Tag Archives: YouTubers

Raspberry Pi LEGO sorter

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Raspberry Pi is at the heart of this AI–powered, automated sorting machine that is capable of recognising and sorting any LEGO brick.

And its maker Daniel West believes it to be the first of its kind in the world!

Best ever

This mega-machine was two years in the making and is a LEGO creation itself, built from over 10,000 LEGO bricks.

A beast of 10,000 bricks

It can sort any LEGO brick you place in its input bucket into one of 18 output buckets, at the rate of one brick every two seconds.

While Daniel was inspired by previous LEGO sorters, his creation is a huge step up from them: it can recognise absolutely every LEGO brick ever created, even bricks it has never seen before. Hence the ‘universal’ in the name ‘universal LEGO sorting machine’.

Hardware

There we are, tucked away, just doing our job

Software

The artificial intelligence algorithm behind the LEGO sorting is a convolutional neural network, the go-to for image classification.

What makes Daniel’s project a ‘world first’ is that he trained his classifier using 3D model images of LEGO bricks, which is how the machine can classify absolutely any LEGO brick it’s faced with, even if it has never seen it in real life before.

We LOVE a thorough project video, and we love TWO of them even more

Daniel has made a whole extra video (above) explaining how the AI in this project works. He shouts out all the open source software he used to run the Raspberry Pi Camera Module and access 3D training images etc. at this point in the video.

LEGO brick separation

The vibration plate in action, feeding single parts into the scanner

Daniel needed the input bucket to carefully pick out a single LEGO brick from the mass he chucks in at once.

This is achieved with a primary and secondary belt slowly pushing parts onto a vibration plate. The vibration plate uses a super fast LEGO motor to shake the bricks around so they aren’t sitting on top of each other when they reach the scanner.

Scanning and sorting

A side view of the LEFO sorting machine showing a large white chute built from LEGO bricks
The underside of the beast

A Raspberry Pi Camera Module captures video of each brick, which Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ then processes and wirelessly sends to a more powerful computer able to run the neural network that classifies the parts.

The classification decision is then sent back to the sorting machine so it can spit the brick, using a series of servo-controlled gates, into the right output bucket.

Extra-credit homework

A front view of the LEGO sorter with the sorting boxes visible underneath
In all its bricky beauty, with the 18 output buckets visible at the bottom

Daniel is such a boss maker that he wrote not one, but two further reading articles for those of you who want to deep-dive into this mega LEGO creation:

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Raspberry Pi ‘Swear Bear’ keeps your potty mouth in check

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Why use a regular swear jar to retrain your potty-mouthed brain when you can build a Swear Bear to help you instead?

Swear Bear listens to you. All the time. And Swear Bear can tell when a swear word is used. Swear Bear tells you off and saves all the swear words you said to the cloud to shame you. Swear Bear subscribes to the school of tough love.

Artificial intelligence

The Google AIY kit allows you to build your own natural language recogniser. This page shows you how to assemble the Voice HAT from the kit, and it also includes the code you’ll need to make your project capable of speech-to-text AI.

Black AIY HAT stuck on top of a Raspberry Pi
Image of the Voice HAT mounted onto a Raspberry Pi 3 courtesy of aiyprojects.withgoogle.com

To teach Swear Bear the art of profanity detection, Swear Bear creators 8 Bits and a Byte turned to the profanity check Python library. You can find the info to install and use the library on this page, as well as info on how it works and why it’s so accurate.

You’ll hear at this point in the video that Swear Bear says “Oh dear” when a swear word is used within earshot.

Hardware

Birds eye view of each of the hardware components used in the project on a green table

This project uses the the first version of Google’s AIY Voice Kit, which comes with a larger black AIY Voice HAT and is compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The kit also includes a little Voice HAT microphone board.

Version 2 of the kit comprises the smaller Raspberry Pi Zero WH and a slimmer ‘Voice Bonnet’.

The microphone allows Swear Bear to ‘hear’ your speech, and through its speakers it can then tell you off for swearing.

All of hardware is squeezed into the stuffing-free bear once the text-to-speech and profanity detection software is working.

Babbage Bear hack?

Babbage the Bear

8 Bits and a Byte fan Ben Scarboro took to the comments on YouTube to suggest they rework one of our Babbage Bears into a Swear Bear. Babbage is teeny tiny, so maybe you would need to fashion a giant version to accomplish this. Just don’t make us watch while you pull out its stuffing.

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Hire Raspberry Pi as a robot sous-chef in your kitchen

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Design Engineering student Ben Cobley has created a Raspberry Pi–powered sous-chef that automates the easier pan-cooking tasks so the head chef can focus on culinary creativity.

Ben named his invention OnionBot, as the idea came to him when looking for an automated way to perfectly soften onions in a pan while he got on with the rest of his dish. I have yet to manage to retrieve onions from the pan before they blacken so… *need*.

OnionBot robotic sous-chef set up in a kitchen
The full setup (you won’t need a laptop while you’re cooking, so you’ll have counter space)

A Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the brains of the operation, with a Raspberry Pi Touch Display showing the instructions, and a Raspberry Pi Camera Module keeping an eye on the pan.

OnionBot robotic sous-chef hardware mounted on a board
Close up of the board-mounted hardware and wiring

Ben’s affordable solution is much better suited to home cooking than the big, expensive robotic arms used in industry. Using our tiny computer also allowed Ben to create something that fits on a kitchen counter.

OnionBot robotic sous-chef hardware list

What can OnionBot do?

  • Tells you on-screen when it is time to advance to the next stage of a recipe
  • Autonomously controls the pan temperature using PID feedback control
  • Detects when the pan is close to boiling over and automatically turns down the heat
  • Reminds you if you haven’t stirred the pan in a while
OnionBot robotic sous-chef development stages
Images from Ben’s blog on DesignSpark

How does it work?

A thermal sensor array suspended above the stove detects the pan temperature, and the Raspberry Pi Camera Module helps track the cooking progress. A servo motor controls the dial on the induction stove.

Screenshot of the image classifier of OnionBot robotic sous-chef
Labelling images to train the image classifier

No machine learning expertise was required to train an image classifier, running on Raspberry Pi, for Ben’s robotic creation; you’ll see in the video that the classifier is a really simple drag-and-drop affair.

Ben has only taught his sous-chef one pasta dish so far, and we admire his dedication to carbs.

Screenshot of the image classifier of OnionBot robotic sous-chef
Training the image classifier to know when you haven’t stirred the pot in a while

Ben built a control panel for labelling training images in real time and added labels at key recipe milestones while he cooked under the camera’s eye. This process required 500–1000 images per milestone, so Ben made a LOT of pasta while training his robotic sous-chef’s image classifier.

Diagram of networked drivers and devices in OnionBot robotic sous-chef

Ben open-sourced this project so you can collaborate to suggest improvements or teach your own robot sous-chef some more dishes. Here’s OnionBot on GitHub.

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Be a better Scrabble player with a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

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One of our fave makers, Wayne from Devscover, got a bit sick of losing at Scrabble (and his girlfriend was likely raging at being stuck in lockdown with a lesser opponent). So he came up with a Raspberry Pi–powered solution!

Using a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera and a bit of Python, you can quickly figure out the highest-scoring word your available Scrabble tiles allow you to play.

Hardware

  • Raspberry Pi 3B
  • Compatible touchscreen
  • Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera
  • Power supply for the touchscreen and Raspberry Pi
  • Scrabble board

You don’t have to use a Raspberry Pi 3B, but you do need a model that has both display and camera ports. Wayne also chose to use an official Raspberry Pi Touch Display because it can power the computer, but any screen that can talk to your Raspberry Pi should be fine.

Software

Firstly, the build takes a photo of your Scrabble tiles using raspistill.

Next, a Python script processes the image of your tiles and then relays the highest-scoring word you can play to your touchscreen.

The key bit of code here is twl, a Python script that contains every possible word you can play in Scrabble.

From 4.00 minutes into his build video, Wayne walks you through what each bit of code does and how he made it work for this project, including how he installed and used the Scrabble dictionary.

Fellow Scrabble-strugglers have suggested sneaky upgrades in the comments of Wayne’s YouTube video, such having the build relay answers to a more discreet smart watch.

No word yet on how the setup deals with the blank Scrabble tiles; those things are like gold dust.

In case you haven’t met the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera yet, Wayne also did this brilliant unboxing and tutorial video for our newest piece of hardware.

And for more projects from Devscover, check out this great Amazon price tracker using a Raspberry Pi Zero W, and make sure to subscribe to the channel for more content.

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Wes’s wonderful Minecraft user notification display

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This Minecraft sign uses a Raspberry Pi to notify you when, and how many of, your friends are logged into your dedicated Minecraft server.

Let’s start by pointing out how wonderfully nostalgic many of Wes ‘Geeksmithing’ Swain’s projects are. From his Raspberry Pi–housing cement Thwomp that plays his favourite Mario games to The NES Project, his NES replica unit with a built-in projector — Wes makes the things we wished for as kids.

The NES Project covered in HackSpace magazine

We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if his next project is a remake of Duckhunt with servo-controlled ducks, or Space Invaders but it’s somehow housed in a flying space invader that shoots back with lasers. Honestly, at this point, we wouldn’t put it past him.

Making the Minecraft friend notification display

In the video, Wes covers the project in two parts. Firstly, he shows off the physical build of making the sign, including laser-cut acrylic front displayed with controllable LED lights, a Raspberry Pi Zero, and the wooden framing.

Secondly, he moves on to the code, in which he uses mcstatus, a Python class created by Minecraft’s Technical Director Nathan Adams that can be used to query servers for information. In this instance, Wes is using mcstatus to check for other players on his group’s dedicated Mincecraft server, but the class can also be used to gather mod information. You can find mcstatus on GitHub.

Each friend is assigned a letter that illuminates if they’re online.

Lucky for Wes, he has the same number of friends on his server as the number of letters in ‘Minecraft’, so for every friend online, he’s programmed the display to illuminate a letter of the Minecraft logo. And while the server is empty, he can also set the display to run through various light displays, including this one, a dedication to the new Minecraft Nether update.

If you’d like to try making this project yourself, you can: Wes goes into great detail in his video, and the code for the project can be found on his GitHub account.

And while we have your attention, be sure to subscribe to Geeksmithing on YouTube and show him some love for such a great project.

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Fix slow Nintendo Switch play with your Raspberry Pi

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Is your Nintendo Switch behaving more like a Nintendon’t due to poor connectivity? Well, TopSpec (hosted Chris Barlas) has shared a brilliant Raspberry Pi-powered hack on YouTube to help you fix that.

 

Here’s the problem…

When you play Switch online, the servers are peer-to-peer. The Switches decide which Switch’s internet connection is more stable, and that player becomes the host.

However, some users have found that poor internet performance causes game play to lag. Why? It’s to do with the way data is shared between the Switches, as ‘packets’.

 

What are packets?

Think of it like this: 200 postcards will fit through your letterbox a few at a time, but one big file wrapped as a parcel won’t. Even though it’s only one, it’s too big to fit. So instead, you could receive all the postcards through the letterbox and stitch them together once they’ve been delivered.

Similarly, a packet is a small unit of data sent over a network, and packets are reassembled into a whole file, or some other chunk of related data, by the computer that receives them.

Problems arise if any of the packets containing your Switch game’s data go missing, or arrive late. This will cause the game to pause.

Fix Nintendo Switch Online Lag with a Raspberry Pi! (Ethernet Bridge)

Want to increase the slow internet speed of your Nintendo Switch? Having lag in games like Smash, Mario Maker, and more? Well, we decided to try out a really…

Chris explains that games like Call of Duty have code built in to mitigate the problems around this, but that it seems to be missing from a lot of Switch titles.

 

How can Raspberry Pi help?

The advantage of using Raspberry Pi is that it can handle wireless networking more reliably than Nintendo Switch on its own. Bring the two devices together using a LAN adapter, and you’ve got a perfect pairing. Chris reports speeds up to three times faster using this hack.

A Nintendo Switch > LAN adaptor > Raspberry Pi

He ran a download speed test using a Nintendo Switch by itself, and then using a Nintendo Switch with a LAN adapter plugged into a Raspberry Pi. He found the Switch connected to the Raspberry Pi was quicker than the Switch on its own.

At 02mins 50secs of Chris’ video, he walks through the steps you’ll need to take to get similar results.

We’ve handily linked to some of the things Chris mentions here:

 

 

To test his creation, Chris ran a speed test downloading a 10GB game, Pokémon Shield, using three different connection solutions. The Raspberry Pi hack came out “way ahead” of the wireless connection relying on the Switch alone. Of course, plugging your Switch directly into your internet router would get the fastest results of all, but routers have a habit of being miles away from where you want to sit and play.

Have a look at TopSpec on YouTube for more great videos.

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