Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi Camera Module

These Furby-‘controlled’ Raspberry Pi-powered eyes follow you

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Sam Battle aka LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER couldn’t resist splashing out on a clear Macintosh case for a new project in his ‘Cosmo’ series of builds, which inject new life into retro hardware.

furby facial recognition robot in a clear case in front of a dark background

This time around, a Raspberry Pi, running facial recognition software, and one of our Camera Modules enable Furby-style eyes to track movement, detect faces, and follow you around the room.

Give LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER a follow on YouTube

He loves a good Furby does Sam. Has a whole YouTube playlist dedicated to projects featuring them. Seriously.

Raspberry Pi  with camera module attached to small screen loading software needed to run face recognition
Sam got all the Raspberry Pi kit needed from Pimoroni

Our favourite bit of the video is when Sam meets Raspberry Pi for the first time, boots it up, and says:

“Wait, I didn’t know it was a computer. It’s an actual computer computer. What?!”

face recognition software running on small screen with raspberry pi camera behind it, looking at the maker
Face recognition software up and running on Raspberry Pi

The eyes are ping pong balls cut in half so you can fit a Raspberry Pi Camera Module inside them. (Don’t forget to make a hole in the ‘pupil’ so the lens can peek through).

Maker inserting raspberry pi camera module inside a sliced ping pong ball. You can see the ribbons of the camera module sticking out of the ping pong ball half
Raspberry Pi Camera Module tucked inside ping pong ball as it’s mounted to a 3D-printed part

The Raspberry Pi and display screen are neatly mounted on the side of the Macintosh so they’re easily accessible should you need to make any changes.

Raspberry Pi and display screen mounted on the side of a clear macintosh frame
Easy access

All the hacked, repurposed junky bits sit inside or are mounted on swish 3D-printed parts.

Add some joke shop chatterbox teeth, and you’ve got what looks like the innards of a Furby staring at you. See below for a harrowing snapshot of Zach’s ‘Furlexa’ project, featured on our blog last year. We still see it when we sleep.

It gets worse the more you look around

It wasn’t enough for Furby-mad Sam to have created a Furby look-a-like face-tracking robot, he needed to go further. Inside the clear Macintosh case, you can see a de-furred Furby skeleton atop a 3D-printed plinth, with redundant ribbon cables flowing from its eyes into the back of the face-tracking robot face, thus making it appear as though the Furby is the brains behind this creepy creation that is following your every move.

a side view of the entire build with a furby skeleton visible inside
Hey in there. We see you! You dark lord of robo-controlling

Eventually, Sam’s Raspberry Pi–powered creation will be on display at the Museum of Everything Else, so you can go visit it and play with all the “obsolete and experimental technology” housed there. The museum is funded by the Look Mum No Computer Patreon page.

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Raspberry Pi vs antibiotic resistance: microbiology imaging with open source hardware

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The Edwards Lab at the University of Reading has developed a flexible, low-cost, open source lab robot for capturing images of microbiology samples with a Raspberry Pi camera module. It’s called POLIR, for Raspberry Pi camera Open-source Laboratory Imaging Robot. Here’s a timelapse video of them assembling it.

Measuring antibiotic resistance with colour-changing dye

The robot is useful for all kinds of microbiology imaging, but at the moment the lab is using it to measure antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. They’re doing this by detecting the colour change in a dye called resazurin, which changes from blue to pink in the presence of metabolically active cells: if bacteria incubated with antibiotics grow, their metabolic activity causes the dye to turn pink. However, if the antibiotics stop or impede the growth of the bacteria, their lower levels of metabolic activity will cause less colour change, or none at all. In the photo below, the colourful microtitre plate holds bacterial samples with and without resistance to the antibiotics against which they’re being tested.

POLIR, an open source 3D printer-based Raspberry Pi lab imaging robot

An imaging system based on 3D-printer designs

The researchers adapted existing open source 3D printer designs and used v-slot aluminium extrusion (this stuff) with custom 3D-printed joints to make a frame. Instead of a printer extrusion head, a Raspberry Pi and camera module are mounted on the frame. An Arduino running open-source Repetier software controls x-y-z stepper motors to adjust the position of the computer and camera.

Front and top views of POLIR

Open-source OctoPrint software controls the camera position by supplying scripts from the Raspberry Pi to the Arduino. OctoPrint also allows remote access and control, which gives researchers flexibility in when they run experiments and check progress. Images are acquired using a Python script configured with the appropriate settings (eg image exposure), and are stored on the Raspberry Pi’s SD card. From there, they can be accessed via FTP.

More flexibility, lower cost

Off-the-shelf lab automation systems are extremely expensive and remain out of the reach of most research groups. POLIR cost just £600.

The system has a number of advantages over higher-cost off-the-shelf imaging systems. One is its flexibility: the robot can image a range of sample formats, including agar plates like those in the video above, microtitre plates like the one in the first photograph, and microfluidic “lab-on-a-comb” devices. A comb looks much like a small, narrow rectangle of clear plastic with striations running down its length; each striation is a microcapillary with capacity for a 1μl sample, and each comb has ten microcapillaries. These microfluidic devices let scientists run experiments on a large number of samples at once, while using a minimum of space on a lab bench, in an incubator, or in an imaging robot like POLIR.

POLIR accommodates 2160 individual capillaries and a 96 well plate, with room to spare

High spatial and temporal resolution

For lab-on-a-comb images, POLIR gives the Reading team four times the spatial resolution they get with a static camera. The moveable Raspberry Pi camera with a short focus yields images with 6 pixels per capillary, compared to 1.5 pixels per capillary using a $700 static Canon camera with a macro lens.

Because POLIR is automated, it brings higher temporal resolution within reach, too. A non-automated system, by contrast, can only be used for timelapse imaging if a researcher repeatedly intervenes at fixed time intervals. Capturing kinetic data with timelapse imaging is valuable because it can be significant if different samples reach the same endpoint but at different rates, and because some dyes can give a transient signal that would be missed by an endpoint measurement alone.

Dr Alexander Edwards of the University of Reading comments:

We built the robot with a simple purpose, to make antimicrobial resistance testing more robust without resorting to expensive and highly specialised lab equipment […] The beauty of the POLIR kit is that it’s based on open source designs and we have likewise published our own designs and modifications, allowing everyone and anyone to benefit from the original design and the modifications in other contexts. We believe that open source hardware is a game changer that will revolutionise microbiological and other life science lab work by increasing data production whilst reducing hands-on labour time in the lab.

You can find POLIR on GitLab here. You can also read more, and browse more figures, in the team’s open-access paper, Exploiting open source 3D printer architecture for laboratory robotics to automate high-throughput time-lapse imaging for analytical microbiology.

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Build a Raspberry Pi laser scanner

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You really don’t need anything too fancy to build this Raspberry Pi laser scanner, and that’s why we think it’s pretty wonderful.

Rasperry Pi 3D Laser Scanner

Cornell University: ECE 5725 Michael Xiao and Thomas Scavella

Building a Raspberry Pi laser scanner

The ingredients you’ll need to build the laser scanner are:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2
  • Stepper motor and driver
  • Line laser
  • Various LEDs, resistors, and wires
  • Button

To complete the build, access to a 3D printer and laser cutter would come in handy. If you don’t have access to such tools, we trust you to think of an alternative housing for the scanner. You’re a maker, you’re imaginative — it’s what you do.

How does the laser scanner work?

The line laser projects a line an object, highlighting a slice of it. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module captures this slice, recording the shape of the laser line on the object’s surface. Then the stepper motor rotates the object. When the object has completed a full rotation and the camera has taken an image of every slice, the Raspberry Pi processes all the images to create one virtual 3D object.

Instructables user mfx2 has written a wonderful tutorial for the project, which also includes all files needed to build and program your own version.

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How to set up OctoPrint on your Raspberry Pi

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If you own a 3D printer, you’ll likely have at least heard of OctoPrint from the ever benevolent 3D printing online community. It has the potential to transform your 3D printing workflow for the better, and it’s very easy to set up. This guide will take you through the setup process step by step, and give you some handy tips along the way.


Before we start finding out how to install OctoPrint, let’s look at why you might want to. OctoPrint is a piece of open-source software that allows us to add WiFi functionality to any 3D printer with a USB port (which is pretty much all of them). More specifically, you’ll be able to drop files from your computer onto your printer, start/stop prints, monitor your printer via a live video feed, control the motors, control the temperature, and more, all from your web browser. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility — 3D printers have parts that are hot enough to cause fires, so make sure you have a safe setup, which may include not letting it run unsupervised.

OctoPrint ingredients

• Raspberry Pi 3 (or newer)
MicroSD card
• Raspberry Pi power adapter
• USB cable (the connector type will depend on your printer)
• Webcam/Raspberry Pi Camera Module (optional)
• 3D-printed camera mount (optional)

Before we get started, it is not recommended that anything less than a Raspberry Pi 3 is used for this project. There have been reports of limited success using OctoPrint on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, but only if you have no intention of using a camera to monitor your prints. If you want to try this with a Pi Zero or an older Raspberry Pi, you may experience unexpected print failures.

Download OctoPi

Firstly, you will need to download the latest version of OctoPi from the OctoPrint website. OctoPi is a Raspbian distribution that comes with OctoPrint, video streaming software, and CuraEngine for slicing models on your Raspberry Pi. When this has finished downloading, unzip the file and put the resulting IMG file somewhere handy.

Next, we need to flash this image onto our microSD card. We recommend using Etcher to do this, due to its minimal UI and ease of use; plus it’s also available to use on both Windows and Mac. Get it here: balena.io/etcher. When Etcher is installed and running, you’ll see the UI displayed. Simply click the Select Image button and find the IMG file you unzipped earlier. Next, put your microSD card into your computer and select it in the middle column of the Etcher interface.

Finally, click on Flash!, and while the image is being burned onto the card, get your WiFi router details, as you’ll need them for the next step.

Now that you have your operating system, you’ll want to add your WiFi details so that the Raspberry Pi can automatically connect to your network after it’s booted. To do this, remove the microSD card from your computer (Etcher will have ‘ejected’ the card after it has finished burning the image onto it) and then plug it back in again. Navigate to the microSD card on your computer — it should now be called boot — and open the file called octopi-wpa-supplicant.txt. Editing this file using WordPad or TextEdit can cause formatting issues; we recommend using Notepad++ to update this file, but there are instructions within the file itself to mitigate formatting issues if you do choose to use another text editor. Find the section that begins ## WPA/WPA2 secured and remove the hash signs from the four lines below this one to uncomment them. Finally, replace the SSID value and the PSK value with the name and password for your WiFi network, respectively (keeping the quotation marks). See the example below for how this should look.

Further down in the file, there is a section for what country you are in. If you are using OctoPrint in the UK, leave this as is (by default, the UK is selected). However, if you wish to change this, simply comment the UK line again by adding a # before it, and uncomment whichever country you are setting up OctoPrint in. The example below shows how the file will look if you are setting this up for use in the US:

# Uncomment the country your Pi is in to activate Wifi in RaspberryPi 3 B+ and above
# For full list see: https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ISO_3166-1_alpha-2
#country=GB # United Kingdom
#country=CA # Canada
#country=DE # Germany
#country=FR # France
country=US # United States

When the changes have been made, save the file and then eject/unmount and remove the microSD card from your computer and put it into your Raspberry Pi. Plug the power supply in, and go and make a cup of tea while it boots up for the first time (this may take around ten minutes). Make sure the Raspberry Pi is running as expected (i.e. check that the green status LED is flashing intermittently). If you’re using macOS, visit octopi.local in your browser of choice. If you’re using Windows, you can find OctoPrint by clicking on the Network tab in the sidebar. It should be called OctoPrint instance on octopi – double-clicking on this will open the OctoPrint dashboard in your browser.

If you see the screen shown above, then congratulations! You have set up OctoPrint.

Not seeing that OctoPrint splash screen? Fear not, you are not the first. While a full list of issues is beyond the scope of this article, common issues include: double-checking your WiFi details are entered correctly in the octopi-wpa-supplicant.txt file, ensuring your Raspberry Pi is working correctly (plug the Raspberry Pi into a monitor and watch what happens during boot), or your Raspberry Pi may be out of range of your WiFi router. There’s a detailed list of troubleshooting suggestions on the OctoPrint website.

Printing with OctoPrint

We now have the opportunity to set up OctoPrint for our printer using the handy wizard. Most of this is very straightforward — setting up a password, signing up to send anonymous usage stats, etc. — but there are a few sections which require a little more thought.

We recommend enabling the connectivity check and the plug-ins blacklist to help keep things nice and stable. If you plan on using OctoPrint as your slicer as well as a monitoring tool, then you can use this step to import a Cura profile. However, we recommend skipping this step as it’s much quicker (and you can use a slicer of your choice) to slice the model on your computer, and then send the finished G-code over.

Finally, we need to put in our printer details. Above, we’ve included some of the specs of the Creality Ender-3 as an example. If you can’t find the exact details of your printer, a quick web search should show what you need for this section.

The General tab can have anything in it, it’s just an identifier for your own use. Print bed & build volume should be easy to find out — if not, you can measure your print bed and find out the position of the origin by looking at your Cura printer profile. Leave Axes as default; for the Hotend and extruder section, defaults are almost certainly fine here (unless you’ve changed your nozzle; 0.4 is the default diameter for most consumer printers).

OctoPrint is better with a camera

Now that you’re set up with OctoPrint, you’re ready to start printing. Turn off your Raspberry Pi, then plug it into your 3D printer. After it has booted up, open OctoPrint again in your browser and take your newly WiFi-enabled printer for a spin by clicking the Connect button. After it has connected, you’ll be able to set the hot end and bed temperature, then watch as the real-time readings are updated.

In the Control tab, we can see the camera stream (if you’re using one) and the motor controls, as well as commands to home the axes. There’s a G-code file viewer to look through a cross-section of the currently loaded model, and a terminal to send custom G-code commands to your printer. The last tab is for making time-lapses; however, there is a plug-in available to help with this process.

Undoubtedly the easiest way to set up video monitoring of your prints is to use the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module. There are dozens of awesome mounts on Thingiverse for a Raspberry Pi Camera Module, to allow you to get the best angle of your models as they print. There are also some awesome OctoPrint-themed Raspberry Pi cases to house your new printer brains. While it isn’t officially supported by OctoPrint, you can use a USB webcam instead if you have one handy, or just want some very high-quality video streams. The OctoPrint wiki has a crowdsourced list of webcams known to work, as well as a link for the extra steps needed to get the webcam working correctly.

As mentioned earlier, our recommended way of printing a model using OctoPrint is to first use your slicer as you would if you were creating a file to save to a microSD card. Once you have the file, save it somewhere handy on your computer, and open the OctoPrint interface. In the bottom left of the screen, you will see the Upload File button — click this and upload the G-code you wish to print.

You’ll see the file/print details appear, including information on how long it’ll take for the object to print. Before you kick things off, check out the G-code Viewer tab on the right. You can not only scroll through the layers of the object, but, using the slider at the bottom, you can see the exact pattern the 3D printer will use to ‘draw’ each layer. Now click Print and watch your printer jump into action!

OctoPrint has scores of community-created plug-ins, but our favourite, Octolapse, makes beautiful hypnotic time-lapses. What makes them so special is that the plug-in alters the G-code of whatever object you are printing so that once each layer has finished, the extruder moves away from the print to let the camera take an unobstructed shot of the model. The result is an object that seems to grow out of the build plate as if by magic. You’ll not find a finer example of it than here.

Satisfying 3D Prints TimeLapse episode 7 (Prusa I3 Mk3 octopi)

3D Printing timelapses of models printed on the Prusa i3 MK3! Here’s another compilation of my recent timelapses. I got some shots that i think came out really great and i hope you enjoy them! as always if you want to see some of these timelapses before they come out or want to catch some behind the scenes action check out my instagram!

Thanks to Glenn and HackSpace magazine

This tutorial comes fresh from the pages of HackSpace magazine issue 26 and was written by Glenn Horan. Thanks, Glenn.

To get your copy of HackSpace magazine issue 26, visit your local newsagent, the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, or the Raspberry Pi Press online store.

Fans of HackSpace magazine will also score themselves a rather delightful Adafruit Circuit Playground Express with a 12-month subscription. Sweet!

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Really, really awesome Raspberry Pi NeoPixel LED mirror

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Check out Super Make Something’s awesome NeoPixel LED mirror: a 576 RGB LED display that converts images via the Raspberry Pi Camera Module and Raspberry Pi 3B+ into a pixelated light show.

Neopixel LED Mirror (Python, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, 3D Printing, Laser Cutting!) DIY How To

Time to pull out all the stops for the biggest Super Make Something project to date! Using 3D printing, laser cutting, a Raspberry Pi, computer vision, Python, and nearly 600 Neopixel LEDs, I build a low resolution LED mirror that displays your reflection on a massive 3 foot by 3 foot grid made from an array of 24 by 24 RGB LEDs!

Mechanical mirrors

If you’re into cool uses of tech, you may be aware of Daniel Rozin, the creative artist building mechanical mirrors out of wooden panels, trash, and…penguins, to name but a few of his wonderful builds.

A woman standing in front of a mechanical mirror made of toy penguins

Yup, this is a mechanical mirror made of toy penguins.

A digital mechanical mirror?

Inspired by Daniel Rozin’s work, Alex, the person behind Super Make Something, put an RGB LED spin on the concept, producing this stunning mirror that thoroughly impressed visitors at Cleveland Maker Faire last month.

“Inspired by Danny Rozin’s mechanical mirrors, this 3 foot by 3 foot mirror is powered by a Raspberry Pi, and uses Python and OpenCV computer vision libraries to process captured images in real time to light up 576 individual RGB LEDs!” Alex explains on Instagram. “Also onboard are nearly 600 3D-printed squares to diffuse the light from each NeoPixel, as well as 16 laser-cut panels to hold everything in place!”

The video above gives a brilliantly detailed explanation of how Alex made the, so we highly recommend giving it a watch if you’re feeling inspired to make your own.

Seriously, we really want to make one of these for Raspberry Pi Towers!

As always, be sure to subscribe to Super Make Something on YouTube and leave a comment on the video if, like us, you love the project. Most online makers are producing content such as this with very little return on their investment, so every like and subscriber really does make a difference.

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The Nest Box: DIY Springwatch with Raspberry Pi

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Last week, lots and lots of you shared your Raspberry Pi builds with us on social media using the hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor. Jay Wainwright from Liverpool noticed the conversation and got in touch to tell us about The Nest Box, which uses Raspberry Pi to bring impressively high-quality images and video from British bird boxes to your Facebook feed.

Jay runs a small network of livestreaming nest box cameras, with three currently sited and another three in the pipeline; excitingly, the new ones will include a kestrel box and a barn owl box! During the spring, all the cameras stream live to The Nest Box’s Facebook page, which has steadily built a solid following of several thousand wildlife fans.

A pair of blue tits feeds their chicks in a woolly nest

The Nest Box’s setup uses a Raspberry Pi and Camera Module, along with a Raspberry Pi PoE HAT to provide both power and internet connectivity, so there’s only one cable connection to weatherproof. There’s also a custom HAT that Jay has designed to control LED lights and to govern the Raspberry Pi Camera Module’s IR filter, ensuring high-quality images both during the day and at night. To top it all off, he has written some Python code to record visitors to the nest boxes and go into live streaming mode whenever the action is happening.

As we can see from this nest box design for swifts, shown on the project’s crowdfunding profile, plenty of thought has evidently been put into the design of the boxes so that they provide tempting quarters for their feathered occupants while also accommodating all the electronic components.

Follow The Nest Box on Facebook to add British birds into your social media mix — whatever you’ve got now, I’ll bet all tomorrow’s coffees that it’ll be an improvement. And if you’re using Raspberry Pi for a wildlife project, or you’ve got plans along those lines, let us know in the comments.

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