Author Archives: Ashley Whittaker

Raspberry Pi touchscreen music streamer

via Raspberry Pi

If you liked the look of yesterday’s Raspberry Pi Roon Endpoint Music Streamer but thought: “Hey, you know what would be great? If it had a touchscreen,” then look no further. Home Theater Fanatics has built something using the same RoPieee software, but with the added feature of a screen, for those who need one.

Subscribe to Home Theater Fanatics on YouTube for more great builds like this one

The build cost for this is a little higher than the $150 estimate to recreate yesterday’s project, given the inclusion of a fancier Digital Audio Decoder and the touchscreen itself.

Hardware

connecting raspberry pi to touchscreen
It really is a super user-friendly walkthrough video

The brilliant Home Theater Fanatics show you how to put all of this together from this point in the build video, before moving on to the software install. They take care to go through all of the basics of the hardware in case you’re not familiar with things like ribbon cables or fans. It’s a really nice bird’s-eye view walkthrough, so beginners aren’t likely to have any problems following along.

ribbon attaching to raspberry pi
See – close-ups of how to connect your ribbon cables and everything

Software

Same as yesterday’s build:

At this point in the build video, Home Theater Fanatics go through the three steps you need to take to get the RoPieee and Roon software sorted out, then connect the DAC. Again, it’s a really clear, comprehensive on-screen walkthrough that beginners can be comfortable with.

Why do I need a touchscreen music streamer?

touchscreen music player
Get all your album track info right in your face

Aside from being able to see the attributed artwork for the music you’re currently listening to, this touchscreen solution provides easy song switching during home workouts. It’s also a much snazzier-looking tabletop alternative to a plugged-in phone spouting a Spotify playlist.

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How to build a Raspberry Pi Roon Endpoint Music Streamer

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Our friend Mike Perez at Audio Arkitekts is back to show you how to build PiFi, a Raspberry Pi-powered Roon Endpoint Music Streamer. The whole build costs around $150, which is pretty good going for such a sleek-looking Roon-ready end product.

Roon ready

Roon is a platform for all the music in your home, and Roon Core (which works with this build) manages all your music files and streaming content. The idea behind Roon is to bring all your music together, so you don’t have to worry about where it’s stored, what format it’s in, or where you stream it from. You can start a free trial if you’re not already a user.

Parts list

Sleek HiFiBerry case

Simple to put together

Fix the HiFiBerry DAC2 Pro into the top of the case with the line output and headphone outputs poking out. A Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the brains of the operation, and slots nicely onto the HiFiBerry. The HiFiBerry HAT is compatible with all Raspberry Pi models with a 40-pin GPIO connector and just clicks right onto the GPIO pins. It is also directly powered by the Raspberry Pi so, no additional power supply needed.

Raspberry Pi 4 connected to HiFiBerry HAT inside the top half of the case (before the bottom half is screwed on)

Next, secure the bottom half of the case, making sure all the Raspberry Pi ports line up with the case’s ready-made holes. Mike did the whole thing by hand with just a little help from a screwdriver right at the end.

Software

Download the latest RoPieee image onto your SD card to make it a Roon Ready End Point, then slot it back into your Raspberry Pi. Now you have a good-looking, affordable audio output ready to connect to your Roon Core.

And that’s it. See – told you it was easy. Don’t forget, Audio Arkitekts’ YouTube channel is a must-follow for all audiophiles.

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Transform Raspberry Pi 400 into a hacker cyberdeck

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Resisting the desolate consumerism of the suburbs is a serious business for hardware hacker Zack Freedman. Zack transformed a Raspberry Pi 400 into the Voidstar Data Blaster, a portable cyberdeck to fight against becoming a normie.

The suburbs thing is explained at the beginning of Zack’s build video. Subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Hang on, what is a cyberdeck?

Zack explains:

“A data blaster [cyberdeck] is the trademark battlestation of console cowboy antiheroes running nets through cyberspace.”

There’s a whole subreddit devoted to exploring what does and does not make a real-life cyberdeck, so if you were looking for a rabbit hole to go down, knock yourself out.

view of cyber deck on a desk
Punky

How do you turn a Raspberry Pi 400 into a cyberdeck?

Added features to transform a Raspberry Pi 400 into the Voidstar Data Blaster include:

  • Detachable wearable display
  • Battery handles
  • SDR receiver
  • Antennae
  • 1280×480 touchscreen
data blaster strapped to forearm of maker
Wear your data blaster with pride

Handles make the cyberdeck nice and portable. Console cowboys can also use them to flip the deck up onto their forearm and easily “jack in” to cyberspace.

Rules around which keyboard you can use on a legitimate cyberdeck are pretty tight. It can’t be touchscreen (because that means it’s a tablet); however, it can’t fold away on a hinge either (because that makes it a laptop). Enter Raspberry Pi 400, a computer built into a mechanical keyboard about the length of an adult forearm. Perfect.

The SDR receiver means that users are cyber snooping-ready, while the head-mounted display provides a cyberpunk design flourish. That display acts as a second screen alongside the mini touchscreen. You can drag anything from the main display into sight on the headgear.

Authentic cyberpunk aesthetic

A lot of trial and error with a 3D printer finally yielded a faceplate that allows the screen and headgear to fit in perfectly. Zack also designed and printed all the flair and logos you see stuck around the cyberdeck. LEDs make the decorative filament fluoresce. Integrated pegs keep all the wiring neat – an inspired practical addition.

Rear view of the underside of the data blaster
The underside of the data blaster

Here are all the STL files if you’d like to create your own cyberdeck. And the design files let you take a closer look at a 3D render of Zack’s creation.

We saved the best bit for last: not only can you play Doom on the Voidstar Data Blaster, you can play it on the wearable display. Stay punk.

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Play Call of Duty with a Raspberry Pi-powered Nerf gun

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YouTuber Alfredo Sequeida turned a Nerf gun into a controller for playing Call of Duty: Warzone. This is a fun-looking modification project, but some serious coding went into the process.

Head to the 13-minute mark for an in-game demonstration

Trigger happy

Funnily enough, the Nerf gun that Alfredo chose was a special edition Fortnite model. This irked him as a Call of Duty player, but this model had the most potential to accommodate the modifications he knew he wanted.

mini screen embedded on nerf gun
The screen is an old Android phone which lends its accelerometer to the project

The controller uses the Nerf gun’s original trigger. Alfredo designed extra 3D-printed buttons (white dots on the far right) to let him perform more in-game actions like moving, plating, and jumping.

Software

A Raspberry Pi 4 powers the whole thing, running Python scripts Alfredo wrote for both the Raspberry Pi and his gaming PC. Here’s all the code on GitHub.

Gameplay movement is controlled by getting accelerometer data via the command-line tool ADB logcat from an old Nexus 5 Android phone that’s mounted on the Nerf gun. The data is logged using a custom app Alfredo made on Android Studio.

raspberry pi embedded in nerf gun
A Raspberry Pi 4 wired up to all the buttons on the other side of the Nerf gun

Part of the action

The controller’s design makes players feel part of the action as their Call of Duty operator scouts around locations. It’s a much more immersive experience than holding an ordinary game controller in your lap or tapping away at a PC keyboard. Alfredo even plays standing up now his NERF gun controller is in action. He might as well be on a real life Special Ops mission.

call of duty POV game play
The Nerf gun complements the gameplay view that Call of Duty players have

More Call of Duty mod ideas…

So what’s next, Alfredo? We vote you make some modded night vision googles out of an old Viewmaster toy. That’ll totally work, right?

woman holding a view master toy up to her face to look through it
I am 90% sure young Alfredo doesn’t know what a Viewmaster is (even I had to Google it)

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Raspberry Pi: a versatile tool for biological sciences

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Over the nine-ish years since the release of our first model, we’ve watched grow a thriving global community of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts, hobbyists, and educators. But did you know that Raspberry Pi is also increasingly used in scientific research?

Thumbnail images of various scientific applications of Raspberry Pi
Some of the scientific applications of Raspberry Pi that Jolle found

Dr Jolle Jolles, a behavioural ecologist at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) near Barcelona, Spain, and a passionate Raspberry Pi user, has recently published a detailed review of the uptake of Raspberry Pi in biological sciences. He found that well over a hundred published studies have made use of Raspberry Pi hardware in some way.

How can Raspberry Pi help in biological sciences?

The list of applications is almost endless. Here are just a few:

  • Nest-box monitoring (we do love a good nest box)
  • Underwater video surveillance systems (reminds us of this marine conservation camera)
  • Plant phenotyping (These clever people made a ‘Greenotyper’ with Raspberry Pi)
  • Smart bird-feeders (we shared this one, which teaches pigeons, on the blog)
  • High-throughput behavioural recording systems
  • Autonomous ecosystem monitoring (you can listen to the Borneo rainforest with this project)
  • Closed-loop virtual reality (there are just too many VR projects using Raspberry Pi to choose from. Here’s a few)
Doctor Jolle giving a presentation on Raspberry Pi
Dr Jolles spreading the good word about our tiny computers

Onwards and upwards

Jolle’s review shows that use of Raspberry Pi is on the up, with more studies documenting the use of Raspberry Pi hardware every year, but he’s keen to see it employed even more widely.

It is really great to see the broad range of applications that already exist, with Raspberry Pi’s helping biologists in the lab, the field, and in the classroom. However, Raspberry Pi is still not the common research tool that it could be”. 

Jolle Jolles
Dr Jolles hard at work
Hard at work

How can I use Raspberry Pi in my research?

To stimulate the uptake of Raspberry Pi and help researchers integrate it into their work, the review paper offers guidelines and recommendations. Jolle also maintains a dedicated website with over 30 tutorials: raspberrypi-guide.github.io

“I believe low-cost micro-computers like the Raspberry Pi are a powerful tool that can help transform and democratize scientific research, and will ultimately help push the boundaries of science.”

Jolle Jolles

The paper, Broad-scale Applications of the Raspberry Pi: A Review and Guide for Biologists, is currently under review, but a preprint is available here.

‘Pirecorder’ for automating image and video capture

Jolle has also previously published a very handy software package especially with biological scientists in mind. It’s called pirecorder and helps with automated image and video recording using Raspberry Pi. You can check it out here: https://github.com/JolleJolles/pirecorder.

You can keep up with Jolle on Instagram, where he documents all the dreamy outdoor projects he’s working on.

Drop a comment below if you’ve seen an interesting scientific application of Raspberry Pi, at work, on TV, or maybe just in your imagination while you wait to find the time to build it!

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Go down a Raspberry Pi YouTube rabbit hole

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We here at Virtual Raspberry Pi Towers are looking forward to our weekends getting warmer, now that we are officially in British Summer Time. But we wanted to make the most of these last Saturdays and Sundays in which we have no choice but to cosy up against the typically British spring weather with a good old-fashioned YouTube rabbit hole.

Here are a few channels we think you’ll like. Some we’ve known about for a while, others are new friends we’ve made over the last year or so, and one is almost brand new so we’re putting you ahead of the curve there. You’re welcome.

Sophy Wong

Subscribe to Sophy Wong’s channel if you love the idea of wearing the tech you create. She collaborated with HackSpace magazine to publish a book, Wearable Tech Projects, which is currently on sale at the Raspberry Pi Press online store for just £7.

This is one of the projects Sophy shared in her Wearable Tech Projects book

Sophy describes herself as a “maker, designer, geek, addicted to learning how to do new things.” And she even visited NASA to watch a SpaceX launch.

Subscribe to Sophy’s channel here.

Blitz City DIY

Blitz City DIY (aka Liz) is a “DIY-er on a quest to gather and share knowledge” and has already built something cool with our newest baby, Raspberry Pi Pico. Her busy channel features computing, audio, video, coding, and more.

Check out Raspberry Pi Pico in action in this recent video from Blitz City DIY

We love Liz an extra lot because her channel features on entire playlist dedicated to Raspberry Pi Adventures. She also shares a healthy dose of festive content showing you how to Tech the Halls. No, April is NOT too early for Christmas stuff.

Subscribe to Blitz City DIY here.

Electromaker

Our new friends at Electromaker share tutorials, community projects, and contests where subscribers win hardware and massive cash prizes. Flat cap aficionado Ian Buckley also hosts The Electromaker Show – a weekly roundup of all that’s new and interesting in the maker community.

Electromakers assemble!

You can also swing by the super useful online shop where you can buy everything you need to recreate some of the projects featured. If you’re daunted by shopping for every little bit you need to create something awesome, you can choose one of these electro {maker KITS} and get right to it. We especially like the Lightsaber and Daft Punk-esque helmet kits.

Follow Electromaker here.

Estefannie Explains It All

You must have seen an Estefannie Explains It All video by now. But did you know about the weekly livestreams she hosts on Instagram? We know you’ll watch just because she’s cool and sometimes holds her pet cat up to the camera, but you’ll definitely want to tune in to try and win one of her tech giveaways. Some lucky viewers even got their hands on a Raspberry Pi 400.

Fond memories of when Estefannie visited Raspberry Pi Towers

Estefannie is another top collaborator whose channel has a dedicated Raspberry Pi playlist. Some of the things she has created using our tiny computers include Jurassic Park goggles, an automated coffee press, and a smart gingerbread house.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, Estefannie graced the Princesses with Power Tools calendar this year as Rey from Star Wars. You can buy a copy here.

Subscribe to Estefannie Explains It All here.

Kids Invent Stuff

Ruth Amos and Shawn Brown use their channel Kids Invent Stuff to bring kids’ ideas to life by making them into real working inventions. Young people aged 4–11 can submit their ideas or take part in regular invention challenges.

The infamous pooping unicorn

We first gave this channel a shout-out when Ruth and Shawn teamed up with Estefannie Explains It All to build the world’s first Raspberry Pi-powered Twitter-activated jelly bean-pooping unicorn. For real.

The MagPi Magazine got to know Ruth a little better in a recent interview. And Ruth also features in the 2021 Princesses with Power Tools calendar, as a welding Rapunzel. Go on, you know you want to buy one.

Ellora James

We saved the best (and newest) for last. Ellora James is brand new to YouTube. Her first tutorial showing you how to use Pimoroni’s Grow HAT Mini Kit was posted just three weeks ago, and she added a project update this week.

Ella helps you differentiate between edible pie and Raspberry Pi

We really like her video showing beginners how to set up their first Raspberry Pi. But our favourite is the one above in which she tackles one of the Universe’s big questions.

Subscribe to Ellora James here.

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