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3 Weird and Wonderful Raspberry Pi Innovations

The Raspberry Pi is one of the most acclaimed inventions of our days – a credit card sized computer with the potential to improve our lives in an incredible variety of ways, and educate a whole new generation of hardware and software engineers. In honor of the recent Pi Day (March 14th, or 3/14) and the recent launch of Raspberry Pi 2, here are five of the most interesting (and sometimes weird) innovations we could find that were built using the microcomputer of the future. 1. Picrowave by Nathan Broadbent According to his website, Made by Nathan, the web and mobile developer Nathan Broadbent first thought of a smarter microwave after reading a post on Reddit about how food should come with QR codes that tells the microwave what to do with them. He built a better microwave using the Raspberry Pi, with better sounds and a redesigned keypad, automatically updated clock – with voice commands, a bar code scanner, and the possibility to control it remotely using a smartphone. Continue reading

Comparing GPIO speed between Raspberry Pi 1 and 2

Raspberry Pi version 2 has changed playing rules between Linux boards. With raspberry Pi 2 here came faster CPU with four cores, RAM jumped to 1GB, so naturally we would expect faster speeds everywhere including GPIO. Joonas have ran several benchmarks to show the increase in numerical values, so we could make conclusions. He run several common tests with available software libraries and GPIO access methods. Results actually look very promising as for almost all methods speed increased twice and more. For instance Python Rpi.GPIO based raw speed increased from 70kHz to 243kHz. Shell command driven IO became also 2.5 times faster. So this is great news for everyone who was struggling to the limits. For more info and benchmark tests go to GitHub. Continue reading

New Raspberry Pi 2 – more memory and better performance

Raspberry Pi have been improved in many ways, but not in terms of memory and processor power. Things seems to be changed with Raspberry Pi 2 release. They decided to leave Broadcom BCM2835 700MHz ARM11 CPU and use 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 quad core CPU which gives about six times more performance. The new processor is new Broadcom BCM2836 what means that all hard work done for BCM2835 is transferred to new MCU. Even more – new processors packs 1GB of SDRAM. Raspberry PI 2 is compatible to previous version of Raspberry including GPIO header, power supply and other peripherals. ARMv7 core allows to setup much wider range of operating systems like Ubuntu. There will be also compatible to Windows 10. So there is lots of to come in terms of new packages, new boards like compute. And the most fun part of this is that cost of the board remains the same – $35. Continue reading

Using real tachometer to display CPU usage

Very often analog gauges are used to measure some rate parameters. In most cases they are based on voltmeters where needle position is driven with PWM signal. Pat found a tachometer from old car lying around and decided to use it for displaying something useful – CPU usage. He starter building this project on Raspberry where tachometer would display its CPU usage. First of all he had to figure out the signals needed to drive tachometer from 0 to full scale. He found a table with frequencies and PWM values on Tekronix 3252 information site. Then another issue was the signal level. Tachometer needs 5V to drive it while Raspberry Pi signal level is 3.3V, he used 7404 buffer to bring that level. The rest is Python code running on Raspberry Pi, which reads CPU value and then sends driving signal on pin 11. Continue reading

Nixie calculator powered by Raspberry Pi

This is some nice calculator which is grate from all aspects. But probably coolest thing here that retro looking Nixie display and old style keyboard keys are fused with modern electronics such as Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is definitely an overkill for such calculator, but since these things are getting cheaper and cheaper, so why not? To use a bit more of Raspberry Pi power Scott made it internet connected calculator where you can send calculations to WolframAlpha. All parts of calculator is custom made where each nixie tube is controlled by K155D driver chip. Each chip is controlled through I2C IO expander that is connected to Raspberry Pi. Custom power supply board takes care of powering computer with 5V and tubes with high voltage. I’d say this is quite and effort to build a calculator. Continue reading

How to build mediabox with Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a great small computer module that can serve as prototyping platform, small computer or as media player. If you wish your Raspberry Pi to be used for media applications, then you need to set up Raspbmc interface. MrLeeh shares his built of steampunk style media box. He made it quite user friendly where it can be controlled via any IR remote, through web interface, smartphone using app. Media can be loaded through FTP or Samba. Mainly all components are used out of box including Raspberry Pi model B, 7” Display set, USB hub where IR remote USB dongle, USB soundcard and WLAN stick are attached. Special attention was paid to media box appearance. It was painted with brass spray, decorated with brass elements such as gears and corners. Continue reading