Tag Archives: Maker Faire

Meet us at Maker Faire Bay Area 2019

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We’ll be attending Maker Faire Bay Area this month and we’d love to see as many of you there as we can, so be sure to swing by the Raspberry Pi stand and say hi!

Our North America team will be on-hand and hands-on all weekend to show you the wonders of the Raspberry Pi, with some great tech experiments for you to try. Do you like outer space? Of course, why wouldn’t you? So come try out the Sense HAT, our multi-sensor add-on board that we created especially for our two Astro Pi units aboard the International Space Station!

We’ll also have stickers, leaflets, and a vast array of information to share about the Raspberry Pi, our clubs and programmes, and how you can get more involved in the Raspberry Pi community.

And that’s not all!

Onstage talks!

Matt Richardson, Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation North America and all-round incredible person, will be making an appearance on the Make: Electronics by Digi-Key stage at 3pm Saturday 18 May to talk about Making Art with Raspberry Pi.

Matt Richardson

Hi, Matt!

And I’m presenting too! On the Sunday, I’ll be on the DIY Content Creators Stage at 12:30pm with special guests Joel “3D Printing Nerd” Telling and Estefannie Explains it All for a live recording of my podcast to discuss the importance of community for makers and brands.

There will also be a whole host of incredible creations by makers from across the globe, and a wide variety of talks and presentations throughout the weekend. So if you’re a fan of creative contraptions and beastly builds, you’ll be blown away at this year’s Maker Faire.

Showcasing your projects

If you’re planning to attend Maker Faire to showcase your project, we want to hear from you. Leave a comment below with information on your build so we can come and find you on the day. Our trusty videographer Fiacre and I will be scouting for our next favourite Raspberry Pi make, and we’ll also have Andrew with us, who is eager to fill the pages of HackSpace magazine with any cool, creative wonders we find — Pi-related or otherwise!

Discounted tickets!

Maker Fair Bay Area 2019 will be running at the San Mateo County Event Center from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 May.

If you’re in the area and would like to attend Maker Fair Bay Area, make use of  our 15% community discount on tickets. Wooh!

For more information on Maker Faire, check out the Maker Faire website, or follow Maker Faire on Twitter.

See you there!

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Beowulf Clusters, node visualisation and more with Pi VizuWall

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Pi VizuWall is a multi-Raspberry Pi MPI computing system with a difference. And the difference is servo motors!

Pi VizWall at Maker Faire Miami

We can thank Estefannie for this gem. While attending Maker Faire Miami earlier this month, she shared a video of Pi VizWall on her Instagram Stories. And it didn’t take long for me to ask for an introduction to the project’s owner, Matt Trask.

I sent Matt a series of questions in relation to the project so I could write a blog post, but Matt’s replies were so wonderfully detailed that it seems foolish to try and reword them.

So here are the contents of Matt’s email replies, in their entirety, for you all to enjoy.

Parallel computing system

The project is a parallel computing system built according to the Beowulf cluster architecture, the same as most of the world’s largest and fastest supercomputers. It runs a system called MPI (Message Passing Interface) that breaks a program up into smaller pieces that can be sent over the network to other nodes for execution.

A Beowulf cluster at Michigan Tech

Beowulf clusters and MPI were invented in 1994 by a pair of NASA contractors, and they totally disrupted the high-performance computer industry by driving the cost of parallel computing way down. By now, twenty-five years later, the Beowulf cluster architecture is found in approximately 88% of the world’s largest parallel computing systems.

Going back to university

I’m currently an undergraduate student at Florida Atlantic University, completing a neglected Bachelor’s Degree from 1983. In the interim, I have had a wonderful career as a Computer Engineer, working with every generation of Personal Computer technology. My main research that I do at the University is focused on a new architecture for parallel clusters that uses traditional Beowulf hardware (enterprise-class servers with InfiniBand as the interconnect fabric) but modifies the Linux operating system in order to combine the resources (RAM, processor cores) from all the nodes in the cluster and make them appear as a single system that is the sum of all the resources. This is also known as a ‘virtual mainframe’.

The Ninja Gap

In the world of parallel supercomputers (branded ‘high-performance computing, or HPC), system manufacturers are motivated to sell their HPC products to industry, but industry has pushed back due to what they call the “Ninja Gap”. MPI programming is hard. It is usually not learned until the programmer is in grad school at the earliest, and given that it takes a couple of years to achieve mastery of any particular discipline, most of the proficient MPI programmers are PhDs. And this, is the Ninja Gap — industry understands that the academic system cannot and will not be able to generate enough ‘ninjas’ to meet the needs of industry if industry were to adopt HPC technology.

Studying Message Passing Interface

As part of my research into parallel computing systems, I have studied the process of learning to program with MPI and have found that almost all current practitioners are self-taught, coming from disciplines other than computer science. Actual undergraduate CS programs rarely offer MPI programming. Thus my motivation for building a low-cost cluster system with Raspberry Pis, in order to drive down the entry-level costs.

This parallel computing system, with a cost of under $1000, could be deployed at any college or community college rather than just at elite research institutions, as is done [for parallel computing systems] today.

Moving parts

The system is entirely open source, using only standard Raspberry Pi 3B+ boards and Raspbian Linux. The version of MPI that is used is called MPICH, another open-source technology that is readily available.

Perhaps one of the more interesting features of the cluster is that each of the Pi boards is mounted on a clear acrylic plate that is attached to a hinging mechanism. Each node is capable of moving through about 90 degrees under software control because a small electric servo motor is embedded in the hinging mechanism. The acrylic parts are laser-cut, and the hinge parts have been 3D printed for this prototype.

Raspbian Linux, like every other Linux version, contains information about CPU utilization as part of the kernel’s internal data. This performance data is available through the /proc filesystem at runtime, allowing a relatively simple program to maintain percent-busy averages over time. This data is used to position the node via its servo, with a fully idle node laying down against the backboard and a full busy node rotating up to ninety degrees.

Visualizing node activity

The purpose of this motion-related activity is to permit the user to visualize the operation of the cluster while executing a parallel program, showing the level of activity at each node via proportional motion. Thus the name Pi VizuWall.

Other than the twelve Pi 3s, I used 12 Tower Pro micro servos (SG90 Digital) and assorted laser-cut acrylic and 3D-printed parts (AI and STL files available on request), as well as a 14-port Ethernet switch for interconnects and two 12A 6-port USB power supplies along with Ethernet cable and USB cables for power.

The future of Pi VizuWall

The original plan for this project was to make a 4ft × 8ft cluster with 300 Raspberry Pis wired as a Beowulf cluster running MPICH. When I proposed this project to my Lab Directors at the university, they balked at the estimated cost of $20–25K and suggested a scaled-down prototype first. We have learned a number of lessons while building this prototype that should serve us well when we move on to building the bigger one. The first lesson is to use CNC’d aluminum for the motor housings instead of 3D-printed plastic — we’ve seen some minor distortion of the printed plastic from the heat generated in the servos. But mainy, this will permit us to have finer resolution when creating the splines that engage with the shaft of the servo motor, solving the problem of occasional slippage under load that we have seen with this version.

The other major challenge was power distribution. We look forward to using the Pi’s PoE capabilities in the next version to simplify power distribution. We also anticipate evaluating whether the Pi’s wireless LAN capability is suitable for carrying the MPI message traffic, given that the wired Ethernet has greater bandwidth. If the wireless bandwidth is sufficient, we will potentially use Pi Zero W computers instead of Pi 3s, doubling the number of nodes we can install on a 4×8’ backboard.

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SelfieBot: taking and printing photos with a smile

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Does your camera giggle and smile as it takes your photo? Does your camera spit out your image from a thermal printer? No? Well, Sophy Wong’s SelfieBot does!

Raspberry Pi SelfieBot: Selfie Camera with a Personality

SelfieBot is a project Kim and I originally made for our booth at Seattle Mini Maker Faire 2017. Now, you can build your own! A full tutorial for SelfieBot is up on the Adafruit Learning System at https://learn.adafruit.com/raspberry-pi-selfie-bot/ This was our first Raspberry Pi project, and is an experiment in DIY AI.

Pasties, projects, and plans

Last year, I built a Raspberry Pi photobooth for a friend’s wedding, complete with a thermal printer for instant printouts, and a Twitter feed to keep those unable to attend the event in the loop. I called the project PastyCam, because I built it into the paper mache body of a Cornish pasty, and I planned on creating a tutorial blog post for the build. But I obviously haven’t. And I think it’s time, a year later, to admit defeat.

A photo of the Cornish Pasty photo booth Alex created for a wedding in Cornwall - SelfieBot Raspberry Pi Camera

The wedding was in Cornwall, so the Cornish pasty totally makes sense, alright?

But lucky for us, Sophy Wong has gifted us all with SelfieBot.

Sophy Wong

If you subscribe to HackSpace magazine, you’ll recognise Sophy from issue 4, where she adorned the cover, complete with glowing fingernails. And if you’re like me, you instantly wanted to be her as soon as you saw that image.

SelfieBot Raspberry Pi Camera

Makers should also know Sophy from her impressive contributions to the maker community, including her tutorials for Adafruit, her YouTube channel, and most recently her work with Mythbusters Jr.

sophy wong on Twitter

Filming for #MythbustersJr is wrapped, and I’m heading home to Seattle. What an incredible summer filled with amazing people. I’m so inspired by every single person, crew and cast, on this show, and I’ll miss you all until our paths cross again someday 😊

SelfieBot at MakerFaire

I saw SelfieBot in passing at Maker Faire Bay Area earlier this year. Yet somehow I managed to not introduce myself to Sophy and have a play with her Pi-powered creation. So a few weeks back at World Maker Faire New York, I accosted Sophy as soon as I could, and we bonded by swapping business cards and Pimoroni pins.

Creating SelfieBot

SelfieBot is more than just a printing photo booth. It giggles, it talks, it reacts to movement. It’s the robot version of that friend of yours who’s always taking photos. Always. All the time, Amy. It’s all the time! *ahem*

SelfieBot Raspberry Pi Camera

SelfieBot consists of a Raspberry Pi 2, a Pi Camera Module, a 5″ screen, an accelerometer, a mini thermal printer, and more, including 3D-printed and laser-cut parts.

sophy wong on Twitter

Getting SelfieBot ready for Maker Faire Bay Area next weekend! Super excited to be talking on Sunday with @kpimmel – come see us and meet SelfieBot!

If you want to build your own SelfieBot — and obviously you do — then you can find a complete breakdown of the build process, including info on all parts you’ll need, files for 3D printing, and so, so many wonderfully informative photographs, on the Adafruit Learning System!

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Your face, 14 ft tall: image mapping with As We Are

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While at World Maker Faire New York last weekend, I found myself chatting to a rather lovely gentleman by the name of Mac Pierce. During our conversation, Mac mentioned a project he’d worked on called As We Are, an interactive art installation located in the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

as we are

“So it’s this 14-foot head covered in LEDs…”, Mac began, and after his brief explanation, I found myself grabbing nearby makers to have him tell them about the project too. I was hooked! I hadn’t even seen photos of the sculpture, yet I was hooked. And true to his word, Mac had the press release for As We Are sitting in my inbox when I returned to Pi Towers.

So here is it:

The Greater Columbus Convention Center: “As We Are” – Creating the Ultimate Selfie Machine

DCL, an award-winning fabricator of architectural specialties and custom experiential design elements, worked with artist Matthew Mohr to develop, engineer and fabricate this 14ft, 7,000lb, interactive digital sculpture. Featuring custom LED modules, an integrated 3D photobooth, 32 cameras, and a touch-screen display – this unique project combines technologies to present a seamless experience for visitors to display their own portrait on the sculpture.

As We Are

The brainchild of artist Matthew Mohr, As We Are was engineered and produced by DCL, an award-winning Boston-based fabricator whose greatest achievement to date, in my opinion at least, is hiring Mac Pierce.

as we are

YAY!

DCL built the 14-foot structure using 24 layers of aluminium ‘ribs’ covered in custom Sansi LED modules. These modules add up to an astounding 850000 individual LEDs, allowing for crisp detail of images displayed by the build.

as we are

When a visitor to the Convention Center steps inside the interactive sculpture, they’re met with a wall of 32 Raspberry Pis plus Camera Modules. The Pis use facial recognition software to 3D scan the visitor’s face and flattened the image, and then map the face across the outer surface of the structure.

Matthew Mohr was inspired to show off the diversity of Columbus, OH, while also creating a sense of oneness with As We Are. Combining technology and interaction, the sculpture has been called “the ultimate selfie machine”.

If you’re in or near Columbus and able to visit the installation, we’d love to see your photos, so please share them with us on our social media platforms.

Raspberry Pi facial mapping as we are

You see now why I was dumbstruck when Mac told me about this project, yes?

Always tell us

Had it not been for a chance encounter with Mac at Maker Faire, we may never have heard of As We Are. While Matthew Mohr and DCL installed the sculpture in 2017, very little fuss was made about the use of Raspberry Pis within it, and it completely slipped under our radar. So if you are working on a project for your business, as a maker, or for any other reason, and you’re using a Raspberry Pi, please make sure to let us know by emailing comms@raspberrypi.org.

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Hang out with Raspberry Pi this month in California, New York, and Boston

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This month sees two wonderful events where you can meet the Raspberry Pi team, both taking place on the weekend of September 22 and 23 in the USA.

And for more impromptu fun, you can also hang out with our Social Media Editor and fellow Pi enthusiasts on the East Coast on September 24–28.

Coolest Projects North America

In the Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana, California, team members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation North America, CoderDojo, and Code Club will be celebrating the next generation of young makers at Coolest Projects North America.

Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that empowers and inspires the next generation of digital creators, innovators, changemakers, and entrepreneurs. This year, for the first time, we are bringing Coolest Projects to North America for a spectacular event!

While project submissions for the event are now closed, you can still get the last FREE tickets to attend this showcase on Sunday, September 23.

To get your free tickets, click here. And for more information on the event, visit the Coolest Projects North America homepage.

World Maker Faire New York

For those on the east side of the continent at World Maker Faire New York, we’ll have representation in the form of Alex, our Social Media Editor.

The East Coast’s largest celebration of invention, creativity, and curiosity showcases the very best of the global Maker Movement. Get immersed in hundreds of projects and multiple stages focused on making for social good, health, technology, electronics, 3D printing & fabrication, food, robotics, art and more!

Alex will be adorned in Raspberry Pi stickers while exploring the cornucopia of incredible projects on show. She’ll be joined by Raspberry Pi’s videographer Brian, and they’ll gather footage of Raspberry Pis being used across the event for videos like this one from last year’s World Maker Faire:

Raspberry Pi Coffee Robot || Mugsy || Maker Faire NY ’17

Labelled ‘the world’s first hackable, customisable, dead simple, robotic coffee maker’, and powered by a Raspberry Pi, Mugsy allows you to take control of every aspect of the coffee-making process: from grind size and water temperature, to brew and bloom time.

So if you’re planning to attend World Maker Faire, either as a registered exhibitor or an attendee showing off your most recent project, we want to know! Share your project in the comments so we can find you at the event.

A week of New York and Boston meetups

Lastly, since she’ll be in New York, Alex will be out and about after MFNY, meeting up with members of the Raspberry Pi community. If you’d be game for a Raspberry Pi-cnic in Central Park, Coffee and Pi in a cafe, or any other semi-impromptu meetup in the city, let us know the best days for you between Monday, September 24 to Thursday, September 27! Alex will organise some fun gatherings in the Big Apple.

You can also join her in Boston, Massachusetts, on Friday, September 28, where Alex will again be looking to meet up with makers and Pi enthusiasts — let us know if you’re game!

This is weird

Does anyone else think it’s weird that I’ve been referring to myself in the third person throughout this post?

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Archimedes, the Google AIY Projects Vision familiar

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hackster.io‘s ‘resident hardware nerd’ Alex Glow has gifted the world of makers with Archimedes, a shoulder-mounted owl that judges your emotions using the Google AIY Project Vision Kit.

Say Hi to Archimedes – the AI Robot Owl

Say hi to Archimedes – the robot owl with a Google AIY brain. Built with Raspberry Pi + Arduino! Here are some insights into pitfalls of the build process. I made this li’l guy to demo the AIY Vision Kit for Maker Faire 2018… but he’s not going away anytime soon!

Google AIY Project Kits

Google released the Pi-powered AIY Projects Voice Kit last year, providing the entire set of build ingredients with issue 57 of The MagPi Magazine. You loved it, we loved it, and later that year they followed up the Voice Kit’s success with the Vision Kit, also based on the Raspberry Pi.

google aiy vision kit

As the name indicates, the Voice Kit completes tasks in response to voice commands, just like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. The Vision Kit allows makers to experiment with neural networking to implement image recognition in their projects.

Planning for Maker Faire

When the hackster.io team was asked to contribute a project to Google’s stand at Maker Faire Bay Area this year, their in-house self-confessed hardware and robotics nerd Alex Glow took on the challenge.

I took a really, really long time to figure out what to build — what it would look like, how it would animate, how it would dispense the stickers…in the end, I went with this cute and fairly challenging design.

And so, Alex brought Archimedes the robotic owl into the world — and the world is a cuter place for it.

Archimedes the owl

Having set up the Google AIY Vision Kit — you can find Alex’s live build video here — she raided a HackerBox for a pan/tilt gimble. The gimble was far more robust than simple servos, and since Alex wanted to bring Archimedes to more events after Maker Faire, she needed something that would take the wear and tear.

it’ll be fun trying to explain this one // i tried: bit.ly/robotowl

337 Likes, 18 Comments – Alex Glow (@glowascii) on Instagram: “it’ll be fun trying to explain this one // i tried: bit.ly/robotowl”

For Maker Faire, she modified Archimedes to be a shoulder-mounted familiar, but Alex initially mounted him on a box that would open to reveal a prize if Archimedes detected a certain facial expression. For this, she introduced an Arduino into the mix, using the board to control three servos: two for the gimble and the third for the box lid.

Archimedes’s main objective is to hunt out faces and read their expressions. Because of this, his head is always moving so he can take in his surroundings like a real owl.

I combined the AIY Kit’s LED and Joy Detection demos (found in /gpiozero and /joy, respectively). I wanted to make the LED pin turn on when it finds a happy face, but weirdly, this code does the opposite. Someday, I will be enough of a software wizard to figure out why…

Alex designed the owl’s body using OnShape, with the intention of keeping the Raspberry Pi and AIY tech inside. Then she 3D printed the body using the Lulzbot Taz 6 and very hackster-blue filament.

Shawn Hymel on Twitter

Testing out @glowascii ‘s familiar, Archimedes. It knows when I’m sad or happy, but I have to *really* force that happy 😅 #aiy #computervision #ai #3dprinting https://t.co/77pQk9pOHm

Build your own robot familiar

For full instructions on building and coding your own Archimedes, head to Alex’s hackster.io project page. You can keep up to date on the pair’s adventures via Alex’s Twitter account.

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