Coding for kids and parents with Digital Making at Home

Through Digital Making at Home, we invite your and your kids all over the world to code and make along with us and our new videos every week.

Since March, we’ve created over 20 weeks’ worth of themed code-along videos for families to have fun with and learn at home. Here are some of our favourite themes — get coding with us today!

A mother and child coding at home

If you’ve never coded before…

Follow along with our code-along video released this week and make a digital stress ball with us. In the video, we’ve got 6-year-old Noah trying out coding for the first time!

Code fun video games

Creating your own video games is a super fun, creative way to start coding and learn what it’s all about.

Check out our code-along videos and projects where we show you:

A joystick on a desktop

Build something cool with your Raspberry Pi

If you have a Raspberry Pi computer at home, then get it ready! We’ve got make-along videos showing you:

Top down look of a simple Raspberry Pi robot buggy

Become a digital artist

Digital making isn’t all about video games and robots! You can use it to create truly artistic projects as well. So come and explore with us as we show you:

Lots more for you to discover

You’ll find many more code-along videos and projects on the rpf.io/home page. Where do you want your digital making journey to take you?

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App note: Advantages and limitations of the chopper-stabilized architecture of zero-drift precision op amps

App note from ON Semiconductors on the do’s and don’ts when using zero-drift precision op amps. Link here (PDF)

Zero−drift precision op amps are specialized op amps designed for applications that require high output accuracy due to small differential voltages. Not only do they feature low input offset voltage, but they also have high CMRR, high PSRR, high open loop gain, and low drift over temperature and time. These features make them ideal for applications such as low−side current sensing and sensor interface, particularly with very small differential signals.

Precision op amps are able to achieve “zero−drift” offset voltage, maintaining low input offset voltage over temperature variation and time, through a number of techniques. One of the ways that an amplifier can achieve this is by using a design technique that periodically measures the input offset voltage and corrects the offset at the output. This type of architecture is referred to as chopper−stabilized. Like all engineering solutions, zero−drift op amps also have their limitations. One of the less obvious is a result of the fact that the internal circuit of the chopper−stabilized amplifier contains a clocked system.

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Beginners’ coding for kids with Digital Making at Home

Have your kids never coded before? Then out Digital Making at Home video this week is perfect for you to get them started.

A girl doing digital making on a tablet

In our free code-along video this week, six-year-old Noah codes his first Scratch project guided by Marc from our team. The project is a digital stress ball, because our theme for September is wellness and looking after ourselves.

Follow our beginners’ code-along video now!

Through Digital Making at Home, we invite parents and kids all over the world to code and make along with us and our new videos and live stream every week.

Our live stream will take place on Wednesday 5.30pm BST / 12.30pm EDT / 10.00pm IST at rpf.io/home. Let your kids join in so they can progress to the next stage of learning to code with Scratch!

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Self-driving trash can controlled by Raspberry Pi

YouTuber extraordinaire Ahad Cove HATES taking out the rubbish, so he decided to hack a rubbish bin/trash can – let’s go with trash can from now on – to take itself out to be picked up.

Sounds simple enough? The catch is that Ahad wanted to create an AI that can see when the garbage truck is approaching his house and trigger the garage door to open, then tell the trash can to drive itself out and stop in the right place. This way, Ahad doesn’t need to wake up early enough to spot the truck and manually trigger the trash can to drive itself.

Hardware

The trash can’s original wheels weren’t enough on their own, so Ahad brought in an electronic scooter wheel with a hub motor, powered by a 36V lithium ion battery, to guide and pull them. Check out this part of the video to hear how tricky it was for Ahad to install a braking system using a very strong servo motor.

The new wheel sits at the front of the trash can and drags the original wheels at the back along with

An affordable driver board controls the speed, power, and braking system of the garbage can.

The driver board

Tying everything together is a Raspberry Pi 3B+. Ahad uses one of the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi to send the signal to the driver board. He started off the project with a Raspberry Pi Zero W, but found that it was too fiddly to get it to handle the crazy braking power needed to stop the garbage can on his sloped driveway.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W, which ended up getting replaced in an upgrade

Everything is kept together and dry with a plastic snap-close food container Ahad lifted from his wife’s kitchen collection. Ssh, don’t tell.

Software

Ahad uses an object detection machine learning model to spot when the garbage truck passes his house. He handles this part of the project with an Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX board, connected to a webcam positioned to look out of the window watching for garbage trucks.

Object detected!

Opening the garage door

Ahad’s garage door has a wireless internet connection, so he connected the door to an app that communicates with his home assistant device. The app opens the garage door when the webcam and object detection software see the garbage truck turning into his street. All this works with the kit inside the trash can to get it to drive itself out to the end of Ahad’s driveway.

There she goes! (With her homemade paparazzi setup behind her)

Check out the end of Ahad’s YouTube video to see how human error managed to put a comical damper on the maiden voyage of this epic build.

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Atomic TV | The MagPi 97

Nothing on television worth watching? Ryan Cochran’s TV set is just as visually arresting when it’s turned off, as David Crookes reports in the latest issue of the MagPi magazine, out now.

Flat-screen televisions, with their increasingly thin bezels, are designed to put the picture front and centre. Go back a few decades, however, and a number of TVs were made to look futuristic – some even sported space age designs resembling astronaut helmets or flying saucers sat upon elaborate stands. They were quirky and hugely fun.

Maker Ryan Cochran’s project evokes such memories of the past. “I have a passion for vintage modern design and early NASA aesthetics, and I wanted to make something which would merge the two into an art piece that could fit on my shelf,” he recalls. “The first thing I could think of was a small television.” And so the idea for the Atomic TV came into being.

Made of wood and using spare tech parts left over from a couple of past projects, it’s a television that’s as compelling to look at when it’s turned off as when it’s playing videos on a loop. “My main concern was fit and finish,” he says. “I didn’t want this thing to look amateurish at all. I wanted it to look like a professionally built prototype from 1968.”

Turn on

Before he began planning the look of the project, Ryan wanted to make sure everything would connect. “The parts sort of drove the direction of the project, so the first thing I did was mock everything up without a cabinet to make sure everything worked together,” he says.

This posed some problems. “The display is 12 volts, and I would have preferred to simplify things by using one of the 5-volt displays on the market, but I had what I had, so I figured a way to make it work,” Ryan explains, discovering the existence of a dual 5 V-12 V power supply.

With a Raspberry Pi 4 computer, the LCD display, a driver board, and a pair of USB speakers borrowed from his son all firmly in hand, he worked on a way of controlling the volume and connected everything up.

“Power comes in and goes to an on/off switch,” he begins. “From there, it goes to the dual voltage power supply with the 12 V running the display and the 5 V running Raspberry Pi 4 and the small amp for the speakers. Raspberry Pi runs Adafruit’s Video Looper script and pulls videos from a USB thumb drive. It’s really simple, and there are no physical controls other than on/off switch and volume.”

Tune in

The bulk of the work came with the making of the project’s housing. “I wanted to nod the cap to Tom Sachs, an artist who does a lot of work I admire and my main concern was fit and finish,” Ryan reveals.

He filmed the process from start to end, showing the intricate work involved, including a base created from a cake-stand and a red-and-white panel for the controls. To ensure the components wouldn’t overheat, a fan was also included.

“The television runs 24/7 and it spends 99 percent of its time on mute,” says Ryan. “It’s literally just moving art that sits on my shelf playing my favourite films and video clips and, every now and then, I’ll look over, notice a scene I love, and turn up the volume to watch for a few minutes. It’s a great way to relax your brain and escape reality every now and then.”

Get The MagPi magazine issue 97 — out today

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

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

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

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3D-printable cases for the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

Earlier this year, we released the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, a brand-new 12.3 megapixel camera that allows you to use C- and CS-mount lenses with Raspberry Pi boards.

We love it. You love it.

How do we know you love it? Because the internet is now full of really awesome 3D-printable cases and add-ons our community has created in order to use their High Quality Camera out and about…or for Octoprint…or home security…or SPACE PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT?!

The moon, captured by a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera. Credit: Greg Annandale

We thought it would be fun to show you some of 3D designs we’ve seen pop up on sites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory, so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can build their own camera too!

Adafruit did a thing, obvs

Shout out to our friends at Adafruit for this really neat, retro-looking camera case designed by the Ruiz Brothers. The brown filament used for the casing is so reminiscent of the leather bodies of SLRs from my beloved 1980s childhood that I can’t help but be drawn to it. And, with snap-fit parts throughout, you can modify this case model as you see fit. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Nikon to Raspberry Pi

While the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera is suitable for C- and CS-mount lenses out of the box, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to only these sizes! There’s a plethora of C- and CS-mount adapters available on the market, and you can also 3D print your own adapter.

Thingiverse user UltiArjan has done exactly that and designed this adapter for using Nikon lenses with the High Quality Camera. Precision is key here to get a snug thread, so you may have to fiddle with your printer settings to get the right fit.

And, for the Canon users out there, here’s Zimbo1’s adapter for Canon EF lenses!

Raspberry Pi Zero minimal adapter

If you’re not interested in a full-body camera case and just need something to attach A to B, this minimal adapter for the Raspberry Pi Zero will be right up your street.

Designer ed7coyne put this model together in order to use Raspberry Pi Zero as a webcam, and according to Cura on my laptop, should only take about 2 hours to print at 0.1 with supports. In fact, since I’ve got Cura open already…

3D print a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera?!

Not a working one, of course, but if you’re building something around the High Quality Camera and want to make sure everything fits without putting the device in jeopardy, you could always print a replica for prototyping!

Thingiverse user tmomas produced this scale replica of the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with the help of reference photos and technical drawings, and a quick search online will uncover similar designs for replicas of other Raspberry Pi products you might want to use while building a prototype

Bonus content alert

We made this video for HackSpace magazine earlier this year, and it’s a really hand resource if you’re new to the 3D printing game.

Also…

…I wasn’t lying when I said I was going to print ed7coyne’s minimal adapter.

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Boston Dynamics’ Handle robot recreated with Raspberry Pi

You in the community seemed so impressed with this recent Boston Dynamics–inspired build that we decided to feature another. This time, maker Harry was inspired by Boston Dynamics’ research robot Handle, which stands 6.5 ft tall, travels at 9 mph and jumps 4​ ​feet vertically. Here’s how Harry made his miniature version, MABEL (Multi Axis Balancer Electronically Levelled).

MABEL has individually articulated legs to enhance off-road stability, prevent it from tipping, and even make it jump (if you use some really fast servos). Harry is certain that anyone with a 3D printer and a “few bits” can build one.

MABEL builds on the open-source YABR project for its PID controller, and it’s got added servos and a Raspberry Pi that helps interface them and control everything.

Installing MABEL’s Raspberry Pi brain and wiring the servos

Thanks to a program based on the open-source YABR firmware, an Arduino handles all of the PID calculations using data from an MPU-6050 accelerometer/gyro. Raspberry Pi, using Python code, manages Bluetooth and servo control, running an inverse kinematics algorithm to translate the robot legs perfectly in two axes.

Kit list

If you want to attempt this project yourself, the files for all the hard 3D-printed bits are on Thingiverse, and all the soft insides are on GitHub.

IKSolve is the class that handles the inverse kinematics functionality for MABEL (IKSolve.py) and allows for the legs to be translated using (x, y) coordinates. It’s really simple to use: all that you need to specify are the home values of each servo (these are the angles that, when passed over to your servos, make the legs point directly and straight downwards at 90 degrees).

When MABEL was just a twinkle in Harry’s eye

MABEL is designed to work by listening to commands on the Arduino (PID contoller) end that are sent to it by Raspberry Pi over serial using pySerial. Joystick data is sent to Raspberry Pi using the Input Python library. Harry first tried to get the joystick data from an old PlayStation 3 controller, but went with the PiHut’s Raspberry Pi Compatible Wireless Gamepad in the end for ease.

Keep up with Harry’s blog or give Raspibotics a follow on Twitter, as part 3 of his build write-up should be dropping imminently, featuring updates that will hopefully get MABEL jumping!

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Raspberry Pi listening posts ‘hear’ the Borneo rainforest

These award-winning, solar-powered audio recorders, built on Raspberry Pi, have been installed in the Borneo rainforest so researchers can listen to the local ecosystem 24/7. The health of a forest ecosystem can often be gaged according to how much noise it creates, as this signals how many species are around.

And you can listen to the rainforest too! The SAFE Acoustics website, funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), streams audio from recorders placed around a region of the Bornean rainforest in Southeast Asia. Visitors can listen to live audio or skip back through the day’s recording, for example to listen to the dawn chorus.

Listen in on the Imperial College podcast

What’s inside?

We borrowed this image of the flux tower from Sarab Sethi’s site

The device records data in the field and uploads it to a central server continuously and robustly over long time-periods. And it was built for around $305.

Here’s all the code for the platform, on GitHub.

The 12V-to-5V micro USB converter to the power socket of the Anker USB hub, which is connected to Raspberry Pi.

The Imperial College London team behind the project has provided really good step-by-step photo instructions for anyone interested in the fine details.

Here’s the full set up in the field. The Raspberry Pi-powered brains of the kit are safely inside the green box

The recorders have been installed by Imperial College London researchers as part of the SAFE Project – one of the largest ecological experiments in the world.

Screenshot of the SAFE Project website

Dr Sarab Sethi designed the audio recorders with Dr Lorenzo Picinali. They wanted to quantify the changes in rainforest soundscape as land use changes, for example when forests are logged. Sarab is currently working on algorithms to analyse the gathered data with Dr Nick Jones from the Department of Mathematics.

The lovely cross-disciplinary research team based at Imperial College London

Let the creators of the project tell you more on the Imperial College London website.

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App note: A method of enabling more touch pads With 5-ch CapTouch module on LPC804 MCU

App note from NXP demonstrating capacitive pin channels expansion on LPC804 MCU with SWM (switch matrix) and scan sequences. Link here (PDF)

The CapTouch module on LPC804 supports only 5 channels by hardware. Normally, the device with up to 5 channels can fulfill some simple use cases. But if more channels are required by the original CapTouch module, the LPC804 might not support the usage. Even by the LPC845, the CapTouch module support up to 9 channels.
However, the SWM module on LPC804 can remap the CapTouch function to almost all the GPIO pins, while the CapTouch feature was the fixed function for pins on LPC845. With suitable software and the settings to CapTouch, the LPC804 use the different pins at different time slice, then it can support more channels than the hardware limited count by software. For example, 12 channels of normal dialing keyboard, or more.

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App note: SPI flash programming algorithms for LP546xx

App note from NXP giving step by step guide on creating flash programming file for MDK and also using pre-compiled flash programming algorithm which can be used directly. Link here (PDF)

LPC546xx has external spi flash interface(SPIFI) which can R/W external flash with single/dual/quad mode. It also supports XIP mode which means code can be executed directly on spi flash. SPIFI greatly expands application’s code size, and makes it possible to store large data(image or even videos). However, downloading data into spi flash in development phase is always a troublesome problem, since different spi flash vendors have different command sets. Customers often meet the situation that original flash programming algorithm in MDK cannot fit their hardware, which causes downloading data incorrectly.

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