New version of Raspbian Jessie released for the Raspberry Pi

A new version of the Raspbian Jessie operating system has been released. The following software packages have been updated:

  • Sonic Pi – now at version 2.9
  • Scratch has been updated with improved sound input capabilities, support for the CamJam EduKit 3 robotics board, basic PWM support in the GPIO server, and various improvements to the display, including font scaling.
  • Mathematica – now at version 10.3
  • Node-RED – now at version 12.5
  • Wiring Pi – now at version 2.31, allowing GPIO to be accessed without sudo.
  • RPi.GPIO library – now at version 0.6.1 fixing some bugs that arose via GPIO Zero.

Various UI bug fixes have also been implemented.

The big news, however, is the inclusion of an experimental OpenGL driver for the desktop which uses the GPU to provide hardware acceleration. This only works on the Pi 2 but should provide a big performance boost for 3D applications and games.

To update to the latest software from an existing Jessie image, do the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install raspi-gpio

To add the experimental GL driver, you will also need to run

sudo apt-get install xcompmgr libgl1-mesa-dri

More information can be found on the Raspberry Pi Foundation blog.

Raspberry Pi releases 3D printing files for the Astro Pi flight case

Apologies for getting to this late – Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend jobs have been stacking up, so priorities…

Raspberry Pi has released the STL files and a tutorial that will allow you to 3D-print your own version of the Astro Pi flight case. It’s been split into 4 parts to minimise the amount of scaffolding and, therefore, lowering the print time. More information, the files and the tutorial are available via this post on the RP website.

New home theatre box with surround sound using the Raspberry Pi

Pi2Design has come up with a very neat package for their latest crowdfunding campaign.

The Pi2Media Home Theatre One combines a Raspberry Pi 2 with two add-on boards to create a full surround-sound home media centre. It comes with the following features:

  • Connects to your TV or Monitor via standard HDMI cable.
  • Internal mSATA storage up to 1TB (comes standard with 32, 250 or 500GB).
  • Comes pre-configured with OSMC as the default boot option. (This can be changed at any time via the included 8GB SD card loaded with NOOBS.)
  • Outputs 24-Bit 96Khz/192Khz High Resolution Audio on all 8-channels
  • 5.1 pass through via Optical TOSLink (S/PDIF)
  • Built-in WiFi (802.11b/g/n) with an internal antenna. (Save those USB ports!)
  • WiFi streaming to tablets and phones via UPNP/DLNA protocol
  • Built-in Consumer IR Receiver
  • Three USB ports from the Raspberry Pi® 2 Model B for connecting extra devices (one is used to connect to the 502SSD)
  • Two additional USB ports provide up to 1.5A current for device charging, such as smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, etc
  • Compatible with any powered PC speakers or analog amplifier
  • Completely hackable!  Can be reprogrammed to run any RPi 2 supported OS.
  • Enclosure is machined from T6061 Aircraft Grade aluminium, with hardened, scratch resistant infrared acrylic front panel
  • Completely “silent” operation.  No spinning hard drives to intrude upon your media experience!

The system will use the OSMC operating system to deliver content. There are various pledge levels, so read carefully, and at the moment there is a rather attractive $199 earlybird deal for the streaming version of the box.

If you’d like to read more about the device, or would like to consider pledging for one, head over to IndieGoGo.

Getting started with the ESP8266 pHAT for the Raspberry Pi

Richard Hayler has written an excellent tutorial on using this new add-on board from Pimoroni. You basically connect to the pHAT using minicom and then send old-style AT commands like you would with an old modem. He hasn’t quite gone so far as to show how it might be used practically as an IoT device, but I suspect that’s not far off. Read it here. To get hold of the pHAT, you can go to Pimoroni or The Pi Hut.

Remotely-operated underwater drone controlled by a Raspberry Pi

Niels Affourtit has put together a brilliant project, one of my personal ‘holy grails’ – a submersible drone controlled by a Raspberry Pi. He put the Pi together with some 3D printed parts, some sensors and an HD camera. The drone updates a web-page with the output from the sensors and is currently tethered with an Ethernet cable. You can see videos of the drone below:

Thanks to Raspberry Pi for spotting this one.

Add low-profile wi-fi to your Raspberry Pi Zero


Adding wi-fi to your Zero has been done before but this is a really nice video, so I thought I’d feature it.

NODE has taken the innards of a wifi dongle, some thin wires and a Pi Zero. He’s then soldered the whole lot together to provide wi-fi to the Zero and then taped the innards to the Zero. I’m not sure about the idea of having the wires go over the GPIO, but it is a neat solution. Instructions including a wiring diagram are available in his video below.