I'm in the mood...for hacking

Blinkies...everywhere!

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You may have noticed, but there was another Raspberry Pi released the other day. Yes we now have the new Pi Zero W, the W stands for Wireless, obvs!

alt So now we have a Pi Zero with WiFi (b,g,n) and Bluetooth 4.0, all for $10, bargain for Internet of Things and embedded projects.

Kits

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One of the surprises for the Pi Zero W launch, were a series of kits from Pimoroni. These kits contain all of the parts that you will need to build a project. Emma from Pimoroni very kindly sent me a review sample and this is the kit that I used for this post.

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I received the Mood light project kit which comes with

  • A Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • GPIO header (to solder)
  • Mini HDMI and micro USB to USB A adapter.
  • Unicorn pHAT (32 super bright WS2812B LEDs, known as Neopixels)
  • USB lead
  • Laser cut parts for assembly.

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Building at the dining table

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So using the great instructions, written by Sandy. I got to work building the kit.

First up, assembling the laser cut pieces...oh and peeling the protective tape off
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I then soldered up the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi Zero, and the header connection on the Unicorn pHAT. I used my USB soldering iron...I really need to write a post on that iron as it is rather good for jobs like this.

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Finally I assembled the stand and attached it to the main frame.

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Software

Installing the software was a breeze, I just followed the guide for the Unicorn pHAT and then ran the example script to test that it all worked....which it did.

Automate all teh things

deliberate typo

I wanted the mood light to run on boot, so I used the example rainbow.py which is an executable Python script, and edited my cron file so that it ran on boot.

To do this I opened a terminal and typed

sudo crontab -e  

I then added a new line to the end of my cron file so that on reboot it ran the executable Python code.

@reboot /path/to/the/Rainbow/example/code.py

Remember to change the path to the location of the code that you want to run

So now when I power up the mood light, it automatically runs the rainbow.py example code and lights up my bookshelf.

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Conclusion

This kit was great fun to build, it took me about an hour to make the entire kit. This includes writing a new SD card for the Pi Zero W, and tinkering with the example code so that the Unicorn pHAT LEDs were a little brighter.

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The kit retails for £30, which is a great price considering how much stuff is packed into the box...oh yeah the plastic box that contains the project kit is really nice quality and can be re-purposed to contain your Pi kit when you are travelling to Jams etc.

If you are just starting on the path to becoming a maker, then kits such as these should be your first step. Easy and fun to build, with a clear goal for the maker to work to.

You can buy the mood light project kit from Pimoroni for £30 and there are other kits available.

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All in all, an enjoyable hour of hacking.

For my next trick

I'm messing around with MQTT and I reckon I can now have my mood light react to triggers from external devices...watch this space :D