Raspberry Heights Workshop at Mini Maker Faire @raspberrypi

Join Ron Callahan as he discusses his computer programming workshop for children, The Raspberry Heights Workshop this Sunday at Barnes & Noble (Union Square NYC location) Mini Maker Faire.

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photo by Jessica Peugh

Ron will be giving a talk at 3:00 Sunday  November 6th to discuss the workshops and new improvements in Raspberry Pi computers and software.

Meet Jessica for hands-on demos from 12-5 at our table upstairs.

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How to Update Your Raspberry Pi

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If you haven’t heard Raspberry Pi has released PIXEL the latest edition of Rasbian. It comes with a new look with new icons, wallpapers & user interface. Also included are some new additions to the software like Chromium web browser, RealVNC & senseHat emulator.

You can download PIXEL  from the Raspberry Pi website and burn the entire image to your SD card following the instructions here.

However, if you have been using your Raspberry Pi for a while you probably have a lot of files like those awesome Scratch projects and Python scripts you have been writing. So an update is a likely choice for you. If you are going to update, I would highly recommend making a back up of your files first. You can make a full backup using the instructions here. Alternatively, you can drop and drop your files onto a flash drive.

Updating is as simple as opening up terminal and entering the following commands

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

If you are updating and not doing a new install, you will need to run these commands to install some of the new software packages included with PIXEL.

sudo apt-get install -y rpi-chromium-mods 
sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu 
sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu-doc realvnc-vnc-viewer

You will need to reboot for the update to take effect.

We can’t wait to hear what you think about the update.

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Meet Sofia – Raspberry Heights Workshop Featured Student

We at The Raspberry Heights Workshop are very proud to announce our featured student. Meet Sofia. She’s a true maker at heart.

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Sofia is a real star. We love when students challenge themselves to remix the projects we do in class. When Sofia remixed her race car game using Scratch, the whole class wanted to add her cool feature. She is a real inspiration.

Her parents tell me she is self motivated, and continues to teach them what she is doing as she goes along.

Most importantly, she loves what she is doing and has fun with it.

Not only has Sofia been attending The Raspberry Heights Workshop for two months, she also created a game “Get The Birthday Cake” for her school Maker Faire.

For earning the Featured Student spot Sofia will receive a Raspberry Pi camera module. Congrats Sofia. Keep challenging yourself and inspiring others.

 

Meet Jessica

You may have noticed a new face at the Raspberry Heights Workshop.

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“For the past few months, Ron Callahan has given me the opportunity of my life, because I have been able to be part of a fabulous team teaching technology.
This is one of my passions that I always wanted to accomplish, being able to teach kids is a reward that cannot be explained, just to see their faces when they see the result of their work it’s amazing.
For me being at Raspberry Heights is a great experience. Since I love technology it gives me the tools to teach the next generation and also help boys and girls to be more involved in tech.”

We are so happy to have Jessica on the Raspberry Heights team. Her nurturing manner lets the students become comfortable with the material, making it easier to learn.

Thanks for all you do, Jessica!

reminder : classes start this Sunday sign up if you haven’t already registered.

Make Your Own Arcade With Raspberry Pi

A few weeks ago, I was attending a political rally for Bernie Sanders at Bohemian Hall in Astoria with my daughter. We missed most of the rally, but, we had dinner and spent some quality time together. In the basement they had a Ms. Pac-Man machine and we had a blast playing together. It got me thinking about MAME and how it was so much fun setting that up on my Mac many moons ago. Of course, I realized it was time to get MAME set up on a Raspberry Pi. Not only would it be a fun excuse to play the games of my youth, but, it would be a great learning experience to use GPIO to wire up a joystick and some arcade style buttons.

For this project we wanted to use a Raspberry Pi2 model B so we could take advantage of the 1GB of RAM. Downloading the Raspicade system took a long time, but, is a great interface.

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photo by : Ron Callahan

Make sure you get the correct version of Raspicade for your system. The version I had would not work on Model B, fortunately, I have a small arsenal of Raspberry Pi in my studio and found a Raspberry Pi2 model B that was free.

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Most of the documentation available was for older Raspberry Pi models. I found a great article that explains how to update retraced to work with the newer Raspberry Pi2 here.

Once the software was set up, I began testing the buttons. You can find a great diagram for the pin out on Ian57’s Github page.

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photo by Jessica Peugh

It was a great project and very challenging to get all the pieces together. After a few nights of research I got everything prepped and two of my students were able to wire it up  within an hour.

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If your child likes technology and wants to learn more sign up for Raspberry Heights Workshop.

“Howdy Jessie” New Classes, New OS

Yee Haw!

Our next set of classes start this weekend. We are going to be using the newest version of Raspbian out nicknamed “Jessie” after the yodeling cowgirl from Toy Story. There are quite a few interesting features that we are itching to try such as the new version of Scratch which has a new GPIO server built right in!

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Looking forward to playing with the new Java environments, Blue J & Greenfoot, the Libre Office Suite and the new screen capture feature to be able to share our work on the blog.

How do I get Raspbian?

download here.

How do I install Raspbian on my SD card? (mac)

It’s best to start with a clean image. Once the image file has been downloaded, plug in your SD card and open up Terminal

Identify the partition of your SD card

diskutil list

diskutil list

in this example my partition is on /dev/disk2

Unmount your SD card

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2

Format your SD card (the SD card needs to be formatted in FAT32)

sudo newfs_msdos -F 16 /dev/disk2

start the copy (my disk image was named 2015-09-24-raspbian-jessie.img and is in the Desktop folder

sudo dd if=~/Desktop/2015-09-24-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=5m

The process should take about 10 minutes, make sure you eject SD card properly before removing from your Mac.

Insert card into your Raspberry Pi and boot as normal.

Let me know how it worked for you.

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Some useful items USB micro SD card reader, Micro SD card adapter and of course the micro SD card.

World Maker Faire 2015

Thanks to everyone that stopped by our Maker Faire booth to say hi!

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Our second year at Maker Faire was a total blast. We had visits from current students, alumni and a couple special visits from Matt and Phillip from Raspberry Pi Foundation. We met teachers, droids, craftspeople, technologists, drone pilots, multimedia artists and makers of all agesscratch class

We had the opportunity to teach a scratch project to dozens of young makers all weekend long.

This is the droid we were looking for.

This is the droid we were looking for. R2D2

FYI – November classes are filling up. Second class added for beginners.

Sign up now.

Raspberry Heights Workshop – Maker Faire Reunion

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Hi fellow Makers!

Raspberry Heights Workshop will be at the World Maker Faire next weekend in New York City. We are making a big call out to our alumni and supporters. If you have taken a class or have been a supporter of Raspberry Heights, please stop by our booth for a group photo at 2:00PM on Saturday. Come earlier if you’d like to share your Raspberry Pi project at our booth. Just bring your rig (Pi and any interfacing equipment) and we’ll get you set up.

If you have never taken a class at Raspberry Heights Workshop, Maker Faire is the perfect time to come and ask us questions face to face.

Can’t wait to see you all September 26-27th.

Building a Weather Station with Raspberry Pi

Meet Kamau, Raspberry Heights Workshop’s first Advanced level student.  His assignment was to come up with an idea of how we can could use the Raspberry Pi to learn about our environment. His first idea was build something to see through walls. After a little discussion of some privacy issues, we agreed to build a weather station that would fly in the air to see if the temperature would be warmer or cooler as it went higher in the sky.

We spent some time planning his project and decided to use Adafruit’s BMP180 Barometric Pressure/Temperature/Altitude Sensor. The sensor would be perfect for our needs as is works with the Raspberry Pi and is very lightweight.

It required a bit of soldering, but, Kamau was up for the task. He learned basic soldering in the Raspberry Heights Workshop intermediate level.

He draw out some sketches and made lists of materials.

  • Raspberry Pi model A (removed analog video out)
  • Adafruit BMP180
  • Adafruit Pi Cobbler
  • Adafruit Proto Plate
  • GPIO cable
  • small breadboard
  • logitech bluetooth keyboard
  • balloons
  • portable cellphone charger (for mobile power)

Once we gathered up the materials, he began building.

Finished Prototype for Raspberry Pi Weather Station

We modified Adafruit’s code a bit so it would continually run and give us a running list of the temperature and altitude. Unfortunately, the battery was too heavy and we never got to see it fly. Instead, Kamau simply moved it around to see if the temperature would change. He put it in the freezer, outside in the sun and in the shade to capture different readings.

For further iterations of the project, we would need to find a lighter power source and investigate ways to cut the total weight. In the end, Kamau learned a lot building the weather station but more importantly he had fun while doing it.

Loud and proud