Category

Hacks

Who Wants Some PI?

If you clicked on the link you must be one hungry human. 😀 We are going to bake some mouth watering Pi …Oooh This Pi is not for the stomach, it’s for the brain. hahaha :-D. If you are interested lets start baking.

Baking Pi 101: Getting Started

Computers have become a basic need in our lives. They are becoming affordable and accessible. Other beings will disagree with me and argue that Mobile Phones are becoming more accessible than Computers, which is totally true. With your phone (Smartphone), you can do the basic tasks you would do on your computer; Create documents, emailing. Even though this is true, Mobile phones will not replace computers. 🙂

Back to computers. What if I told you you could get a computer for $35 – $40. Yes, you heard me. For only $35 – $40. And it gets better. This computer is pretty small. It can actually fit in your pocket :-). You can even make a robot using that computer and I have barely scratched the surface with what you can do with it.

I know what you are about to say, “Are you out of your mind? You must be one crazy guy.” There is only one way to find out if I am actually crazy. Join me along this journey and you will see how wrong you are. If you are not a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) human you will have a hard time but if you are up for the challenge, you will definitely have a good time. 🙂

So let’s get this hack party started. 😀

Meet Raspberry PI

RaspberryPi

The Raspberry Pi is an awesome little computer the size of a credit card, yet has enough juice or power to use it as home media center, a VPN (Virtual Private Network), and a lot lot more. The possibilities are endless it’s up to you and your creativity. You will however need to configure it and install an operating system or customise it to suit your needs. There are enough tutorials out there to help you do that. 🙂

 

More About Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry PI is a very powerful computer for a gadget it’s size. For about $35-$40, you get a caseless computer with a HDMI and an Analog composite video output. You get two USB ports that you can add two USB Devices which in most cases is a Mouse and a Keyboard. Alternatively you can get yourself a USB Hub and you can add more devices. It gets even better. You can connect it to the internet via wired ethernet. Yes you can access internet. This makes the Raspberry Pi is powerful and inexpensive computer.

With that said, all you need is a little setup and some other parts and you are good to go.

What You’ll Need:

Here are some of the basic parts you will need to get started:

  • Raspberry Pi: If you’re not sure where to buy one i will point you out to AdaFruit my personal favorite shop.
  • An HDMI- or composite video-capable television or monitor: In this post we’ll be working with an HDMI-capable monitor because it offers better resolution and built-in sound. You can use analog if you want, however.
  • An HDMI or composite video cable: You’ll need this cable to connect your Raspberry Pi to your television or monitor.
  • A HDMI to VGA  Cable Adapter: If you are connecting to a monitor with only VGA Support, you might need a HDMI to VGA cable Adapter.
  • A 4GB Class 4 SD card (or better) and a card reader
  • A USB keyboard and mouse: Any standard USB keyboard or mouse will do.
  • An ethernet cable: Any standard ethernet cable will do. You only need this to connect to your network and the internet, however, so you can leave this item out if desired.P
  • A good quality, micro USB power supply that can provide at least
    700mA at 5V
    : Most modern smartphone chargers supply 700mA at 5V, but not all do. Check the bottom of your charger and look for a block of text. You’ll see its output values in that text which may read 0.7A instead of 700mA).
  • A 3.5mm stereo audio cable: You only need this if you’re using analog video and want to connect your Raspberry Pi to a set of external speakers or internal ones on your television or monitor.

There are two types of Raspberry Pi. The image below will give you a brief of which one to get. You can find more info on the difference between Raspberry Pi Model A & B from Element14.

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 1.04.27 PM

 

 

In the next post I will show you how to turn make your Raspberry Pi be a Linux Computer or you can beat me to it. There are tones of great tutorials that will help you set up. It only takes about 30 mins. So what are you waiting for??

That’s all for today folks. I have to go save the world. This super hero business can be tough at times but grandma always says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” 😀 
whoosh

 

My Journey With Arduino

What is Arduino?

What on Earth is Arduino???

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

Arduino is the heart and soul for many DIY projects. For a $30 piece of hardware you can do a lot with this device. If you like tinkering you need to get yourself an Arduino. The best thing about Arduino is that it’s really simple and easy to use so don’t worry if you have never done any electronic stuff before. I am a walking testimony, talking from experience. 🙂

Technically the Arduino is a Programmable Logic Controller. Think of it as a little computer you can use to do amazing things. You can use it to control lights, play music, sense the temperature and we have barely scratched the surface.  You can use it to make some hardcore electronic projects. 🙂

What Can You Do With An Arduino?

Like i mentioned earlier, there is a a lot you can do with the Arduino Micro-controller. People have created really cool stuff so it up to your creativity. If you can think it, you can make it.

Here is a list of some projects hackers have created. Join the movement.

  • Robots
  • Remote Controlled Cars
  • Motion Sensors
  • Weather Stations
  • LED Music Systems
  • Garage Door Openers
  • Home Automation
  • Coffee Tweeting Machine
  • Sunrise Clock Alarm

I can go on and on. Most of these projects are open source. Yes you can use the code, edit it and make your project even better. So what are you waiting for?

Getting Started

There are many websites out there to help you get started.

  • Ladyada’s Arduino Tutorial: This was the best tutorial for getting started with my Arduino. It’s a simple, linear tutorial that gets you familiar with the Arduino’s basic functions. It guides you through the process to make lights glow, sounds buzz, and parts swing.
  • Official Arduino Example Tutorials: The Arduino computer software is loaded with tons of examples for you to use in your own code or to run through as a learning experience. The official site walks you through every single one of the examples included with your initial download of the software. This is great if you see an example with a catchy name like tonePitchFollower and want to test it for yourself.
  • Adafruit Industries: Adafruit Industries is the store started by Ladyada, whose tutorials are linked above. It’s a great store for tracking down nearly any part you will ever need. It’s also a good place to hit the forums to share or seek help on projects.
  • Make Magazine’s Arduino Section: Make Magazine’s Arduino section is a huge resource for new projects, explanations, guides, and tutorials. This is the best one-stop location for Arduino beginners and experts.

Getting started for the first time might feel like a nightmare but slowly moving through tutorials will show you how simple it really is. By the time you’ve completed your first tutorial, you have a solid understanding of the basics, and eventually you can move on to more complicated projects.

My Journey With Arduino

Truth is I hated math and physics while growing up. I had the wrong mentality about life and education. All that was drilled into my head while growing up is that I have to get good grades so as to get a good job. There is more to life than grades. If only i was told where i could apply what I am being taught or given a little exposure, being given a taste of what the real world is like. Anyway we will talk about this another day.

On the other hand, I have always loved technology. I like the thrill of breaking and fixing things. I used to open my mums computer and when she found out, it was hell on earth. On the bright side I got to learn but I  felt like taking computers apart was still not enough. I was thirsty for more.

The Journey Begins.

My first encounter with an Arduino was at iHub Nairobi. I meet Juliet Wanyiri and she had an Arduino Powered Toy car. We had a brief chat and she told me what was powering the toy car … ARDUINO. She is one lady who knows her way around the computer.

I went online, did my research, and ordered an Arduino Uno kit along with tons of random parts from my favourite store, AdaFruit Industries. If you are in Kenya, check out Neroka Store.

Here I found a hobby I knew I was going to love this journey. I was hooked!!!

I enjoyed the learning experience. I browsed other people code and projects, even the “simple” ones. At times i didn’t even know what some guys were talking about but i wanted to learn so I dug even deeper.

Of course it was not easy; I was afraid and asked myself a couple of questions. What if i started something and it did not work? What if I made a stupid project? I realised my problem was not lack of knowledge but fear of the unknown. I decided to jump in head first.

My first project with Arduino was a blinking light. I watched a couple of videos, read a lot of stuff on the internet. I then put what i learnt into practice and BAM!! It worked.

Arduino_Led

When i saw that light blink, it was Heaven on Earth. This boosted my confidence. I am now working on a Arduino powered car controlled wirelessly by Xbee modules.

The Future Is in The Little Minds, Kids!

I have asked myself one question a couple of times. What if I knew of the Arduino Micro-controller while growing up? One thing is certain, I cannot rewind time but i can learn from my past and make the best out of it. I have taken it upon myself to give as many kids as possible the knowledge and exposure i wish i had when growing up.

I wanted to create something that will not only help me learn but also inspire kids.

There is one challenge though, if I/you give a kid and Arduino Board, they will probably break it. To make things interesting for the kids, I decided to work on the toy car, get the kids attention and give them an idea of what they can do with an Arduino MicroController and BAM, you have changed a kids life.

I love kids and their curiosity. By creating a platform that encourages kids to learn and become creators will play an important role in shaping our future. Instilling knowledge to the kids is like equipping the kids with a Nuclear bomb and a live trigger.

bomb

Conclusion

The Arduino is a great and easy platform for learning. The best part of it is that there is a great community and most of the projects are open source. Electronics tinkering can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s really not as hard as it seems. Once you get the hang of it you can do great stuff.

If you have a kid, get them and Arduino board as a birthday present. 🙂