The Maker Cupboard

- Digital Making - Raspberry Pi Projects - 3D printing - Educational Resources -

Unicorn Hat

This Christmas I fell in love with the Unicorn Hat from the awesome team at Pimoroni.

Unicorn-Hat1

Unicorn-Hat2


The Unicorn Hat is a beautiful bank of 8x8 RGB LEDs ((WS2812B) which are easily programmable with a Python API.

I am using my Unicorn Hat with a model A+ as a countdown to my family holiday to Florida next year. Running off a decent 2A power supply and connecting to my WIFI network there is no need for a keyboard and a mouse. With just one power lead connected and a WIFI dongle I have a very small and bright marquee message display panel.

Unicorn-Hat3

Unicorn-Hat4

The code for my project can be found here on github.

Projects using the scrolling text will require the UnicornHat Scrolling text code from https://github.com/topshed/UnicornHatScroll

I am really impressed that for under £45 (including a model A+) you can build a compact and bright LED messaging display.

The Unicorn Hat API is very easy to use and the guys at Pimoroni do include enough detail and examples to get you started. I do intend to buy another one and introduce it to my pupils at school. This could be a very good tool for some Python programming.

One word of warning: It is bright when displaying at 100%. People with photosensitivity should also take care when using this especially when making the LEDs do flashing patterns.

Unicorn-Hat5

Unicorn-Hat6

Unicorn-Hat7

Unicorn-Hat8

Comments

Protocam II

Protocam (Mark II)

Whilst at CamJam I caught up with Richard (AKA @AverageManVsPi) and had a quick chat about his latest version of the Protocam board. Check out my first review here.



Again, this looks like a great idea and I do hope to try it out soon with my new Raspberry Pi model A+
Comments

Pi Certified Educator

Reflections on my first half term as a certified Raspberry Pi Educator

It has been nearly half a term since I attended the October 2014 Picademy at Cambridge. I am very proud of my Certified Educator badge, but as we know it is more than just having a badge.

certified-educator-blog SO

One of the phrases we often get at school is “So tell me about the impact”. This has got me thinking about what is the impact of my two days at Pi Towers?

Since October I have ...

  • Had 5 Friday Raspberry Pi club sessions
  • Worked with a local Primary school on getting started with Minecraft programming
  • Organised and led workshops at the Birmingham Raspberry Jam
  • Delivered a two hour Pi session with non-IT teachers at school
  • Delivered three hours of Pi Minecraft workshops at Covent Garden Raspberry Jam
  • Produced several more Raspberry Pi themed resources for school
  • Helped document the Cambridge Raspberry Jam Pi Wars event
  • Worked with the school engineering project on using the Pi as a timing system for modelling real world problems
  • Got to grips with GitHub and uploaded my various projects (thanks Ben Nuttall for the tuition)
  • Built a time lapse camera to use within Science lessons
  • Designed a program of outreach workshops for gifted and talented year 5 and 6 students
  • Started to develop links with the School of Education at Cambridge University
  • Worked out ways in which the Pi can be used to support a student’s D of E application
  • Built a Raspberry Pi powered Christmas tree for my classroom

Not bad really for a Chemistry teacher who loves the Pi!



Comments

When Philip met Liz and Eben

When Philip met Eben and Liz Upton .....

Whilst at CamJam (PiWars) Philip found himself sat next to two Pi Celebrities - none other than Eben and Liz Upton. We have met Liz a couple of times before at events but never Eben.

During the presentations I quietly told Philip that he was sat next to the inventor of the Raspberry Pi. I’m not sure he believed me and it wasn’t until Liz and Eben presented a prize that Philip really believed me!

At the end of the afternoon we asked if we could get a photo and here it is!



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There is a funny story attached to this photo but to save Liz’s blushes I won’t share it here!

Comments

PiWars

PiWars


We had a really great day at Cambridge yesterday at Pi Wars. I must say a really huge thank you to Mike and Tim for organising such a great experience and for everyone who entered a robot, showed a robot, exhibited and generally helped on the day.

The day was full of fun, games and challenges and it was really great to see all the effort and time which had gone into building and programming the robots.





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Comments

The PiPiano

The PiPiano




Earlier this year I saw a young guy walking around CamJam with a very interesting looking add-on for the Raspberry Pi. Later I discovered that it was Zach and his Raspberry Pi PiPiano.

It is really great to see that he has already exceed his funding goal of £500 on Indiegogo and is currently up to around £800. If you want to support this great project check out the link here.

So what is the PiPiano?

Simply, it is an easy to use, educational, musical add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. The PiPiano has 13 buttons and 3 LEDs for information or timekeeping!

What can it be used for?

As well as using it as a Piano it can also be used an extensive controller with 13 buttons that has many practical uses.

I need some help?!

The kits can be purchased either unsoldered or for an extra couple of pounds pre soldered. They are expecting shipping in March 2015. Zach has also produced a comprehensive set of documentation here.

This is a great project to back and I thoroughly recommend it.
Comments

Birmingham Raspberry Jam

Birmingham Raspberry Jam

Logo


Today was the relaunch of the Birmingham Raspberry Jam held at KESH Academy in Birmingham. With 17 Raspberry Pis and a great space to work in we welcomed over 45 participants to the event. The day was organised by myself and Jack Wearden from Birmingham University.

The workshops

We delivered 4 workshops with a range of activities, these included:

  • Introduction to Minecraft Python programming.
  • An introduction to Python and Turtle programs
  • Connecting LEDs to the GPIO and programming a traffic light and disco light sequence
  • More advanced MInecraft programming (building a 3D house)

We had a really good day delivering the sessions and judging by the feedback the participants really enjoyed it too.

While True:print “woohoo!”

Looking forward to next time

Great day, thanks for all the hard work - we have learnt lots

Really enjoyed the Python coding

Very informative about Raspberry Pi. Thank you so much

It was great fun and I enjoyed the workshops. Thank You!

Was fun - next time I will bring my son!

Really got my kids interested in computing - thank you!

Brilliant - I really enjoyed it even Minecraft

Thank you for a fantastic day - the kids loved it, best wishes

It was fun to make patterns with the turtles

Children loved it, great to be able to let them see other children using the Pis

Fantastic setup today. Inspired to learn more. Thanks!



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Comments

Lisiparoi flash ring for Raspberry Pi

I was really pleased to receive a nice little package from Jason Barnett.

While you are here please check out our Amazon Associates Raspberry Pi page!


IMG_2314

The Lisiparoi - Flash ring for Raspberry Pi camera module is a small unit which screws onto the Raspberry Pi camera and provides 12 bright LEDs.

There are two favours, visible light LEDs for the normal camera and a IR LED version for use with the NOIR camera module.

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Assembly is really simple.

Before screwing the camera to the ring it was a simple case of soldering 4 connecting pins. The ring connects to the Raspberry Pi via 4 GPIO pins connected to 5V, GND, GND and a free GPIO. After hunting around for 4 female to female cables I had the flash mounted and connected to my Pi. The beauty of this device is that all 12 LEDS run from just 4 pins.

IMG_2319

Programming the flash ring is extremely simple as it only involves switching on 1 GPIO pin to power up the ring.

I have included sample code here




This is a really good little device and have been very pleased with the illumination it provides. I found it be effective up to 2m from the camera.

Comments

Covent Garden Raspberry Jam

Covent Garden Raspberry Jam Saturday 29th November 2014

To keep the Jam feeling lasting longer after the Birmingham Raspberry Jam on the 22nd November I am helping at the Covent Garden Raspberry Jam a week later on the 29th November.

Frank Thomas-Hockey who describes himself as “a Father and amateur hacker” is running a Jam at Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust, 17 Stukeley St on Saturday, 29 November 2014 from 14:00 to 17:00.

It looks like I will be running my favourite introduction to Minecraft coding workshop.

If you would like a ticket then get them here!

Comments

Picademy


IMG_2767

I start this blog post whilst sat on the train from Cambridge to Birmingham New Street having just spent two fantastic days at the Raspberry Pi offices in Cambridge attending Picademy.

The last two days have been really inspirational and I feel really fortunate to have spent them with a really great bunch of people, some teachers, some from the Raspberry Pi education team and other just very willing helpers who came to support.

The free CPD is open to all teachers who want to know more about / get more use out of the Raspberry Pi in the classroom and beyond. Picademy is not just for IT teachers (after all I am a Chemistry teacher in my day job). Both days were really well organised and delivered and gave everyone an opportunity to learn new skills and use them in a practical context. I was also very fortunate to be able to help my team (team GPIO) as the lead learner on the table.

picademy2


After the usual welcomes and introductions the first day was spent carrying out a number of practical hands-on workshops. We were each given a goodie bag on arrival which included:

  • Raspberry Pi model B+
  • The latest version of the NOOBS SD card
  • Rainbow Pi case
  • Noodle USB power-cable
  • A Raspberry Pi mug (I’ve wanted one of these for a while!!)
  • A copy of my teaching resource (10 Engaging Python Projects)

The workshops on the first day included:

  • An introduction into physical computing (connecting LEDs and switches to the GPIO)
  • An introduction into Minecraft API programming
  • Using the Pibrella (one of my favourite pieces of equipment)
  • Using the Raspberry Pi camera
  • An introduction to Sonic Pi (I love this piece of software)
  • Using the Raspberry Pi in the classroom - solutions for networking etc.

There were ample amounts of tea / coffee / cake and nice food for lunch.

At the end of the first day we had an opportunity to think about the project we would like to carry out the next day. With Halloween only a few days away there were lots of ideas of a very spooky nature! It was really great to work with people who really did not feel constrained about what they could do and achieve with the Pi.

The day ended with a really nice meal in a local restaurant. There was some really good discussions and sharing of ideas and experiences as we ate. The meal continued with drinks in a local bar (but I went home to bed!)

The second day started with a number of talks about the Raspberry Pi community and how people can get more involved after Picademy. I had an opportunity to share my experiences with attending Raspberry Jams and the forthcoming Birmingham Jam (22nd November). We were treated to an excellent follow-up talk about Sonic Pi and I am more convinced that this is something I want to make use of in my clubs.

The remainder of the day was spent working in small teams on our own projects. My group created a motion detector trick or treat bucket. I spent some time developing my skills with the Raspberry Pi camera, although I did’t quite get it to work the way I wanted it to,

A really good part of the second day was to get support from the engineers and technical people from the Foundation and the other helpers. I had been told the day before that Ben Nuttall was an expert with GitHub so I had a 20 minute personal tutorial! This was a really invaluable time and I was able to really get some good advice and modelling of how to use it effectively,

Following (a very funny!) show and tell session we were presented with our certificates and badges. I am very proud to be a certified Raspberry Pi Educator.

picademy3 picademy4


Comments

Year 5 and Minecraft

I had the pleasure today of delivering two Raspberry Pi Minecraft based workshops to students attending school as part of a Primary Engagement Day.

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Many of the students were really big Minecraft fans so I was off to a great start. After the usual quick build challenge we moved into the first of our activities. None of the students had used Python before but very quickly realised that you have to type the code in exactly as it is on the sheet. The first task was completed quickly and students were displaying messages in Minecraft.

The second task (making Steve fly) was really enjoyed by the students and many were keen to see what happens if they send him off in different directions! It was really good to see how quickly the students picked up the tasks and were at one point showing the older prefects from school how to do things.

A very common theme I have noticed when talking to colleagues about the new Computing Curriculum is the need for students to starting coding at an early age and how daunting this is. Activities like today reinforce for me that students are really keen to do programming and want to push themselves to extend their knowledge and skills.

Comments

PiHut Raspberry Pi clearance sale

Are you looking for a Raspberry Pi bargain?

The guys over at The PiHut are having a Raspberry Pi clearance sale. Some really good prices including such bargains as:

Babbage Bear for only £4
Noobs Preinstalled SD card £4.80
Ada fruit PiTFT screen for only £24
Raspberry Pi T-Shirts for both adults and kids £6 / £5

Check out their great clearance prices here

Comments

Birmingham Raspberry Jam

Logo



We are really excited to announce that Birmingham Raspberry Jam will be back on November 22nd 2014. We will be using a new venue - King Edward VI Sheldon Heath Academy in East Birmingham.

This will be a family orientated Raspberry Pi day with a number of activities for people of all ages.

Tickets can be ordered here

Entrance is free for students and £2.50 for adults (payable on the door with a valid ticket).

The school has plenty of parking and is in a good location, not far from the A45 near Birmingham Airport.

We will be offering light refreshments (tea, coffee, biscuits and squash) throughout the day and there are many takeaway options locally.

If you have your own Raspberry Pi or project you would like to show we would love you to bring them along.

The day will include a number of short talks and hopefully a live linkup with Alan O’Donohoe at the Hull Raspberry Jam.

The final details for workshops will be made available nearer the date but we anticipate they will include:

* Getting started with a Raspberry Pi
* Minecraft programming for beginners
* More advanced Minecraft programming
* LEDs and flashing code

Any questions please contact the organisers here and clicking on the contact organiser link.


Comments

Alan is our digital hero

I was so pleased earlier to hear the news that Alan O’Donohoe has been awarded the great honour of Volunteer Digital Hero for his work with the Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Jam.

Alan is a really great bloke and has been inspirational in my own journey with the Raspberry Pi. Earlier this year I was going through a difficult time, feeling that what I was doing was of little value and use. After spending a very encouraging evening with Alan, I was able to see where I was going and what I needed to do in order to move forwards! For this Alan, I will be ever grateful.

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I’m not sure why Alan is running away from Clive Beale?

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I found Alan’s name badge!



For a list of all the digital heroes click here

Comments

Cam Jam September 2014

We had an amazing day at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam on 6th September and the organising team really should have a big pat on the back!

The theme this time was based around all things robots in preparation for the December Pi Wars event. There were a good range of talks and hands-on workshops again designed around this theme. I was very pleased to help out at three of the workshops and it was especially good to see the Ryanteck robot being used in one of them.

Philip had a really good time and said he enjoyed the workshops and being able to see all the fun things being done with robots.

I managed to spend £50 at the PiHut again on Raspberry Pi miscellaneous bits and pieces. We were just about to leave when Philip saw the tablet controlled robots from DawnRobotics. Somehow in the next 10 minutes he had persuaded me to splash out and buy a kit - which has now been made and is being developed!

There was a film crew form CNBC filming in Cambridge and we even made it onto the segment!

The Cambridge Jam is a great day out and a good way of meeting in real life all the people I spend so much time chatting to on Twitter. There is a real sense of community at CamJam and a very warm welcome is given to everyone old and young. It is testament to the team that I had Philip out of bed at 6am on a Saturday to make the drive down. Can’t wait for December!



Comments

ProtoCam

I was recently sent a ProtoCam to review from Richard (AKA @AverageManVsPi).

This is currently a kickstarter project which is definitely well worth a look (and a second look!)

Picamera board

The ProtoCam board is a neat solution for creating Raspberry Pi projects using both the GPIO and camera. The PCB is manufactured in the UK to a very high standard and is made with nickel/gold plating.

Once soldered and assembled the board fits neatly onto the Raspberry Pi (model A / B) and the camera is securely attached via small nylon screws and nuts. The camera is connected to the Raspberry Pi by a short and firm belt which fits under the PCB next to the Raspberry Pi.

At the moment my camera is attached to my robot so I am debating if I should either order a new camera or dismantle it from my robot so I can fully test this.

Some possible uses of the board could include:

  • Adding LEDs to build a flash gun on the front of the camera
  • Adding switches to build a simple point and click camera control
  • Adding a segment display for a timer / photo counter


I think that this project has great potential so I would thoroughly recommend backing it

Back the project here

Did I also mention that this great project was selected as the Staff Pick at KickStarter?


Comments

Being a 21st Century teacher

Being a 21st Century teacher

I have been asked several times at job interviews what it means to be a 21st Century teacher or learner. Quite often this is really getting at how do you use technology effectively in teaching and learning.

There are approximately 27 million Google entries for “Being a 21st Century teacher” so clearly this is something which is very much on people’s minds!

Whilst thinking about this I came across this diagram which indicates some of the things that a 21st Century teacher (trainer) should be aware of.


21st-c-trainers



After nearly 20 years of teaching I am convinced that my role is to:

  • inspire
  • engage
  • develop creativity
  • impart knowledge
  • help prepare young people for an ever changing world with different priorities from when I was a student
  • equip students for a life-long learning journey
  • model behaviours and attitudes for life beyond school
  • engage with technology in a beneficial way

There are so many “21st Century” technologies which students engage with on a daily basis and I often hear that it is the students who are teaching us the adults how to use it. In some cases this may well be true but as a 21st Century teacher I want to equip my learners to be discerning in the tools they use and in the ways that they use them.

Being a 21st C teacher is so much more than knowing what a selfie is and being competent in social media. For me, it is about knowing what new tools are available, what are the learning benefits of using these tools and how they can be used effectively in the classroom and beyond.

There is a mind-shift coming.

I recently spoke to a couple of CEOs at Cisco who were telling me how new Interns and members of staff were less likely to use the help desk services but would solve problems themselves through online collaboration. This speaks to me exactly of what it means to be a 21st Century teacher. I want to equip learners with the skills and desire to be self-motivated problem solvers, who make effective use of tools to do so.

So perhaps the image I used at the start is not too far from the truth. As a teacher I do need to know and understand the potential of using different social media platforms, of how to uncouple learning from the classroom, how to make effective use of students bringing their own devices to the classroom and how to fully embrace the same technology used at home to promote learning at school.


Comments

MyPiFi LCD Board support for Raspberry Pi

It is great how many cool things for the Raspberry Pi are coming out through Kickstarter projects.

I would like to highlight the MyPiFi LCD board support for the Raspberry Pi which offers a quick and easy way to add an LCD board to your projects.

The Project has been started by Paul Brown from the UK also know as @mypifi on Twitter. His blog can be found here.

LCD

This is a great little device which allows you to easily and quickly change LCD boards attached to all models of the Raspberry Pi. This eliminates the worry of forgetting how each wire was connected.

The pledges start at £6 where you will get an LCD support board with one extended GPIO header, LCD socket and potentiometer kit. The kit needs assembling. For another £5 you get the same kit with 16x2 LCD display with blue backlight.

I look forward to trying one out and writing a more detailed review.

Go fund it today!

Comments

Adafruit tutorial

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

I had a very exciting email the other day asking if I would write up my Internet radio as a tutorial for the Adafruit learn website. Being a massive fan of Adafruit I was very happy to do this!

The tutorial can be found here

If you have not visited Adafruit or bought from them I can highly recommend their products. In addition to selling some really cool products they are committed to producing and sharing detailed instructions and product support. I have found the tutorials to be really well written and often preempt common problems and issues you may find.

Comments

Finding Internet Radio station

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

Tutorial: Adding Internet Radio Stations to mpc



Step 1


If you haven't installed mpd and mpc start by making sure your Raspberry Pi is up to date.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade


Step 2:

Install mpc and mpd

sudo apt-get install mpd mpc


Step 2:

Add BBC Radio 1 to your playlist to check everything is working as it should.

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio1_p?s=1365376033&e=1365390433&h=a0fef58c2149248d6bff1f7b7b438931


Start the radio station playing with

mpc play


Step 3:

Finding new radio stations to add to your playlist

Visit http://www.shoutcast.com and look at their large collection of internet streaming radio stations.

Once you find a station you like right click on the download icon and save the file.

Open the file you have just downloaded with a text editor. It will look something like this.

[playlist]
numberofentries=1
File1=http://67.23.252.145:9986
Title1=(#1 - 0/500) UCBRADIO
Length1=-1
Version=2


Copy the web address from the file (highliged in red below)

[playlist]
numberofentries=1
File1=http://67.23.252.145:9986
Title1=(#1 - 0/500) UCBRADIO
Length1=-1
Version=2

Now add the web address to the mpc playlist with

mpc add http://67.23.252.145:9986








Comments

Raspberry Pi Internet Radio Player

Tutorial: Raspberry Internet streaming radio

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

Latest video: Introducing the Hudl2 - budget Android tablet from Tesco



This project is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here. This must be done before trying to use the radio!

This project creates an internet streaming radio for the Raspberry Pi using the 2.8” touchscreen. This does not use the x interface and makes use of Pygame.

Raspberry Pi Radio

Step 1:

Set up the Adafruit TFT using the instructions provided by Adafruit. Make sure that all the steps are followed for calibration of the touch screen. There is no other control of the radio player other than the touch screen so if this is not done it won’t work!

Step 2:

Plug in a speaker or headphones into your audio jack. It took me nearly 5 minutes to work out my I was getting no sound when I hadn’t switched on my speakers!

Step 3:

If your Raspberry Pi is up to date you should already have the libraries for Pygame installed.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade


Step 4:

Install mpc and mpd and add some radio stations to your play list

sudo apt-get install mpd mpc

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio1_p?s=1365376033&e=1365390433&h=a0fef58c2149248d6bff1f7b7b438931

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio2_p?s=1365376067&e=1365390467&h=d43dc8ae0f888809462a6cb7c389b46b

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio3_p?s=1365376123&e=1365390523&h=d53cf2a92272f3289b314a2251d23bc8

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio4_p?s=1365376126&e=1365390526&h=ed9a0642b30c422b07fbcd8683c52335

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_5live_p?s=1365376271&e=1365390671&h=e0d82133f35ae74d41d5eab6b9c150a6



mpc and internet radio stations are very well documented so I won’t go into too much detail here. The stations listed above are for BBC Radio stations in the UK.

If you want to save, edit and open your play list they are saved in /var/lib/mpd/playlists/


Step 5:

I have made the source code and icons I used available here.


I am not yet using github for my projects but hopefully will be soon!


Step 6:

Save the python program radioplayer.py and all the icons into one folder. You should run the python program from within that folder.

sudo python radioplayer.py


Controls

Play mpc play
Pause mpc stop
Refresh mpc stop followed by mpc play
Volume up mpc volume +10
Volume down mpc volume -10
Mute mpc volume 0
Previous station mpc prev
Next station mpc next

Each control is started with a command such as subprocess.call(“mpc play”, shell=True)

The code still contains much debugging and developer information so you will see lots of additional comments in the console - sorry!

Have fun, let me know what you think.

Now you are ready to add more channels to you mpc player check out this tutorial.





Comments

Raspberry Pi Internet Radio Player

Tutorial: Raspberry Internet streaming radio

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

Latest video: Introducing the Hudl2 - budget Android tablet from Tesco



This project is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here. This must be done before trying to use the radio!

This project creates an internet streaming radio for the Raspberry Pi using the 2.8” touchscreen. This does not use the x interface and makes use of Pygame.

Raspberry Pi Radio

Step 1:

Set up the Adafruit TFT using the instructions provided by Adafruit. Make sure that all the steps are followed for calibration of the touch screen. There is no other control of the radio player other than the touch screen so if this is not done it won’t work!

Step 2:

Plug in a speaker or headphones into your audio jack. It took me nearly 5 minutes to work out my I was getting no sound when I hadn’t switched on my speakers!

Step 3:

If your Raspberry Pi is up to date you should already have the libraries for Pygame installed.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade


Step 4:

Install mpc and mpd and add some radio stations to your play list

sudo apt-get install mpd mpc

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio1_p?s=1365376033&e=1365390433&h=a0fef58c2149248d6bff1f7b7b438931

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio2_p?s=1365376067&e=1365390467&h=d43dc8ae0f888809462a6cb7c389b46b

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio3_p?s=1365376123&e=1365390523&h=d53cf2a92272f3289b314a2251d23bc8

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_radio4_p?s=1365376126&e=1365390526&h=ed9a0642b30c422b07fbcd8683c52335

mpc add http://bbcmedia.ic.llnwd.net/stream/bbcmedia_intl_lc_5live_p?s=1365376271&e=1365390671&h=e0d82133f35ae74d41d5eab6b9c150a6



mpc and internet radio stations are very well documented so I won’t go into too much detail here. The stations listed above are for BBC Radio stations in the UK.

If you want to save, edit and open your play list they are saved in /var/lib/mpd/playlists/


Step 5:

I have made the source code and icons I used available here.


I am not yet using github for my projects but hopefully will be soon!


Step 6:

Save the python program radioplayer.py and all the icons into one folder. You should run the python program from within that folder.

sudo python radioplayer.py


Controls

Play mpc play
Pause mpc stop
Refresh mpc stop followed by mpc play
Volume up mpc volume +10
Volume down mpc volume -10
Mute mpc volume 0
Previous station mpc prev
Next station mpc next

Each control is started with a command such as subprocess.call(“mpc play”, shell=True)

The code still contains much debugging and developer information so you will see lots of additional comments in the console - sorry!

Have fun, let me know what you think.

Now you are ready to add more channels to you mpc player check out this tutorial.





Comments

Pygame menu for TFT screen

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

Tutorial: Raspberry Pi TFT menu using Pygame

Pimenu_photo

This project is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here

This project creates a 4 button menu system for the Raspberry Pi using the 2.8” touchscreen. This does not use the x interface and makes use of Pygame.

This is work in progress and at the moment the buttons do not do anything.
You will need two images for the logos, I have used 100x100 bmp images.

The current source code can be found here on dropbox




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Digital Photo Frame

Tutorial: Making a Raspberry Pi USB-stick Digital Photo frame


Pi photo frame

This tutorial is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here

The photo frame is powered by FBI (Frame Buffer Image Viewer) which can be installed using:

sudo apt-get install fbi

Rather than copying photos onto the Raspberry Pi I wanted to display photos from an attached USB memory stick.

Before you can attach and mount your USB stick check that you have a usb folder in /mnt

mkdir -p /mnt/usb

On your mac or PC format your USB stick as FAT32.
Make a folder called
Slideshow
Copy your photos into that folder as JPGs

If you are new to using USB from the command line you will need to insert the USB stick and then mount it.

sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb

You can simply check that your USB stick is attached by

cd /mnt/usb
ls


This should display the contents of the USB drive.

We are now ready to start the slideshow.

sudo fbi -a -t 5 /dev/fb1 -noverbose /mnt/usb/Slideshow/*.jpg

To exit the slideshow simply press escape.

additional information

-a scales the photos to fit the screen (both scale up and scale down)
-t 5 sets a duration of 5 seconds for each photo
-noverbose turns off on-screen message
-u will display the photos in a random order

The man pages for FBI can be found here





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Why am I passionate about the Raspberry Pi?

Over the last few days I have been thinking about how the last two years for me have been so heavily influenced by the Raspberry Pi.

If someone had said that I would be running a successful computer programming club at school, training other teachers in programming and hooked up to such a great community I would not have believed it.

The scary thing is that after all this work I am becoming more and more certain that I want to make the transition from Science / Chemistry teacher to Computer Science teacher.

I made this video to explain how my son got interested in programming and how the Raspberry Pi has influenced him.



I do feel very excited about the future especially now that we have so many young people interested in programming, tinkering and project making. I don’t believe that everyone is destined to become the next big programmer or app developer but I do believe the skills that are developed have a much wider benefit.

Here’s to a bright future!


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Portable Raspberry Pi

Over the last week I have been working on a portable retro-gaming Raspberry Pi device. It all started when I bough the 2.8” touchscreen TFT from Adafruit. I have to admit that the self assembly soldering nearly gave me some sort of breakdown, but eventually it was up and running and attached to a new Pi bought especially for the job.

Initially I was very excited about the prospect of a portable battery powered Raspberry Pi (hence PortaPi). After the excitement had died down it was time to think about what it could be used for. After looking at the projects on Adafruit website I decided on a retro gaming device.

Portapi01 Portapi02Portapi06

After a bit of digging around I came across the Adafruit mini Raspberry Pi powered arcade cabinet (cupcade). Whilst I didn’t to go as far as building this project the ultra detailed instructions were really helpful in setting up the software. I decided at the start that I was going to use a USB game controller (e.g.. http://amzn.to/1qAS3gk) which was relatively inexpensive.

The SD card image installed easily and within a short period of time I was up and running. After a couple of google searches I found some MAME Roms to download and try.

The game emulation is carried out with AdvanceMAME which I initially had trouble setting up my gamepad until I spotted pressing the TAB key opened up a whole set of menus including custom configuration of keys.

Game selection is done through GAMERA (Game ROM aggregator) which isn’t very fancy but does do the job. At the point of writing this I am still using the USB wireless keyboard to operate GAMERA and the game controller for the game play. I have not yet found a way of controlling GAMERA with the game controller.

This is a fun little device to play with and being a child of the 1980s has brought back lots of great memories for me.


Portapi12


I am still trying to decide which case to build this around. I am currently thinking toward a retro Macintosh.



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Ryanteck budget Raspberry Pi powered robot kit

Want to get into Raspberry Pi based robotics?

If the answer is yes then can I recommend to you the Budget Raspberry Pi Robot kit from Ryanteck. This is a great little kit which is relatively easy to assemble and priced extremely competitively at just under £30.



The kit I was sent to review contained:

The motor control kit (RKT-000-001)
The budget robot kit (RTK-000-003)

You do need to supply your own Raspberry Pi and means of powering the Pi.
You will also need soldering skills and equipment.

I must admit that I cheated and a kind colleague soldered the motor control board for me, but in hindsight I could have done it myself!

The robot kit was extremely simple to build and made a nice morning project.

The instructions were very detailed and included good product photos showing each step. The Raspberry Pi instructions for setting up wifi connectivity were simple to follow and the example code on github made programming it very easy.

This is a great product and also having met Ryan from Ryanteck I would definitely encourage you to try this kit out. Ryan is an awesome young man who is destined to do really great things. Check out the links for Ryan at the official Raspberry Pi website http://www.raspberrypi.org/tag/ryan-walmsley/




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FUZE

FUZE - A Raspberry Pi powered computer programming and electronics workstation

(PART 1)


I first saw the FUZE at the Education Innovation Conference in February of 2014 (In fact I am using their mouse mat at my desk right now!). At the time I was very impressed with the concept and fell in love with the design. The kit essentially does what it says on the box: “A Raspberry Pi powered computer programming and electronics workstation”

Before you go any further check out my YouTube unboxing and first look video:



Why did I fall instantly in love with it?

As a child of the 1980s I spent much of my time programming in BBC Basic on an Acorn Electron computer plugged into my parent's TV. Back in the day programs were saved onto C60 cassette tapes and I still remember with fondness the loading sound! The design is so reminiscent of this time that it brought back many happy memories.

Acorn_Electron
The Acorn Electron first introduced in 1983

The idea of taking a Raspberry Pi and embedding it at the heart of a robust, school friendly computer works really well with the FUSE. As both a product reviewer and a teacher running a Raspberry Pi club I could easily see this being used in the classroom and during a club setting - but more about that later.

In the kit I was sent to review there was:

  • FUZE computer station
  • A mouse, power supply, SD card
  • A solder-less breadboard
  • User guide for FUSE BASIC
  • Electronics componets

In the electronics componet box there was:

  • Jumper cables
  • 7 segmented LED
  • Resistors
  • LDR
  • LEDs (Red, Yellow and Green)
  • Smaller jumper cables
  • Micro switches


FUZE unit


The FUZE is incredibly simple and quick to setup and within 5 minutes we were opening up FUZE Basic and writing our first program which obviously was “Hello World”. It was at this stage my 9 year old son who is very tech savvy and enjoys programming in Python wanted to get involved.

BtOzztdIEAAHBMe
After a couple of hours of writing in Basic Philip was very excited about what he could do with the FUZE.


In summary:

  • If you are looking at introducing computer science / electronics into the curriculum and you lack specialist teachers and resources this would be an excellent place to start.

  • The workstations are extremely well constructed and I believe would survive well in a classroom / club situation. The all-in-one aspects would also make it an ideal candidate for clubs or groups where the Raspberry Pis have to be dismantled at the end of every session. I currently spend over an hour setting up and taking down every session.

  • FUZE basic clearly fits in well where students are now required to learn two programming languages (one textual). Whilst many people are dismissive of BASIC (after all it is basic!) it does offer students a good introduction into a textual language.

  • Incorporating electronics into the kit. This I feel was a moment of sheer brilliance. Including both the connectors and physical space for the breadboard at the top of the unit is excellent. It has been my experience that even the most careful of student, setting up their breadboard, connecting it to the Pi can easily find it all falling out and not working when the Pi is moved or touched.

  • The price point is very competitive for a school IT solution and I would love to buy one of these for home. Having been to many trade shows and educational events I often complain that a piece of technology is essentially a shiny box designed to help a school spend money, which then gathers dust on the shelf. Within a few minutes of unboxing the FUZE students can be engaged in programming and get the immediate rewards for their efforts. This is often impossible to do with school Mac or PC based solutions which will need much configuration before use on the network etc.


If you are looking and don’t know where to start down the journey of IT and CS in school - this is definitely a good starting point. I believe that this product has been developed with the end-user in mind. I know for one, that my son will be very sad when this has to go back to the PR company next week.

Part 2 will contain more information about using the breadboard and the electronics aspect of the kit.


5_Star
UK TECH REVIEWS 5 Start rating for ease of use, value for money
and contribution to teaching and learning in the classroom




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1000 downloads of 10EPP

1000 downloads.001


We have just had 1000 downloads of 10 Engaging Python Projects. We are so proud that people have downloaded this little resource which supports simple Python programming with the CPC traffic light kit.

The CPC Traffic Light can be bought here.

Thank you to everyone who has downloaded this free resource from either iBook store or from our free PDF download.

10 engaging python projects

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The CamJam EduKit

The CamJam EduKit - a must buy!


EduKit

Want to start building simple input-output circuits for your Raspberry Pi but are not sure what components to buy?

This little starter kit contains:

a Breadboard
Red, Amber and Green LEDs
Switch (button)
Buzzer
Resistors
Connector cables

The kit has to be assembled by the user (this is a good thing!) and will introduce you into the world of circuit building and programming with the Raspberry Pi.

Associated worksheets can be downloaded from
http://camjam.me/edukit


If you would like to buy one head over to the PiHut where they can be picked up for only a fiver (£5 including VAT).

If you need any other reasons to buy this great kit profits from this kit go to support CamJam with their educational and community out-reach work.

This comes very highly recommended by UK Tech Reviews and I will personally be using them next year when I deliver Raspberry Pi training.

Buy them here

PiHut banner

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Raspberry Pi model B+

I was very excited to receive a package on Friday containing not 1 but 15 Raspberry Pi model B+. Over the summer holiday I will be upgrading my Raspberry Pi lab at school to use the new models.

I am not going to write a detailed blog post about all the differences between the B and B+ model as this has already been covered on other blogs and websites.

Key features of the new Pi (model B in brackets for comparison)

  • Broadcom BCM2835 SoC full HD multimedia applications processor (same for model B)
  • 512 MB SDRAM @ 400 MHz (same for model B)
  • MicroSD card for storage (SD card)
  • 4 USB ports (2 USB ports)
  • Power rating: 600mA up to 1.8A @ 5V (750mA up to 1.2A @ 5V for model B)
  • 40 GPIO pins (26 GPIO pins)


Some of the other key features include:

  • Composite RCA is now shared with audio
  • Smaller design
  • More GPIO pins

Check out our first look video below:






The LEDs are connected to pins 3,5 and 7 with a resistor connected to the cathode of each LED (short leg) connected to pins 17,20 and 25.

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import random

GPIO.cleanup()
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)
GPIO.setup(3,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(5,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(7,GPIO.OUT)

GPIO.output(3,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(5,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(7,GPIO.LOW)

time.sleep(1)

list = [3,5,7]

while True:
light = random.choice(list)
GPIO.output(light,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(0.5)
GPIO.output(light,GPIO.LOW)

Please leave any comments and suggestions below.


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PiFace menu

(Updated 25th March)

Since getting the PiFace control and display at the end of February I have been keen to write a simple menu which can run on the Pi the whole time.

pi face menu

My prototype Python script generates 5 menu options which are accessed via the push buttons. Once pressed they either launch another script or run part of the menu script.

I intend to leave this running so I have included two buttons to switch off the back light and turn it back on again.

The clock option displays the current time for three seconds.

The code is still in development and is rather ‘clunky’ (if you can use such a term!) - but it does work!

Please feel free to use any aspect of the code and modify and improve!!!

Updated 25th March

I’ve not setup and mapped a generic Tv remote control - the next part will be getting the menu system to respond to different IR buttons. I don’t think I will have enough room for each menu item so I will explore custom images.


import pifacecad
import time

def update_pin_text(event):
        event.chip.lcd.write(str(event.pin_num))
        choice = event.pin_num
        if choice == 0:
                cad.lcd.clear()
                cad.lcd.write("Menu selected")
                import subprocess
                p = subprocess.Popen(["sysstart"])
                output, err = p.communicate()
                cad.lcd.clear()
                cad.lcd.backlight_on()
                cad.lcd.write("1:Welcome  2:GS\n3:Clock [4/5]:BL")
        if choice == 1:
                cad.lcd.clear()
                cad.lcd.write("GSL countdown\nselected")
                import subprocess
                p = subprocess.Popen(["GSL2014"])
                output, err = p.communicate()
                cad.lcd.clear()
                cad.lcd.backlight_on()
                cad.lcd.write("1:Welcome 2:GS\n3:Clock [4/5]:BL")
        if choice == 2:
                cad.lcd.clear()
                cad.lcd.write("Current time: \n")
                cad.lcd.write(time.ctime())
                time.sleep(5)
                cad.lcd.clear()
                cad.lcd.write("1:Welcome 2:GS\n3:Clock [4/5]:BL")
        if choice ==3:
                cad.lcd.backlight_on()
        if choice ==4:
                cad.lcd.backlight_off()


cad = pifacecad.PiFaceCAD()
cad.lcd.backlight_on()
cad.lcd.write("Pi menu Use the \nbuttons")
time.sleep(2)
cad.lcd.clear()
cad.lcd.write("1:Welcome 2:GS\n3:Clock [4/5]:BL")

listener = pifacecad.SwitchEventListener(chip=cad)
for i in range (6):
        listener.register(i, pifacecad.IODIR_FALLING_EDGE, update_pin_text)
listener.activate()


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Pi Primary Project

As we start to prepare for our Primary School transition Pi project here are a few photos of our test subjects building some of the circuits and trying out some of the code. Read More...
Comments

Reaction time game

Pi Project 4: A simple reaction time game

I will add more detail about the build later but here is the code.

I have a green LED connected to GPIO output 7 and a red LED connected to output 3.

I have a switch connected to input 23.

The program starts with the Green LED on, after a random time period (1-10 seconds) the LED turns off and the red one comes on. It then measures the time taken to press the switch.

import time
import random
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
GPIO.cleanup()
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)
GPIO.setup(7,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(3,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(23,GPIO.IN, pull_up_down=GPIO.PUD_DOWN )

GPIO.output(3,0), GPIO.output(7,0)

print ""
print ""
print ""
print ""

print "You may begin now"
print "The Green light will come on for a random amount of time"
print "It will then change to red"
print "As soon as it changed to red hit the blue button"
print "The game will start in 5 seconds"
time.sleep(5)

GPIO.output(7,1)
r = random.randint(1,10)
time.sleep(r)

GPIO.output(7,0), GPIO.output(3,1)

start = time.time()

try:
    while True:
        if (GPIO.input(23) == 1):
            end = time.time()
            print "you pressed the button"
            elapsed = end - start
            print "it took you "
            print round(elapsed,2)
            print "Try to beat that next time"
            GPIO.output (3,0)
            GPIO.output (7,0)
            break

        else:
            GPIO.output(7,0), GPIO.output(3,1)

except KeyboardInterrupt:
    GPIO.output(3,0)
GPIO.output(7,0)

Comments

Maplin Raspberry Pi kit

There are many good stockist of the Raspberry Pi. I recently shopped around for a starter kit as I needed a second Pi with all the accessories to develop my Pi project for school.

i was very impressed with the kit from Maplin priced at £79.99. This is very comparable to buying each of the components separately.

The kit included the following:

What's Included

• Raspberry PI Model B
• 4GB Class 6 Transcend SD Car (Pre-loaded with the latest pre-approved OS)
• Mains Powered 4 Port USB Hub (Increases the number of available ports to 5)
• N150 Wi-Fi USB Nano Dongle
• USB Keyboard
• USB Optical 3-Button Scroll Mouse
• 1.5m USB A to Micro B Cable with Gold-Plated Connectors
• 1.5m HDMI A to HDMI A Cable with Gold-Plated Connectors (To connect your Raspberry Pi to your HD TV/Monitor)

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Second Pi GPIO project - traffic lights

Philip’s second GPIO project using the Raspberry Pi

After the success of our first project we wanted to try building the traffic lights detailed on the OCR resource sheet
here

After helping Philip solder the components onto a prototype circuit board we connected it up to the GPIO breakout board.

I showed Philip how to write the code to make one of the lights flash on and off. He was then challenged to find a way of making the three LEDs show the correct traffic light sequence.




GPIO-project21

GPIO-project22

GPIO-project23

GPIO-project24

In a similar way to the first project I was really pleased with the determination Philip showed in writing this simple piece of code.

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO

GPIO.cleanup()

GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)
GPIO.setup(3,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(5,GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.setup(7,GPIO.OUT)

GPIO.setwarnings(False)

GPIO.output(7,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(5)
GPIO.output(5,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(2)
GPIO.output(7,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(5,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(3,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(10)
GPIO.output(3,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(5,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(2)
GPIO.output(5,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(7,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(5)

GPIO.output(3,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(5,GPIO.LOW)
GPIO.output(7,GPIO.LOW)






Comments

First Pi GPIO project

Philip’s first project using the Raspberry Pi and the GPIO to control a LED.

This project is based on a recipe card available
here.

After buying our second Pi last week we were keen to start a project with components connected to the GPIO.


flashing LED 1

The code is relatively simple and the circuit basically involves connected a LED with resistor to the Pi GPIO breakout board (available here)


Once we had the basic code written and circuit created I asked Philip if he could adapt the code to:

- select how many flashes the LED will do
- the ‘on’ duration
- the ‘off’ duration

With the final code written Philip was very keen to show us code and flashing LED.

In comparison to the world of GTA5 a flashing LED seems very dull - but this little exercise of building and coding was very well received!

The final code is included below:

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
GPIO.cleanup()
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)
GPIO.setup(7,GPIO.OUT)


print 'Welcome to the flashing LED program by Spencer and Philip'

print ' '
print ' '

print 'We first need to decide how many flashes we need'

flash = input('How many flashes would you like: ')

on = input ("how fast do you want the flashes to atay on in seconds ")

off = input ("how long do you want it to stay off for? ")

number = 0


for number in range (0, flash):

GPIO.output(7,GPIO.HIGH)
time.sleep(on)

GPIO.output(7,GPIO.LOW)
time.sleep(off)



We have ordered a few more LEDs from CPC and are hoping to build traffic lights next weekend!





Comments

Philip has discovered Python

Philip has discovered Python!

July 2012 was a great time for the Raspberry Pi in our house. We were a very early adopter and it became a very popular device during the summer holiday.

We made a number of videos showing some of the simple scratch games written by Philip at the age of 7. Whilst not being technically the most advanced pieces of code it did start him on a journey of discovery in coding.

Fast forward 18 month and my first Pi is now sat in the cupboard under the stairs as a file server and Philip has moved on from Scratch to writing batch files based on sample code he found online.

After much persuasion Philip encouraged me to buy another Pi for him to use for coding and playing Minecraft.

So here it is .....

Raspberry Pi

After getting onto the Pi store we decided to download a couple of game tutorials. The first one we found was for a Raspberry Pi version of space invaders. After playing a few games Philip said “I wish I had more lives and I didn’t die when it hits the bottom”. This was a great cue from me to say - “If we have a look at the code we might be able to change it!”

This was the moment where the penny dropped for Philip.

After having such good fun with Scratch I do hope that this develops into something he will be interested in!










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