Sisyphus

Sisyphus

Bruce Shapiro is a maker and an artist. Unlike Picasso or Rembrandt, Bruce doesn’t paint with oil and brushes. “My medium is motion control,” he tells us. We caught up with Bruce to chat about his latest project, Sisyphus. Hot on the heels of a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign, Bruce has a lot to talk about. “Sisyphus is a computer-controlled machine that moves a magnet beneath a field of sand,” Bruce explains. “On the sand, a steel ball follows the magnet’s changing position, creating dune patterns in its wake.” Sisyphus is one of the entries in our Top 75 Projects community vote! In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain for all eternity. “In my art, Sisyphus is a kinetic sculpture that rolls a ball through sand, forever creating and erasing beautiful patterns.” Bruce says that watching Sisyphus evokes a meditative feeling. “Initially, I viewed Sisyphus as a kinetic sculpture. I still do! But over the years, I began to see a parallel with the relationship between making musical instruments and writing songs. As different as these creative skills are, both are absolutely integral to the final art.” Bruce has been creating Sisyphus sculptures for nearly 20 years, and has permanent installations in Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. The heart of the project is the Sisbot, a robot that controls the metal balls which create the artwork in the sand. The ball is the key to this art “Sisyphus is a CNC machine,” reveals Bruce. “It doesn’t use G-code for its file format, but the principle is the same: a toolpath determines where the ball moves and its speed. With Sisbot being a polar machine, these moves end up producing spiral arcs, but this still works since small arcs connected together can emulate any path. “My patterns tend to be algorithmic since I never learned to draw,” Bruce continues. “But anyone can create paths for Sisyphus – just draw something without picking up your pen. If you can record the positions of your pen as you draw, you can compose for Sisyphus.” Controlling Sisbot A Raspberry Pi is the perfect computer to control the Sisbot and create the works of art, but it wasn’t always that way. “For a very long time, all my motion-control artworks were controlled by Windows PCs running DOS,” says Bruce. “In fact, three still do, running every day in their museums. “I…
Source: Sisyphus

Little Green Tower

Little Green Tower

As healthy eating becomes more and more popular, a greater number of people want to grow their own vegetables. The problem is, not everyone has a nice garden or allotment to grow their own stuff – enter hydroponics and, specifically in Chris Johnson’s case, aeroponics: the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment. “For the last five years I have been designing and refining an aeroponics tower system that is particularly well suited to growing leafy green vegetables,” Chris tells us. “The goal is to design a computer-controlled, modular, compact, and low-cost aeroponic system that is easy to replicate.” The idea came to him while browsing through some ‘particularly bad lettuce’ while shopping. “I had always been interested hydroponics,” Chris explains. “The consistently poor quality of the lettuce finally provided the push to begin the project.” All the years of work have paid off and, as you can see overleaf, Chris has been growing plenty of leafy green veg. Water is pumped up to misters inside the tower to water the plants. To make the most use of vertical space, the veg grows out of the side of the tower. A Raspberry Pi controls the whole operation. “A neighbour told me that the kale was the best that they had ever had,” Chris says. “I personally am not a kale fan, so I’ll have to take her word for it. The green leaf lettuce is far superior to what I was getting in the grocery store. The best part is that you pick leaves as you need them and the rest of the plant just keeps on growing.” Chris says that the main issue still to overcome is algae growth in the water. “I am working to mitigate that with different plastic and also different fertiliser. Green-leaf vegetables need copper and copper kills algae, so I will soon be testing a fertiliser that contains the required trace amounts of copper. To reduce algae, the plastic should be opaque so that the algae inside the system gets no light to grow. Standard white filament, needed for its light reflectivity, is not opaque enough. I am looking to get a filament extruder so that I can make my own more opaque filament.” It’s a long way from soil and a watering can, but you should just taste the results Little Green Tower: growing the perfect lettuce This will also…
Source: Little Green Tower

Vote on our 75 greatest projects

Vote on our 75 greatest projects

To celebrate the upcoming 75th issue of The MagPi, we’re highlighting the 75 best community projects of the last two years! Why two years? That’s how long it’s been since issue 50 and the 50 Greatest Projects, and you lot are so amazing that we’ve managed to find 75 fantastic projects that you’ve made since then. We need you! We want you to vote on the top 50 from this list for the feature, and you can make your vote over on the Raspberry Pi blog. Not sure which project to pick? We’ve got a few extra details below… Wizard chess – Harry Potter-themed chess that uses magnets to move pieces MonomePi – a music box using a Monome and LEGO xylophone Pianola – self-playing piano Teefax – classic TV information system running on Pi, based on Teletext/Ceefax Sisyphus table – a beautiful sand table that pushes a ball around itself to create patterns and images Pi Loom – an automated loom Pegasus land speed record – breaking the land speed record with some help from a Pi QBee dress – a dress with lights that react to social media activity Self-playing pipe organ – self-explanatory Museum in a box – this project brings museum pieces to everyone, with 3D printed versions of artifacts containing RFID patches that activate descriptive audio Zero Phone – a Pi Zero-powered phone Tracking telescope – keep your eye on the right stars by using this programmable, moving telescope Pi Film Capture – using an old reel-to-reel projector and a Pi camera module to digitally transfer old film PolaPi-Zero– an instant Pi camera that thermal prints your photo Windows 98 watch – Windows 98 on your wrist PiOrder – automated restaurant order system Tough Pi-ano – using arcade-buttons to make a piano that can take a hit Raspberry Turk – a robot that can play a mean game of chess Daily Prophet – Harry Potter-themed newspaper with video displays Tele2 VR – experience the day in a life of somebody else Dog treat dispenser – automated dog treat dispenser Pi0CKET Tiny Pi – a tiny handheld retro gaming machine Photo booth – achieve marital bliss with this custom-made wedding photo booth Pi Bash – test your strength with this Pi-powered carnival game 12-foot electric guitar – a giant guitar that works, thanks to Pi Gulliver’s Gate – recreating New York’s Times Square in miniature Google…
Source: Vote on our 75 greatest projects

Strato Pi CM review

Strato Pi CM review

The Strato Pi CM (From £264 / $290) is a housing/motherboard designed for all versions of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module (CM) and is from a line of industrial products for the Pi/CM from Sfera Labs. The Strato Pi CM can be supplied with or without a Compute Module. Designed for the IoT market, it enables a Raspberry Pi to interface with industrial equipment/sensors to the internet. Possible roles for the Strato include collecting sensor/diagnostics data, as a web interface to the collected data, to bridge old equipment via its RS‑485 port to the internet, and for a webcam CCTV network video recorder (NVR). Why stack HATs when you can just use this? Strato Pi CM unboxing and testing Opening the box, we found a standard two-gang DIN module that can be mounted to a DIN rail type normally used in electrical distribution boards and industrial control panels. The removable connector block is clearly labelled along with the LEDs on the front panel. On close inspection, the module has an RS-485 interface, two USB ports, and an Ethernet port. Other features include 9 to 28 V DC power voltage, a real-time clock, controllable LED, and a hidden push-button. Obtaining access to the PCB proved very simple: you just need to remove the DIN rail retaining clip, power/RS-485 block and, using a small bladed screwdriver, the PCB is exposed. There are a couple of new interfaces: a micro USB port for programming the CM, and a microSD holder if you are using a CM Lite board and the hidden button. Your reviewer handed the Strato to friendly electronic engineer and fellow Makespace member Rob Karpinski for his view of the construction and design. Having given it a once-over, he said that it was well made and that the RS-485 inputs were well protected. When told the cost of the unit, he choked a little but did say that it was expected for a device designed for industrial use. Sfera Labs sent the Strato Pi CM Solo for review; this version does not come with a CM, but installing one is easy: just line it up and push down until it clicks. The next step is to install Raspbian. Reading the included Quick Reference, we were pointed to the user guide on the Sfera Labs website and then instructed to follow the guide on the Raspberry Pi site – magpi.cc/UtAcOj. We followed the guide…
Source: Strato Pi CM review

Sotheby’s: The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing

Sotheby’s: The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing

Sotheby’s is showcasing The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing in London from Friday 14 Sep to 17 Sep 2018. Erwin Tomash co-founded Dataproducts Corporation in the 1960. His company became famous for manufacturing large disk drives and storage. After leaving Dataproducts, Tomash helped create the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota, which became a leading archive of computing-related papers . Raspberry Pi is a proud part of that history of computing, and here at The MagPi we like to think the ‘little board that can’ stands on the shoulders of giants that did. The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing auction A previously unrecorded copy of an unknown treatise on mathematics by Mubashir Ibn Ahmad al-Razi (d.1193), The computing collection is so fascinating we thought you’d like to hear about it (and perhaps take a closer look): According to Sotheby’s: In its scope and subject matter, Erwin Tomash’s collection is unlike any other to have been offered at auction. The library represents a lifetime’s fascination with the development across the ages of the modern-day computer, including calculation, astronomy, navigation, mensuration and related subjects. It ranges from medieval and renaissance works on arithmetic, finger-reckoning and the abacus, to the birth in the twentieth century of theoretical and practical computer science under Alan Turing. On the way, it encompasses major breakthroughs in the measurement of space and time by Apianus, Galileo, Kepler and others, the development of complex logarithmic, volumetric and trigonometrical calculations, and early and later scientific instruments such as sectors, slide-rules, astrolabes and quadrants, including Napier’s bones and Babbage’s famous difference engine. Sotheby’s has an online catalogue of all the items up for auction and you can download the print catalogue in PDF format. The auction will take place on 18-19 September 2017. Girolamo Cappello (1544-1611), presentation inscription in Galileo’s hand The post Sotheby’s: The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: Sotheby’s: The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing

Create custom operating systems for Raspberry Pi with CusDeb

Create custom operating systems for Raspberry Pi with CusDeb

Linux distributions, such as Raspbian for Raspberry Pi, are popular on other types of computers due to their customisability. While many come as pre-packaged operating systems, some of them you have to build from the ground up. This allows you to optimise your OS for your PC, and some developers allow you to do some of this customisation online so that you can create your own images. That’s exactly the premise behind CusDeb, short for Customized Debian, a website that lets you create your own spin of Pi-specific Linux distributions. Choose your distribution “Two years ago we noticed there were many people who wanted a more lightweight image than Raspbian Lite.” Denis Mosolov, one of the developers behind it told us. “They wanted a minimal as possible base OS image, plus software they actually used. There were some scripts for creating minimal images with a custom set of pre-installed packages, but we were inspired by SUSE Studio and just built a web UI for creating customized appliances for single-board computers.” The resulting website currently generates images for the Raspberry Pi Zero, and most Model B versions of the full-size Raspberry Pi. As they’re a small team, they only have a small selection of operating systems at the moment: Alpine 3.7 (32-bit) Devuan 1 Jessie (32-bit) Raspbian 9 Stretch (32-bit) Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus (32-bit) Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver (32-bit) Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver (64-bit) Check out CusDeb to see if you can make use of it, and look further behind the scenes on the Pieman GitHub. The post Create custom operating systems for Raspberry Pi with CusDeb appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: Create custom operating systems for Raspberry Pi with CusDeb

Hoverbot

Hoverbot

While countless Raspberry Pi robots have been created, most of them are on the small side. Hoverbot, however, bucks this trend and comprises upcycled parts including a hoverboard and a table. Maker Isabelle Simova explains that she did not set out to build a robot of a particular size, but first asked herself a number of questions about what makes a useful robot. “I considered a couple of relevant scenarios like moving goods around a store, picking up items at home, or watering plants. For a robot to accomplish those tasks, at the very least it needs to run for a reasonable amount of time (at least a few hours) and be strong enough to carry a good amount of weight (10 kg or more).”

So, Hoverbot was born, a large robot that is equipped with sonar sensors for obstacle detection and is powerful and sturdy enough to transport heavy items. “Hoverbot is strong enough to carry me around,” says Isabelle, “though I wouldn’t recommend it to other people for safety reasons!” A web dashboard enables remote control of Hoverbot, including text to speech to make it talk Hoverbot: Recycle, repurpose, regenerate Taking around three months to build, Hoverbot is essentially an upcycled machine, a concept that was important to Isabelle. “When you repurpose consumer goods you are not only leveraging the economies of scale that make otherwise expensive items affordable, you are also leveraging and extending work that has already been done by someone else,” she says, adding that “upcycling can be a great forcing function for productivity as well. It can give you a concrete starting point in what is sometimes an intimidatingly large search space …. When you upcycle something you already have, you are putting something to use that might otherwise end up in a landfill.” Clearly a point that our consumer-driven societies need to take on board, and something that a lot of makers and hackers generally are already aware of. The Hoverbot in autonomous mode, using its sonar sensors to avoid obstacles Recycling a hoverboard A disassembled hoverboard met the requirements of the project, and at a fairly low cost. Isabelle met various challenges along the way, including reprogramming the motor controller, which required her to write firmware without any manufacturer documentation. “The process involved some trial and error and I accidentally let the magic smoke out of two hoverboard motor controllers.” Having…
Source: Hoverbot

Take screenshots on a Raspberry Pi

Take screenshots on a Raspberry Pi

When you’ve made an amazing project, it’s natural to want to share it with other folks (in the hope that they will follow in your footsteps). Capturing screenshots (images of the desktop display) is a vital component of putting together an effective tutorial. An image is worth a thousand words, and images of your software installation can certainly make it easier for others to understand what you’re doing. This article first appeared in The MagPi 73 and was written by Lucy Hattersley Some beginners opt for taking physical photographs of their display, but due to the screen refresh this rarely looks good. It’s better to use software to grab the digital screen on the computer and save it as an image file. It’s pretty easy too. You capture images on your Raspberry Pi using a built-in command-line program called Scrot. Alternatively, install a more advanced program called GNOME Screenshot (this is what we typically use). Once this software is installed, you can quickly capture your screen display. STEP-01 Using Scrot The easiest way to take a screenshot is using Scrot. This software comes with Raspbian so you don’t need to install anything. If your keyboard has a PrtSc (Print Screen) key, then simply tap it. Scrot will capture an image of the desktop and save it to your home folder. Click on File Manager in the taskbar and double-click the .png file that starts with the date. Using Scrot STEP-02 Scrot delay You can also use Scrot from the command line. Enter scrot there to capture the whole screen (including the Terminal window). If you want to capture the screen without the Terminal window, you can set a delay (then close the Terminal window). scrot -d 4 With the above command, Scrot will delay for four seconds before capturing the screen. Typically this is enough time to close down the Terminal window. Add a longer time if you want to arrange the display to include other items (such as menus). Scrot delay STEP-03 Install GNOME Screenshot Make sure your Raspberry Pi is connected to the internet. Click on Terminal in the taskbar to open a new Terminal window, and enter the following to update the software and install GNOME Screenshot: sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade sudo apt install gnome-screenshot Enter Y when prompted, to install the new software and upgrades. Install GNOME screenshot STEP-04 Screen capture GNOME Screenshot…
Source: Take screenshots on a Raspberry Pi

Space weather station

Space weather station

If you want to know what the weather is like, then some would suggest you look out of the window. But that only works if the weather you’re after is immediately outside. Should you want to know what’s happening elsewhere – in space, perhaps – then you’ll have to get a little more technical. Alex Schwarz has done just that, developing a real-time space weather station which he now runs on a Raspberry Pi 3. It makes use of two well-established amateur radio software packages called the MDSR and RF-Seismograph, as well as some serious hardware including a huge antenna that can be many metres in height. These allow for real-time spectrum analysis and long-term propagation monitoring by detecting particular noise changes that point to specific happenings. A diagram showing the different layers of Earth’s atmosphere detectable by the space weather station Listening to space weather To explain, propagation monitoring detects the behaviour of radio waves as they travel from one point to another in various parts of the atmosphere. As such, the idea is that the weather station is able to ‘listen in’ for changes in natural space phenomena such as the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field. This is then interpreted by the Pi and its installed software, allowing a graphical representation of the weather to be noted. By constantly monitoring the input, it’s possible to view patterns and match them to phenomena. So far, the space weather station has picked up on a build-up of energy in the troposphere; at least two hours before the storm hit, it was possible to view the extent of the lightning strikes. It has also detected propagation from meteorite trails. “Now we know how a meteorite looks on the RF-Seismograph and it will enable us to spot more, even during the day,” Alex says. It really is an impressive feat, especially considering Alex and his fellow amateur radio enthusiasts wrote the RF-Seismograph software themselves. “We believe it has great potential to increase the understanding of the ionosphere [the ionised part of Earth’s upper atmosphere] and how it protects life on this planet,” Alex tells us. “It was originally designed to measure the solar eclipse last year, but in the process we discovered the software is also perfect to measure and show how short-wave radio propagation changes over time.” This image shows the results of a thunderstorm as seen through the…
Source: Space weather station

Draw This

Draw This

We all know how cameras work. You line up your shot, fiddle with the focus, set the shutter speed, and – flash! – you get a perfect image of whatever is in front of you. With Dan Macnish’s camera, however, the process and results are a little different. Instead of outputting a faithful photograph, it attempts to turn what it sees into a cartoon doodle, instantly spitting it out on to thermal paper like a quirky Polaroid picture. This article first appeared in The MagPi 73 and was written by David Crookes To do this, it makes use of two key components: a neural network and the dataset produced by Google’s online game Quick, Draw! (quickdraw.withgoogle.com). The game is similar to Pictionary in that it suggests an object to sketch, with the twist being that it then uses AI to predict what you’re attempting to scribble. The result has been more than 50 million doodles, and Dan’s device seeks to match one of them with whatever the neural network reckons has just been snapped. It’s all rather eye-catching. “I got the idea while experimenting with some of the amazing open source research into neural networks,” Dan tells us. “There are some great projects coming out of this research, but many of them are focused on neural networks themselves, rather than simple applications for these networks. So my project originated as a super-fun, simple application for this research, to be enjoyed by all sorts of different people – not just engineers and developers.” Some results are stranger than others. Dan’s food in a Japanese cafe was turned into an American hotdog, while some selfies have replaced humans with dogs Cartoon camera As such, Dan was keen to keep things simple, fun, and whimsical, and he soon got down to work. He began with some basic sketches and ideas focusing mainly on what the user experience would be. “Through these initial sketches, I set on the idea of a Polaroid camera that draws cartoons, without ever showing the original image,” he says. “I particularly focused on the emotions and feelings that people might have: their surprise when seeing a cartoon and the excitement of not knowing what it would look like.” At the same time, he began prototyping the software using Python and Jupyter Notebook on his laptop. He ran a pre-trained network over a few photographs before manually browsing the Quick,…
Source: Draw This