SpaceHack

SpaceHack

What other fast-paced, Pi-based console game lets you shout “Set multitronic filter to magenta alert!” to the general puzzlement of passers-by? York Hackspace have been drawing a lot of attention at maker events over the past year or so, fulfilling their aim of creating something memorable for visitors to their stand. The full article can be found in The MagPi 38 and was written by Richard Smedley It was Bob Stone who suggested a physical version of Henry Smith’s Spaceteam, a ‘cooperative shouting game for phones and tablets’, but given the definitive Hackspace twist with its retro-futuristic spaceship looks, and homebrew hardware and software, “it would sort of advertise itself within the room, as yelling nonsense with a sense of urgency and panic tends to draw attention in crowds.” Families are naturally drawn to what’s best described as ‘a game of collaborative shouting’ Disaster simulator “Welcome aboard the USS Guppy, recently refurbished to the very highest standards of modern space-worthiness by some new lowest-bidding contractors we found on the net. We’re proud that this venerable old boat, a veteran of many a heroic space battle, has once again been declared officially ‘Good enough for Government work.’ ” The hints are all there before you start your “routine pass out by an asteroid belt orbiting an unstable Red Giant star near the edge of the Forbidden Zone, to investigate some unusual radiation signatures.” SpaceHack’s control panels have been reconfigured, and as things begin to go wrong on the space mission, emergency instructions issued by the ship’s computer – showing on the console’s LCD – don’t seem to apply to that console’s switches, dials, and buttons. The only way to avert disaster is to shout out the instructions so that fellow space cadets at one of the other three consoles can search for the right switch to flip, dial to turn, or button to push. SpaceHack’s retro-futuristic look seemed a natural fit in the MakeFest setting In a Jam How long can disaster be staved off? There’s no shortage of volunteers to find out, whenever the York team brings SpaceHack to an event. If you follow the maker events online, you’ll have seen the favourable comments. Spotting a couple of familiar faces playing SpaceHack at the MOSI MakeFest, we asked them what they’d thought of the experience. “I thought playing it was great fun and highly engaging. The intentionally confusing instructions add…
Source: SpaceHack

Magic Presentations with Skywriter

Magic Presentations with Skywriter

Let’s face it: simply using a Raspberry Pi to run the slides for your talk will make the audience think you’re pretty cool. But if that’s not impressive enough, why not dazzle them further by using your telekinetic powers to flip through the presentation and annotate the slides by drawing in the air? You don’t even need to be a graduate of Hogwarts or the Jedi Academy: just get yourself a Skywriter device and some simple Python, and you’re ready to rock. The Skywriter device uses a grid of transmitting electrodes to generate an electric field that propagates around the surface in three dimensions. When you move your hand above the Skywriter, it disturbs this field and these variations are detected by the receiver electrode grid. These measurements can be used to calculate the position and movement direction of your hand. This tutorial can be found in The MagPi 39 and was written by Richard Hayler You’ll need… Skywriter HAT or board Skywriter API library Python AutoPy library LibreOffice Impress STEP-01 Connect the Skywriter device If you have a Skywriter HAT, this just connects onto the GPIO pins like other HATs. If you have the larger Skywriter board, you’ll need to connect six GPIO pins to the matching pins at the top, as shown below. Pay attention to the wiring diagram! STEP-02 Install the software Make sure you have the latest version of Raspbian, with all updates installed. As usual, those helpful Pimoroni Pirates supply a single script to handle the installation, including the full Python API. Like most HATs, the Skywriter needs the I2C bus on the Pi to be enabled, so if you haven’t already got this activated on your Pi, you’ll need to reboot before the Skywriter will work.$ curl -sSL get.pimoroni.com/skywriter | bashYou’ll also need the AutoPy Python library and its dependencies, so install these with:$ sudo apt-get install libx11-dev libxtst-dev…and then:$ sudo pip install autopy STEP-03 Test your Skywriter The Python API has example scripts to help you become familiar with the way Skywriter works:$ cd Pimoroni/skywriter $ sudo python test.pyNow wave your hand around in the air just above your Skywriter. You should see three columns of scrolling numbers corresponding to your hand’s position in a three-axis (x/y/z) box over the device. The Python library is preconfigured to recognise certain gestures: a flick (swiping over the Skywriter), a tap or touch (bring your hand…
Source: Magic Presentations with Skywriter

Naturebytes Wildlife Cam Kit out now

Naturebytes Wildlife Cam Kit out now

Timelapse and motion-activated photography are mainstays of the Raspberry Pi. It’s a great, easy thing to set up that shows some basic programming while also giving instant results that allow for someone to have the confidence to go away and let it run in the long term. Anything more complicated takes a lot of extra work and making that can be a bit tricky though, especially when you want better quality photos and some degree of weather-proofing. The kit is easy and fun to assemble Naturebytes has your back. Recently Kickstarterd, the wildlife camera kit is designed to let you explore and experience nature and wildlife. It allows for motion-sensitive photography and video with hi-fidelity, and the kit not only comes in a way that’s fun and easy to assemble, there’s also educational content to help teach people of all skill levels how to code and take photos. You can get Naturebytes now from their website. Maybe it would be a good stocking filler this Christmas? The post Naturebytes Wildlife Cam Kit out now appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: Naturebytes Wildlife Cam Kit out now

Build a robot with CamJam EduKit 3

Build a robot with CamJam EduKit 3

Robotics are getting easier and easier with the Raspberry Pi – the little robot we built for issue 38 couldn’t have been done without these advancements and even since then we’ve seen new tools such as GPIO Zero which will make the job much easier. It’s for reason’s like that which resulted in the CamJam beginning a new annual tradition of Raspberry Pi robot wars, or Pi Wars, and have decided to make their latest EduKit themed around robots. You get a fair amount of components in the tiny box The kit, CamJam EduKit 3, is on sale nowfor the low price of £17 and gives you everything you need to make a robot with a Raspberry Pi. You’ll have to supply your own Raspberry Pi though, and either get your own chassis or use the cardboard box it comes in. In the box you get: A custom-designed, pre-soldered motor controller board (with screw terminals) designed by Gareth from 4tronix Two DC motors (with wires pre-soldered) Two custom red wheels A ball castor (used as the ‘third wheel’ to your robot) A small breadboard (to create your circuits) Two pieces of strong 3M padded double-sided tape A battery box for 4 AA batteries (batteries not included) An ultrasonic distance sensor (for detecting objects in front of your robot) A line follower sensor (for detecting and following black lines) Resistors and jumper cables with which to complete your circuits You can grab the EduKit from The Pi Hut right now, and Pi Wars 2 will be at CamJam on 5 December. The post Build a robot with CamJam EduKit 3 appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: Build a robot with CamJam EduKit 3

Pi-topCEED, a $99 desktop from the makers of pi-top

Pi-topCEED, a desktop from the makers of pi-top

We’ve actually just had one of the brand spanking new pi-tops in at MagPi towers. It was pretty fun to build and frankly we really liked it as a product. This crowdfunded laptop kit could be a great little backup laptop or educational tool and you can read our full review in the next issue of The MagPi to find out where it might sit with you. However, if you’d been waiting for a desktop version of the pi-top though at an even more affordable price, the team have a proposition for you… A beautiful design Introducing the pi-topCEED, a $99 desktop variant of the pi-top with all the same great tools and educational software that’s in the pi-top. It’s still powered by Raspberry Pi, but now it’s permanently tethered to a power cable. It’s already just about hit its target, but you can help them make sure it’s really good by getting one of your own. You buy one, fund it and find out more information by visiting their indiegogo page. They even have a bundle where you can use your own Raspberry Pi, driving the price down even further. Give it a look! The post Pi-topCEED, a $99 desktop from the makers of pi-top appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: Pi-topCEED, a desktop from the makers of pi-top

Adafruit Gemma Wearable Starter Pack review

Adafruit Gemma Wearable Starter Pack review

With wearable computing proving to be a burgeoning business, it’s no surprise to find companies helping makers to get started in the field. The majority of the resulting kits are based around conductive thread which can be sewn into fabric to link components electrically. It’s easy, then, to see the LEDs and conductive thread bobbin included in Adafruit’s Gemma Starter Pack and dismiss it as just another me-too product. Doing so, though, ignores the titular star of the show: the Gemma itself. The full review can be found in The MagPi 38 Designed and built in collaboration with the Arduino company, the Gemma is a smart break-out board for the ultra-compact ATtiny85 microcontroller from Atmel. A cut-down version of the ATmega chips which power the full-size Arduino boards, ATtiny microcontrollers are a great choice when low power draw and a small footprint are more important than the number of pins you can access. This makes them an obvious choice for wearable projects. The kit comes with a lot of different parts to use The two biggest hurdles to using an ATtiny with conductive thread – the need for special programming equipment and its package type – are solved by the Gemma. The chip is placed on a tiny 28mm diameter disc which features connectors for three programmable I/O pins, a 3.3V supply and ground, and a voltage input. A JST connector allows batteries to be easily connected, while a USB connector coupled with a specially written bootloader means the Gemma can be programmed from any PC using the standard Arduino IDE and the bundled cable. The Gemma is the star, but there are plenty of other parts to the starter kit. A bundle of colourful crocodile leads makes it easy to prototype your design before sewing it down with the conductive thread, needles for which are also provided. There are four of Adafruit’s famous programmable RGB NeoPixel LEDs, in wearable-friendly Flora guise, and a battery holder for the bundled CR2032 batteries with integrated power switch. The thread itself is of great quality with a generous 23-metre length provided. A thin, two-ply formulation made from stainless steel, it’s easier to work with than the thicker thread used in the rival Kitronik Electro Fashion range, but comes with a warning that it is ill-suited for projects in which your components will draw more than around 50mA. A three-ply alternative is available separately,…
Source: Adafruit Gemma Wearable Starter Pack review

Laser Dog Watcher

Laser Dog Watcher

When Dave Young, the owner of Young Circuit Designs, was training his dog Penny, he hit upon an idea. Why not turn a Raspberry Pi into a dog monitor that could issue voice commands when he’s not around? “My dog Penny is a delightful girl,” says Dave. “We got her from the Denver Dumb Friends League [a local dog rescue] a few years ago. My wife and I were just going in to take a look. When I saw Penny, I knew she was my dog. We walked out with her that afternoon.” Penny is a very clever dog. “She’s smart as a whip,” explains Dave, “and is quite good at playing people like a fiddle. She uses her very slightly lazy eye to make the saddest face in the world. Especially when food is involved. She’s food crazy.” It took a long time to train Penny not to jump up on the counter and eat Dave’s food. “I didn’t want to use a shock collar,” he says, “and I toyed with using some very high-pitched noise as a deterrent, but settled on an array of recordings of me reprimanding her.” The parts of a laser trip wire The voice commands worked, but only when Dave was around to issue them. That’s when he hit upon the idea of using his Raspberry Pi to monitor Penny and issue spoken commands when he’s not around. The Laser Dog Watcher has a laser beam similar to security systems (650nm, 6mm, 3V, 5mW Mini Dot Diode). “It sends a laser out to a mirror and measures if it makes it back to a sensor. If the sensor can’t see the laser, there is a circuit that tells the Raspberry Pi that the laser beam has been broken. The Pi then takes a photo of the area near the sensor and plays an audio file of my voice saying one of a few things that I use to reprimand her. “I recessed a photoresistor [Excelitas Tech VT935G] into the box to block out ambient light and put the system on one side of the counter, and a mirror on the other side. I aim the laser to go from the system, bounce off the mirror, and then come back to the sensor. When the laser is blocked, the photoresistor sees less light [and] changes its output voltage, which is fed into a digital input pin…
Source: Laser Dog Watcher

Playing it by ear with Piano HAT

Playing it by ear with Piano HAT

Relative pitch is the ability to identify a given musical note by comparing it to a reference note. Unlike perfect pitch, relative pitch can be improved with training. The Piano HAT is a versatile piece of hardware that we can use to create a fun game that tests people’s skill in recognising different notes. It was inspired by Zachary Igielman’s legendary PiPiano and it turns your Pi into a functional musical keyboard. Each of the 16 capacitive keys also has an LED so you can create you own ‘learn to play’ tutorials or just give your performances a visual appeal. You’ll need A Piano HAT The Piano-HAT library Headphones or an external speaker STEP-01 Getting started with Piano HAT Like most HATs, this one is straightforward to use. Simply plug it carefully onto the GPIO pins of your Pi. Then install the Piano-HAT Python library. This requires the I2C bus on the Pi to be enabled, and there are plenty of instructions for this online. But to make life super-easy, those Pirates at Pimoroni provide a handy script that takes care of everything:$ curl -sSL get.pimoroni.com/pianohat | bashSTEP-02 Wired for sound There are two options for getting audio output from a Pi. If you are using a HDMI monitor or a TV that has built-in speakers, the audio can be played over the HDMI cable. If not, you can switch to use headphones or a speaker plugged into the headphone jack. The Pi will normally auto-detect the available outputs, but sometimes it gets this wrong. To force audio to use a specific output, you can use this command:$ amixer cset numid=3 2The second number determines the output: HDMI = 2, jack = 1, auto = 0. STEP-03 Play it again The Piano-HAT library has a nice collection of demonstration Python scripts. A good one to start with lets you use the Piano HAT as… a piano!$ sudo python Pimoroni/pianohat/simple-piano.pyIf you press the Instrument key, you’ll notice that the sounds change from pianos to percussion. The Piano-HAT library itself does not map any of the keys to a particular sound; that is all done using Python. The sounds themselves are WAV files, which are played using the Pygame library. Let’s map our own sound to one of the Piano HAT’s keys. Find a short WAV file online (or create your own using Sonic Pi) and save it as mysound.wav. Then type in the…
Source: Playing it by ear with Piano HAT

Media Pi Plus review

Media Pi Plus review

We all know at least one person who just has a Raspberry Pi for a media centre, running their TV on Kodi or even an ancient version of XBMC that does the job. One of the things that has been lacking from this equation for the longest time is a suitable case for a Pi hooked up to your television – a case that can slip in unnoticed under your TV, next to a Sky+ box and that Wii you haven’t touched in years. The full review can be found in The MagPi 39 While the Media Pi Plus isn’t the first one, or even the first Media Pi product, they’re rare enough to highlight and discuss. In the Media Pi Plus’s case, it’s a re-release to fit the form factor of the Raspberry Pi B+ and the Pi 2. In aesthetic terms, it absolutely looks like something you’d put under your TV, specifically something like a Freeview box: it’s unassuming, black, and with very little branding. There is some construction required with the case, as a Raspberry Pi is not included. Popping the case open, you can see exactly how it works: it extends out and relocates a number of the Raspberry Pi’s ports throughout a largely empty box. While this may seem slightly redundant, it does provide extra power to the USB ports, allowing for hubs to be connected. You can also connect an IR receiver directly to the GPIO ports, which works well with the media remote included, even if you have the ability to turn the Pi off but not on again with it. From the rear you have access to re-arranged Pi-ports It’s really designed to be used with Kodi, which is why our version came with OpenELEC on a pre-formatted SD card, although other Kodi versions and offshoots (we’re looking at you, OSMC) will work just fine. You may need to tweak some of the remote settings, but it will be fine nonetheless. The best thing about the Media Pi Plus is that it’s very cheap. Even if you factor in a Pi 2, it’s just south of £70 for the whole thing, which is pretty great value for a media centre that will reliably serve you 1080p for a long time to come. Construction is a bit tricky and the case can feel a little flimsy, though if you aren’t planning on flinging…
Source: Media Pi Plus review

Pi Spark supercomputer cluster

Pi Spark supercomputer cluster

The Raspberry Pi is great for learning computer science, but there’s one area that’s big news but requires big computers, and that’s ‘big data’. Big data software typically runs on clusters of networked computers, working together to perform the heavy lifting required. This clustered nature makes learning big data tricky, because you need several computers wired together to practise. Sung-Taek Kim, a software engineer from Korea, decided that the Raspberry Pi would be perfectly suited to the task. “Raspberry Pi is a great education platform to learn how big data software works,” he tells us. “It is [comparatively] slow and low-powered, [so] that you would have hands-on experiences when your data manipulation methods execute as planned.” Six Raspberry Pi’s make up the SparkPi In fact, the light performance of the Raspberry Pi becomes an advantage when learning big data techniques. “Once you miss a small detail,” explains Sung-Taek, “you feel the operation processes slow down.” “Sending data across [a] network takes time,” he adds. “All the CPUs in your cluster compete for resources such as memory or disk [space], and a node or two could suddenly refuse to work, just like [in] a Google-class data centre cluster.” He explains that the relative slowness of a Pi cluster is actually an advantage, enabling you to prepare for such events. Sung-Taek’s cluster is based around six Raspberry Pi 2 boards wired together with Ethernet cables via a D-Link 8-port Gigabit Desktop Switch. “Theoretically, you would only need one Raspberry Pi,” says Sung-Taek, “since Spark exploits the [nature] of a master-slave scheme. Prepare a Raspberry Pi as a slave and your laptop as a master. Connect two Raspberry Pi devices and you have a Spark cluster.” Sung-Taek suggests using between three to eight Raspberry Pi boards for the project. “Once you have more than ten Raspberry Pis,” he says, “it’s a headache to find a proper power source, to arrange the network and power cord.” The cluster is made using a custom casing found on the GitHub The hardest part seems to be building the enclosure. Sung-Taek hosts schematics on GitHub, but accuracy is vital. Even a half millimetre offset in the cutting template could render one of the acrylic tiers useless, he warns. Aside from the Raspberry Pi units, the project isn’t expensive. The power supply, network switch, cables, screws, and enclosure only came to around $60. A complete list of materials is available…
Source: Pi Spark supercomputer cluster