Last month we released an animation called What is a Raspberry Pi? which explains why the Pi exists, what it’s all about and touches on some application we’ve seen – and we recently discovered a video which points out some great ideas for what you can do with yours!
Everyone takes different kinds of inspiration before they start a Pi project – whether it’s following a guide in a book or online, seeing somebody else make something at a Jam or maker faire, or solving a real life problem and getting straight to it. Plenty of people like the idea of the Pi before they have a use for it – sometimes it’s nice just to be presented with some example applications and let one pique your interest. We hope that’s what this great video will do for some of you.
We’d love to hear about your sources of inspiration – as usual – in the comments below.
Our education team (Clive, Carrie Anne, Dave and I) will be at the Jamboree in Manchester this week. There’s an excellent line-up including talks, workshops, panels, ask an expert – and more! The conference part, focusing on Pi in education, on Thursday and Friday, will be held at the Manchester Central Conference Centre, followed by a Jam Hack Day at Edge Hill in Ormskirk. There are still tickets available, including evening sessions for those unavailable during the day – and the party on Friday night – organised by the wonderful Lisa Mather, where there are to be special badges (below) and plenty of swag up for grabs. The conference takes place adjacent to the Education Innovation Conference & Exhibition. We hope to see plenty of you at the event!
Buildings designed today may not open for a decade, so architects make models to help people understand the future. Before presenting ideas to the clients, governments, and communities who must buy into (and pay for) their vision of the future, architects need to envision it themselves, through sketches, computer renderings, animations, and physical models.
“The earlier you can look at a physical object, the sooner you can understand a building and also make better design decisions,” says W Scott Allen, an associate architect and designer for Perkins+Will, a global architecture firm that has seven MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers in its offices.
On a recent morning, Allen set out more than 40 six-inch towers on a conference room table at the global architecture firm’s New York office. The towers, process models used to reimagine the space around the Bernardine Monastery in Lviv, Ukraine, ranged from thin spires to fat blocks to something resembling a stack of old Life Savers. “You might have an entire set of models that are exceptionally functional and some that are wildly impractical but just look really awesome,” said Allen, who made these models on a MakerBot Replicator 2.
Rapid prototyping “profoundly changes our own creative process,” says Allen, who will set up the 3D printer before going home for the evening, returning the next morning to analyze the models with his colleagues. Then Allen will go back to the computer and generate new designs for the next night’s print run.
“Making all of these on the MakerBot frees us up to test more ideas for clients and come at a nicer solution in the same timeframe,” says Allen. The great thing, he adds, is that “you can almost print at the same speed that you can draw.”
Daniel Omar lives in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, a country divided by civil war. Two years ago, when he was 14, Daniel was tending his family’s cows when a Sudanese government plane dropped a bomb. Daniel took shelter behind a tree, which protected most of his body, but he lost both his arms. “Without hands, I can’t do anything,” Daniel told Time magazine then. “If I could have died, I would have.”
Daniel is now 16. In November, he picked up a fork to feed himself for the first time in two years using a prosthetic arm with parts made on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. The arm was made by Mick Ebeling, the CEO of Not Impossible Labs, a California organization devoted to “technology for the sake of humanity.”
According to Elliot Kotek, the chief of content for Not Impossible Labs, the design for Daniel’s prosthetic arm was adapted from the Robohand, an open-source project designed by Richard van As, a South African woodworker who lost several fingers in an accident, and Ivan Owen, a prop maker in Seattle, Wash., and supported by MakerBot. “Richard had already created the Roboarm, and he also had modified the original Robohand so that it was enclosed at the top of the hand,” says Kotek; this change will better protect the hands from the elements.
Not Impossible Labs brought van As to Los Angeles for a maker weekend. Van As has been spreading Robohand technology around the world, and the Robohanddesigns have been downloaded more than 77,000 times from Thingiverse. “Richard is really out to make a difference on a humanitarian level,” Kotek said. “That spirit rubs off on us.”
On his way to Sudan, Ebeling stopped in Johannesburg with his team for a week. Van As trained them in fitting the prosthetics and helped them plan for contingencies (no electrical power, no boiling water) that would not have been worth considering in southern California.
Not Impossible Labs brought two MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers to Mother of Mercy Hospital, near the border with independent South Sudan. The heat in Sudan, Kotek says, was “pretty intense,” so hot that the filament did not cool quickly enough. Ebeling improvised by pointing electric fans at the 3D printer, but that only blew insects onto the forming plastic parts, so “a lot of printing happens at night.”
Ebeling spent five days in Sudan training seven local fabricators to make prosthetics. With two 3D printers, they can produce one a week, and costs are a fraction of what prosthetics cost in the west. Once the 3D printers (Not Impossible Labs bought one from MakerBot and one from the Microsoft Store in Los Angeles) and the computers are taken care of, Kotek says, each new arm requires about $100 worth of filament, medical orthoplastic, and metal.
Sudan has tens of thousands of amputees, and both climate and geopolitics continue to pose challenges. Just before Christmas, when the hospital was running low on filament, Not Impossible Labs sent 16 rolls of MakerBot PLA Filament. The filament has made it as far as Nairobi, Kenya, but the civil war has flared up again. Kotek hopes to get the filament there before the rainy season begins. “When the wet season comes, it’s going to be hard to get them anything, the roads just turn to mush.”
If Project Daniel can surmount these challenges and scale up, it could transform the lives of tens of thousands of amputees in Sudan, and others around the world. If you are moved to help, Project Daniel would welcome donations. And if you’re not moved yet, watch this video produced by Not Impossible Labs, which shows Daniel’s wounds and his new prosthetics.
Brooklyn Technical High School, as teacher Tom Curanovic says, “is a pretty amazing place.” Brooklyn Tech, which counts two Nobel Prize winners among its alumni, is the largest specialized high school for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the United States. More than half of its 5500 students are eligible for school lunch subsidies, and the junior class includes Dante De Blasio, the son of New York’s new mayor.
Brooklyn Tech students pursue majors from biomedical engineering to architecture to social science research, but first they take a course in Design and Drawing for Production. “All freshmen take it,” says assistant principal Nicole Culella. The course includes instruction in Autodesk Inventor, and beginning this year, each Design and Drawing for Production classroom is outfitted with a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. “Every student leaves that year with one piece they make on a MakerBot,” Ms. Culella says.
3D printing has also become part of the curriculum for several advanced courses, including industrial design and studio art. In Tom Curanovic’s computer-integrated manufacturing lab, seniors began the year by making the same project in two ways: by cutting it out of a steel plate and by 3D printing it in PLA filament. “It’s more labor intensive on the drill press, four to five days,” Curanovic says. “On the MakerBot, as long as you can draw it, it’s done in 45 minutes.”
Speed is only one reason rapid prototyping is rapidly transforming how Curanovic runs his class. Students need less training to use the MakerBot Replicator 2 than heavy machinery, which, for safety reasons, requires individual supervision. The ease of 3D printing opens up the world of manufacturing to a wider range of students.
“From kindergarten to 11th grade, everything was on a piece of paper,” says Vishnu Sanigepalli, a senior from Queens, NY, who discovered the MakerBot Replicator 2 when he needed a new case for his flash drive. A couple of months later, Sanigepalli was making models for his calculus teacher and parts for the robotics team, and he was teaching the rest of his class how to print their 3D designs.
After graduation, Sanigepalli dreams of going on to college and making a quantum computer. He has studied math and computer science, but “it’s not enough to know quantum physics,” he says. “You have to make things.”
For a course at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, two undergraduates designed an artificial iceberg that is also a floating resort. The cooling system that generates the ice gives off hot air, which is used to create hot springs inside. This proposed iceberg-resort, which accommodates thousands of people, “can grow because it’s in the ocean,” says Andrew Reitz, one of the students. “It’s essentially limitless.”
The imagination of aspiring architects is also limitless, but to realize their visions, they must give their ideas physical form. “The way Andrew and I were able to be more confident in pursuing this project was having a way to build it,” said Leland Jobson, Reitz’s partner on the project. The duo simulated ice using a program called Acropora, then worked in Rhino before producing the vaulted chambers on a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer.
Reitz and Jobson received an A in the studio course and were invited to present the iceberg resort to a panel of invited jurors. Well before their final presentation, however, the MakerBot Replicator in the school’s Digital Futures office helped them to develop the concept. 3D printed study models, they said, help them see their ideas more objectively than on a computer screen, and with this critical distance they can improve their ideas in future models. 3D printing is more efficient than making models by hand, Reitz says, Reitz says, since while the model is printing, “I can refocus and reorganize my attentions.”
Jobson compared their process, which uses about a dollar’s worth of filament each time they print, to working with a ceramic powder printer. “I printed one model and it came out to $80 or $100, and then I didn’t print another model after that, because I just simply could not afford it,” said Jobson, who is a work-study student in the Digital Futures office. Reitz adds, “That’s great for a designer in the 21st century, to not have to necessarily spend thousands of dollars on some final model. You can crank out tons of them on your own MakerBot.”
The two have spent hundreds of hours making 3D prints. “I can’t see myself not having a 3D printer in the future; I think it’s just going to be part of what I do for the rest of my life,” says Reitz.
Yet the process remains magical. “Even though the trick is the same, what comes out of the hat is always different,” says Jobson. “The magic is in what came out of the hat.”
A little-known fact: Eben and I are disgustingly sentimental. So when Matt Timmons-Brown (who you may know better as The Raspberry Pi Guy from his excellent series of YouTube tutorials) sent us this video late last night, we watched it together and found that by the end we had both got salty tears on our Battenberg cake. I’m hoping this is not a totally unusual reaction to seeing two years of your life compressed into under five minutes of video.
Matt produced this for the Raspberry Pi’s second anniversary, which is coming up at the end of February; it took him ten hours to edit everything together. When you’re in the eye of the storm of something like Raspberry Pi, as we are, it’s sometimes hard to see beyond the desk you sit at every day and perceive exactly how much the work you’re doing is affecting people outside your office: Matt’s video acted as a bit of a Total Perspective Vortex.
Thank you Matt: we’re really very grateful, and we think the video is rather wonderful. I don’t think anybody has better encapsulated what Raspberry Pi is all about than you have managed to here in just four and a half minutes.
A few years ago, people on the go would carry maps, a camera, a Walkman, newspapers, magazines, maybe a book or a electronic game. All these are now contained in your smartphone, often with extra powers. But everyone still carries keys in their pocket or purse.
Enter Kisi, a startup that turns your smartphone into a keycard and lets you send keys over email with more security and flexibility than, say, leaving a spare key under the flower pot. Kisi, which began in Munich, Germany, won the NYC Next Idea competition, and is now based in Brooklyn, NY.
The name “Kisi” combines the words “key” and “easy.” Like many services that are easy to use, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes: cloud-based software that manages access to your home, office, or secret clubhouse; a smartphone app that functions like a key; and a wall-mounted device that communicates wirelessly with the smartphone app. Unlike traditional keycard systems, which require swiping outside a door with restricted access, Kisi’s device goes on the inside.
To house the electronics in the device, Kisi began with an off-the-shelf rectangular box, but soon started making cases on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. “The MakerBot allows us to make more freeform shapes,” says Bernhard Mehl, a Kisi co-founder. It also allowed Kisi to prototype its hardware rapidly along with its software, making a new design every month:
Kisi also uses a MakerBot Replicator 2 to manufacture parts for the housings, which combine PLA filament with aluminum and laser-cut wood. “For us, it’s a lot more affordable and a lot more convenient to produce locally,” says Mehl. He and co-founder Maximilian Schütz solder circuit boards and assemble Kisi devices at a Brooklyn incubator run by NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.
3D printing allows Kisi to continue improving their devices based on real-world feedback from customers. (In the video, Mehl visits the New York office of Huge.) With other manufacturing methods, Mehl says, altering your design once you’ve gone into production means “you would have to build a new tool, and it costs a lot of money. So you’d say, ‘I’d rather accept the bad design than change it.’” With the MakerBot Replicator 2, Kisi does not have to make that compromise. Also, they can meet special requests: “If the client wants pink, we do pink.”
Mehl studied product design back in Germany, and had access to high-end 3D printers at his university. But he had to sign up for a half-hour slot in advance, and printing was expensive. Now, he says, “I just have an idea and I go ahead and build it.”
Helen Yentus, the art director of Riverhead Books, designed two covers for Chang-rae Lee’s new novel, “On Such a Full Sea,” which is being published today. The regular hardcover has a hand-lettered jacket, with the book’s title inscribed under a bob hairdo representing Lee’s iconic heroine, Fan. (The same image is used for digital copies of the novel, although it won’t protect your e-reader from hot coffee.)
A second, limited edition of the novel comes in a sleek white slipcase made on the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer that evokes the futuristic setting of the novel. In the video, Yentus shares her early pencil sketches and describes how they evolved into the 3D printed slipcase, which she designed in collaboration with the MakerBot Studio.
A limited edition like this, Yentus says, “gives people the opportunity to have something to hold onto that is not available in digital form.” Chang-rae Lee made a similar point during a recent visit to MakerBot headquarters, in Brooklyn, NY, where he saw for himself the 3D printing technology used to make the slipcase for his latest novel. “What I like about this is that it revisits the book as an object,” said Lee, who prefers to read on paper “even though I write on a screen. The pleasure I get from reading is something tactile.”
If you get pleasure from Chang-rae Lee’s fiction and are curious about 3D printing (or vice versa), Lee will be reading from “On Such a Full Sea” on January 16th at 7pm at the MakerBot Store, in New York. Space is limited, so please register in advance. You can also order a copy of the limited edition now.
We met Jon Stam at a Maker Faire last year. With Simon de Bakker, he’s made the Bioscope: a Pi-driven nostalgia machine. Part art project, part toy, it’s extremely simple: upload any digital movie onto a USB stick, pop it in the back of the Bioscope, and peep through the viewfinder.
But rather than just watch the movie play away, you have to move it yourself along by turning the red handle. Pause by stopping the handle, rewind by turning it backwards: and the whole thing has a lovely jerky, old-timey feel to it; the vintage feel underscored by the 3d-printed case, which is based on a copy of an old Fisher Price movie projector toy.
Jon and Simon are using the Bioscope to make an artistic statement about the way we interact with moving visual media. We like it for its satisfying shape and feel, for the way it reminds us of toys we had as kids, and for the cameo appearance of the Numa Numa guy in the above video.
The Bioscope guys have created a custom PCB that sits on top of the Raspberry Pi, which allows you to power the device from a single 3.7v lithium-ion cell. You can find some more technical details of what the custom PCB adds at i.materialise, where Jon and Simon had the case 3-d printed.
Right now, there don’t seem to be any firm plans to commercialise the Bioscope – we hope Jon and Simon do take it in that direction, because there’s something enormously appealing about it. We’ll let you know if we hear anything.
We first met Shea Silverman, based down in Florida, on one of our 2012 hackspace tours when we first visited FamiLAB. Shea’s brilliant – he does a lot of work with the Pi and MAME (the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), and he made us a really cute little Pi arcade cabinet which we display in the office. We’ve stayed in touch, and he’s let us know about the projects he’s been working on in that time; most recently Shea has written a book called Instant Raspberry Pi Gaming for absolute beginners who want to start gaming with the Raspberry Pi. (Thanks for the copy with the inscription, Shea!)
The book shows you how to set up software like MAME, SNES, Atari 2600 and PlayStation emulators; and how to keep them up to date. If you’re a gamer who wants to get started with a Pi, or someone who’s interested in retro gaming, it’s a great place to begin.
Shea’s blog is another great resource for Raspberry Pi users, with a particular emphasis on games, emulation and embedded systems. Recently, we’ve seen more and more people wanting to add a start-up video to their Pi, and Shea’s noticed the same thing, and has blogged his solution, which is rather neat.
This is Shea’s bootsplash animation for his PiMAME system, running on a Pi-enabled Motorola Lapdock. He’s using OMXPlayer to play a video file while the Pi itself is booting.
You can use any video you choose – it needs to be around 20 seconds long so it runs for long enough to cover up the scrolling kernel messages that you usually see during the Pi’s boot sequence. Shea walks you through the very simple startup script you’ll need, and through installing your video, on his blog. It should take you all of five minutes to set up.
Thanks, as always, for all your work on the Pi, and on your book, Shea. The Raspberry Pi depends on community members like you and the amazing amounts of effort you put in: we couldn’t do it without you and the thousands of other people that make the ecosystem around our little device so rich and interesting.
Once again Xun and David in this fourth video tutorial on the Arduino Robot released by RS Components, are exploring one of the most used techniques in Robotics: following a line, just like factory robots do to get an orientation when they carry objects from one place to another without human intervention.
Watching the video you’ll learn how to create a racing track drawing a black line over a white surface and understand how the different sensors read data that will be used to feed a PD algorithm:
PD stands for Predictive-Derivative and it is used to make a decision on how centred the robot is on top of the line. Ideally, for the robot to follow a line, the central IR sensor needs to be straight on top of the track and the algorithm needs to be “clever” enough to steer the motors towards it.
Three weeks after Maker Faire Rome we’d like to share with you some memories of those special days with a short video featuring Massimo Banzi commenting on the big news announced during the fair, but also Riccardo Luna, David Cuartielles, Sherry Huss, Jennifer Turliuk, Leah Buechley, David Gauntlett …
And as an introduction to it I borrow the words Massimo uses towards the end of his interview in the video:
People often think Arduino is all about making electronic boards. But actually, helping organise a big event like this, working for two years to get partners to be able to create a Maker Faire for the whole of Europe and achieving the result of getting more than 200 makers and thousands of visitors to the same place to talk about the maker movement and facilitating collaboration in Europe, is sometimes much more important than creating yet another electronic board.
Enjoy the video and share yours with us in the comments:
A special thank goes to the videomaker-duo composed by Paolo Ceretto and Alessandro Bernard who run around with us in the huge venue of Palazzo dei Congressi for 4 days and were able capture memorable moments! Don’t miss their latest work: a documentary following the amazing story of the rise and fall of the inventors of Programma 101 (click to watch the trailer) , the world’s first desktop computer by Olivetti.
Welcome, foolish mortals. I’m with Cory Doctorow on this one: the Haunted Mansion is the best thing at the Disney parks. It’s a close-run fight with the Tower of Terror, but for me, the Haunted Mansion comes out on top every time. (So much so that I own a gargoyle candlestick.) The queue is one of the best parts of the ride. I shan’t spoil it for you apart from one tiny detail: the portrait of Master Gracey which does a Dorian Gray in front of your eyes, aging from insouciant youth to horrible decrepitude over the course of a minute or so. Why travel, though, when Brandon Etto has demonstrated that you can have your very own Master Gracey portrait in your own undead living room, courtesy of a Raspberry Pi, some plywood, an LCD screen, an IKEA picture frame and some magic plastic to make the frame into a two-way mirror?
The build itself is self-explanatory (spray-paint frame, stick mirror plastic inside frame, mount over screen, hang on wall) but Brandon has a useful parts list in PDF form, where he also links to some video looping software, and the source video itself.
In this third video released by RS Components, Xun and David are going to show you how to deal with ultrasonic range finders, infrared range finders and a trick using ultrabright white LEDs and LDR sensors and in general how to use different technologies to detect obstacles in the way of the Arduino Robot.
In some way ultrasound and infrared operate in the same way: a signal is sent, it bounces on objects and the received echo is used to estimate the distance. With ultrasound, the speed of sound and the time difference between the sent signal and the received one is used, while infrared is more direct as it gives a stronger or weaker reflection depending on how far the signal travels. The estimation of the distance is done via software.
In the video below you’ll see a couple of examples on how to deal with them but you’ll also learn how simple it can be to build your own reflective sensors using a very strong source of light and an LDR sensor.