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Selectively silence a landline phone with Arduino

via Arduino Blog

Silencing a smartphone at night isn’t difficult, but if you have a landline, Arduino can help!

Before computer hacking/modding became accessible, the next best thing was to creatively explore the phone system via custom electronics. Though this pursuit, known as “phone phreaking,” has largely gone away, some people still have landlines. As “MolecularD” shows in this Instructables writeup, with a few components you can creatively trick your phone into not ringing on your end, while appearing to the caller to simply ring and ring as if no one is home.

In order to make it much more useful, MolecularD hooked up an Arduino Mega with a real-time clock module to turn the device on and off depending on the time of day. Now calls from phone solicitors, or “IRS agents” at 4 in the morning can be eliminated automatically. As noted, this may or may not be legal where you live, so attempt it at your own risk!

Get wordy with our free resources

via Raspberry Pi

Here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we take great pride in the wonderful free resources we produce for you to use in classes, at home and in coding clubs. We publish them under a Creative Commons licence, and they’re an excellent way to develop your digital-making skills.

With yesterday being World Poetry Day (I’m a day late to the party. Shhh), I thought I’d share some wordy-themed [wordy-themed? Are you sure? – Ed] resources for you all to have a play with.

Shakespearean Insult Generator

Raspberry Pi Free Resources Shakespearean Insult Generator

Have you ever found yourself lost for words just when the moment calls for your best comeback? With the Shakespearean Insult Generator, your mumbled retorts to life’s awkward situations will have the lyrical flow of our nation’s most beloved bard.

Thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows!

Not only will the generator provide you with hours of potty-mouthed fun, it’ll also teach you how to read and write data in CSV format using Python, how to manipulate lists, and how to choose a random item from a list.

Talk like a Pirate

Raspberry Pi Free Resources Talk Like a Pirate

Ye’ll never be forced t’walk the plank once ye learn how to talk like a scurvy ol’ pirate… yaaaarrrgh!

The Talk like a Pirate speech generator teaches you how to use jQuery to cause live updates on a web page, how to write regular expressions to match patterns and words, and how to create a web page to input text and output results.

Once you’ve mastered those skills, you can use them to create other speech generators. How about a speech generator that turns certain words into their slang counterparts? Or one that changes words into txt speak – laugh into LOL, and see you into CU?

Secret Agent Chat

Raspberry Pi Free Resources Secret Agent Chat

So you’ve already mastered insults via list manipulation and random choice, and you’ve converted words into hilarious variations through matching word patterns and input/output. What’s next?

The Secret Agent Chat resource shows you how random numbers can be used to encrypt messages, how iteration can be used to encrypt individual characters, and, to make sure nobody cracks your codes, the importance of keeping your keys secret. And with these new skills under your belt, you can write and encrypt messages between you and your friends, ensuring that nobody will be able to read your secrets.

Unlocking your transferable skill set

One of the great things about building projects like these is the way it expands your transferable skill set. When you complete a project using one of our resources, you gain abilities that can be transferred to other projects and situations. You might never need to use a ‘Talk like a Pirate’ speech generator, but you might need to create a way to detect and alter certain word patterns in a document. And while you might be able to coin your own colourful insults, making the Shakespearean Insult Generator gives you the ability to select words from lists at random, allowing you to write a program that picks names to create sports or quiz teams without bias.

All of our resources are available for free on our website, and we continually update them to offer you more opportunities to work on your skills, whatever your age and experience.

Have you built anything from our resources? Let us know in the comments.

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Zelda-inspired ocarina-controlled home automation

via Raspberry Pi

Allen Pan has wired up his home automation system to be controlled by memorable tunes from the classic Zelda franchise.

Zelda Ocarina Controlled Home Automation – Zelda: Ocarina of Time | Sufficiently Advanced

With Zelda: Breath of the Wild out on the Nintendo Switch, I made a home automation system based off the Zelda series using the ocarina from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Help Me Make More Awesome Stuff! https://www.patreon.com/sufficientlyadvanced Subscribe! http://goo.gl/xZvS5s Follow Sufficiently Advanced!

Listen!

Released in 1998, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best game ever is still an iconic entry in the retro gaming history books.

Very few games have stuck with me in the same way Ocarina has, and I think it’s fair to say that, with the continued success of the Zelda franchise, I’m not the only one who has a special place in their heart for Link, particularly in this musical outing.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time screenshot

Thanks to Cynosure Gaming‘s Ocarina of Time review for the image.

Allen, or Sufficiently Advanced, as his YouTube subscribers know him, has used a Raspberry Pi to detect and recognise key tunes from the game, with each tune being linked (geddit?) to a specific task. By playing Zelda’s Lullaby (E, G, D, E, G, D), for instance, Allen can lock or unlock the door to his house. Other tunes have different functions: Epona’s Song unlocks the car (for Ocarina noobs, Epona is Link’s horse sidekick throughout most of the game), and Minuet of Forest waters the plants.

So how does it work?

It’s a fairly simple setup based around note recognition. When certain notes are played in a specific sequence, the Raspberry Pi detects the tune via a microphone within the Amazon Echo-inspired body of the build, and triggers the action related to the specific task. The small speaker you can see in the video plays a confirmation tune, again taken from the video game, to show that the task has been completed.

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Raspberry Pi Home Automation system setup image

As for the tasks themselves, Allen has built a small controller for each action, whether it be a piece of wood that presses down on his car key, a servomotor that adjusts the ambient temperature, or a water pump to hydrate his plants. Each controller has its own small ESP8266 wireless connectivity module that links back to the wireless-enabled Raspberry Pi, cutting down on the need for a ton of wires about the home.

And yes, before anybody says it, we’re sure that Allen is aware that using tone recognition is not the safest means of locking and unlocking your home. This is just for fun.

Do-it-yourself home automation

While we don’t necessarily expect everyone to brush up on their ocarina skills and build their own Zelda-inspired home automation system, the idea of using something other than voice or text commands to control home appliances is a fun one.

You could use facial recognition at the door to start the kettle boiling, or the detection of certain gasses to – ahem!– spray an air freshener.

We love to see what you all get up to with the Raspberry Pi. Have you built your own home automation system controlled by something other than your voice? Share it in the comments below.

 

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JavaWatch automated coffee replenishment system

via Raspberry Pi

With the JavaWatch system from Terren Peterson, there’s (Raspberry Pi) ZERO reason for you ever to run out of coffee beans again!

By utilising many of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) available to budding developers, Terren was able to create a Pi Zero-powered image detection unit. Using the Raspberry Pi Camera Module to keep tabs on your coffee bean storage, it automatically orders a fresh batch of java when supplies are running low.

JavaWatch Sales Pitch

Introducing JavaWatch, the amazing device that monitors your coffee bean supply and refills from Amazon.com.

Coffee: quite possibly powering Pi Towers’ success

Here at Pi Towers, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of staff members run on high levels of caffeine. In fact, despite hitting ten million Pi boards sold last October, sending two Astro Pi units to space, documenting over 5,000 Code Clubs in the UK, and multiple other impressive achievements, the greatest accomplishment of the Pi Towers team is probably the acquisition of a new all-singing, all-dancing coffee machine for the kitchen. For, if nothing else, it has increased the constant flow of caffeine into the engineers…and that’s always a positive thing, right?

Here are some glamour shots of the beautiful beast:

Pi Towers coffee machine glamour shot Pi Towers coffee machine glamour shot Pi Towers coffee machine glamour shot

Anyway, back to JavaWatch

Terren uses the same technology that can be found in an Amazon Dash button, replacing the ‘button-press’ stimulus with image recognition to trigger a purchase request.

JavaWatch flow diagram

Going with the JavaWatch flow… 
Image from Terren’s hackster.io project page.

“The service was straightforward to get working,” Terren explains on his freeCodeCamp blog post. “The Raspberry Pi Camera Module captures and uploads photos at preset intervals to S3, the object-based storage service by AWS.”

The data is used to calculate the amount of coffee beans in stock. For example, the jar in the following image is registered at 73% full:

A jar which is almost full of coffee beans

It could also be 27% empty, depending on your general outlook on life.

A second photo, where the beans take up a mere 15% or so of the jar, registers no beans. As a result, JavaWatch orders more via a small website created specifically for the task, just like pressing a Dash button.

JavaWatch DRS Demo

Demonstration of DRS Capabilities with a project called JavaWatch. This orders coffee beans when the container runs empty.

Terren won second place in hackster.io’s Amazon DRS Developer Challenge for JavaWatch. If you are in need of regular and reliable caffeine infusions, you can find more information on the build, including Terren’s code, on his project page.

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NeoPixel Temperature Stair Lights

via Raspberry Pi

Following a post-Christmas decision to keep illuminated decorations on her stairway bannister throughout the year, Lorraine Underwood found a new purpose for a strip of NeoPixels she had lying around.

Lorraine Underwood on Twitter

Changed the stair lights from a string to a strip & they look awesome! #neopixel #raspberrypi https://t.co/dksLwy1SE1

Simply running the lights up the stairs, blinking and flashing to a random code, wasn’t enough for her. By using an API to check the outdoor weather, Lorraine’s lights went from decorative to informative: they now give an indication of outside weather conditions through their colour and the quantity illuminated.

“The idea is that more lights will light up as it gets warmer,” Lorraine explains. “The temperature is checked every five minutes (I think that may even be a little too often). I am looking forward to walking downstairs to a nice warm yellow light instead of the current blue!”

In total, Lorraine had 240 lights in the strip; she created a chart indicating a range of outside temperatures and the quantity of lights which for each value, as well as specifying the colour of those lights, running from chilly blue through to scorching red.

Lorraine Underwood Neopixel stair way lights

Oh, Lorraine! We love your optimistic dreams of the British summer being more than its usual rainy 16 Celsius…

The lights are controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero running a code that can be found on Lorraine’s blog. The code dictates which lights are lit and when.

Lorraine Underwood Neopixel stair way lights

“Do I need a coat today? I’ll check the stairs.”

Lorraine is planning some future additions to the build, including a toddler-proof 3D housing, powering the Zero from the lights’ power supply, and gathering her own temperature data instead of relying on a third-party API.

While gathering the temperature data from outside her house, she may also want to look into building an entire weather station, collecting extra data on rain, humidity, and wind conditions. After all, this is the UK: just because it’s hot outside, it doesn’t mean it’s not also raining.

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Community Profile: Alex Eames

via Raspberry Pi

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.

Alex purchased his first Raspberry Pi in May 2012, after a BBC article caught his eye. Already teaching ICT at his son’s school, he was drawn to the idea of a $35 computer to aid the education of his ten-year-old students.

Alex Eames

Alex is truly a member of the Raspberry Pi community, providing support and resources to those new to, and experienced in, the world of the Pi

Less than a month later, Alex started his website, RasPi.TV. The website allowed him to document his progress with the Raspberry Pi, and to curate an easy-to-use reference library for others.

“I found that when I wanted to learn something new, generally the ‘instructions’ on other Linux sites were either out of date or incomplete. I wanted a place where I could record procedures that I could use again, but that would also be available to others.”

Alex was determined to provide tutorials that worked first time, understanding the frustration for newcomers when their hard work didn’t always pay off. “It’s off-putting for people to follow a list of instructions, get it all right, and then find the process fails,” he says. RasPi.TV was all about “instructions that work first time – even if you’ve never done it before.”

Alex Eames Community Profile

The RasPi.TV website is packed full of tutorials, reviews, and videos, all of which have the aim of helping newcomers and seasoned Raspberry Pi users to expand their skill set and interests. Alex’s YouTube channel boasts more than 8,000 subscribers, with viewing figures of well over 1.5 million across his 121 videos.

In 2012, Alex began to build his own RasPiO boards, with the first releases making an appearance in March 2014. The GPIO labeller, Breakout, and Breakout Pro were successful across the community, earning an honourable mention on the official Raspberry Pi blog. The Pro has since been upgraded to the Pro HAT, while the labeller has been replaced with a newer 40-pin version. The RasPiO collection has now increased to ten different units, each available for direct purchase from the website. A few originally found their feet via successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Alex Eames Community Profile

The RasPiO family is a series of add-on boards, port labellers, GPIO rulers, and tools to aid makers in building with the Raspberry Pi. The ruler, for example, offers GPIO pin reference for easy identification, along with a code reference for using the GPIO Zero library.

Even if you’ve yet to visit either RasPi.TV or Alex’s YouTube channel, the chances are that you’ve seen one aspect of his online contribution to the Raspberry Pi Community. Alex maintains a Raspberry Pi ‘family photo’ on his website, showcasing every model built across the years. It’s a picture that often does the rounds of blogs, news articles, and social media.

Raspberry Pi Family Photo 2017

Updated 28th Feb 2017 to include the newly released Raspberry Pi Zero W

Outside of his life of Pi, Alex has a background in analytical chemistry, a profession that certainly explains his desire for the clean, precise, and well-tested tutorials that brought about the creation of RasPi.TV. From working as a translator to writing his own e-books, Alex is definitely well suited to the maker life, moving on from his past life of pharmaceutical development.

Duinocam designed by Alex Eames

The Duinocam is set up in Alex’s home in Poland. During daylight hours, it emails him photos and temperature data while also responding to tweeted commands
such as video capture and upload. Using a Pi Model B, a RasPiO Duino, a Camera Module, and two servos, the unit can pan and tilt to survey the area.

His tutorial and review videos on YouTube reach viewing figures in the thousands, with his popular Raspberry Pi DSI Display Launch video garnering close to 300,000 views at the time of writing of this article. While Alex has updated us on his newest unreleased projects and plans, we’ll keep them quiet for now. You’ll have to watch the RasPi.TV website for details.

Note – Since writing this article, Alex has continued his work, producing new content to support the Raspberry Pi Zero W, while also releasing his newest crowdfunding campaign, RasPiO InsPiRing.

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