Tag Archives: Adafruit

Zero grows a camera connector

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When we launched Raspberry Pi Zero last November, it’s fair to say we were blindsided by the level of demand. We immediately sold every copy of MagPi issue 40 and every Zero in stock at our distributors; and every time a new batch of Zeros came through from the factory they’d sell out in minutes. To complicate matters, Zero then had to compete for factory space with Raspberry Pi 3, which was ramping for launch at the end of February.

Happily, Mike was able to take advantage of the resulting production hiatus to add the most frequently demanded “missing” feature to Zero: a camera connector. Through dumb luck, the same fine-pitch FPC connector that we use on the Compute Module Development Kit just fits onto the right hand side of the board, as you can see here.


Raspberry Pi Zero, now with added camera goodness

To connect the camera to the Zero, we offer a custom six-inch adapter cable. This converts from the fine-pitch connector format to the coarser pitch used by the camera board. Liz has a great picture of Mooncake, the official Raspberry Pi cat, attempting to eat the camera cable. She won’t let me use it in this post so that you aren’t distracted from the pictures of the new Zero itself. I’ve a feeling she’ll be tweeting it later today.


FPC adapter cable

To celebrate our having designed the perfect high altitude ballooning (HAB) controller, Dave Akerman will be launching a Zero, a camera and the new GPS+RTTY+LoRa radio board that he designed with Anthony Stirk, from a field in the Welsh Marches later today. You can follow along here and here, and in the meantime marvel at the Jony Ive-quality aesthetics of today’s payload.

Give me blue styrofoam and a place to stand...

Give me blue styrofoam and a place to stand…

You can buy Raspberry Pi Zero in Europe from our friends at The Pi Hut and Pimoroni, and in the US from Adafruit and in-store at your local branch of Micro Center. There are roughly 30,000 new Zeros out there today, and we’ll be making thousands more each day until demand is met.

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Weather, security and temperature cam

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We see a lot of Raspberry Pis being used as security cameras – check out this fine example that we blogged back in 2013 – they’re a cheap and effective solution for people who want to deter burglars and vandals.

This very serious-looking camera housing is only £5.49 on Amazon - click the image to buy.

This very serious-looking fake camera housing is only £5.49 on Amazon – click the image to buy, and then stick a camera board inside.

The good folks at Adafruit had one of those ideas that makes you slap yourself in the forehead for not coming up with it yourself. They’ve made a camera system which can upload images to the cloud, so you can check on it from wherever you are – but it also uploads other sensor data of your choosing (in this example, temperature) and graphs it using matplotlib. A sort of proto-Nest, if you will.

camera_monitor_picam_and_temp_on_pitft v1

We’re using Adafruit’s adafruit.io here: it’s their new Internet of Things API. It’s still in Beta, but pretty solid; we’d be interested to hear how you get on with it.

You can find an exhaustive how-to here. Jeremy Blythe from Adafruit says:

This project uses two Raspberry PIs – a sender and a receiver. The sender has a Raspberry Pi Camera and an MCP9808 temperature sensor to publish data to adafruit.io. The receiver, a dashboard somewhere else in the world, subscribes to this data feed and displays it.

This dashboard Raspberry Pi has a PiTFT and displays the image whenever it’s sent to the feed (every 5 minutes), the current temperature is overlaid on the image using pygame. The final cherry on the cake here is that if you tap the screen you flip to the graph view. This takes the data from the feed using the io-client-python data method, pulls out the last 24 hours and uses matplotlib to draw a graph of temp/time. Of course, you can see the feeds in the adafruit.io online dashboard too!

There’s a lot you can do in terms of feature-creep here; we’re thinking about what other sensors you could usefully add, and what else you might be able to do with a big dataset of images. Go wild – and tell us if you make one yourselves!


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Raspberry Pi physical dashboard

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You can do an awful lot with a seven-segment display, a dial and some imagination. Happily for us all, the good folks at Adafruit have metaphorical and literal buckets of all those things, and have come up with a project which is completely customisable, a lot of fun, and should hopefully teach you a thing or two about connected data.

Raspberry Pi Physical Dashboard

Build a fun re-usable dashboard to show metrics and other information with LED displays and automotive gauges.

Full instructions are, as always, available over at Adafruit – let us know what you use yours for! (I’m thinking news ticker, weather, inbox, time until next meeting…)


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Christmas gifts for 2015

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Don’t stress about it: like you, nobody here has finished their Christmas shopping either. Here’s our annual roundup of the best presents for the Raspberry Pi fan in your life, so you can make them grateful to you all year long.

Mod My Pi starter kit

Mod My Pi starter kit

First, and most obviously, we recommend you buy a Raspberry Pi 2 for any Pi-lover who doesn’t have one yet. They’re our most powerful and flexible model, come in at only $35, and are available on their own or as kits. They’re on sale widely, so shop around for a bare board. If you want a kit, we recommend Pimoroni’s, The Pi Hut’s, or Mod My Pi’s. If you’re in the USA, try Adafruit’s starter kit, which also comes with a handful of prototyping essentials.

Sense Hat at work

Sense Hat at work – photo courtesy of Martin O’Hanlon

This year at Pi Towers, we’ve been preoccupied with space. Last week, two Raspberry Pis were sent to the International Space Station, where British ESA astronaut Tim Peake will be running experiments designed by British schoolkids on them. The Astro Pis are both equipped with  Sense HATs, which are bristling with sensors: a magnetometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, hygrometer and barometric pressure sensor. The Sense HAT also has a teeny joystick and a very blingy, programmable LED matrix. You can buy a Sense HAT from all the usual suspects so you can use exactly the same hardware that’s being used on the International Space Station – and we’ve got lots of activities to get you started with one.


DOTs board

The DOTs board is a new add-on board from Rachel Rayns, our Creative Producer. You can program it to run games and activities using conductive paint. A DOTs board will set you back just £5 from The Pi Hut, and a pen full of conductive paint £7.RasPiO-GPIO-ruler_KS-graphic3_700

The RasP.iO GPIO ruler is a super-useful quick reference tool for anybody doing physical computing with their Raspberry Pi’s GPIO. (It’s also enjoyably twangy.) It’s only £5.50, complete with global shipping, from RasP.iO.


CamJam EduKit #2

We see a lot of electronics kits. Our favourites by a very, very long margin are the CamJam Edukits, which are outstanding value for money, brilliantly flexible, and come with a whole suite of free worksheets. My personal favourite is EduKit 2, at only £7, which contains buzzers, an immersible temperature sensor (for projects involving cups of tea), a PIR (infrared) sensor and an LDR (visible light) sensor, along with LEDs, resistors, breadboard and everything else you’ll need to build a whole host of sensor projects. You can buy all three EduKits at The Pi Hut, which ships globally.


PiBorg’s 4Borg

PiBorg are our favourite roboteers. They’ve just come out with their first sub-£100 robot (I got one a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a beautifully robust piece of kit). The 4Borg, which takes an hour or so to build, is pretty special, and pricey enough at £99 to be someone’s main under-the-tree present rather than a stocking filler. It’s a heck of a robot, and makes a wonderful gift for anybody interested in electronics or robot-building.

Christmas Tree SnowPi

Seasonal GPIO add-ons for your Pi are always good fun in a stocking. The Christmas Tree from The Pi Hut and the SnowPi from Ryanteck are both great value at under £6, and are great beginners’ soldering projects. Once soldered up, they become beginners’ programming kits – we think they’re some of the best value you’ll see in a stocking filler.

Soldering starter kit

Soldering starter kit

People beginning to solder will need a beginner’s soldering set. This inexpensive kit from Amazon has everything you’ll need to get started.

Free extra day in February

Free extra day in February!

Every home needs a calendar on the back of the kitchen door. Here’s the Official Raspberry Pi Calendar, so your kitchen door can match mine.


If you want to keep the Christmas giving going all year, how about a subscription to The MagPi, our official magazine?


We weren’t able to choose a single favourite from Pimoroni’s HAT selection. My personal favourite is the £15 Piano HAT (above), with which you can make beautiful music if you have very tiny fingers. But they’ve got lots to choose from: displays, capacitive touch, prototyping platforms and much more. Check out the whole selection.


Books deserve a section all of their own. Our unabashed favourite is Adventures in Raspberry Pi by our very own Carrie Anne Philbin. You can buy the book along with an electronics part kit so you can do all the projects, from Pimoroni. Pimoroni also offer Adventures in Minecraft with an accompanying electronics part kit, which will keep Minecraft fans busy for the whole holiday.

Books we really enjoyed this year include the wonderful Hello Ruby – we don’t think we’ve seen a better (or more enjoyable) introduction to computational thinking for young kids. Lauren Ipsum is a similar sort of concept for older children, based (very loosely!) around Alice in Wonderland. We highly recommend both.

Python Playground has some fantastic projects to take people with a little Python experience to the next level. We really enjoyed the laser show, the stereogram (Magic Eye, for those of a certain age) and Spirograph activities. The publisher, No Starch Press, has some really great programming books in their catalogue – they’re accessible and enjoyable, and the whole series comes highly recommended.

Another projects book we’ve really enjoyed this year comes from Mike Cook (who has a monthly projects column in The MagPi). Raspberry Pi Projects for Dummies will see you fitting out ketchup bottles with accelerometers and building glitter lamps that generate free jazz (really).

Merry Christmas!

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Light painting with a Raspberry Pi

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Before we get to the meat of today’s post, we’ve two bits of news. Just over an hour ago we watched the Soyuz rocket carrying British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who will be in charge of the two Astro Pis on the ISS, lift off. The Soyuz will dock with the ISS around 17:24 GMT today: please join us following Tim’s progress on Twitter from about 16:45 GMT. (You can also watch live footage at NASA TV.)

In other Raspberry Pi community news, we’re very pleased to announce that Yasmin Bey, a 14-year-old Pi developer from Southend, organiser of school computer clubs, and friend of many at Pi Towers, won the EU Digital Girl of the Year award, which this year was awarded jointly with Niamh Scanlon from Dublin. We’ve been watching Yasmin’s progress over the last year or so: she’s an astonishingly focussed and exceptionally smart girl, and we wish her all the success in the world. Well done Yasmin – we’re really proud of you!

Back to light painting.


LadyAda from New York’s Adafruit dropped me a very short email at the end of last week, saying “You must see this.” As usual, she was right. This is one of the most eye-catching projects we’ve come across this year.

What you’re seeing in the photo above is a persistence of vision (POV) effect, where a slow shutter speed is used to capture a row of LEDs which change as they’re moved across the frame (in this instance by someone carrying and sweeping the LEDs from one side of the picture to the other over a period of a couple of seconds).


It’s a really impressive effect, and it’s a rig you should be able to build yourself at home, using a Raspberry Pi and some additional kit. Adafruit has covered the subject before, but they’ve discovered that their new DotStar LEDs make things much easier and much better looking. DotStar LEDs use generic 2-wire SPI, so you can push data much faster than with the NeoPixels’ 800 KHz protocol, and you don’t need to mess around with specific timing functions. They also have much higher pulse width modulation (PWM), which means that things look a lot smoother and less flickery than in POV projects made with other LEDs. Result: cleaner, more detailed light painting.


Adafruit have a made a very thorough tutorial which will help you build a 1m light painter which can support most common image formats. They’ve also helpfully included instructions on making your photos taken with this setup as bright and sharp as possible.


We’re wondering if we have enough time to build our own rig for Christmas. If you make your own, please post a link in the comments!


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Windows 10 Core Starter Pack for Raspberry Pi 2

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When we released Raspberry Pi 2 in February this year, we announced that Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Core, a version of Windows 10 for small Internet-of-Things devices that may or may not have a screen, would be available for the device. Since the Windows Insider release of Windows 10 Core in August, we’ve found that lots of people looking for a Pi 2 are arriving at sellers’ websites from sites catering for Windows developers. Many Windows developers are coming to Raspberry Pi for the first time; we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome them, and we hope they’ll encounter much success and plenty of fun building with Raspberry Pi.

Yesterday, Microsoft and Adafruit announced the release of a new Windows 10 Core Starter Pack for Raspberry Pi 2.

Windows 10 Core Starter Pack for Raspberry Pi 2

We’re proud to announce that we are partnering with Adafruit to release a new Starter Kit designed to get you started quickly and easily on your path of learning either electronics or Windows 10 IoT Core and the Raspberry Pi 2. – Steve Teixera on the Windows Blog

The pack is available with a Pi 2 for people who are are new to Raspberry Pi or who’d like a dedicated device for their projects, or without one for those who’ll be using a Pi they already own. The box contains an SD card with Windows 10 Core and a case, power supply, wifi module and Ethernet cable for your Pi; a breadboard, jumper wires and components including LEDs, potentiometers and switches; and sensors for light, colour, temperature and pressure. There’s everything you need to start building.

The Windows 10 Core Starter Pack website provides very clear directions for setting up your PC and programming environment and your Raspberry Pi. It also has links to tutorials for four carefully chosen projects to get you up and running on hackster.io.

You can buy the Windows 10 Core Starter Pack from Adafruit, and Microsoft will be showing it off at a demo area in the Maker Shed at World Maker Faire in New York this weekend, where there will also be packs available to purchase.

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