Tag Archives: DIY

Talking Pi is a Voice Control Module for The Raspberry Pi

Voice is the most simple and powerful medium. Everyone has it and it is the most personal way to convey our thoughts, messages, instruction, ideas, and questions. We have seen the rise of Voice Assistants like Alexa and Google Home; where someone can control things with only voice commands.

Talking Pi Module from JOY-iT

Mid 2017, Google released the Voice Kit – a voice recognition kit for the raspberry that makes it possible to add voice to any Raspberry Pi based projects. JOY-iT has released the Talking Pi, an intelligent, universal open source voice control assistant for the Raspberry Pi.

Talking Pi made by JOY-iT is a voice control module designed for the Raspberry Pi that will allow one to use voice commands to control home lighting devices, talk to machines, activate power outlets and so much more. Talking Pi gives you the possibility to add voice assistant to your raspberry pi.

Apart from taking Voice Commands, Talking Pi is equipped with some extra add-ons that could enhance the functionality of a Raspberry Pi at no extra cost. It is equipped with a bracket holding 433-MHz radio modules and an integrated motor control. With the radio module addition, you could possibly use your voice to remotely control objects – like switch on/off the bedroom lights, pilot your drone with only voice, pilot your RC car with voice commands and many more. The Talking Pi provides support for both the 433MHz radio sending and receiving unit, so not only can one send out you can also receive.

Talking Pi Pin Mappings

Talking Pi provides support for servo PWM control with a total of six addressable channels. The six-channel servo PWM can be used to control several robot’s motors and even make a complete six degree of freedom robotic arm. Furthermore, it is possible to address devices and circuits via the GPIO interface of the Raspberry Pi. The Talking Pi expansion module is also compatible with Google Home and the AIY project.

Measured at 64 x 10 x 54mm, the module will be ideal for size-sensitive applications. The module includes a stereo microphone added through an extra additional board and its integrated I2S sound output driver allows connection for a 3-watt loudspeaker.

Talking Pi plugged to the Raspberry Pi

This module is available and currently being marketed by Conrad Business supplies. The module is available for purchase on Elektor at a price of $42 and reduced price of $38 for its members. For more information about using the Talking Pi in your Raspberry Pi project, you can download the documentation pdf here.

Alexa On Every Device with the Amazon Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development Kit

Amazon’s Alexa is an intelligent voice-controlled personal assistant launched in 2014 and has been on an increasing demand ever since. First integrated into the Echo, the Alexa platform has been an exponential growth in the consumer industry.

Amazon’s Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development kit is a kit released by Amazon that will allow manufacturers to add high-quality Alexa voice experiences into their products, allowing Amazon to integrate Alexa into hundreds to thousands of products without necessarily building the products themselves.

This kit provides support for 360o tabletop far-field voice activation applications, as well ass applications that require voice-activation from one direction. It incorporates Amazon’s proprietary software and algorithm technology for “Alexa” wake word recognition, beam forming, noise reduction, and acoustic echo cancellation, and accurate far-field voice recognition in noisy environments and from long distances.

The development kit includes:

  • Two microphone array boards
  • A digital signal processor board
  • A Raspberry Pi 3 with the Amazon Voice Service (AVS) Device SDK
The 8-microphone board (left) and 7-microphone board (right)

The microphone board comprises of a 7 and 8 microphone arrays optimized for premium far-field audio performance, and the Raspberry PI 3 board can be replaced by any Linux embedded platform for production ready.

The Amazon Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development kit is primed for applications that include smart speakers, smart home, IoT devices, router and gateway devices, sound bars, and set-top boxes.

Major Device Technical Specifications:

  • Microphone Array Configurations –
    • 7 mic circular, 72.76mm diameter
    • 8 mic rectangular, 67.50mm x 22.50mm
  • Digital Signal Processor –
    • Intel’s dual DSP with inference engine
  • System Processor Support –
    • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
    • Compatible with processors capable of running the AVS Device SDK
  • Power Supply –
    • 15 DC Volt Input
  • OS Support –
    • Raspbian Stretch
    • AVS Device SDK and supports most embedded Linux platforms

With the introduction of the kit, Amazon is lowering the barrier for any company to add Alexa to their products and hopes to make Alexa work everywhere and make it the most important and intimate computer in your life.

The ezPixel is an Upcoming FPGA based WS2812B Controller Board

FPGAs are field programmable gate arrays which basically means they are reconfigurable hardware chips. FPGAs have found applications in different industries and engineering fields from the defence, telecommunications to automotive and several others but little application in the maker’s world. Mostly, as a result of being largely difficult and high cost as compared to the likes of Arduino, but the introduction of the ezPixel and other similar FPGA boards is making this a possibility.

Prototype modules.

The ezPixel board, by Thomas Burke of MakerLogic, is a small size FPGA based circuit board that can be used to drive up to 32 strings of WS2812Bs, for up to 9,216 LEDs in total, a very first of its kind. These WS2812B programmable color LEDs have been a phenomenon in the maker’s world, being used in various Led Lights and creating of various Light Artworks. These popular LEDs comes in strings that can be cut to any length, and only require a single wire serial data connection to control all the lights in the string individually, and multiple strings can be stacked together to create large two-dimensional displays.

ezPixel description.

Most WS2812B controller boards can be used to control up to hundreds of these LEDs, but not thousands of them. The ezPixel board is a perfect fit for applications that use thousands of these LEDs. The ezPixel board is powered by the Intel MAX FPGA, a single chip small form factor programmable logic device with full-featured FPGA capabilities, and it’s designed to interface with other Micro-controllers or any SPI/UART host device. The ezPixel board serves as bridge between microcontrollers and long WS2812B strings. A user sets the length of each string using simple commands that are sent via the SPI or USB/UART communication link.

The following below are the features of the ezPixel:

  • WS2812B Smart Pixel Controller.
  • Up to 32 Strings can be controlled independently.
  • Up to 9216 LEDs can be controlled.
  • Communication:
    • USB/UART Interface.
    • SPI Interface.
  • Read/Write Pixel Memory.
  • FPGA – Intel MAX10M08 FPGA.
  • Dimension:
    • 1” x 3” (25mm x 76mm).
  • SPI Flash.

The ezPixel can run as a standalone display controller as a result of its serial flash memory chip, and this board is slated for a crowdfunding campaign in early 2018.

IoT Projects Is Now Easier With Bolt IoT Platform

Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important technologies these days. It became an essential component of many hardware projects core. And in order to make it easier for developers, Bolt IoT platform appeared as a complete solution for IoT projects.

Bolt is a combination of hardware and cloud service that allow users control their devices and collect data in safe and secure methods. It also can give actionable insights using machine learning algorithms with just some few clicks.

The platform consists of three main components, Bolt hardware module, Bolt cloud, and analytics. The hardware module is a WiFi chip with a built-in 80 MHz 32-bit RISC CPU that operates at 3.3v. It also works as an interface for a set of sensors and actuators through GPIO and UART pins to collect data and react with it.

Bolt Hardware

The next part is Bolt cloud which used mainly for configuring, monitoring, and controlling connected devices. It is a visual interface enables users to setup hardware and prepare the system easily and quickly. In addition, there is a code editor to write and edit codes for the hardware. The special feature is that you can reprogram the system remotely!

Finally, the analysis and monitoring unit provide visualized insights based on machine learning algorithms. The collected data are stored securely on the cloud, and the reports are presented as graphs, charts, or any customized visualization.

Bolt IoT Platform Features

  • A Wifi or a GSM chip
    An easy interface to quickly connect your hardware to cloud over GPIO, UART, and ADC. Also, connects to MODBUS, I2C, and SPI with an additional converter.
  • Robust Communication
    Bolt is equipped with industry standard protocols to ensure a Secure and fast communication of your device data with cloud.
  • Security
    Bolt has built-in safeguards to secure all user data from unwanted third party intrusions and hacks.
  • Machine Learning
    Deploy machine learning algorithms with just a few clicks to detect anomalies as well as predict sensor values.
  • Alerts
    Utilize Bolt’s quick alert system providing invaluable information sent directly to your phone or Email. You can config the contact details and set the threshold.
  • Mobile App Ready
    Customize and control your devices through Mobile apps. Bolt gives you full freedom to design your own mobile app centered around your requirements to monitor and control.
  • Global Infrastructure and Easy Scalability
    Bolt lets you scale from prototype to millions of devices in just a few weeks time.
  • Over the air updates
    Simultaneously program or update all your Bolt powered IoT devices wherever they are. Bolt offers you unparalleled scalability and elasticity to help your business grow.

The scope of applications that may benefit from using Bolt is very wide, including environmental applications, smart cities, electricity management, and much more. Bolt is available for ordering in two packages, the first is for developers and the other is for enterprises. Developers option contains one Bolt unit with three free months of cloud services, and its cost is about $75.

At last, Bolt makers are launching a Kickstarter campaign on the 3rd of November 2017. If you are interested and want to know more about this platform, take a look at the official website and read this detailed features document. Update 6-11-2017 – They achieved the goal of $10,000 USD funding in just 5 hours from launch!

Get Sensor Data From Arduino To Smartphone Via Bluetooth

Hariharan Mathavan at allaboutcircuits.com designed a project on using Bluetooth to communicate with an Arduino. Bluetooth is one of the most popular wireless communication technologies because of its low power consumption, low cost and a light stack but provides a good range. In this project, data from a DHT-11 sensor is collected by an Arduino and then transmitted to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Required Parts

  • An Arduino. Any model can be used, but all code and schematics in this article will be for the Uno.
  • An Android Smartphone that has Bluetooth.
  • HC-05 Bluetooth Module
  • Android Studio (To develop the required Android app)
  • USB cable for programming and powering the Arduino
  • DHT-11 temperature and humidity sensor

Connecting The Bluetooth Module

To use the HC-05 Bluetooth module, simply connect the VCC to the 5V output on the Arduino, GND to Ground, RX to TX pin of the Arduino, and TX to RX pin of the Arduino. If the module is being used for the first time, you’ll want to change the name, passcode etc. To do this the module should be set to command mode. Connect the Key pin to any pin on the Arduino and set it to high to allow the module to be programmed.

Circuit to connect HC-05 with Arduino
Circuit to connect HC-05 with Arduino

To program the module, a set of commands known as AT commands are used. Here are some of them:

AT Check connection status.
AT+NAME =”ModuleName” Set a name for the device
AT+ADDR Check MAC Address
AT+UART Check Baudrate
AT+UART=”9600″ Sets Baudrate to 9600
AT+PSWD Check Default Passcode
AT+PSWD=”1234″ Sets Passcode to 1234

The Arduino code to send data using Bluetooth module:

//If youre not using a BTBee connect set the pin connected to the KEY pin high
#include <SoftwareSerial.h>
SoftwareSerial BTSerial(4,5); 
void setup() {
 String setName = String("AT+NAME=MyBTBee\r\n"); //Setting name as 'MyBTBee'
 BTSerial.print("AT\r\n"); //Check Status
 while (BTSerial.available()) {
 BTSerial.print(setName); //Send Command to change the name
 while (BTSerial.available()) {
void loop() {}

Connecting The DHT-11 Sensor

To use the DHT-11, the DHT library by Adafruit is used. Go here to download the library. When the letter “t” is received, the temperature, humidity, and heat index will be transmitted back via Bluetooth.

circuit to connect DHT-11 with Arduino
circuit to connect DHT-11 with Arduino

The code used to read data from the DHT sensor, process it and send it via Bluetooth:

#include "DHT.h"
#define DHTPIN 2 
#define DHTTYPE DHT11 
void setup() {

void loop()
{ char c; 
 c = Serial.read(); 
void readSensor() {
 float h = dht.readHumidity();
 float t = dht.readTemperature();
 if (isnan(h) || isnan(t)) {
 Serial.println("Failed to read from DHT sensor!");
 float hic = dht.computeHeatIndex(t, h, false);
 Serial.print("Humidity: ");
 Serial.print(" %\t");
 Serial.print("Temperature: ");
 Serial.print(" *C ");
 Serial.print("Heat index: ");
 Serial.print(" *C ");

Developing The Android App

The flow diagram of the Android app is illustrated below,

Flow diagram of the Android app
Flow diagram of the Android app

As this app will be using the onboard Bluetooth adapter, it will have to be mentioned in the Manifest.

uses-permission android:name="android.permission.BLUETOOTH"

Use the following code to test if Bluetooth adapter is present or not,

BluetoothAdapter bluetoothAdapter=BluetoothAdapter.getDefaultAdapter();
if (bluetoothAdapter == null) {
Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),"Device doesnt Support Bluetooth",Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show();

The following part of the code deals with reading the data,

int byteCount = inputStream.available();
 if(byteCount > 0)
 byte[] rawBytes = new byte[byteCount];
 final String string=new String(rawBytes,"UTF-8");
 handler.post(new Runnable() {
 public void run()

To send data, pass the String to the OutputStream.


The complete source code of the Android application is attached here:  Arduino Bluetooth(Source)


Power up the Arduino and turn on the Bluetooth from your mobile. Pair with the HC-05 module by providing the correct passcode – 0000 is the default one. Now, when “t” is sent to the Arduino, it replies with the Temperature, Humidity, and Heat Index.

the application screen
the application screen

Learn Arduino Easily with The Arduino Inventor’s Guide

Are you looking for Arduino tutorials? Already over-whelmed by the guides and videos available on the internet? Sparkfun is making Arduino and electronics easier for you with its new book ” The Arduino Inventor’s Guide”!

First of all, the authors of this book , Brian Huang and Derek Runberg, are both working in the department of Education at SparkFun Electronics. Since they are experienced in electronics and educating engineering in schools, they are working towards making electronics easy and fun.

In fact, this 10-project guide is a project-packed introduction to building and coding with Arduino microcontroller. With each hands-on project, total beginners learn useful electronics and coding skills while building an interactive gadgets. Accordingly, this guide is within the introductory-level educational series introduced by No Starch Press and Sparkfun.

“We wanted to share the magic that happens when you build something interactive with electronics,” says Huang. “The goal is to teach real, valuable hardware skills, one project at a time,” adds Runberg.

Content of the book

  • Introduction
  • Electronics Primer
    101 electronics
  • Project 1: Getting Started with Arduino
    Blinking an LED
  • Project 2: A Stoplight for Your House
    A miniature traffic light
  • Project 3: The Nine-Pixel Animation Machine
    An LED screen that displays animated patterns and shapes
  • Project 4: Reaction Timer
    A fast-paced button-smashing game to test your reflexes
  • Project 5: A Color-Mixing Night-Light
    A light-sensitive, color-changing night-light
  • Project 6: Balance Beam
    A challenging ball-balancing game
  • Project 7: Tiny Desktop Greenhouse
    A temperature-sensing mini greenhouse with an automated fan and vent
  • Project 8: Drawbot, the Robotic Artist
    A motorized robot that you can control
  • Project 9: Drag Race Timer
    A racing timer for toy cars
  • Project 10: Tiny Electric Piano
    A tiny electric piano that you can actually play!
  • Appendix: More Electronics Know-How


The Arduino Inventor’s Guide will appeal to the gadget freak as well as those who like to put their own spin on things.” —Microcontroller Tips

“This is probably the best Arduino starter book out there! I highly recommend it for every library and classroom.” —Sequential Tart

To sum up, the book is available for $30 on No Starch Press as a printed book and for $25 as an Ebook. In addition, you can check this page for more insights. Also download Project 2: A Stoplight for Your House, and the sketches, templates, and diagrams used in this book.

Turn Your Fidget Spinner Into A Vision Display

Fidget spinner became a popular toy earlier in 2017. Most of us have one or at least have tried it. Consists of a bearing surrounded by a three-lobed flat structure, it can spin along its axis with a little effort.

Makers and hardware hackers always try to employ different tools to make innovative ideas. Some of those makers hacked a fidget spinner to display custom text while it is rotating. The concept is using a vector of LEDs and turn them on and off at each degree according to the required text. Then, when it rotates very fast our eyes will see the full text as it is displayed together.

At this project on HackadaySean Hodgins created a fidget-shape PCB that fits into the spinner. It consists of an 8-LED vector, a 32-bit microcontroller, an 8-bit shift register, and other electronics parts. It is powered by three 3.6 LiPo cell batteries and can be connected with PC through a micro USB connector.

Component needed for this project:

The total cost is about $20 for all parts, and here is the bill of materials. Also the design of the fidget is available for 3D printing for both the body and the caps. In addition, the microcontroller can be programmed simply with Arduino IDE.

Since this project is fully open source, all resources and files are available for download. The github repository includes the CAD files, firmware code and libraries, PCB design, and some pictures.

Although it is a brilliant project, similar projects had been developed before and had started  funding campaigns. But unfortunately, they weren’t successful and didn’t reach their fund goal.

Finally, if you like this idea you can make it by yourself with the help of this video, which describes how to make it and how it works:

A Compact Camera Using Raspberry Pi A+ And Adafruit TFT Display

PiJuice at instructables.com designed an interesting compact camera project with raspberry pi. Raspberry Pi A+ is used in this project as it is the cheapest and smallest available Raspberry Pi. The real challenge in this kind of portable Pi projects is powering the Raspberry Pi. This issue is solved using PiJuice—an all in one battery module for the Raspberry Pi.

Required Parts

Required parts to make Raspberry Pi compact camera
Required parts to make Raspberry Pi compact camera

Set Up The Raspberry Pi

Download the latest version of the Raspbian image from the Raspberry Pi Website and burn it on your blank SD card. You can use win32DiskImager or your favorite software to get the job done. Now, you need to install the drivers for the TFT screen by running the DIY installer script, explained on the Adafruit page. Connect the TFT to the Raspberry Pi, attach the PiJuice with a charged battery, and switch it on. Your screen now should display boot up messages.

Connect The Camera

Insert the ribbon cable of your camera module properly ensuring that the blue side of the ribbon is facing away from the HDMI port. Now, go to the terminal and type the following command,

sudo raspi-config

Enable the camera in the menu and then reboot the Pi. The camera should work properly after a successful reboot. To test the camera, enter the following command:

raspistill -o pic.jpg

This will take a snap and save it in the /home/pi directory.

Connect A Push Button

You need a push button to simulate a shutter action. Locate the pin 17 on the GPIO breakout on the top of the TFT screen. Now, solder two wires to the terminals of the push button. You can either solder a right angle header to the pin 17 or you can directly solder one wire from push button to that pin. There is a pad labeled WP on the board. It is actually connected to the ground. Solder another wire from the push button to this pad.

Install And Test The PiCam Software

To install the software, the Raspberry Pi must be connected to the internet. Enter the commands given below to download and install PiCam.

sudo apt-get install git-core
sudo mkdir PiCam
cd /PiCam
git clone git://github.com/pijuice/PiCam.git

Once the software has been downloaded, navigate to the PiCam directory using the command:

cd /picam

You can run it by typing the command:

sudo python picam.py

Now, you can take pictures by simply pressing the push button. Once the button is pressed the picture will be taken. Once the captured image gets loaded, your photograph will be displayed.

Taking photograph with Raspberry Pi compact camera
Taking photograph with Raspberry Pi compact camera


Your Raspberry Pi camera is ready now. If you want to make it even more compact as well as portable, grab the official laser-cut compact camera case from the Kickstarter page by pre-ordering a Maker Kit. You can also build your own simple chassis for housing the camera.

ZeroPhone, A Raspberry Pi-Based Open Source Smartphone

Raspberry Pi is one of the most helpful innovations in the hardware industry. It has helped beginners and children learn programming and allowed the makers to develop powerful and cheap DIY projects. “ZeroPhone” is a new DIY smartphone that is built based on Raspberry Pi and cost about only $50.

ZeroPhone is an open source, Linux-powered smartphone, that has no carrier locks, bloated apps, or data mining. It is user-friendly and will have the typical features of a phone, but with more advanced features. It also can be modified and repaired easily.

The phone is built using widely available components, and its open source hardware and software  will give you as much control over your phone as possible.

ZeroPhone can be used for calling and SMS, SSH, pen testing, and experimenting in addition to all basic functions like calendar, phonebook, music player, and web browser. As it is a linux-based phone, you can run ARM compatible programs. SDK will be provided so you can then develop your own apps.

Features & Specifications

  • Based on Raspberry Pi Zero, ESP8266 and Arduino
  • Has Wi-Fi, HDMI, full-size USB and a 3.5 mm jack (Bluetooth as an option)
  • 2G GSM connectivity (3G coming soon)
  • 128 x 64 1.3” OLED screen
  • GSM/Wi-Fi/microphone hardware switch option
  • RGB LED and vibromotor
  • Uses of Extension Ports:
    • IR receiver/transmitter
    • Additional displays and buttons
    • 5 MP / 8 MP Pi Camera
    • Extended batteries
    • Various sensors, both analog and digital
    • Wireless radios for IoT
    • GPS, Ethernet and MicroSD expansion
    • …and much more.

The OS of ZerPhone is Raspbian Linux, which is currently based on Debian Jessie. This is because it is suitable for all functions, and will still be upgradable in the future. The user interface (controlling screen and buttons) is written in Python.

Compared with other open-source phones, ZeroPhone, as the maker said, is the only one uses affordable parts which are available on eBay, and its software will be always updated if the phone’s development will stop.

To make your ZeroPhone you will need:

  • Pi Zero
  • SIM800 modules
  • ESP8266-12E
  • Two-layer PCBs (two 4x10cm boards, one 4x6cm board)
  • ATMega328P
  • LCD screen
  • Battery
  • TP4056 battery charger
  • Buttons for keypad
  • 2.54 headers

More details about this project is available on its hackaday page, in addition to the project description and frequently asked questions.

Master Your Arduino Skills With Arduino Playground Book

Are you an experienced maker who are looking for more advanced Arduino skills to get?

Warren Andrews, an experienced engineer and journalist, wrote a new book that walks makers through building 10 outside-the-box projects, helping them advance their engineering and electronics know-how. With this book, makers will delve more deeply into hardware design, electronics, and programming.

The “Arduino Playground: Geeky Projects for the Curious Maker” book is published by the Geek book publisher, No Starch Press. Projects inside the book provide a way to build new things that vary between practical and fun.

Content of the book

The book has 11 chapters, the first one is a warm up, it contains a quick guide to get the Arduino ready, prepare the IDE and try some sketches, making DIY PCBs, and using SOICs. Each chapter of the other 10 chapters is a project chapter that starts with listing the required tools, components, and software, followed by detailed instructions of the build containing all sketches and board templates. There are also author’s design notes, which are sure to provide inspiration for your own inventions.

  • Chapter 0: Setting Up and Useful Skills
  • Chapter 1: The Reaction-Time Machine
    A reaction-time game that leverages the Arduino’s real-time capabilities
  • Chapter 2: An Automated Agitator for PCB Etching
    A tool for etching your own printed circuit boards
  • Chapter 3: The Regulated Power Supply
    A regulated, variable-voltage power supply
  • Chapter 4: A Watch Winder
    A kinetic wristwatch winder decked out with LEDs
  • Chapter 5: The Garage Sentry Parking Assistant
    A garage parking assistant that blinks when your vehicle is perfectly parked
  • Chapter 6: The Battery Saver
    A battery saver that prevents accidental discharge
  • Chapter 7: A Custom pH Meter
  • A practical and colorful pH meter
  • Chapter 8: Two Ballistic Chronographs
    A ballistic chronograph that can measure the muzzle velocity of BB, Airsoft, and pellet guns
  • Chapter 9: The Square-Wave Generator
    A square-wave generator
  • Chapter 10: The Chromatic Thermometer
    A thermometer that tells the temperature using a sequence of colored LEDs


“Arduino Playground is not for the faint of heart. Unless the faint of heart person plans to build a pacemaker with Arduino!” —ScienceBlogs

“This is a book designed for Arduino enthusiasts who’ve mastered the basics, conquered the soldering iron, and programmed a robot or two. Warren Andrews shows you how to keep your hardware hands busy.” —I Programmer

The book is available for $30 on No Starch Press and Amazon. You can view the detailed table of contents and the index, and also you can download Chapter 4: A Watch Winder, and the sketches, templates, and PCB files used in this book.