LEGO Apollo Lunar Lander hooked up to a Raspberry Pi is a thing of beauty

Spotted this one in amongst all the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Apollo Moon Landings.

Richard Hayler purchased the LEGO Lunar Lander set and built it up. He decided that he wanted a permanent enclosure to display it in and cut some perspex for the job. He then moved on to more hacky endeavours and decided to add lighting and button-controlled sound clips of the Apollo missions. The sound clips are played using a Pimoroni Speaker pHAT and some simple “Neopixel” strips were used to provide the illumination. He added three switches to control the lighting “moods” and three potentiometers (run through an MCP3008 analog-to-digital chip) to control RGB values. All the components were wired to a Raspberry Pi Zero:

The result is a very nicely-conceived project build with some simply-achieved, but very beautiful lighting effects:

You can read more about the project and see more photos on his blog. You can read more about the Apollo space programme over on the NASA website.

Control a Raspberry Pi / CamJam EduKit 3: Robotics kit using two micro:bits

Young programmer Luke Spademan has built up a CamJam EduKit 3: Robotics kit and, after first of all using the excellent worksheets written by Tim Richardson, then converted it so that the Raspberry Pi inside the box can be controlled by a pair of micro:bits. You can read how he did it here and see the code on GitLab here.

I reckon there’s a way to control the Raspberry Pi over Bluetooth from the micro:bit, so I’ve asked Luke about it and will look further into it as I think this is an excellent control method using the accelerometer chip on the micro:bit to control direction.

Edit: Indeed, there is a way to control the Pi over Bluetooth. Barry Byford sent over this link which you could add to Luke’s work to just use a single micro:bit.

Comparison of SD card performance on a Raspberry Pi 4

Jeff Geerling has carried out a series of SD card benchmarks on his new Raspberry Pi 4 (1GB edition) and has shared them over on his blog. It is a great post, primarily because he doesn’t require the reader to read the whole thing before giving his results and recommendations.

For those in the UK, the Amazon UK links to the two he recommends are: the Samsung Evo Plus and the SanDisk Extreme.

You can read the whole blog post here.

pi-top launches number [4] on Kickstarter with a Raspberry Pi inside – check out the Earlybird offers quickly!

London-based pi-top have just launched the pi-top[4] on Kickstarter. Pitched as a ‘go anywhere’ computer, the [4] has the newly-released Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB version) built in. The key feature is the plastic case that surrounds the Pi and gives some buttons and a small OLED screen and onto it you can attach the ‘Foundation plate’ which allows you to expand the capabilities of the device.

The pi-top[4] pledges come in different flavours: the bare pi-top[4] “brick” (sorry, but it is a bit of a brick, a very high-functioning one, though!) itself, with an accompanying 11.6″ full HD screen (with touch capability) plus keyboard and with a robotics kit (the “AVK”). I won’t go into all the prices, but they’re about where they should be, thinking of their other products.

They appear to be making an effort to, once again, create their own “ecosystem”. This takes the form of the Foundation plate and their “component modules”. These vary from ultrasonic sensors to LEDs, potentiometers to light sensors. They seem to be all magnetic, so no soldering and easy-to-connect is the thing, here. They do, helpfully, provide a couple of male-to-male 40-pin headers so you can plug that into the GPIO pins, which are broken out to a female header on top of the case, and, presumably, use standard HATs with the Pi.

The screen, in particular, is very interesting as it provides a pi-topCEED-like desktop experience. The pity is that there is no screen-only option on the Kickstarter. I believe adding this would prove to be extremely popular, especially for those who already have a Pi 4 and are seeking to get a portable screen. They’ve done a very wise thing – you can just plug the pi-top[4] into the screen on the kickstand via the bespoke connector or you can plug in via an HDMI cable, allowing you to bring the Pi to the front of the screen for physical computing.

The robotics kit (AVK) looks very impressive – the pi-top[4] plugs into it using it’s bespoke connector and then you can build the robot in several different configurations.

Interestingly, they are pitching the pi-top[4] as being “portable” and, as such, it has an internal battery. This seems a bit strange as the Pi 4 is the most power-hungry of all the Raspberry Pis. Still, the Pi 4 being the newest, I can see why they went for it above a different model.

Overall, I think the pi-top[4] is an exciting product for the Pi community. I think it will find its place and, with the accessories that come with it, it’s clearly looking to build a flexible ecosystem. They have a modest $100k goal on Kickstarter, which I expect them to smash. Here’s hoping they allow people to buy the screen/keyboard on its own!

Take a look at the Kickstarter here.

Here’s a video review from Josh:


New Witty Pi 3 from @UUGear gives you a realtime clock and lets you power your Raspberry Pi from a battery

Prague-based UUGear have released a new version of their Witty Pi board for the Raspberry Pi. It is a power management board that can accept battery sources (via a XH2.54 connector) of up to 26V (although anything higher than 8V and you’ll want to investigate heatsink options) and provides a real-time clock for your Pi. It has a microcontroller (ATtiny841) on-board to do complex power up/power down operations. All the configuration is done through the I2C interface and there is a web application to help deal with your scheduling requirements.

You can read more about the product in the manual, which is online.

You can get hold of the Witty Pi 3 by visiting their website. It costs 530 CZK which is approximately 20 Euros, £19 or $23.50 making it a very cost-effective solution for powering your Pi by battery and scheduling uptime to get the most out of the power source.

Raspberry Pi 4 power measurements (courtesy of RasPi.TV)

Alex Eames has done his usual sterling power-measurement job on the day after the launch of the Raspberry Pi 4. Unsurprisingly, the Pi 4 uses more power than older models, and is far more suited to being a desktop model than a portable, battery-powered unit. For that, you’re still better off with a Pi Zero or one of the ‘A’ models.

You can check out Alex’s power measurements over on the RasPi.TV blog.