DigiMakers Bristol – 1st February 2014

DigiMakers Bristol

Despite the threats of floods and road closures we headed into Bristol today to take a look round the DigiMakers event at At-Bristol. The last one we attended was great fun and my son enjoyed the Scratch workshop with robots.

This event was themed around computer games which gave the technology on display a different feel to the robot themed event in November.

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Berry Bookies – A Horse Racing Game For The BerryClip

Berry Bookies Horse Racing Game

Jim Flewker, a retired languages teacher, has written a horse racing game in Python for use with the BerryClip addon board. In the game you select one of six horses using the BerryClip button and then wait for the result of the race.

The result of the race is shown on the command line and via the BerryClip’s 6 LEDs.

If you are lucky your pot of virtual money will grow … but beware … the bookie always wins in the end!

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Holux Bluetooth GPS Module And The Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi GPS Clients under LXDE

Back in the old days I had an Acer N50 Premium PDA. For the youngsters out there it was like a Smart Phone but without the phone bit, the capacitive touch-screen, memory, apps, GPS or battery life. I mainly used it as a TomTom based sat-nav device connected to a Holux GPSlim236 Bluetooth module.

The module had been sat in a drawer for at least five years and I decided to see if I could get it working with the Raspberry Pi. Surprisingly I didn’t need to charge it as five years later it still powered up fine. It uses what at the time was a standard Nokia phone battery.

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Free Your Raspberry Pi Serial Port

By default Raspbian configures the Raspberry Pi serial port (GPIO14-GPIO15) to provide boot-up information. It also allows you to login via a connected device. If you need to use the Pi’s serial port for something else (i.e. a specific add-on board) you will need to disable this default functionality.

It’s something I needed to do when I played with the Ciseco Pi-Lite and luckily isn’t too difficult as the instructions below will hopefully show.

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GertDuino Getting Started Tutorial – Hello World

GertDuino Board

In my Introduction to the GertDuino I explained how it allows the Pi to compile and send code to an Atmega328 micro-controller. In this post I will explain the steps you need to take to get it up and running with an example program called “blink”.

The example is fairly basic and turns on the onboard blue LEDs. Once completed you will have a working system ready for your own experiments. When I started I had never used an Arduino so hopefully this post will help simplify some of things that confused me when I took the board out of the box.

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Introducing The GertDuino Add-on Board For Raspberry Pi

GertDuino Board

I’ve just recently got hold of a new board by Gert van Loo, the volunteer engineer who helped design the Raspberry Pi. It’s the GertDuino and follows in the footsteps of the Gertboard.

The GertDuino is a an Arduino based add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. It offers the same features as an Arduino Uno but with some additional functionality. What is an Arduino you might be thinking? Well take a look at the Wikipedia page to find out. I’ve never used an Arduino so this seems like a good place to start. I will create blog posts as I learn and will try to present them in a way that they will be useful to someone else that has never used (or heard of) an Arduino.

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DigiMakers Bristol – 16th November 2013

Dawn Robotics Rover

Today I went to the DigiMakers (aka Raspberry Pi Boot Camp) event held in the @Bristol Science Centre. I had booked a place for my son on the “Controlling a Robotic Rover with Scratch” workshop run by Alan from Dawn Robotics.

The workshop was an hour and a half long and aimed to introduce using Scratch to control a Raspberry Pi powered vehicle. The vehicle had to move around its environment and locate an “artefact” which was in an unknown location. The rover had a camera and was capable of recognising black and white patterns using some basic computer vision.

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Quick Guide To nano Text Editor On The Raspberry Pi

nano Text Editor Screenshot #1

If I need to edit text files directly on my Raspberry Pi my text editor of choice is nano. There are other text editors available but I prefer nano’s relatively straightforward interface.

As a command line based utility it may feel strange for users who are more familiar with a graphical interface but it is easy to learn the basics. Syntax colouring is available which makes reading and reviewing scripts easy.

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Quick And Dirty Experiments With Infrared Illumination

48 LED IR Illuminator

As soon as I ordered some Pi NoIR camera modules I also ordered some bits and pieces for testing. This included some standard IR LEDs and a couple of cheap IR CCTV illuminators.

These would allow me to test with the camera module and work out what sort of IR lighting I needed for different applications. Ideally I was looking for suitable lighting for an outdoor security camera and I wanted to workout if it would be easier to use ready made lights or make my own.

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Pi NoIR Infrared Camera Module For Raspberry Pi

Pi NoIR Camera Module

The Raspberry Pi camera has been available for a while now and it has resulted in plenty of camera based projects.

Like many camera modules it is fitted with an infrared (IR) filter which is there to improve overall image quality. Humans can’t see infrared so it most cases it is better to filter it out and tune the camera to visible light. Most webcams use a similar technique.

However this reduces the usefulness of the camera module in some applications. Many webcams can have the filter removed with a bit of hacking but this wasn’t very easy with the Pi camera … until now.

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