Crowbits from Elecrow – electronic block-based STEM building kit launched on Kickstarter

Hong Kong-based Elecrow, who not long ago completed shipping their CrowPi 2 laptop kit based on the Raspberry Pi, have launched their latest Kickstarter campaign: Crowbits. Crowbits are magnetically-snappable physical programming blocks that enable kids to put together complex constructions without all the tedious wiring-up. They’ve made many of the blocks LEGO-compatible so extending the parts with your own construction blocks is an exciting option.

Programming is carried out using LetsCode, which is based on Scratch 3.0, which should be familiar to kids who are used to visual programming environments.There are 80+ modules available and Elecrow have kitted them up into various groups as you can see here:

The more advanced kits require you to use a board as the “brains” and if you want a micro:bit-compatible kit, go for the Inventor’s Kit, details of which you can see below:

They’ve already reached their $10,000 goal, so it’s sure to be funded and the pledge level costs are quite reasonable (although watch out for import charges as they’ve not mentioned them or where it’s being shipped from).

You can view the campaign here and view the (slightly too-peppy for me, but I’m not the target market!) campaign video below:

Play Hunt the Wumpus with your Raspberry Pi Pico

Tony Smith (aka SmittyTone) has created a version of the game Hunt the Wumpus for the Raspberry Pi Pico, programmed in C. He’s used an 8×8 LED matrix display (with I2C backpack) for the display then added a joystick, another button, some LEDs and a buzzer for audio clues as to what is around you in the “maze”.

Can you defeat the Wumpus? Find out by following the instructions on SmittyTone’s blog and replicating the project.

Drive servos, steppers, DC motors and solenoids with the Raspberry Pi Pico and CircuitPython with this great guide from Adafruit

Adafruit have produced some exceptional tutorials/guides over the years and it appears that they are doing a sterling job on new guides for the Raspberry Pi Pico.

Their latest guide shows you to how to hook up a Raspberry Pi Pico to various electronic components to drive servos, stepper motors, DC motors and even solenoids!

You can read the guide here which includes a full list of parts which you should be able to source even if you don’t live in the US – check The Pi Hut, Pimoroni and AliExpress for what you need. You can see a video of the whole “party” below:

Run a v7 Unix clone on your Raspberry Pi Pico – take a look at this experiment using Fuzix

Image by Alasdair Allan (https://alasdairallan.com/)

David Given has been working on porting the Fuzix operating system to various microcontrollers and he wondered if he could get it working on the Raspberry Pi Pico.

He’s described Fuzix in the following terms:

Fuzix is a proper Unix, with multiple processes, devices, all the standard Unix tools, Bourne shell, vi clone, etc. Given the RP2040’s limited RAM and no MMU, this port keeps just one process in memory at a time, swapping in and out to an SD card to do context switches; this works surprisingly well. Each process gets up to 64kB of code and data.

He succeeded in his efforts, and he describes performance on the little board as “pretty decent”, though he hasn’t tried overclocking the Pico yet to see how much he can get out of it. He has documented it all over on his blog where you can see how he did it and how to reproduce it yourself. Over on the Raspberry Pi Forums, where he posted the work as a thread, you can see the exploits of other people who have replicated the project, as well as some more information on hooking up an SD card reader like so:

Thanks to Alasdair Allan again for this wiring diagram

David’s plan is to look at porting Fuzix to the full Raspberry Pi at some stage, so keep an eye on his blog for that.

Add LoRaWAN support to your Raspberry Pi Pico with this tutorial

Mauro Riva has written an excellent tutorial on adding LoRaWAN support to the Raspberry Pi Pico using a cheap Lora board and custom MicroPython firmware. He details how to connect the Lora board up to the Pico before going on to describing how to extend the normal MicroPython firmware to support cryptographic primitives. By introducing these primitives, he communicates with the Lora board and opens up the possibility of communication with other Lora devices, such as those on The Things Network.

Until someone comes up with a plugin daughter board for the Pico (and my money is on Pi Supply), this is an excellent start for anyone wanting to use the Pico to “do” Lora. You can read how to do it yourself, and find the Lora board, over on LeMaRiva.

Conway’s Game of Life on a Pimoroni Pico Scroll Pack (and other accessories!)

Tony Goodhew got in touch and told me about Steve Baines’ effort to get the famous Conway’s Game of Life running on the Raspberry Pi Pico with a Pimoroni Pico Unicorn Pack attached. You can see Steve’s original script on the Pimoroni forums here. You can also read about Tony’s port of the same code to work on the Pico Explorer screen in the same place.

Not having a Pico Unicorn to hand, I wondered if it would work on a Pimoroni Pico Scroll Pack – and indeed it did, with some minor modifications to Steve’s code. You can see that code on a GitHub Gist here.

To get it to run, load the Pimoroni MicroPython UF2 onto your Raspberry Pi Pico, then use Thonny to put the code onto your Pico, calling it main.py. Make sure you’re not in REPL mode in Thonny, and the code should just run. The A button on the Scroll Pack resets the game and starts it going again.

A demo video of a couple of runs can be seen below: