Raspberry Pi Robot Arm

Posted in Raspberry Pi

For my birthday, my father in law Mike, got me one of those robot arms from Maplin.  It just so happens that this is exactly the same arm that others have been hacking using the Raspberry Pi for a long while now, so guess what?  The hard work is already done!

Building the arm took a few hours, and all you really need is a small cross-head screw driver and 4 D cell batteries.

Looking at the base where the batteries go, it is the perfect size for a Raspberry Pi, which would replace the batteries.  Also, to make it a more complete and portable package, I decided to investigate the possibility of a single power supply for both the Pi and the arm.  The D cells are 1.5v, so coupled together make 6v in total.  Ok, so the Pi has 5v direct output, but I really don't want to pull the kind of amps required for motors through the Pi, so we'll leave that well alone!  Instead, I powered up my bench PSU, set it to 6v, 2 amps max and applied power.

Adding a RTC to the Raspberry Pi

Posted in Raspberry Pi

After following Adafruits tutorial on setting up a Real Time Clock on the Raspberry Pi, I was more than happy to leave it and come back later.  That's when I hit an issue.  I was tinkering around with my breadboard adding a pressure sensor to the I2C lines, and to when I was done, I thought I'd check my hardware clock to check it still worked.

PiBow Timber case

Posted in Raspberry Pi

Well, it arrived, and looks stunning!  Purchased from pimoroni.com, this is an official PiBow case made from layers of wood instead of plastic.

The board fits beautifully, and it fits with my wooden TV stand very well.  It does feel very fragile when in pieces, but once constructed feels very sturdy.

First Run with Raspbian

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To be honest, Raspbian out of the box didn't impress me much.  It was slow, and not particularly responsive.  I'm guessing that that class 4 SD card that Maplin supplied might be a little slow when it comes to read/write actions.

I found another class 4 16Gb SD card, and downloaded OpenElec media center.  Again, a little sluggish, even with simple themes.  I'd quite like a media center with this Pi, so I thought I'd try RaspbMC.  This seems to be much better than OpenElec, and it even comes with a Raspberry Pi specific settings addon, so setting up a static IP worked like a charm.

Fun with GPIO

Posted in Raspberry Pi

GPIO is the Raspberry Pis way of connecting with peripherals.  As my first real project with my Pi, I decided to build an alarm clock radio, to replace my aging branded one by my bed.

Firstly, I needed to know how the GPIO works, so I decided to do a bit of shopping for parts.

  • Electronic components.  I got a starter pack that had resistors, capacitors, diodes, switches, LEDs, some ICs, and a few more interesting parts.
  • Digital multimeter
  • A couple of breadboards
  • A handful of jumper cables
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • A HD44780 LCD display

Installing RaspbMC

Posted in Raspberry Pi

RaspBMC is a media center based on XBMC for the Raspberry Pi.  It's easy enough to install using NOOBS, and looks quite stunning.

I managed to connect to my wifi after a little struggle, but streaming videos and music doesn't have any issues.  I enabled the AirPlay feature, and now my wife can stream her iTunes collection through to the Sony 5.1 speakers in the lounge for parties and the like.  The spectrum analyzer visualization didn't work at first, but after a few reboots it seems to have fixed itself.

Buying a Raspberry Pi

Posted in Raspberry Pi

Been interested in one of these for a while, but never got round to buying one.

It's a small credit-card sized PC, that runs Linux and a few other OSes, and has the ability to do microcontroller-style electronics stuff similar to the Arduino.