Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi Zero/Zero W

The Junk Drum Machine

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I do not really have any spare time. (Toddler, job, very demanding cat, lots of LEGO to tidy up.) If I did, I like to imagine that I’d come up with something like this to do with it.

junk drum machine

Want to see this collection of junk animate? Scroll down for video.

From someone calling themselves Banjowise (let me know what your real name is in the comments, please, so I can credit you properly here!), here is a pile of junk turned into a weirdly compelling drum machine.

Mechanically speaking, this isn’t too complicated: just a set of solenoids triggered by a Raspberry Pi. The real clever is in the beauteous, browser-based step sequencer Banjowise has built to program the solenoids to wallop things in beautiful rhythm. And in the beauteous, skip-sourced tchotchkes that Banjowise has found for them to wallop. Generously, they’ve made full instructions on making your own available on Instructables. Use any bits and bobs you can get your hands on if old piano hammers and crocodile castanets are not part of the detritus kicking around your house.

Warning: this video is weirdly compelling.

Automabeat – A Raspberry Pi Mechanical Robotic Junk Drum Machine

My Raspberry Pi based drum / percussion machine. Consisting of 8 12v solenoids, a relay, wooden spoons, a Fullers beer bottle, a crocodile maraca and a few other things. An Instructable on how to build your own is here: https://www.instructables.com/id/A-Raspberry-Pi-Powered-Junk-Drum-Machine/, or take a look at: http://www.banjowise.com/post/automabeat/

The sequencer is lovely: a gorgeously simple user interface that you can run on a tablet, your phone, or anything else with a browser (and it’s very easily adaptable to other projects). The web interface lets Python trigger the GPIO pins over web sockets. There’s a precompiled version available for people who’ve followed Banjowise’s comprehensive wiring instructions, but you can also get the source code from GitHub.

Sequencer UI

I think I’m getting good, but I can handle criticism.

We love it. Now please excuse me. I need a little while to search online for crocodile castanets.

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LED Matrix Cylinder — a blinkenlights tube

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We see lots of addressable LED projects, but there was something weirdly charming and very pretty about this cylinder of squares. It’d make for a lovely interactive nightlight in a kids’ room, or for a grown-up lighting feature that you could also use as a news ticker or something that monitors your in-home IoT devices. Once you’ve built something like this, you’re only limited by your imagination — and it’s nice enough to display in your home.

This project is from makeTVee on Instructables. The cleverness is in the layout and the really meticulous execution: vertical strips of LEDs form a cylinder in a laser-cut frame, with a very thin layer of wood veneer glued around the whole thing to act as a diffuser. It’s simple, but really rather beautiful and very effective.

diffuser, diffusing

In the case to the side is the Raspberry Pi Zero that’s driving the whole thing. Here it is doing its thing:

LED matrix cylinder WS2812 Raspberry Pi Zero

LED matrix cylinder based on WS2812 LEDs and some laser cutter parts. https://hackaday.io/project/162035-led-matrix-cylinder https://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Matrix-Cylinder/ #WS2812 #LEDcylinder

makeTVee has built a Pygame-based simulator of the whole matrix so you can program it to do exactly what you want: scroll marquee text, make pretty patterns, twinkle at random, display images: the world’s your (pixellated) oyster. The code’s available at GitHub.

GUI for programming cylinder

Thanks, makeTVee — if you’d like to leave your real name below, we’ll credit you properly here!

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Laser-engraved Raspberry Pi hologram

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Inspired by an old episode of Pimoroni’s Bilge Tank, and with easy access to the laser cutter at the Raspberry Pi Foundation office, I thought it would be fun to create a light-up multi-layered hologram using a Raspberry Pi and the Pimoroni Unicorn pHAT.

Raspberry Pi layered light

Read more –

Break it to make it

First, I broke down the Raspberry Pi logo into three separate images — the black outline, the green leaves, and the red berry.

RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM

Fun fact: did you know that Pimoroni’s Paul Beech designed this logo as part of the ‘design us a logo’ contest we ran all the way back in August 2011?

Once I had the three separate files, I laser-engraved them onto 4cm-wide pieces of 3mm-thick clear acrylic. As there are four lines of LEDs on the Unicorn pHAT, I cut the fourth piece to illuminate the background.

RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM

To keep the engraved acrylic pieces together, I cut out a pair of acrylic brackets (see above) with four 3mm indentations. Then, after a bit of fiddling with the Unicorn pHAT library, I was able to light the pHAT’s rows of LEDs in white, red, green, and white.

RASPBERRY PI HOLOGRAM

The final result looks pretty spectacular, especially in the dark, and you can build on this basic idea to create fun animations — especially if you use a HAT with more rows of LEDs.

Iterations

This is just a prototype. I plan on building a sturdier frame for the pieces that securely fits a Raspberry Pi Zero W and lets users replace layers easily. As with many projects, I’m sure this will grow and grow as each interaction inspires a new add-on.

How would you build upon this basic principle?

Oh…

…we also laser-engraved this Cadbury’s Creme Egg.

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Handheld text-based adventure gaming with Quest Smith

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Play text-based adventure games that print out in real time, with Quest Smith: the Raspberry Pi Zero W–driven handheld gaming device from Bekir Dağ.

Quest Smith

Quest Smith is a raspberry pi zero driven thermal printing text based game. In each level, it gives you options to choose so every game is different than the other one.

Text-based adventure games

Today I learned:

Around 1975, Will Crowther, a programmer and an amateur caver, wrote the first text adventure game, Adventure (originally called ADVENT because a filename could only be six characters long in the operating system he was using, and later named Colossal Cave Adventure).

But I’m sure you already knew that.

According to the internet, text-based games in their most simple form are video games that use text instead of graphics to let players progress. You read the description of your surroundings and choose from a set of options, or you type in your next step and hope the game understands what you’re talking about.

Colossal Cave Adventure

We have a conversation going in our team right now about whether the term ‘text-based games’ is solely used for video games of this nature, or whether choose your own adventure books also fall into the category of text-based games. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Anyway…

Quest Smith!

After encountering a similar handheld gaming device in a Berlin games museum, Bekir Dağ decided to build his own using a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

Quest Smith text-based game

For Quest Smith’s body, Bekir Dağ designed a 3D print, and he provides the STL files for free on Thingiverse. And for the inner workings?

A Raspberry Pi Zero W fits snugly into the body alongside a thermal printer, a battery, and various tactile buttons. The battery is powered by a solar panel mounted on the outer shell, and all components are connected to a TP4056 board that allows the battery to power the Pi.

Quest Smith text-based game

The Quest Smith software is still somewhat of a work-in-progress. While users can build Quest Smith today and start playing, Bekir has put out the call for the community to submit their own parts of the story.

Each level requires two versions of the story, which makes the possiblities grow exponentially. So it will be very difficult for me to finish a single story by myself. For the player to reach level 9, we will need to have 1023 story parts to be written. If you can help me with that, it would be amazing!

To see more of Quest Smith’s build process, find the files to make your own device, and instructions on how to contribute toward the story, visit the Quest Smith Hackster.io page.

More text-based adventuring with Python

If you’re interested in writing your own text-based adventure game in Python, we’ve got a free online course available in which you can learn about object-oriented programming while creating a text-based game. And for a briefer intro, check out Wireframe magazine issue 6, where game developer Andrew Gillett explains how to make a simple Python text adventure.

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Automatic Calling System using Raspberry Pi

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If like me, you’re awful at remembering birthdays, you need Piyush Charpe’s Automatic Birthday Calling System. It’s the Raspberry Pi device that calls on your behalf – aka Heaven for Introverts.

Building business relationships through niceness

Piyush’s father works as an insurance adviser, and, because he’s a lovely chap, he makes it his mission to wish all of his clients a happy birthday. Nice, right? I hardly remember the birthdays of my closest friends: and here’s Piyush’s father sending his kindest regards to everyone on his client list.

Way to make me feel like a bad friend, Papa Charpe!

So good are Charpe Sr’s customer service skills that he’s unexpectedly built himself an unmanageable amount of birthday wishes to send. So that’s where his son comes in with his idea for an automatic birthday calling system. Huzzah! Take my money, etc. etc.

Automated calling with a Raspberry Pi

Piyush used a Raspberry Pi Zero W, 4G GSM module and Google Firebase for the system, alongside an audio recording of his father wishing a happy birthday, and some help from a friend with experience building Android apps.

Raspberry Pi automatic birthday caller

Acquiring a client list from his father that included names, dates of birth and telephone number (our GDPR manager is weeping into her compliance documents as she reads this), Piyush added the information to Google Firebase, an online real-time database system.

Raspberry Pi automatic birthday caller

The accompanying Android app allows his father to add and remove clients from the list, and updates him on successfully-made calls; it’ll also let him know who he’ll need to follow up with if they were unavailable to receive their birthday greeting.

Raspberry Pi automatic birthday caller Raspberry Pi automatic birthday caller Raspberry Pi automatic birthday caller

The system updates at midnight, consolidating a list to be called at 10am the following day. And, at the end of the month, the system’s call history is deleted automatically after sending it in CSV format to his father.

The system has now been working 24/7 for eight months, and has been adopted by other business owners in the area.

You can read more about the project here.

Put down your phone!

What a lovely use of technology with great scope for expansion. Why stop at birthdays? Do I remember my parents’ anniversary? Of course not. And don’t get me started on updating my nearest and dearest on life events, changing address, etc. This system is genius! Introverts need never talk to another human being again! Rejoice!

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Dance magic, dance

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 Firstly, I’d like to apologise for rickrolling you all yesterday. I would LIKE to, but I can’t — it was just too funny to witness.

But as I’m now somewhat more alive and mobile, here’s a proper blog post about proper things. And today’s proper thing is these awesome Raspberry Pi–powered dance costumes from students at a German secondary school:

In the final two years at German gymnasiums (the highest one of our secondary school types), every student has to do a (graded) practical group project. Our school is known for its superb dancing groups, which are formed of one third of the students (voluntarily!), so our computer science teacher suggested to make animated costumes for our big dancing project at the end of the school year. Around 15 students chose this project, firstly because the title sounded cool and secondly because of the nice teacher 😉.

Let me just say how lovely it is that students decided to take part in a task because of how nice the teacher is. If you’re a nice teacher, congratulations!

The students initially tried using Arduinos and LED strips for their costumes. After some failed attempts, they instead opted for a Raspberry Pi Zero WH and side-emitting fibre connected to single RGB LEDs — and the result is rather marvellous.

To power the LEDs, we then had to shift the voltage up from the 3.3V logic level to 12V. For this, we constructed a board to hold all the needed components. At its heart, there are three ULN2803A to provide enough transistors at the smallest possible space still allowing hand-soldering.

Using pulse-width modulation (PWM), the students were able to control the colour of their lights freely. The rest of the code was written during after-school meetups; an excerpt can be found here, along with a complete write-up of the project.

I’m now going to hand this blog post over to our copy editor, Janina, who is going to write up a translated version of the above in German. Janina, over to you…

[Ed. note: Nein, danke.]

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