The year is 2040, and you could use a good drink. People say the best drinks are made in the off-world colonies, by robot bartenders programmed only to serve the elite. Lucky for you, one of those robot bartenders never made it off-world. If you can make it past its security system, you’ll be drinking like an outer space aristocrat.
That’s the concept behind the VK-01 off-world bartender, my Blade Runner-inspired cocktail machine. This machine was my second entry into the Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge, an annual event in San Francisco where machines are judged on their ingenuity, popularity, and the quality of their drinks.
The machine uses not one but two Raspberry Pis as well as a host of other contraptions.
The Automatic Biscuit Dipper is the creation of Ewan Wills aka TheMysticChicken who made it using a Raspberry Pi and a camera module to grab a biscuit when detected and move it in and out of the cup. But how can it know what a biscuit it? An algorithm that downloaded pictures of biscuits to generate a colour range to help it detect one.
If the biscuit is soaked for too long, it can lose its structural integrity and possibly break off into your tea! TheMysticChicken decided that a Raspberry Pi would be more than suitable for pulling off the perfect dip.
This week, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced their new Raspberry Pi Pico microcontoller and at $4, it’s a good price. But rather than rehash the same ideas of what this means for the market and deeper thoughts on the Pi Pico, I’ve compiled a list of articles and reviews.
I’ve had a few Raspberry Pi’s in my time but never used something like this. If I can find more relatable projects for them, I might take the plunge but for now, it’s another great addition to the Pibrary *ahem*.
All you need to make a mini iMac is a Raspberry Pi 4, a 3D-printed case, and some ingenuity. Michael Pick showed us how in his latest video.
Raspberry Pi’s are so cheap now but I can never decide what I’d do with one if I bought another (I have two: one for OSMC and one for Retropie). But Michael Pick had a novel idea. What if you could turn one into a mini iMac (sort of)?
Well, that’s what he ended up doing. His tiny “iMac” used a cut-down Raspberry Pi 4 (spoiler alert: he sliced some of the USB ports with a Dremel which surprised me as you can just unsolder them) so it could fit inside his 3D-printed case. The only thing that isn’t sliced or printed is the handheld wireless keyboard. As for the Mac look, that was achieved using Twister OS, a Linux distro that can masquerade as a Windows/Mac OS operating system.
Stream the making of the world’s smallest iMac below.
A full list of the parts TRPG used can be found on his GitHub.
The Raspberry Pi is the bridge between the skateboard and the electric parts that make it move, such as the motor controller. It does that with about 100 lines of Python code and also controls the Wiimote’s Bluetooth connection. And what does the Wiimote do? Control the speed. All the skater has to do manually is steering.
How fast is this Raspberry Pi electric skateboard?
The Raspberry Pi Guy said he reached speeds of 30 km/h (about 18.64mph). In athletics terms, it could do 100m in about 12 seconds. That’s speedy for a DIY skateboard. But some have reached faster speeds – Mischo Erban set a world record for the fastest speed on an electric skateboard with 59.55mph (nearly 96km/h). That’s 100m in less than 4 seconds.
3 other DIY electric skateboards to check out
You’ve heard of a Raspberry Pi electric skateboard and the world’s fastest electric skateboard. But there are lots more. But here are 3 and they’re all ridiculous in their own way.
The Flying Nimbus
We start with The Flying Nimbus, named after the big yellow cloud Goku flies on in Dragon Ball Z. But it’s more than just a name.
Taiwanese creator and YouTuber Yes Ranger converted his hoverboard into an on-road cloud using fibre insulation and videos (like the one below) showed him flying through Taipei like a Super Saiyan.
The Budget DIY Electric Longboard
Okay, this one isn’t especially wild. It’s The Raspberry Pi Guy’s electric skateboard but using a longboard and without a Raspberry Pi.
This board reaches similar speeds as the RPi variant but auto-shuts off after 5 miles so don’t expect to be travelling the country on this thing. There’s a lot of parts to this build but it’s not as expensive as I thought. Its creator, CoolRextreme, explains everything in this extensive post on Instructables.
The SkateMetric Patriot
It’s power through your soles. Or something.
SkateMetric calls it “probably the most powerful motorized skateboard out there” and just from the name, you get a feeling over the outdoors and braving the elements on a mountain board.
I wish it was called DIY 9,000W All-Terrain Mountainboard Beast as I’m not a fan of “patriot” in a name but whatever. Either way, it’s a beast and you can build your own with SkateMetric’s tutorial.
Good news: the backpack can be built for under $600. Bad news: 24fps.
If you’ve never heard of one before, The IRL Backpack is a backpack equipped with HD streaming capabilities, allowing you to stream up to 12 hours to services like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live. All the streams are high-quality and you don’t need a crew to get going.
Speedify Labs, in their esteemed wisdom, decided to make their own live streaming backpack with a Raspberry Pi 4. And it’s cheaper. But there’s an emphasis on the -er part – their build cost about $600 so out of the price range for someone starting out. But it’s a one-off payment compared to $600 a month for the UnlimitedIRL version.
Video camera: Sony AS-300 – $298
Capture card: Elgato Cam Link – $116
HDMI to Micro-HDMI – $6
Computer: Raspberry Pi 4 – $55
Computer accessories: GeeekPi Acrylic Case with Fan RPi 4 – $10
Camera support: Smatree telescoping selfie stick – $23
Backpack: Jansport backpack – $30
Mobile connections: USB cellular dongles, tethered smartphones
Speedify channel bonding VPN – $3.99 / month
The downside is the Raspberry Pi 4’s limited video capabilities. Everything you film gets encoded and broadcasted in 720p at 24fps. Now, that’s fine for most people. After all, films are still rendered to 24fps. But a lot of stream watchers are used to 60fps from their gaming and that community can be very stuck in their ways.
But Speedify had that covered, using their VPN with multiple Internet connectivity. The Raspberry Pi could then stream video through two mobile phones connected via USB. It was strong enough to stay connected in and out of buildings, as you can see in the video.
The joys of a DIY project is there’s always room for improvement. You can replace components when better ones become available. And as technology advances, so can the power of the finished product.
Will this be the future of on-the-go live streaming for budding streamers? Maybe not in this form. It requires a lot of bespoke work and a technical mindset. The expensive models cost more because you’re paying someone else to do the hard work. But as a mini-project, it shows the powerful capabilities of the Raspberry Pi 4 and what you can get with DIY tech.
Micro-SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage
5V DC via USB-C connector
5V DC via GPIO header
Power over Ethernet (PoE) enabled
But according to Jenny List for Hackaday, there was an interesting addition to the instruction manual.
“It’s not the lack of an Oxford comma that caught his eye, but the tantalising mention of an 8 GB Raspberry Pi 4. Could we one day see an extra model in the range with twice the memory? It would be nice to think so.”
I agree. The Raspberry Pi has changed a lot about computing and accessibility to everyone. It has allowed people with little-to-no experience with computers or coding to get started right out of the box. And for the tech-savvy, it’s the perfect base for all kinds of projects, from Pokédexes to media players that play random Simpsons episodes.
4GB of RAM is the most significant improvement for the new RasPi, just ahead of the USB-C compatibility, but 8GB would be incredible. As Jenny mentioned, they’ve released memory upgrades fairly quickly in the Pi’s life and Moore’s law is shrinking in duration.
But for the meantime, the current specs are more than enough for most projects and general use. I really want one but I don’t know what I could do with it. I have a Pi 3 I use for OSMC but that doesn’t have 5GHz IEEE 802.11ac wireless like the 4 does. I also want to try Chromium as I can’t afford a Chromebook. Decisions, decisions.
Here’s ETA Prime using his Raspberry Pi 4 as a Linux PC.
UPDATE: While you can’t get a Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM, you can get a 2GB variant for the same price as the 1GB. It’s available on the official Raspberry Pi website. Amazon is still selling them for the old price, the scoundrels!
Remember Palm Pilots? Those personal digital assistants that you could put all your meetings into. I was way too young to own or even need one before they died out. Then came more sophisticated mobile phones which I wasn’t too young to own or need. And now we have smartphones. The end. Or is it?
Raspberry Pi Zeros are handy little computers and if you have one going spare, you might have wondered what to do with it. We’ve featured a number of Pi projects but this one is pretty cool.
Introducing the SnapOnAir Raspberry Pi Zero PCB. Now, it’s only the board but when fixed with a Pi Zero and all the necessary accessories, the SnapOnAir will provide a “true handheld Linux PC” with a 2.8-inch colour TFT display. Chuck on a handheld keyboard and a buzzer and you’re good to go. Is this what they call neo-futurism?
There’s also room to include a digital microphone as well, and at a price of $10 for the PCB, you’ll have plenty of money to customise your Pi Zero Handheld Computer Palmtop Pro 3000 into whatever you desire. I’d recommend choosing a catchier name than that though.
Finally, someone has made one that looks attractive.
A ton of small single board computers have joined the market since the Raspberry Pi was launched in 2012. Some offer better specs than the Pi while others are capable of multiple OS’s with their own quirks. That hasn’t stopped the Pi from growing and it is currently on its 3rd major version with a fourth due next year.
Igor Brkić made a high quality Pi laptop called the hgTerm, using a Pimoroni Hyperpixel touchscreen HAT, a Raspberry Pi 3, a mini Bluetooth keyboard, and a lithium-ion battery cell. Pi laptops aren’t anything new but they’ve mostly been fitted into awkward looking shells. The Altoids tin Pi was cool at the time but it looks shit now. This one doesn’t have the same trappings. Everything is enclosed in a 3D-printed clamshell, and it looks neat and tidy in there. The hgTerm screen can swivel past 180 degrees and when closed, it looks like something out of Half Life 2.
Using a Raspberry Pi Zero, Stephen Coyle built a media player that would play random episodes of The Simpsons one at a time.
To save space and quality, you might want to limit the episodes up to Season 12.
I used to watch The Simpsons every weeknight at 6 on BBC2 before it moved to Channel 4. Then I stopped because they showed new episodes and they sucked. Not a day goes by where I don’t quote it and I’ve owned the obsession now; it’s part of my personality. So this kind of project piqued my interest.
Using a Raspberry Pi Zero, Stephen Coyle built a media player that would play random episodes of The Simpsons one at a time. This works because they’re pretty random anyway so you won’t miss anything by flicking between seasons (except the one where Mr Burns is shot).
The hardware has a yellow button that queues up a new episode. For the software, it uses a Python script. And has for what episodes he has included with his? Stephen said the following:
I’m sure it’s debatable, but I’ve included seasons 2-10. After ten it declines precipitously in quality in my opinion… But I reluctantly permit the use of my code on later episodes.
Ever wanted your own Pokédex that detects Pokémon in the wild? Adrian Rosebrock’s might have the answer.
Using deep learning, Adrian Rosebrock is turned a Raspberry Pi into a Pokédex. He trained a neural network to identify Pokémon using a dataset of 1191 Pokémon images. And its accuracy? 96.84%. The build itself uses a Raspberry Pi 3 with camera module attached to a Raspberry Pi 7″ touch display. I’m sure with a bit of ingenuity, someone could 3D print a red chassis but one step at a time.
Adrian has outlined the model’s limitations including colour influencing classifications. This means it’s more likely to be wrong if multiple Pokémon have similar colours. He advisesto have “at least 500-1,000 images per class when training a Convolutional Neural Network”. Just go on DeviantArt, you’ll find loads of Pokémon images. Just be careful which ones you choose.
Check out a project video below and read more about it on Adrian’s blog.
I’m a big fan of tech hacks. I’m an even bigger fan of Nintendo hacks.
Gamer Tim Lindquist built his own Nintendo Switch clone – from scratch – with a plethora of features. Named the Nintimdo RP, the device is thicker than the Switch but contains a processor running the RetroPie emulator, thousands of ROMs, a cooling system, and a 10,000 mAh rechargeable battery (more than twice the capacity of the Switch’s). It also comes with a HDMI port so you can play on a bigger screen.
As far as Raspberry Pi hacks go, this is one of the best from a gaming perspective. I’d love to know how much this all cost. The source code and 3D models are on Tim’s GitHub, but that’s not all. Tim is working on a build tutorial though for those interesting in creating their own. Let’s hope it escapes Nintendo’s C&D lawyers.