Tag Archives: Your Projects

Build your own Raspberry Pi night vision camera

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A Raspberry Pi Zero W, Pimoroni HyperPixel screen, and Raspberry Pi IR Camera Module are all you need to build this homemade night vision camera.

How to build a night vision camera

How to build a night vision camera, video showing the process and problems that I came across when building this camera

Raspberry Pi night vison camera

Built into the body of an old camera flash, Dan’s Raspberry Pi night vision camera is a homage to a childhood spent sneaking around the levels of Splinter Cell. Says Dan:

The iconic image from the game is the night vision goggles that Sam Fisher wears. I have always been fascinated by the idea that you can see in the dark and this formed the foundation of my idea to build a portable hand-held night vision piece of equipment.

The camera, running on Raspbian, boasts several handy functions, including touchscreen controls courtesy of the Pimoroni HyperPixel, realtime video and image capture, and a viewing distance of two to five metres.

It’s okay to FAIL

Embracing the FAIL (First Attempt In Learning) principle, Dan goes into detail about the issues he had to overcome while building the camera, which is another reason why we really enjoyed this project. It’s okay to fail when trying your hand at digital making, because you learn from your mistakes! Dan’s explanations of the struggles he faced and how he overcame them are 👌.

For a full rundown of the project and tips on building your own, check out its Hackster.io page.

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Real-time train station departure board

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All across the UK, you’ll find train departure boards on station platforms that look like this:

They’ve looked this way for as long as I can remember (before they were digital dot-matrix displays, they were made from those flappy bits of plastic with letters of the alphabet and numbers printed on them, which whirled round like a Rolodex; they still look very similar). If you’re a frequent train traveller in the UK, you probably have a weird emotional response to seeing one of these. Mine is largely one of panic about being late.

Some people have a more…benign relationship with trains than I do, like Chris Crocker-White, who has adapted a build tweeted by Chris Hutchinson to make a miniature departure board for his desk. Here’s the tweet that started it all:

Chris Hutchinson on Twitter

Pretty hyped about my most recent @Raspberry_Pi project – a realistic, real-time, train departure board I’ve open sourced the software over at: https://t.co/vGQzagsSpi Next step: find a case and make it a permanent fixture! https://t.co/HEXgzdH8TS

Chris C-W’s build is similar, but has a couple of very neat upgrades, including some back-end software work (his build runs in Docker on balenaCloud, to make configuration easier), and some work on the display, which he’s tweaked to use 1:1 pixel mapping of the fonts and avoid any scaling, so the tiny board looks more like the dot-matrix LED displays you’ll see when you visit the station. You can see the difference in the image below:

 

Chris seems to be using his board as a piece of desktop furniture, where it looks terrific, but model train or narrow-gauge enthusiasts should be all over this project too; it’s a lovely way to inject some realism into a miniature setup. You can find a very complete guide to making your own here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch.

 

 

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Use PlayStation Buzz! controllers with a Raspberry Pi

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Buzz! was a favourite amongst my university housemates and me. With popular culture questions asked by an animated Jason Donovan, answered using real-life quiz controllers with a big red button, what’s not to like?

But, as with most of the tech available in the early 2000s, my Buzz! controllers now sit in a box somewhere, dusty and forgotten.

That’s why it is so goshdarn delightful to see PiMyLifeUp breathe new life into these awesome-looking games controllers.

Bringing Buzz! back

The tutorial uses the hidapi library to communicate with the controllers, allowing them to control functions through the Raspberry Pi, and the Raspberry Pi to control the LED within the big red button.

By the end of this tutorial, you will have learned how to read information about all your USB devices, learned how to read data that the devices are sending back and also how to write a library that will act as a simple wrapper to dealing with the device.

Aside from the Buzz! controllers, available on eBay or similar for a few pounds, you only need a Raspberry Pi and its essential peripherals to get started, as the controllers connect directly via USB — thanks, Buzz!

PiMyLifeUp’s tutorial is wonderfully detailed, explaining the hows and whys of the lines of code needed to turn your old Buzz! controllers into a quiz game written in Python that uses the coloured buttons to answer multiple-choice questions.

Guitar Hero, dance mats, Donkey Kong Bongos — what other gaming peripherals would you like to bring back to life?

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Pulling shower thoughts from Reddit for a Raspberry Pi e-paper display

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The Reddit users among you may already be aware of the Shower Thoughts subreddit. For those of you who aren’t, Shower Thoughts is where people go to post the random epiphanies they’ve had about life, the universe, and everything. For example:

YouTuber ACROBOTIC is a fan of the Shower Thoughts subreddit. So much so that they decided to program their Raspberry Pi to update an e-paper HAT with the subreddit’s top posts from the last hour.

Raspberry Pi 4 Scrape JSON Data w/ Python And Display It On e-Paper | reddit /r/showerthoughts

$2 for PCB prototype (any color): https://jlcpcb.com/ ========== * Your support helps me post videos more frequently: https://www.patreon.com/acrobotic https://www.paypal.me/acrobotic https://buymeacoff.ee/acrobotic BTC: 1ZpLvgETofMuzCaKoq5XJZKSwe5UNkwLM ========== * Find me on: https://twitter.com/acrobotic https://facebook.com/acrobotic https://instagram.com/acrobotic ========== * Parts & supplies: https://acrobotic.com/shop https://amazon.com/shops/acrobotic ========== In another video we setup a Raspberry Pi to control an e-Paper/e-Ink HAT and running demo code.

For their build, they used a three-colour e-paper display, but you can use any e-paper add-on for Raspberry Pi to recreate the project. They also used Raspberry Pi 4, but again, this project will work with other models — even Raspberry Pi Zero W.

ACROBOTIC created an image to frame the Shower Thoughts posts, which they uploaded to their Raspberry Pi as a .bmp file. They altered prewritten code for using the e-paper display to display this frame image and the various posts.

Adding .json to the URL of the appropriate Shower Thoughts page allows access to the posts in JSON format. Then a request can be set up to pull the data from this URL.

ACROBOTIC goes into far more detail in their video, and it’s a great resource if you’re looking to try out working with JSON files or to learn how to pull data from Reddit.

Find more projects using e-paper displays for you to recreate in our handy guide.

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Raspberry Pi Sense HAT impact recorder for your car

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Let the accelerometer and gyroscope of your Raspberry Pi Sense HAT measure and record impact sustained in a car collision.

Raspberry Pi Sense HAT

The Raspberry Pi Sense HAT was originally designed for the European Astro Pi Challenge, inviting schoolchildren to code their own experiments for two Raspberry Pi units currently orbiting the Earth upon the International Space Station.

The Sense HAT is kitted out with an 8×8 RGB LED matrix and a five-button joystick, and it houses an array of useful sensors, including an accelerometer and gyroscope.

And it’s these two sensors that Instructables user Ashu_d has used for their Impact Recorder for Vehicles.

Impact Recorder for Vehicles

“Impact Recorder is designed to record impact sustained to a vehicle while driving or stationary,” Ashu_d explains. Alongside the Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT, the build also uses a Raspberry Pi Camera Module to record footage, saving video and/or picture files to the SD card for you to examine after a collision. “The impacts are stored in the database in the form of readings as well as video/picture.”

By following Ashu_d’s Instructables tutorial, you’re essentially building yourself a black box for your car, recording impact data as the Sense HAT records outside the standard parameters of your daily commute.

“Upon impact, remote users can be verified in real time,” they continue, “and remote users can then watch the saved video or take remote access to the Pi Camera Module and watch events accordingly.”

Ashu_d goes into great detail on how to use Node-RED and MQTT to complete the project, how you can view video in real time using VLC, and how each element works to create the final build over at Instructables.

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Playing Snake on a Raspberry Pi word clock

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I have a soft spot for Raspberry Pi word clocks. True, they may not be as helpful as your standard clock face if you need to tell the time super quickly, but at least they’re easier to read than this binary clock built by engineerish.

“But Alex,” I hear you cry, “word clocks are so done. We’re over them. They’re so 2018. What’s so special about a word clock that you feel it to be worthy of a blog post?”

And the answer, dear reader, is Snake, the best gosh darn game to ever grace the screen of a mobile phone, ever — sorry, Candy Crush.

If you’re looking to build a word clock using your Raspberry Pi, here’s a great tutorial from Benedikt Künzel. And, if you’re looking to upgrade said word clock to another level and introduce it to Snake, well, actually, there isn’t a tutorial for that, yet, but there’s a whole conversation going on about it on Reddit, so you should check that out.

There is, however, a tutorial for coding your own game of Snake Slug on the Raspberry Pi Sense HAT here. So give that a whirl!

Until tomorrow, fair reader, adieu.

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