Raspberry Pi Projects

Over time, I’ve amassed a small army of Raspberry Pi computers by putting them to use in all sorts of small and fun projects.

I first started out with the #RaPi project, installing and configuring RapidAnalytics on a 2 Pi cluster successfully. The experiment came to a grinding halt after I tried to initialize RapidAnalytics. The 2 Pi cluster was ridiculously underpowered and I couldn’t get it to run successfully. I theorize that that problem could be solved by adding a 3rd or even 4th Pi to the cluster and trying again.

Today, I have two Pi’s in production running my media center (Raspbmc) and another uploading my weather station (WeWxx) data to the Internet. The Pi that’s attached to my TV is quite a capable media center, and considering that we’ve cut the Cable TV cord, it’s quite a cool system. Just this past weekend I hooked up my 2TB external HD with our photos, music, and movies to it.

For my next project, I started building a game camera using a Pi. I went out and bought a camera module for a Pi that I had lying around and hooked it up. I tested out the timelapse and video capabilities and was surprised how good it is for a 5mp camera. It’s not a fancy digital camera but for what I want to do it’s plenty cool.

Using some posts I found in the Pi forums and online (see my Pinboard for them) I started cobbling together the needed scripts and services I’ll need to do this. Loosely speaking, the idea is to put a Pi with a camera module and IR motion sensor to take photos and a video when the sensor is tripped. The images and video will be stored on the Pi or transmitted via FTP if a wireless connection is available. I was thinking of using a USB thumb drive for easy removal and replacing when the system is running.

Power wise, I’m thinking of at first running the Pi on AA batteries but I have to figure out the power draw correctly. This guy’s project (@RPiAOne) really excites me because he powers his Pi completely on solar recharged batteries. Awesome!

In the end, my goal is build this game camera, test it, reproduce the system as a community project for my son’s Boy Scout den, and then donate it to a local wildlife preserve. Of course, I will share my blueprints, scripts, and Pi related stuff with you all.

The Power of Tinkering

I finally got my Personal Weather Station (PWS) to upload current weather data to Wunderground1 last night. You have no idea how happy this made me, considering  I started this project over a year ago but then got interrupted with life.”

I dedicated my first Raspberry Pi to Bitcoin mining, so I needed a second one (Pi’s are addicting, and cheap) to finally get my PWS up and running on the Internet. Luckily I saved the original SD card with all my Wifi settings on it and just plugged it in and fired up the Pi.

Previously I was trying to get PWS to export weather data, in real time, to Wunderground using the PYWWS python module. I never got it to work after pulling out my hair for several nights.  Then I got busy with life and put the project on the shelf.

Fast forward to yesterday at lunch, I stumbled upon the Weewx python module, while surfing the Internet.  I went home, fired up the Pi, and started to download the modules and install them.  I was up and running in 2 hours.

I plan on writing a detailed tutorial on how to use this because I had to cobble one together from various parts of the Internet, and on top of that the PWS I have doesn’t play very nice in general (you get what you pay for). Stay tuned for that.

In closing, I just want to say that tinkering, while frustrating at times, is immensely rewarding to me. I feel like a kid at Christmas this morning!  I’m a believer that innovation is really driven by the tinkerers, the people who say how does this work, what happens if I do this, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this,” etc.  There are young and old tinkers out there building their own cube satellites or launching weather balloons that photograph the curvature of the earth in space.  How cool is it that we live in a time period where we’re able to do stuff like this?

Always remain curious and always Tinker.