Be a volunteer at Pi Wars and help us to celebrate Raspberry Pi robotics! – 30th & 31st March

The last weekend of March sees the 5th Pi Wars competition. Teams from all over the world will come together in Cambridge, UK and compete against each other on seven challenge courses, hoping to earn points, prizes and glory.

You can get involved at the event, and attend for free, by volunteering as a Judge and/or Marshal. It’s not as scary as it sounds! As a Judge, you’re given all you need to record scores and measure run times. As a Marshal, you’ll be manning the front desk and/or doing little jobs to make the event run smoothly. All we ask is for 2-3 hours of your time. The rest is yours to do with as you please – check out the robots, watch some challenge runs and get to know some of the members of this great community.

You can read a bit more about volunteering over on the Pi Wars website.

You can volunteer either by grabbing a free ticket from our ticket merchant or by contacting Mike via the Pi Wars website.

If you just want to attend Pi Wars as a spectator, tickets are still available – they are £5 per day or £7 for the weekend. Get your tickets here. You’ll be able to see all the robots in action, browse the Marketplace and Show and Tell stalls and, if you’d like to, take part in a robot programming workshop with Neil Lambeth of Red Robotics.

It’s all happening on 30th & 31st March, so come along and join in the fun. 🙂

Hacking a cute, six-legged plastic toy with a Raspberry Pi Zero

David Pride has taken a Tobbie robot toy and hacked it using some 3D-printed extra parts and a Raspberry Pi Zero. He’s used a ZeroBorg from PiBorg as the motor controller and then 3D-printed a replacement head to house the Raspberry Pi Zero, the ZeroBorg, a Pi camera and a Pimoroni Blinkt for eyes. Predictably now called “Zobbie”, the robot now walks about (as you can see in the video below), is Pi-controlled and is just one of the cutest makes I’ve seen.

If you want to do it yourself, search for Tobbie on eBay or Amazon and then follow Dave’s walkthrough here. His code (this will be up later on tonight!) and the files for the 3D-printable head are available online.

Playing multiple sound files on multiple output devices simultaneously with a Raspberry Pi

Devon Bray was working on an art installation project with Sara Dittrich. The requirement was to play 8 different sound files out of 8 different loudspeakers and to synchronise them all. For this, Devon used a Raspberry Pi connected up to multiple amplifiers via a USB hub. He’s done a video walk-through of the project, which can be seen below, has blooged about it here and uploaded his code to Github here.

Newest Humble Bundle covers all things Internet of Things and Robotics – grab some bargains!

You can grab some real bargains with the latest Packt/Humble Bundle team up. The books, relating to Internet of Things and Robotics, are a terrific selection from the independent publisher, Packt, and the purchase amounts go from $1 to $15, or more if you’re feeling generous. You’ve got just over 11 days left to get over to Humble Bundle and take a look. Of particular interest, to me, in the bundle is Learn Robotics Programming by Danny Staple, a past Pi Wars competitor.

Raspberry Pi physical computing library GPIO Zero gets an upgrade to v1.5 – includes physical pin numbering!

Ben Nuttall over at Raspberry Pi has announced the release of GPIO Zero 1.5. This is a significant release and includes several enhancements.

  • Improvements to the DistanceSensor class giving more accurate and reliable readings.
  • Improvements to the source/value functionality meaning you could just do: led.source = button to have a button activate an LED.
  • Improvements to the pinout command so you can pass the -x or –xyz argument to show the pinout.xyz website in your browser.
  • Support for more boards, including Jam HAT, PumpkinPi, PiHutXmasTree and TonalBuzzer classes.
  • Better handling of accidents.
  • Support for physical pins. This is something several of us have championed for a while. It’s not perfect but it does solve the problem in terms of specifying pins for inputs and outputs. To use physical pin numbering, just use the BOARD prefix when defining pin usage. For example, instead of led = LED(17), you would do led = LED('BOARD11'). Note the quotes round the BOARD declaration – they’re important! There is also support for the WiringPi way of numbering – use the prefix WP.
    This is very welcome, so thanks Ben and Dave for listening to the community! 🙂

You can upgrade to the latest version by putting the following commands into a Terminal on your Raspberry Pi:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install python3-gpiozero python-gpiozero

If you still haven’t started to use GPIO Zero and want to see what the differences are between RPi.GPIO and this newer, easier-to-use library, take a look here.

Read the official announcement over at Raspberry Pi or delve into the ChangeLog to see all the enhancements.

Raspberry Pi store opens in Cambridge

In a shock development, Raspberry Pi have today announced the opening of an official store in Cambridge. Based on the first floor of the Grand Arcade in the centre of town, all manner of official goodies and third-party products are available, including the venerable Babbage Bear, shown above. Myself and Tim Richardson are dead chuffed that they are stocking all three CamJam EduKits as well!

You can see a bit more about the store on this page and see the official announcement here.

The full address is: Raspberry Pi Store, First Floor, Grand Arcade, Cambridge and the store is open from 9am today. Opening hours are as follows:

  • Monday 09:00 – 18:00
  • Tuesday 09:00 –18:00
  • Wednesday 09:00 – 20:00
  • Thursday 09:00 – 18:00
  • Friday 09:00 – 18:00
  • Saturday 09:00 – 19:00
  • Sunday 11:00 – 17:00

See the inevitable opening trailer below and a BBC news report about it here. An enlightening interview with Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading, can be found on TheNextWeb.