International Space Station Tracker | The MagPi 96

Fancy tracking the ISS’s trajectory? All you need is a Raspberry Pi, an e-paper display, an enclosure, and a little Python code. Nicola King looks to the skies

The e-paper display mid-refresh. It takes about three seconds to refresh, but it’s fast enough for this kind of project

Standing on his balcony one sunny evening, the perfect conditions enabled California-based astronomy enthusiast Sridhar Rajagopal to spot the International Space Station speeding by, and the seeds of an idea were duly sown. Having worked on several projects using tri-colour e-paper (aka e-ink) displays, which he likes for their “aesthetics and low-to-no-power consumption”, he thought that developing a way of tracking the ISS using such a display would be a perfect project to undertake.

“After a bit of searching, I was able to find an open API to get the ISS location at any given point in time,” explains Sridhar. I also knew I wouldn’t have to worry about the data changing several times per second or even per minute. Even though the ISS is wicked fast (16 orbits in a day!), this would still be well within the refresh capabilities of the e-paper display.”

The ISS location data is obtained using the Open Notify API – visit magpi.cc/isslocation to see its current position

Station location

His ISS Tracker works by obtaining the ISS location from the Open Notify API every 30 seconds. It appends this data point to a list, so older data is available. “I don’t currently log the data to file, but it would be very easy to add this functionality,” says Sridhar. “Once I have appended the data to the list, I call the drawISS method of my Display class with the positions array, to render the world map and ISS trajectory and current location. The world map gets rendered to one PIL image, and the ISS location and trajectory get rendered to another PIL image.”

The project code is written in Python and can be found on Sridhar’s GitHub
page: magpi.cc/isstrackercode

Each latitude/longitude position is mapped to the corresponding XY co-ordinate. The last position in the array (the latest position) gets rendered as the ISS icon to show its current position. “Every 30th data point gets rendered as a rectangle, and every other data point gets rendered as a tiny circle,” adds Sridhar.

From there, the images are then simply passed into the e-paper library’s display method; one image is rendered in black, and the other image in red.

Track… star

Little wonder that the response received from friends, family, and the wider maker community has been extremely positive, as Sridhar shares: “The first feedback was from my non-techie wife who love-love-loved the idea of displaying the ISS location and trajectory on the e-paper display. She gave valuable input on the aesthetics of the data visualisation.”

Software engineer turned hardwarehacking enthusiast and entrepreneur, Sridhar Rajagopal is the founder of Upbeat Labs and creator of ProtoStax – a maker-friendly stackable, modular,
and extensible enclosure system.

In addition, he tells us that other makers have contributed suggestions for improvements. “JP, a Hackster community user […] added information to make the Python code a service and have it launch on bootup. I had him contribute his changes to my GitHub repository – I was thrilled about the community involvement!”

Housed in a versatile, transparent ProtoStax enclosure designed by Sridhar, the end result is an elegant way of showing the current position and trajectory of the ISS as it hurtles around the Earth at 7.6 km/s. Why not have a go at making your own display so you know when to look out for the space station whizzing across the night sky? It really is an awesome sight.

Get The MagPi magazine issue 96 — out today

The MagPi magazine is out now, available in print from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, your local newsagents, and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

You can also download the directly from PDF from the MagPi magazine website.

Subscribers to the MagPi for 12 months to get a free Adafruit Circuit Playground, or choose from one of our other subscription offers, including this amazing limited-time offer of three issues and a book for only £10!

The post International Space Station Tracker | The MagPi 96 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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DIY OpenDPS power supply

Evan’s DIY OpenDPS power supply:

Years ago I heard about the OpenDPS project to give open source firmware to cheap and available chinese power supplies. These aren’t strictly whole power supplies, they are configurable CC and CV buck converters. That means that it needs a stable DC source to back it to be used as a bench power supply. Perhaps you may not want to do this if you intend to use the DPS as a battery charger run from a solar supply or something, but most people I see want to use them for bench supplies so that requires an existing DC supply. Today I finally finished mine.

from Dangerous Prototypes https://ift.tt/3gkdDpK

Amazing science from the winners of Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2019–20

The team at Raspberry Pi and our partner ESA Education are pleased to announce the winning and highly commended Mission Space Lab teams of the 2019–20 European Astro Pi Challenge!

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

Mission Space Lab sees teams of young people across Europe design, create, and deploy experiments running on Astro Pi computers aboard the International Space Station. Their final task: analysing the experiments’ results and sending us scientific reports highlighting their methods, results, and conclusions.

One of the Astro Pi computers aboard the International Space Station
One of the Astro Pi computers aboard the International Space Station

The science teams performed was truly impressive, and the reports teams sent us were of outstanding quality. A special round of applause to the teams for making the effort to coordinate writing their reports socially distant!

The Astro Pi jury has now selected the ten winning teams, as well as eight highly commended teams:

And our winners are…

Vidhya’s code from the UK aimed to answer the question of how a compass works on the ISS, using the Astro Pi computer’s magnetometer and data from the World Magnetic Model (WMM).

Unknown from Externato Cooperativo da Benedita, Portugal, aptly investigated whether influenza is transmissible on a spacecraft such as the ISS, using the Astro Pi hardware alongside a deep literature review.

Space Wombats from Institut d’Altafulla, Spain, used normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) analysis to identify burn scars from forest fires. They even managed to get results over Chernobyl!

Liberté from Catmose College, UK, set out to prove the Coriolis Effect by using Sobel filtering methods to identify the movement and direction of clouds.

Pardubice Pi from SPŠE a VOŠ Pardubice, Czech Republic, found areas of enormous vegetation loss by performing NDVI analysis on images taken from the Astro Pi and comparing this with historic images of the location.

NDVI conversion image by Pardubice Pi team – Astro Pi Mission Space Lab experiment
NDVI conversion image by Pardubice Pi team

Reforesting Entrepreneurs from Canterbury School of Gran Canaria, Spain, want to help solve the climate crisis by using NDVI analysis to identify locations where reforestation is possible.

1G5-Boys from Lycée Raynouard, France, innovatively conducted spectral analysis using Fast Fourier Transforms to study low-frequency vibrations of the ISS.

Cloud4 from Escola Secundária de Maria, Portugal, masterfully used a simplified static model and Fourier Analysis to detect atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs).

Cloud Wizzards from Primary School no. 48, Poland, scanned the sky to determine what percentage of the seas and oceans are covered by clouds.

Aguere Team 1 from IES Marina Cebrián, Spain, probed the behaviour of the magnetic field, acceleration, and temperature on the ISS by investigating disturbances, variations with latitude, and temporal changes.

Highly commended teams

Creative Coders, from the UK, decided to see how much of the Earth’s water is stored in clouds by analysing the pixels of each image of Earth their experiment collected.

Astro Jaslo from I Liceum Ogólnokształcące króla Stanisława Leszczyńskiego w Jaśle, Poland, used Reimann geometry to determine the angle between light from the sun that is perpendicular to the Astro Pi camera, and the line segment from the ISS to Earth’s centre.

Jesto from S.M.S Arduino I.C.Ivrea1, Italy, used a multitude of the Astro Pi computers’ capabilities to study NDVI, magnetic fields, and aerosol mapping.

BLOOMERS from Tudor Vianu National Highschool of Computer Science, Romania, investigated how algae blooms are affected by eutrophication in polluted areas.

AstroLorenzini from Liceo Statale C. Lorenzini, Italy used Kepler’s third law to determine the eccentricity, apogee, perigee, and mean tangential velocity of the ISS.

Photo of Italy, Calabria and Sicilia by AstroLorenzi team — Astro Pi Mission Space Lab experiment
Photo of Italy, Calabria and Sicilia (notice volcano Etna on the top right-hand corner) captured by the AstroLorenzi team

EasyPeasyCoding Verdala FutureAstronauts from Verdala International School & EasyPeasyCoding, Malta, utilised machine learning to differentiate between cloud types.

BHTeamEL from Branksome Hall, Canada, processed images using Y of YCbCr colour mode data to investigate the relationship between cloud type and luminescence.

Space Kludgers from Technology Club of Thrace, STETH, Greece, identified how atmospheric emissions correlate to population density, as well as using NDVI, ECCAD, and SEDAC to analyse the correlation of vegetation health and abundance with anthropogenic emissions.

The teams get a Q&A with astronaut Luca Parmitano

The prize for the winners and highly commended teams is the chance to pose their questions to ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano! The teams have been asked to record a question on video, which Luca will answer during a live stream on 3 September.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano aboard the International Space Station
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano aboard the International Space Station

This Q&A event for the finalists will conclude this year’s European Astro Pi Challenge. Everyone on the Raspberry Pi and ESA Education teams congratulates this year’s participants on all their efforts.

It’s been a phenomenal year for the Astro Pi challenge: team performed some great science, and across Mission Space Lab and Mission Zero, an astronomical 16998 young people took part, from all ESA member states as well as Slovenia, Canada, and Malta.

Congratulations to everyone who took part!

Get excited for your next challenge!

This year’s European Astro Pi Challenge is almost over, and the next edition is just around the corner!

Compilation of photographs of Earth, taken by Astro Pi Izzy aboard the ISS
Compilation of photographs of Earth taken by an Astro Pi computer

So we invite school teachers, educators, students, and all young people who love coding and space science to join us from September onwards.

Follow our updates on astro-pi.org and social media to make sure you don’t miss any announcements. We will see you for next year’s European Astro Pi Challenge!

The post Amazing science from the winners of Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2019–20 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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Gender balance in computing: current research

We’ve really enjoyed starting a series of seminars on computing education research over the summer, as part of our strategy to develop research at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. We want to deepen our understanding of how young people learn about computing and digital making, in order to increase the impact of our own work and to advance the field of computing education.

We need research to find out what good computing education looks like.

Part of deepening our understanding is to hear from and work with experts from around the world. The seminar series, and our online research symposium, are an opportunity to do that. In addition, these events support the global computing education research community by providing relevant content and a forum for discussion. You can see the talks recordings and slides of all our previous seminar speakers and symposium speakers on our website.

Gender balance in your computing classroom: what the research says

Our seventh seminar presentation was given by Katharine Childs from our own team. She works on our DfE-funded Gender Balance in Computing programme and gave a brilliant summary of some of the recent research around barriers to gender balance in school computing.

Screenshot of a presentation about gender balance in computing. Text says: "Key questions: What are the barriers which prevent girls' participation in computing? Which interventions can support girls to choose computing qualifications and careers?"

In her presentation, Katharine considered belongingness, role models, relevance to real-world contexts, and non-formal learning. She drew out the links between theory and practice and suggested a range of interventions. I recommend watching the video of her presentation and looking through her slides. 

Katharine has also been publishing a number of excellent blog posts summarising her research on gender balance:

You can read more about our Gender Balance in Computing project and sign up to receive regular newsletters about it.

Join our autumn seminar series

From September, our computing education research seminars will take place on the first Tuesday of each month, starting at 17:00 UK time.

We’re excited about the range of topics to be presented, and about our fantastic lineup of speakers: an international group from Australia, the US, Ireland, and Scotland will present on a survey of computing education curricular and teaching around the world; Shuchi Grover will talk to us about formative assessment; and David Weintrop will share his work on block-based programming. I’ll be talking about my research on PRIMM and the benefits of language and talk in the programming classroom. And we’re lining up more speakers after that.

Find out more and sign up today at rpf.io/research-seminars!

Thank you

We’d like to thank everyone who has participated in our seminar series, whether as speaker or attendee. We’ve welcomed attendees from 22 countries and speakers from the US, UK, and Spain. You’ve all really helped us to start this important work, and we look forward to working with you in the next academic year!

The post Gender balance in computing: current research appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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Apply to be a TED Fellow!

In the midst of this global pandemic, the TED Fellows program is more committed than ever to finding and amplifying individuals making a vital impact in their communities and doing the work of future-making. Read on to learn how to apply, and how the TED Fellows program is meeting this moment.

Since launching the TED Fellows program, we’ve gotten to know and support some of the brightest, most ambitious thinkers, change-makers and culture-shakers from nearly every discipline and corner of the world.

Whether it’s discovering new galaxies, leading social movements or making waves in environmental conservation, with the support of TED, Fellows are dedicated to making the world a better place through their innovative work. And you could be one of them.

Apply to be a TED Fellow now through August 24, 2020 — that’s coming up soon, so don’t procrastinate!! We do not accept late submissions!

What happens when I’m chosen as a TED Fellow?

  • You become part of a diverse, collaborative and global community of more than 500 emerging and established experts.
  • You receive professional development through virtual workshops and webinars.
  • You gain valuable feedback from TED’s expert coaches on how to hone, express and communicate your work and your ideas.
  • You will give a TED Talk (at a virtual or live event, depending on the state of the global pandemic).
  • You’ll receive career coaching and mentorship from our team of professional coaches.
  • You’ll get public relations guidance and media training.
  • You’ll participate in virtual programming for TED Fellows.
  • You will have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to a thriving and connected global community.
  • You will get a possible invitation to attend the special TEDMonterey conference in Monterey, California. (Note: while we are currently planning on an in-person conference in Monterey [May 29–June 4, 2021], given the global pandemic this conference may be cancelled and the TED Fellowship may become entirely virtual. This will depend on expert advice and local health safety protocols.)

What are the requirements?

  • An idea worth spreading!
  • A completed online application consisting of general biographical information, short paragraphs on your work and three references. (It’s fun, and it’ll make you think…)
  • You must be at least 18 years old to apply.
  • You must be fluent in English.
  • You must be excited to participate in a collaborative, interdisciplinary global community.
  • You must be available May 29–June 4, 2021.

What do you have to lose?

Nothing! Apply today. The deadline is August 24, 2020 at 11:59pm UTC. We do not accept late applications, so don’t wait until the last minute!

We invite you to find answers to some frequently asked questions and meet all the TED Fellows to learn more about the breadth of this global community.

from TED Blog https://ift.tt/39Bwqub

Auto-blow bubbles with a Raspberry Pi-powered froggy

8 Bits and a Byte created this automatic bubble machine, which is powered and controlled by a Raspberry Pi and can be switched on via the internet by fans of robots and/or bubbles.

They chose a froggy-shaped bubble machine, but you can repurpose whichever type you desire; it’s just easier to adapt a model running on two AA batteries.

Raspberry Pi connected to the relay module

Before the refurb, 8 Bits and a Byte’s battery-powered bubble machine was controlled by a manual switch, which turned the motor on and off inside the frog. If you wanted to watch the motor make the frog burp out bubbles, you needed to flick this switch yourself.

After dissecting their plastic amphibian friend, 8 Bits and a Byte hooked up its motor to Raspberry Pi using a relay module. They point to this useful walkthrough for help with connecting a relay module to Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins.

Now the motor inside the frog can be turned on and off with the power of code. And you can become controller of bubbles by logging in here and commanding the Raspberry Pi to switch on.

A screenshot of the now automated frog in situ as seen on the remo dot tv website

To let the internet’s bubble fans see the fruits of their one-click labour, 8 Bits and a Byte set up a Raspberry Pi Camera Module and connected their build to robot streaming platform remo.tv.

Bubble soap being poured into the plastic frog's mouth
Don’t forget your bubble soap!

Kit list:

The only remaining question is: what’s the best bubble soap recipe?

The post Auto-blow bubbles with a Raspberry Pi-powered froggy appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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This Raspberry Pi–powered setup improves home brewing

We spied New Orleans–based Raspberry Pi–powered home brewing analysis and were interested in how this project could help other at-home brewers perfect their craft.

Raspberry Pi in a case with fan, neatly tucked away on a shelf in the Danger Shed

When you’re making beer, you want the yeast to eat up the sugars and leave alcohol behind. To check whether this is happening, you need to be able to track changes in gravity, known as ‘gravity curves’. You also have to do yeast cell counts, and you need to be able to tell when your beer has finished fermenting.

“We wanted a way to skip the paper and pencil and instead input the data directly into the software. Enter the Raspberry Pi!”

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy and co. created a piece of software called Aleproof which allows you to monitor all of this stuff remotely. But before rolling it out, they needed somewhere to test that it works. Enter the ‘Danger Shed’, where they ran Aleproof on Raspberry Pi.

The Danger Shed benefits from a fancy light-changing fan for the Raspberry Pi

A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ spins their Python-based program on Raspberry Pi OS and shares its intel via a mounted monitor.

Here’s what Patrick had to say about what they’re up to in the Danger Shed and why they needed a Raspberry Pi:

The project uses PyCharm to run the Python-based script on the Raspberry Pi OS

“I am the founder and owner of Arithmech, a small software company that develops Python applications for brewers. Myself and a few buddies (all of us former Army combat medics) started our own brewing project called Danger Shed Ales & Mead to brew and test out the software on real-world data. We brew in the shed and record data on paper as we go, then enter the data into our software at a later time.”

Look how neat and out of the way our tiny computer is

“We wanted a way to skip the paper and pencil and instead input the data directly into the software. Enter the Raspberry Pi! The shed is small, hot, has leaks, and is generally a hostile place for a full-size desktop computer. Raspberry Pi solves our problem in multiple ways: it’s small, portable, durable (in a case), and easily cooled. But on top of that, we are able to run the code using PyCharm, enter data throughout the brewing process, and fix bugs all from the shed!”

The Raspberry Pi in its case inc. fan

“The Raspberry Pi made it easy for us to set up our software and run it as a stand-alone brewing software station.”

Productivity may have slowed when Patrick, Philip, and John remembered you can play Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi

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App note: How to monitor state-of-charge in small batteries with tiny, ultra-low-power comparators

App note from Maxim Integrated about low current and voltage battery monitors. Link here

Many of today’s portable consumer electronic devices are powered by small button or coin-cell batteries. Users, of course, expect long battery life and reliable charge-level information. However, it can be quite challenging to efficiently monitor the health and state-of-charge (SOC) of these batteries without significantly affecting said SOC. In this application note, learn how simple, low-power monitoring circuits for small batteries can address this challenge.

from Dangerous Prototypes https://ift.tt/3f0axFV