LED SHIM review

LED SHIM review

After upping the pixel count on its Unicorn HAT and Scroll pHAT, Pimoroni has done a similar trick for its Blinkt! LED strip, but this time it comes in super-slim SHIM form. Packing 28 tiny RGB pixels – about half the size of the Pi’s own status LEDs – the LED SHIM simply slips onto the GPIO pins with no soldering required. The ‘friction fit’ keeps it in place, even when turned upside down. While it worked fine on most Pi boards we tried, we did have an issue with a poor pin connection on one Pi that resulted in an I/O error. A bit of jiggling usually fixes the issue but if not, there’s always the option of soldering the SHIM to the GPIO or adding a female header. This article first appeared in The MagPi 73 and was written by Phil King At a mere 0.8 mm thick, the SHIM leaves plenty of room on top to add a HAT or pHAT. And since it only uses two I2C pins, there should be no pin conflict issues. The LED strip protrudes from the edge so it’s still perfectly visible with another board on top; the only downside is that you might have trouble fitting the Pi in a case. Bright and beautiful Arranged in a single row, and driven by the same LED matrix chip used on the Scroll pHAT HD, the 28 LED pixels are tiny but bright. A one-line installer command adds the software library and a host of examples. The latter demonstrate numerous possible use-cases – such as a VU meter, Twitter status, and data display – as well as some impressive animated effects. There are also some examples of using the SHIM with other boards such as the Enviro pHAT – for which there’s a colour-coded direction meter and a spirit level. Coding it is similar to on the Blinkt!, using a ‘set’ function to select a pixel’s RGB shade, then a ‘show’ function to light it. So it’s simple to start creating your own lighting effects. Last word 4/5 Ideal for a status display, or some cool lighting effects on the edge of your Pi, this super-slim SHIM has numerous possible uses and can work with add-on boards on top. The post LED SHIM review appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: LED SHIM review

Self-playing pipe organ

Self-playing pipe organ

Experienced woodworker Wendell Kapustiak needed all his carpentry skills to create this impressive self-playing pipe organ. “The most fundamental [problem] was that I had no idea how a pipe organ actually worked,” admits Wendell, who eventually based its mechanical workings on a project by Matthias Wandel.

The most difficult part was making the 42 wooden pipes, which span three-and-half octaves, since each one has unique dimensions to produce the correct pitch. For this, Wendell used information provided by Raphi Giangiulio’s YouTube videos. Self playing pipe organ: powering the pipes Solenoids are used to open and close the pipe valves to play and stop notes. O-rings prevent them from sticking in the on position, while also stopping the plungers making a clacking noise. The pipes are linked via PVC plumbing to a wind chest powered by a Kooltronic KBR125 blower, as used in data centres. “I had originally tried a small shop vac as a blower,” Wendell tells us. “It had two problems. The first was that it was very noisy; the second was that it ran hot. When I enclosed it in a box to control the noise, it got so hot that my first one burned out.” To make it play, each wooden pipe has a valve opened and closed by a solenoid, triggered from an Arduino Due via a power-boosting driver board. The ‘brains’ of the operation is a Raspberry Pi, which performs three main functions. As well as a graphical user interface for selecting music to play, it converts the MIDI binary files into delay/note-on/note-off commands, plus musical directions: “The Raspberry Pi takes into consideration tempo changes and any other subtleties in note timing, and converts them into a number of microseconds,” explains Wendell. “In this way, the Pi has done all the heavy lifting as far as calculations go.” Another Python program is then used to send this data to the Arduino via USB. A home-built driver board with transistors is used to boost the power from the Arduino output to trigger the solenoids While the high-tech side of the project proved fairly hassle-free, the physical engineering was more problematic. One difficulty was the wind pressure regulator, which originally had a bellows-type mechanism. “I was trying out a few different designs, trying to develop one that was mechanically simple and dependable while producing a very stable pressure.” Fortunately, Wendell’s friend Jim, a retired HVAC engineer, stopped…
Source: Self-playing pipe organ

Museum in a Box

Museum in a Box

You can visit Hoa Hakananai’a at the British Museum, London. A Moai, you’d likely recognise him as one of the Easter Island statues. He’s 2.4 metres in height, nearly a metre wide, and is estimated to weigh around four tonnes. He sits on a high plinth surrounded by text regarding both his own history and that of his fellow Moai and it’s fair to say that, unless you can go to the British Museum in person, you’re unlikely to see him visiting your local museum, school, or library on loan. Museum in a Box is one of the entries in our Top 75 Projects community vote! Now imagine holding a smaller version of Hoa Hakananai’a in your hand. He fits perfectly on your palm and allows you to feel the texture of his surface and the shape of his features. You can pass him around, reposition him, and even drop him if you lose your grip. And as you ‘boop’ him on the top of the Museum in a Box’s Raspberry Pi-powered ‘brain’, he starts to tell you the story of his sea voyage from Easter Island, of the history of his creators, and his first encounter with the explorer Captain Cook in 1774. This pack is the statues of women in London, and includes Virginia Woolf recordings Bonding with history This idea of forming stronger connections with objects through touch and sound is the heart of the Museum in a Box objective. Through 3D-printed models and wooden sculptures, 2D images such as postcards and photographs, and ‘do it yourself’ feedback cards, the team aim to break the disappointing, yet often necessary, Do Not Touch stigma of museums, allowing everyone the chance to get to grips with a history they may otherwise miss out on. On the technical side of the project, the Museum in a Box consists of a wooden box ‘brain’ that houses a Raspberry Pi and RFID reader. There’s also a volume control for playback and lights to indicate when the unit is powered and functional. Each object, whether it be 3D or flat, is kitted out with its own unique RFID tag. When placed upon the box, the tag is read by the reader beneath the surface and informs the Raspberry Pi to play back the appropriate sound file via a built-in speaker system. The sound files vary from object to object. Some play music, such…
Source: Museum in a Box

Build your own laptop in The MagPi #74

Build your own laptop in The MagPi #74

We’ve got a whole new look this month. The MagPi magazine has been redesigned from tip to toe with a fresh new style. It’s got bigger photographs, better tutorials and more photographs than ever before. The new look magazine has incredible photographs of the best projects around Build your own laptop Our cover star this issue is a Build your own laptop feature. This is ambitious, but a perfectly practical project that’s incredibly rewarding. You’ll get a better understanding of how modern computers are put together, and get a fully mobile Raspberry Pi to boot. In The MagPi #74 we look at how to 3D print your own laptop using a Raspberry Pi and a few off-the-shelf parts. Discover how to build a laptop in The MagPi #74 Haunted Halloween Hacks Our spooktacular Halloween feature returns with the scariest ghoulish hacks. We’ve got wicked wearables, deadly decorations and dreadful dolls. Plus puns! Lots and lots of puns. Haunted Halloween Hacks in The MagPi #74 Code Space invaders with Pygame Zero Regular readers will know we’ve been coding games for a while now, but we’ve worked up to a classic this month: Space Invaders. Discover how to make this classic arcade game from scratch with Python. Code Space Invaders in The MagPi #74 Plus all this inside The MagPi 74 Grow Veggies with the Aquaponic Garden. Use a Raspberry Pi and a guard fish to grow amazing vegetables. Play Rock, paper, scissors with AI. Train a Raspberry Pi to detect hand gestures and win a game of rock, paper, scissors. The Top 10 Raspberry Pi cases. An incredible array of different houses for Raspberry Pi (each offering different functionality). Rain Detector. Build a laundry saving rain detector that alerts you when the shower starts to fall. Picade V2 reviewed. We test out the new table-top arcade machine. And much, much more! Grab your copy right now! The post Build your own laptop in The MagPi #74 appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
Source: Build your own laptop in The MagPi #74

Win! One of five Pi Switch Caps!

Win! One of five Pi Switch Caps!

We thought the Pi Switch Cap was the perfect on-and-off switch for your Raspberry Pi when we reviewed it back in The MagPi, especially as you can use it help control Kodi and other HTPC software as well! One of five Pi Switch Caps https://js.gleam.io/e.js The post Win! One of five Pi Switch Caps! appeared first on The MagPi Magazine.
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Watchdog Security Robot

Watchdog Security Robot

Although our city streets are packed with CCTV cameras, past reports have suggested that many are either in the wrong place or simply don’t work. Perhaps the Watchdog Security Robot is the answer. “Someone can throw their hoodie on and hide from a high-mounted camera,” argues Josh Starnes. “People are less likely to misbehave when someone is physically there to witness it.” So what is the answer? A lack of resources means flooding the streets with police isn’t always economically viable. “But would you be surprised if a robot rolled up, recording or talking to you while you are up to no good?” asks Josh. “I would.” Which is why he has created a security robot to do exactly that, called Watchdog. Watchdog Security Robot inspired by sci-fi movies Inspired by sci-fi movies such as Short Circuit, Evolver, and Star Wars, Josh got to work on an affordable DIY robot that can trundle around the streets, operate in cold and wet weather, work well in low light, and communicate. He wanted it to record HD video locally and stream via WiFi to a secondary source for online viewing. “I decided to use a Raspberry Pi. It has an excellent community and it’s moved past being a new gadget to a useful tool.” At first, Josh spent time getting the chassis right, using the base of a Jazzy Select power chair. He stripped away unwanted parts such as the chair, footrest, original Jazzy electronics, and the front anti-tip wheels. He also bought a Sabertooth dual 12 A motor driver which is optimised for use in medium-powered robots and radio-controlled vehicles. Struggling to find an off-the-shelf camera that met all his needs, he turned to the Pi 3: “It meant I could pick the camera module I needed, record to a hard drive, and have remote access.” Josh used four Pi 3 boards, each connected to a camera. “In the event one fails, all the others are independent and would continue recording.” Four Raspberry Pi 3s connect to the four cameras and are set up to record at 800×640 resolution and 15 frames per second. Files are saved 600 seconds at a time to SanDisk 64GB cards. See in the dark with Pi NoIR Infrared Camera The project uses the Pi NoIR Camera Module, which has a 5MP sensor, night vision, and a 130° adjustable-focus lens. Four of these are mounted inside the…
Source: Watchdog Security Robot

Mesmeric mirror

Mesmeric mirror

On reflection, he could have just bought a lamp. But after Roberto Tyley stood on one too many of his children’s toys in the dark corners of his bedroom, and decided it was time for some additional light, he was hit by a flash of inspiration. Mesmeric mirror is one of the entries in our Top 75 Projects community vote! What better way of illuminating the room, he mused, than a full-length portrait mirror that would shine brightly whenever anyone wandered by? One with individually controllable LED lighting that would directly respond whenever someone posed in front of it, perhaps? As light-bulb moments go, he admits it was certainly high on the wacky scale. But Roberto saw the potential for both practicality and fun. “The idea was to have a mirror that would know if my children were waving their hands around,” he explains. “I wanted the lights to move and sparkle around their fingers as they did so.” Pi-powered Roberto’s first decision was to put a Raspberry Pi at the heart of the build. He had only ever used the computer once before, to create a video demonstrating the speed of a tool he’d written to clean Git repositories. He liked the fact that the Pi was a fully specced Linux platform. “It meant I could use the tools and languages I was familiar with,” he says. His next step was to research the best lighting, and he eventually chose Adafruit’s DotStar Warm White LED strips. “They are more expensive than simple strips, but they use a pretty straightforward wiring system,” Roberto explains. “Adafruit also supplies a nice Python library to control the strip from the Pi.” The sensor is visible up close Motion sensing From there, he looked for a way of detecting the presence of a person, before hitting on the idea of a laser rangefinder. “It occurred to me that if I had a laser rangefinder pointing straight down from the top to the bottom of the mirror, in the same axis as the LEDs, it could sense how high up anything was,” he continues. This would allow the LEDs to light up to the height of a person, or work out if they were stretching their arm up, and illuminate further. “I decided to use the LIDAR-Lite rangefinder, which is a pretty cool but pricey sensor that encodes digital fingerprints into the bursts of laser…
Source: Mesmeric mirror

PolaPi-Zero: a Polaroid-style camera

PolaPi-Zero: a Polaroid-style camera

The PolaPi-Zero is the second iteration of Pierre Muth’s exploration into portable photography with the Raspberry Pi and thermal printer. No stranger to thermal printing builds, he’s previously created such wonders as a camera booth lottery ticket system. Take your photo and if your thermal printout displays another’s face, locating them grants you both a free beer. Pierre Muth is an electronic technician with a love for making things, thermal printers, and the Adafruit Big Red Button. So while his original PolaPi model also housed a Raspberry Pi – the version 2, with a full-size casing – the newer model allows for a smaller body with its use of the Raspberry Pi Zero. We’ve seen many digital camera builds using the Raspberry Pi and Camera Module. From 3D-printed cases to retrofit vintage classics, the majority act as simple point-and-shoot cameras. The PolaPi-Zero, however, takes its lead from the iconic Polaroid camera, utilising a thermal printer inside its body to deliver instant prints of your subject matter.

PolaPi-Zero: A Raspberry Pi and thermal-printer camera In his original PolaPi build, Pierre had been forced to cannibalise a retail-grade thermal receipt printer, leaving the unit bulky and weighty. With the new model, following in the footsteps of the small-bodied Raspberry Pi Zero, he managed to acquire the Nano Thermal Receipt Printer from Adafruit: a smaller device marketed specifically for use with boards such as the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Coupled with a Sharp memory LCD, the camera allows its user to see the image on screen in black and white before printing, guaranteeing the quality of the photograph before you commit to the print. Pierre used the project as “a good excuse to start learning Python (finally)”, in part due to the array of existing Python code available online. His original camera ran using Java, and though he admits to the final Python code not being “the most elegant”, he provides it via both his GitHub repo as complete code, and as a downloadable image for the Raspberry Pi Zero. For the physical body of the camera, Pierre designed the unit in Autodesk 123D before sending it to an external 3D printing company, 3DHubs.com, for completion. Again, he provides the case 3D print files in his GitHub repo. Completing the build with a Pi Camera Module, a 7.2V battery with voltage regulator, and a handful of buttons, the PolaPi-Zero is good to…
Source: PolaPi-Zero: a Polaroid-style camera

QBee – a speculative social media platform

QBee – a speculative social media platform

On her website, Clodagh O’Mahony describes herself as a “multi-disciplinary designer with experience in product, graphic, and UX/UI design, as well as illustration and media production.” Having completed her BSc in Product Design and Technology at the University of Limerick, Clodagh went on to study for her master’s degree at the same establishment, this time in Interactive Media. This is where the Raspberry Pi comes in. QBee is one of the entries in our Top 75 Projects community vote! For her thesis project, Clodagh created a dress and an accompanying website to comment on the progression of social media interaction – the idea that it’s getting harder and harder to ‘hide’ on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter due to the sheer amount of personal information we pump into our timelines. Whereas a person could once create an entirely new persona through the predominantly text-based interaction of blogs and chat rooms, we now live a more visual existence online. Photo, video, and emojis have replaced textual communication, adding more ‘face’ to the name, and inevitably adding more reality. With this in mind, Clodagh set out to design “a wearable connected platform that introduces what is sold as a ‘purer’ form of social media. The quantitative data means users would have to go to extraordinary lengths to misrepresent their lives, thereby making its information more reliable than that of its competitors.” The honeycomb shape matches the QBee branding Clodagh created a corporation named ‘QBee’, an abbreviation of Queen Bee, with the associated honeycomb theme playing a significant part in the look of both the dress and website. This corporation, if given true life, would provide a range of wearable tech – similar to her dress – that would allow for the recording of social interaction data, updating it to the wearer’s online QBee account. The aim of the build is to record physical interactions between the wearer and the people with whom they come into contact in the real world. A touch to the waist, for example, would be recorded with a certain set of points, whereas a touch to the back would record another. Alongside this physical interaction data, a microphone is used to listen out for any of a series of keywords that are listed as either positive or negative, whereupon the relevant point data can be recorded. The build incorporates an Adafruit 12-key capacitive touch sensor breakout board, Pimoroni…
Source: QBee – a speculative social media platform

Trading Card Scanner/Organiser

Trading Card Scanner/Organiser

When Michael Portera came across a few boxes packed with trading cards – “everything from football, baseball, and basketball to Magic: The Gathering (MTG)” – one of his first thoughts was how much the collection might be worth. As someone who had dabbled with MTG by buying booster packs and playing the occasional game with friends, he knew there was a large secondary market and that he had cards worth investigating. “But looking up the cards manually would have taken a while, even using online scanners or apps,” he muses. “So I wanted to develop an automated process using a card feeder and a scanner for image processing.”

Motivated by the potential time saved, he quickly got to work. The spell-binding result was a Trading Card scanner made of LEGO, servo motors, a camera, and a Raspberry Pi 3. Trading Card Scanner: using AI to count cards Right from the start, Michael envisaged a simple system that would spin and push preloaded cards forward to be photographed and uploaded for digital storage and processing. The idea was to make light work of organising and valuing even the largest of collections. Building it, however, was largely a process of trial and error. “I had a cheap card shuffler lying around,” recalls Michael. “After taking it apart, I found the simple cog system powered by a DC motor that moves the hammer and pushes one card forward into a slot, creating a new stack of cards. This would be the inspiration for the servo and wheels needed to accomplish the automation.” Use LEGO to build a card scanner Michael turned to LEGO for the main structure due to its versatility. It allowed him to easily build, modify, and tear down his project. He placed servos in the back of the build and had them spin continuously. Carefully positioned LEGO tyres then move forward in a cog-like setup to get the cards into position. Once the device was built and he was happy, Michael could then start coding, which he says was the easiest part of the build. He used Python 2.7 to program a script to power both the servos and take a picture via a Raspberry Pi Camera Module. He then wrote another script to send the images to Amazon’s cloud computing web service S3, for storage and to tackle image processing. “I originally tried Tesseract and OpenCV for optical…
Source: Trading Card Scanner/Organiser