Tag Archives: Your Projects

Listen to the weather change with The Sky Vane

via Raspberry Pi

The Sky Vane provides the soundtrack to an immersive sky-driven experience. Just lie down on the grass, gaze up at the sky, and listen to the changing soundscape through the day.

sky vane at night
The structure is impressive, but it’s everything inside that little “shroom pod” at the bottom that powers this build

A Raspberry Pi powers the arresting structure in the middle of the circle of comfy skygazing mats in the photo above, and is connected to an array of atmospheric sensors. These sensors detect changes in light, temperature, pressure, and humidity. Then they send real-time data to the Raspberry Pi computer in order to create a dynamic soundtrack.

The Sky Vane’s creators produced a carefully written soundtrack for the experience. Raspberry Pi triggers changes to the number of musical layers, sequences, audio effects processing, and so on, based on the information the sensors read. That’s the “dynamic” bit. A huge gust of wind, for example, leads to a different musical change than the setting sun.

A portable Minirig sound system generates a seriously high-fidelity audio experience that can be heard clearly within a 25-metre radius of The Sky Vane.


  • Pisound, a sound card and MIDI interface specially designed for Raspberry Pi
  • A Raspberry Pi, with the Pisound add-on attached, sitting inside the semi-transparent box in the bottom left of the image below
  • The little thing on the breadboard is a Teensy LC
  • Everything hides underneath the dome-shaped “shroom pod”, which in turn sits beneath the big sculpture
skyvane kit

Inspiration behind the installation

The Sky Vane is the latest installation from pyka, a collective of experienced designers who create digital artefacts that enable you to explore the world of sound. Commissioned by Tin Shed Theatre Company and Our Living Levels, The Sky Vane’s big debut was at the Big Skies 2021 event in south Wales.

When they were planning this installation, the creators at pyka weren’t sure how it would go down in a post-pandemic world. They’re used to building things that bring people together, but they were mindful of people’s anxiety around shared public activities. This led to a design that promotes quiet contemplation and mindfulness whilst enjoying the freedom of the outdoors. We think it’s lovely.

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Automatically tune your guitar with Raspberry Pi Pico

via Raspberry Pi

You sit down with your six-string, ready to bash out that new song you recently mastered, but find you’re out of tune. Redditor u/thataintthis (Guyrandy Jean-Gilles) has taken the pain out of tuning your guitar, so those of us lacking this necessary skill can skip the boring bit and get back to playing.

Before you dismiss this project as just a Raspberry Pi Pico-powered guitar tuning box, read on, because when the maker said this is a fully automatic tuner, they meant it.

How does it work?

Guyrandy’s device listens to the sound of a string being plucked and decides which note it needs to be tuned to. Then it automatically turns the tuning keys on the guitar’s headstock just the right amount until it achieves the correct note.


If this were a regular tuning box, it would be up to the musician to fiddle with the tuning keys while twanging the string until they hit a note that matches the one being made by the tuning box.

It’s currently hardcoded to do standard tuning, but it could be tweaked to do things like Drop D tuning.

Pico automatic guitar tuner
Waiting for that green light

Upgrade suggestions

Commenters were quick to share great ideas to make this build even better. Issues of harmonics were raised, and possible new algorithms to get around it were shared. Another commenter noticed the maker wrote their own code in C and suggested making use of the existing ulab FFT in MicroPython. And a final great idea was training the Raspberry Pi Pico to accept the guitar’s audio output as input and analyse the note that way, rather than using a microphone, which has a less clear sound quality.

These upgrades seemed to pique the maker’s interest. So maybe watch this space for a v2.0 of this project…

Shred, Otto, shred

(Watch out for some spicy language in the comments section of the original reddit post. People got pretty lively when articulating their love for this build.)


This project was inspired by the Roadie automatic tuning device. Roadie is sleek but it costs big cash money. And it strips you of the hours of tinkering fun you get from making your own version.

All the code for the project can be found here.

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Foot pressure sensors detect Parkinson’s disease

via Raspberry Pi

A team from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University has developed a foot-pressure-sensing insole to detect Parkinson’s disease. Using our tiny computers, they managed to create something discreet that can monitor people as they walk around in their own shoes.

Check out Team Forelook‘s project video

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that mostly affects people aged over 60, though it can affect younger people too. One symptom that can suggest a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is an abnormal gait – that is, when someone’s walk has changed from its usual pattern. It’s this that the project aims to detect.

While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, many people respond well to treatment with medication and physical therapy, and early detection gives people a better chance of a good quality of life for as long as possible.


parksinson's detector

Eight FlexiForce sensors are placed evenly on each insole of a user’s shoes to measure their gait as they go about their day:

foot sensors on soles of shoes to detect parkinson's disease

A Raspberry Pi 3 is fixed to a strap around the user’s knee and paired with Himax WE-I Plus. Cables connect the knee- strapped hardware to the sensors in the insoles.

raspberry pi strapped to user's knee to detect Parkinson's Disease

How does it work?

The sensors in the user’s shoes detect pressure across the whole foot while walking. Data is then processed by the Raspberry Pi and the user’s gait is assessed. Users pair the device with a mobile app to see their results. The app also shows real-time data while they’re walking.

parksinson's detector
A user with the devices strapped to their knees, checking out real-time data from the sensors in their shoes

The team took advantage of a free online database that collects foot pressure data from both Parkinson’s disease patients and people without Parkinson’s who have a typical gait. They used this to train their own machine learning model, which predicts whether a user has a gait that may indicate Parkinson’s disease.

Check out a live demo from this point in the project video.

Award-winning design

The team submitted this project in the 2021 Synopsys ARC AIoT Design Contest and scored a second-place prize. Check out more project videos from this year’s submissions.

Assessing gait as part of a diagnosis of potential Parkinson’s disease usually requires that patients take trips to the hospital to have tests on large pressure-sensored walking mats. The team’s new device offers a much more portable and affordable approach.

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Save orchards from pests with Raspberry Pi

via Raspberry Pi

Researchers from the University of Trento have developed a Raspberry Pi-powered device that automatically detects pests in fruit orchards so they can get sorted out before they ruin a huge amount of crop. There’s no need for farmer intervention either, saving their time as well as their harvest.

orchard pest detection prototype
One of the prototypes used during indoor testing

The researchers devised an embedded system that uses machine learning to process images captured inside pheromone traps. The pheromones lure the potential pests in to have their picture taken.


Each trap is built on a custom hardware platform that comprises:

  • Sony IMX219 image sensor to collect images (chosen because it’s small and low-power)
  • Intel Neural Compute module for machine learning optimisation
  • Long-range radio chip for communication
  • Solar energy-harvesting power system
Fig. 2: Solar energy harvester and power management circuit schematic block.
Here’s a diagram showing how all the hardware works together

The research paper mentions that Raspberry Pi 3 was chosen because it offered the best trade-off between computing capability, energy demand, and cost. However, we don’t know which Raspberry Pi 3 they used. But we’re chuffed nonetheless.

How does it work?

The Raspberry Pi computer manages the sensor, processing the captured images and transmitting them for classification.

Then the Intel Neural Compute Stick is activated to perform the machine learning task. It provides a boost to the project by reducing the inference time, so we can tell more quickly whether a potentially disruptive bug has been caught, or just a friendly bug.

In this case, it’s codling moths we want to watch out for. They are major pests to agricultural crops, mainly fruits, and they’re the reason you end up with apples that look like they’ve been feasted on by hundreds of maggots.

codling moth detection
Red boxes = bad codling moths
Blue boxes = friendly bugs

When this task is done manually, farmers typically check codling moth traps twice a week. But this automated system checks the pheromone traps twice every day, making it much more likely to detect an infestation before it gets out of hand.

The brains behind the project

This work was done by Andrea Albanese, Matteo Nardello and Davide Brunelli from the University of Trento. All the images used here are from the full research paper, Automated Pest Detection with DNN on the Edge for Precision Agriculture, which you can read for free.

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Raspberry Pi displays album art on LED matrix

via Raspberry Pi

We’ve seen a few innovative album art displays using Raspberry Pi, from LEGO minifigures playing their own music to this NFC-powered record player.

Redditor u/gonnabuysomewindows was looking for a fun project combining Raspberry Pi and Adafruit’s LED matrix, and has created the latest cool album art display to grace our blog.


LED album art back of matrix with raspberry pi attached

How does it work?

The maker turned to PowerShell – a cross-platform task automation solution – to create a script (available on GitHub) that tells the Raspberry Pi which album is playing, and sends it the album artwork for display on the LED matrix.

Raspberry Pi runs a flaschen-taschen server to display the album artwork. The PowerShell script runs a ‘send image’ command every time the album art updates. Then the Raspberry Pi switches the display to reflect what is now playing. In the demo video, the maker runs this from iTunes, but says that any PowerShell-compatible music player (ie: Spotify) will work too.

LED album art

Setting up your own LED album art display

The maker’s original reddit post shares a step-by-step guide to follow on the software side of things. And they detail the terminal code you’ll need to run on the Raspberry Pi to get your LED Matrix displaying the correct image.

They also suggest checking out Adafruit’s setup guides for the RGB Matrix Bonnet for Raspberry Pi and for the LED Matrix itself.

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Robotic waiter learning to serve drinks

via Raspberry Pi

The maker of this robotic waiter had almost all of the parts for this project just sat around collecting dust on a shelf. We’re delighted they decided to take the time to pick up the few extra bits they needed online, then take the extra hour (just an hour?!) to write a program in Python to get this robotic waiter up and running.

It’s learning! Bartending is hard

We are also thrilled to report (having spotted it in the reddit post we found this project on) that the maker had “so much fun picking up and sometimes crushing small things with this claw.” The line between serving drinks and wanting to crush things is thinner than you might imagine.

And in even better news, all the code you need to recreate this build is on GitHub.

Robo arm, HAT, and Raspberry Pi all together

Parts list

First successful straw-drop. Perfecto!

reddit comments bantz

One of our favourite things about finding Raspberry Pi-powered projects on reddit is the comments section. It’s (usually) the perfect mix of light adoration, constructive suggestions, and gateways to tangents we cannot ignore.

Like this one recalling the Rick and Morty sketch in which a cute tiny robot realises their sole purpose is to pass butter:

No swears in this scene! But it is an adult cartoon in general

And also this one pointing us to another robotic arm having a grand old time picking up a tiny ball, sending it down a tiny slide, and then doing it all over again. Because it’s important we know how to make our own fun:

We also greatly enjoyed the fact that the original maker couldn’t use the Rick and Morty “what is my purpose” line to share this project because they are such an uber fan that they already used it for a project they posted just the day before. This cute creation’s sole reason for existing is to hold an Apple pencil while looking fabulous. And we are HERE for it:

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