Tag Archives: DesignSpark

Infrared camera – you asked us, so we’re making them!

via Raspberry Pi

You may have heard rumours about something we’re calling Pi NoIR (Pi, no infrared) – it’s been a very badly kept secret. Some months ago we featured some work that was being done at Reading Hackspace, where members were removing the infrared filter to use the camera to sense infrared signals, and for low-light work, especially with wildlife. The Reading camera boards ended up going to the Horniman Museum in London, where they’re currently being used to track the activity of corals at night.

A lot of you are interested in wildlife monitoring and photography. London Zoo mentioned to us that the infrared filter on the standard Pi camera board is a barrier to using it in projects like the Kenyan rhino-tracking project they’re running based around the Pi – although the Pi is used as the base of the project and does all the computational tasks required, they started out having to use a more expensive and more power-hungry camera than the Pi camera board, because that IR filter meant that it wasn’t useable at night.

Once the news from Reading Hackspace and the Horniman got out, we were inundated by emails from you, along with comments here on the blog and on the forums, asking for a camera variant with no IR filter. You wanted it for camera effects, for instances where you wanted to be able to see IR beams from remote controls and the like, for low-light photography illuminated by IR, and especially for wildlife photography. Archeologists wanted to take aerial photographs of fields with an IR camera to better see traces of lost buildings and settlements. Some botanists got in touch too: apparently some health problems in trees can be detected early with an IR camera.

Initially we thought it wasn’t going to be something we could do: Sunny, who make the sensor, filter and lens package that’s at the heart of our camera board, did not offer a package without the filter at all. Removing it would mean an extra production line would have to be set up just for us – and they had other worries when we started to talk to them about adding an infrared camera option. They told us they were particularly concerned that users would try to use a camera board without a filter for regular daytime photography, and be would be upset at the image quality. (There’s a reason that camera products usually integrate an infrared filter – the world looks a little odd to our eyes with an extra colour added to the visible spectrum.)

We convinced them that you Pi users are a pragmatic and sensible lot, and would not try to replace a regular camera board with a Pi NoIR – the Pi NoIR is a piece of equipment for special circumstances. So Sunny set up an extra line just for us, to produce the Pi NoIR as a special variant. We will be launching Real Soon Now – modules are on their way and we’re aiming for early November – so keep an eye out here for news about release.

RS Components have got their hands on an early prototype, and Andrew Back produced a blog post about using it in timelapse wildlife photography at night, with infrared illumination. You can read it at DesignSpark, RS’s community hub.

Andrew’s garden is a paradise of slugs.

Jon and JamesH would like you to be aware that the red flashes are most likely due to not letting the camera “warm up” sufficiently before taking each picture. Jon says: “Raspistill defaults to 5 second previews before capture which should be enough. If using the “-t” parameter then don’t set it below 2000. The “-tl” parameter is for timelapse, which doesn’t shut the camera down between picture grabs.” (We’re checking the white balance before release all the same, though.)

Let us know if you’re in the market for a Pi NoIR in the comments. We’d love to hear your plans for one! We’re planning to sell it for $25, the same price as a regular camera module. Check back here: we’ll tell you as soon as it’s released.

Camera board project: time lapse video

via Raspberry Pi

Our friends at DesignSpark have produced a really beautiful time-lapse video with one of our new camera boards. It doesn’t start very beautifully, because it was filmed on a day whose start can best be described as “sodden”, but by afternoon the clouds parted and England started to look exceptionally green and pleasant. If you want to skip the rain, fast-forward to 1m46. (There’s a guest appearance from a double rainbow later on, too.)

You can find detailed instructions on how to make your own time-lapse video with your own camera board over at DesignSpark. Big thanks to Andrew Back for the vid and the tutorial!

Guest post from DesignSpark: Oxford Raspberry Jam

via Raspberry Pi

Here’s a guest post from our friend Pete Wood at RS Component’s community arm, DesignSpark. Pete is one of the organisers of the Oxford Raspberry Jams. This post was first published at www.designspark.com.

Raspberry Jams are now being held all over the world; I’ve been trying to go to about one a month, and am lucky enough to be in Tokyo for some press and meetings while the Tokyo Jam is on later this month. There’s a list of events in each month’s MagPi, and if you’re looking for something near you, it’s worth checking the events page on our forums. If you can’t find a Jam near your home, why not look into setting one up? There’s information on how to get started at the Raspberry Jam website, which Alan O’Donohoe tells me will be getting a redesign in the coming months.

Over to Pete!

This month’s Jam held at DesignSpark HQ in Oxford UK was our biggest turnout yet, with over 30 Pi Geeks crammed into the room!

Raspberry Pi Camera

I kicked off the event by showing the new Raspberry Pi camera module, which will be available from RS Components later in May. In the picture is a pre-production module, the production version is a couple of millimetres taller. The camera gives stunning HD video from a 5MP sensor at 30 FPS.

Digital Signage

Next up was one of my RS colleagues, Pete Milne, who showed us his Digital Signage application. Pete has connected up a network of Raspberry Pis to flat screen TVs here at the RS Oxford Offices and at our main facility in Corby, Northamptonshire. The Pis run a libreoffice slideshow in a continuous loop and display Health and Safety messages for RS employees. He’s been running these continuously for over 8 weeks without having to re-boot, so it’s very robust. The Pis runs without a keyboard or mouse and the content can be updated remotely over the network.

If you want to create your own Digital Signage Application, Pete has shared how to do it on GitHub. Just follow the INSTALL file for setup details.

Wii Controller Car

Oxford Raspberry Jam regular Alex Eames presented another cool little project using a Wii controller and Nunchuck. This one was for controlling a remote control car that has an on-board Raspberry Pi with Bluetooth dongle. It also allows the control of brake lights, headlights and indicators and also drives an aircraft propeller. Alex plans to build all this into the car itself, which would need to accommodate the Pi, the electronics hanging of the GPIO, some model aircraft batteries and the motor and fan. Alex, I think you need a bigger car… how about a Monster Truck?

You can read more about Alex’s project on his blog.

Giant Video Wall

Our next demo was one that has been featured on the Raspberry Pi site a few weeks ago for a Raspberry Pi powered video wall. Alex and Colin from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) have built this system in C and some Python Code. It has clever features like bezel compensation to accommodate different styles of screens. They showed a 4 screen setup, but have also run a 9+4 configuration. The software is scalable to any size or shape. Each screen needs a Pi, and one separate Pi is used as the master. This is a classic example showing that you can build your own video wall for a fraction of the price of a commercial solution that would certainly cost a lot more! Chaps, I can see a business opportunity here for screening big screen sporting events on a budget down my local pub. ;0) They expect to licence the software/design at some point. More details are available on their website.

Motion Detected Camera

Another Oxford Jam regular, Dave R, showed his Pi with a webcam motion detection system and linked to a DSLR. Dave created this for his bird table, to capture pictures of birds when they land on the table, I think I need to build a similar solution to stop my kids from stealing my Haribos…

Touch Screen Display

Paul had two projects to show. The first was a simple touch screen for the Pi to allow control and display. Paul was reading and displaying temperatures. The screens are semi-intelligent, storing screen images and having a sound output available. The screen images are loaded via a Windows app and USB connection. The Pi can then control the display of those images.

Sky Remote Controlled LED Lighting

The second demonstration was a programmable LED strip and infrared receiver, controlled by a Sky TV remote control. A simple Python script reads the codes from a remote control. He could the use this to flash the LEDs in various patterns and colours. The LEDs are driven by SPI and can be daisychained up to 1024 LEDs.

ChiPhone

Paul M and Annierei L, showed us their ChiPhone box. ChiPi is an Electronic messaging system for children allowing them to send and receive voice messages. They have designed a child friendly box with large buttons and microphone. With simple record and ‘To/play’ buttons it makes for an easy messaging system connected to the internet via WiFi. You can find out more about their project on their website.

Pi Keyword Cruncher

Pi Jam regular and Data Geek John finished off our live demos by showing us his Pi based RSS feed collector and keyword analysis tool. The Pi collects data from various RSS feeds every 30 minutes and stores the results in a MySQL database. The data is then used to monitor trends in keywords, which over time show either peaks of activity or trends of ‘chatter’ about specific topics. The advantage of John using his Raspberry Pi Instead of his 50W laptop, is that it the Pi only takes 2W and can be left on all the time. It also frees up his laptop to do other tasks.

RaspBMC Toddler In-Car Entertainment System

The final presentation of the evening from one of my Jam co-hosts Alex Gibson, who in true Hollywood awards winners style couldn’t attend in person so sent a video message! Alex’s video featured his project for a Pi based RaspBMC In-Car Toddler entertainment system. One of the most impressive bits was a headrest bracket he had printed out on his Raspberry Pi-based 3D printer.

Thanks to all those who showed their projects. Looking forward to the next event!

We have loads more excellent Raspberry Pi content on DesignSpark, check out our Raspberry Pi Design Centre.

Products (Nanode, An Industry Perspective, Licensing Update)

via OSHUG

Coming up for a year ago, at OSHUG #16, we heard three first-hand experiences of developing open source hardware designs into finished products. At the twenty-third meeting we'll further explore this topic through reflections on the Nanode project as it approaches its second anniversary, and an industry perspective on developing open source hardware. There will also be an update on developments in open source hardware licensing, a subject that was explored at the second OSHUG meeting back in May 2010.

As Nanode Approaches Two

With the second anniversary of the Nanode project approaching and in excess of 2,500 sold worldwide, this talk looks at the initial aims, commercialisation and spin-offs as a typical open source hardware design. Exploring the concept, start-up phase and challenge of maintaining momentum in a constantly evolving open source marketplace.

Ken Boak has worked in electronics hardware design for 25 years. Initially with BBC Research Department where Ken worked on early HDTV digital picture processing systems. In 1998 Ken embarked on ten years in telecommunications and volume product production in the Far East. Recently Ken has worked on scientific and educational instruments, and open source systems both in the UK and USA.

Open Source Hardware Licensing Update

It's been a busy time in open source hardware licensing - CERN's Open Hardware Licence has been undergoing a lot of work behind the scenes, and a new version is about to be released. There are rumours of a new version of the TAPR Open Hardware licence, and the debate between copyleft and academic licences rages on. Andrew Katz has been involved of all of these activities and will provide an update on the current state of licensing, and some pointers on the best licence to adopt.

Andrew Katz is a partner at boutique law firm Moorcrofts LLP in the Thames Valley. He specialises in IT/IP work, and in particular advises clients on licensing and liability issues around open source software.He was involved in drafting both GPL3 and the England and Wales version of the Creative Commons licence as well as all major open hardware licences. Many years ago, he designed and built a Z80 SS50 bus-based computer system, created a lightweight version of the Citroen Dyane, mainly by ripping it body off, and hacked together an air compressor from bits and pieces found in a scrapyard. He is currently part-time interim COO of the Maria DB foundation.

Developing Open Source Hardware: an Industry Perspective

RS Components have developed a new platform for which the hardware design will be published under an open source licence. This talk will provide an overview of this exciting new development and provide an insight into the motivations for making the design freely available to all. The product development and manufacturing process will also be covered in brief along with some of the challenges experienced, and the broader project goals and ongoing commitment to the open source community.

Mike Brojak is responsible at RS Components for the development of free resources for electronics engineers, and believes in helping engineers to be more productive in order to achieve their highest potential. His technical background is in hardware and software for embedded systems, primarily for mobile automation control. He has an Electronics Systems Design degree from Oxford Brookes University.

Note: Please aim to arrive for 18:00 - 18:20 as the event will start at 18:30 prompt.

Sponsored by:

Practical System-on-Chip (Program your own open source FPGA SoC)

via OSHUG

At the ninth OSHUG meeting we were given an introduction to FPGA development, and to the OpenCores community and the OpenRISC 1000 open source processor family. At the seventeenth OSHUG meeting we will be given a comprehensive introduction to the practicalities of programming your own open source FPGA system-on-chip.

How to Program Your Own Open Source FPGA System-on-Chip

It is possible to buy a FPGA prototyping board like the Terasic DE0-nano, capable of running a complete 32-bit System-on-Chip for around £50. Even larger boards with the memory capacity to bring up a full Linux system on the design cost a few hundred pounds.

In this talk Julius Baxter and Jeremy Bennett will present the OpenRISC architecture and OpenRISC Reference Platform SoC (ORPSoC), and show how to take this open source design and get it running on an FPGA board.

This is a practical evening, aimed at users who have never done any chip design. Using a Xilinx ML501 prototyping board, Julius Baxter will demonstrate all the steps from obtaining the initial hardware design through to bringing up the board and booting a full Linux system.

The following topics will be covered:

  • an overview of OpenCores and the OpenRISC project
  • an introduction to the Verilog Hardware Design Language
  • how to synthesize the design into a FPGA bitstream
  • what needs modifying to run on different boards
  • how to get software running
  • porting a simple (newlib) library to the board
  • demonstration of Linux booting

Note that this will be an interactive session, and participants are encouraged to bring along their own FPGA dev boards and laptops and to join in, should they wish. If you have a board that is not listed as having a preconfigured ORPSoC build, or you have any other questions concerning the practicalities of this, you should direct your question to the OSHUG discussion list.

Julius Baxter has been involved with the OpenRISC project for 4 years, and during that time he's worked on everything from processor Verilog RTL to the Linux kernel port. After finishing undergraduate studies in his native Australia, he then studied a System-on-Chip design Master's at KTH in Stockholm, Sweden, while working at ORSoC AB - the owners and operators of OpenCores.org. Now living and working Cambridge, Julius maintains a role as an active developer and maintainer on the OpenRISC project, largely dealing with RTL, toolchain and architecture work.

Dr Jeremy Bennett is Chief Executive of Embecosm which provides open source services, tools and models to facilitate embedded software development with complex systems-on-chip. He has been involved with OpenCores for the past decade, and is responsible for much of the software tool chain. Contact him at jeremy.bennett@embecosm.com.

Note: Please aim to arrive for 18:00 - 18:20 as the event will start at 18:30 prompt.

Sponsored by:

Manufacturing (Breadboard to Finished Product, Arduino Shield, Modular RepRap Electronics)

via OSHUG

At the sixteenth OSHUG meeting we will be hearing about first-hand experiences of taking an open source hardware design from being a project to a product. With insights into prototyping, some of the manufacturing options available and the challenges that may be encountered.

From Breadboard to Finished Product

You have a cool project, people are sending you emails asking where they could get their hands on one and you find yourself googling "electronics manufacturing"... Should you get yourself a toaster oven and start a miniature production line in your living room or should you just outsource it? What challenges await you if you decide to go down the contract manufacturing route? This talk aims to give the audience an overview of the electronics manufacturing process, using a project recently completed by the speaker as a case study.

Omer Kilic is theoretically still a research student at the University of Kent, although he intends to submit his thesis (which is about a reconfigurable heterogeneous computing framework) pretty soon. He likes tiny computers, things that 'just work' and beer. He currently works for Erlang Solutions in London, exploring the use of Erlang programming language in the Embedded Systems domain and develops tools and support material to help the adoption of this technology.

Arduino Shield: From Design to Manufacturing

The Arduino CAN-Bus shield gives the Arduino CAN-Bus capability. In this presentation we will learn about the design process from PCB layout and prototyping, to testing with a simulator and eventually testing with a real car. And about the perils of using a simulator, small scale production and outsourcing.

Sukkin Pang is a design engineer and a director at SK Pang Electronics Ltd. He graduated from the University of Hertfordshire and has over 20 years of industrial experience. He is passionate about open source hardware and has four Arduino shields published. He used to tinker in assembler on the Z80, 6502, PIC and AVR, but nowadays he mainly uses C and C++.

Design and Build of Modular RepRap Electronics

After meeting at OggCamp 2011 a number of people decided to form a Thames Valley area group for those interested in using and building RepRap 3D printers, and Thames Valley RepRap User Group (TVRRUG) was born. Alan Wood offered to help out with the electronics side of printer builds, expecting that only a handful 3D printing geeks would join up. One month later the group were organising a build of 20 RepRaps and 30 complete sets of electronics! They had originally decided to go with a kit-based approach for this, but couldn't find a modular candidate that would meet their requirements. So they took matters into their own hands and Alan and the group designed a new modular kit [See: DSMM and OMC] that can be used both with RepRap and other Cartesian robotic platforms. In this talk Alan will go through the distributed design and build process they adopted, as well as covering details of the design itself.

Alan Wood originally trained in systems engineering, got lost in software engineering and open source for a decade, before returning back to his hardware roots via the open source hardware and makers movement that has gathered momentum over the last few years.

Note: Please aim to arrive for 18:00 - 18:20 as the talks will start at 18:30 prompt.

Sponsored by:

Manufacturing (Breadboard to Finished Product, Arduino Shield, Modular RepRap Electronics)

via OSHUG

At the sixteenth OSHUG meeting we will be hearing about first-hand experiences of taking an open source hardware design from being a project to a product. With insights into prototyping, some of the manufacturing options available and the challenges that may be encountered.

From Breadboard to Finished Product

You have a cool project, people are sending you emails asking where they could get their hands on one and you find yourself googling "electronics manufacturing"... Should you get yourself a toaster oven and start a miniature production line in your living room or should you just outsource it? What challenges await you if you decide to go down the contract manufacturing route? This talk aims to give the audience an overview of the electronics manufacturing process, using a project recently completed by the speaker as a case study.

Omer Kilic is theoretically still a research student at the University of Kent, although he intends to submit his thesis (which is about a reconfigurable heterogeneous computing framework) pretty soon. He likes tiny computers, things that 'just work' and beer. He currently works for Erlang Solutions in London, exploring the use of Erlang programming language in the Embedded Systems domain and develops tools and support material to help the adoption of this technology.

Arduino Shield: From Design to Manufacturing

The Arduino CAN-Bus shield gives the Arduino CAN-Bus capability. In this presentation we will learn about the design process from PCB layout and prototyping, to testing with a simulator and eventually testing with a real car. And about the perils of using a simulator, small scale production and outsourcing.

Sukkin Pang is a design engineer and a director at SK Pang Electronics Ltd. He graduated from the University of Hertfordshire and has over 20 years of industrial experience. He is passionate about open source hardware and has four Arduino shields published. He used to tinker in assembler on the Z80, 6502, PIC and AVR, but nowadays he mainly uses C and C++.

Design and Build of Modular RepRap Electronics

After meeting at OggCamp 2011 a number of people decided to form a Thames Valley area group for those interested in using and building RepRap 3D printers, and Thames Valley RepRap User Group (TVRRUG) was born. Alan Wood offered to help out with the electronics side of printer builds, expecting that only a handful 3D printing geeks would join up. One month later the group were organising a build of 20 RepRaps and 30 complete sets of electronics! They had originally decided to go with a kit-based approach for this, but couldn't find a modular candidate that would meet their requirements. So they took matters into their own hands and Alan and the group designed a new modular kit [See: DSMM and OMC] that can be used both with RepRap and other Cartesian robotic platforms. In this talk Alan will go through the distributed design and build process they adopted, as well as covering details of the design itself.

Alan Wood originally trained in systems engineering, got lost in software engineering and open source for a decade, before returning back to his hardware roots via the open source hardware and makers movement that has gathered momentum over the last few years.

Note: Please aim to arrive for 18:00 - 18:20 as the talks will start at 18:30 prompt.

Sponsored by:

Community (mbed, DesignSpark, London Hackspace)

via OSHUG

As with open source software, the development of open source hardware is characterised by not only liberal licensing but by communities that engage in open, collaborative development. For the fourth meeting we'll be joined by speakers from three hardware communities, and gaining an insight into their operation and the motivations of the various stakeholders involved, whilst considering what open source hardware means to them.

mbed - Rapid Prototyping for Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are getting cheaper, more powerful and more flexible, but there remains a barrier to a host of new applications; someone has to build the first prototype. There is no reason why it has to be so hard, but without the right tools, it really is. So mbed has tackled this by being a tool for the sole purpose of developing prototypes. We haven't had to dumb down the technology; it's all built on industry standard stuff. We've just done a lot of the groundwork for you, and made the trade-offs and choices appropriate for the task, so you don't have to. With the right tools for the job, you'll be more adventurous, inventive and productive. But best of all, you'll love building things with microcontrollers again. We built it for ourelves really!

Chris Styles graduated from Imperial College in 1996 with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. After a few years spent gaining a range of experience in the industry, he joined ARM as an application engineer. For six years he helped numerous ARM partners around the world through the process of turning IP into silicon, supporting them by email and through working onsite at their offices. For the last three years Chris has been a part of a small team developing mbed. The original idea was conceived between Chris and Simon Ford as they both struggled to resolve their frustrations with applying ARM microcontroller technology outside of the embedded profession.

DesignSpark - The gateway to online resources and design support for engineers

DesignSpark is an interactive and social community for electronic design engineers. It allows members to share information and ideas, network with industry experts and partners, read and create reviews, gain and share knowledge and the opportunity to peruse a whole host of development kits. It also hosts the Spark Store, which provides free (as in beer) tools such as DesignSpark PCB for community members to download.

Lee Stacey is community manager at DesignSpark and was formerly an electronics engineer with Beyerdynamic, specialising in audio amplification and processing.

London Hackspace

The London Hackspace is a non-profit, community-run hacker space in central London. It provides a space where people who make things can come to share tools and knowledge.

Tom Doran (London Hackspace)

Community (mbed, DesignSpark, London Hackspace)

via OSHUG

As with open source software, the development of open source hardware is characterised by not only liberal licensing but by communities that engage in open, collaborative development. For the fourth meeting we'll be joined by speakers from three hardware communities, and gaining an insight into their operation and the motivations of the various stakeholders involved, whilst considering what open source hardware means to them.

mbed - Rapid Prototyping for Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are getting cheaper, more powerful and more flexible, but there remains a barrier to a host of new applications; someone has to build the first prototype. There is no reason why it has to be so hard, but without the right tools, it really is. So mbed has tackled this by being a tool for the sole purpose of developing prototypes. We haven't had to dumb down the technology; it's all built on industry standard stuff. We've just done a lot of the groundwork for you, and made the trade-offs and choices appropriate for the task, so you don't have to. With the right tools for the job, you'll be more adventurous, inventive and productive. But best of all, you'll love building things with microcontrollers again. We built it for ourelves really!

Chris Styles graduated from Imperial College in 1996 with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. After a few years spent gaining a range of experience in the industry, he joined ARM as an application engineer. For six years he helped numerous ARM partners around the world through the process of turning IP into silicon, supporting them by email and through working onsite at their offices. For the last three years Chris has been a part of a small team developing mbed. The original idea was conceived between Chris and Simon Ford as they both struggled to resolve their frustrations with applying ARM microcontroller technology outside of the embedded profession.

DesignSpark - The gateway to online resources and design support for engineers

DesignSpark is an interactive and social community for electronic design engineers. It allows members to share information and ideas, network with industry experts and partners, read and create reviews, gain and share knowledge and the opportunity to peruse a whole host of development kits. It also hosts the Spark Store, which provides free (as in beer) tools such as DesignSpark PCB for community members to download.

Lee Stacey is community manager at DesignSpark and was formerly an electronics engineer with Beyerdynamic, specialising in audio amplification and processing.

London Hackspace

The London Hackspace is a non-profit, community-run hacker space in central London. It provides a space where people who make things can come to share tools and knowledge.

Tom Doran (London Hackspace)