Massive guide to new Raspberry Pi B+


There's a new Raspberry Pi model out, the B+, and the nice folks at Adafruit have delivered a massive guide to working with the technology (just in time!).

Read the rest

Getting started with the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a $35 Linux computer the size of a credit card. I'm running a Minecraft server on one (above photo). In observance of today's holiday, MAKE is running an excerpt from Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace’s excellent book, Getting Started with Raspberry Pi.

As makers, we have a lot of choices when it comes to platforms on which to build technology-based projects. Lately, microcontroller development boards like the Arduino have been a popular choice because they’ve become very easy to work with. But System on a Chip platforms like the Raspberry Pi are a lot different than traditional microcontrollers in many ways. In fact, the Raspberry Pi has more in common with your computer than it does with an Arduino.

This is not to say that a Raspberry Pi is better than a traditional microcontroller; it’s just different. For instance, if you want to make a basic thermostat, you’re probably better off using an Arduino Uno or similar microcontroller for purposes of simplicity. But if you want to be able to remotely access the thermostat via the web to change its settings and download temperature log files, you should consider using the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi 101: What is the Pi Anyway?

Gweek podcast 134: Minecraft Raspberry Pi

In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time my guests were Clive Thompson, a science and technology journalist, whose new book is Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, and Ruben Bolling, author of the weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug, which premieres each week on Boing Boing, and pre-premiers for members of his Inner Hive.

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Show Notes:

Clives's picks:

The Gorgeous Nothings, a book that reprints 52 of Emily Dickinson’s poems that she wrote on the backs of used envelopes. They’re incredibly beautiful, and it’s fascinating to see the way she wrapped her writing around the contours of each scrap of envelope.

Tombow 100th anniversary Drawing Pencils: I am a total pencil fetishist, and recently bought a box of these things -- they’re lovely.

Ruben's picks

A graphic novel called Life With Mr. Dangerous, by Paul Hornschemeier

Rip Kirby, by Alex Raymond

Mark's pick:

I got a Minecraft server running on a Raspberry Pi (a credit card sized computer). It actually works! I’m reminded of Staislaw Lem’s short story, ”The Seventh Sally or How Trurl’s Own Perfection Led to No Good,” from The Mind’s I.

And much more!

DIY tablet computer made from Raspberry Pi

I love that individuals now have the tools and technology to affordably make their own consumer electronics. Michael Caster built a tablet with a Raspberry Pi (a credit card sized Linux computer) that he calls the PiPad. It has a wood and carbon fiber case and looks great!

How I built a Raspberry Pi Tablet

Raspberry Pi, the $35 computer, in New York Times

The Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card. To use it, you need a keyboard and mouse, a monitor, and an SD card with Linux. The Raspberry Pi is powered by USB. The creator, Eben Upton at the University of Cambridge in Britain, is surprised at how popular the Pi has become in the few short months it's been available.

From John Bigg's New York Times story about Eben and his computer:

The Raspberry Pi Foundation began selling the computers in February of last year. They soon could not keep them in stock.

“We honestly were thinking of this as a 1,000- to 5,000-unit opportunity,” Mr. Upton said. “The thing we didn’t anticipate was this whole other market of technically competent adults who wanted to use it. We’re selling to hobbyists.”

Mr. Upton said he was “blown away” by the reception the Pi had gotten online.

“I’m not aware of a company that has gone from a standing start to a million in a year,” he said. “It’s quite a wild ride. I don’t get a lot of sleep at the moment.”

Matt Richardson, a frequent contributor to Boing Boing and a MAKE staffer, co-wrote this excellent introduction, called Getting Started with Raspberry Pi.

Keyboard made from beer-cans

Here's a cute way to gimmick a keyboard out of a grid of beercans, using Raspberry Pis and Arduinos:

We did this at Webstock, event which took place in Bucharest in September. Staropramen, one of the sponsors of the event asked us for an innovative way to offer a trip to Prague to one of the event's guests.

So, we came up with a keyboard made out of 44 Staropramen beer cans. Each beer can was a key, and whenever someone touched it, the corresponding letter appeared on a large plasma screen (just like any regular computer keyboard).

And the surprise was fantastic! The user experience and engagement overcame any expectation. Every single person who attended Webstock tried the keyboard and participated to the contest.

Behind the scene, the system is built around an Arduino board and a few capacitive controllers (just like the ones which are inside smartphones' touch screens), connected to a Raspberry PI board which controls the plasma screen display.

The Beer Cans Keyboard Movie (via Hacker News)

Supercomputer built from Raspberry Pis and Lego


A team of computer scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK created a supercomputer out of 64 Raspberry Pi matchbox Linux-on-a-chip computers and Lego. The team included six year old James Cox, the son of project lead Professor Simon Cox, "who provided specialist support on Lego and system testing."

Here's a PDF with instructions for making your own Raspberry Pi/Lego supercomputer.

Professor Cox comments: “As soon as we were able to source sufficient Raspberry Pi computers we wanted to see if it was possible to link them together into a supercomputer. We installed and built all of the necessary software on the Pi starting from a standard Debian Wheezy system image and we have published a guide so you can build your own supercomputer.”

The racking was built using Lego with a design developed by Simon and James, who has also been testing the Raspberry Pi by programming it using free computer programming software Python and Scratch over the summer. The machine, named “Iridis-Pi” after the University’s Iridis supercomputer, runs off a single 13 Amp mains socket and uses MPI (Message Passing Interface) to communicate between nodes using Ethernet. The whole system cost under £2,500 (excluding switches) and has a total of 64 processors and 1Tb of memory (16Gb SD cards for each Raspberry Pi). Professor Cox uses the free plug-in ‘Python Tools for Visual Studio’ to develop code for the Raspberry Pi.

Professor Cox adds: “The first test we ran – well obviously we calculated Pi on the Raspberry Pi using MPI, which is a well-known first test for any new supercomputer.”

Engineers Build Supercomputer Using Raspberry Pi, Lego [Parity News]

Southampton engineers a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer [Press release]

(Images: Simon J Cox 2012)