Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Interview for Naked Scientists and Linux Voice!

I always tell you, my viewers, just how busy I am, and you're probably fed up hearing about it. Today I have proof that aside from the day job at Raspberry Pi, and the videos I make, I have lots going on!

Most notably, this month I was live on BBC Cambridge for the Naked Scientists Show, and there is a three page article from me and the rest of the EDU Pi gang in Linux Voice magazine!

Linux Voice

I'm a huge fan of the Linux Voice team, they stand up for open source software, and even give back to the open source community through their magazine. They are also huge Raspberry Pi fans, which meant that when I met up with them at the Raspberry Jamboree at the end of February 2014 with my colleagues, Ben and Clive, we had a lot to talk about!

In Issue 2 of Linux Voice Magazine p the Raspberry Pi education team!

All the photos of me are awful, so I'll be stashing my copy at the button of the publications pile for a while.  You can get your copy from newsagents this month or online from here.

The Naked Scientists

Working in Cambridge, England, has many perks. The architecture is pretty cool for one, and being near so many science related colleges makes me feel inspired. Another great thing about Cambridge is the Naked Scientists. 
The Naked Scientists are a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public.
You can only imagine my excitement when they invited me onto their show with Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi. It was pretty late on a Sunday evening, so again not at my best, but you can hear the entire show in it's podcast form here. I felt very honoured to have been asked on. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Get Arty with the Raspberry Pi Camera Making Time Lapse

What you will need:

  • A Raspberry Pi
  • A Raspberry Pi Camera Module
  • A Pi Camera Mount
  • Something to point at!

Setting up a Pi Camera with a Raspberry Pi

One of the best add on's for a Raspberry Pi is a Pi Camera. It is a small board that connects to a Raspberry Pi with a ribbon style cable. Connecting a Pi Cam can be fiddly as the cable needs to be the right way round for it to work.

Begin by unwrapping your Pi Camera and removing the small blue plastic from the lens. Next locate the ribbon cable connector nearest to the Ethernet port. It is a small think black connector. Pull the two clips at either ends up to open it. Place the Pi camera ribbon cable into the slot with the blue side facing towards the ethernet port and the silver connectors facing away from the ethernet port. Whilst holding the pi camera ribbon cable gently push down the two black connectors on the Pi.  Finally connect your Pi to a power source and let it boot.

That's the fiddly bit done! Now you will need to configure your raspberry pi before testing that your camera works. After logging in type:

sudo raspi-config

Select Enable Camera from the list with your keyboard and press enter. Select 'Enable' then 'Finish' and  'Yes' to reboot your Pi.

Once your Pi has booted again and you have logged in, and typed 'startx' to load the Raspbian graphical user interface, you can test that your camera works. Open a new LXTerminal window and type the following line:

raspistill -o cam.jpg

Press enter and you should see a preview of what your camera can see. It will then take a picture and save it in your home directory.

Getting Arty with Time Lapse Video

The Pi Camera takes some great resolution images, and is small enough to leave running by a window to take pictures over the course of a few hours. When you put all these images together in rapid succession you create a time lapse video. Here is an example of what you can do if you get good at time lapse photography:

To begin you will need to set your Raspberry Pi and camera up pointing out of a window somewhere. When I was in my office I pointed it out of a window at a road junction which is a bit boring, but sometimes you've got to work with what you have :)

I followed the Raspberry-Pi Spy's tutorial and I've summerised the main points here:

Once setup, log into your Pi and on the command line or from an LXTerminal window type:

mkdir webcam
cd webcam
raspistill -o image_%04d.jpg -tl 60000 -t 7200000

The last command will take a photo every 60 seconds (60000 milliseconds) for 2 hours (7200000 milliseconds) resulting in a sequence of 120 images. 
The “%04d” will result in a four digit number appearing in each filename.
Go away for two hours and when you come back you should be able to see all the pictures taken by typing 'ls' into the terminal window or on the command line.

Now you need to put them all together into a video. There are two ways in which you can do this. Firstly, you could use the Pi to create a video file, instructions for which can be found here, but this takes a long time and can result in your Raspberry Pi crashing. Instead I copied the files from the Raspberry Pi SD card via ftp to my computer. You could also use a USB memory stick to copy them over. Then using Movie Maker I added all the images and set the duration time to 0.04 before saving it as a movie.

Ta da, your very own time lapse creation!

Getting Arty with Stop Frame Animation

The Raspberry Pi is a great, cheap way to get started with stop frame animation. Here is an example of a stop frame animation I made a few years ago, it is actually my first ever YouTube video!

There is a great app created for the Raspberry Pi to help you created stop frame animations called 'Pi-mation':

All the steps you need to follow to download and install Pi-Mation can be found here. It is really easy to use.

Have fun! Point me in the direction of any of your creations. :)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Girls in Tech Teaching Kit - Made at Mozilla Festival 2013

This weekend has been a weekend of firsts. First participation in a scrum, first time meeting some awesome educators and webmakers, first time meeting @maggiephilbin, first time hugging a giant fox, first time collaborating on a teaching kit using Mozilla Webmaker tools.

Click on the image to access the teaching kit

My Saturday begun by joining a group of webmaker educators in a build and teach the web session in which a scrum board had been set up with lots of different projects.

On Sunday I designed a badge of my own and decorated a t-shirt: