Custom MOTD for the Raspberry Pi


With so many uses for a Raspberry Pi in a headless configuration – especially with the impending release of the Raspi Model A – we’re surprised it has taken so long for someone to send in a way to create a custom message of the day¬†that is displayed whenever you SSH into everyone’s favorite Linux board.

A MOTD is used by servers to display messages to new users, or simply system information for server admins. It’s a simple text file stored in /etc/motd, but with some proper beardly Unix wizardry it’s possible to display uptime, free memory, and even the weather wherever the Raspi is located.

[yanewby] over on the Raspberry Pi forums created a nice little MOTD that grabs weather data from the Internet and displays it alongside an ASCII rendering of the Raspberry Pi logo. Of course like everything in Unix, this MOTD can be modified to do just about anything, from checking your Twitter to sending a text message to your phone.

Two computer vision builds from Cornell


[Bruce Land], professor at Cornell, is a frequent submitter to our tip line. Usually he sends in a few links every semester from undergraduate electronics courses. Now the fall semester is finally over and it’s time to move on to the more ambitious master’s projects.

First up is a head-mounted eye tracker, [Anil Ram Viswanathan] and [Zelan Xiao] put together a lightweight and low-cost eye tracking project that will record where the user is looking.

The eye tracker hardware is made of two cameras mounted on a helmet. The first camera faces forward, looking at the same thing the user is. The second camera is directed towards the user’s eye. A series of algorithms detect the iris of the user’s eye and overlays the expected gaze position on the output of the first camera. Here’s the design report. PDF, natch.

Next up is a face tracking project implemented on an FPGA. This project started out as a software implementation of a face tracking algorithm in MATLAB. [Thu-Thao Nguyen] translated this MATLAB code to Verilog and eventually got her hardware running on an FPGA dev board. Another design report.

Having a face detection and tracking system running on an FPGA is extremely interesting; the FPGA makes face tracking a very low power and hopefully lower-cost solution, allowing it to be used in portable and consumer devices.

You can check out the videos for these projects after the break.

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