Make a networked nightlight with the Raspberry Pi and ESP8266

Andy Warburton has taken his initial concept of a Raspberry Pi-powered nightlight and re-invented it using an ESP8266 board. The ESP8266 (which you can find on, for example, the Wemos D1 mini) is a marvellous chip which is Arduino IDE-compatible and has built-in wifi capabilities. Andy has used WS2812B strip LEDs wired to the ESP8266 board to illuminate a diffuse, smoked enclosure.

He’s then started up a Pi, which controls the timing and colour of the LEDs, and developed his own stripped-back protocol to communicate the status of the LEDs with the ESP8266. The practical upshot is that he’s got multiple ESP8266-powered nightlights which receive instructions over his home network from a Raspberry Pi.

You can see how he did it, including all the wiring-up instructions and the code as part of his extremely well-written blog post here.

New power board for the Raspberry Pi on Kickstarter is perfect for an in-car situation

Good evening all.

I just thought I’d share with you this Kickstarter for a Raspberry Pi power board. Designed to go in a car, and to take a 12V input and a signal from the ignition, the board sports the following features:

  • 12V power input (reduced to 5V for the Pi)
  • Real Time Clock
  • Battery monitor
  • External trigger
  • Cooling fan
  • Sleep mode
  • Timed shut-off
  • Programmable via an ATtiny.

Here’s how the project creator, from Italy, describes it:

The Attiny85 senses ignition switch, car battery voltage and Raspberry Pi status (Powered On, Powered Off or Screensaver), then (based on a Python script on your Pi) determines to shut off the buck converter or keep it on.

The board design frees almost all the gpio pins as Attiny and RTC relies on i2c to communicate back and forth with Rasberry, Fan is on the same 5v bus as the Pi, so It’s ON whenever the Buck Converter is on.

For quiet operations and non stressing applications I choose a 12v fan working on 5v, for more demanding uses It’s best to use a 5volt one at full speed. It could also be tied on a GPIO pin to enable PWM control based on processor temp.

The Attiny85 senses ignition switch, car battery voltage and send data to the Pi, which, in turn sends its status (Powered On, Powered Off or Screensaver).

The Raspberry, based on a Python script on your Pi desktop determines to stay on, on screen saver or to shut down; in case of shut down sends a command to the Attiny to shut off the buck converter to minimize battery consumption. A battery voltage threshold can be used to trigger also a clean shutdown before battery goes flat.

The fully-assembled board on Earlybird is 25 Euros rising to 35 Euros after the first 100 have gone.

You can take a look at the Kickstarter, and pledge, here.

Black Friday deals for the Raspberry Pi and Maker community

Hi everyone. I’ve gone through my big list of Pi and Maker companies and put together a list of those offering Black Friday deals. Find them below!

  • ModMyPi – Up to 50% off a range of products & FREE Pi Zero Wireless on orders > £100 with discount code 100ZERO. Some great stuff here with decent discounts, including the pi-top Raspberry Pi-powered laptop and robotics kits from Pi Borg, and that’s just the start.
  • Pimoroni – up to 40% off various products, including their own. Plus, follow them on Twitter throughout the day to win gift cards on the hashtag #YarrBooty.
  • The Pi Hut – various discounts up to 50%, all worked out for you.
  • Pi Borg – some very special offers here.
  • Pi Supply – 15% off selected products with code BLACKPIDAY18 at the checkout.
  • No Starch Press – 42% off absolutely everything from this brilliant book publisher using code FRIDAY42.
  • Raspberry Pi Press – 50% off books and back issues.
  • Bare Conductive – up to 25% off all weekend.
  • Adafruit – Use code BLACKFRUIT to get a 20% discount *only* on Feather products! All other items will be 15% off. (Discount does not apply to gift certificates, subscriptions and software)
  • Tindie – some great discounts from various independent makers over in their store.
  • Piper – $100 off the Piper computing kit

As usual, if anyone spots any other offers, add a comment below!

Get a head-start on New Year’s Eve with ModMyPi’s fireworks tutorial for the Raspberry Pi and SenseHAT

Claire Pollard, who recently started work for Pi retailer ModMyPi has started to write some tutorials for their website. On 5th November, she published a great tutorial that uses the Raspberry Pi, together with the SenseHAT, to create a fireworks display. Now, obviously this was for the UK’s ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ celebrations, but it seemed a good idea to point it out to everyone now so that you can get a head-start on your New Year’s Eve displays!

You can buy a SenseHAT from ModMyPi here.

There is some terrific re-usable code included in the tutorial and it even goes into threading to make multiple fireworks appear on the SenseHAT at once. It would be fairly simple to adapt the code to use other boards, such as the Pimoroni UnicornHAT (or whatever) so… take a look at the tutorial here and you can find the code on GitHub here.

Cotswold Raspberry Jam – THIS Saturday afternoon

This Saturday 24 November sees Cotswold Raspberry Jam in Cheltenham, 1-4pm. Free tickets are available from:

The event includes the Astro Pi Mission Zero tutorial where you can get your code running on the International Space Station! If you’re under 14, you’ll also get a certificate posted to you after your code has run on the ISS, confirming the date and location.

You can also learn how to code Christmas tree decorations in Minecraft. Write a program to create one star or bauble, then use our example code to place it on the top of every nearby tree!

Cotswold Jam are going to give away a brand new Raspberry Pi 3B+ to the best child programmer who doesn’t already own a Pi, and there are also CamJam EduKit prizes for those who bring along their own projects to show & tell.

David Pride will be demonstrating his Digital Graffiti using a Pi and a Wii controller, there will be balloon-popping war robots with Micro Pi Noon and a host of retro games to play with.

Come along, 1-4pm on Saturday afternooon!

Earlier on Saturday morning, Cotswold Jam are co-hosting Code Club South West’s volunteer meetup – if you’re an adult interested in helping out with Code Clubs, do come along from 10am.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ launched today

Interesting news from Raspberry Pi today. They’ve launched a new product: the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+. Take a look at the official announcement here. It’s basically a 3B+, with the associated improvements in speed and thermal performance but in the smaller A+ form factor. The Ethernet port has been removed and there is but one USB port. The RAM is also cut down to 512MB. This smaller form factor is great for embedded projects that need increased performance and is sure to be popular amongst the industrial market and hobbyists needing the extra vroom!

You can get hold of the 3A+ by visiting The Pi Hut, Pimoroni or ModMyPi. The price is around £23. Other sellers, such as Adafruit, are sure to come online soon.