PiFrame - Surfboard

The idea behind this was to create an aesthetically pleasing frame for an old screen that I had lying around. No chance was I going to create a standard boring square frame and hang this on the wall. It has been done before…. A few weeks prior to making the surfboard frame I had seen a really nice piece of static wall art with a massive photo framed into a board. It looked unreal and was the inspiration for this surfboard PiFrame.


Parts List

  • Suitable wooden panel approx 18-20mm thick. (I used 1800x600 Panel, 18mm thick)
  • An old LCD monitor (Preferably with buttons including power on the bottom or back. not on the front.)
  • A Solid wall mount (I used a small VESA mount extendable arm - yes it holds the weight fine....)
  • RPI2 with Raspbian installed.
  • 5v PSU - (I used good quality Meanwell enclosed PSU)
  • HDMI cable
  • USB wifi module
  • 240v IEC cable - Y cable with two inputs.


The Frame

For the Initial board I decided to use the workshop CNC router to speed up the process. The first thing we did was decide upon the shape for the board. The classic thruster shape seemed like the best choice as we could scale it down to fit the 1800×600 wooden panel easily. After drawing up the basic board shape in solid works I moved the drawing over to Aspire. We use Aspire to create our tool paths for the CNC. We then measured the outer edges of the monitor without compensation. The LCD monitor needed to press fit nicely into the wooden panel.

Cutting out the basic template is pretty quick and easy with the CNC router. After we have the basic frame, a quick sand all over using 80grit and 120 grit sandpaper…..then some wet and dry. A base coat of blue paint was applied and a light wash of white. Another quick sand to give it the ‘weathered’ look and a coat of clear varnish has the frame ready to seat the LCD monitor and electronics.


The Hardware

The cut-out for the LCD into the frame was just about perfect and the monitor pressed in nicely, at this stage we didn’t really even need to secure it to the screen as it was a very nice fit. (You may want to affix the frame to the monitor!) Mounting of the hobby enclosure was through 4 x self tapping screws. Just make sure you do not punch through the front of the frame. The electronics hobby box was a bit of a mash together as you can tell, but if you spend a bit more time on it, im sure you can mount everything a bit nicer than what I have.

For the wall mount we decided that the most flexible option was the LCD monitor swing arm. You need to be careful with the weight on these things, however after a bit of experimenting we found that the short arm was perfect and stable enough to hold the weight of the LCD, the frame and the electronics.


The Software

  • Raspbian OS on RPi
  • Sign Up for an account at DAKboard.com (This is a BETA web configuration I used to display items in the frame)
  • Install Chromium web browser on the PI. (A perfect browser for Kiosk mode - see Dakboard.com for install)

I stumbled accross a little web site that specialises in turning a monitor into a useful device that is actually asthetically pleasing. It involves setting up an account and setting the Pi’s web browser to kiosk mode and loading the page in full screen. Once loaded it can show data such as, Date, Time, Weather, iCal calendar entries and link to dropbox or flikr to display HD background photos. Not a bad setup, but i stress that it is in BETA and has a few bugs. I believe there are other project floating about that can do similar. (Post them in the comments, I’m keen to explore other possibilities.)


What Next?

Let me know if you want a detailed article on all the installation steps including step-by-step install of the software. Please comment below.


Raspberry Pi HAT design files

I have embarked on a journey to create a Raspberry Pi HAT for a little project of mine and I wanted to share a couple of things that I think may help you speed up your development time in the future. As of 11/5/16 I have tested out the DXF importing it into KiCad and using at the ege cut profile. The blank PCB’s test HATS we had made up fit nicley on the RPi2. As I push further on this journey I’ll continue to post any design files that I feel could help you with future iterations.


RPi HAT Files

 
 



How to find your Raspberry Pi IP Address

Finding the IP address of a freshly imaged Raspberry Pi can sometimes be a PITA. Especially if you do not have access to a spare HDMI cable, monitor, mouse and keyboard. In this article we will cover off on a few methods to identify your Raspberry Pi IP address on your network. As with all things there are many ways to achieve this however I have listed a few of the non complex methods here.


Assumptions

  • DHCP is enabled on your router
  • Your Raspberry Pi is plugged in via Ethernet
  • Your Pi is powered up.


Finding your RPi IP address

Sometimes finding your Raspberry Pi IP address can be a pain in the bum depending on how your network is setup and the resources you have available. Finding the IP can be achieved in a few different ways.

The first method may be to connect a monitor/keyboard/mouse to the Pi and get it to boot into the GUI. However we do not always have a HDMI cable, keyboard and mouse handy. The second method could be to connect to the Pi in its “headless” state using a third party application. Failing the above methods, you could also log into your router and check your ARP table. However each router is different and results can sometimes be confusing. I would have to say that using the third party apps is the easiest method.


Third Party App: AngryIP (My personal Favourite!)

Navigate your way to: http://angryip.org/download/ and download the AngryIP software applicable for your operating system. Install the software as per every other application you have and run.

This piece of software is super simple, input the IP range you wish to scan. eg 192.168.0.0 – 192.168.1.255 (You could probably shorten this if you know what your DHCP range is set to – Will save time sifting through 255 results)

Then click “Start”. The app will search through the whole range and display hostnames in the third column. You will be looking for something similar to the image below.


Third Party App: Adafruit Pi Finder

Download the Adafruit Pi Finder application via the github page: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-Pi-Finder (Remember to select the correct version for your Windows operating system.)

Download, and unzip the directory to a familiar location on your PC. Look for the Pi Finder.exe file and run it.

Once Pi Finder is running, simply click “Find My Pi” and it will carry out a search for any Raspberry Pi’s on your network. Once complete, you will be able to see the IP address of your Pi and even access an SSH terminal direct from the app. However if like me you are not yet familiar with all the commands you can use this IP in Notepad++ to create a visual link into your Pi.


What Next?

  • Configure Network configuration files
  • Enable/Setup WiFi connection


Edit files on your Raspberry Pi the easy way

For us linux “late-adopters” it can be a daunting task of carrying out a routine file transfer to our Raspberry Pi from our Windows PC. However the learning curve is not so great. There are plenty of easy tools for achieving this feat. If you have not been introduced to Notepad++ then we will give you a quick introduction. We will also educate you on a small plugin inside of Notepad++ that allows you to run a lightweight FTP client. This client is really only suitable for your scripting files or editing configuration files but you will learn the basics of how FTP works and then have the skills to upgrade to a more robust FTP client for moving other files onto the Raspberry Pi.


Prerequisites

  • Install Notepad++ on your windows PC. https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
  • Download Putty. Link Below
  • Ensure your Raspberry Pi is plugged into your network via Ethernet (cat5)
  • Power up your Pi
  • Ensure your LAN has DHCP enabled...most routers will have this set as default.


Finding your RPi IP address

If you already have your raspberry pi on the network and you know its IP address then that is half the battle. Alternatively if you have just finished installing Raspbian and you are not sure what to do from here then do not panic!! Check this article to find your IP address. http://dirtyoptics.com/find-raspberry-pi-ip-address/


Method 1: Notepad++ (My Favourite!)

Navigate your way to: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/ and download the latest release for Notepad++. Install as per any other windows application and run it up. You will notice it looks very similar to the generic windows text editor however it does allow for some syntax highlighting. A handy little editor also if you are just starting to dive into Python and other coding languages.

Once Notepad++ is open, navigate to: Plugins / NppFTP / Show NppFTP Window. (If you do not see NppFTP you may need to go into the plugin manager and install it)

Once you have the NppFTP window open you will need to create an SFTP profile for your RPI. Please note that when SSH is enabled on your Pi it also opens up port 22 for you to utilise SFTP over the SSH connection. (Well thats my understanding anyhow!).

  • Insert Pi IP
  • Port 22
  • Select SFTP
  • Username: pi (If left as default)
  • Password: raspberry (If left as default)

After you have set it up, click close/save. Find and click the connect button in the NppFTP window and connect to the profile you just setup. After a few seconds you should be able to view a “windows like” file tree of your Pi. You can also double click on any text file and edit directly in the Notepad ++ editor. When you click “save” it will automatically upload that file back to the Pi. Particularly useful when editing Python code and you want to run directly on the Pi. This can be dangerous at times, if updating important configuration docs ensure you back them up first.


Method 2: Using SSH/Terminal and 'Nano' Editor

If you are feeling adventurous, and want to use SSH to edit configuration files then strap yourself in. For the ‘un-intiated’, Linux commands differ heavily from the standard Win DOS commands. You will notice some similarities, but for the most part its a bit of a learning curve. We are not going to cover absolutley everything here but the basics for editing files whilst you are in a terminal session. (Accessing you Pi directly)

The first thing you will want to ensure is that your RPI is powered up, Plugged into your network and you know the IP address . Assuming you have installed Raspbian onto your Micro SD and inserted the SD card prior to powering up we can then begin to access the Pi via SSH. (SSH = Secure SHell). This is pretty much a standard way of accessing your Raspberry Pi if you do not have a monitor available. SSH is enabled by default as part of the Raspbian build.

You will now be required to download and open a small terminal program called ‘Putty’ (There are other, but this is the most popular) http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html run the putty.exe from your PC and input the following information.

  • Hostname/IP Addres - Insert your RPI IP
  • Port 22
  • Select SSH

Now that you have logged into your Raspberry Pi via SSH its time to start Nano. Nano is a Linux command line text editor. It is pretty simple to get running and use. It can be run in two different ways.
[crayon-59c45bd82c858182410973/]
This will create a blank text entry. The correct syntax to follow is:
[crayon-59c45bd82c86b882255165/]
If you use a path that is not valid or it cannot find the file you want to edit, then a blank entry will be created.

If you wanted to edit the Raspberry Pi config file, then the command would look like:

Now that you have accessed the config file with nano, you can go through and make your changes. Use the arrow keys to navigate through the text file, and the usual backspace/enter to move things around.

It would be wise to make a backup file of this configuration first

Once complete, hit CTRL-X to exit, then Y to save. It will overwrite the old file with your new one.



What Next?

  • Download and try winSCP to transfer images and larger files.
  • Setup an FTP server on the Raspberry Pi.
  • Utilise a standalone FTP client to connect to the Raspberry Pi. (Filezilla/cuteFTp etc etc)


32 x 32 LED Matrix setup on RPI2

After building a few LED matrices from LED strip lighting and soldering a ton of connections, I decided to give these pre-fabricated LED matrix modules a shot. After a bit of research it turns out that using only a Raspberry Pi and a fully functional Library from the Legend Henner Zeller, you can accomplish just about anything. The cheap Chinese panels that we sourced are fitted with a HUB75 connector which is easily interfaced with a breadboard and some jumper wires or using the opensource Active-3 board, again designed by Henner. His library can be found here: Rpi-RGB-LED-Matrix Library – https://github.com/hzeller/rpi-rgb-led-matrix


Bill of Materials (BOM)

  • LED Matrix: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/1239156 (P5 32x32 modules with Hub75 are a good starting point.)
  • A Raspberry Pi 2 or 3
  • A breadboard and T-Cobbler RPI 40 pin Breakout (Just to make life easier! You can grab these from Adafruit.)
  • Alternatively build an Active-3 adapter for easier chaining of Matrix Panels. (See hzeller github page for more details.)
  • Some Jumper Wires
  • A sense of adventure.....


Code

Assuming you are semi-proficient with Linux and have installed Raspbian than you can follow along here. Otherwise you first need to setup your RPI and access the terminal/SSH interface. The guide here will get you up and with the “NOOBS” installation for your pi.

Install Henner Zeller’s LED Matrix library onto your Pi:
[crayon-59c45bd82e3d6186739660/]
Unzip the Archive:
[crayon-59c45bd82e3e1742482019/]
Once unzip completes you should then be able to view the directory and it’s contents:
[crayon-59c45bd82e3e9803693209/]
You then need to compile the library by running the command:
[crayon-59c45bd82e3ef968852174/]
Once compiled, you can run the following command, this will give you an output of all the available switches:
[crayon-59c45bd82e3f5033534347/]
This command will output the following for your reference:
[crayon-59c45bd82e3fb094459784/]
Now its time to get some output onto the panel. If you are running a singular 32×32 panel, you should be able to run the example without issue.
[crayon-59c45bd82e404069687124/]
If your panel is connected correctly and powered up you should see a scrolling image pass through the panel. With the example above it will only last 10 seconds. You can now begin to experiment with the above switches to see what output you can achieve.


Advanced

  • Output RPI GUI to Matrix Panels (Coming Soon!)
  • Output Twitter msg to Matrix Panels (Coming Soon!)
  • Use Pixelpusher Protocol on Matrix (Coming Soon!)


Media