Tag Archives: Your Projects

The Nest Box: DIY Springwatch with Raspberry Pi

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Last week, lots and lots of you shared your Raspberry Pi builds with us on social media using the hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor. Jay Wainwright from Liverpool noticed the conversation and got in touch to tell us about The Nest Box, which uses Raspberry Pi to bring impressively high-quality images and video from British bird boxes to your Facebook feed.

Jay runs a small network of livestreaming nest box cameras, with three currently sited and another three in the pipeline; excitingly, the new ones will include a kestrel box and a barn owl box! During the spring, all the cameras stream live to The Nest Box’s Facebook page, which has steadily built a solid following of several thousand wildlife fans.

A pair of blue tits feeds their chicks in a woolly nest

The Nest Box’s setup uses a Raspberry Pi and Camera Module, along with a Raspberry Pi PoE HAT to provide both power and internet connectivity, so there’s only one cable connection to weatherproof. There’s also a custom HAT that Jay has designed to control LED lights and to govern the Raspberry Pi Camera Module’s IR filter, ensuring high-quality images both during the day and at night. To top it all off, he has written some Python code to record visitors to the nest boxes and go into live streaming mode whenever the action is happening.

As we can see from this nest box design for swifts, shown on the project’s crowdfunding profile, plenty of thought has evidently been put into the design of the boxes so that they provide tempting quarters for their feathered occupants while also accommodating all the electronic components.

Follow The Nest Box on Facebook to add British birds into your social media mix — whatever you’ve got now, I’ll bet all tomorrow’s coffees that it’ll be an improvement. And if you’re using Raspberry Pi for a wildlife project, or you’ve got plans along those lines, let us know in the comments.

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Your amazing Raspberry Pi projects #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor

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Yesterday, we asked you to share your Raspberry Pi builds on social media using the hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor. The result was amazing, with so many of you sharing some really interesting projects, inspiring both us, and others, to get creative.

While we can’t share them all here today, we picked out some to highlight, and we strongly recommend you check out the hashtag on Twitter to see them all.

Making music

$danielKraft; on Twitter

🤘 Live digital audio effects processing with @blokaslabs MODEP #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor https://t.co/7HVhxns2p1

We see a lot of music-based Raspberry Pi projects, from guitar pedals to radios, soundboards, and capacitive-touch fruit baskets. This effects processor for Daniel Kraft’s drum kit will have many of the musically inclined members of Raspberry Pi Towers getting code-happy in no time.

Spying on hedgehogs

Matt Nayler on Twitter

IUseMyRaspberryPiFor monitoring the wildlife in my garden.

Matt uses his Raspberry Pi to monitor wildlife in his garden. Add a motion sensor and a camera to your Raspberry Pi, and you’ve made your own nature camera trap.

Inspiring the next generation

Pierre-yves Baloche on Twitter

IUseMyRaspberryPiFor building autonomous robots, securing our house Internet access, picturing wildlife in our garden, but mostly to introduce IT to my daughter and how much can be accomplished and learned through it (creativity, patience,…), all thanks to the community :-) !

Pierre-Yves Baloche uses his Raspberry Pi for a multitude of tasks, including as a tool to introduce his daughter to technology, and to the technical and non-technical skills that come with learning to make stuff.

Accessibility assistant

Gabriel Cruz on Twitter

RT:(@Raspberry_Pi) RT @sarru1291: I’m using raspberry pi for building a visual guide for visually impaired people. It is portable and fully voice-controlled. It can be used for most of the daily life activities. #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor #RaspberryPi https://t.co/QMhBYxzpKJ #don…

This project from Gabriel Cruz is a great example of how Raspberry Pi can be used to create low-cost accessibility aids.

Plane-spotting

selftronics on Twitter

This is how planespotters use their TVs. ☺ Log and monitor the planes approaching and landing to an airport with @Raspberry_Pi #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor #AI #flightradar24 Source here: https://t.co/1t5Lau2bt9

Our colleagues at the Raspberry Pi North America office have a similar setup for plane spotting.

Reptile management

Patrick Fitzgerald on Twitter

IUseMyRaspberryPiFor monitoring and managing my bearded dragon’s vivarium.

Patrick uses a Raspberry Pi to monitor a bearded dragons vivarium. We really appreciate this photo, because bearded dragons are awesome!

Everything

Nathan Chantrell on Twitter

IUseMyRaspberryPiFor Loads of things! Everything from home automation with Node-RED, HA touch screens, sensor monitoring with InfluxDB/Grafana, VoIP PBX, Octoprint, fixed & pan/tilt cameras, control of a Cambridge Audio amp, UniFi controller, PiHole, probably missed loads!

Nathan uses a Raspberry Pi for just about everything! Great work!

Octoprint

🌦 Phil 🌤🌪 on Twitter

IUseMyRaspberryPiFor Remote controlling my 3D printer and recording timelapses as it prints. Just like now! #octoprint @Creality3dprint

Phil uses a Raspberry Pi to run Octoprint, allowing for remote control of a 3D printer. We do this too in the Raspberry Pi Foundation makerspace.

As we said, there are simply too many projects to share in one blog post. However, we found some great blog-fodder that we’ll be writing more about in the near future — keep your eyes peeled.

It’s not too late to share your Raspberry Pi project using #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor, so keep posting!

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Sustainable clothing with Rapanui and Raspberry Pi

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New to the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge: T-shirts made using Raspberry Pis in Rapanui’s sustainable factory.

Oli Wilkin – our Glorious Retail Guru, to give him his formal title – has been hard at work this year bringing the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, to life. Open since February, the store continues to evolve as it introduces our credit card-sized computer to a high-street audience. Oli and the store team are always talking to customers, exploring new ideas, and making changes. Here’s Oli on the latest development: Rapanui clothing, made sustainably with the help of Raspberry Pis.

Rapanui 2

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

Rapanui

Brothers Mart and Rob started bespoke clothing company Rapanui in a garden shed on the Isle of Wight, with an initial investment of £200 (about $257 US). Ten years later, Rapanui has grown to a fully fledged factory providing over 100 jobs. Their vision to create a sustainable clothing brand has seen them increase Rapanui’s offering from T-shirts to a much wider range of clothing, including jumpers, socks, and jackets. Another reason we like them a lot is that the factory uses over 100 Raspberry Pis with a wide variety of functions.

Rapanui’s early early days weres not without their challenges. Mart and Rob found early on that every improvement in sustainability came with a price tag. They realised that they could use technology to help keep costs down without cutting corners:

Along the way, we needed a real low-cost option for us to be able to get computing in and around the place. Someone said,
“Oh, you should check out Raspberry Pi.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s a computer, and costs twenty quid or something, and it’s the size of a credit card.”
“OK – that can’t be true!”

We got one, and it just blew our mind, because there’s no limit to what we could do with it.
– Mart

The Raspberry Pis are supporting things like productivity improvements, order tracking, workload prioritisation, and smart lighting. All employees are encouraged to try coding when they start working for Rapanui, and they’re empowered to change their workplace to make it smarter and more efficient.

As Mart explains,

In the world today, there’s a lot of issues around environment and sustainability, which feel like compromises – you want to do your bit, but it costs more. What this kind of technology allows us to do is make things cost less because you can create these massive efficiencies through technology, and that’s what enables you to be able to afford the things that you want to do with sustainability, without having to compromise on price.

Circular economy

All of the organic cotton that Rapanui uses is fully traced from India to the Isle of Wight, where it is turned into amazing quality branded items for their customers. Once a garment has come to the end of its life, a customer can simply scan the QR code on the inside label, and this QR code generates a Freepost address. This allows the customer to send their item back to Rapanui for a webshop credit, thus creating a circular economy.

Raspberry Pi + Rapanui

All of this makes us very pleased to be working with Rapanui to print the T-shirts you buy in the Raspberry Pi store.

Rapanui – from workshop to store

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

We have started with our Raspberry Pi 4 T-shirt, and others will follow. Our hope is that all our T-shirts will be fully sustainable and better for you, our customers.

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Listen to World War II radio recordings with a Raspberry Pi Zero

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With the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings very much in the news this year, Adam Clark found himself interested in all things relating to that era. So it wasn’t long before he found himself on the Internet Archive listening to some of the amazing recordings of radio broadcasts from that time. In this month’s HackSpace magazine, Adam details how he built his WW2 radio-broadcast time machine using a Raspberry Pi Zero W, and provides you with the code to build your own.

As good as the recordings on the Internet Archive were, it felt as if something was missing by listening to them on a modern laptop, so I wanted something to play them back on that was more evocative of that time, and would perhaps capture the feeling of listening to them on a radio set.

I also wanted to make the collection portable and to make the interface for selecting and playing the tracks as easy as possible – this wasn’t going to be screen-based!

Another important consideration was to house the project in something that would not look out of place in the living room, and not to give away the fact that it was being powered by modern tech.

So I came up with the idea of using an original radio as the project case, and to use as many of the original knobs and dials as possible. I also had the idea to repurpose the frequency dial to select individual years of the war and to play broadcasts from whichever year was selected.

Of course, the Raspberry Pi was immediately the first option to run all this, and ideally, I wanted to use a Raspberry Pi Zero to keep the costs down and perhaps to allow expansion in the future outside of being a standalone playback device.

Right off the bat, I knew that I would have a couple of obstacles to overcome as the Raspberry Pi Zero doesn’t have an easy way to play audio out, and I also wanted to have analogue inputs for the controls. So the first thing was to get some audio playing to see if this was possible.

Audio playback

The first obstacle was to find a satisfactory way to playback audio. In the past, I have had some success using PWM pins, but this needs a low-pass filter as well as an amplifier, and the quality of audio was never as good as I’d hoped for.

The other alternative is to use one of the many HATs available, but these come at a price as they are normally aimed at more serious quality of audio. I wanted to keep the cost down, so these were excluded as an option. The other option was to use a mono I2S 3W amplifier breakout board – MAX98357A from Adafruit – which is extremely simple to use.

As the BBC didn’t start broadcasting stereo commercially until the late 1950s, this was also very apt for the radio (which only has one speaker).
Connecting up this board is very easy – it just requires three GPIO pins, power, and the speaker. For this, I just soldered some female jumper leads to the breakout board and connected them to the header pins of the Raspberry Pi Zero. There are detailed instructions on the Adafruit website for this which basically entails running their install script.

I’d now got a nice playback device that would easily play the MP3 files downloaded from archive.org and so the next task was to find a suitable second-hand radio set.

Preparing the case

After a lot of searching on auction sites, I eventually found a radio that was going to be suitable: wasn’t too large, was constructed from wood, and looked old enough to convince the casual observer. I had to settle for something that actually came from the early 1950s, but it drew on design influences from earlier years and wasn’t too large as a lot of the real period ones tended to be (and it was only £15). This is a fun project, so a bit of leeway was fine by me in this respect.

When the radio arrived, my first thought as a tinkerer was perhaps I should get the valves running, but a quick piece of research turned up that I’d probably have to replace all the resistors and capacitors and all the old wiring and then hope that the valves still worked. Then discovering that the design used a live chassis running at 240 V soon convinced me that I should get back on track and replace everything.

With a few bolts and screws removed, I soon had an empty case.

I then stripped out all the interior components and set about restoring the case and dial glass, seeing what I could use by way of the volume and power controls. Sadly, there didn’t seem to be any way to hook into the old controls, so I needed to design a new chassis to mount all the components, which I did in Tinkercad, an online 3D CAD package. The design was then downloaded and printed on my 3D printer.

It took a couple of iterations, and during this phase, I wondered if I could use the original speaker. It turned out to be absolutely great, and the audio took on a new quality and brought even more authenticity to the project.

The case itself was pretty worn and faded, and the varnish had cracked, so I decided to strip it back. The surface was actually veneer, but you can still sand this. After a few applications of Nitromors to remove the varnish, it was sanded to remove the scratches and finished off with fine sanding.

The wood around the speaker grille was pretty cracked and had started to delaminate. I carefully removed the speaker grille cloth, and fixed these with a few dabs of wood glue, then used some Tamiya brown paint to colour the edges of the wood to blend it back in with the rest of the case. I was going to buy replacement cloth, but it’s fairly pricey – I had discovered a trick of soaking the cloth overnight in neat washing-up liquid and cold water, and it managed to lift the years of grime out and give it a new lease of life.

At this point, I should have just varnished or used Danish oil on the case, but bitten by the restoration bug I thought I would have a go at French polishing. This gave me a huge amount of respect for anyone that can do this properly. It’s messy, time-consuming, and a lot of work. I ended up having to do several coats, and with all the polishing involved, this was probably one of the most time-consuming tasks, plus I ended up with some pretty stained fingers as a result.

The rest of the case was pretty easy to clean, and the brass dial pointer polished up nice and shiny with some Silvo polish. The cloth was glued back in place, and the next step was to sort out the dial and glass.

Frequency, volume, glass, and knobs

Unfortunately, the original glass was cracked, so a replacement part was cut from some Makrolon sheet, also known as Lexan. I prefer this to acrylic as it’s much easier to cut and far less likely to crack when drilling it. It’s used as machine guards as well and can even be bent if necessary.

With the dial, I scanned it into the PC and then in PaintShop I replaced the existing frequency scale with a range of years running from 1939 to 1945, as the aim was for anyone using the radio to just dial the year they wanted to listen to. The program will then read the value of the potentiometer, and randomly select a file to play from that year.

It was also around about now that I had to come up with some means of having the volume control the sound and an interface for the frequency dial. Again there are always several options to consider, and I originally toyed with using a couple of rotary encoders and using one of these with the built-in push button as the power switch, but eventually decided to just use some potentiometers. Now I just had to come up with an easy way to read the analogue value of the pots and get that into the program.

There are quite a few good analogue-to-digital boards and HATs available, but with simplicity in mind, I chose to use an MCP3002 chip as it was only about £2. This is a two-channel analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) and outputs the data as a 10-bit value onto the SPI bus. This sounds easy when you say it, but it proved to be one of the trickier technical tasks as none of the code around for the four-channel MCP3008 seemed to work for the MCP3002, nor did many of the examples that were around for the MCP3002 – I think I went through about a dozen examples. At long last, I did find some code examples that worked, and with a bit of modification, I had a simple way of reading the values from the two potentiometers. You can download the original code by Stéphane Guerreau from GitHub. To use this on your Raspberry Pi, you’ll also need to run up raspi-config and switch on the SPI interface. Then it is simply a case of hooking up the MCP3002 and connecting the pots between the 3v3 line and ground and reading the voltage level from the wiper of the pots. When coding this, I just opted for some simple if-then statements in cap-Python to determine where the dial was pointing, and just tweaked the values in the code until I got each year to be picked out.

Power supply and control

One of the challenges when using a Raspberry Pi in headless mode is that it likes to be shut down in an orderly fashion rather than just having the power cut. There are lots of examples that show how you can hook up a push button to a GPIO pin and initiate a shutdown script, but to get the Raspberry Pi to power back up you need to physically reset the power. To overcome this piece of the puzzle, I use a Pimoroni OnOff SHIM which cleverly lets you press a button to start up, and then press and hold it for a second to start a shutdown. It’s costly in comparison to the price of a Raspberry Pi Zero, but I’ve not found a more convenient option. The power itself is supplied by using an old power bank that I had which is ample enough to power the radio long enough to be shown off, and can be powered by USB connector if longer-term use is required.

To illuminate the dial, I connected a small LED in series with a 270R resistor to the 3v3 rail so that it would come on as soon as the Raspberry Pi received power, and this lets you easily see when it’s on without waiting for the Raspberry Pi to start up.

The code

If you’re interested in the code Adam used to build his time machine, especially if you’re considering making your own, you’ll find it all in this month’s HackSpace magazine. Download the latest issue for free here, subscribe for more issues here, or visit your local newsagent or the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge to pick up the magazine in physical, real-life, in-your-hands print.

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Real-life DOR-15 bowler hat from Disney’s Meet the Robinsons

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Why wear a boring bowler hat when you can add technology to make one of Disney’s most evil pieces of apparel?

Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons is one of Disney’s most underrated movies. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

What’s not to love? Experimental, futuristic technology, a misunderstood villain, lessons of love and forgiveness aplenty, and a talking T-Rex!

For me, one of the stand-out characters of Meet the Robinsons is DOR-15, a best-of-intentions experiment gone horribly wrong. Designed as a helper hat, DOR-15 instead takes over the mind of whoever is wearing it, hellbent on world domination.

Real-life DOR-15

Built using a Raspberry Pi and the MATRIX Voice development board, the real-life DOR-15, from Team MATRIX Labs, may not be ready to take over the world, but it’s still really cool.

With a plethora of built-in audio sensors, the MATRIX Voice directs DOR-15 towards whoever is making sound, while a series of servos wiggle 3D‑printed legs for added creepy.

This project uses ODAS (Open embeddeD Audition System) and some custom code to move a servo motor in the direction of the most concentrated incoming sound in a 180 degree radius. This enables the hat to face a person calling to it.

The added wiggly spider legs come courtesy of this guide by the delightful Jorvon Moss, whom HackSpace readers will remember from issue 21.

In their complete Hackster walkthrough, Team Matrix Lab talk you through how to build your own DOR-15, including all the files needed to 3D‑print the legs.

Realising animated characters and props

So, what fictional wonder would you bring to life? Your own working TARDIS? Winifred’s spellbook? Mary Poppins’ handbag? Let us know in the comments below.

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Securely tailor your TV viewing with BBC Box and Raspberry Pi

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Thanks to BBC Box, you might be able to enjoy personalised services without giving up all your data. Sean McManus reports:

One day, you could watch TV shows that are tailored to your interests, thanks to BBC Box. It pulls together personal data from different sources in a household device, and gives you control over which apps may access it.

“If we were to create a device like BBC Box and put it out there, it would allow us to create personalised services without holding personal data,” says Max Leonard.

TV shows could be edited on the device to match the user’s interests, without those interests being disclosed to the BBC. One user might see more tech news and less sport news, for example.

BBC Box was partly inspired by a change in the law that gives us all the right to reuse data that companies hold on us. “You can pull out data dumps, but it’s difficult to do anything with them unless you’re a data scientist,” explains Max. “We’re trying to create technologies to enable people to do interesting things with their data, and allow organisations to create services based on that data on your behalf.”

Building the box

BBC Box is based on Raspberry Pi 3B+, the most powerful model available when this project began. “Raspberry Pi is an amazing prototyping platform,” says Max. “Relatively powerful, inexpensive, with GPIO, and able to run a proper OS. Most importantly, it can fit inside a small box!”

That prototype box is a thing of beauty, a hexagonal tube made of cedar wood. “We created a set of principles for experience and interaction with BBC Box and themes of strength, protection, and ownership came out very strongly,” says Jasmine Cox. “We looked at shapes in nature and architecture that were evocative of these themes (beehives, castles, triangles) and played with how they could be a housing for Raspberry Pi.”

The core software for collating and managing access to data is called Databox. Alpine Linux was chosen because it’s “lightweight, speedy but most importantly secure”, in Max’s words. To get around problems making GPIO access work on Alpine Linux, an Arduino Nano is used to control the LEDs. Storage is a 64GB microSD card, and apps run inside Docker containers, which helps to isolate them from each other.

Combining data securely

The BBC has piloted two apps based on BBC Box. One collects your preferred type of TV programme from BBC iPlayer and your preferred music genre from Spotify. That unique combination of data can be used to recommend events you might like from Skiddle’s database.

Another application helps two users to plan a holiday together. It takes their individual preferences and shows them the destinations they both want to visit, with information about them brought in from government and commercial sources. The app protects user privacy, because neither user has to reveal places they’d rather not visit to the other user, or the reason why.

The team is now testing these concepts with users and exploring future technology options for BBC Box.

The MagPi magazine

This article was lovingly yoinked from the latest issue of The MagPi magazine. You can read issue 87 today, for free, right now, by visiting The MagPi website.

You can also purchase issue 87 from the Raspberry Pi Press website with free worldwide delivery, from the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, and from newsagents and supermarkets across the UK.

 

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