Tuesday, 15 December 2015


This is another project ive been preparing for christmas.  Ive started small to see how i get on with 2x 20 led 3v lights from the local pound shop and a 3v EL wire again cheap so if it doesnt work ive not lost.

After putting jessie raspbian onto the card and set up the configs i downloaded the lightshowpi software before wiring up the lights to a relay board. I didnt run into any problems as the lightshowpi site is well written.  The only problem i did notice was my relay board being noisy but im hoping by getting a solid state relay board this will solve it.

Here is a link to the youtube video i made.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

MyPiFi Cheerlight Christmas Decor

I decided a while back that after doing my Christmas tree last year in NeoPixel lights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoGk0M8YdMA and using Penguin Tutors excellent DJ lights program https://github.com/penguintutor/neopixel-gui that this year I wanted a Cheerlight item (cheerlights.com) like I had run on the Unicorn Hat by ForToffee https://github.com/ForToffee/UnicornHAT Cheerlights is an internet of things where people use twitter and the hashtag #cheerlights and a colour and all items running cheerlights around the world will change colour to the current tweeted colour.

So the hunt was on for something I could use and low and behold I came across this laser cut house that had a battery pack running some plain leds inside.  Once it arrived it was time to strip out the lights and add 13 neopixels inside on a long strip, but to be able to get inside i needed to use a craft knife to carefully remove the roofs and one building.

I originally tried neopixel buttons but everytime i had these in place a wire would snap so from 5 buttons the amount of pixels would go up.

Once in place I soldered the pixels to a MyPiFi neopixel controller board and attached to one of my pi's http://smstextblog.blogspot.com/2015/03/afirstly-thank-you-for-purchasing-this.html .  I then glued everything back together and then followed Tonys great NeoPixel how to guide off of adafruit https://learn.adafruit.com/neopixels-on-raspberry-pi/overview Once all the software was in place I ran the first test and all seemed fine it worked.  However when I tried to run the Cheerlight code from David Bradway https://github.com/davidbradway/cheerlights I just couldnt get it to work.  I asked about and was told two different things to try so tried both at the same time, the first was to use an old pi with 26 pin header and second was to use Raspbian Wheezy and not Jessie which I tried and bingo, it worked I couldnt believe it.

I have since glued the Pi and the display to some thin mdf word to keep it all together and stop the wires being pulled and this is the finished result.

There is still some coding bits to fiddle around with but apart from that this is now ready for the christmas festivities and perhaps after christmas i could remove the christmasy figures off the front and just have this as an everyday cheerlight display for my desk.

Thank you for reading and please share.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

ingress the new geocaching game?

As many of you know I use to be a avid cacher, hitting the top 50 finders at one point, first to find 100 5/5 extreme caches and always one looking for quality over quantity. However after a run in with a local reviewer over a number of things that I personally still stand for and the politics that came about, I like many just gave up.  I've not renewed my membership, i rarely look for caches andvi believe I still have caches found on my GPS that I can't be bothered to log yet, so why?

Well its why everyone is moving over to ingress, no more travelling hundreds of miles to get a smiley, getting ivy rash from searching through ivy for a micro or searching through rubbish in a layby for a watersoaked logbook that's seen better days.

I tried munzees in the summer and was bored rather quickly, scanning barcodes and quite often some that were rather weathered and wouldn't scan I needed something better, remembering that a friend had shown me an app last year but was only available for android at the time (now on iPhone too) I decided to give this new game ago.

Its called ingress, its about battling blue team (the best) versus greens (the enemy), you pick a side and that becomes your fraction.  The idea is to take over portals which are places of interest and of which scores you points and linking them to other portals which can be captured and recaptured many times a day in busy spots. Portals are normally submitted to show places a visitor might not go, a work of art, sculpture, area of interest or historic value.  I for one have discovered new things locally as well as visited things I've forgotten and so far other players have been great with advice and support and best of all its free.

So it looks like I've discovered a new way to pass my time and enjoy what's around me without spending loads on petrol travelling to my nearest cache. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Neopixel assembly guide and links

Firstly thank you for purchasing this board, if you have children assembling this then adult supervision will be required along with an explanation of the dangers of electrical voltage.

While I recommend a 5v 4amp power supply from CPC.co.UK you can use an outdoor lights 5v 4amp supply.

Here is what you should have to start with:

1x gpio header
1x PCB board with chip already on board
3x terminal screws

The chip should already be on the board as it was the best way for posting them, they haven't been soldered but can be although it should work how it is, please ensure the dimple is at bottom as per pic.

Using any method you have to hold board in place start by soldering the gpio header being careful not to melt the chip.

Next solder on the screw terminals ensuring they are the correct way as per picture.

When finished the board should look like this.

 Next use either the power supply from my original Xmas neopixel post or the recommended 5v 4amp one from CPC.co.UK

Cutting the end off use a multimeter to figure out the wires, on mine the wire with the line down it was positive and the plain black was negative. Strip the ends just enough to screw into the plus and negative connection on the board and place some electrical tape around each wire so if they get pulled to hard or come out they won't short or be exposed. It can be a tight fit so cutting some of the bare wire off might be needed. If attaching a outside light power supply then two good bits of wire will do after you have checked the output and adjusted it with the pot terminal on the unit and a multimeter.

Once done screw the neopixel power to the positive and negative on the board screw terminal called neo. Next screw in the data lead to the screw terminal called data. The NC stands for not connected and does nothing.

Now you are ready to program it. Please look at my Xmas neo lights blog link for more details on coding and demo code.

As usual info and links can be found on my kickstarter 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Energenie infrared remote controlled socket

I got one of these the other week and have been testing it.

It's a kit of an infra red add on board and infra red socket. The socket can be programmed to be turned on or off with any remote control and was so easy that my elderly anti technology mother was able to work it and ideal for her to turn on/off her heater or whatever else you want to use the socket for.  Also with the long lead the socket can be placed out of reach, but the infra red part can be stuck with the enclosed sticky pad somewhere in sight of the remote control.

Although I'm struggling to get my infra red add on board to work, I did try the demo one at a recent show at betts 2015 and was spot on. Would I get one erm ok, but if can I pick my automation gear I would go for the radio sockets as they can be hidden but only controlled with the supplied remote or add on board where as this any remote control or this add on board.

Rav Power 6 in one WD02

I got a Ravpower filehub through this week, an RP WD02 model and thought I would run it through its paces.

Now normally when I attend Raspberry Jams I have to take an extension lead and battle for a power socket or take an external battery pack, then so I can connect to the pi either a big laptop or my phone plus the tp link access point plus lead to power it off the external battery.

Not with this, its a six in one device. It has a wireless router that you can use as an access point or link to your mobile or plug into a hotel internet socket for internet. You also have a micro sd card slot that can be used as a card reader or a nas file server, I'm guessing it can only take up to 64gb like what I'm using but couldn't find details anywhere so enough for 15 good quality films, over 10k 3 minute music tracks or just use it for your backup images.

Next was the battery which from flat took me 4 hours to charge with the official Raspberry Pi power adapter and best of all, with one of my add on boards flashing leds last for over the length of an average pi jam to an incredible 12 hours, 14 hours with my seven segment clock display making this more than brilliant for travelling as now I don't need all these extra things just the pi, this with its included lead will also fits from the hub to the pi power socket, wifi dongle and my smartphone (plus the add on board I'm showing) simples.

So do I recommend it? well I love the tp link travel router/access point, but this was so much easier in my opinion to set up and price wise considering how many items are built into this is good value, so yes, now it means I can attend jams again without having to lunge around lots of boxes of kit.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Review: RAVPower® Deluxe 14000mAh USB External Battery Portable Power Bank Charger Pack

I bought this as a whim back in October last year.  Reason being I attend lots of Raspberry Jams, yet power points can often be an issue.

Whilst I have over a dozen power packs now running various projects, very few feel well built, in fact this one feels like if it's dropped it won't spill its load, it also feels strong and sturdy and also looks great.

It comes with a nice travel bag to keep all the leads together, has a built in torch and two usb sockets with one at 1amp the other at 2 amps meaning you can run  two Raspberry Pi s together or run the HDMIPi screen with no problems.

I've tested both ports with a multimeter and can confirm it kicks out a healthy 5.25v and the ampage is what it claims. Many companies will claim that there's can run at the packaged volts and amps but very few do and this is the only one that can run the HDMIPI.

So running time, my wildlife pi camera lasted the entire night with plenty of charge left on it and when running off one  of these at events I can safely say I know will never run out of juice too.  I believe I can get nearly two full days out of it which would be plenty for the wildlife cam.

Yes this is also weighty and takes longer to charge, but if this is an issue go for a smaller device as this is big and heavy due to the amount of juice it holds.

So do I recommend one? Would I buy another? The answer is yes and as my other power packs pack up I will be replacing them with more of these.  They also come with a good warranty if you register on their site and good customer services so you know that if there was a problem which I doubt you will have, that it will be sorted fast.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Raspberry pi robot and camera

I had bought the parts a while back which consisted of a makeblock starter kit and a few extra bits n pieces from the little British robot company and also a control board from Dawn Robotics plus their pan/tilt camera kit.  Dawn robotics also do a raspberry pi image for free or for a small fee the image already on a  sd card.

So after many months of screwing and unscrewing, adding and unadding I got to the stage I could actually test it tonight.


It's very simple to set up and I'm still yet to add infra red light to work in conjunction with the camera. I currently have a pi supply bright light kit but need to figure out the wiring so I can get it working.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

4 boards for the Raspberry Pi

Whilst stocks last there is an offer for all four MyPiFi boards on eBay £18 delivered (uk) or plus delivery (row) they are for the LED board, LCD add on module, 10 LED board and the I/O port expander board giving your Pi more inputs and outputs.

Available on eBay for a short time when they have gone they won't be re added


Assembly guides and demo codes can be found on www.mypifi.net

Sunday, 11 January 2015

32x32 rgb display with a raspberry Pi

Never really got that far with a 32x32 display, ok I followed Raspberrypi-spy s guide and got it to display things but wanted to try more out like Peter Onions excellent RGB demo.

So after running into difficulties compiling the c code from peteronion.org.uk/PiProgs I emailed Peter, I needed to add -lm to the end of the line and bingo worked straight away.  The demos that Peter has included include Tetris, Clock, game of life, Squares and kaleidoscope and shows how a simple screen can be made to do literally anything.

I've since seen pictures over the tinternet showing the same displays being used to show pictures and framed in a frame too.

Many ideas and possibilities for this great rgb device.

MyPiFi add on boards for Raspberry Pi http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=181629776059 

Home automation with energenie

A long time ago I reviewed the energenie Pi kit consisting of a Pi add on board and two sockets.  Since then I have used ssh to ssh to a Pi to run Amy Mathers Python script that she infamously wrote on work experience at Raspberry Pi Towers.

Now since then I decided to see what else I can do and found a great tutorial http://www.penguintutor.com/raspberrypi/pi-power and followed it. Using a model a with wifi I have a device that should it go down I can ssh into to restart, but more importantly I can use a web browser and enter the Pi IP address and get buttons to choose what I want.

The problem now is I want more and more of these sockets as the Pi is about to automate my house.

Whilst I've never had a problem with the range, I've added 135mm of wire to the antenna which has a nice little hole to solder some wire to, this will boost the range so I should have no problems hitting anywhere around the house.

Feel free to have a go yourself, a starter kit of one energenie add on board and two sockets starts at £19.99 with additional sockets £10 each or 3 for £20 and the big pack of 4 for £25

Now I'm off to make that tea as the kettle has just finished boiling.

Advert: MyPiFi Boards http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=181629776059 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Snake with a Raspberry Pi and Unicorn Hat

Someone else with a great name ;) has written code to run the old Nokia phone game snake on the unicorn hat. Paul Brown who's GitHub link is https://github.com/PaulBrownMagic/python/blob/master/unicornsnake.py the controls are the arrow keys, certainly see this being popular at future raspberry jams

Sunday, 4 January 2015

MyPiFi 4 add on boards pack

I forgot how many extra boards I have paid for over my last few kickstarters, so after taking stock of what I had left and needing to make space for future projects I have decided to place up a four board offer on eBay for £18 including free uk postage and packing, saving buyers £10 off the usual price.

The boards included are:

The LED board, three LEDs and a button with assembly instructions and demo code on MyPiFi.net

The second board is the LCD add on module so you can add any hd44780 compatable board eg 16x2 or 20x4 LCD to your project and again comes with assembly guide and demo code to get you started, all you need is to buy a LCD screen to plug into it.

The third board is the 10 LED board, this can be used with the Raspberry Pi or any other GPIO board like arduino with jumper wires or with a port expander board like my forth board.

Then we have the forth board, this is an in/out port expander for controlling things like LEDs via the SCL and SDA pins freeing up many of the other GPIO pins so you can add more to your projects and like with all my add on boards comes with extended GPIO headers so you can still use the GPIO pins.

All common kit form starting at £6 each or all four for £18 on eBay.  http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=181629776059 

Here are just a few people showing theirs on Twitter.

So what you waiting for? Great way to learn on the Raspberry Pi with room to keep building and building as you get better and more confident with the Pi.

I also do discounts to code clubs and Pi shops if you are ordering in bulk too, just contact me for further details.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Testing the Pi and Bash add on module

Been testing this out for a while now and firstly recommend using a new image so nothing on your current image can interfere with the add on board.

The add on board comes with these functions:

  • Traffic Light LEDs
  • 5 Push Button Switches
  • Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) with 2 lines of 16 characters
  • Software switchable LCD backlight
  • Thermometer
  • 8 configurable digital inputs/outputs (I/Os)
  • 8 analogue inputs
  • Header for connecting additional I2C devices
  • Can be powered from external 5V supply

Assembly was quick, but felt strange with the way the board fitted to the Pi, in other words it didn't sit flush like other boards, but has been designed to overhang the Pi.

With the demo script that can be downloaded from the site 
http://pinventor.co.uk/piandbash I was able to straight away test the buttons, leds, temperature gauge and the lcd screen.

The huge list of projects that can be achieved with this add on board include:

  • Traffic Light Sequence
  • Room Thermometer
  • RSS News Ticker
  • Model Railway Points Controller
  • Internet Radio Alarm Clock
  • Weather Station
  • Network Monitor
  • Bedroom Burglar Alarm

So far I have found averagemanvspi has done the Internet radio, but piandbash do have a forum on their site should you fall into any problems and Rob Boyle the creator is also very helpful should you approach him direct.

There will be some tutorials soon to get you going with all the functions, although the demo code is a great starter to get the feel.

While it seems to be expensive at £23 from modmypi https://www.modmypi.com/raspberry-pi-expansion-boards/pibash-add-on-board you need to remember you have several boards plugged into this one board, leds, lcd, I/o expander, buttons and temperature module so five boards into one and that's just a quick look over it, I expect with the functions combined you could claim it to have more module boards included.

So value for money, I have experience of putting out add on boards with my own MyPiFi brand and can say price wise it's cheap, no huge mark ups and you certainly couldn't get the bits yourself any cheaper as the major cost factor is the PCB.

Perhaps this is what the gertboard should have been?