the absence of this (for now?) I needed to find a way to automatically start a call with a GPIO button press.”

To accomplish this, Martin decided to use PyUserInput, a community-built cross-platform module for Python. “The idea was to set up a script to wait for a button press, then move the mouse to the Contacts textbox, type the name of the contact, press Enter and click Video Call“, Martin explains. And after some trial and error — and calls to the wrong person — his project was a working success.

To complete the build, Martin fitted the doorbell components into a 1980s intercom (see his previous intercom build), wired them through to a base unit inside the home, and then housed it all within an old Sony cassette player.

The final result? A functional video doorbell that is both gorgeous and practical. You can find out more about the project on the Hackster.io project page.

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Possibilities of the Raspberry Pi — from Code Club to Coolest Projects USA

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Yolanda Payne is a veteran teacher and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. After discovering a love for computers at an early age (through RadioShack Tandy), Yolanda pursued degrees in Instructional/Educational Technology at Mississippi State University, the University of Florida, and the University of Georgia. She has worked as an instructional designer, webmaster, and teacher, and she loves integrating technology into her lessons. Here’s Yolanda’s story:

My journey to becoming a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator started when an esteemed mentor, Juan Valentin, tweeted about the awesome experience he had while attending Picademy. Having never heard of Picademy or the Raspberry Pi, I decided to check out the website and instantly became intrigued. I applied for a Raspberry Pi STEM kit from the Civil Air Patrol and received a Raspberry Pi and a ton of accessories. My curiosity would not be satisfied until I learned just what I could do with the box of goodies. So I decided to apply to Picademy and was offered a spot after being waitlisted. Thus my obsession with the possibilities of the Raspberry Pi began.

Code Club allows me to provide a variety of lessons, tailored to my students’ interests and skill levels, without me having to be an expert

While at Picademy, I learned about Code Club. Code Club allows me to provide a variety of lessons tailored to my learners’ interests and skill levels, without me having to be an expert in all of the lessons. My students are 6th- to 8th-graders, and there are novice coders as well as intermediate and advanced coders in the group. We work through lessons together, and I get to be a student with them.

I have found a myriad of resources to support their dreams of making

Although I may not have all the answers to their questions, I’m willing to work to secure whatever supplies they need for their project making. Whether through DonorsChoose, grants, student fundraising, or my personal contributions, I have found a myriad of resources to support their dreams of making.

Raspberry Pi group photo!

My district has invested in a one-to-one computer initiative for students, and I am happy to help students become creators of technology and not just consumers. Having worked with Code Club through the Raspberry Pi Foundation, my students and I realize just how achievable this dream can be. I’m able to enhance my Pi skills by teaching a summer hacking camp at our local university, and next year, we have goals to host a Pi Jam! Thankfully, my principal is very supportive of our endeavours.

Students at Coolest Projects USA 2018

This year, a few of my students and my son were able to participate in Coolest Projects USA 2018 to show off their projects, including a home surveillance camera, a RetroPie arcade game, a Smart Mirror, and a photo booth and dash cam. They dedicated a lot of time and effort to bring these projects to life, often on their own and beyond the hours of our Code Club. This adventure has inspired them, and they are already recruiting other students to join them next year! The possibilities of the Raspberry Pi constantly rejuvenates my curiosity and enhances the creativity that I get to bring to my teaching — both inside and outside the classroom.

Learn more

Learn more about the free programmes and resources Yolanda has used on her computer science education journey, such as Picademy, Code Club, and Coolest Projects, by visiting the Education section of our website.

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Raspberry Pi captures a Soyuz in space!

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So this happened. And we are buzzing!

You’re most likely aware of the Astro Pi Challenge. In case you’re not, it’s a wonderfully exciting programme organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) and us at Raspberry Pi. Astro Pi challenges European young people to write scientific experiments in code, and the best experiments run aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on two Astro Pi units: Raspberry Pi 2s and Sense HATs encased in flight-grade aluminium spacesuits.

It’s very cool. So, so cool. As adults, we’re all extremely jealous that we’re unable to take part. We all love space and, to be honest, we all want to be astronauts. Astronauts are the coolest.

So imagine our excitement at Pi Towers when ESA shared this photo on Friday:

This is a Soyuz vehicle on its way to dock with the International Space Station. And while Soyuz vehicles ferry between earth and the ISS all the time, what’s so special about this occasion is that this very photo was captured using a Raspberry Pi 2 and a Raspberry Pi Camera Module, together known as Izzy, one of the Astro Pi units!

So if anyone ever asks you whether the Raspberry Pi Camera Module is any good, just show them this photo. We don’t think you’ll need to provide any further evidence after that.

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