Tag Archives: Third-Party Products

Drag-n-drop coding for Raspberry Pi Pico

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Introducing Piper Make: a Raspberry Pi Pico-friendly drag-n-drop coding tool that’s free for anyone to use.

piper make screenshot
The ‘Digital View’ option displays a dynamic view of Raspberry Pi Pico showing GPIO states

Edtech startup Piper, Inc. launched this brand new browser-based coding tool on #PiDay. If you already have a Raspberry Pi Pico, head to make.playpiper.com and start playing with the coding tool for free.

Pico in front of Piper Make screen
If you already have a Raspberry Pi Pico, you can get started right away

Complete coding challenges with Pico

The block coding environment invites you to try a series of challenges. When you succeed in blinking an LED, the next challenge is opened up to you. New challenges are released every month, and it’s a great way to guide your learning and give you a sense of achievement as you check off each task.

But I don’t have a Pico or the components I need!

You’re going to need some kit to complete these challenges. The components you’ll need are easy to get hold of, and they’re things you probably already have lying around if you like to tinker, but if you’re a coding newbie and don’t have a workshop full of trinkets, Piper makes it easy for you. You can join their Makers Club and receive a one-off Starter Kit containing a Raspberry Pi Pico, LEDs, resistors, switches, and wires.

Piper Make starter kit
The Starter Kit contains everything you need to complete the first challenges

If you sign up to Piper’s Monthly Makers Club you’ll receive the Starter Kit, plus new hardware each month to help you complete the latest challenge. Each Raspberry Pi Pico board ships with Piper Make firmware already loaded, so you can plug and play.

Piper Make starter kit in action
Trying out the traffic light challenge with the Starter Kit

If you already have things like a breadboard, LEDs, and so on, then you don’t need to sign up at all. Dive straight in and get started on the challenges.

I have a Raspberry Pi Pico. How do I play?

A quick tip before we go: when you hit the Piper Make landing page for the first time, don’t click ‘Getting Started’ just yet. You need to set up your Pico first of all, so scroll down and select ‘Setup my Pico’. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.

Scroll down on the landing page to set up your Pico before hitting ‘Getting Started’

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Interactive origami art with Raspberry Pi

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Ross Symons is an incredible origami artist who harnessed Raspberry Pi and Bare Conductive’s Pi Cap board to bring his traditional paper creations to life in an interactive installation piece.

Video by White On Rice

Touchy-feely

The Pi Cap is “[a]n easy-to-attach add-on board that brings capacitive sensing to your Raspberry Pi projects.” Capacitive sensing is how touchscreens on your phone and tablet work: basically, the Pi Cap lets the Raspberry Pi know when something – in this case, an origami flower – is being touched.

Lovely photo from Bare Conductive

Aaaand relax

Ross named his creation “Wonder Wall – an Origami Meditation Mural”. Visitors put on headphones next to the origami flower wall, and listen to different soothing sounds as the Pi Cap senses that one of the green flowers is being touched.

The Raspberry Pi runs code from Python library PyGame to achieve the sound effects.

Green and white Origami flowers
Origami flowers ready for the installation. Photo from Bare Conductive

Electric paint

64 origami flowers were mounted to a canvas, a much lighter and more readiliy transportable option than a big wooden board.

On the back of the board, the Pi Cap and Raspberry Pi connect to each origami flower with electric paint and copper tape. The electric paint “solders” the copper tape to the Pi Cap, and also allows for connections around corners.

Drop a comment below if you’ve ever used electric paint in a project.

Pi Cap board and electric paint
The Pi Cap board connects to origami flowers with electric paint (being applied from the white tube) and copper tape. Photo from Bare Conductive

Insta-cutie

Check out Ross’s beautiful Instagram account @white_onrice. It’s full of incredible paper creations and inspired stop-motion animations. Our favourite is this little crane having a whale of a time.

Lastly, make sure to follow White On Rice on YouTube for more mesmerising origami art.

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Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping Guide 2020

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The most wonderful time of the year is approaching! “Most wonderful” meaning the time when you have to figure out what gift best expresses your level of affection for various individuals in your life. We’re here to take away some of that stress for you — provided your favourite individuals like Raspberry Pi, of course. Otherwise you’re on your own. Sorry.

We’ve got ideas for the gamers in your life, what to get for the Raspberry Pi “superfan” who has everything, and options that allow you to keep giving all year round.

Newest and hottest

If keeping up with the Joneses is your thing, why not treat your nearest Raspberry Pi fan to one of our newest products…

Raspberry Pi 400 | $70

Top view of a woman's hands using the Raspberry Pi 400 keyboard and official Raspberry Pi mouse

This year, we released Raspberry Pi 400: a complete personal computer, built into a compact keyboard, costing just $70. Our community went wild about the possibilities that Raspberry Pi 400 opens up for home learners and for those who don’t have expensive tech options at their fingertips.

You just plug in a mouse, a monitor (any semi-modern TV screen should work), and go. The Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer kit costs $100 and comes with a few extras to help get you started. Or you can buy the Raspberry Pi 400 unit on its own.

Depending on where you are in the world, you may need to pre-order or join a waiting list, as Raspberry Pi 400 is in such high demand. But you could give a homemade ‘IOU’ voucher letting the recipient know that they will soon get their hands on one of our newest and most popular bits of kit.

Our latest book of coding coolness | £10

We publish some cool books around these parts. Laura Sach and Martin O’Hanlon, who are both Learning Managers at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, have written the very newest one, which is designed to help you to get more out of your Python projects.

In Create Graphical User Interfaces with Python, you’ll find ten fun Python projects to create, including a painting program, an emoji match game, and a stop-motion animation creator. All for just £10.

So, if you’ve a keen coder in your midst, this book is the best choice to stretch their skills and keep them entertained throughout 2021. Buy it online from the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Gamers

Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming Kit | £88

Lovely image courtesy of The Pi Hut

The Pi Hut’s Raspberry Pi 4 Retro Gaming Kit costs £88 and includes everything you need to create your very own retro gaming console. All your lucky kit recipient has to find is a screen to plug into, and a keyboard to set up their new Raspberry Pi, which comes as part of the kit along with a case for it. The Pi Hut has also thrown in a 16GB microSD card, plus a reader for it, as well as our official micro HDMI cable. Job done.

Picade 8″ or 10″ display | from £165

Pretty picture courtesy of Pimoroni

How cool does Picade look?! It’s sold by Pimoroni and you can buy an 8″ display set for £165, or a 10″ display version for £225. Show me a self-respecting gamer who doesn’t want a desktop retro arcade machine in their own home.

Picade is a Raspberry Pi–powered mini arcade that you build yourself. All you’ll need to add is your own Raspberry Pi, a power supply, and a micro SD card.

Code the Classics, Volume 1 | £12

And if the gamer on your gift list prefers to create their own retro video games, send them a copy of Code the Classics, Volume 1. It’s a stunning-looking hardback book packed with 224 pages telling the stories of some of the seminal video games of the 1970s and 1980s, and showing you how to create your own. Putting hours of projects in the hands of your favourite gamer will only set you back £12. Buy it online from the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Raspberry Pi superfans

Raspberry Pi Zero W | $10

For just $10 apiece, you can drop a couple Raspberry Pi Zero W into any tinkerer’s stocking and they’ll be set for their next few projects. They will LOVE you for allowing them try a new, risky build without having to tear down something else they created to retrieve an old Raspberry Pi.

Babbage Bear | $9

What to get the superfan who already has a desk full of Raspberry Pi? An official Babbage Bear to oversee the proceedings! Babbage only costs £9 and will arrive wearing their own Raspberry Pi–branded T-shirt. A special Raspberry Pi Towers inhabitant made our Babbage this Christmassy outfit before we photographed them.

Official t-shirts | $12

If you’ve a superfan on your gift list, then it’s likely they already own a t-shirt with the Raspberry Pi logo on it — so why not get them one of these new designs?

Both costing just £12, the black Raspberry Pi “Pi 4” t-shirt was released to celebrate the launch of Raspberry Pi 4 and features an illustration of the powerful $35 computer. The white Raspberry Pi “Make Cool Stuff” option was created by Raspberry Pi’s own illustrator/animator extraordinaire Sam Alder. Drop that inside fact on the gift tag for extra superfan points.

Wearable tech projects | £7

And if they’re the kind of superfan who would like to make their own Raspberry Pi-–themed clothing, gift them with our Wearable Tech Projects book. This 164-page book gathers up the best bits of wearable technology from HackSpace magazine, with tutorials such as adding lights to your favourite cosplay helmet, and creating a glowing LED skirt. It’s on sale for just £7 and you can buy it online from the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Keep giving all year

What if you could give the joy of opening a Raspberry Pi–themed gift every single month for a whole year? Our magazine subscriptions let you do just that, AND they come with a few extra gifts when you sign up.

The MagPi magazine

The official Raspberry Pi magazine comes with a free Raspberry Pi Zero kit worth £20 when you sign up for a 12-month subscription. The magazine is packed with computing and electronics tutorials, how-to guides, and the latest news and reviews.

Check out subscription deals on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

HackSpace magazine

HackSpace magazine is packed with projects for fixers and tinkerers of all abilities. 12-month subscriptions comes with a free Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, which has been specially developed to teach programming novices from scratch and is worth £25.

Check out subscription deals on the official Raspberry Pi Press store

Wireframe magazine

Wireframe magazine lifts the lid on video games. In every issue, you’ll find out how games are made, who makes them, and how you can make your own using detailed guides. The latest deal gets you three issues for just £10, plus your choice of one of our official books as a gift.

Check out more subscriptions deals on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

Custom PC

Custom PC is the magazine for people who are passionate about PC technology and hardware. You can subscribe to receive three issues for just £10, and you’ll also receive a book as a gift.

Check out subscription offers on the official Raspberry Pi Press store.

That’s all folks. Have a holly jolly one. Drop a question in the comments box below if you’re after something Raspberry Pi–themed which isn’t mentioned here. I’m half elf and should be able to help.

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Vulkan update: merged to Mesa

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Today we have another guest post from Igalia’s Iago Toral, who has spent the past year working on the Mesa graphic driver stack for Raspberry Pi 4.

Four months ago we announced that work on the Vulkan effort for Raspberry Pi 4 (v3dv) was progressing well, and that we were moving the development to an open repository.

vkQuake3 on Raspberry Pi 4

This week, the Vulkan driver for Raspberry Pi 4 has been merged with Mesa upstream, becoming one of the official Vulkan Mesa drivers. This brings several advantages:

  • Easier to find: now anyone willing to test the driver just needs to go to the official Mesa repository
  • Bug tracking: issues/bugs can now be filed on the official Mesa repository bug tracker. If the problem affects other parts of the project, it will be easier for us to involve other Mesa developers.
  • Releasing: v3dv will be included in all Mesa releases. In due course, you will no longer need to go to an external repository to obtain the driver, as it will be included in the Mesa package for your distribution.
  • Maintenance: v3dv will be included in the Mesa Continuous Integration system, so every merge request will be tested to ensure that our driver still builds. More effort can go to new features and bug fixes rather than just keeping up with upstream changes.

Progress, and current status

We said back in June that we were passing over 70,000 tests from the Khronos Conformance Test Suite for Vulkan 1.0, and that we had an implementation for a significant subset of the Vulkan 1.0 API. Now we are passing over 100,000 tests, and have implemented the full Vulkan 1.0 API. Only a handful of CTS tests remain to be fixed.

Sascha Willems’ deferred multisampling demo

This doesn’t mean that our work is done, of course. Although the CTS is a really complete test suite, it is not the same as a real use case. As mentioned some of our updates, we have been testing the driver with Vulkan ports of the original Quake trilogy, but deeper and more detailed testing is needed. So the next step will be to test the driver with more use cases, and fixing any bugs or performance issues that we find during the process.

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Website hosting on Raspberry Pi 4 with Mythic Beasts

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Here’s Mythic Beast’s Pete Stevens to talk about how we run the Raspberry Pi website on Raspberry Pis, and how Mythic Beasts can run your site on Raspberry Pis too!

Rent a Raspberry Pi

In late 2016, Mythic Beasts launched a Raspberry Pi cloud, allowing you to rent a Raspberry Pi 3 as a service.

Raspberry Pi 4 is a much more capable computer, with more than twice the performance and, crucially, four times the memory. We were so excited by it, we bet Eben Upton a beer that we could host the launch site for Raspberry Pi 4 on Raspberry Pi 4. We’d demonstrated that it was just about possible to run a normal day on a cluster of eight Raspberry Pi 3s, but launch day is a bit more exciting — tens of millions rather than a million visitors.

Eben, being a fool supremely confident in the work that his team had done, took the bet and let us. On Thursday 20 June 2019, he dropped off eighteen 4GB RAM Raspberry Pi 4 computers that had previously been used in testing. We set about configuring them to replace all the web servers that run the Raspberry Pi blog.

  • 14× Dynamic Web server (PHP/Apache)
  • 2× Static webserver (Apache, flat files)
  • 2× Memcache (in memory store to accelerate web serving)

We started the build on Friday 21 June. We immediately ran into our first ‘chicken and egg’ problem. The Raspberry Pi web servers are built from Puppet, based (at the time) on Debian Jessie. Raspberry Pi 4’s release OS was a not-yet-released version of Debian Buster, which at the time wasn’t supported by Puppet. In conjunction with Greg Annandale at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we created a Puppet build that would run on Raspberry Pi 4, updated the configuration from Jessie to Buster (newer Apache/PHP), and did some testing.

A rack of Raspberry Pis and a mess of wires connecting them
The enclosures were built to accommodate a larger PoE HAT, which is why this doesn’t stand up beautifully neatly.

We have pre-built enclosures from our Raspberry Pi 3 cloud. We followed the same approach using Power over Ethernet to provide power and data to each Raspberry Pi 4. This dramatically reduces the cabling and complexity of the setup. Late on Friday 21, just over 24 hours after we started, we moved the hastily constructed Raspberry Pi 4 setup to Sovereign House, a key Mythic Beasts data centre and one of the best-connected buildings in Europe.

Over the course of a few hours, we gradually moved the entire production load from the existing virtual servers to the Raspberry Pi 4 cloud and every page from the blog was being served directly off Raspberry Pi 4. We left it for two days to bed in before the real test: launch day.

The launch was almost perfectly smooth. The Raspberry Pi cluster coped fine with the tens of millions of users. However, the Raspberry Pi cluster and website is fronted by Cloudflare, which provides acceleration for static resources and protects the site from denial of service. Unfortunately, they had a two-hour outage in the middle of the launch thanks to a misconfigured internet optimiser run by a customer of Verizon. So the Raspberry Pi 4 cluster had a long lunch break wondering where all the users had gone.

We ran the website on the Raspberry Pi 4 cluster for over a month before reverting back to the usual virtual server-based environment. We’d proved that RaspberryPi 4 would make an awesome hosting platform.

Commercialising Raspberry Pi 4 as a service

We were already running Raspberry Pi 3 as a service for many customers (e.g. PiWheels, which builds Python packages for Raspberry Pi), and being able spin up Raspberry Pi 3 on demand is incredibly useful.

At launch, Raspberry Pi 4 wasn’t suitable. We rely on network boot in order to be able to remotely re-image Raspberry Pi. SD cards just aren’t very reliable; visiting the data centre for manual intervention on every SD card failure is not only expensive in time, but also means we’d have to maintain physical access to every Raspberry Pi 4 in our cloud. Netboot means that we just build large enclosures of 108 Raspberry Pis and seal them in, as they will never require physical attention. If one fails — and we’ve not yet seen one fail — we can shut it down and take it out of our database.

For Raspberry Pi 4 we had to wait for network booting to be a reality. We had access to beta firmware in November 2019 and built a sample Raspberry Pi 4 network boot setup. We then had to integrate it into our management code, build Raspberry Pi 4–compatible operating system images, and enhance our billing to cope with multiple models and by-the-hour billing. Then we had to do a file server and network upgrade: serving lots of machines with true gigabit needs more ‘oomph’ than the 100Mbps of Raspberry Pi 3. This also all needed to be backward-compatible so as not to break the existing Raspberry Pi 3 users. On 17 June 2020 we launched, and Raspberry Pi 4 is now ready to order in our cloud.

Is it any good?

Yes. Raspberry Pi is twice as fast as the same-sized instances in AWS, for a quarter of the price. Just see for yourself:

Raspberry Pi 4a1.largemg6.medium
Spec4 cores @ 1.5GHz
4GB RAM
2 cores
4GB RAM
1 core
4GB RAM
Monthly price£8.63$45.35
(~£36.09)
$34.69
(~ £27.61)
Requests per second1075257
Mean requests per second457ms978ms868ms
99th percentile request time791ms1247ms1056ms

But what about 8GB and 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS?

That sounds like a jolly nice idea. Keep watching the Mythic Beasts blog for updates.

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OpenVX API for Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry Pi is excited to bring the Khronos OpenVX 1.3 API to our line of single-board computers. Here’s Kiriti Nagesh Gowda, AMD‘s MTS Software Development Engineer, to tell you more.

OpenVX for computer vision

OpenVX™ is an open, royalty-free API standard for cross-platform acceleration of computer vision applications developed by The Khronos Group. The Khronos Group is an open industry consortium of more than 150 leading hardware and software companies creating advanced, royalty-free acceleration standards for 3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, vision, and machine learning. Khronos standards include Vulkan®, OpenCL™, SYCL™, OpenVX™, NNEF™, and many others.

Now with added Raspberry Pi

The Khronos Group and Raspberry Pi have come together to work on an open-source implementation of OpenVX™ 1.3, which passes the conformance on Raspberry Pi. The open-source implementation passes the Vision, Enhanced Vision, & Neural Net conformance profiles specified in OpenVX 1.3 on Raspberry Pi.

Application developers may always freely use Khronos standards when they are available on the target system. To enable companies to test their products for conformance, Khronos has established an Adopters Program for each standard. This helps to ensure that Khronos standards are consistently implemented by multiple vendors to create a reliable platform for developers. Conformant products also enjoy protection from the Khronos IP Framework, ensuring that Khronos members will not assert their IP essential to the specification against the implementation.

OpenVX enables a performance and power-optimized computer vision processing, especially important in embedded and real-time use cases such as face, body, and gesture tracking, smart video surveillance, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), object and scene reconstruction, augmented reality, visual inspection, robotics, and more. The developers can take advantage of using this robust API in their application and know that the application is portable across all the conformant hardware.

Below, we will go over how to build and install the open-source OpenVX 1.3 library on Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. We will run the conformance for the Vision, Enhanced Vision, & Neural Net conformance profiles and create a simple computer vision application to get started with OpenVX on Raspberry Pi.

OpenVX 1.3 implementation for Raspberry Pi

The OpenVX 1.3 implementation is available on GitHub. To build and install the library, follow the instructions below.

Build OpenVX 1.3 on Raspberry Pi

Git clone the project with the recursive flag to get submodules:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/KhronosGroup/OpenVX-sample-impl.git

Note: The API Documents and Conformance Test Suite are set as submodules in the sample implementation project.

Use the Build.py script to build and install OpenVX 1.3:

cd OpenVX-sample-impl/
python Build.py --os=Linux --venum --conf=Debug --conf_vision --enh_vision --conf_nn

Build and run the conformance:

export OPENVX_DIR=$(pwd)/install/Linux/x32/Debug
export VX_TEST_DATA_PATH=$(pwd)/cts/test_data/
mkdir build-cts
cd build-cts
cmake -DOPENVX_INCLUDES=$OPENVX_DIR/include -DOPENVX_LIBRARIES=$OPENVX_DIR/bin/libopenvx.so\;$OPENVX_DIR/bin/libvxu.so\;pthread\;dl\;m\;rt -DOPENVX_CONFORMANCE_VISION=ON -DOPENVX_USE_ENHANCED_VISION=ON -DOPENVX_CONFORMANCE_NEURAL_NETWORKS=ON ../cts/
cmake --build .
LD_LIBRARY_PATH=./lib ./bin/vx_test_conformance

Sample application

Use the open-source samples on GitHub to test the installation.

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