3 Weird and Wonderful Raspberry Pi Innovations

The Raspberry Pi is one of the most acclaimed inventions of our days – a credit card sized computer with the potential to improve our lives in an incredible variety of ways, and educate a whole new generation of hardware and software engineers. In honor of the recent Pi Day (March 14th, or 3/14) and the recent launch of Raspberry Pi 2, here are five of the most interesting (and sometimes weird) innovations we could find that were built using the microcomputer of the future (strong enough, but hopefully not used to play awesome slots at Platinum Play).

1. Picrowave by Nathan Broadbent

According to his website, Made by Nathan, the web and mobile developer Nathan Broadbent first thought of a smarter microwave after reading a post on Reddit about how food should come with QR codes that tells the microwave what to do with them. He built a better microwave using the Raspberry Pi, with better sounds and a redesigned keypad, automatically updated clock – with voice commands, a bar code scanner, and the possibility to control it remotely using a smartphone. Continue reading

Comparing GPIO speed between Raspberry Pi 1 and 2

Raspberry Pi version 2 has changed playing rules between Linux boards. With raspberry Pi 2 here came faster CPU with four cores, RAM jumped to 1GB, so naturally we would expect faster speeds everywhere including GPIO. Joonas have ran several benchmarks to show the increase in numerical values, so we could make conclusions.

RPI2_GPIO_speed

He run several common tests with available software libraries and GPIO access methods. Results actually look very promising as for almost all methods speed increased twice and more. For instance Python Rpi.GPIO based raw speed increased from 70kHz to 243kHz. Shell command driven IO became also 2.5 times faster. So this is great news for everyone who was struggling to the limits. For more info and benchmark tests go to GitHub.

New Raspberry Pi 2 – more memory and better performance

Raspberry Pi have been improved in many ways, but not in terms of memory and processor power. Things seems to be changed with Raspberry Pi 2 release. They decided to leave Broadcom BCM2835 700MHz ARM11 CPU and use 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 quad core CPU which gives about six times more performance. The new processor is new Broadcom BCM2836 what means that all hard work done for BCM2835 is transferred to new MCU. Even more – new processors packs 1GB of SDRAM.

raspberry_pi_2

Raspberry PI 2 is compatible to previous version of Raspberry including GPIO header, power supply and other peripherals. ARMv7 core allows to setup much wider range of operating systems like Ubuntu. There will be also compatible to Windows 10. So there is lots of to come in terms of new packages, new boards like compute. And the most fun part of this is that cost of the board remains the same – $35.

Using real tachometer to display CPU usage

Very often analog gauges are used to measure some rate parameters. In most cases they are based on voltmeters where needle position is driven with PWM signal. Pat found a tachometer from old car lying around and decided to use it for displaying something useful – CPU usage. He starter building this project on Raspberry where tachometer would display its CPU usage.

First of all he had to figure out the signals needed to drive tachometer from 0 to full scale. He found a table with frequencies and PWM values on Tekronix 3252 information site. Then another issue was the signal level. Tachometer needs 5V to drive it while Raspberry Pi signal level is 3.3V, he used 7404 buffer to bring that level. The rest is Python code running on Raspberry Pi, which reads CPU value and then sends driving signal on pin 11.