WebKiosk 7 for Raspberry Pi released
Signage and kiosk OS specialist Binary Emotions has released Raspberry WebKiosk 7, completing the migration of its bespoke digital signage and kiosk operating systems to Raspbian Stretch. According to Binary Emotions’ Marco Buratto, “Raspberry WebKiosk is designed for the cheapest possible web kiosks and multi-user web workstations,” making the OS ideal for computer terminals in cafes, waiting areas, libraries, and other public spaces. WebKiosk 7 for Raspberry Pi Marco adds: “Raspberry WebKiosk is a browser-only … hacker-proof operating system [which uses Chromium and] supports printing. System parameters are set by a user-friendly web interface”. Raspberry WebKiosk is the last of Binary Emotions’ offerings to be updated to Raspbian Stretch, with the Raspberry Digital Signage and Raspberry Slideshow OSes already updated. While Raspbian Digital Signage is intended for a permanent, internet-enabled digital sign or display, Raspberry Slideshow is “focused on quick-to-set-up image and video slideshows” running image and videos from a USB drive. You can download these OSes for free from binaryemotions.com. The post WebKiosk 7 for Raspberry Pi released appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
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Raspberry Pi not affected by Spectre or Meltdown bugs
By now you’ve likely heard of the latest big exploit that is making the news that effects the actual CPU in most PCs built since the late nineties. It’s very wide-ranging, and scary, but at the very least we can confirm to you that the Raspberry Pi is immune to the exploit according to its co-creator Eben Upton. Here you go: We do not believe any generation of Raspberry Pi hardware is susceptible to either the Spectre or Meltdown vulnerabilities. — Eben Upton (@EbenUpton) January 4, 2018 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Very basically, the Meltdown and Spectre exploit takes advantage of the way some processors try and guess what your next calculation will be to then read the memory in your system. This can contain personal and private data, including passwords, and is relatively easy to pull off. It’s a bit tricky to explain as it involves some seriously niche, low-level computing stuff that the vast majority of people would never have to come across – however unfortunately, that does not make it any less dangerous. Eben goes into it in detail on the Raspberry Pi blog post about it. So while your PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone may be compromised by it, you can stay safe in the knowledge that the Raspberry Pi is not affected. A small comfort for now while patches are rolled out but at least you now know which computer in your house is the most secure for online banking. Further reading If you are thinking about temporarily switching to the Raspberry Pi as a more secure desktop, we did recently have a feature where we tasked features editor Rob to use a Raspberry Pi as his desktop PC for a week. There’s some great tips in there that should help you set up your Pi as a desktop! The post Raspberry Pi not affected by Spectre or Meltdown bugs appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
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Bixels: the biocomputing display
Irish bio-tech firm Cell-Free Technology has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a “world-first demonstration of a DNA programmed bio-computer that can play Tetris”. Bixels is an 8×8 grid of ‘bio‑pixels’ that can be controlled from a smartphone. As you can electronically control which Bixels are lit, the Bixels act just like the pixels in your screen. The DNA is synthetically replicated from the same DNA that allows a jellyfish to glow green – no jellyfish are harmed to make Bixels. Cell-Free Technology CEO Dr Thomas Meany tells us, “Bixels is a hugely valuable resource for anyone who needs a low-cost way to study fluorescent proteins in a lab, but our real target is STEAM educators.” As Thomas points out, Bixels “incorporates almost every aspect of a STEAM curriculum in a single workshop.” As you control which Bixels are lit at any given time, you can play Tetris on a biocomputer! Mix actual DNA with a special ‘cell-free’ liquid in each test tube to create a light-emitting protein. Bixels: DNA for the masses Bixels places an 8×8 grid of small test tubes (called PCR tubes) onto an 8×8 grid of RGB NeoPixels (controlled by an Adafruit Bluefruit Feather). By mixing the liquid in the two coloured vials of the kit in each PCR tube, you create a mixture that emits green when the NeoPixel beneath shines blue. Or, as Thomas explains (very patiently), “The blue vial contains cell-free extract which has the nano-machinery (ribosomes, RNA polymerase, and transcription factors) that, when the DNA is added, can be programmed to produce a protein (in our case fluorescent protein)”. A coloured filter within the Bixels housing ensures only the light emitted by the protein is seen. Bixels is safe to play with and use because of the unique ‘cell-free’ technology developed by Cell-Free Technology. The ‘bacteriophage infection’ used breaks down cell walls without harming the contents, leaving you with a liquid that can be biologically programmed “without the fear of a bacteria or other organism [forming],” confirms Thomas. Bixels has a target of €9267 (£8166), with a basic Bixel Solo kit only costing €90 (£79). The post Bixels: the biocomputing display appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
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Setting up LED lights is a common starter project, so much so that we frequently feature it in our beginner’s guides. Just set up an LED and use a bit of code to turn a light on and off. It’s common for educators to turn to traffic lights as inspiration for a quick follow-on project: LEDs are readily available in red, yellow (amber) and green. Students can see the relationship between the code they create and physical objects being controlled in the real world. This article was written by Lucy Hattersley and appears in The MagPi #65. Setting up traffic lights is a hassle, though. You need at least three LEDs for each light, plus a button if you’re creating a pelican crossing. Setting up more than one set of lights quickly becomes a tangled bird’s nest of wires, resistors, buttons, and LEDs. The PiTraffic HAT solves this by placing four traffic light sticks on top of the board. It also features a button to one side, and a piezo buzzer in the middle of the traffic lights (so your pelican crossing can beep, just like in the real world). Setup is simple. Just plug the four traffic light sticks into the four sets of pins on top, and connect the PiTraffic HAT to the GPIO pins on any Raspberry Pi that has a 40-pin header. Then you should download test code from GitHub, which can be done with: git clone https://github.com/sbcshop/PiTraffic After importing the PiTraffic code, you create instances of Traffic objects for each light, such as SouthRed = Traffic(“SOUTH”, “RED”). Once created, these are controlled using on() and off() methods, such as SouthRed.on() and SouthRed.off(). The only thing missing for us was Scratch support, which SB Components inform us is coming soon. The inclusion of Scratch will make this a compelling starter project for students. In the meantime we enjoyed using the Python API to code our lights. Last word 4/5 A great starter HAT that takes much of the tangle out of a classic project. Students can test out traffic light code and see their results running in a miniature recreation. The post PiTraffic review appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
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Build a bell ringing simulator
Once, when writing a Raspberry Pi book, your author used a section heading of ‘Ringing the changes’, to signify that the section was going to look at variations on what went before. He was astonished when his American editor had no idea what that term meant. In fact, the question ‘what is the term for a bell ringer?’, if asked on the popular TV quiz QI, would provoke the klaxon if you gave the answer ‘campanologist’, as that is what the study of bells is called. The correct answer would be ‘bell ringer’. Bell ringing has a lot more to do with mathematics than you might first think and, despite its ancient origin, it is an ideal topic to computerise. This feature was written by Mike Cook and first appeared in The MagPi 65. Click here to download a free digital PDF edition of the magazine. Ways of bell ringing While there are many different methods of ringing a set of bells, the two basic ones are change ringing and method ringing. In short, all the bells are rung in turn; this is known as a round. With change ringing, two of the bells in a round swap places for the next round. These bells must be adjacent in the current sequence, because of the very high mass of the bells which results in a limited ability to delay or advance the ringing position in a sequence. Method ringing is similar, but more than one pair of bells can change between any one round. In both systems they start and end with a round going from the highest bell, called the Treble, to the lowest, the Tenor. The bells are numbered, starting with 1 for the Treble. Note that this is the reverse of many systems in music, where the lowest number is reserved for the lowest note. Normally, there are anything between four and twelve bells, with eight being popular. If tuned, they are usually in the key of C. There are many hundreds of different methods, but the basic rule is that the round starts with the sequence 1 to the highest bell number and ends on that sequence as well, but no other sequence is permitted to repeat. Ideally, all possible sequences must be used; this is called an ‘extent’. But, for twelve bells there will be 12! (12×11×10×9×8×7×6×5×4×3×2×1) combinations, and that would take over 35 years…
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FullpHAT: Attach two pHATs to one Raspberry Pi
RasP.iO’s latest HAT allows you to attach two Zero-sized pHATs to a single Pi. The FullpHAT also exposes all the unused headers and connectors to give you maximum flexibility with your build. Alex Eames, of RasPi.TV and RasPiO, tells us: “I tend to design and make something that I want to use,” explaining that he wanted to crowdfund the FullpHAT to “assess the demand”. There have been over 400 orders of the FullpHAT, twice the initial target. Connect two HATS to one Raspberry Pi with FullpHAT Alex suggests a few uses for the FullpHAT: a RasPiO InsPiRing and a Pimoroni Inky pHAT “go well together … With an Analog Zero and DAC Zero, you can play music or sounds while reading sensors.” As you have all the pins broken out, it’s easy to add extra components to your build. As with any HAT stack, you must avoid potential conflicts, “but on Gadgetoid’s pinout.xyz you can check to see which pins/ports most pHATs use” – great tip, Alex! The FullpHAT costs only £8, you can get one on the RasPiO website. The post FullpHAT: Attach two pHATs to one Raspberry Pi appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
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Set up PiServer
Debian with Raspberry Pi Desktop is an operating system built by the folks at Raspberry Pi, and it has just been upgraded to the Debian Stretch edition. It’s a great way to experiment with the clever Raspberry Pi environment, including all its specialist coding and resource tools, on old hardware. However, this new update brings a really handy new tool called PiServer. Developed by the Raspberry Pi team, this piece of software enables you to boot Raspberry Pi devices from a Mac or PC running Debian with Raspberry Pi Desktop. The idea is to use an old PC or Mac computer to boot multiple Raspberry Pi devices without requiring a microSD card for each Raspberry Pi 3 (only Raspberry Pi 3 boards support network boot at the moment). PiServer is perfect for classrooms and coding groups. Users can log in to their account from any Raspberry Pi on the network, and access their saved files and programs. And you don’t need microSD cards for your Raspberry Pi. You’ll need Raspberry Pi 3 PC or Mac Debian with Raspberry Pi Desktop Raspbian STEP-01 Update to Stretch You’ll need to install Debian with Raspberry Pi Desktop on an old Mac or PC desktop or laptop. If you haven’t already installed the Raspberry Pi operating system on a Mac or PC, there’s a guide to help you. If you’ve installed it previously, you’ll need to upgrade to Stretch, so open a Terminal window and enter:sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/raspi.listIn both files, change every occurrence of the word ‘jessie’ to ‘stretch’. When that’s done, enter the following commands:sudo apt-get update sudo dpkg –force-depends -r libwebkitgtk-3.0-common sudo apt-get -f install sudo apt-get dist-upgrade sudo apt-get install python3-thonny sudo apt-get install sonic-pi=2.10.0~repack-rpt1+2 sudo apt-get install piserver sudo apt-get install usbbootguiStep 1: Update to Stretch STEP-02 Set up network boot Now you need to set up network boot on each Raspberry Pi 3 you intend to use. For this, you’ll need a microSD card with a fresh installation of Raspbian. You only need the microSD card to enable network boot. Boot the Raspberry Pi and enter the following:sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade sudo nano /boot/config.txtAdd this line to the end of the file:program_usb_boot_mode=1Save and quit (CTRL+O; CTRL+X) and reboot your Raspberry Pi.sudo shutdown -r nowCheck it with:vcgencmd otp_dump | grep 17:Ensure the output says ‘17:3020000a’. The client configuration is almost done. The final thing…
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Get started with your new Raspberry Pi
Creating amazing projects is easy with a Raspberry Pi, but first you need to plug it in and set up Raspbian, the default operating system. This guide will get you up and running in no time. The Raspberry Pi is a wonderful microcomputer that brims with potential. With a Raspberry Pi you can build robots, learn to code, and create all kinds of weird and wonderful projects. Hackers and enthusiasts have turned Raspberry Pi boards into fully automated weather stations, internet-connected beehives, motorised skateboards, and much more. The only limit is your imagination. But first, you need to start at the beginning. Upon picking up your Raspberry Pi for the first time, you’re faced with a small green board of chips and sockets and may have no idea what to do with it. Before you can start building the project of your dreams, you’ll need to get the basics sorted: keyboard, mouse, display, and operating system. Creating projects with a Raspberry Pi is fun once you’ve mastered the basics. So in this guide, we’re going to take you from newbie zero to Raspberry Pi hero. Grab your Raspberry Pi and let’s get started. See also: Raspberry Pi for Newbies in The MagPi #65 The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Book Get to know the Raspberry Pi 3 The Raspberry Pi 3 is the latest model, and the version with the most features. It’s the fastest board, and has the most connections (four USB sockets, Ethernet and wireless networking, and so on). Featuring the latest 1.2GHz quad-core ARM CPU (central processing unit), the Raspberry Pi 3 is faster than many smartphones, and powerful enough to be used as a desktop computer. It looks like this: Get to know the Raspberry Pi Zero W Ultra-low-cost, super-tiny, and incredibly powerful, the Pi Zero W is the tiniest Raspberry Pi computer The Pi Zero is an ultra-low-cost and incredibly small microcomputer packed onto a single board. It’s roughly a third the size of the Raspberry Pi 3, and has a tiny price tag ($10/£10) to match. For all that, the Pi Zero W is packed with enough power to handle demanding computer projects. The Pi Zero W looks like this Despite its diminutive stature, the Pi Zero W is no toy. The Pi Zero W is a fully fledged microcomputer with a 1GHz ARM CPU and 512MB RAM. It packs enough technology to run the full version…
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Raspberry sweets reviewed: group test Christmas sweets
It’s Christmas, and the team at MagPi Towers are benchmarking a lucky-dip mix of Raspberry-flavoured sweets. This feature first appeared in The MagPi 52. First up had to be Nerds. A hit of pure sugar, followed by a fresh minty afterglow with a mild taste. It’s often said that a camel is a horse designed by committee. We’d love to meet the camel responsible for naming Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape Sour Blue Raspberry. It looks like blue sellotape and tastes of absolutely nothing. We had fun blowing blue bubbles with it though. According to MentalFloss, sweet-makers of yore used a dark red dye called Amaranth E123 until the 1970s. But a Soviet study linked it to cancer and it was banned. They had lots of spare blue dye lying around and decided to use it for Raspberry sweets. Raspberry flavoured sweets reviewed AirHeads Chew has the scrummy tagline: “Artificially Flavoured Candy.” We check out the Nutritional Facts: 1% fat, 0% sodium, 5% carbs and 0% protein. Inside, the AirHeads Chew is a brighter shade of neon blue than its metallic wrapper. It’s tough and chewy. We suspiciously think it might be 96% blue dye. Bleugh! To get rid of the taste we crack open a can of Berry Fanta. Also blue. It contains 43g of sugar. In the interests of science we measure out 43 grams of granulated sugar on some scales. Quite sobering. Tastes nice though. Our high hopes for Swizzle’s Sherbert Dip Tangy Raspberry didn’t go unrewarded. The pink stick says “Luv U” and “Hug Me”, a welcome change from the 90’s ‘Xtreme’ styling of other sweets. We dip and dab the old-fashioned way. Pure sugar with a tangy edge. In contrast, The Blue Razz Jawbreaker is the worst thing our reviewer has ever tasted. And she’s drunk fermented horse milk in France and eaten grits from a shack in Alabama that had “we got good eats” painted on the side. We’re guessing kids gamble on who can mouth one the longest. We saved the Barnett’s Mega Sours for last, as Mr Humbug had warned us about them. They’re sour, but not as bad as the Blue Razz Jawbreaker. We gamely give it a go for thirty seconds before getting heartburn and a headache. See you next year. The Last Word: Raspberry Sweets Sherbert Dip is a sweet treat that takes us back to a childhood where dabbing…
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We get to see a lot of Pi-powered robots, but rarely (if ever) one crammed with quite so many features as Mambot. The creation of software developer Ahmed Al-Faris, it features a manipulator arm, five control methods (including autonomous), video streaming, Alexa voice interaction, obstacle avoidance system, and the ability to read text. Not only that, it is even integrated with the eAccounting ERP system at Ahmed’s employer, Visma Software International, enabling it to scan and handle orders. It has certainly come a long way since Ahmed’s original aim: “At the beginning, I just wanted to turn two wheels using the Pi.” He reveals that the Mambot hardware is constructed primarily from the OWI-535 robot arm and OWI All Terrain Robot kit. “Both have been disassembled, reconfigured, and customised heavily. Trying to fit everything together was tricky. A lot of hacks were involved using bits and pieces.” Ahmed has been working on Mambot for around a year, using the little free time he has. “There were many moments of desperation, where I wanted to abandon the whole build,” he admits. “Perseverance was the key to continue.” After experimenting with a robot arm on a two-wheeled chassis, Ahmed opted to use the caterpillar-tracked base from an OWI ATR kit Pi programming Mambot’s software is written primarily in Python. “I used Python before now and then to automate tasks around the house,” says Ahmed, “but this is my first major Python project.” Other programming work included the creation of an Android app (in Java) which, as well as offering remote control of the robot and arm, acts as a hub for accessing all Mambot’s features. “I started by adding gamepad control first. Then I thought, why not write an app for it?, so I did. The voice control was particularly challenging. I use Snowboy hotword to issue voice commands. It works great in a quiet environment.” Everything is handled by a Raspberry Pi 3. “As I kept on adding features, I quickly realised that running everything on a single Pi could be problematic. Enter multithreading.” After running the main Bluetooth routine on the Pi to accept a connection from the Android app, and start video streaming and the web app server, you can easily switch on/off the features you want. “Each feature runs on its own thread. The Pi handles this nicely. For example, you can control Mambot from the app while…