Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi Zero/Zero W

Protect your veggies from hail with a Raspberry Pi Zero W

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Tired of losing vegetable crops to frequent summertime hail storms, Nick Rogness decided to build something to protect them. And the result is brilliant!

Digital Garden with hail protection

Tired of getting your garden destroyed by hail storms? I was, so I did something about it…maker style!

“I live in a part of the country where hail and severe weather are commonplace during the summer months,” Nick explains in his Hackster tutorial. “I was getting frustrated every year when my wife’s garden was get demolished by the nightly hail storms losing our entire haul of vegetable goodies!”

Nick drew up plans for a solution to his hail problem, incorporating liner actuators bolted to a 12ft × 12ft frame that surrounds the vegetable patch. When a storm is on the horizon, the actuators pull a heavy-duty tarp over the garden.

Nick connected two motor controllers to a Raspberry Pi Zero W. The Raspberry Pi then controls the actuators to pull the tarp, either when a manual rocker switch is flipped or when it’s told to do so via weather-controlled software.

“Software control of the garden was accomplished by using a Raspberry Pi and MQTT to communicate via Adafruit IO to reach the mobile app on my phone,” Nick explains. The whole build is powered by a 12V Marine deep-cycle battery that’s charged using a solar panel.

You can view the full tutorial on Hackster, including the code for the project.

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IoT ugly Christmas sweaters

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If there’s one thing we Brits love, it’s an ugly Christmas sweater. Jim Bennett, a Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, has taken his ugly sweater game to the next level by adding IoT-controlled, Twitter-connected LEDs thanks to a Raspberry Pi Zero.

IoT is Fun for Everyone! (Ugly Sweater Edition)

An Ugly Sweater is great-but what’s even better (https://aka.ms/IoTShow/UglySweater) is an IoT-enabled Ugly Sweater. In this episode of the IoT Show, Olivier Bloch is joined by Jim Bennett, a Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. Jim has built an Ugly Sweater using Azure IoT Central, Microsoft’s IoT app platform, and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

Jim upgraded his ugly sweater to become IoT-compatible using Microsoft’s IoT app platform Azure IoT Central, Adafruit’s programmable NeoPixel LED Dots Strand and, of course, our sweet baby, the Raspberry Pi Zero W.

After sewing the LED strand into the ugly sweater and connecting it to Raspberry Pi Zero, Jim was able to control the colour of the LEDs. Taking it one step further, he then built a list of commands within Azure IoT Central and linked the Raspberry Pi Zero to a Twitter account to create the IoT element of the project.

Watch the video above for full details on the project, and find all the code on Github.

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Tracking the Brecon Beacons ultramarathon with a Raspberry Pi Zero

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On my holidays this year I enjoyed a walk in the Brecon Beacons. We set out nice and early, walked 22km through some of the best scenery in Britain, got a cup of tea from the snack van on the A470, and caught our bus home. “I enjoyed that walk,” I thought, “and I’d like to do one like it again.” What I DIDN’T think was, “I’d like to do that walk again, only I’d like it to be nearly three times as long, and it definitely ought to have about three times more ascent, or else why bother?”

Alan Peaty is a bit more hardcore than me, so, a couple of weekends ago, he set out on the Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks Ultramarathon: “10 peaks; 58 kilometres; 3000m of ascent; 24 hours”. He went with his friend Neil and a Raspberry Pi Zero in an eyecatching 3D-printed case.

A green 3D-printed case with a Raspberry Pi sticker on it, on a black backpack leaning against a cairn. In the background are a sunny mountain top, distant peaks, and a blue sky with white clouds.

“The brick”, nestling on a backpack, with sunlit Corn Du and Pen y Fan in the background

The Raspberry Pi Zero ensemble – lovingly known as the brick or, to give it its longer name, the Rosie IoT Brick or RIoT Brick – is equipped with a u-blox Neo-6 GPS module, and it also receives GPS tracking info from some smaller trackers built using ESP32 microcontrollers. The whole lot is powered by a “rather weighty” 20,000mAh battery pack. Both the Raspberry Pi and the ESP32s were equipped with “all manner of additional sensors” to track location, temperature, humidity, pressure, altitude, and light level readings along the route.

Charts showing temperature, humidity & pressure, altitude, and light levels along the route, together with a route map

Where the route crosses over itself is the most fervently appreciated snack van in Wales

Via LoRa and occasional 3G/4G from the many, many peaks along the route, all this data ends up on Amazon Web Services. AWS, among other things, hosts an informative website where family members were able to keep track of Alan’s progress along windswept ridges and up 1:2 gradients, presumably the better to appreciate their cups of tea and central heating. Here’s a big diagram of how the kit that completed the ultramarathon fits together; it’s full of arrows, dotted lines, and acronyms.

Alan, Neil, the brick, and the rest of their gear completed the event in an impressive 18 hours and one minute, for which they got a medal.

The brick, a small plastic box full of coloured jumper leads and other electronics; the lid of the box; and a medal consisting of the number 10 in large plastic characters on a green ribbon

Well earned

You can follow the adventures of this project, its antecedents, and the further evolutions that are doubtless to come, on the Rosie the Red Robot Twitter feed. And you can find everything to do with the project in this GitHub repository, so you can complete ultramarathons while weighed down with hefty power bricks and bristling with homemade tracking devices, too, if you like. Alan is raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK with this event, and you can find his Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks JustGiving page here.

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The world’s first Raspberry Pi-powered Twitter-activated jelly bean-pooping unicorn

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When eight-year-old Tru challenged the Kids Invent Stuff team to build a sparkly, pooping, rainbow unicorn electric vehicle, they did exactly that. And when Kids Invent Stuff, also known as Ruth and Shawn, got in contact with Estefannie Explains it All, their unicorn ended up getting an IoT upgrade…because obviously.

You tweet and the Unicorn poops candy! | Kids Invent Stuff

We bring kids’ inventions to life and this month we teamed up with fellow youtube Estefannie (from Estefannie Explains It All https://www.youtube.com/user/estefanniegg SHE IS EPIC!) to modify Tru’s incredible sweet pooping unicorn to be activated by the internet! Featuring the AMAZING Allen Pan https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVS89U86PwqzNkK2qYNbk5A (Thanks Allen for your filming and tweeting!)

Kids Invent Stuff

If you’re looking for an exciting, wholesome, wonderful YouTube channel suitable for the whole family, look no further than Kids Invent Stuff. Challenging kids to imagine wonderful inventions based on monthly themes, channel owners Ruth and Shawn then make these kids’ ideas a reality. Much like the Astro Pi Challenge, Kids Invent Stuff is one of those things we adults wish existed when we were kids. We’re not jealous, we’re just…OK, we’re definitely jealous.

ANYWAY, when eight-year-old Tru’s sparkly, pooping, rainbow unicorn won the channel’s ‘crazy new vehicle’ challenge, the team got to work, and the result is magical.

Riding an ELECTRIC POOPING UNICORN! | Kids Invent Stuff

We built 8-year-old Tru’s sparkly, pooping, rainbow unicorn electric vehicle and here’s what happened when we drove it for the first time and pooped out some jelly beans! A massive THANK YOU to our challenge sponsor The Big Bang Fair: https://www.thebigbangfair.co.uk The Big Bang Fair is the UK’s biggest celebration of STEM for young people!

But could a sparkly, pooping, rainbow unicorn electric vehicle ever be enough? Is anything ever enough if it’s not connected to the internet? Of course not. And that’s where Estefannie came in.

At Maker Central in Birmingham earlier this year, the two YouTube teams got together to realise their shared IoT dream.

They ran out of chairs for their panel, so Allen had to improvise

With the help of a Raspberry Pi Zero W connected to the relay built into the unicorn, the team were able to write code that combs through Twitter, looking for mentions of @mythicalpoops. A positive result triggers the Raspberry Pi to activate the relay, and the unicorn lifts its tail to shoot jelly beans at passers-by.

You can definitely tell this project was invented by an eight-year-old, and we love it!

IoT unicorn

As you can see in the video above, the IoT upgrades to the unicorn allow Twitter users to control when the mythical beast poops its jelly beans. There are rumours that the unicorn may be coming to live with us at Pi Towers, but if these turn out to be true, we’ll ensure that this function is turned off. So no tweeting the unicorn!

You know what to do

Be sure to subscribe to both Kids Invent Stuff and Estefannie Explains It All on YouTube. They’re excellent makers producing wonderful content, and we know you’ll love them.

How to milk a unicorn

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Portable retro CTR game console: the one-thumb entertainment system

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OTES is the one-thumb entertainment system that, unsurprisingly, requires only one thumb to play.

One-Thumb Entertainment System

Uploaded by gocivici on 2019-04-29.

Retro handheld gaming

Straight out the bat, I have to admit that had this existed in the 80s, it would have been all I played with. OTES oozes gaming nostalgia, and the constant clicking would have driven my mother mad, as did the tap tap tap of my Game Boy or NES controller.

Designed to play PICO8 games, with its developers eager to see more people create one-button controlled games for the console, OTES replaces the concept of game cartridges with individual SD cards, allowing for players to swap out games as they would have with a Nintendo Game Boy, SEGA Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and other stand-alone cartridge consoles.

Building OTES

As mentioned, OTES uses the PICO-8 environment at its core and runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero W with interchangeable SD cards. And as the games designed for the project only require one button, it makes for a fairly simple setup.

For the body, the project’s maker, govinci, sources an old JVC video camera in order to cannibalise the CRT viewfinder.

The most important thing first. You have to find an old camcorder which has a CRT viewfinder. It’s usually easy to tell if a camcorder has a CRT viewfinder since it’s a bulky part sticking off the side of the camcorder. I found this viewfinder on an old JVC camcorder which I bought from the flea market. To test the viewfinder I used a 9v battery to power up the camcorder. There was no image on the viewfinder but I got a static white noise which is enough to tell if the viewfinder works.

The CRT viewfinder (that’s it to the right of the battery) was then connected to the Raspberry Pi and power source, and nestled snugly into a 3D-printed body.

Close the case up, turn on the Pi, and boom: one working, single-button console game player with a very personal point of view.

Govinci says:

Currently, It has one game called ODEF (Ocean Defender) developed by me and my friends. (You can play it here.) And I hope there will be many others as people develop games that can be played with only one button on this platform.

You heard the man: go get developing. (I can think of plenty of circumstances where only needing one free finger to fit in a spot of gaming would be really, really convenient.) You can make your own console by following the build diary at Instructables. Let us know if you give it a whirl!

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Hacking an Etch-A-Sketch with a Raspberry Pi and camera: Etch-A-Snap!

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Kids of the 1980s, rejoice: the age of the digital Etch-A-Sketch is now!

What is an Etch-A-Sketch

Introduced in 1960, the Etch-A-Sketch was invented by Frenchman André Cassagnes and manufactured by the Ohio Art Company.

The back of the Etch-A-Sketch screen is covered in very fine aluminium powder. Turning one of the two directional knobs runs a stylus across the back of the screen, displacing the powder and creating a dark grey line visible in the front side.

can it run DOOM?

yes

The Etch-A-Sketch was my favourite childhood toy. So you can imagine how excited I was to see the Etch-A-Snap project when I logged into Reddit this morning!

Digital Etch-A-Sketch

Yesterday, Martin Fitzpatrick shared on Reddit how he designed and built Etch-A-Snap, a Raspberry Pi Zero– and Camera Module–connected Etch-A-Sketch that (slowly) etches photographs using one continuous line.

Etch-A-Snap is (probably) the world’s first Etch-A-Sketch Camera. Powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero (or Zero W), it snaps photos just like any other camera, but outputs them by drawing to an Pocket Etch-A-Sketch screen. Quite slowly.

Unless someone can show us another Etch-A-Sketch camera like this, we’re happy to agree that this is a first!

Raspberry Pi–powered Etch-A-Sketch

Powered by four AA batteries and three 18650 LiPo cells, Etch-A-Snap houses the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero and two 5V stepper motors within a 3D-printed case mounted on the back of a pocket-sized Etch-A-Sketch.

Photos taken using the Raspberry Pi Camera Module are converted into 1-bit, 100px × 60px, black-and-white images using Pillow and OpenCV. Next, these smaller images are turned into plotter commands using networkx. Finally, the Raspberry Pi engages the two 5V stepper motors to move the Etch-A-Sketch control knobs, producing a sketch within 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the level of detail in the image.

Build your own Etch-A-Snap

On his website, Martin goes into some serious detail about Etch-A-Snap, perfect for anyone interested in building their own, or in figuring out how it all works. You’ll find an overview with videos, along with breakdowns of the build, processing, drawing, and plotter.

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