A Case of Zero Security

I picked up an official Pi Zero case at the Pi Store last week and only opened it yesterday – I’m notoriously easily pleased but was thrilled to find there were three different case tops included! Plus, as icing on the cake, a tiny cable to connect a Pi camera module tidily inside one of the lids.

official-raspberry-pi-zero-case-prt-14273-enclosures-sparkfun-cool-components_864_x700

As luck would have it I already had a Pi Zero W handy and set up with MotionEye so it took minutes to clip the whole thing into place. I’ve been looking for a nice security camera case for a while and this ticked all of the boxes at once.

I tried it on the dining room wall but the field of vision didn’t cover the whole room – something that was rectified by a £5 set of smartphone lenses from Tiger  – the set came with a fisheye and “diamond” lens but the Wide Angle one was perfect for the job. While there I also picked up a 3 metre white USB cable for £3, which let me mount the camera high up in the room.

20190309_203945
Cheap wide angle lens superglued to the case.

The lens was easily superglued to the case, and I made a bracket out of Lego to hold it at just the right angle near the slope of the ceiling. The case was fixed to the bracket using 3m self-adhesive velcro pads (on special this week at Lidl)

20190309_210444
Fixed to the wall with sticky velcro pads

To finish the job I tidied the cable with some thin self-adhesive conduit, which is mostly tucked away behind a curtain. I’m so pleased with the end result, it only took about a half-hour to put everything together and it looks really clean and subtle on the wall. Now I can keep an eye on the cats without needing them to wander right in front of the camera!

This was also a great first experiment with camera lenses – my next big Pi project is camera “focussed” and we’ll be using the wide angle lens again as part of the build. Maybe not a pink one this time though.

A Trip to the #RPIstore

What to do with the kids at half term? A pilgrimage to the new Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge of course! I’ve been feeling an irresistible magnetic draw since the shop opened, and we finally got to visit last week. 

What to do with the kids at half term? A pilgrimage to the new Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge of course! I’ve been feeling an irresistible magnetic draw since the shop opened, and we finally got to visit last week.

20190222_155920

First impressions were great, much bigger than I expected with Pis set up all around the store, showcasing the many different things you can achieve. Lots of hands-on stations for kids (and adults) too, making it easy for customers to get interactive.

I came to shop though – I only had a short window of dedicated pi-time before the wife & kids caught up with me, so I headed straight for the shelves. There was a pleasantly surprising array of products, with lots of HATs, kits and accessories, even maker staples like packs of jumper cables, far more than just the Pi-branded gear I had imagined. First to be scooped up was an official Pi Zero case – I have a fair few zeros but no cases and this thing looked so small and cute I had to have it. Next I grabbed a Pi-branded mug and tote bag, and finished off with some Sugru, which I haven’t seen in the wild since Maplin closed down.

It was fascinating to see the responses of other shoppers too – while I was ogling the cases a lady next to me pointed out the boxed Pi 3s interestedly to her husband, who responded “I think you’ll find that’s just the mouse in that box”. I resisted getting involved.

20190222_160101.jpg

After a while the family arrived and we tried out some of the Pi stations, then busied ourselves opening all of the MagPi magazines & specials we could find to pages showing my projects and left them out on the coffee table.

20190222_154439

As shops go it’s pretty impressive and inspiring, though we were naturally biased! Plenty of helpful staff around too. I did think it could do with being a little bit brighter in there, but obviously it’s early days. We’re all looking forward to a return visit next time we’re in Cambridge (or when the Norwich branch opens – cmon please?)

Portable @Raspberry_Pi Scratch / Prototyping Station

This old Dell monitor has been given a new life as a portable Scratch / Development station for Raspberry Pi projects – it has an integrated Pi 3 A+, fixed breadboard and Lego tape on either side for holding components in place.

A portable Pi workstation for Scratch and Prototyping

I put it together mainly to make it easier to dip in & out of Scratch projects with the kids – with the Pi and breadboard attached to the monitor it takes seconds to set up, and with the Lego tape either side the kids can build structures to hold LEDs and other components in place while building code.

It’s also really useful for me when I’m developing code for projects, having everything in one place makes it harder (but not impossible!) to get sidetracked by trailing wires and loose connections.

It works look!

My favourite part though is the Pibow Coupe Tangerine case (hotglued to the monitor) – I bought it because it looks great, but on assembly I noticed it has all of the GPIO pin numbers on it – this makes coding so much easier. I had originally planned to print & stick a GPIO guide on one side of the monitor but this saves all of the squinting and pin-counting.

Developing code is much more convenient now, but obviously not all frustrations and distractions can be removed.

Around the back the leads are all neatly cable-tied in place, with the Pi connected to the ol’ Dell with an HDMI > DVI adaptor. For power a single trailing extension lead connects it to the mains, with a plug-through USB adaptor fixed behind the monitor powering the screen and providing 2x 2.1a USB supplies for the Pi and accessories.

Nice jumper bandolier you have there!

It was great fun to put together, and the monitor only cost £5 at a charity shop, PAT tested with a fully tiltable base. It’s especially useful in the winter months when the workshop is icy cold but we still want to get hands-on with the Raspberry Pi.