Saturday, 22 December 2012

Parts People: Mobile Raspberry Pi Computer: Build your own portable Pi-to-Go

Many people have made, or thought about making tiny little computers based on the Raspberry Pi, but for me this is the best one yet.
Not only does it include a monitor from the reversing camera on a car, a tiny keyboard, and battery pack, but it also has a wifi dongle and 60GB SSD!
This wasn't just a case of coupling of the shelf parts together, there was some soldering required but to be honest it doesn't sound that hard for anybody with a working knowledge of electronics.
The surprising thing for me was that he claimed SD cards have a limited life and they they burn out with repeated use, so to minimise the problems caused by this he added an SSD (Solid State disk) to provide a 1GB swap partition. In theory it should be faster too.
For full details go to

Maker Shed: Atmospheric Monitoring with Arduino

New from the makers shed "Makers around the globe are building low-cost devices to monitor the environment, and with this hands-on guide, so can you. Through succinct tutorials, illustrations, and clear step-by-step instructions, you’ll learn how to create gadgets for examining the quality of our atmosphere, using Arduino and several inexpensive sensors.
Detect harmful gases, dust particles such as smoke and smog, and upper atmospheric haze—substances and conditions that are often invisible to your senses. You’ll also discover how to use the scientific method to help you learn even more from your atmospheric tests.
  • Get up to speed on Arduino with a quick electronics primer
  • Build a tropospheric gas sensor to detect carbon monoxide, LPG, butane, methane, benzene, and many other gases
  • Create an LED Photometer to measure how much of the sun’s blue, green, and red light waves are penetrating the atmosphere
  • Build an LED sensitivity detector—and discover which light wavelengths each LED in your Photometer is receptive to
  • Learn how measuring light wavelengths lets you determine the amount of water vapor, ozone, and other substances in the atmosphere
  • Upload your data to Cosm and share it with others via the Internet"
For full details go to

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Register : Siri: Can you make a Raspberry Pi open a garage door?

It was always planned that with a little bit of extra circuitry the PI would be used to control external devices, and this project, controlling a garge door, is exactly what the designers had in mind.
So what, you might think, a garage door opener is just an electric motor with some sensors telling it when to stop, and you would be right there are dozens of people out there doing that sort of thing every day, but the novelty here is the romote control. Its voice activated.
And then it gets really clever, the designer is using Siri on his iPhone, and a customisable toolkit, to send messages to the Pi.  I can think of another dozen uses for that without taking breath, opening curtains, trigger a remote cat feeder, opening or locking the cat flap, opening vents on a green house, ok well maybe not a dozen, but you get the idea.
More details from the Register

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Make: Cookie Tin MonoBox Mod

If you are into making electronic music gadgets then you might already have something like this, a simple one-IC circuit and loudspeaker built into... well almost anything that will take a loudspeaker.
This guy has built his into a biscuit tin. Its powered by a single PP9 battery and while it isn't going to setthe world of hifi alight it will certainlyplay back the music from his iPod/Generic MP3 player.

If you have never made one they give it a go, once you have the bits the whol thing takes less than two hours to build and you will be suprised where you can use it.
I have one, built into an old radio case, which I use with my Casio CZ-101 synth to get that fantastic Jan Hammer "Miami Vice sound".
Othe ruses have been
  • Testing synth (and other electronic) music circuits as I build them
  • Linked to my MP3 player when camping or working in the garage.
  • Giving a nice overdriven sound with synths and electric guitars.
  • Pluged into my MP3 player, to play back drum patterms while I play acoustic guitar away from the house
  • Providing a bit more volume from teh speakers of my netbook computer. 
For full details go to

Monday, 17 December 2012

BBC News: The Pi Store opens

From BBC "Another landmark today for what must be one of 2012's most successful new technology products, the Raspberry Pi. You've seen Apple's App Store, Google Play and Amazon and Windows online shops for apps? Well, now there is a Pi Store.
The people behind the ultra-cheap computer have decided to harness all that geek enthusiasm sparked since the Raspberry Pi's launch in February and create a one-stop shop where anyone can share games, applications and tools developed for the computer.
Eben Upton, the main driver behind the Pi said he hopes it 'will provide young people with a way to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to make a little pocket money along the way'".
I have to admit that I didn't see this one coming, but I really should have done, and I wish the idea every possible success.
I am off to have alook now at what is on offer, but what do you think? Will it work? What would you like to see there?