Tag Archives: raspberry pi 3

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’.

Hardware

There we are, tucked away, just doing our job

Software

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.

Hardware

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

Retropie

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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Raspberry Pi retro player

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We found this project at TeCoEd and we loved the combination of an OLED display housed inside a retro Argus slide viewer. It uses a Raspberry Pi 3 with Python and OpenCV to pull out single frames from a video and write them to the display in real time.​

TeCoEd names this creation the Raspberry Pi Retro Player, or RPRP, or – rather neatly – RP squared. The Argus viewer, he tells us, was a charity-shop find that cost just 50p.  It sat collecting dust for a few years until he came across an OLED setup guide on hackster.io, which inspired the birth of the RPRP.

Timelapse of the build and walk-through of the code

At the heart of the project is a Raspberry Pi 3 which is running a Python program that uses the OpenCV computer vision library.  The code takes a video clip and breaks it down into individual frames. Then it resizes each frame and converts it to black and white, before writing it to the OLED display. The viewer sees the video play in pleasingly retro monochrome on the slide viewer.

Tiny but cute, like us!

TeCoEd ran into some frustrating problems with the OLED display, which, he discovered, uses the SH1106 driver, rather than the standard SH1306 driver that the Adafruit CircuitPython library expects. Many OLED displays use the SH1306 driver, but it turns out that cheaper displays like the one in this project use the SH1106. He has made a video to spare other makers this particular throw-it-all-in-the-bin moment.

Tutorial for using the SH1106 driver for cheap OLED displays

If you’d like to try this build for yourself, here’s all the code and setup advice on GitHub.

Wiring diagram

TeCoEd is, as ever, our favourite kind of maker – the sharing kind! He has collated everything you’ll need to get to grips with OpenCV, connecting the SH1106 OLED screen over I2C, and more. He’s even told us where we can buy the OLED board.

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Mini Raspberry Pi Boston Dynamics–inspired robot

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This is a ‘Spot Micro’ walking quadruped robot running on Raspberry Pi 3B. By building this project, redditor /thetrueonion (aka Mike) wanted to teach themself robotic software development in C++ and Python, get the robot walking, and master velocity and directional control.

Mike was inspired by Spot, one of Boston Dynamics’ robots developed for industry to perform remote operation and autonomous sensing.

What’s it made of?

  • Raspberry Pi 3B
  • Servo control board: PCA9685, controlled via I2C
  • Servos: 12 × PDI-HV5523MG
  • LCD Panel: 16×2 I2C LCD panel
  • Battery: 2s 4000 mAh LiPo, direct connection to power servos
  • UBEC: HKU5 5V/5A ubec, used as 5V voltage regulator to power Raspberry Pi, LCD panel, PCA9685 control board
  • Thingiverse 3D-printed Spot Micro frame

How does it walk?

The mini ‘Spot Micro’ bot rocks a three-axis angle command/body pose control mode via keyboard and can achieve ‘trot gait’ or ‘walk gait’. The former is a four-phase gait with symmetric motion of two legs at a time (like a horse trotting). The latter is an eight-phase gait with one leg swinging at a time and a body shift in between for balance (like humans walking).

Mike breaks down how they got the robot walking, right down to the order the servos need to be connected to the PCA9685 control board, in this extensive walkthrough.

Here’s the code

And yes, this is one of those magical projects with all the code you need stored on GitHub. The software is implemented on a Raspberry Pi 3B running Ubuntu 16.04. It’s composed on C++ and Python nodes in a ROS framework.

What’s next?

Mike isn’t finished yet: they are looking to improve their yellow beast by incorporating a lidar to achieve simple 2D mapping of a room. Also on the list is developing an autonomous motion-planning module to guide the robot to execute a simple task around a sensed 2D environment. And finally, adding a camera or webcam to conduct basic image classification would finesse their creation.

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Raspberry Pi prayer reminder clock

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One of our Approved Resellers in the Netherlands, Daniël from Raspberry Store, shared this Raspberry Pi–powered prayer reminder with us. It’s a useful application one of his customers made using a Raspberry Pi purchased from Daniël’s store.

As a Raspberry Pi Official Reseller, I love to see how customers use Raspberry Pi to create innovative products. Spying on bird nests, streaming audio to several locations, using them as a menu in a restaurant, or in a digital signage-solution… just awesome. But a few weeks ago, a customer showed me a new usage of Raspberry Pi: a prayer clock for mosques.

Made by Mawaqit, this is a narrowcasting solution with a Raspberry Pi at its heart and can be used on any browser or smartphone.

Hardware

This project is simple in hardware terms. You just need Raspberry Pi 3 or Raspberry Pi 4, a TV screen, and a HDMI cable.

If you do not have an internet connection, you’ll also need an RTC clock

With the HDMI cable, Raspberry Pi can broadcast the clock — plus other useful info like the weather, or a reminder to silence your phone — on a wall in the mosque. Awesome! So simple, and yet I have not seen a solution like this before, despite Mawaqit’s application now being used in 51 countries and over 4609 mosques. And, last I checked, it has more than 185,000 active users!

How to build it

You’ll need to install the pre-configured system image and flash the mawaqit.xz system image onto your Raspberry Pi’s SD card.

There are then two options: connected and offline. If you set yourself up using the connected option, you’ll be able to remotely control the app from your smartphone or any computer and tablet, which will be synchronised across all the screens connected to Raspberry Pi. You can also send messages and announcements. The latest updates from Mawaqit will install automatically.

That’s a little RTC on the right

If you need to choose the offline option and you’re not able to use the internet at your mosque, it’s important to equip your Raspberry Pi with RTC, because Raspberry Pi can’t keep time by itself.

All the software, bits of command line code, and step-by-step guidance you’ll need are available on this web page.

These figures update on the Mawaqit site

Open source for all

The Mawaqit project is free of charge, and the makers actually prohibit harnessing it for any monetary gain. The makers even created an API for you to create your own extentions — how great is that? So, if you want your own prayer clock for in a mosque, school, or just at home, take a look at Mawaqit.net.

Anyone with the language skills please head to YouTube and provide community translations for this walkthrough video

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