Tag Archives: The MagPi

Product or Project?

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This column is from The MagPi issue 57. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Image of MagPi magazine and AIY Project Kit

Taking inspiration from a widely known inspirational phrase, I like to tell people, “make the thing you wish to see in the world.” In other words, you don’t have to wait for a company to create the exact product you want. You can be a maker as well as a consumer! Prototyping with hardware has become easier and more affordable, empowering people to make products that suit their needs perfectly. And the people making these things aren’t necessarily electrical engineers, computer scientists, or product designers. They’re not even necessarily adults. They’re often self-taught hobbyists who are empowered by maker-friendly technology.

It’s a subject I’ve been very interested in, and I have written about it before. Here’s what I’ve noticed: the flow between maker project and consumer product moves in both directions. In other words, consumer products can start off as maker projects. Just take a look at the story behind many of the crowdfunded products on sites such as Kickstarter. Conversely, consumer products can evolve into maker products as well. The cover story for the latest issue of The MagPi is a perfect example of that. Google has given you the resources you need to build your own dedicated Google Assistant device. How cool is that?

David Pride on Twitter

@Raspberry_Pi @TheMagP1 Oh this is going to be a ridiculous amount of fun. 😊 #AIYProjects #woodchuck https://t.co/2sWYmpi6T1

But consumer products becoming hackable hardware isn’t always an intentional move by the product’s maker. In the 2000s, TiVo set-top DVRs were a hot product and their most enthusiastic fans figured out how to hack the product to customise it to meet their needs without any kind of support from TiVo.

Embracing change

But since then, things have changed. For example, when Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360 was released in 2010, makers were immediately enticed by its capabilities. It not only acted as a camera, but it could also sense depth, a feature that would be useful for identifying the position of objects in a space. At first, there was no hacker support from Microsoft, so Adafruit Industries announced a $3,000 bounty to create open-source drivers so that anyone could access the features of Kinect for their own projects. Since then, Microsoft has embraced the use of Kinect for these purposes.

The Create 2 from iRobot

iRobot’s Create 2, a hackable version of the Roomba

Consumer product companies even make versions of their products that are specifically meant for hacking, making, and learning. Belkin’s WeMo home automation product line includes the WeMo Maker, a device that can act as a remote relay or sensor and hook into your home automation system. And iRobot offers Create 2, a hackable version of its Roomba floor-cleaning robot. While iRobot aimed the robot at STEM educators, you could use it for personal projects too. Electronic instrument maker Korg takes its maker-friendly approach to the next level by releasing the schematics for some of its analogue synthesiser products.

Why would a company want to do this? There are a few possible reasons. For one, it’s a way of encouraging consumers to create a community around a product. It could be a way for innovation with the product to continue, unchecked by the firm’s own limits on resources. For certain, it’s an awesome feel-good way for a company to empower their own users. Whatever the reason these products exist, it’s the digital maker who comes out ahead. They have more affordable tools, materials, and resources to create their own customised products and possibly learn a thing or two along the way.

With maker-friendly, hackable products, being a creator and a consumer aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, you’re probably getting the best of both worlds: great products and great opportunities to make the thing you wish to see in the world.

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Processing: making art with code

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This column is from The MagPi issue 56. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

One way we achieve our mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to find an intersection between someone’s passion and computing. For example, if you’re a young person interested in space, our Astro Pi programme is all about getting your code running on the International Space Station. If you like music, you can use Sonic Pi to compose songs with code. This month, I’d like to introduce you to some interesting work happening at the intersection between computing and the visual arts.

Image of Dead Presidents by Mike Brondbjerg art made with Processing

Mike Brondbjerg’s Dead Presidents uses Processing to generate portraits.

Processing is a programming language and development environment that sits perfectly at that intersection. It enables you to use code to generate still graphics, animations, or interactive applications such as games. It’s based on the Java programming language, and it runs on multiple platforms and operating systems. Thanks to the work of the Processing Foundation, and in particular the efforts of contributor Gottfried Haider, Processing runs like a champ on the Raspberry Pi.

Screenshot of Processing environment

When I want to communicate how cool Processing is while speaking to members of the Raspberry Pi community, I usually make this analogy: with Sonic Pi, you can use one line of code to make one note; with Processing, you can use one line of code to draw one stroke. Once you’ve figured that out, you can use computational tools such as loops, conditions, and variables to make some beautiful art.

And even though Processing is intended for use in the realm of visual arts, its capabilities can go beyond that. You can make applications that interact with the user through keyboard or mouse input. Processing also has libraries for working with network connections, files, and cameras. This means that you don’t just have to create artwork with Processing. You can also use it for almost anything you need to code.

Physical process

Processing is especially cool on the Raspberry Pi because there’s a library for working with the Pi’s GPIO pins. You can therefore have on-screen graphics interacting with buttons, switches, LEDs, relays, and sensors wired up to your Pi. With Processing, you could build a game that uses a custom controller that you’ve built yourself. Or you could create a piece of artwork that interacts with the user by sensing their proximity to it.

Processing screenshot

Best of all, Processing was created with learning to code in mind. It comes with lots of built-in examples, and you can use these to learn about many different programming and drawing concepts. The documentation on Processing’s website is very thorough and – as with Raspberry Pi – there’s a very supportive community around it if you run into any trouble. Additionally, the Processing development environment is powerful but also very simplified. For these reasons, it’s perfect for someone who is just getting started.

To get going with Processing on Raspberry Pi, there’s a one-line install command. You can also go to Processing.org and download pre-built Raspbian images with Processing already installed. To help you on your journey, there’s a resource for getting started with Processing. It includes a walkthrough on how to access the GPIO pins to combine physical computing and visual arts.

When you launch Processing, you will see a blank file where you can start keying in your code. Don’t let that intimidate you! All of the world’s greatest pieces of art started off as a raw slab of marble, a blob of clay, or a blank canvas. It just takes one line of code at a time to generate your own masterpiece.

Become a supporter

After this article appeared in The MagPi, the Processing Foundation put out a call for support:

We want you to be a part of this. Our work is almost entirely supported by individual one-time donations from the community. Right now we are outspending what we earn, and we have bigger plans! We want to continue all the work we’re doing and make it more accessible, more inclusive, and more responsive to the community needs.

To create lasting support for these new directions we’re starting a Membership Program. A membership is an annual donation that supports all this work and signifies your belief in it. You can do this as an individual, a studio, an educational institution, or a corporate partner. We will list your name on our members page along with all the others that help make this mission possible.

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Community Profile: Matt Reed

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This column is from The MagPi issue 51. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Matt Reed‘s background is in web design/development, extending to graphic design in which he acquired his BFA at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his youth, his passion focused on car stereo systems, designing elaborate builds that his wallet couldn’t afford. However, this enriched his maker skill set by introducing woodwork, electronics, and fabrication exploration into his creations.

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Matt hosts the redpepper ‘Touch of Tech’ online series, highlighting the latest in interesting and unusual tech releases

Having joined the integrated marketing agency redpepper eight years ago, Matt originally worked in the design and production of microsites. However, as his interests continued to grow, demand began to evolve, and products such as the Arduino and Raspberry Pi came into the mix. Matt soon found himself moving away from the screen toward physical builds.

“I’m interested in anything that uses tech in a clever way, whether it be AR, VR, front-end, back-end, app dev, servers, hardware, UI, UX, motion graphics, art, science, or human behaviour. I really enjoy coming up with ideas people can relate to.”

Matt’s passion is to make tech seem cool, creative, empowering, and approachable, and his projects reflect this. Away from the Raspberry Pi, Matt has built some amazing creations such as the Home Alone Holidaython, an app that lets you recreate the famous curtain shadow party in Kevin McCallister’s living room. Pick the shadow you want to appear, and projectors illuminate the design against a sheet across the redpepper office window. Christmas on Tweet Street LIVE! captures hilariously negative Christmas-themed tweets from Twitter, displaying them across a traditional festive painting, while DOOR8ELL allows office visitors the opportunity to Slack-message their required staff member via an arcade interface, complete with 8-bit graphics. There’s also been a capacitive piano built with jelly keys, a phone app to simulate the destruction of cars as you sit in traffic, and a working QR code made entirely from Oreos.

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

The BoomIlluminator, an interactive art installation for the Red Bull Creation Qualifier, used LEDs within empty Red Bull cans that reacted to the bass of any music played. A light show across the cans was then relayed to peoples’ phones, extending the experience.

Playing the ‘technology advocate’ role at redpepper, Matt continues to bridge the gap between the company’s day-to-day business and the fun, intuitive uses of tech. Not only do they offer technological marketing solutions via their rpLab, they have continued to grow, incorporating Google’s Sprint methodology into idea-building and brainstorming within days of receiving a request, “so having tools that are powerful, flexible, and cost-effective like the Pi is invaluable.”

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Walk into a room with Doorjam enabled, and suddenly your favourite tune is playing via boombox speakers. Simply select your favourite song from Spotify, walk within range of a Bluetooth iBeacon, and you’re ready to make your entrance in style.

“I just love the intersection of art and science,” Matt explains when discussing his passion for tech. “Having worked with Linux servers for most of my career, the Pi was the natural extension for my interest in hardware. Running Node.js on the Pi has become my go-to toolset.”

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Slackbot Bot: Users of the multi-channel messenger service Slack will appreciate this one. Beacons throughout the office allow users to locate Slackbot Bot, which features a tornado siren mounted on a Roomba, and send it to predetermined locations to deliver messages. “It was absolutely hilarious to test in the office.”

We’ve seen Matt’s Raspberry Pi-based portfolio grow over the last couple of years. A few of his builds have been featured in The MagPi, and his Raspberry Preserve was placed 13th in the Top 50 Raspberry Pi Builds in issue 50.

Matt Reed Raspberry Pi redpepper MagPi Magazine

Matt Reed’s ‘Raspberry Preserve’ build allows uses to store their precious photos in a unique memory jar

There’s no denying that Matt will continue to be ‘one to watch’ in the world of quirky, original tech builds. You can follow his work at his website or via his Twitter account.

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Community Profile: Tim Richardson and Michael Horne

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This column is from The MagPi issue 50. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Tim Richardson and Michael Horne

Tim and Michael

Category: Makers
Day job: Michael is a web developer, while Tim works as a performance architect.
Website

Michael Horne and Tim Richardson have become regular faces within the Raspberry Pi community, and with good reason. For those local to the Cambridge area, the pair are best known for running the city’s Raspberry Jam – The CamJam – as well as events such as the Birthday Bash and the successful Pi Wars, the next instalment of which is due in April 2017. They’re also responsible for many photos and videos you’ll have seen on our blog over the years.

Mike and Tim at Parliament.

On 8 September, Michael and Tim demonstrated some of their projects and kits at the #10MillionPi House of Commons celebrations

Those further afield may have found themself in possession of a CamJam EduKit from The Pi Hut. Available in several varieties, and accompanied by educational resources on the CamJam website, EduKits provide the components necessary for newcomers to the Raspberry Pi to understand physical computing. From sensors to traffic light LEDs, the affordable kits offer everyone the chance to get to grips with digital making, regardless of their skills or experience.

CamJam

From a small room at the Centre of Mathematical Sciences to multiple rooms and hundreds of attendees, the Cambridge Raspberry Jam continues to grow within the birthplace of the Pi. The EduKit range – providing everyone with the necessary components to learn LED coding, sensors, and more – is available via The Pi Hut.

And if that’s not enough, the online presence of Tim and Michael continues to permeate the social platforms of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Both are active within the Twittersphere: you’ll no doubt have shared a joke or received advice from either @Geeky_Tim or @recantha. And if you happen to look for information or updates on Raspberry Pi products, projects, or updates, Michael’s website is most likely to be sitting in your browser history.

Michael Horne music box

Michael’s Music Box is his favourite project: it’s a kit that fits neatly into his hand, allowing for the playback and distortion of notes through various button presses and dial twists.

For the pair, the Raspberry Pi was a subject of interest pre-launch, with both ordering one from the start. Tim, the eager tinkerer, began his Pi journey from delivery day, while Michael admits to letting his collect a little dust before finally diving in.

Tim Richardson Weather

Tim is most proud of this Weather Clock, a swish-looking display of numbers and icons that indicate the date and time, along with both current and forecast weather conditions

At first, Michael attended the Milton Keynes Raspberry Jam, learning to solder in order to begin work on a project, the Picorder. Having noticed the Cambridge Raspberry Jam would no longer be running in the home town of the Raspberry Pi, and ensuring he wouldn’t step on a few toes in the process, Michael decided to launch his own Jam at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. “It was so badly organised that I hadn’t even visited and seen the room beforehand”, he admits. “It was just 30 people at that first one!” This lack of organisational skills would soon be remedied by the introduction of Tim Richardson into the mix. Of future events, Tim notes, “With two of us doing the organisation, we were able to do a lot more. I wanted to get vendors to the event so people could buy stuff for their Pis.” They also put together workshops and, later, presentations. The workshops in turn led to the creation of the CamJam EduKit, a means for workshop attendees to take components home and continue their builds there.

Raspberry Pi Birthday Bash

Cake, project builds, and merriment: the Raspberry Pi Birthday Bash’s continued success draws people from across the globe to join the team in celebrating the
Raspberry Pi, the community, and the future.

The transition of the kits to The Pi Hut took place in July 2014, allowing for greater variety and fewer nights filling bags on the living room floor. More recently, the pair joined the Raspberry Pi team in celebration of the #10MillionPi milestone, bringing their projects to the Houses of Parliament to help introduce more people to the Raspberry Jam scene. And of their continued future within the community? The much-anticipated Pi Wars will be taking place over the first weekend in April 2017, offering all ages and abilities the chance to put their robotic creations to the test against a series of challenges.

Pi Wars

The popular robotics competition allows teams of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts to battle head-to-head in a series of non-destructive challenges. Rolling into its
third year, the next Pi Wars is set to run across the first weekend of April 2017.

 

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The MagPi 53 out now! Free Debian + PIXEL DVD

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The MagPi 53 is out now. This month’s community magazine comes with a free Debian + PIXEL DVD.

With the DVD, you can run the Debian + PIXEL desktop on a PC or Mac.

The MagPi 53 Free DVD

Click here to download The MagPi 53.

The MagPi Translated Edition 2

Launching alongside this month’s The MagPi are more international titles. The second edition of our bite-sized version of The MagPi, translated into four languages, is now available.

The MagPi Translated Edition 2 contains the best projects, reviews, and tutorials from The MagPi. These are translated into Italian, French, Spanish, and Hebrew.

Click here to download The MagPi Translated Edition 2.

Inside The MagPi 53: The best projects and guides

The MagPi 53 Tutorial

Here are some of the incredible projects you will find in this month’s The MagPi:

  • Google DeepDream: how to create surreal works of art with a Raspberry Pi and Google’s AI software
  • Master remote access: use a Raspberry Pi and SSH to connect remotely via the command line
  • Make a GPIO Music Box: Program push buttons to make different sounds
  • Create a horse race game: Get yourselves to the derby with Pi Bakery
  • Use BOINC to donate your Raspberry Pi’s resources to science

Inside The MagPi 53: Debian + PIXEL DVD

The MagPi 53 Beginner's Guide to Coding

There’s a huge amount in this month’s magazine. Here are just some of the features in this issue:

  • Beginner’s guide to programming: learn to code with our complete starter guide
  • Use the Debian + PIXEL DVD: try out our new OS on your computer with your free DVD
  • Create a bootable flash drive that can boot a Mac or PC into the PIXEL desktop

There’s also some amazing news this month: the Raspberry Pi has now sold 11 million units, and Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton has been awarded a CBE! We have exclusive interviews with Eben about his CBE and the launch of Debian + PIXEL.

The MagPI 53 News

The best community projects

We also cover some of the most fantastic community projects ever built:

  • Pegasus and the North American Eagle. Inside the land-speed challenge car, with a Raspberry Pi in the driver’s cockpit
  • QBEE social media dress. This wearable tech posts automatically to social media
  • Self-playing pipe organ. This giant musical instrument is played by the Raspberry Pi
  • Water tank level monitor. This PIoT challenge winning project automates water collection in rural America

The MagPi 53 Project Focus

It’s one of the most feature-packed editions of The MagPi we’ve ever made. Don’t miss out on the free DVD that can bring an old computer back to life as a coding powerhouse. It really is something special.

You can grab The MagPi 53 in stores today: it’s in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the UK, and it will be in Micro Center and selected Barnes & Noble stores when it comes to the US. You can also buy the print edition online from our store, and it’s available digitally on our Android and iOS app.

Get a free Pi Zero

Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and get a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

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Holidays with Pi

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This column is from The MagPi issue 52. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

When I was a kid, it felt like it took forever for the holidays to arrive. Now that I’m an adult, the opposite is true: it feels like the holidays come hurtling at us faster and faster every year. As a kid, I was most interested in opening presents and eating all of that amazing holiday food. As an adult, I mostly enjoy the opportunity to pause real life for a few days and spend time with my family – though I do still love eating all that amazing holiday food!

Invariably, the conversations with my extended family turn to Raspberry Pi at some point during the holidays. My relatives may have seen something in the news about it, or perhaps they have a friend who is creating their own retro gaming emulator with it, for example. I sometimes show off the Raspberry Pi projects that I’ve been working on and talk about what the Raspberry Pi Foundation is doing in order to put the power of digital making into the hands of people around the globe.

All over the world there will be a lot of folks, both young and old, who may be receiving Raspberry Pis as gifts during the holidays. For them, hopefully it’s the start of a very rewarding journey making awesome stuff and learning about the power of computers.

The side effect of so many people receiving Raspberry Pis as gifts is that around this time of year we get a lot of people asking, “So I have a Raspberry Pi… now what?” Of course, beyond using it as a typical computer, I encourage anyone with a Raspberry Pi to make something with it. There’s no better way to learn about computing than to create something.

There’s no shortage of project inspiration out there. You’ll find projects that you can make in the current edition of The MagPi, as well as all of the back issues online, which are all available as free PDF files. We share the best projects we’ve seen on our blog, and our Resources section contains fantastic how-to projects.

Be inspired

You can also explore sites such as Hackster.io, Instructables, Hackaday.io, and Makezine.com for tons of ideas for what you can make with your Raspberry Pi. Many projects include full step-by-step guides as well. Whatever you’re interested in, whether it’s music, gaming, electronics, natural sciences, or aviation, there’s sure to be something made with Raspberry Pi that’ll spark your interest.

If you’re looking for something to make to celebrate the holiday season, you’re definitely covered. We’ve seen so many great holiday-related Raspberry Pi projects over the years, such as digital advent calendars, Christmas light displays, tree ornaments, digital menorahs, and new year countdown clocks. And, of course, not only does the current issue of The MagPi contain a few holiday-themed Pi projects, you can even make something festive with the cover and a few LEDs.

There’s a lot of stuff out there to make and I encourage you to work together with your family members on a project, even if it doesn’t seem to be their kind of thing. I think people are often surprised at how easy and fun it can be. And if you do make something together, please share some photos with us!

Whatever you create and whatever holidays you celebrate, all of us at Raspberry Pi send you our very best wishes of the season and we look forward to another year ahead of learning, making, sharing, and having fun with computers.

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