Raspberry Pi thoughts

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I got my Raspberry Pi (model B) in the mail a few weeks ago, and I’m just starting to dig into it.  I ordered from Newark/Element 14, and got it in just under 2 weeks.  They’re quoting quite a bit longer, so it was a bit quicker than I expected.

If you’re not familiar with the Pi, it is a $35 700MHz ARM processor with 100Mbps Ethernet, HDMI, composite video, 1/8″ audio, dual USB, SD card reader, and a number of 3.3V GPIO pins.  There are several different Linux distributions available that run on the device.  The model A is about $10 cheaper, and doesn’t have Ethernet.

I’m a Debian user from way back, so I was pretty happy that there was a Debian release for the Pi.  I’m currently running on a 2GB SD card that I had lying around, but it is a fairly tight fit, so I’d suggest (and I believe they do as well) that you go with at least a 4GB card.

Out of the box, I was able to get the GUI running and run some basic applications.  SSH access is also enabled, so I was able to hook the board up to my switch and access it over the network for package management and command-line tools.

I was extremely happy that the distro included native packages for ARM.  I run DD-WRT on my switch at home, and the busybox packages are a bit limited for my taste.

I’m thinking about running Nagios on the board and breaking out the GPIO pins to show some Nagios metrics on a LCD screen or LED bar graphs.  I’ve done LCD stuff with the Arduino, but having Linux on the board itself really gives me a lot of flexibility on generating the data to be output to the screen.  I’ve been looking at the elinux wiki for reference on how to use the GPIO pins, but haven’t really done anything with it so far.  I’m a bit nervous about interfacing directly because these boards are a bit pricier than Arduino boards, but the GPIO pins are supposed to be able to source 500mA, so that should be plenty for what I’m trying to do.

Love to hear your thoughts on what you’re planning on doing with your R. Pi in the comments!

 

Update on the Shapeoko CNC router

 

From Workshop 88

At last week’s meeting, our expert in all things CNC, Branden, was around for the last meeting before his move to Boston. (We will miss you, Branden!!)  He was, however, kind enough to show us how to work the LinuxCNC distro software in order to get our Shapeoko running when we get the parts. (See the above video.) We are expecting the parts to arrive in the next two weeks.  Very soon we will be milling parts!  What will you make with the CNC router?

Encourage science exploration in schools!

Our Hackerspaces in Space project has been posted to Hack-a-Day!

Thanks to the increased traffic from the Hack-a-Day readers, our kickstarter is starting to grow closer to being funded. It’s great to see that the post on HaD really emphasized the educational component of the HSIS challenge. Every time we get a $100 pledge, a kit that will go to a school somewhere in the country is 1/3 funded.

 
What can you do to help us engage kids in science exploration?

Hackerspaces in Space: Year 2

A few days ago we launched (no pun intended) Hackerspaces in Space: Year 2.  HSIS (as we like to refer to it) is a challenge that we extend to other hackerspaces (and like-minded groups of people) to design, build and launch a weather balloon equipped with cameras to take photos at near-space altitudes. The HSIS website has all the rules regarding the contest which you can check out if you’re interested.

Last time we ran the challenge, we had a great response from the makerspace and hackerspace community.  We’re hoping to make HSIS better this year.  We want to use HSIS to promote science exploration and discovery in schools.  We want to take whatever best designs come out of this year’s challenge and send kits based on the winning designs to schools, so that student can launch their own balloons to near-space.

To make that happen, we’ve set up a kickstarter project. (You may have seen the banner at the top of the page.) Take a look at some of the prizes we’re offering and consider becoming a backer to this project so that we can get kits into schools!

Also, we need your help spreading the word about HSIS.  Please link to the page, tweet it, facebook it, retweet, upvote it on reddit, or just post it wherever you share your information online. We can’t make this happen without your help!

We’re getting a Makerbot!

Image credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

At our meeting on June 20th, we learned that Makerbot Industries was having a special sale on their last run of the Cupcake CNC machines. We decided to take the plunge and have one on order!

As excited as we are to be getting our Makerbot, we are still looking for donations from the membership to support this purchase.  If you’ve been looking for a chance to get to use one of these 3D printers, would you consider making a small donation to the space?  Send your paypal donations to admin@workshop88.com or leave a donation with us at the space.

Educube Progress

We got another couple shipments of parts for our Educube project:

The main component of our project is a Arduino clone called the Diavolino, sold by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories .  The Diavolino uses the same ATMega328P microcontroller that comes in the Arduino Uno, but is quite a bit cheaper.  The nice folks at Evil Mad Scientist were nice enough to sell us a few without microcontrollers, and we ordered the 328Ps from Element14.

Each individual cube communicates with adjacent cubes over IR.  We ordered 10 Vishay IR transceivers, but they came sealed up in this package  covered in dire warnings, so I chose not to break them open until we have boards ready for them.

I spent a couple hours tonight putting the Diavolino kits together.  They were pretty quick, and should be a good platform for the rest of the build.

T-Shirt wall art


Like a lot of guys my age, I’m a T-shirt guy. Funny ones, clever ones, geeky ones, and just plain cool ones. And I’m not the type to buy them at a normal brick an mortar shop. I prefer to find quirky and orignial designs on the web at places like Woot and Owl Movement.

Most of the shirts I get end up being limited runs, so when they reach the end of their life a little early, via stains or tears, there just isn’t any way to replace them. I’m also the kind of guy who hates to throw things out, and I just can’t bring myself to throw out art, which is what these shirts really are. So, it hit me, as long as the print on the shirt was in good condition, I can turn my shirts into wall art. Continue reading