The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a registered educational charity based in the UK. Our Foundation’s goal is to advance the education of adults and children, particularly in the field of computers, computer science and related subjects.
A Raspbian desktop update with some new programming tools
Today we’ve released another update to the Raspbian desktop. In addition to the usual small tweaks and bug fixes, the big new changes are the inclusion of an offline version of Scratch 2.0, and of Thonny (a user-friendly IDE for Python which is excellent for beginners). We’ll look at all the changes in this post, but let’s start with the biggest… Scratch 2.0 for Raspbian Scratch is one of the most popular pieces of software on Raspberry Pi. This is largely due to the way it makes programming accessible – while it is simple to learn, it covers many of the concepts that are used in more advanced languages. Scratch really does provide a great introduction to programming for all ages. Raspbian ships with the original version of Scratch, which is now at version 1.4. A few years ago, though, the Scratch team at the MIT Media Lab introduced the new and improved Scratch version 2.0, and ever since we’ve had numerous requests to offer it on the Pi. There was, however, a problem with this. The original version of Scratch was written in a language called Squeak, which could run on the Pi in a Squeak interpreter. Scratch 2.0, however, was written in Flash, and was designed to run from a remote site in a web browser. While this made Scratch 2.0 a cross-platform application, which you could run without installing any Scratch software, it also meant that you had to be able to run Flash on your computer, and that you needed to be connected to the internet to program in Scratch. We worked with Adobe to include the Pepper Flash plugin in Raspbian, which enables Flash sites to run in the Chromium browser. This addressed the first of these problems, so the Scratch 2.0 website has been available on Pi for a while. However, it still needed an internet connection to run, which wasn’t ideal in many circumstances. We’ve been working with the Scratch team to get an offline version of Scratch 2.0 running on Pi. The Scratch team had created a website to enable developers to create hardware and software extensions for Scratch 2.0; this provided a version of the Flash code for the Scratch editor which could be modified to run locally rather than over the internet. We combined this with a program called Electron, which effectively wraps up a local web page into a standalone application. We ended up with the Scratch 2.0 application that you can find in the Programming section of the main menu. Physical computing with Scratch 2.0 We didn’t stop there though. We know that people want to use Scratch for physical computing, and it has always been a bit awkward to access GPIO pins from Scratch. In our Scratch 2.0 application, therefore, there is a custom extension which allows the user to control the Pi’s GPIO pins without difficulty. Simply click on ‘More Blocks’, choose ‘Add an Extension’, and select ‘Pi GPIO’. This loads two new blocks, one to read and one to write the state of a GPIO pin. The Scratch team kindly allowed us to include all the sprites, backdrops, and sounds from the online version of Scratch 2.0. You can also use the Raspberry Pi Camera Module to create new sprites and backgrounds. This first release works well, although it can be slow for some operations; this is largely unavoidable for Flash code running under Electron. Bear in mind that you will need to have the Pepper Flash plugin installed (which it is by default on standard Raspbian images). As Pepper Flash is only compatible with the processor in the Pi 2.0 and Pi 3, it is unfortunately not possible to run Scratch 2.0 on the Pi Zero or the original models of the Pi. We hope that this makes Scratch 2.0 a more practical proposition for many users than it has been to date. Do let us know if you hit any problems, though! Thonny: a more user-friendly IDE for Python One of the paths from Scratch to ‘real’ programming is through Python. We know that the transition can be awkward, and this isn’t helped by the tools available for learning Python. It’s fair to say that IDLE, the Python IDE, isn’t the most popular piece of software ever written… Earlier this year, we reviewed every Python IDE that we could find that would run on a Raspberry Pi, in an attempt to see if there was something better out there than IDLE. We wanted to find something that was easier for beginners to use but still useful for experienced Python programmers. We found one program, Thonny, which stood head and shoulders above all the rest. It’s a really user-friendly IDE, which still offers useful professional features like single-stepping of code and inspection of variables. Thonny was created at the University of Tartu in Estonia; we’ve been working with Aivar Annamaa, the lead developer, on getting it into Raspbian. The original version of Thonny works well on the Pi, but because the GUI is written using Python’s default GUI toolkit, Tkinter, the appearance clashes with the rest of the Raspbian desktop, most of which is written using the GTK toolkit. We made some changes to bring things like fonts and graphics into line with the appearance of our other apps, and Aivar very kindly took that work and converted it into a theme package that could be applied to Thonny. Due to the limitations of working within Tkinter, the result isn’t exactly like a native GTK application, but it’s pretty close. It’s probably good enough for anyone who isn’t a picky UI obsessive like me, anyway! Have a look at the Thonny webpage to see some more details of all the cool features it offers. We hope that having a more usable environment will help to ease the transition from graphical languages like Scratch into ‘proper’ languages like Python. New icons Other than these two new packages, this release is mostly bug fixes and small version bumps. One thing you might notice, though, is that we’ve made some tweaks to our custom icon set. We wondered if the icons might look better with slightly thinner outlines. We tried it, and they did: we hope you prefer them too. Downloading the new image You can either download a new image from the Downloads page, or you can use apt to update: sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get dist-upgrade To install Scratch 2.0: sudo apt-get install scratch2 To install Thonny: sudo apt-get install python3-thonny One more thing… Before Christmas, we released an experimental version of the desktop running on Debian for x86-based computers. We were slightly taken aback by how popular it turned out to be! This made us realise that this was something we were going to need to support going forward. We’ve decided we’re going to try to make all new desktop releases for both Pi and x86 from now on. The version of this we released last year was a live image that could run from a USB stick. Many people asked if we could make it permanently installable, so this version includes an installer. This uses the standard Debian install process, so it ought to work on most machines. I should stress, though, that we haven’t been able to test on every type of hardware, so there may be issues on some computers. Please be sure to back up your hard drive before installing it. Unlike the live image, this will erase and reformat your hard drive, and you will lose anything that is already on it! You can still boot the image as a live image if you don’t want to install it, and it will create a persistence partition on the USB stick so you can save data. Just select ‘Run with persistence’ from the boot menu. To install, choose either ‘Install’ or ‘Graphical install’ from the same menu. The Debian installer will then walk you through the install process. You can download the latest x86 image (which includes both Scratch 2.0 and Thonny) from here or here for a torrent file. One final thing This version of the desktop is based on Debian Jessie. Some of you will be aware that a new stable version of Debian (called Stretch) was released last week. Rest assured – we have been working on porting everything across to Stretch for some time now, and we will have a Stretch release ready some time over the summer. The post A Raspbian desktop update with some new programming tools appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2017
When I heard we were merging with CoderDojo, I was delighted. CoderDojo is a wonderful organisation with a spectacular community, and it’s going to be great to join forces with the team and work towards our common goal: making a difference to the lives of young people by making technology accessible to them. You may remember that last year Philip and I went along to Coolest Projects, CoderDojo’s annual event at which their global community showcase their best makes. It was awesome! This year a whole bunch of us from the Raspberry Pi Foundation attended Coolest Projects with our new Irish colleagues, and as expected, the projects on show were as cool as can be. This year’s coolest projects! Young maker Benjamin demoed his brilliant RGB LED table tennis ball display for us, and showed off his brilliant project tutorial website codemakerbuddy.com, which he built with Python and Flask. [Click on any of the images to enlarge them.] Next up, Aimee showed us a recipes app she’d made with the MIT App Inventor. It was a really impressive and well thought-out project. This very successful OpenCV face detection program with hardware installed in a teddy bear was great as well: Helen’s and Oly’s favourite project involved…live bees! BEEEEEEEEEEES! Its creator, 12-year-old Amy, said she wanted to do something to help the Earth. Her project uses various sensors to record data on the bee population in the hive. An adjacent monitor displays the data in a web interface: Coolest robots I enjoyed seeing lots of GPIO Zero projects out in the wild, including this robotic lawnmower made by Kevin and Zach:
Raspberry Pi Lawnmower Kevin and Zach’s Raspberry Pi lawnmower project with Python and GPIO Zero, showed at CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2017Philip’s favourite make was a Pi-powered robot you can control with your mind! According to the maker, Laura, it worked really well with Philip because he has no hair.
Philip Colligan on Twitter This is extraordinary. Laura from @CoderDojo Romania has programmed a mind controlled robot using @Raspberry_Pi @coolestprojectsAnd here are some pictures of even more cool robots we saw: Games, toys, activities Oly and I were massively impressed with the work of Mogamad, Daniel, and Basheerah, who programmed a (borrowed) Amazon Echo to make a voice-controlled text-adventure game using Java and the Alexa API. They’ve inspired me to try something similar using the AIY projects kit and adventurelib! Christopher Hill did a brilliant job with his Home Alone LEGO house. He used sensors to trigger lights and sounds to make it look like someone’s at home, like in the film. I should have taken a video – seeing it in action was great! Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam group ran a DOTS board activity, which turned their area into a conductive paint hazard zone. Creativity and ingenuity We really enjoyed seeing so many young people collaborating, experimenting, and taking full advantage of the opportunity to make real projects. And we loved how huge the range of technologies in use was: people employed all manner of hardware and software to bring their ideas to life.
Philip Colligan on Twitter Wow! Look at that room full of awesome young people. @coolestprojects #coolestprojects @CoderDojoCongratulations to the Coolest Projects 2017 prize winners, and to all participants. Here are some of the teams that won in the different categories: Take a look at the gallery of all winners over on Flickr. The wow factor Raspberry Pi co-founder and Foundation trustee Pete Lomas came along to the event as well. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s hard to describe the scale of the event, and photos just don’t do it justice. The first thing that hit me was the sheer excitement of the CoderDojo ninjas [the children attending Dojos]. Everyone was setting up for their time with the project judges, and their pure delight at being able to show off their creations was evident in both halls. Time and time again I saw the ninjas apply their creativity to help save the planet or make someone’s life better, and it’s truly exciting that we are going to help that continue and expand. Even after 8 hours, enthusiasm wasn’t flagging – the awards ceremony was just brilliant, with ninjas high-fiving the winners on the way to the stage. This speaks volumes about the ethos and vision of the CoderDojo founders, where everyone is a winner just by being part of a community of worldwide friends. It was a brilliant introduction, and if this weekend was anything to go by, our merger certainly is a marriage made in Heaven.Join this awesome community! If all this inspires you as much as it did us, consider looking for a CoderDojo near you – and sign up as a volunteer! There’s plenty of time for young people to build up skills and start working on a project for next year’s event. Check out coolestprojects.com for more information. The post CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2017 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
Is your product “Powered by Raspberry Pi”?
One of the most exciting things for us about the growth of the Raspberry Pi community has been the number of companies that have grown up around the platform, and who have chosen to embed our products into their own. While many of these design-ins have been “silent”, a number of people have asked us for a standardised way to indicate that a product contains a Raspberry Pi or a Raspberry Pi Compute Module. At the end of last year, we introduced a “Powered by Raspberry Pi” logo to meet this need. It is now included in our trademark rules and brand guidelines, which you can find on our website. Below we’re showing an early example of a “Powered by Raspberry Pi”-branded device, the KUNBUS Revolution Pi industrial PC. It has already made it onto the market, and we think it will inspire you to include our logo on the packaging of your own product. Using the “Powered by Raspberry Pi” brand Adding the “Powered by Raspberry Pi” logo to your packaging design is a great way to remind your customers that a portion of the sale price of your product goes to the Raspberry Pi Foundation and supports our educational work. As with all things Raspberry Pi, our rules for using this brand are fairly straightforward: the only thing you need to do is to fill out this simple application form. Once you have submitted it, we will review your details and get back to you as soon as possible. When we approve your application, we will require that you use one of the official “Powered by Raspberry Pi” logos and that you ensure it is at least 30 mm wide. We are more than happy to help you if you have any design queries related to this – just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org If you’re looking to adorn your home projects, school books, or kit with Raspberry Pi branding, check out our swag store for stickers, pins, and more. The post Is your product “Powered by Raspberry Pi”? appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
Shelfchecker Smart Shelf: build a home library system
Are you tired of friends borrowing your books and never returning them? Maybe you’re sure you own 1984 but can’t seem to locate it? Do you find a strange satisfaction in using the supermarket self-checkout simply because of the barcode beep? With the ShelfChecker smart shelf from maker Annelynn described on Instructables, you can be your own librarian and never misplace your books again! Beep! Harry Potter and the Aesthetically Pleasing Smart Shelf The ShelfChecker smart shelf Annelynn built her smart shelf utilising a barcode scanner, LDR light sensors, a Raspberry Pi, plus a few other peripherals and some Python scripts. She has created a fully integrated library checkout system with accompanying NeoPixel location notification for your favourite books. This build allows you to issue your book-borrowing friends their own IDs and catalogue their usage of your treasured library. On top of that, you’ll be able to use LED NeoPixels to highlight your favourite books, registering their removal and return via light sensor tracking. Using light sensors for book cataloguing Once Annelynn had built the shelf, she drilled holes to fit the eight LDRs that would guard her favourite books, and separated them with corner brackets to prevent confusion. Corner brackets keep the books in place without confusion between their respective light sensors Due to the limitations of the MCP3008 Adafruit microchip, the smart shelf can only keep track of eight of your favourite books. But this limitation won’t stop you from cataloguing your entire home library; it simply means you get to pick your ultimate favourites that will occupy the prime real estate on your wall. Obviously, the light sensors sense light. So when you remove or insert a book, light floods or is blocked from that book’s sensor. The sensor sends this information to the Raspberry Pi. In response, an Arduino controls the NeoPixel strip along the ‘favourites’ shelf to indicate the book’s status. The book you are looking for is temporarily unavailable Code your own library While keeping a close eye on your favourite books, the system also allows creation of a complete library catalogue system with the help of a MySQL database. Users of the library can log into the system with a barcode scanner, and take out or return books recorded in the database guided by an LCD screen attached to the Pi. Beep! I won’t go into an extensive how-to on creating MySQL databases here on the blog, because my glamourous assistant Janina has pulled up these MySQL tutorials to help you get started. Annelynn’s Github scripts are also packed with useful comments to keep you on track. Raspberry Pi and books We love books and libraries. And considering the growing number of Code Clubs and makespaces into libraries across the world, and the host of book-based Pi builds we’ve come across, the love seems to be mutual. We’ve seen the Raspberry Pi introduced into the Wordery bookseller warehouse, a Pi-powered page-by-page book scanner by Jonathon Duerig, and these brilliant text-to-speech and page turner projects that use our Pis! Did I say we love books? In fact we love them so much that members of our team have even written a few.* If you’ve set up any sort of digital making event in a library, have in some way incorporated Raspberry Pi into your own personal book collection, or even managed to recreate the events of your favourite story using digital making, make sure to let us know in the comments below. * Shameless plug** Fancy adding some Pi to your home library? Check out these publications from the Raspberry Pi staff: A Beginner’s Guide to Coding by Marc Scott Adventures in Raspberry Pi by Carrie Anne Philbin Getting Started with Raspberry Pi by Matt Richardson Raspberry Pi User Guide by Eben Upton The MagPi Magazine, Essentials Guides and Project Books Make Your Own Game and Build Your Own Website by CoderDojo ** Shameless Pug The post Shelfchecker Smart Shelf: build a home library system appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
The Android Things Candy Dispenser
Android Things A.I. Candy Dispenser A Candy Dispenser running Android Things, that exchange photos for candies. It uses computer vision to classify the image. https://github.com/alvarowolfx/ai-candy-dispenser https://www.hackster.io/alvarowolfx/android-things-a-i-candy-dispenser-a47e74Android Things Released late last year, Android Things is Google’s Android-based operating system for low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as the Raspberry Pi. Candy Invented in ancient India, candy is a scrumptious treat often made of sugar and/or chocolate. The Android Things Candy Dispenser Via its 20×4 display, Alvaro’s candy dispenser asks for an image, for example of a cat or a dog. Produce the requested image in front of the onboard Camera Module and the dispenser releases a delicious reward for you. Inside the dispenser Alvaro’s schematic provides all the information you need to build your own Android Things candy dispenser (click for a larger version) The dispenser uses a Raspberry Pi to control both the image detection and the candy release. Press the button, and the Raspberry Pi displays one of several image subjects on the screen. Via the camera, the Pi records the image you present and sends for processing via Google’s Cloud Vision API. Cloud Vision supplies image annotations and metadata, and if these match the image request, boom, free candy! To discover more about Google Cloud Vision, check out this video from the Cloud Vision team. Alvaro provides full instructions for the build, including all necessary code and peripherals, on both Instructables and GitHub. Building with Android Things Given that Android Things has not been available for very long, we have yet to see many complete builds using it with the Raspberry Pi. If you’d like to try out this OS, Alvaro’s project is a great entry point. You should also check out the Pimoroni Rainbow HAT Android Things Starter Kit that provides everything you need to begin making. And if you have a Pi and are raring to go, follow the official ‘Android Things on Raspberry Pi’ setup guide here. If you’ve already built a project using the Android Things platform, we’d love to see it! Make sure to share your project link in the comments below. The post The Android Things Candy Dispenser appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
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