Pi Zero FPV Robot Uses Tiny Motor & Gears

We’ve seen plenty of first-person view (FPV) robots built using the Raspberry Pi Zero, but this one from [Shane] has an interesting twist: rather than directly driving the wheels from big motors, it uses small motors and gearboxes to drive the wheels, with some of the gears being 3D printed.

[Shane] has posted the full details of this cute little robot, complete with 3D models, code, and plans for the PCB that connects the Zero to the motors. These motors are N20 ones, which are much smaller and cheaper than what we usually see used in these projects, and run faster. They also often come with a gearbox that reduces the speed to something a bit more useful. Each motor drives the two wheels on one side through a 3D printed gear for tank-style steering.

To run the whole thing off a single LiPo battery, [Shane] also designed his own Pi Hat that converted the voltage to 5 V and added a couple of H bridge chips for the motors. It is a cute little build, but the requirement for a custom Pi hat perhaps puts it beyond most beginners, who might be interested in a cheap, straightforward build like this. Does anybody have any alternatives?

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Multi-Year Doorbell Project

Camera modules for the Raspberry Pi became available shortly after its release in the early ’10s. Since then there has been about a decade of projects eschewing traditional USB webcams in favor of this more affordable, versatile option. Despite the amount of time available there are still some hurdles to overcome, and [Esser50k] has some supporting software to drive a smart doorbell which helps to solve some of them.

One of the major obstacles to using the Pi camera module is that it can only be used by one process at a time. The PiChameleon software that [Esser50k] built is a clever workaround for this, which runs the camera as a service and allows for more flexibility in using the camera. He uses it in the latest iteration of a smart doorbell and intercom system, which uses a Pi Zero in the outdoor unit armed with motion detection to alert him to visitors, and another Raspberry Pi inside with a touch screen that serves as an interface for the whole system.

The entire build process over the past few years was rife with learning opportunities, including technical design problems as well as experiencing plenty of user errors that caused failures as well. Some extra features have been added to this that enhance the experience as well, such as automatically talking to strangers passing by. There are other unique ways of using machine learning on doorbells too, like this one that listens for a traditional doorbell sound and then alerts its user.

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Adapter Board Expands The Pi Zero

The standard Raspberry Pi computers have been in short supply for a while now, so much so that people are going to great lengths to find replacements. Whether it’s migrating to alternative single-board computers or finding clones of the Pi that are “close enough”, there are solutions out there. This method of building a full-size Raspberry Pi¬†with all of the bells and whistles using the much-less-in-demand Pi Zero also stands out as a clever solution.

[SpookyGhost] didn’t build this one himself, but he did stumble across it and write a pretty extensive how-to and performance evaluation for the board, which can be found here. The adapter connects to the Zero’s HDMI and USB ports, and provides all the connectors you’d expect from a larger Pi such as the 3B. It’s not a perfect drop-in replacement though — you don’t get the 3.5 mm audio jack, and the micro SD card location doesn’t match up with where it should be on a “real” Pi.

All things considered, this is one of those solutions that seems obvious in retrospect but we still appreciate its elegance. It might disappear as soon as chip shortages stop being an issue, but for now we’ll take any solutions we can. If you don’t already have a Pi Zero on hand, we’ve seen some other successes replacing them with thin clients or even old smartphones.

A BlackBerry Classic-sized device with a BlackBerry keyboard and an e-ink screen. It sits next to an e-ink smartwatch with a grey bezel that matches the 3d printed enclosure of the messaging device.

Beepberry Brings Memory LCD And A Physical Keyboard To Your Pi

As the 2020s are seeing the return of the flip phone, could we see a rebirth of other device form factors from before the slab era? [Eric Migicovsky] and [SQFMI] are working on a new physical keyboard device with the Beepberry.

Featuring a high contrast Sharp Memory LCD and the tried-and-true reliability of a BlackBerry keyboard, the device is designed for messaging all your contacts over WiFi without the distractions of a smartphone. As this is a collaboration with the Matrix-based chat service Beeper, the device is designed around the CLI version of their client.

If you want to eschew the distraction-free nature of the device, since it’s Pi-powered it can run any ARM Linux programs you might want as well being a playground for hardware mods. Add a DSP and headphone jack and this could be a neat little pianobar player. [Migicovsky] stresses this is currently a dev board and by no means should be assumed to be an off-the-shelf piece of kit.

If this looks like a familiar reuse of a BlackBerry keyboard, you might be remembering [arturo182]’s Keyboard Featherwing or this LoRa Messenger.

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Raspberry Pi Creates Melody

For those who are not into prog rock in the 70s or old radio shows from the 40s, the Theremin may be an unfamiliar musical instrument. As a purely electronic device, it’s well outside the realm of conventional musical instruments. Two radio antennas detect the position of the musician’s hands to make a unique sound traditionally associated with eeriness or science fiction.

Normally a set of filters and amplifiers are used to build this instrument but this build instead replaces almost everything with a Raspberry Pi Zero 2, and instead of radio antennas to detect the position of the musician’s hands a set of two HC-SR04 distance sensors are used instead. With the processing power available from the Pi, the modernized instrument is able to output MIDI as well which makes this instrument easily able to interface with programs like GarageBand or any other MIDI-capable software.

The project build is split into two videos, the second of which is linked below. The project code is also available on the project’s GitHub page, so anyone with the Pi and other equipment available can easily start experimenting with this esoteric and often overlooked musical instrument. It’s been around for over 100 years now, and its offshoots (including this build) are as varied as the sounds they can produce.

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Retro Portable Computer Packs Printer For The Trip

Looking like it dropped out of an alternate reality version of the 1980s, the Joopyter Personal Terminal is a 3D printed portable computer that includes everything you need for life in the retro-futuristic fastlane: a mechanical keyboard, a thermal printer, and the obligatory tiny offset screen. It’s a true mobile machine too, thanks to it’s onboard battery and a clever hinge design that lets you fold the whole thing up into something akin to a PLA handbag. You won’t want to leave home without it.

This gorgeous machine comes our way from [Gian], and while the design isn’t exactly open source, there’s enough information in the GitHub repository that you could certainly put together something similar if you were so inclined. While they might not serve as documentation in the traditional sense, we do love the faux vintage advertisements that have been included.

The upper section of the Joopyter holds a Raspberry Pi Zero W (though the new Pi Zero 2 would be a welcome drop-in upgrade), an Adafruit PiTFT 2.8″ display, a CSN-A2 panel mount thermal printer, and a Anker PowerCore 15600 battery to keep it all running. On the opposite side of the hinge is a hand wired keyboard powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico running KMK.

Speaking of that printed hinge, [Gian] says it comes on loan from [YARH.IO], which Hackaday readers may recall have produced a number of very slick 3D printed portable Linux machines powered by the Raspberry Pi over the last couple of years.

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New Raspberry Pi Zero 2 Upgrades To Quad-Core Processor

Over the years, we’ve seen a steady stream of updates for the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s flagship single-board computer (SBC), with each new release representing a significant boost in processing power and capability. But the slim Raspberry Pi Zero, released all the way back in 2015, hasn’t been quite so fortunate. Beyond the “W” revision that added WiFi and Bluetooth in 2017, the specs of the diminutive board have remained unchanged since its release.

That is, until now. With the introduction of the $15 USD Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, the ultra-compact Linux board gets a much-needed performance bump thanks to the new RP3A0 system-in-package, which combines a Broadcom BCM2710A1 die with 512 MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM and a quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 1 GHz. In practical terms, the Raspberry Pi Foundation says the new Zero 2 is five times as fast as its predecessor with multi-threaded workloads, and offers a healthy 40% improvement in single-threaded performance. That puts it about on par with the Raspberry Pi 3, though with only half the RAM.

Otherwise, the new Zero 2 isn’t much different from the original. It’s the same size and shape, meaning existing cases or mounts should work fine. You’ll also find the micro SD slot, CSI camera connector, dual micro USB ports, and mini HDMI port in the same places they were in 2015.

Frankly we’re a little surprised they didn’t switch over to USB-C (at least for the power port) and micro HDMI to bring it in line with the Pi 4, but of course, they presumably didn’t want to break compatibility with existing Zero projects. At least we won’t have to wait for a second edition to add wireless, as the Zero 2 W offers 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 out of the box.

We’ll have samples of the new Zero 2 W in hand shortly, so keep an eye out for a detailed overview of this highly anticipated new member of the Pi family. In the meantime, let us know what you think about the new hardware in the comments. Is it a worthy successor to the original $5 Pi Zero?