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Call me Ishmael

via Raspberry Pi

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. “When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed right there in his bed into some sort of monstrous insect”. “It was the day my grandmother exploded”. The opening line of a novel can catch our attention powerfully, and can stay with us long after the book itself is finished. A memorable first line is endlessly quotable, and lends itself to parody (“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains”). Sometimes, a really cracking first line can even inspire a group of talented people to create a unique and beautiful art object, with a certain tiny computer at its heart. 

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Stephanie Kent demonstrates the Call Me Ishmael Phone at ALA 2016

If you read the roundup of our trip to ALA 2016, you will already have caught a glimpse of this unusual Pi-powered project: the Call Me Ishmael Phone. The idea originated back in 2014 when founders Logan Smalley and Stephanie Kent were discussing their favourite opening lines of books: they were both struck by Herman Melville’s laconic phrase in Moby Dick, and began wondering, “What if Ishmael had a phone number? What if you actually could call him?” Their Call Me Ishmael project began with a phone number (people outside the US can Skype Ishmael instead), an answering machine, and an invitation to readers to tell Ishmael a story about a book they love, and how it has shaped their life. The most interesting, funny, and poignant stories are transcribed by Stephanie on a manual typewriter and shared on social media. Here’s a playlist of some of the team’s favourites: 

Having created Ishmael’s virtual world, Stephanie and Logan collaborated with artist and maker Ayodamola Okunseinde to build the physical Call Me Ishmael Phone. Ayo took a commercially available retro-style telephone and turned it into an interactive book-recommendation device. For the prototype, he used a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, but the production model of the phone uses the latest Pi 3. He explains, “we have a USB stick drive connected to the Pi that holds audio files, configuration, and identification data for each unit. We also have a small USB-powered speaker that amplifies the audio output from the Pi”. The Pis are controlled by a Python script written by programmer Andy Cavatorta.

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Stephanie, Andy, and Ayo in the workshop. 

The phone can be installed in a library, bookshop, or another public space. The phone is loaded with a number of book reviews, some mapped to individual buttons on the phone, and some which can be selected at random. When a person presses the dial buttons on the phone, the GPIO pins detect the input. This subsequently triggers an audio file to play. If, during play, another button is pressed, the Pi switches audio output to the associated button. Hanging up the phone causes the termination of the playing audio file. The system consists of several units in different locations that have audio and data files pushed to them daily from a control server. The system also has an app that allows users to push and pull content from individual Pis as well as triggering a particular phone to ring.

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The finished unit installed in a bookshop.

The Call Me Ishmael Phone is a thoughtful project which uses the Raspberry Pi in a very unusual way: it’s not often that programming and literature intersect like this. We’re delighted to see it, and we can’t wait to see what ways the makers might come up with to use the Raspberry Pi in future. And if you have a book which has changed your life, why not call Ishmael and share your story?

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White House’s Maker to Manufacturer Event

via Open Source Hardware Association

Open Source Hardware Breakout Session

Open Source Hardware Breakout Session

I was honored to lead a breakout session for the Maker to Manufacturer event hosted by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology. As the Executive Director of OSHWA, my break out session was on Open Source Hardware innovation. This is my take away from the individual viewpoints expressed by the group, highlighting what we can do as a community, as an industry, and from government and university perspectives. Below are the unedited notes from this breakout session. These ideas came from the collective participants in the breakout session and the views and ideas do not reflect those of the White House.

Our group discussed innovation through open source hardware through cross pollination in the open hardware community, industries, granting organizations, universities, and other institutions. In this way we can change what innovation looks like.

As a community, open source hardware needs to better explain the value proposition to the above listed institutions. We need to clarify the licensing around open source hardware, which OSHWA hopes to take a step toward with our certification process launching in Oct. With help, there could also be a database that grows out of the certification process with a space for contributing back and tracking changes. We need to offer educational experiences for policy makers and illustrate the social change and rapid innovation happening around open source hardware.

Within the government, the open source hardware community would like to be part of any process that might create limits though broad regulation around IP and hardware. We would like to see rethinking the standards and create scalable standards and taxonomies for open source hardware. We think it’s best for conversations in this space to strategically chose particular hardware fields to introduce, educate and change with open source hardware. Tax incentives for people to share their source publicly for the good of rapid innovation, foregoing a monopoly, would be well received in the community. Finally, we need the attention of the USPTO to alter the landscape of IP and be aware of open source prior art.

From a university perspective, a change must happen in the tech transfer offices for innovation to move forward at a university. Too often universities have IP constraints stemming from the Bayh-Dole Act which prohibits other inventions coming out of tax payer funded research and can even prohibit the inventor from continuing to innovate.

From an industry perspective, having a standard business case, such as royalties for creating a copy or derivative, would create a mutual respect. An understanding that risk adverse IP practices such as patents has a trickle down effect on innovation. In particular, open chipsets would be more useable. Industries could benefit from an open toolbox of the first 1,000 common pieces needed for any project, or a ‘simple things’ database containing source for the building blocks would be useful. In some industries also sharing test results with the source would be helpful.

At OSHWA we are reaching out to these four areas, community, government, university, and industry to assist in the changes reflected at this meeting.

Notes from the day, taken by Stephanie Santoso:

How do you innovate with open source hardware?

Moderated By Alicia Gibb, OSHWA

 October is open source hardware month

 We’re primed to create value with the public- we have lots of things that we can do.

Open source hardware is more of an IP concept. What policies currently stand in the

way of open innovation?

 University ownership of IP is a big one.

 Open source software- you know what the license is, you understand what it takes; but

with Creative Commons- you don’t even know what that means. It’s not clear what it is.

Hardware is weird because you can’t license it unless you have a patent. In October,

OSHWA will announce a certification (a trademark) to help Makers and entrepreneurs

understand the steps that they need to take to make sure their products are open

source based on OSHWA’s specific definitions.

 Matt: What does this do for the feedback loop for users? Ex. Bizzy box (sp?)- users

weren’t contributing content back to the community. What is the feedback loop which

incentivizes people to contribute the modifications back to the community?

 It would be great to have a clearly defined record system where you can track changes-

like a Github for hardware. When we look at open source hardware- we should look at

components- and what components you can open source too. Would be great to have

representatives from the semiconductor industry present at future conversations around

Maker to manufacturer. If they were repurposed to be reusable, this would be great.

Schematics for semiconductors are already available. Autodesk is creating a platform

where you can take modular components of your hardware design using an Autodesk

software platform and make them more openly accessible.

 Venkat: Would be great to have a database of open source hardware that makers in

makerspaces can use, so people know what’s already out there and available.

 Think about Texas Instruments- what’s the business case for a company to do open

source hardware? Why would TI or Intel care? You’d need to shift their mindset of how

they measure value- often its patents, but what about getting institutions to value

people who either develop open source hardware or contribute to open source hardware

projects in a similar manner?

 Frank Gayle: Should talk to NIST about how we think about standards. Michelle: we

should talk about taxonomy and how open source hardware fits.

 Fernando: I come from the pharma sector, which is different because it’s harder to

make a product mature. What’s the conceptual framework that moves us in this

direction? We don’t even have material property databases.

 What about procedural processes? It’s hard to divide these processes into specific

pieces. There may be interest in small scale manufacturing, but for large scale

manufacturing, we need to rethink this.

 Open source community- benefits will come for makers who are producing smaller scale

products. We are seeing that individuals are contributing to the open source hardware

community as a way to create a personal brand in some sense- open source represents

a certain set of values. Ex. We are seeing this on Hackaday’s open source project

platform

How might we screw this up?

1) Not explaining the value proposition well

2) Speed to market trumps the IP value proposition- we should remember this. Sometimes

patenting isn’t the best use of your time because things are happening so fast and you

want to make it to market.

3) Regulations- be careful of this- regulations aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but we should

have an active role in providing input and engage with regulators very early on.

4) Not being about to create an effective cost model. If there’s an acknowledgement that

there is a publicly available use of technology for the process, then you can better justify

this to the organization.

5) Failing to recognize that huge social change may be required in order for organizations

to embrace open source hardware. Ex. Navy can be generally hesistant and risk averse.

If you want create something new, it can be an incredibly long approval process. In

some cases, it makes sense to acquire something from outside of the organization than

try to create something in-house.

Begin your journey with Raspberry Pi in The MagPi 49

via Raspberry Pi

We’ve all seen the numbers. The Raspberry Pi is selling faster and faster every year, which means there are new people getting Raspberry Pis every day. With this in mind, we decided to make a brand new beginner’s guide in issue 49 of The MagPi, out now.

Get started with Raspberry Pi with The MagPi 49!

Get started with Raspberry Pi with The MagPi 49!

The Raspberry Pi beginner’s guide takes you from selecting your Raspberry Pi all the way through setting it up and getting to know the Raspbian OS that powers it. We’re also using it to jump-start a beginner’s tutorial that will be a monthly feature in The MagPi from now on.

#49 Apollo Pi

Set your Pi up so it can take you to the moon! (Moon rocket not included)

As well as the cover feature, we also have a feature on the recently released Apollo 11 source code and how you can emulate a virtual Apollo computer on your Raspberry Pi, along with some historical factoids about making and programming a computer to take people to the moon. There’s also our usual range of amazing tutorials, projects, and product reviews for you to read about as well, including Mike Cook’s rhythmic gymnastics project in the Pi Bakery.

Rhythmic Gymnastics Ribbons

Inspired by the Rio Olympics Gymnastic display of ribbon twirling. In the MagPi 49 – September 2016, https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/ twirl your own virtual ribbons.

You can grab the latest issue of The MagPi in stores today from WH Smith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the UK, and it will be in Micro Center and selected Barnes & Noble stores when it comes to America. It’s also available in print online from our store, and digitally on our Android and iOS app.

Get a free Pi Zero
Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and start with issue 47 to get not only the Astro Pi poster and mission patch, but also a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

Free Pi Zeros and posters: what’s not to love about a MagPi subscription?

Free Creative Commons download
As always, you can download your copy of The MagPi completely free. Grab it straight from the issue page for The MagPi 49.

Don’t forget, though, that like sales of the Raspberry Pi itself, all proceeds from the print and digital editions of the magazine go to help the Foundation achieve its charitable goals. Help us democratise computing!

I also want to remind you that we’re running a poll to find out what you, the community, think are the top 20 Raspberry Pi projects to be included in our 50th issue spectacular. Get voting!

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You’re a (chess) wizard, Bethanie

via Raspberry Pi

By recreating the iconic Wizard’s Chess set from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (sorry America, it’s Philosopher, not Sorcerer), 18-year-old Jambassador Bethanie Fentiman has become my new hero.

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Ron, you don’t suppose this is going to be like… ‘real’ wizard’s chess, do you?

Playing on an idea she’d had last year, Bethanie decided to recreate the chess board from the book/movie as part of her A-Level coursework (putting everything I ever created at school to utter shame), utilising the knowledge and support of her fellow Jammers from the Kent Raspberry Jam community.

After searching through the internet for inspiration, she stumbled upon an Instructables guide for building an Arduino-powered chess robot, which gave her a basis on which to build her system of stepper motors, drawer runners, gears, magnets, and so on.

Wizard's Chess

Harry Potter and the ‘it’s almost complete’ Wizard’s Chess board

The next issue she faced in her quest for ultimate wizarding glory was to figure out how to actually play chess! Without any chess-playing knowhow, Bethanie either needed to learn quickly or…cheat a bit. So she looked up the legal moves of each piece, coding them into the programme, therefore allowing her to move on with the project without the need to monotonously learn the rules to the game. 

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Hermione would never approve.

There were a few snags along the way, mainly due to problems with measuring. But once assembled, everything was looking good.

Wizard's Chess

We’ve got our fingers crossed that Bethanie replaces the pieces in time with some battling replicas from the movie.

On a minimal budget, Bethanie procured her chess pieces from a local charity shop, managing to get the board itself laser-cut for free, thanks to her school’s technology department.

Now complete, the board has begun its own ‘Wizard Chess Tour’, visiting various Raspberry Jams across the country. Its first stop was in Harlow, and more recently, Bethanie has taken the board to the August Covent Garden Jam.

Wizard's Chess gif

MAGIC!

You can find out more about the Wizard’s Chess board via the Kent Jams Twitter account and website. And you’d like the board to visit your own Raspberry Jam event… send Bethanie word by owl and see what she says!

l5XXMbH

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2016 OHSummit..

via Open Source Hardware Association

There is less than 45 days left until this years OHSummit. It is the first Summit we will have ever hosted on the west coast and we are thrilled to be going to Portland, Oregon- it is the perfect location, right between Seattle and SF.

There are still tickets and sponsorship places available. We have already a great start to our speaker line up

Hope to see you all in PDX!

OHS 2013 at MIT

OHS 2013 at MIT

Vote for the top 20 Raspberry Pi projects in The MagPi!

via Raspberry Pi

Although this Thursday will see the release of issue 49 of The MagPi, we’re already hard at work putting together our 50th issue spectacular. As part of this issue we’re going to be covering 50 of the best Raspberry Pi projects ever and we want you, the community, to vote for the top 20.

Below we have listed the 30 projects that we think represent the best of the best. All we ask is that you vote for your favourite. We will have a few special categories with some other amazing projects in the final article, but if you think we’ve missed out something truly excellent, let us know in the comments. Here’s the list so you can remind yourselves of the projects, with the poll posted at the bottom.

From paper boats to hybrid sports cars

From paper boats to hybrid sports cars

  1. SeeMore – a huge sculpture of 256 Raspberry Pis connected as a cluster
  2. BeetBox – beets (vegetable) you can use to play sick beats (music)
  3. Voyage – 300 paper boats (actually polypropylene) span a river, and you control how they light up
  4. Aquarium – a huge aquarium with Pi-powered weather control simulating the environment of the Cayman Islands
  5. ramanPi – a Raman spectrometer used to identify different types of molecules
  6. Joytone – an electronic musical instrument operated by 72 backlit joysticks
  7. Internet of LEGO – a city of LEGO, connected to and controlled by the internet
  8. McMaster Formula Hybrid – a Raspberry Pi provides telemetry on this hybrid racing car
  9. PiGRRL – Adafruit show us how to make an upgraded, 3D-printed Game Boy
  10. Magic Mirror – check out how you look while getting some at-a-glance info about your day
Dinosaurs, space, and modern art

Dinosaurs, space, and modern art

  1. 4bot – play a game of Connect 4 with a Raspberry Pi robot
  2. Blackgang Chine dinosaurs – these theme park attractions use the diminutive Pi to make them larger than life
  3. Sound Fighter – challenge your friend to the ultimate Street Fight, controlled by pianos
  4. Astro Pi – Raspberry Pis go to space with code written by schoolkids
  5. Pi in the Sky – Raspberry Pis go to near space and send back live images
  6. BrewPi – a microbrewery controlled by a microcomputer
  7. LED Mirror – a sci-fi effect comes to life as you’re represented on a wall of lights
  8. Raspberry Pi VCR – a retro VCR is turned into a pink media-playing machine
  9. #OZWall – Contemporary art in the form of many TVs from throughout the ages
  10. #HiutMusic – you choose the music for a Welsh denim factory through Twitter
Robots and arcade machines make the cut

Robots and arcade machines make the cut

  1. CandyPi – control a jelly bean dispenser from your browser, without the need to twist the dial
  2. Digital Zoetrope – still images rotated to create animation, updated for the 21st century
  3. LifeBox – create virtual life inside this box, and watch it adapt and survive
  4. Coffee Table Pi – classy coffee table by name, arcade cabinet by nature. Tea and Pac-Man, anyone?
  5. Raspberry Pi Notebook – this handheld Raspberry Pi is many people’s dream machine
  6. Pip-Boy 3000A – turn life into a Bethesda RPG with this custom Pip-Boy
  7. Mason Jar Preserve – Mason jars are used to preserve things, so this one is a beautiful backup server to preserve your data
  8. Pi glass – Google Glass may be gone, but you can still make your own amazing Raspberry Pi facsimile
  9. DoodleBorg – a powerful PiBorg robot that can tow a caravan
  10. BigHak – a Big Trak that is truly big: it’s large enough for you to ride in

Now you’ve refreshed your memory of all these amazing projects, it’s time to vote for the one you think is best!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

The vote is running over the next two weeks, and the results will be in The MagPi 50. We’ll see you again on Thursday for the release of the excellent MagPi 49: don’t miss it!

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