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.
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.
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.
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.
If your child likes technology and wants to learn more sign up for Raspberry Heights Workshop.
We are entering our third year teaching kids about computers, electronics and programming.
Fall Raspberry Pi 2015 classes are now forming for kids 6-11.
Class Dates (Sept 13, 20 & Oct 4, 11)
There is still a couple spots open for beginners. If you have already been part of the Raspberry Heights Workshop, we have classes for you to continue building your skills and most importantly, having fun along the way. We have new equipment, new software, new tutorials and a great staff to help you on your journey.
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
- 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