Gordon Hollingworth, our Director of Software, has been Googling himself, and mailed me to let me know about this video he found from Richard Ibbotson. Richard came by Pi Towers last month and filmed this little interview with Gordon and Eben – it’s worth a watch if you’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes. Enjoy!
I apologise for slightly slower development. I’ve been a little unwell. Anyway, this month brings plenty of new features and performance improvements. Here’s what’s new:
- popcornmix has now completely fixed SD card corruption issues that occur when overclocking. This is excellent and much needed progress.
- He has also fixed a bug where having DDS fanart enabled crashes the Raspberry Pi.
- Installs now use the new F2FS filesystem by default which offers better performance. I’m staying with the ext4 filesystem for USB drive installs though, as many users won’t be able to mount F2FS on their desktop and may wish to do so.
- USB soundcard support is available again. Simply select ‘Enable external soundcards’ in Raspbmc Settings. Thanks to ‘stupid-boy’ for working on an OpenMAX ALSA sink. This is much better than the previous Pulse Audio approach we had, because the audio and video are in sync. Be aware that this is experimental though. As such, I’d like feedback in this thread here.
- AirPlay streaming is fixed for iOS 7 devices. Be sure to reboot your iOS device though. I’d like to thank Memphiz for letting me know where the issue was which made it easier for me to detect and fix.
- Raspbmc now has a web browser! This is available under the Programs option where Raspbmc Settings is located. Note that for now only wired network connections that support DHCP will work. I’m also aware HTTPS is broken and am looking in to that — but it’s a good first attempt that showcases a browser is more than achievable on Pi. I’d like to thank Rob Bishop for his work on Arora, Karnage for developing the addon for XBMC and popcornmix for helping me work out what attributes ‘recovery.elf’ normally sets.
- Speed improvements have been achieved via kernel backports and higher default overclock settings.
- I’ve upgraded Windows Media Center PVR addon for Gotham and Frodo.
- Fix for issue where WiFi cards disconnect after a period of time
- Added support for IPV6 Privacy Options
- Added support for LVM modules and RAID in the kernel (device mapper support)
- Added IR to LIRC bridge support
- Improve PPP support for users wishing to use VPN
- Fix for a bug in XBMC 13 where the option to disable the 720p UI cap was not working
- Fixed a message that would show above the splash screen
- Add hotplugging to XBMC Frodo. This allows connection and disconnection of keyboards without having to restart XBMC
- Fix incorrectly reported run time in the web interface.
- Raspbmc no longer warns the user if /boot/config.txt does not match the settings addon.
- Fix memory leak when playing multiple files from a playlist
- 24 hour nightly builds are resumed again
- Added V4L2 Raspberry Pi camera support in the kernel
- iptables logging in the kernel for users who would like debugging
- I’ve reverted to the classic Confluence skin as our Raspbmc skin developer is no longer maintaining it. You can still select it under Skin settings, but it’s no longer the default skin.
Unfortunately, Pebble have decided to upgrade their SDK and break compatibility with existing applications. That rules out the XBMC remote for now — but fortunately a good chunk of it is dedicated to a Python service I wrote, so only the HTTP request code from the watch must be changed, not the entire architecture.
To get the update, all you need to do is reboot your Raspberry Pi. If you’re running an XBMC nightly, be sure to switch to ‘xbmc release’ in Raspbmc Settings to get back on the stable Frodo build.
If you enjoy Raspbmc, and this update, and would like to support continued development, you can make a donation here
The Raspberry Pi User Guide, co-authored by our very own Eben Upton with Gareth Halfacree, is your complete guide to the Raspberry Pi, from setup and installing software to learning how to use the Pi to play music and video, using it in electronics projects, learning your first programming language, learning about networking – it’s a complete guide to everything you need to get going, and even if Eben wasn’t involved in this book, it’d be our first recommendation for adults and older kids interested in getting started with the Raspberry Pi.
This second edition is a much, much fatter book than the first – there’s almost half a book’s extra content in there. The first edition only covered the earliest revision of our hardware, and much of the software we now take for granted hadn’t been written back when it was published: this new edition is bang up to date, with new chapters covering use of the camera board, how to use NOOBS to set up your Pi, the introduction of the Pi Store and much more.
We’ve got the Raspberry Pi User Guide for sale in the Swag Store: it’s a great gift for anybody you know who might be getting a Raspberry Pi this Christmas. If you’d like to support our educational mission and help us produce free learning materials and more schools equipment, we’d love it if you could buy from us. It’s also available in the usual places: Amazon currently have it on sale, but it’s been so popular that it’s out of stock there at the time of writing. We hope you buy a copy: and we hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
December’s MagPi was released this morning, and it’s full of Christmas cheer. This month you’ll learn how to make your Pi sing carols with Sonic Pi; and you’ll find out about environmental monitoring, so you can keep your electricity bill down without having to turn off the tree lights.
We’re very taken by the first in a new series on building your own quadcopter: and by the second installment from Project Curacao, where a Pi is dangling from a radio tower twelve degrees north of the equator working on environmental monitoring, which makes us feel the cold and dark in Cambridge something rotten.
There’s plenty for beginners, with a continuation of Jake Marsh’s button and switch tutorial (if you’re looking for the earlier part of any of these series, they’re all available for free in back-copies of The MagPi); an OpenELEC tutorial and a tour of the Pi Store. And, of course, that Sonic Pi tutorial, where you’ll be able to program your Pi to play Good King Wenceslas with ease, even if this is the first time you’ve plugged a Raspberry Pi in.
One of our favourite projects this month is the electronic painting tutorial using XLoBorg, where you’ll find yourself Pollocking the night away. And on the practical side of things, you’ll find out how to add an LCD display to your projects via GPIO, and use it to scroll text.
The MagPi is a magazine produced by the Raspberry Pi community for the Raspberry Pi community. It will always be free to download; but if you prefer a physical magazine you can also buy print copies, thanks to the team’s successful Kickstarter. All the back issues are available for you to download, and they’re full of tutorials, interviews, type-in listings and everything you’ll need to get started with a Raspberry Pi.
Team MagPi is always looking for people to join them: at the moment they are particularly in need of volunteers to help with layout (you should be a Scribus user), and testers. You can get in touch with them via the MagPi website – tell them we sent you!
Have you seen all that stuff in the news about Amazon’s proposed new delivery method? At first glance, it looked like an April Fool’s joke – but then I remembered it was December. My money’s on it being a project that nobody intends to come to fruition; but a very clever bit of marketing for a month when Amazon sees more business than it does in any other month of the year.
The idea here is that orders under five pounds weight will be delivered to your doorstep in 30 minutes by one of these little drones from 2015. Let’s put aside objectionable thoughts about getting civil aviation licences for thousands of drones at one time; about scalability; about range; and about the way people in certain of Amazon’s markets have a habit of keeping guns in the house and shooting things. It’s a nice bit of PR and it made me smile.
But I was particularly tickled to find several people email me Samy Kamkar’s other objection to the drone idea: namely that they’d be very simple to subvert if you happen to be the no-moral-compass type who wants to get their hands on other people’s shopping. And (astonishingly quickly, given that Amazon broke the news three days ago), he’s built a demonstration of just how you’d go about doing that. Samy’s SkyJack is an autonomous drone that seeks other drones within range of its WiFi and hacks them, turning them into zombies under its control. Samy says:
Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.
We at Pi Towers are full of raucous glee. You can read more about SkyJack and Samy’s exploits, and find out how he did it, at his website.
I had mail yesterday from Andrew Gregory, a Linux journalist we’ve really enjoyed working with over the last few years. Andrew was already writing about Raspberry Pi before we had even started selling them, and it was good luck for us and for him that on the day we announced our launch, he already had a life-sized image of the Raspberry Pi squarely positioned on the front cover of Linux Format Magazine in shops across the UK. We like Andrew. He’s good people.
Andrew and much of the rest of the editorial team has since departed Linux Format, and they’re working on setting up a new magazine – one with a business model which we think will resonate incredibly well with the FOSS community; it’s a business model which is completely new in the magazine sector. Linux Voice, which is currently raising money via IndieGogo for its launch, has got us all aquiver.
What makes Linux Voice unusual? It’s that business model. Fifty percent of profits will go straight back to FOSS and Linux communities, with readers given the ability to nominate which projects, devs and events are sponsored. And after each issue of the magazine has been out for nine months, all of its content will be made available for free under a CC BY-SA licence. This is not something I’m aware of any other paid-for magazine doing, and it has enormous implications for teachers, after-school groups – and for the rest of us.
We’re very excited about this project. We know the team, and they’ve got some great writers and editors on board with a huge breadth and depth of domain knowledge and experience. These are the people who first put an article about Raspberry Pi on newsstands. I asked Andrew if he had a few words for readers of this website, and this is what he sent me:
Under traditional licensing systems, the copyright owner can print and reprint content as often as they see fit, often charging several times for the same old copy.
We don’t want to exploit our readers by charging them several times for the same old content, but we also don’t want our old content mouldering away on some server somewhere. Instead, we’d rather it were put to use. Things move on so quickly in free software that a lot of our old content will be worthless to us commercially, but it will have value to teachers, students, maker groups and code clubs.
Releasing Linux Voice’s material under the CC-BY-SA licence means that anyone will be able to take what we’ve done and update it, so it doesn’t go stale; incorporate it into larger works, such as school or university worksheets; or just download it and use it as it is.
What this means is that once we’ve created something, it will (we hope) be out there, and be useful to somebody, for ever. Learning is about sharing knowledge, and we want to help make our contribution to the shift in computer science teaching that’s been kicked off by the Raspberry Pi.
We’re proud to support Linux Voice, and we’re watching their IndieGogo like a hawk. Please head along and sign up to support them by buying a print or digital subscription. We’ll be signing up alongside you.
Well, that was a very long 30 days for both of us. Thanks to the following people and organizations, and one anonymous donor, for raising £1,500 (plus £236 of gift aid) to support Movember’s work in promoting men’s health.
PiFace – OpenLX SP Ltd
TR Computers Ltd
I’ll leave you with a picture of the final result, and the scene in Liz’s and my bathroom at one minute past midnight on Sunday morning.
In my Introduction to the GertDuino I explained how it allows the Pi to compile and send code to an Atmega328 micro-controller. In this post I will explain the steps you need to take to get it up and running with an example program called “blink”.
The example is fairly basic and turns on the onboard blue LEDs. Once completed you will have a working system ready for your own experiments. When I started I had never used an Arduino so hopefully this post will help simplify some of things that confused me when I took the board out of the box.Initial Setup
Before connecting your GertDuino board to the Pi you need to make a small change to the config.txt file on your SD card. Without this tweak the GD board will cause the Pi boot into safe mode as it grounds Pin 5. This doesn’t help at all so it’s best to disable it before we start.
Add the following to your config.txt file (which is in the /boot/ directory) :avoid_safe_mode=1
You can use any text editor you prefer but to do it using nano type :sudo nano config.txt
Add the line and then quit using CTRL-X, Y then ENTER.
Shutdown the Pi using :sudo halt
When it has finished shutting down remove the power supply.Prepare The Board
In order to program the board from the Pi we need to add four jumpers. Once these are in place connect the board to the Pi GPIO header. The rubber bumper should rest on the USB port giving the board some support.
You can now reattach the power to the Pi and let it boot up. Once you have logged in and you can see the command prompt we are ready to continue.Install Software
First we need to install a cross-compiler. This will allow the Pi to compile code which can be run on the Atmega devices.sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install arduino
The update step is important as it ensures the latest Arduino package is installed. This may take 5 minutes so go grab a coffee/tea/water/IrnBru.
Next we need a program called “avrdude” which will allow us to load the code into the Atmega devices. Gordon Henderson (projects.drogon.net) has created a modified version which allows us to make use of the Pi’s GPIO pins for the transfer :cd /tmp wget http://project-downloads.drogon.net/gertboard/avrdude_5.10-4_armhf.deb sudo dpkg -i avrdude_5.10-4_armhf.deb sudo chmod 4755 /usr/bin/avrdude Initial Device Setup
Before using the board for the first time we need to setup the Atmega328 to use the external 16MHz crystal :avrdude -qq -c gpio -p atmega328p -U lock:w:0x3F:m -U efuse:w:0x07:m -U lfuse:w:0xE7:m -U hfuse:w:0xD9:m
If you didn’t understand all the details in the line above then welcome to the club! It’s one of those commands you’ll have to just run and worry about another time. If you’ve forgotten to add the four jumpers you’ll get an error message.Download Examples
The last step is to grab some example files. In this case we will use the files supplied by Element14 on their GertDuino resource page.cd /home/pi wget http://www.element14.com/community/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadBody/64547-102-2-287143/gertduino.zip unzip gertduino.zip
The files will be extracted to a directory named “gertduino”. We can now open this directory to find the source code (blink.c) and compiled hex file (blink.hex).cd gertduino cd blink
The hex file for this has already been created but you can use the “make” command to re-compile it :make
You will need to do this for your own source code or if you modify the blink.c file. To tranfer the hex file to the Atmega we are going to use a program called “program_328″. This application is already included in this directory but we need to make it executable by tweaking its permissions :chmod 777 program_328
Finally we can send the blink hex file to the Atmega 328 chip by using :./program_328 blink.hex
You should see an output similar to that below :avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions Reading | ############################################ | 100% 0.00s avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e950f avrdude: NOTE: FLASH memory has been specified, an erase cycle will be performed To disable this feature, specify the -D option. avrdude: erasing chip avrdude: reading input file "blink.hex" avrdude: input file blink.hex auto detected as Intel Hex avrdude: writing flash (594 bytes): Writing | ############################################ | 100% 0.34s avrdude: 594 bytes of flash written avrdude: verifying flash memory against blink.hex: avrdude: load data flash data from input file blink.hex: avrdude: input file blink.hex auto detected as Intel Hex avrdude: input file blink.hex contains 594 bytes avrdude: reading on-chip flash data: Reading | ############################################ | 100% 0.32s avrdude: verifying ... avrdude: 594 bytes of flash verified avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK avrdude done. Thank you.
If everything has gone to plan the six blue LEDs on the GertDuino board should be turning on and off in sequence.
Your first steps in Pi-Arduino fun is complete, congratulations!
We’re welcoming a new member to the team at Pi Towers today. Some of you already know Ben Nuttall from his work on the Pi Weekly email newsletter (if you haven’t signed up already, you should), his hosting of the Manchester Jams, and his STEM activities.
I first crossed paths with Ben when we met the incredible Amy Mather, a 14-year-old from Manchester who does amazing things with her Pi. Ben was tutoring Amy outside school, along with a number of other local kids, and we got chatting as a result of his work with her. He’s a STEM Ambassador, a FLOSS advocate, and curates Pi projects for youngsters. He’s also saved the life of a drowning, hypothermic, trouserless dinghy paddler. Like many of us, he cycles to work. His laptop has a sticker of Carrie Anne Philbin on it. His birthday cake had raspberry icing. We think he’s going to fit in just fine.
Ben just moved to Cambridge from Manchester for this job at the weekend. He’s going to have a number of roles here: he’s working on a revamp of this website, with separate areas for projects and for educators, which we’ll be trialling in 2014. He’s building demos; writing educational materials; and doing outreach work, especially with kids. We’re very excited to have him join us: welcome to the family, Ben!
I’ve been meaning to write about this for ages: I hate watering the garden. I’ve met Ray, the Mind Behind, a couple of times now, I actually *own* one of these boards, and…I hate watering the garden. Did I mention that?
If you hate watering the garden but enjoy messing around with computers, OpenSprinkler Pi is a no-brainer. It’s the cheapest and most configurable system of its type I’ve come across, it’s open source (and this means that Ray’s not the only person working on it – tools from the community like Rich Zimmerman’s Sprinklers_Pi software add features like weather control, so you can adjust your irrigation depending on your local weather forecast), and there’s a big community adding features all the time.
You can read more at rayshobby.net, find links to a ton of code, and buy a board there too. We highly recommend you take a look; Ray’s a great guy, and we love what he’s doing with the Pi.
You might remember that Eben has been taking part in Movember this month, giving over his top lip to charity for thirty days. He’s raising money for men’s mental health, in memory of our friend Oggie, who died in 2007. He elected for the Magnum PI look (geddit?), but sadly, as the month has progressed, we have come to realise that Tom Selleck’s ability to grow hair on the top of his head as well helped him to avoid looking like an angry square-basher and gave him a certain Hawaiian je ne sais quoi. Eben lacks that tonsurial ability, and has found that his moustache makes him look very…military.
The moustache has been very well travelled this month. Here it is in Cornwall:
And here it is in Manchester, being concealed behind a handy insta-hipster window.
The moustache, in its early π symbol incarnation, accompanied us to Wales on visit to Sony, where it was mocked roundly (mostly by me, if I’m to be completely honest), resulting in the loss of its…wings.
Back in Cambridge, Eben discovered that there is at least one benefit to owning a moustache: namely, if your hands are full and your nose is itchy, you can use your top lip to scratch it.
And most recently, the moustache has been to New York, where it caused untold problems at immigration (the passport inspector had one look at Eben’s passport photo and one look at him, and said: “What the hell happened to you?”).
The moustache has not been to space.
Eben has had a tough month. People who have not heard of Movember believe he’s growing it in earnest, people who have heard of it are pointing and laughing, and I am finding it hard to bestow wifely kisses on him without sniggering. Most recently he has found himself having to trim it every morning because the hairs get in his mouth and tickle his lips. And Mooncake the cat is confused by the moustache, and nibbles it in the night.
So he (and I) would be very grateful if you could send some last-minute moustache sponsorship by clicking here or on any of the pictures.
Roll on December 1.
We are huge, giant, enormous fans of Carrie Anne Philbin. Carrie Anne’s a pioneering computing teacher, whose Geek Gurl Diaries YouTube series we can’t say enough good things about. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do when you’ve finished reading this post.)
Carrie Anne has been busy this year: as well as working full-time as a teacher and producing Geek Gurl Diaries, she’s created a scheme of work for Sonic Pi; she’s been active on the DfE Computing expert panel which reviews the new Computing curriculum in the UK; and she’s working as vice-chair of #include for Computing at School. She won Talk Talk’s London Digital Hero award, and somehow she’s also fitted in the time to write what we think is hands down the best Raspberry Pi book for young people we’ve seen yet.
Carrie Anne says that this book is for any young person who’s interested in making things happen using computing. Inside, you’ll find nine projects (alongside stickers, achievements and more), which will take you from a standing start to a point where you’ll be breezing through projects like writing your first programs, shaping the Minecraft universe using Minecraft Pi, designing and building your own role-playing game, writing and playing your own music…and making electronic switches out of marshmallows.
It’s a beautifully produced book, full of ideas and clear direction, with a real sense of Carrie Anne’s personality jumping off every page. These projects come out of real activities Carrie Anne has worked through with real kids; they’re tried and tested – and they’re fun, too. You’ll find hints and tips to help you along the way. There’s plenty of extra material online to supplement the book, along with lots of recommendations for further reading.
Adventures in Raspberry Pi is aimed at 11-15-year-olds, but younger kids whose parents have time for a little supervision (if you’re one of those parents, you won’t need any programming experience, because Carrie Anne’s done that work for you) will also find it a tidy fit.
We’re really excited about this book. You can find it on Amazon for preorder at a discount price at the moment, for release on December 5, but if you can’t wait that long, we already have copies available here at the Raspberry Pi Swag Store (full price, I’m afraid – but every purchase you make goes to support our charitable work in computing education). I’m buying a few copies for kids I know for Christmas. I hope you will too.
Before you go any further, please take a minute to consider your eyes. You only have two of them, and they’re not replaceable. You need both for certain applications. Lasers are dangerous, and they can burn flesh: please be careful around them.
And with that out of the way…
I found this project on our forums, and it knocked my socks off. Daniel Chai has made something incredible with a Pi and parts salvaged from a pair of optical drives: a very low-priced, fine-resolution laser engraver. This differs from Arduino-driven engravers we’ve seen before: Daniel only uses a Pi, and he’s written his own control system, where his Python interprets G code and drives the stepper motors on both axes at the same time.
The reason why I choose Raspberry Pi is: it is a much more powerful device than Arduino; it has a complete OS; the GPIO pins can be controlled by python, a more intuitive and simpler language than C (the disadvantage of python would be the slow speed); I don’t have to buy a separate controller for this project–I can use a single Raspberry Pi to do a lot of different things without reloading firmware. Most importantly, I have a Raspberry Pi but don’t have an Arduino right now!
The most expensive parts of this project, namely the stepper motors and laser diodes, were salvaged from two old DVD writable drives which had been abandoned as e-waste. (DVD drives are much preferable to CD drives, which can be ultra-dangerous because their laser is an infra-red laser, invisible to the naked eye – don’t go poking around the innards of those if you value your eyesight.) Other parts of those drives are also used to make a tray to hold the item being engraved: this is a thrifty project.
Daniel has made everything you’ll need, from a parts list, instructions on liberating the bits you’ll need from the DVD drives, all the relevant code, wiring diagrams and tips on construction, on his website. This is an advanced project with lots of different stages to it, but it’s inexpensive and yields extraordinarily professional (and expensive-looking) results. We’d love to hear from you if you attempt your own build.