Tag Archives: Adafruit

Announcing a wearable collaboration with Adafruit: Arduino Gemma

via Arduino Blog


Arduino Gemma preview – Final board coming late autumn

During his saturday morning presentation at Maker Faire Rome, Massimo Banzi gave a preview of a new collaboration and a new board: Adafruit Gemma becomes officially Arduino Gemma, a tiny but powerful wearable microcontroller board in a 27mm diameter package.

Powered by an Attiny85 and programmable with the Arduino IDE over USB, anyone will be able to easily create wearable projects with all the advantages of being part of the Arduino family. The board will be default-supported in the Arduino IDE, equipped with an on/off switch and a microUSB connector.








The Attiny85 is a great processor because despite being so small, it has 8K of flash and 5 I/O pins, including analog inputs and PWM ‘analog’ outputs. It was designed with a USB bootloader so you can plug it into any computer and reprogram it over a USB port (it uses 2 of the 5 I/O pins, leaving you with 3). Ideal for small & simple projects sewn with conductive thread, the Arduino Gemma fits the needs of most of entry-level wearable creations including reading sensors and driving addressable LED pixels.
After the fruitful joint effort developing Arduino Micro, once more the Arduino Gemma has been developed in collaboration with Adafruit Industries, one of the main leaders of the Maker movement. Arduino Gemma will be available for purchase on the Arduino Store and Adafruit Industries starting late autumn 2014.

Technical specifications:
Microcontroller: ATtiny85
Operating Voltage: 3.3V
Input Voltage (recommended): 4-16V via battery port
Input Voltage (limits): 3-18V
Digital I/O Pins: 3
PWM Channels: 2
Analog Input Channels: 1
DC Current per I/O Pin: 40 mA
DC Current for 3.3V Pin: 150 mA
Flash Memory: 8 KB (ATtiny85) of which 2.5 KB used by bootloader
SRAM: 0.5 KB (ATtiny85)
EEPROM: 0.5 KB (ATtiny85)
Clock Speed: 8 MHz
MicroUSB for USB Bootloader
JST 2-PH for external battery

Slimline point-and-shoot camera from Ben Heck

via Raspberry Pi

Ben Heck, King of the Makers, has made the prettiest point-and-shoot camera build we’ve seen done with a Raspberry Pi. The secret to it is a bit of desoldering and depopulating the Pi he uses, to slim down the profile of the board – he’s yanked nearly everything except the SoC – the processor and memory package in the middle of the Pi. (If we were you, Ben, we’d have used a Model B+ so you didn’t have that SD card sticking out.)

Our own Ben Nuttall, who affects to be totally unimpressed by everything, was overheard saying: “That’s a very cool camera.” There is no higher praise.

There’s no writeup, but the video is very thorough and walks you through everything you need to know, including a parts list (that nice little TFT touchscreen, which is the thing I anticipate most of you being interested in, is from Adafruit). Let us know what you’d do differently, and if you plan on making something similar yourself, in the comments!

Fresh Coffee at Mailchimp

via Raspberry Pi

Ben: Here’s a guest post from Steven Sloan, a developer at MailChimp.


Grounds for innovation

Here at MailChimp, we’re always trying to listen hard and change fast. Turns out, this requires a good bit of coffee. Each department has its own take on how to keep the stuff flowing, mostly with the standard Bunn-O-Matic commercial machines. A few folks regularly avail themselves of our espresso setup. The developers fill two airpots—one with regular, the other double strength.

And then there’s the marketing team and our precious Chemex.

We make a pour-over pot once every hour or so, all day long, 5 days a week, 50-something weeks a year. Last December, when we were gathering data for our annual report, we got curious about how many Fresh Pots that might amount to. We tried to count it up, but begrudgingly had to accept the fact we didn’t have a good measure beyond pounds consumed. We even tried to keep track with a bean counter, but that didn’t last long.

For a while, the exact nature of our coffee consumption seemed like it would remain just another mystery of the universe. But then one day, talking to Mark while waiting on yet another Fresh Pot, I said, “Hey, I bet we could track the temperature with a Raspberry Pi and post to the group chat when there’s a fresh one.”

I wasn’t too serious, but Mark’s response was one often heard around MailChimp when ridiculous projects are proposed: “Sounds great, just let me know what you need to get it done.”

A few days later, I had a materials list drawn up from Adafruit’s thermometer tutorial, and we were off to the races.


A fresh Pi

With a Raspberry Pi in hand, the first thing I did was add a script to the boot process that sent an email using Mandrill with its IP so I could find it on our network without trouble.

Then, I had to tackle the problem of detecting pot states with only a single datapoint: current temperature. I hoped that comparing the running averages of different time spans would be enough to determine the pot’s status. (The average Chemex temperature over the course of a few minutes, for instance, would tell us something different than the average temperate over the course of an hour.)

Since this was a greenfield project, I wanted to work with an unfamiliar language. I felt like the more functional nature of Clojure would be a great fit for passing along a single piece of state. This turned out to be a great decision, and I’ll explain why in a minute.

Graph it home

I hacked together a quick program that would spit out the current temperature, minute’s running average, hour’s running average, and the running average’s rate of change to a log file so I could analyze them.

{"current":32.062, "minute":24.8747, "hour":23.5391, "running-rate":0.039508}
{"current":32.437, "minute":25.0008, "hour":23.5635, "running-rate":0.0423943}
{"current":32.875, "minute":25.1322, "hour":23.5897, "running-rate":0.045361}
{"current":33.625, "minute":25.2738, "hour":23.6177, "running-rate":0.048569}
{"current":33.625, "minute":25.413, "hour":23.6476, "running-rate":0.05159}
{"current":33.625, "minute":25.55, "hour":23.6793, "running-rate":0.054437}

Log files in hand, I temporarily turned back to Ruby using the wonderful Gruff charting library to visualize things and make patterns easier to spot.

A few batches of hot water gave me a decent idea what things should look like, so I moved our coffee equipment to my desk to get some live data. This let me check in with the actual running state of the program and compare it with the status of the pot (and led to some coworker laughs and a wonderful smell at my workspace all day).


A brewing or fresh pot is easy to recognize, but figuring out when the pot is empty turned out to be a little tricky. It takes a while for the Chemex to completely cool off, which means it could be empty and still warm, which I’m sure would lead to more than a few disappointing trips to the kitchen. Luckily, the rate a pot cools tells us if it is empty or not—for instance, a half-full pot stays warm longer than an empty one simply because of the coffee still in it. Always nice to have physics on your side.

Watchers for the win

Armed with the collection of datapoints (running averages, rate of change, etc.) for each of the pot’s states, I moved on to figuring out how to notify our department’s group chat room when a pot was brewing, ready, empty, or stale. This is where some of the built-in features of Clojure came in handy.

I already had a program that logged the current state of itself every second. By switching the actual state to an agent, I could apply watchers to it. These watchers get called whenever the agent changes, which is perfect for analyzing changes in state.

Another agent added was the pot itself. The watcher for the temperature would look for the above mentioned boundaries, and update the pot’s state, leaving another watcher to track the pot and notify our chat room. When it came time to pick an alias to deliver the notifications, Dave Grohl was the natural choice.

Here’s a simple example of the pot watcher looking for a brewing pot:

(def pot-status
  (agent {:status "empty"}))

(defn pot-watcher [watcher status old_status new_status]
  (if (= (:status new_status) "brewing")

(add-watch pot-status :pot-watcher pot-watcher)

The great thing is the watcher only gets called when the status changes, not on each tick of the temperature. Using agents felt great to me in this case as they provided a clean way to watch state (without callbacks or a ton of boilerplate) and maintain separation of concern between different parts of the program.


Freshness into the future

I’m still working out a few kinks, tuning in the bounds, and keeping a log of pots. It’s been a fun experience and I learned a ton. Something tells me this won’t be the last time we work with Raspberry Pi on a project. What’s next, Fresh Pots in space? Luckily, we’ve got plenty of coffee to propel us.


Ben: Thanks to Steven and MailChimp for permission to use the post – we’re very pleased to see the Pi used as the tool of choice of coffee-hungry developers around the world! Coffee is important to us here at Pi Towers…

Trojan Room Coffee Pot

Blast from the past – remember this coffee pot? Click to read more

MailChimp is what I use to power Pi Weekly – my weekly Raspberry Pi news & projects email newsletter – check it out at piweekly.net!

HATs in the wild. And a unicorn.

via Raspberry Pi

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll recall that a month or so ago, we announced a new way of making add-on hardware for the Raspberry Pi: namely, the Raspberry Pi HAT (Hardware Attached on Top). You can read James, our Director of Hardware, explaining what they’re all about in the original blog post: in short, the HAT is a solder-less way of attaching hardware which can be auto-detected by the Pi, so GPIOs and headers are automagically configured by the Pi, without you having to do anything.

Gordon Pighat Hollingworth

The pink confection on top of Gordon is a hat, not a HAT.

(A tangentially related question: how do you pronounce EEPROM? Fights are breaking out at Pi Towers: a small majority of us rhyme the first syllable with “meep”, while the rest of us rhyme with “meh”. This is like the scone/scone thing all over again. Angry opinions in the comments, please.)

HATs are starting to appear in the wild. Adafruit are sending PCBs out for prototyping. HiFiBerry have HATs you can buy now: the Digi+, which enables you to connect an external digital-to-analogue converter; and the DAC+, a high-res all-in-one DAC. AB Electronics are carrying several HATs:  an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC); a GPIO port expander; a real-time clock (RTC) and an RS232 serial interface. And the whimsical bearded pixies at Pimoroni have come up with my favourite so far (it’s my favourite because SPARKLES): the Unicorn HAT. I saw it in the flesh on Saturday at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam. It’s a thing of beauty. Here’s Paul, introducing the Unicorn HAT.

Are you making a HAT? Let us know in the comments: I’ll add links to this post if I’ve missed yours out here.


via Raspberry Pi

Adafruit’s 3D Thursday series is getting us terribly excited every time they roll out a new project with a Pi in it. Yesterday’s was a doozy: so much so that the engineering team stood around my desk and made puppy-dog eyes and sighing sounds at me until I agreed to email LadyAda and beg a demo sample of the project from them. (She says she’s sending the pink one, Gordon, just to punish you for being so demanding.)

Meet the extraordinary PiGrrl, a home-baked Raspberry Pi clone of the Game Boy.

If you don’t think that’s the best thing ever, you’re dead inside.
As always with Adafruit projects, the PiGrrl is documented minutely; you can find a complete tutorial on their website, along with files for the 3d printer at Thingiverse. This is one of the more complicated builds we’ve featured, but we think the results speak for themselves

LadyAda says: “Woohoo!” After careful consideration, so do we.

Adafruit’s Raspberry Pi Photography Award

via Raspberry Pi

Our good friends across the pond at Adafruit are running their first ever Raspberry Pi Photography Award – and I’ve been roped into helping judge this year’s entries.

Robot photographer

Lady Ada and PT say:

Anyone, worldwide, with a Raspberry Pi and camera can enter. All photos must be taken with Raspberry Pi + Raspberry Pi camera and/or webcam/camera connected to the Pi. The photos cannot be altered “post” in an image editing program (GIMP, Photoshop, etc) but you can use the built-in filters that the Pi Camera has such as “Sketch”, “Oil Painting”, etc! Be creative and take a photo using a Raspberry Pi of something interesting, like this cat (Carmen) and clock, taken with a Raspberry Pi.

carmen and clock

It’s a charming sample picture, but, cute as Carmen is, you’ll need to do something more exciting if you want to win.

We do not want photos taken of Raspberry Pi units, please take photos using the Raspberry Pi. Grand prize is $314 in the Adafruit store, and we have 14 $30 winners too!

You can find full instructions on how to enter at Adafruit’s site. I am looking forward to finding out what you end up sending us, and I am instructed to inform you I am incorruptible in these matters: bribery will not work if you’re looking to affect the judging process. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the posts here tagged “photography“. Good luck!

Google Glass, Pi-style

via Raspberry Pi

The good people at Adafruit have a new tutorial up on making a wearable display, powered by a Pi, that clips on to your regular glasses or (if you’re a Terminator with perfect vision) sunglasses.


The composite display from a pair of “Private Display Glasses” – glasses which are meant to allow you to watch immersive video from the comfort of your own sofa/bed/deckchair - is hacked into a new, 3D-printed shell (the files for the shell are available on Thingiverse), and attached to a Pi along with a mini-keyboard, which lives in your pocket.

(On watching that video, Gordon said “That looks silly.” I replied: “SO DOES YOUR FACE.” There is a hostile working environment at Pi Towers.)

We love it as a proof of concept, and it’s not too much of a leap to get voice recognition (which the Pi handles admirably – you’ll find a mountain of pointers in this forum thread) working on a piece of kit like this; mounting a Raspberry Pi camera board on there shouldn’t be too much of a stretch either. If you have a go yourselves, get in touch: we’d love to see where this goes next!


Graphic equaliser

via Raspberry Pi

Our good friends at Adafruit put this project on their Learning System earlier this month. It’s a beaut: you’ll learn something making it, and it looks fantastic when set up. Before we get into the nitty gritty, here’s some video:

This graphic equaliser (a spectrum analys/zer if you’re from the USA) is made from a RGB led strip, with everything down to the audio processing run on the Pi. Everything you see in the video is happening in real time. The setup runs Python, and is based on LightShowPi (which was originally designed to orchestrate Christmas lights), so you’ll be able add LightShowPi features like SMS control from your phone if you’re an advanced user.

Some soldering is required – but soldering is easy, and this is a good project to earn your soldering wings on if you haven’t already. There’s the usual full and helpful tutorial over at Adafruit, along with tips, a parts list, code and all that good stuff. I wish I’d had one of these for my student bedroom. Imagine the parties!

LED Matrix Clock Project #ArduinoMicroMonday

via Arduino Blog

Martin_Atkins Matrix

Martin Atkins built this great LED matrix clock using an Arduino Microa few bicolor LED matrix displaysdisplay drivers, and a real time clock module Chronodot:

Finally found some time today to solder the parts onto my first OSH Park PCB. The primary motivation for this was to learn Eagle and try out OSH Park, so I wanted to make something with only components I’d already purchased, and that’s why it has a whole Arduino Micro attached to it even though a smaller board (or even just a lone microcontroller) would’ve been sufficient. I didn’t get the displays lined up quite right, so there’s a small gap between them that looks obvious in this photo but isn’t so bad if you’re further away and looking at it head-on. But my learning for next time is to watch out for the positioning of odd-sized components.

LED Matrix Clock Project #ArduinoMicroMonday

via Arduino Blog

Martin_Atkins Matrix

Martin Atkins built this great LED matrix clock using an Arduino Microa few bicolor LED matrix displaysdisplay drivers, and a real time clock module Chronodot:

Finally found some time today to solder the parts onto my first OSH Park PCB. The primary motivation for this was to learn Eagle and try out OSH Park, so I wanted to make something with only components I’d already purchased, and that’s why it has a whole Arduino Micro attached to it even though a smaller board (or even just a lone microcontroller) would’ve been sufficient. I didn’t get the displays lined up quite right, so there’s a small gap between them that looks obvious in this photo but isn’t so bad if you’re further away and looking at it head-on. But my learning for next time is to watch out for the positioning of odd-sized components.

Dave Hunt’s time-lapse touchscreen controller

via Raspberry Pi

Regular readers will know Dave Hunt well. He’s behind some of the…no, scratch that; he’s behind THE most beautiful posts we’ve featured here. (There’s a new example of Dave doing something beautiful with the Pi in this post: you’ll have to read to the bottom before you get to it.)

Dave is a photographer, and he’s used the Raspberry Pi in several different rigs to replace much more expensive specialised hardware. His water droplet photography rig is easy and inexpensive to set up, and it produces extraordinary results. His focus-stacking Pi solution will save you around £600 on a clean macro photography setup; his rising/falling time-lapse rig has taken video that will have you running to the travel agent to book tickets to Ireland as soon as you’ve watched it.

A quick reminder of some of Dave’s previous work with the Pi. Click the image to find out how to take a photo like this yourself.

Dave said last year that he was looking to add more elements to the time-lapse rig (amazing, really, given that it already has features like a little heater to evaporate any dew that threatens to condense on the lens). The rig already raises and lowers the camera in tiny incremental stages as the time-lapse is being shot, so the camera moves as the footage is being taken, which adds a lot of interest to the shot. Dave’s now refined that action by adding touchscreen controls using Adafruit’s PiTFT Mini Kit (which we saw recently being used by the good folks at Adafruit to turn a Raspberry Pi Camera Board into a touchscreen point-and-shoot camera). He adapted Phil Burgess’ graphical user interface (GUI) from that project to create one that controls the length of the pulse sent to the motor, the delay between shots, the number of shots and the motor’s direction.

All this means that where previously the Pi-powered time-lapse rig had to be sent commands wirelessly via a phone or a laptop, it can now be controlled directly from the touchscreen panel mounted on the Pi itself.

The user interface he’s built allows you to position the dolly on the rail via the motor control buttons; change the motor pulse duration between shots; change the delay between shots; change the number of shots; see what time is left for the current sequence; and start and stop the time-lapse.

Dave has provided, as always, a parts list (the whole controller, including the Pi and the screen, will come in at around $100), full instructions, and all the code you’ll need on his website. And the results? We think they speak for themselves.

Stunning Halo 3 Costumes and Energy Sword #ArduinoMicroMonday

via Arduino Blog



Adafruit Forum member JoshuaKane writes:

I wanted to share with everyone a project I worked on for a recent sci-fi/comic convention. I have always been a fan of fantasy, sci-fi and comics. A few months ago I started working on an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) costume and weapon.

I wanted to make the sword something that would literally make folks stop in their tracks and take notice at a convention. For this I turned to the Arduino Microprocessor and some of the accessories developed at Adafruit.

The full idea is to give the impression of a pulsing energy sword. The perfect item to light this sword are the NeoPixel strips (60 LEDs per meter). The complete package is a sword that would light up when you turned it on, and play a sound indicating that it was switched on.…think Star Wars light saber. Once lit the NeoPixels would pulse from blue to purple to red, and back to blue. What weapon would be complete without sounds? To give the sword a more realistic look and sound we used the ADXL345 to be able to detect motion, this would trigger a sound event via the VS1053 breakout.

To complete the package I used 2x liPo 2600mAh batteries hooked in parallel through a UBEC to give a constant and clean 5v for the LED’s and controller.

The costume is designed by Sean Bradley, who also molded the sword parts out of PET Plastic and Resin. DragonCon photos were provided by Brian Humphrey.


Sword body pieces fresh out of the vacuform machine. These will be painted on the inside.



Arduino Micro, ADXL345 accelerometer and VS1053 audio breakout board are concealed within the cast resin handle.



All the pieces coming together. The bubble wrap is presumably there as an LED diffuser. Clever!

halo duo


Completed costumes, ready to wow onlookers at DragonCon!

Touchscreen point-and-shoot, from Adafruit

via Raspberry Pi

LadyAda from Adafruit is one of my very favourite people. We have a tradition of spending at least one evening eating Korean barbecue whenever I visit New York. We have told each other many secrets over bowls of fizzy fermented rice beverage, posed for photographs in front of plastic meats, been filmed pointing at electronics for the New York Times, and behaved very badly together in Pinkberry in September. LadyAda is the perfect combination of super-smart hacker, pink hair and business ninja; her cat Mosfet likes to Skype transatlantically with the Raspberry Pi cat, Mooncake (at least I think that their intense ignoring of each other constitutes “liking”); and we are incredibly fortunate that she saw the Pi and instantly understood what we were trying to do back in 2011. Here she is on the cover of the MagPi. (Click the image to visit the MagPi website, where you can download the issue for free.)

Her business, Adafruit, which employs an army of hackers and makers, does wonderful things with the Pi. They’ve been incredibly helpful to us in getting the word about Raspberry Pi and our educational mission out in North America. Adafruit not only stocks the Raspberry Pi and a whole warehouse-full of compatible electronics; the team also creates some amazing Raspberry Pi add-ons, along with projects and tutorials.

This is Adafruit’s latest Pi project, and it blew our minds.

All the parts you’ll need to create your own point-and-shoot camera using the Raspberry Pi, a Raspberry Pi camera board, and a little touch-screen TFT add-on board that Adafruit have made especially for the Pi, are available from Adafruit (they ship worldwide and are super-friendly). You can also find out how to send your photos to another computer over WiFi, or using Dropbox. As the Adafruit team says:

This isn’t likely to replace your digital camera (or even phone-cam) anytime soon…it’s a simplistic learning exercise and not a polished consumer item…but as the code is open source, you or others might customize it into something your regular camera can’t do.

As always, full instructions on making your own are on the learning section of Adafruit’s website, with a parts list, comprehensive setup instructions, and much more.

Adafruit have been especially prolific this week: we’ll have another project from them to show you in a few days. Thanks to LadyAda, PT, and especially to Phillip Burgess, who engineered this camera project.

Simple Arduino Micro GPS Clock Project #ArduinoMicroMonday

via Arduino Blog

GPS Arduino Micro

Today we start a series of posts in collaboration with Adafruit and focused on Arduino Micro –  every monday follow the hashtag #ArduinoMicroMonday 


Jay put together a nice little video of a GPS clock he built using an Arduino Micro, an Adafruit Ultimate GPS module, and an Adafruit 4-Digit 7-Segment LED Display.

I’ve posted a new video of the small GPS clock project I have been working on this past week.  It’s pretty easy to do, and only needs soldering on the GPS and LED units.  You can mount everything to a breadboard, so you don’t need to commit the parts to the project permanently.

Check the video below and his post:

Arduino Micro in collaboration with Adafruit
Arduino Micro board – Based on the technology behind the Leonardo board, its main feature is the very small size.

The Arduino Micro packs all of the power of the Arduino Leonardo in a 48mm x 18mm module (1.9? x 0.7?).

It makes it easier for makers to embed the Arduino technology inside their projects by providing a small and convenient module that can be either used on a breadboard or soldered to a custom designed PCB.

The Micro has been developed in collaboration with Adafruit Industries, one of the leaders of the Maker movement. Adafruit is already developing a series of accessories for the new board that will complement its power and simplicity.