Raspberry Pi Breakout board

I’ve spent a few days relearning how to solder and put together a small project for my raspberry pi – a breakout board.

The idea is to have the GPIO pins easily accesible whilst providing each with a bit of protection from mistakes when wiring – specifically to have each behind a resistor as well as a zener diode to stop passing too much current through the pin (check out the links below for a more accurate description!)

Pi working
This pic shows the board and pi connected and working

It is designed by Mike Cook (the same chap who did all the interesting stuff for the BBC B in micro user) and he has full instructions on his website here

He also has some excellent further projects and really handy information about the pi – well work keeping an eye on his site for further updates: website

I have made a couple of very minor alterations so that I can use the materials that were to hand – Mike’s version has a very neat wire layout however I didn’t have anything thin enough to allow for 2 connections in the same hole – hence the messy and multicoloured wires!

Board and pi connected
This pic shows the Pi sitting on the spare section of the new board. I was using it to carry the pair around & was going to chop it off however it sits there quite nicely.
(I’ll give it a try and see how useable it is when it has the cables plugged in).

Its a simple project and I thought that it would handy to teach me how to get soldering and read circuit diagrams – in the end it worked perfectly however it was let down by my rubbish soldering skills and general poor level of quality control.

The board and pi in the connected position. I’m really pleased that I’ve left enough ribbon cable to give good access around both the board and pi – my HDMI lead is short so it all has to be balanced close to the tv.

(I’m not going to show a photo of the back as it looks like a baby transformer has spluttered his solder based dinner all over i!t)

At least I’ve now learnt how to trace faults and rectify them as well as use my meter and soldering iron more effectively. As with all things Pi I bought it to tinker with and to enjoy learning new skills and it has not disappointed.

Recently we’ve taught our squirrel to collect food from a basket, lowered down rapunzel style from the window.

This first video shows the squirrel when (s)he was first introduced to the basket. A bit of fumbling and (s)he soon got the hang of it.

basket squiz 2

A few weeks later and now confident with the basket, we attached a small camera to get a bit of a close up.


Feedercam version 1.0

Toady I’ve been experimenting with 2 webcams to film the bird feeder. Unfortunately its a bit wet so not much happening however at least I’ve been able to test some things…..

Here’s a pic of the setup – a microsoft webcam on the window cill with a logitech blue-tacked to a telescope!

Both are linked to the computer running i-spy using motion triggers so they automatically record when something happens (they have to be pretty sensitive to capture such small objects so most of the videos are of twitching leaves!)

The link below goes to my first test of the system where I’ve got the times to tally up when editing.

squirrel spy test

Next step is to get the raspberry pi to control tham and house the whole lot in a waterproof box to create a sort of “game cam”

Pi experiment 1 – dice

Based on an article in the latest magpi online magazine – http://www.themagpi.com/ I’ve had a go at using the GPIO to control LED’s.

After a bit of fiddling around (rectifying my own mistakes with a wrong resistor!)  I managed to get the type in program to work – basically you press the switch then the red LED produces between 1 and 6 flashes to represent a dice.

It was quite tricky to see when the counting started and stopped so with the help of a multitude of websites and python programming guesswork I fitted a further green LED to another of the IO pins. The alteration gives a green light to show it is on. When the switch is pressed the green light goes off and the red LED gives the flashes…. when done it goes back to green.

Its all very basic stuff and laughably useless (!) but I am really pleased that my first step in programing and electronics has resulted in something that works.

Here is a video so that you can witness the excitement (?) in real time:

pi video

and a still of the program itself:

I’m a bit too lazy to retype it so this pic will have to do! – pin 10 is the green LED, with the rest as in the magpi magazine.

Raspberry Pi

My Raspberry Pi arrived today!

The last time I was this computer excited it involved borrowing a BBC B, twin Cumana drives and a copy of Elite.

I’ve got dozens of project ideas for it however phase 1 involves creating a lego case of it as currently its suspended by wires from my tv.

to be continued….



High Wycombe Mayor Weighing

We thought we’d pop in to town to go to the shops and ended up watching old traditions.

Apparently it is to ensure that the council officials haven’t been living it up whilst in office, so they are weighed at the start of their stint and at the end. If they weigh more then the crowd boo’s!

There were also morris dancers and re-enactors. The musicians were great and the guns scared the life out of the local pigeons!

Its such a pity they held it in Frogmore – it looks a right mess.

Chiltern open air museum

We’ve just spent an excellent day at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

Its a place where local historic buildings are donated and scenes of old are recreated.

The highlight was the roundhouse, especially as there was a saxon themed guide who showed us how to light fire with some fungus.

Really good also to see a prefam complete with interior and fittings as well as the lambs and tollhouse from about a mile down the road.

The whole museum is a great day out and really brought to life with the people in the buildings ready to talk with us. It’s also great for leting you try stuff on – I’ve been a blacksmith and WW2 RAF pilot in the same day!

Website at: Chiltern open air museum

Hook – a – squirrel

Recently the squirrels have been sitting on the bank opposite the window, staring at us until they are thrown a peanut.
Today we thought it would be fun to lower peanuts to them on a bit of string, rapunzel style.


The above video shows the results – the idea was to keep the string tight so that the squirrel could pull the nut off however it ended up looking like a man in a furry suit doing a bungee jump!

Next step is to lower a camera down too to capture the close up action.