Author Archives: Lucy Hattersley

MagPi 59: the Raspberry Pi PC Challenge

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Hey everyone, Lucy here! I’m standing in for Rob this month to introduce The MagPi 59, the latest edition of the official Raspberry Pi magazine.

The MagPi 59

Ever wondered whether a Pi could truly replace your home computer? Looking for inspiration for a Pi-powered project you can make and use in the sunshine? Interested in winning a Raspberry Pi that’s a true collector’s item?

Then we’ve got you covered in Issue 59, out in stores today!

The MagPi 59

Shiny and new

The Raspberry Pi PC challenge

This month’s feature is fascinating! We set the legendary Rob Zwetsloot a challenge: use no other computer but a Raspberry Pi for a week, and let us know how it goes – for science!

Is there anything you can’t do with a $35 computer? To find out, you just have to read the magazine.

12 summer projects

We’re bringing together some of the greatest outdoor projects for the Raspberry Pi in this MagPi issue. From a high-altitude balloon, to aerial photography, to bike computers and motorised skateboards, there’s plenty of bright ideas in The MagPi 59.

12 Summer Projects in The MagPi 59

Maybe your Pi will ripen in the sun?

The best of the rest in The MagPi 59

We’ve got a fantastic collection of community projects this month. Ingmar Stapel shows off Big Rob, his SatNav-guided robot, while Eric Page demonstrates his Dog Treat Dispenser. There are also interesting tutorials on building a GPS tracker, controlling a Raspberry Pi with an Android app and Bluetooth, and building an electronic wind chime with magnetometers.

You can even enter our give-away of 10 ultra-rare ‘Raspberry Pi 3 plus official case’ kits signed by none other than Eben Upton, co-creator of the Raspberry Pi. Win one and be the envy of the entire Raspberry Pi community!

Electronic Wind Chimes - MagPi 59

MAGNETS!

You can find The MagPi 59 in the UK right now, at WHSmith, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Tesco. Copies will be arriving in US stores including Barnes & Noble and Micro Center very soon. You can also get a copy online from our store or via our Android or iOS app. And don’t forget: there’s always the free PDF as well.

Get reading, get making, and enjoy the new issue!

Rob isn’t here to add his signature Picard GIF, but we’ve sorted it for him. He loves a good pun, so he does! – Janina & Alex

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Stent-testing smart robot makes the medical grade

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The Raspberry Pi often makes the world a better place. This time, it’s helping to test 3D-printed stents using a smart stent-testing robot.

Stents are small tubes used to prop open a patient’s airway. They keep people alive, so it’s incredibly important they don’t fail.

In fact, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires testing of each design by compressing it over 300,000 times. That’s a sturdy challenge for any human, which is why machines are normally used to mash up the stents.

The usual stent-destroying machines are dumb clamps, with no idea whether the stent is breaking or not.

Stent Testing Robot Camera

A smarter stent-testing robot

Enter the Stent-Testing Robot, an intelligent arm that mashes stents while a Raspberry Pi Camera Module keeps a sharp eye on how it performs.

It’s designed by Henry J. Feldman, Chief Information Architect at Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians.

“We start with a CT scan of the lungs, and via a 3D reconstruction get the size and shape of the bronchus that we wish to stent open,” explains Henry. “The trick is to make it the exact shape of the airway.”

The challenge with testing is if stents start to fail before the end of the test. The dumb devices currently used continue to pulverise the stent when this happens.

Stent Testing Robot Camera Squisher

Machine vision to control stent-testing

The Raspberry Pi, meanwhile, uses machine vision to stop the mashing at the moment of failure.

The instant-stop approach enables Henry’s team to check which part failed, and view a time-lapse leading up to the failure. The video helps them design more reliable stents in the future.

Henry explains:

Naturally, we turned to the Raspberry Pi, since, along with a servo control HAT, it gave us easy OpenCV integration along with the ability to control a Hitec HS-5665MH servo. We also added an Adafruit 16-channel Servo/PWM HAT. The servo controls a ServoCity Parallel Gripper A.

Python was used to write the servo controller application. The program fires off a separate OpenCV thread to process each image.

Henry and his medical team trained the machine learning system to spot failing stents, and outlined the likely points of failure with a black marker.

Each time the gripper released, the robot took a picture with the Pi Camera Module and performed recognition of the coloured circles via OpenCV. If the black marker had a split or was no longer visible, the robot halted its test.

The test was successful:

While the OpenCV could occasionally get fooled, it was remarkably accurate, and given this was done on an academic budget, the Raspberry Pi gave us high-performance multi-core capabilities for very little money.

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Help Google develop tools for Raspberry Pi

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Google is going to arrive in style in 2017. The tech titan has exciting plans for the Raspberry Pi community, with a range of AI and machine learning services ready to roll.

A robot built at one of our Picademy@Google sessions

To make this happen, Google needs help from the Raspberry Pi community. Raspberry Pi fans are the best makers around, and it’s their ideas that will give the tech company direction.

Here’s what they have to say:

Hi, makers! Thank you for taking the time to take our survey. We at Google are interested in creating smart tools for makers, and want to hear from you about what would be most helpful.  As a thank you, we will share our findings with the community so that you can learn more about makers around the world.

The company can produce some serious tools for the maker community, so make sure you have your say to get the tools you need.

Let Google know what you would like by clicking here and filling out the survey.

What Google has to offer

Makers at PiCademy at Google

Makers at Picademy at Google

Google has developed a huge range of tools for machine learning, IoT, wearables, robotics, and home automation.

From face- and emotion-recognition and speech-to-text translation, to natural language processing and sentiment analysis, the firm has developed a lot of technology in the fields of machine learning and AI.

The tech giant also provides powerful technology for navigation, bots, and predictive analytics.

The survey will help them get a feel for the Raspberry Pi community, but it’ll also help us get the kinds of services we need. So, please take five minutes out of your day and let them know what you would like by filling out this survey.

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The MagPi 53 out now! Free Debian + PIXEL DVD

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The MagPi 53 is out now. This month’s community magazine comes with a free Debian + PIXEL DVD.

With the DVD, you can run the Debian + PIXEL desktop on a PC or Mac.

The MagPi 53 Free DVD

Click here to download The MagPi 53.

The MagPi Translated Edition 2

Launching alongside this month’s The MagPi are more international titles. The second edition of our bite-sized version of The MagPi, translated into four languages, is now available.

The MagPi Translated Edition 2 contains the best projects, reviews, and tutorials from The MagPi. These are translated into Italian, French, Spanish, and Hebrew.

Click here to download The MagPi Translated Edition 2.

Inside The MagPi 53: The best projects and guides

The MagPi 53 Tutorial

Here are some of the incredible projects you will find in this month’s The MagPi:

  • Google DeepDream: how to create surreal works of art with a Raspberry Pi and Google’s AI software
  • Master remote access: use a Raspberry Pi and SSH to connect remotely via the command line
  • Make a GPIO Music Box: Program push buttons to make different sounds
  • Create a horse race game: Get yourselves to the derby with Pi Bakery
  • Use BOINC to donate your Raspberry Pi’s resources to science

Inside The MagPi 53: Debian + PIXEL DVD

The MagPi 53 Beginner's Guide to Coding

There’s a huge amount in this month’s magazine. Here are just some of the features in this issue:

  • Beginner’s guide to programming: learn to code with our complete starter guide
  • Use the Debian + PIXEL DVD: try out our new OS on your computer with your free DVD
  • Create a bootable flash drive that can boot a Mac or PC into the PIXEL desktop

There’s also some amazing news this month: the Raspberry Pi has now sold 11 million units, and Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton has been awarded a CBE! We have exclusive interviews with Eben about his CBE and the launch of Debian + PIXEL.

The MagPI 53 News

The best community projects

We also cover some of the most fantastic community projects ever built:

  • Pegasus and the North American Eagle. Inside the land-speed challenge car, with a Raspberry Pi in the driver’s cockpit
  • QBEE social media dress. This wearable tech posts automatically to social media
  • Self-playing pipe organ. This giant musical instrument is played by the Raspberry Pi
  • Water tank level monitor. This PIoT challenge winning project automates water collection in rural America

The MagPi 53 Project Focus

It’s one of the most feature-packed editions of The MagPi we’ve ever made. Don’t miss out on the free DVD that can bring an old computer back to life as a coding powerhouse. It really is something special.

You can grab The MagPi 53 in stores today: it’s in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the UK, and it will be in Micro Center and selected Barnes & Noble stores when it comes to the US. You can also buy the print edition online from our store, and it’s available digitally on our Android and iOS app.

Get a free Pi Zero

Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and get a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

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Slack on the Commodore 64 thanks to Raspberry Pi

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We use Slack all the time at Pi Towers. Granted, we often use it for sharing animated cat GIFs and the latest hacks for the office coffee machine, but we are definitely big fans.

Imagine our delight, then, when we heard about a Slack client for the Commodore 64 (another long-standing flame of ours). Our love for the C64 knows few bounds: along with the Sinclair Spectrum and the BBC Micro, it gave many of us here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation a coding kick-start.

The only thing that could make this better is the Raspberry Pi. And guess what’s sitting slap-bang in the middle between Slack and the C64? Only our favourite single-board computer.

This amazing trinity of tech brings our favourite things together for a text messaging party. We just had to figure out how it worked.

Raspberry Pi Slack

The Raspberry Pi accesses the Slack API

It turns out that bringing Slack to the C64 was no easy matter. Jeff Harris is a software engineer and hobbyist game developer in San Francisco. He’s responsible for developing Slack for the C64.

Much as we love it, the C64 is a little long in the tooth, so it needs a little help connecting to Slack’s API. Jeff’s ingenious result is to hook a Raspberry Pi up to it. “The C64 has an extension port called the user port which, via an adapter, can communicate over RS-232 serial,” Jeff says. The solution was to connect the user port on a Commodore 64 to a USB port on the Raspberry Pi, and Jeff created a homemade cable to do just that.

“The fastest I have been able to run this reliably is a solid 1200 baud or 150 bytes per second,” explains Jeff. At 0.00015 MB, it’s not likely to be much use at a LAN party, but it’s good enough for transferring text messages.

Slack client for Commodore64

What is one thing that Slack is missing? A native client for Commodore64! I built this client in 6502 assembly on the C64 side, and a NodeJS app running on a Raspberry Pi, connected to the C64 via a serial connection. More details here: http://1amstudios.com/2016/11/27/c64-slack-client/

Coding Slack in 6502 Assembly

With the hardware hooked up, Jeff set about writing a Slack client for the Commodore 64. “On the Raspberry Pi, I wrote a NodeJS app which talks to the Slack RTM API,” he says.

The Raspberry Pi connects to the Slack API. It then uses the serial port to talk to the USB serial driver.

“On the Commodore, I wrote an application in 6502 Assembly,” says Jeff. “It uses built-in KERNAL ROM functions to read and write the serial port and update the screen.”

In this blog post, Jeff shows how the C64 client code works using C as a demonstration language. If you want to try recreating the project, all the code is available on Jeff’s GitHub page.

It’s great to see the Commodore 64 still being hacked and kept in use after all these years.

 

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Christmas Special: The MagPi 52 is out now!

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The MagPi Christmas Special is out now.

For the festive season, the official magazine of the Raspberry Pi community is having a maker special. This edition is packed with fun festive projects!

The MagPi issue 52 cover

The MagPi issue 52 cover

Click here to download the MagPi Christmas Special

Here are just some of the fun projects inside this festive issue:

  • Magazine tree: turn the special cover into a Christmas tree, using LED lights to create a shiny, blinky display
  • DIY decorations: bling out your tree with NeoPixels and code
  • Santa tracker: follow Santa Claus around the world with a Raspberry Pi
  • Christmas crackers: the best low-cost presents for makers and hackers
  • Yuletide game: build Sliders, a fab block-sliding game with a festive feel.

Sliders

A Christmas game from the MagPi No.52

Inside the MagPi Christmas special

If you’re a bit Grinchy when it comes to Christmas, there’s plenty of non-festive fun to be found too:

  • Learn to use VNC Viewer
  • Find out how to build a sunrise alarm clock
  • Read our in-depth guide to Amiga emulation
  • Discover the joys of parallel computing

There’s also a huge amount of community news this month. The MagPi has an exclusive feature on Pioneers, our new programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, and news about Astro Pi winning the Arthur Clarke Award.

The Pioneers

The MagPi outlines our new Pioneers programme in detail

After that, we see some of the most stylish projects ever. Inside is the beautiful Sisyphus table; that’s a moving work of art, a facial recognition door lock, and a working loom controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

The MagPi 52 Sisyphus Project Focus

The MagPi interviews the maker of this amazing Sisyphus table

If that wasn’t enough, we also have a big feature on adding sensors to your robots. These can be used to built a battle-bot ready for the upcoming Pi Wars challenge.

The MagPi team wishes you all a merry Christmas! You can grab The MagPi 52 in stores today: it’s in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the UK, and it will be in Micro Center and selected Barnes & Noble stores when it comes to America. You can also buy the print edition online from our store, and it’s available digitally on our Android and iOS app.

Get a free Pi Zero
Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and get a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

If you subscribe to The MagPi before 7 December 2016, you will get a free Pi Zero in time for Christmas.

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