Tag Archives: Christmas

Digital signal processing with teeny-tiny tap-dancers.

via Raspberry Pi

When we wrote about accelerating Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs) on the Pi back in January, several people asked what sort of real-world application FFTs can have. We talked about numerical analysis, cryptography, spectrograms and software-defined radio, among other things, in the comments on that post. All the same, FFTs are something that those who don’t get excited by maths can find a bit dry, and it can be hard to find a good demonstration of FFTs that works for those of you who like to think about things visually. So I was really pleased to find a link to this project from Pavan Tumati, which makes digital signal processing…decorative. Not to mention festive.

Here, FFTs are performed on music samples on the Raspberry Pi fast enough to detect a beat, and the Pi relays that information to some teeny-tiny tap-dancers, who produce an automated routine that’s synced to the music.

These little tap-dancing guys are from a post-Christmas sales bin. They’re called Happy Tappers, and are made by Hallmark, who, for reasons known only to them, include a port which enables them to interface with their tippy-tapping brothers and sisters – which makes for exciting DIY project possibilities once you add something that’s able to feed them an input. I’ve never seen them on sale in the UK, but if you’re dead set on making your own tap-dancing Pi project, they seem to be available online at eBay, Amazon US, and at some Christmas shops.

(I know: it’s a bit odd posting about Christmas decorations in mid-March. But if the family across the road from me, who still have multicoloured lights flashing away merrily on the tree in their front garden every evening, are anything to go by, Christmas decorations aren’t just for Christmas any more.)

Kids: we’re giving away 2000 Pi kits for your class, or for your home projects!

via Raspberry Pi

You met Lance Howarth, the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation (this means he heads up our charitable giving), when he joined us earlier in the autumn. Today Lance has some news for you – and a very silly hat.

Lance says:

Ho Ho Ho!

He’s leaving presents under the tree, not stealing them. Honest.

Here at Pi Towers we are getting into the festive spirit, and we’ve been thinking how best to pay back the goodwill our community has shown us over the last year. So, in support of “Hour of Code”  as part of Computer Science Education week, we got together with our friends from Google and we are going to give away Pis for Christmas. That’s right: we’re giving away up to 2000 Google Raspberry Pis to anyone under the age of 18 in the United Kingdom. To qualify for a free Pi you need to do one of two things. Either:

  • Get your school to do an “Hour of Code” between now and the end of term and we’ll send a Pi for every participant to your school (up to a maximum of 20), or
  • Design a “My Pi Project” poster and send it to us here at Pi Towers, and we’ll send you your own Raspberry Pi.
How do I take part?

You can get more information on Hour of Code week from our friends at Code.org. They have lots of great ideas of what you can do for the Hour Of Code. If you are a member of Code Club, how about getting your class to have a go at their festive project Christmas Capers? To qualify for your Google Pi, just ask your teacher to register here. At the end of next week we’ll take the first thousand Raspberry Pis and start shipping them out on a first come, first served basis, so the Pis should be waiting for you when you come back to school in January.

Not everyone is going to get the opportunity participate in the Hour of Code week, but don’t worry, you can still get a free Google Pi. All you need to do is design a poster showing us what you think would be a cool Raspberry Pi project. This might be something to do with your pet, like an automatic cat flap or feeder; something to do with photography, like looking at the thermal image of your house; or something festive like controlling the Christmas lights so they flash along to music. If fact, anything will do, we are just looking to see how imaginative you can be and to learn what you think would be a cool project. Once you have designed your poster you need to get your parent to print this form out, fill it in, and then send it with your poster to us by post at:

Poster Competition
Raspberry Pi Foundation
Mount Pleasant House
Huntingdon Road

You can also send us a scan of your poster and completed form by email at postercompetition@raspberrypi.org.

Your poster needs to be with us by the 8th of January, so you’ll have plenty of time to get this done over the Christmas break. So get thinking!

Who ate all the Pis? Santa, of course!

A couple of notes: this promotion is only open to schools and kids in the UK (this requirement is placed on us by our partners at Google UK). You’ll receive Google Pi kits, which include a cased Model B Raspberry Pi, an SD card, a power supply, a copy of The MagPi, some projects recipe cards and a Getting Started guide. If you are a teacher and you send us a successful application, we will be getting in touch later in 2014 to talk about what you’re doing with the Raspberry Pis.

Twelve Pis of Christmas: Pete Lomas

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Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you all found what you were hoping for in your stockings.

Today’s charity auction of a Model A Raspberry Pi and accessories has been set up to benefit Claire House Children’s Hospice, which aims to enhance the quality of life for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. Pete Lomas a Founding Trustee of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and MD of hardware design and manufacture company Norcott Technologies, selected Claire House as his charity. All money raised in this auction will be donated directly to Claire House. Click here, or on Pete’s Christmas visage, to bid! 


Twelve Pis of Christmas: Adafruit

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Today’s festive piece of Model A Pi comes to eBay courtesy of our friends at Adafruit. By now, you know what this is about: we’re auctioning off the first 12 pre-production Model A Raspberry Pis with some other goodies to raise money for other charities over Christmas. Engineers without Borders (EWB) USA were chosen as the beneficiaries of today’s auction by LadyAda and PT over at Adafruit. (EWB USA aren’t listed with Missionfish in the UK, so again, this auction looks a little different from the others – although Raspberry Pi are listed as the beneficiary charity, 100% of the money raised will go to EWB.)

LadyAda, in LEGO form. Click to bid on the Adafruit Pi bundle.

Engineers without Borders works in developing environments on sustainable engineering projects, while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students. You can learn more about them here.

The third Pi of Christmas: Rob Mullins

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Today we’re auctioning one of the first Raspberry Pi Model A production samples on behalf of a charity chosen by Dr Rob Mullins. Rob is one of the founding trustees of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and is a lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Cambridge.

Rob has chosen to donate the money raised from the auction of this Raspberry Pi (which will come bundled with some other goodies – see the listing for more details) to Practical Action, an international charity that uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries.

Dr Rob Mullins

Rob says: “Practical Action aims to reduce poverty. They work with communities around the world, using simple innovative ideas to help make things better. They aim to make long-term improvements and encourage collaboration within the community and beyond. I’ve always been particularly impressed by their approach”.

As with all the auctions in our Twelve Pis of Christmas listings, 100% of the money raised will go to the chosen charity. Get bidding!

Twelve Pis of Christmas: We’re auctioning off the first model As!

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Last year, we auctioned the very first Raspberry Pi Model Bs to come off the line to raise money for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. We’re doing the same this year, but instead of raising money for Raspberry Pi, we have selected (and asked some of our closest partner organisations to select) twelve other charities to benefit from the funds raised. Each of the trustees has also chosen a charity – you’ll get to find out what those were as the auctions progress.

The Pis we are selling on eBay are the first production sample Raspberry Pi Model As to come off the line. They’ll have a tantalisingly low serial number, and you will be one of the first people in the world to own one. We’ll also be bundling some other goodies too, including a Pi Plate from Adafruit, a signed copy of the Raspberry Pi User Guide by Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree, a lovely Raspberry Pi t-shirt, and a signed certificate from the Foundation stating that you are the owner of one of the very first Model As ever to be made.

The first two auctions went live this morning. RS Components have chosen CLIC Sargent, the children’s cancer charity, to benefit from the funds raised from their Pi, and the manufacturing team at Sony in Pencoed (the people who build your Pis) have chosen NSPCC Cymru, the Welsh arm of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Each auction will start at £20 ($32.49).

We’ll be releasing another Pi every day until all twelve are gone: get bidding!

Manuel, the talking moose

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I notice a certain silliness – not to say outright frivolity – surrounding some of your Christmas projects. I’d like to introduce Manuel. He’s a talking moose with a Raspberry Pi for brains, who will repeat your tweets in a Scottish accent, live on video. Manuel is a Christmas installation in the office at Torchbox – head over and make him intone your festive messages.

Manuel undergoes mandibular surgery

Manuel (who, if the above photographs are anything to go by, may well be an antlered donkey rather than a moose) has been hacked about, has had new brains (including a profanity filter) inserted, and has been elegantly mounted on the office wall, the better to intone your tweets. I hope he doesn’t end up in a cupboard after Christmas.

Some Christmas lights projects

via Raspberry Pi

I haven’t even put my tree up yet, but lots of you have been very busy with the Christmas decorations and your Raspberry Pis. Here are some projects you’ve still got time to emulate before Santa comes.

ConsiderIT.co.uk take the whole Internet of Things idea seriously, and have wired up their office with a positive welter of fairy lights and a networked Raspberry Pi. They invite you to come and turn the lights on and off, watching the torment of their employees over a live feed. I took this screengrab from the feed from their office yesterday, and I don’t know whether to feel deep pride or terrible, terrible shame over the fact that these poor people are being subjected to this visual horror in their office courtesy of a Raspberry Pi. Nice job with the hats, guys.

A quiet moment. You should visit the site (click the image) – pretty much everything in that room has something you can make flash attached to it.

If you aren’t a sadist wanting to inflict misery and migraines on the working day of three people in a tiny room, but still want to turn some lights on and off, there’s a similar setup in a UK living room, where tree lights can be turned on and off, which was highlighted in this month’s MagPi. (The tree is turn-on-and-offable in the daytime too, but it’s much more fun at night.)

A screen grab from the live feed. This is a gentler, less guilt-inducing scene than making someone’s office flash: but you can still make these lights blink on and off like the dickens. Click the image to visit the site.

If you’re looking to do something a little less flashy, but still useful, here’s an easy one, which I found linked to from our forums. This timer turns your outdoor lights on and off according to the local sunset and sunrise times. Outside the holiday season, there are plenty of other applications you could use this setup for. You can find software and a shopping list for the hardware you’ll need, alongside helpful diagrams and photos to get you set up, at Savage Home Automation.

A very easy piece of GPIO wiring! Click the image to read more.

Finally, I found this lovely little decoration on Flickr. And assumed it was the sort of thing you buy for vast sums in expensive home interiors shops. But no! It’s a Raspberry Pi hack – just one with fewer protruding wires than we’re used to seeing. This gorgeous little object from Rumtopf  (who has some other amazing projects in his Flickr stream - the candy cane and cookie windmill that powers LEDs is my current favourite) incorporates Cheerlights, which are synchronised with other Cheerlights all over the world according to social networking trends. There’s an Arduino and an XBee radio in the box, talking wirelessly to a Raspberry Pi in another room.

Rumtopf: you should sell these. You’d make a mint. (And I want one!)

Rumtopf has made code for making your own available at Github. Let us know if you make something similar yourselves!


Pre-Christmas T-shirt sale! Get 20% off.

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If you or someone you love is looking for one of our lovely T-shirts, and you live outside the UK, Monday Dec 10 is the last day you’ll be able to order for Christmas delivery. With that in mind, and to make your Christmas pennies go a little further, we’re running a 20% off sale on shirts until Monday evening. It’s a great deal, and as always, all profits go to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which is a charity, to fund worldwide outreach, education and development work.

Rob Bishop, resplendent in a t-shirt. Photo credit Charlotte Spencer.

Christmas music and lights, synched with a Pi

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Chivalry Timbers (I have a feeling that’s not his real name) has gone one step further than all those people who were making flashing pumpkins earlier in the year. He’s hooked up his Pi to a house-sized set of relays and Christmas lights, some MIDI festive tunes, an amplifier and some big speakers, and he’s got the Pi synching the lights to MIDI events. The result…well, video speaks louder than words. Especially if you’ve got the volume turned up.

You can learn how to do something similar to your own electricity bill house on Chivalry Timbers’ blog, where you’ll find software and hardware instructions, a shopping guide and much more in the way of photos and video.

Cat and box of wiring

Chivalry Timbers decided to build a box to house the Pi, amplifier, outlets, relays, and connectors. Here it is, partway through construction, being guarded by Dewey the cat.