Tag Archives: raspberry pi 3

Raspberry Pi R2D2 console (plus tons of other Star Wars projects)

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Diehard Nintendo and Star Wars fan electrouser301 is behind this customised R2D2 Raspberry Pi-powered console. Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is its brain, and a Nintendo GameCube was customised with spray paint and hand-cut stencils.

game cube painted to look like R2D2
A match made in a galaxy far, far away

Unleash your inner child

Telling the story of the build, electrouser301 said:

“When I saw what people were doing with Raspberry Pi and emulation it opened up a new world to me. If you would have shown kid-me that I could play the whole libraries of NES, N64, Arcade games, Genesis, SNES, etc. all on one console that you create yourself, to your own specifications, my mind would have been blown. That’s what this whole project was about, bringing back my inner child. I wanted to create and own something that no one else has.”

Inner workings of R2D2 Cube

Of course, you could just deck out a GameCube case with decals or paint and keep the internals the same if you don’t want to swap a Raspberry Pi in for emulation. But where’s the fun in that?

See the machine’s power circuit plugged into the Raspberry Pi’s micro USB power slot below. The red and green wires are LED wires, and the power switch wires are pink.

And here’s a side view of the guts of the project:

R2D2 makeover

Hand-cut R2D2-inspired paper stencils spray-painted onto the GameCube give it its instantly recognisable style. A unique retro device now adorns electrouser301’s gaming space, and new life has been breathed into one of Nintendo’s finest creations.

R2D2-approved blue and white colour scheme

Top Star Wars maker projects

Take a look at electromaker’s list of Best Star Wars Maker Projects – it’s where we came across this R2D2 GameCube mashup. Naturally, the list features a fair few homemade lightsabers, so check it out if you’re in the market for an upgrade; however, we wanted to share a few Star Wars-themed builds we hadn’t seen before.

First up, an animated Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster made with NeoPixel LEDs and an Arduino Mega. Steve from Making at Home coded a built-in motion sensor and customisable brightness settings. Check it out below, because this isn’t just any old poster with a few LEDs taped in the back, oh no.

Pimp my poster

You know we love wearable tech around here, so this DIY Boba Fett helmet with a built-in LED chaser was definitely going to be a favourite. This is a fairly affordable build too, consisting of a few cheap components like LEDs and resistors, while the helmet itself is made from crafty stuff found around the house. Crazy Couple created this project and you should check out their tutorial-packed YouTube channel.

“I am Boba Fett. The ship you seek is nearby.”

BB8 occupies a special place in our hearts, so we love this 3D-printed robot, which is controlled by an Arduino Uno over a Bluetooth connection from your smartphone. Watch maker Lewis’s video below and share in his love for this spherical droid.

Check out maker Lewis’ channel DIY Machines

May the force be with you

Drop some links in the comments to show off your Star Wars-themed builds so we can share in your intergalactic wisdom. Then go be friends with Electromaker on YouTube. Because subscribers of them you should be.

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Make a Raspberry Pi-powered BMO Adventure Time console

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If you’re a fan of the animated TV series Adventure Time, you’re already excited and scrolling to see how you can build your own Be MOre (BMO) console. And if you’re not: BMO is Adventure Time main characters Finn’s and Jake’s sentient video game system-cum-roomate.

See, you recognise it now, don’t you?

OK, but what does BMO do?

DIY enthusiast Lazuardi Rinaldi, an Electrical & Computer Engineering student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is behind this retrogaming build. Lazuardi notes that this build is for people with experience of working with electronic projects. You can recreate this project with whatever parts you have to hand, as the build-guide is open-ended, but Lazuardi lovingly built his using Raspberry Pi.

BMO is full of teeny boards and buttons

The ‘real’ BMO can do pretty much anything from making toast to playing detective, but this one was built especially to play RetroPie games on Raspberry Pi. So it’s even better than the original. Maybe.

Main parts

inside of handset showing raspberry pi trying to cram in with other components and wires
Tight fit


Laser-cut acrylic plexiglass sheets beautifully house the electronics. Everything had to be perfectly measured to fit Lazuardi’s custom-built controller; the buttons were individually soldered to the perfboard through the already-cut plexiglass.

BMO case being cut
Precision cutting gives BMO its professional finish

And the carefully-applied sticker sheets made the whole thing look just like the real BMO.

Who’s a pretty Beemo then?


Lazuardi plans to add some speakers so they can hear the game music as they play. We reckon making BMO’s legs robotic so it can come and find you when you haven’t played in a while would be a cool addition. Creepy, but cool.

Video of another cool Be MOre build we featured on the blog a few years back

By the way, all the brilliant images and GIFs you see here are from Lazuardi’s original instructable, and I loved them so I borrowed them. This is my fave…

Built with love inside

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Meet SeedGerm: a Raspberry Pi-based platform for automated seed imaging

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Researchers at the John Innes Centre for plant and microbial science were looking for a cost‐effective phenotyping platform for automated seed imaging. They figured a machine learning-driven image analysis was the quickest way to deliver this essential, yet challenging, aspect of agricultural research. Sounds complicated, but they found that our tiny computers could handle it all.

Two types of SeedGerm hardware with wired and wireless connectivity used for acquiring seed germination image series for different crop species
Two types of SeedGerm hardware with wired and wireless connectivity used for acquiring seed germination image series for different crop species

What is phenotyping?

A phenotype is an organism’s observable characteristics, like growing towards the light, or having a stripy tail, or being one of those people who can make their tongue roll up. An organism’s phenotype is the result of the genetic characteristics it has – its genotype – and the environment in which it lives. For example, a plant’s genotype might mean it can grow quickly and become tall, but if its environment lacks water, it’s likely to have a slow-growing and short phenotype.

Phenotyping means finding out and recording particular aspects of an organism’s phenotype: for example, how fast seeds germinate, or how broad a plant’s leaves are.

Why do seeds need phenotyping?

Phenotyping allows us to guess at a seed’s genotype, based on things we can observe about the seed’s phenotype, such as its size and shape.

We can study which seed phenotypes appear to be linked to desirable crop phenotypes, such as a high germination rate, or the ability to survive in dry conditions; in other words, we can make predictions about which seeds are likely to grow into good crops. And if we have controlled the environment in which we’re doing this research, we can be reasonably confident that these “good” seed phenotypes are mostly due not to variation in environmental conditions, but to properties of the seeds themselves: their genotype.

Close up of seed germ set up 1
A close up of the incubators, each with Raspberry Pi computers on top, running the show

Growers need seeds that germinate effectively and uniformly to maximise crop productivity, so seed suppliers are interested in making sure their samples meet a certain germination rate.

The phenotypic traits that are used to work out whether seeds are likely to be good for growers are listed in the full research paper. But in general, researchers are looking for things like width, length, roundness, and contour lines in seeds.

How does Raspberry Pi help?

Gathering observations for phenotyping is a difficult and time-consuming process, and in order to capture high‐quality seed imaging continuously, the team needed to design two types of hardware apparatus. Raspberry Pi computers (Raspberry Pi 2 Model B or Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+) power both SeedGerm hardware designs, with a Raspberry Pi camera also providing image data in the lower-cost design.

seed genotyping at a computer
The open source software at work next to one of the mini seed incubators

The brilliant team behind this project recognised the limitations of current seed imaging approaches, and looked to explore how automating the analysis of seed germination could scale up their work in an affordable way. The SeedGerm system benefits from the cost-effectiveness of Raspberry Pi hardware and the open source software the team chose, and that makes us super happy.

Read the whole research paper, published in New Phytologist, here.

Raspberry Pi in biological sciences

Dr Jolle Jolles, a behavioural ecologist at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) near Barcelona, Spain, and a passionate Raspberry Pi user, has recently published a detailed review of the uptake of Raspberry Pi in biological sciences. He found that well over a hundred published studies have made use of Raspberry Pi hardware in some way.

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Raspberry Pi LEGO sorter

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Raspberry Pi is at the heart of this AI–powered, automated sorting machine that is capable of recognising and sorting any LEGO brick.

And its maker Daniel West believes it to be the first of its kind in the world!

Best ever

This mega-machine was two years in the making and is a LEGO creation itself, built from over 10,000 LEGO bricks.

A beast of 10,000 bricks

It can sort any LEGO brick you place in its input bucket into one of 18 output buckets, at the rate of one brick every two seconds.

While Daniel was inspired by previous LEGO sorters, his creation is a huge step up from them: it can recognise absolutely every LEGO brick ever created, even bricks it has never seen before. Hence the ‘universal’ in the name ‘universal LEGO sorting machine’.


There we are, tucked away, just doing our job


The artificial intelligence algorithm behind the LEGO sorting is a convolutional neural network, the go-to for image classification.

What makes Daniel’s project a ‘world first’ is that he trained his classifier using 3D model images of LEGO bricks, which is how the machine can classify absolutely any LEGO brick it’s faced with, even if it has never seen it in real life before.

We LOVE a thorough project video, and we love TWO of them even more

Daniel has made a whole extra video (above) explaining how the AI in this project works. He shouts out all the open source software he used to run the Raspberry Pi Camera Module and access 3D training images etc. at this point in the video.

LEGO brick separation

The vibration plate in action, feeding single parts into the scanner

Daniel needed the input bucket to carefully pick out a single LEGO brick from the mass he chucks in at once.

This is achieved with a primary and secondary belt slowly pushing parts onto a vibration plate. The vibration plate uses a super fast LEGO motor to shake the bricks around so they aren’t sitting on top of each other when they reach the scanner.

Scanning and sorting

A side view of the LEFO sorting machine showing a large white chute built from LEGO bricks
The underside of the beast

A Raspberry Pi Camera Module captures video of each brick, which Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ then processes and wirelessly sends to a more powerful computer able to run the neural network that classifies the parts.

The classification decision is then sent back to the sorting machine so it can spit the brick, using a series of servo-controlled gates, into the right output bucket.

Extra-credit homework

A front view of the LEGO sorter with the sorting boxes visible underneath
In all its bricky beauty, with the 18 output buckets visible at the bottom

Daniel is such a boss maker that he wrote not one, but two further reading articles for those of you who want to deep-dive into this mega LEGO creation:

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Raspberry Pi ‘Swear Bear’ keeps your potty mouth in check

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Why use a regular swear jar to retrain your potty-mouthed brain when you can build a Swear Bear to help you instead?

Swear Bear listens to you. All the time. And Swear Bear can tell when a swear word is used. Swear Bear tells you off and saves all the swear words you said to the cloud to shame you. Swear Bear subscribes to the school of tough love.

Artificial intelligence

The Google AIY kit allows you to build your own natural language recogniser. This page shows you how to assemble the Voice HAT from the kit, and it also includes the code you’ll need to make your project capable of speech-to-text AI.

Black AIY HAT stuck on top of a Raspberry Pi
Image of the Voice HAT mounted onto a Raspberry Pi 3 courtesy of aiyprojects.withgoogle.com

To teach Swear Bear the art of profanity detection, Swear Bear creators 8 Bits and a Byte turned to the profanity check Python library. You can find the info to install and use the library on this page, as well as info on how it works and why it’s so accurate.

You’ll hear at this point in the video that Swear Bear says “Oh dear” when a swear word is used within earshot.


Birds eye view of each of the hardware components used in the project on a green table

This project uses the the first version of Google’s AIY Voice Kit, which comes with a larger black AIY Voice HAT and is compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The kit also includes a little Voice HAT microphone board.

Version 2 of the kit comprises the smaller Raspberry Pi Zero WH and a slimmer ‘Voice Bonnet’.

The microphone allows Swear Bear to ‘hear’ your speech, and through its speakers it can then tell you off for swearing.

All of hardware is squeezed into the stuffing-free bear once the text-to-speech and profanity detection software is working.

Babbage Bear hack?

Babbage the Bear

8 Bits and a Byte fan Ben Scarboro took to the comments on YouTube to suggest they rework one of our Babbage Bears into a Swear Bear. Babbage is teeny tiny, so maybe you would need to fashion a giant version to accomplish this. Just don’t make us watch while you pull out its stuffing.

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Turn a watermelon into a RetroPie games console

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OK Cedrick, we don’t need to know why, but we have to know how you turned a watermelon into a games console.

This has got to be a world first. What started out as a regular RetroPie project has blown up reddit due to the unusual choice of casing for the games console: nearly 50,000 redditors upvoted this build within a week of Cedrick sharing it.

See, we’re not kidding

What’s inside?

  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Jingo Dot power bank (that yellow thing you can see below)
  • Speakers
  • Buttons
  • Small 1.8″ screen
Cedrick’s giggling really makes this video


While this build looks epic, it isn’t too tricky to make. First, Cedrick flashed the RetroPie image onto an SD card, then he wired up a Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins to the red console buttons, speakers, and the screen.

Cedrick achieved audio output by adding just a few lines of code to the config file, and he downloaded libraries for screen configuration and button input. That’s it! That’s all you need to get a games console up and running.

Cedrick just hanging on the train with his WaterBoy

Now for the messy bit

Cedrick had to gut an entire watermelon before he could start getting all the hardware in place. He power-drilled holes for the buttons to stick through, and a Stanley knife provided the precision he needed to get the right-sized gap for the screen.

A gutted watermelon with gaps cut to fit games console buttons and a screen

Rather than drill even more holes for the speakers, Cedrick stuck them in place inside the watermelon using toothpicks. He did try hot glue first but… yeah. Turns out fruit guts are impervious to glue.

Moisture was going to be a huge problem, so to protect all the hardware from the watermelon’s sticky insides, Cedrick lined it with plastic clingfilm.

Infinite lives

And here’s how you can help: Cedrick is open to any tips as to how to preserve the perishable element of his project: the watermelon. Resin? Vaseline? Time machine? How can he keep the watermelon fresh?

Share your ideas on reddit or YouTube, and remember to subscribe to see more of Cedrick’s maverick making in the wild.

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