Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi Zero/Zero W

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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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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Rescuing old cine film with Raspberry Pi Zero

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When Electrical Engineer Alan Platt was given the task of converting old cine film to digital footage for his father-in-law’s 70th birthday, his first instinct was to look online.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

“There are plenty of companies happy to convert old films”, he explains, “but they are all extremely expensive. In addition, you have to send your original films away by post, and there’s no way to guarantee that they’ll be safe in transit.”

Alan was given a box of Super 8 films covering 15 years of family holidays and memories. A huge responsibility, and an enormous challenge. Not content to let someone else do the hard work, Alan decided to convert the films himself — and learn how to program a Raspberry Pi at the same time.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Alan’s cine film digitising machine

The best-laid plans

Alan’s initial plan involved using his father-in-law’s cine projector as the base for the conversion process, but this soon proved impossible. There was no space in the projector to house both the film-playing mechanism, and the camera for the digitisation process. Further attempts to use the projector came to an end when, on powering it up for the first time, the 50-year-old machine produced a loud bang and a large cloud of smoke.

Undeterred, Alan examined the bust projector’s mechanism and decided to build his own. This began with a large eBay order: 3-D printed components from Germany, custom-shaped PTFE sheets from the UK, and optical lenses from China. For the skeleton of the machine, Alan’s box of Technic LEGO was dusted off and unpacked; an old TV was dug out of storage to interface with the Raspberry Pi Zero.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Experimentation: Technic LEGO, clamps, and Blu Tack hold the equipment together

The build commenced with several weeks of trial and error using scraps of cine film, a Camera Module, and a motor. With the Raspberry Pi Zero, Alan controlled the motion of the film through the machine, and took photos of each frame.

“At one point, setting the tension on the film required a helper to stand next to me, holding a sledgehammer connected to the pick-up reel. Moving the sledgehammer up or down varied the tension, and allowed me to work out what power of motor I would need to make the film run smoothly.”

He refined the hardware and software until the machine could produce reliable, focused, and stable images.

A slow process

Over a period of two months, the finished machine was used to convert all the cine films. The process involves loading a reel onto a Technic LEGO arm, feeding the film through the mechanism with tweezers, and winding the first section on to the pick-up reel. The Raspberry Pi controls a stepper motor and the Camera Module, advancing the film frame by frame and taking individual photos of each film cell. The film is backlit through a sheet of translucent PTFE serving as a diffuser; the Camera Module is focused by moving it up and down on its aluminium mounting.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Alan taught himself to program in Python while working on this project

Finally, Alan used Avidemux, a free video-editing program, to stitch all the images together into an MP4 digital film.

The verdict

“I’m incredibly proud of this machine”, Alan says. “It has taken more than a quarter of a million photos, digitised hundreds of meters of film — and taught me to program in Python. It demonstrates you don’t need to be an expert software engineer to make something really cool!”

And Alan’s father-in-law?

“He was thrilled! Being able to watch the films on his TV without having to set up the projector was fantastic. It was a great present!”

Here, exclusively for the Raspberry Pi blog, we present the first moments of footage to be digitised using Alan’s machine.

converting cine film to digital footage with a Raspberry Pi Zero

Gripping footage, filmed at Windsor Safari Park in 1983

Digital footage

Have you used a Raspberry Pi to digitise family memories? Do you have a box of Super 8 films in the attic, waiting for a machine like Alan’s?

Tell us about it in the comments!

Thanks again, Rachel

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Halloween voice-changer using Raspberry Pi Zero

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Olivier Ros has put together a short and sweet tutorial for creating your own voice-changing mask for Halloween.

Voice changer with Raspberry Pi Zero for Halloween

How to make a voice changer with Raspberry Pi Zero for Halloween Buy MIC+ sound card on Amazon : goo.gl/VDFzu7 tutorial here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Halloween-Voice-Changer-With-Raspberry-Pi/ https://www.raspiaudio.com/halloween

Halloween: we love it!

Grab your ghostly fairy lights, hollow out your pumpkins, and hunt down your box of spooky knick-knacks — it’s Halloween season! And with every year that passes, we see more and more uses of the Raspberry Pi in haunting costumes and decorations.

Voice-changers

At the top of the list is an increase in the number of voice changers. And Olivier Ros’s recent project is a great example of an easy-to-build piece costumimg that’s possible thanks to the small footprint of the Raspberry Pi Zero.

An image of the Raspberry Pi Zero voice changer inside a scary mask

Playdough: so many uses, yet all we wanted to do as kids was eat it.

Oliver used a Pi Zero, though if you have the mask fit it into, you could use any 40-pin Pi and an audio DAC HAT such as this one. He also used Playdough to isolate the Zero and keep it in place, but some foam should do the trick too. Just see what you have lying around.

When I said this is an easy project, I meant it: Olivier has provided the complete code for you to install on a newly setup SD card, or to download via the terminal on your existing Raspbian configuration.

You can read through the entire build on his website, and see more of his projects over on his Instructables page.

More Halloween inspiration

If you’re looking to beef up your Halloween game this October, you should really include a Raspberry Pi in the mix. For example, our Halloween Pumpkin Light tutorial allows you to control the light show inside your carved fruit without the risk of fire. Yes, you read that correctly: a pumpkin is a fruit.

Halloween Pumpkin Light Effect

Use a Raspberry Pi and Pimoroni Blinkt! to create an realistic lighting effect for your Halloween Pumpkin.

For more inspiration and instructions, check out John Park’s Haunted Portrait, some of our favourite tweeted spooky projects from last year, and our list of some of the best Halloween projects online.

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