Programmable Bluetooth remote for the Raspberry Pi comes to Kickstarter

A company called Remodo based in Honk Kong have developed a flexible remote control that works over Bluetooth and IR/HID to control functions on your Raspberry Pi and has created a Kickstarter campaign to fund it. Designed for home automation, smart living and home entertainment, the Remodo X is pretty stylish and comes with an app for your mobile to configure the functions. A GitHub library to support various home automation projects has already been started and will be available soon. The Remodo X is on Kickstarter for around £30 in HK$.

You can see the campaign video below and you can visit the Kickstarter campaign here:

New version of the micro:bit launched – but won’t be available until November

Front and back of the BBC micro:bit V2. Credit: micro:mag

Great news from the micro:bit Foundation today. There will soon be a new version of the micro:bit available to buy!

There are several exciting new features on the version 2:

  • An integrated speaker
  • An integrated MEMS-type microphone
  • A new capacitive touch button built into the main logo on the front
  • A new sleep mode to enable low power consumption when not in use
  • A new processor (nRF52833)
  • The flash memory has been doubled to 512kb
  • The RAM has been increased to 512kb (an 8x improvement!)
  • The ability for add-on boards to draw up to 200mA current
  • A new “notched” edge connector to allow crocodile clips to connect more securely.

There will be some minor compatiblity issues – the increase in components on the back will mean that some of the existing cases will not fit and the LED column pins on the edge have been swapped around (although very few add-ons use these).

This is a really exciting development from the Foundation – it’s great to see them investing the time and resources in a new version and it’s sure to give a boost to not only the buying market but, more importantly, the chance for creative activities.

Interestingly, they have chosen to announce the new version in advance of availability. This presents two issues that I can see: 1) No-one will want the existing stocks of version 1 and 2) The publicity they receive from announcing it early will be somewhat wasted by the delay. However, it also means that consumers will be happier as they may decide to hold off until the new version is available.

You can read a more in-depth article about the version 2 over at micromag and also at Tom’s Hardware where Les Pounder also covers the release. Pimoroni will have the new version and have an email list so you can get notified when it’s available. This is addition to regular suppliers Farnell and new partner OKdo.

You can see a video about a couple of the new features below:

Vizy, the Raspberry Pi-powered AI camera with lots of options – crowdfunding on Kickstarter now!

Charmed Labs, the team behind the well-known Pixy camera, have launched a new Kickstarter campaign for “the Vizy”. The Vizy, which is powered by a Raspberry Pi 4 (of various memory sizes), takes photographs with a 12 megapixel camera and then internally processes the images to determine what is in them. If it detects a certain animal, or even something else, it can then be programmed to take specific actions. For example, if it spots a squirrel, it might activate an automatic feeder specifically for that animal. Another example: you might want to measure how many cars or vans pass your house every day – the Vizy will help you do that.

They have developed a software stack to handle all this and you can see a sample on this page, although full documentation on the software is yet to be completed. The Vizy will come with a suite of ready-made applications that can be used as they are, or with modifications. One of them, the Birdfeeder app, recognises 20 common bird species and then, once identified, uploads photographs to the cloud.

To go with the 12 megapixel camera, which uses the same Sony sensor as the official Raspberry Pi HQ Camera, they have improved the software to allow capture of high quality video up to 300 frames per second.

As well as the software, a special I/O interface on the side of the Vizy lets you add additional peripherals to control hardware devices.

All-in-all, it’s a very nice piece of kit, and is a step-up from something like the NatureBytes camera in terms of the software and the design of the product.

The Vizy costs from $229 (on the Earlybird for the 2GB Pi 4 version) and then rises accordingly.

You can view the campaign video below or head over to the (already funded) Kickstarter page now.

Carnegie Mellon student retrofits a Polaroid camera with a Raspberry Pi, camera module and thermal printer

Sam Zeloof, who is currently studying electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University as an undergraduate has taken an old Polaroid camera and retro-fitted it with a Raspberry Pi W, a camera module and a thermal printer. He added two LiPo batteries to provide the 7-8 volts needed by the printer and then programmed the whole thing to produce thermally-printed photographs whenever the trigger was pressed. You can read all about the project and how he did it over at IEEE Spectrum.

Intrusion detector lights up and counts using a Raspberry Pi

Nick decided that he wanted a more visual representation of the attempts bots made to attack and gain access to his server. To do this, he took a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a Pimoroni Blinkt and a 7-segment display and created a device called the PiAlert, the case of which was 3D-printed. For the software, he configured fail2ban (which monitors log files) to trigger a special action whenever it detected a potential intrusion. The triggered action is a Python3 script (which Nick admits is an absolute mess!) which acts as an HTTP server, listening for the notifications from fail2ban and lighting up LEDs accordingly. The 7-segment display is also updated to show the number of intrusion attempts made.

You can read more about the device on Nick’s blog, including how to do it yourself..

Here is a video of the PiAlert in action:

World Alzheimer’s Day – a project helping dementia/Alzheimer’s sufferers explore their memories, prototyped using the Raspberry Pi

21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day. A few years ago, my Nan passed away. By the end, she didn’t recognise anybody and couldn’t communicate. It is not an illness or a condition I would wish on anyone.

Back in 2010, Chloe Meineck began creating the first Music Memory Box. The idea of the box was to give dementia suffers a experience of memory through the use of music. Over the next few years, Chloe developed the idea and came across the Raspberry Pi and RFID tags. Bringing these ideas together, she then developed a prototype with the Pi.

The box lid is filled with a photo collage and then other objects (with RFID tags attached) are added. These objects, when placed on the central RFID reader then trigger the Pi to play a relevant audio clip (stored on a USB stick) that matches a photograph in the lid. The person using the box then associates the sounds with the photograph.

Eventually, she developed the idea into a product and funded it through Kickstarter (although it’s darned difficult to tell if the Pi is still used!). The Kickstarter finished last year and they are now into production (although COVID-19 has delayed them somewhat). Their aim is eventually to get the MMB into care homes across the world.

The BBC’s Digital Planet covered it well in this audio segment (when it was definitely using the Pi) and Bargain Hunt today did a dementia special segment on the box which you can watch here. You can read a lot more about the project on the website here.

As an aside: you can learn about music therapy from Dementia UK.

Here’s the Kickstarter video, for those who are interested: