Pi-LCD launched on Kickstarter at CamJam

IMG_0960Great day at CamJam yesterday, launching my new Pi-LCD Kickstarter.

Pi-LCD is a low cost board that allows common 16×2 LCD modules, including the newer full colour RGB backlit variants to be easily connected to a Raspberry Pi. The Pi-LCD project builds on my previous successful PiMuxClock Kickstarter.

The Pi-LCD is addressed directly from Raspberry Pi GPIO lines without the need to download any additional s/w modules. It does not need SPI or I2C making easy to use in a training environment. Example python code will be available demonstrate the board’s capability and as building blocks to develop your own applications.

The kickstarter is running now with a range of backer rewards from a bare PCB through to fully built Pi-LCD modules.


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Cambridge Raspberry Jam Saturday 12th Sept

Firstly I should apologise for not posting anything for the last couple of months, partly this is because I have been working on a new Kickstarter project – which with a bit of luck will
launch later today. I will be showing this at camjam_me_bannerthe CamJam in the ‘show and tell area’ this Saturday.

In addition to the show and tell table I will be giving a talk in the afternoon on my first experience of running a Kickstarter project, looking at how to manage some of the risks that come with Crowdfunding.

I will also have some PiMuxClock boards on display and available to buy.

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RasPiO Duino up and working

With the PiMuxClock work going well I decided it was time to experiment a little with my RasPiO Duino board. I built it with some enthusiasm a few weeks ago but did not get passed the blinking LED test.Duino

In truth the whole Arduino world has somewhat passed me by, as to me it is squashed between PIC’s at the bottom and Raspberry Pi’s at the top – too complex and expensive for simple low level embedded stuff but lacking the built in bits like HD video which makes the Raspberry Pi great.

Well anyway the RaspPiO Duino board Kickstarter seemed like a good opportunity to see what the Arduino is all about.  The Duino is a great concept for me as it gives me a self-contained Arduino development  ‘workbench’ within my existing Raspberry Pi setup. As you can see I have progressed to getting an LCD interface working, and I have to say the Duino has been great from build, through setup, with an excellent set of examples to get you started.

So far I have just scratched the surface but I can see the big win for me is most likely going to be using the Arduino in combination with a Raspberry Pi. For instance the Arduino is well suited to reliable autonomous low level data collection and control type work, while the Pi can play to it’s strengths interrogating it and passing processed data back to the wider world.  I have done this in the past with a PIC but the problematic bit tends to be getting the information from the PIC to the Raspberry Pi. PIC’s have the capability but unless you want to get into quite complex low level programming you are forced down the Matrix ‘FlowCode’ type product route which is relatively expensive compared to the freely available Arduino resources.  I can see a combined Arduino / Raspberry Pi Mark3 chicken heater this winter ….

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Kickstarter Funded

Really pleased that my PiMuxClock Kickstarter was successfully funded yesterday. I will be posting some better pictures over the weekend [ when I have tided up my desk ] but here is R9 boardone showing the final board design.

The board is plugged into a Pi fitted into a Pimoroni PiBow ‘Coupé Ninja’ case with a ‘Breadboard Base for Pibow’, which  I have so say is brilliant combination.

Thanks again to everyone who has helped with the project so far.

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The PiMuxClock Launches on Kickstarter

The PiMuxClock, is a simple Raspberry Pi add-on card, piclock2allowing you to create a basic digital clock and temperature display for your RPi.

Kickstarter KThe PiMuxClock has been launched as Kickstarter project. To support and please visit the PiMuxClock Kickstarter page. There you will find full details of the available pledge levels and associated rewards.

There are a limited number of 50 early bird kits up for grabs. These are being offered at a slightly lower pledge level and will ship in June this year (at least month before the other rewards).

Here is some more information on the PiMuxClock, for full details check out the Kickstarter page.

The key design goal for the PiMuxClock was to get back to basics and develop a low cost, educational hardware project. No buffers or serial interfaces just direct connection to the Raspberry Pi GPIO, programmable with simple Python code to drive the multiplexed display. As there was a bit of spare room on the PCB so it seemed like a good idea to add the ability to display room temperature as an option. And to allow people to create a completely standalone clock I also added a socket to connect in the Adfruit DS1307 real IMG_0493time clock board – because the Rpi does not have its own battery backed clock it relies on connecting to internet at power up to ensure the Linux System time is correct, adding the DS1307 board gets around this. Finally the production design will also include a second rear connector providing access to a number of unused GPIO lines, creating more possibilities for extensions to the basic clock project.

This provides for 2 core options, a basic 4 digit clock project or an enhanced option allowing students and hobbyists to learn serial interfacing and experiment further. A common PCB will be used for both versions making it easy for users to ‘self upgrade’ to the enhanced version.prodpimuxclockpcb

Update 26th April, I have now completed the PCB design and ordered a final prototype PCB to test.


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Night Time Cat Monitor

3539cf8d-2405-4541-8806-c296627061fcThe picture is of my ‘proof- of-concept’ infra-red cat monitor, based around a RPi Model A , Pi NoIR camera and motion sensor. As a number of other people have found the IR LEDs are only really gocapture-20150312-230604od
for a metre or less, but is fine for this application.  At the moment I am driving them continuously from the 5V rail but will change that to switched operation in the next version to make the whole thing as battery friendly as possible. capture-20150313-004205The software is build on some simple Python code adapted from various other projects using the Picamera library.


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USB LCD Display for the Raspberry PI

A number of people have asked me about the USB LCD display we hIMG_0319ad on our table at the
Raspberry Pi Birthday on Saturday, so I have pulled together the following details.

I found the display while looking for a way to package a LCD for a project at home. It comes complete – all you need is an USB lead to connect to the Rpi. While not cheap (appox $38 shipped from the US) it makes up for this in terms of simplicity – and that it comes ‘packaged’ in a L shaped stand.image3

To get the LCD up and running you just need to install ‘pyusb’, and ‘pylcdsysinfo.py’.

In basic text mode you have 6 lines of text in a range of about 15 colours ( you can apparently address over 200k but I struggle to see more than 15 different distinct colours). There is also the option to download 7 pictures to the LCD modules non volatile memoey, which can then be displayed anytime – there is an extra bit of s/w included on linked site which scales high res jpg’s down and uploads them.IMG_0308

The primary market for the display is as an add-on for gaming machines, which explains why a number of the inbuilt instructions do not make much sense for a RPi ! The actual module could be better put together, but looks fine from the front , which will be ok for most people.IMG_0318image2b

To me the great thing about the display is that no fiddling with the Rpi is needed to connect to it and start displaying ‘stuff’, accepting the cost this makes it an ideal display for kids to use

Display info Hardware Information

  • LCD: 2.8inch TFT LCD, resolution 320×240, 262k colours
  • mini-B USB 1.1 compliant connection  [ same as Rpi Power connection]
  • Flash memory 2Mb storing icons and images
  • PWM backlight control

Sourcing information:

Link to the Ebay store I purchased from


Link to technical / software



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Raspberry Pi Birthday – somewhat tired today

image1Great day at the Raspberry Pi Birthday event yesterday, good to be able to browse for Pi bits, reminded me of attending electronics shows at Alexandra Palace  in the late 70s………

Party was fun, good beer, Pizza and cake, just what we needed at the end of long day.


image2And lots if interest in the Chicken Heater project, now just got to put it back together in the garden.

Watch out for the Raspberry Watchdog on Kickstarter in the coming weeks.

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All packed up for the Raspberry PI Big Birthday Weekend

piBirth  Just finished packing for the Raspberry PI big weekend tomorrow. Mk2 Chicken Waterheater will be in the ‘show and tell’ area on Saturday, together with a few other bits I have been working on recently.


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Defrosting the Turkey

I have been working on an update to my IMG_0172Raspberry Pi Chicken Water Heater project recently, replacing the analogue temperature sensors with DS18B20 digital Temperature Sensors. At the same time I have simplified the heater relay circuit, replacing the interposing relays with opto-isolators. FullSizeRenderThe final change has been to scrap the linear sub-regulator in favour of a switch mode device. The gap on board is for a Raspberry Pi battery backup circuit, I have been working on for a while.

To give it all a test before setting up outside I have set it up to monitor the turkey defrost, IMG_0172logging the temperatures and tweeting an update every hour ….

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