Micro:bit – Micro:bit Bluetooth robot

The Micro:bit is a tiny computer designed by the BBC for educating children in computing.

You may think there is not much point in using the Micro:bit for robotics when there is the Raspberry PI and Arduino available but there is beauty in its simplicity.

Much like the Arduino you flash it with some code and it will run it until you flash it again. There are plenty of tutorials and different languages to use making it very quick and easy to work with. There are even block programming editors.

Recently I got my hands on a second Micro:bit so I thought I would have a go at Bluetooth communication between them having one as a transmitter to control a robot powered by the other.

The robot kit I have here is the Kitronik line follower buggy. It uses a motor driver edge connector board to drive the motor and monitor inputs. The board is nicely labeled so that you can see which pins you needs to write to in order to control the motors.


Most of the editors for the Micro:bit are online only but I have found an offline Python editor called Mu that can be used and is my environment of choice. For this project though I decided to use Microsoft’s Javascript/block editor. Continue reading Micro:bit – Micro:bit Bluetooth robot

3D Printed Paddle Boat

I printed this cool little paddle boat over the weekend. It was simple to print and just needs an elastic band to power it.

The model was made by user swtchrwr  on Thingiverse.

Click here for a link to the model and the settings I used to print it. I printed the hull at 5% infill to make it nice and light.

Because the boat at full scale was too big for my printer I printed it at 60%. The pegs and paddle were too big for the hull so I printed the paddle at 50% and the pegs at 60% with a few mm taken off the width and depth.

Hopefully I will be looking at printing a steam powered boat next.

My First Arduboy Game

The Arduboy is a tiny Arduino powered handheld console that you can use to create your own games or download and play other peoples. I have wanted one ever since I first saw it on the Pimoroni store as I like doing a bit of game development from time to time and the nature of the device would keep the projects small and manageable. Continue reading My First Arduboy Game

Google AIY Voice Project

This months Mag Pi magazine was a bit special. It included a kit provided by Google to create a voice assistant using Google’s cloud platform. The kit provides everything you need aside from the Pi, SD card and power supply. You also need to attach the Pi to a screen in order to set up some of the software.

Over the weekend I decided to build the kit and see what it could do.


Continue reading Google AIY Voice Project

Pimoroni Octocam

This is another little project from Pimoroni. This ones really simple, its just a Pi Zero W with a tiny camera housed within a cute octopus frame. The octopus has tentacles (suction cups) so that you can attach it to a window.


With the Octocam kit I also received a PI 3 which I will be using with the Google AIY project that came with the latest edition of the Mag Pi magazine but I will save that for another post. There was also a neat little coaster in the parcel.

Continue reading Pimoroni Octocam

Pimoroni Pirate Radio

Its been a fair while since I have posted anything here. This is largely because of a change of tactic when it comes to building things.

I came to the conclusion that the subscription based models did not represent good value for money and the level of support received considering the cost was very poor. There was also the problem of a long drawn out build due to the subscription model that was also exacerbated by delays and replacement parts being required.

So I started thinking about what I could build for the same price as a single model subscription and realised I could getting much more. This has started with some expert Lego models and Raspberry PI projects.

I have made a fair few things between my last post and now but I am going to start with a little PI project using the brand new PI Zero W. The PI zero is a smaller raspberry PI that is tiny compared to the standard size raspberry PI but not as powerful as the PI 3. The W version which has just been released adds WiFi and Bluetooth. Previously a PI Zero would have required a dongle or pHat* to use these technologies. This adds size to the computer and would require a hub considering it only has a single USB port.

*A pHat is a hat made for the PI zero (An extension board to provide additional functionality).

PI Zero W with headers soldered on

The project I am posting today is a fairly small PI project and my most recent one. There are a few I need to post about that I build before this one. This project is the Pimoroni pirate radio kit. The first noticeable thing about this kit compare to previous Pimoroni projects is its packaging. It comes in a nice project box and looks much more like something you would find on a shop shelve.


Inside the box we have the acrylic pieces / screws to build the case, a 5w speaker, the PI zero w and the pHat beat hat to provide audio, buttons and VU meter to the radio.

Opening the kit

Those are the core components need to build the radio but it also comes with the hdmi and usb adapters the PI zero needs to connect to standard size usb and hdmi cables. I usually connect a pi zero up to my monitor to setup SSH and WiFi but this can also be done by editing the sd card image before booting it. Finally the kit comes with some nice Pimoroni stickers to decorate the radio.

When building a kit that uses a hat the first thing I usually do is solder the headers onto the PI / hat. Headers can be soldered which ever way you want to suite your needs but the norm is to solder the male headers onto the PI and female onto the hat. This will enable you to switch hats easily.

I always use blue tak to push the board firmly onto the surface when soldering a header. This stops me knocking the board and moving it with my soldering iron.
The pins soldered. My soldering is slowly getting better.
The PI zero side by side with the pHat beat hat. Both have their headers soldered and are ready to go.

That’s all of the soldering done for the kit. Now all that needs to be done is the construction of the radio structure itself and connecting everything together.

First the legs get attached to the radio.
Then the middle piece containing the speaker grill.
Lastly the frosty clear front panel completes the radio structure.
The speaker and pHat beat is then attached to the back of the radio.
Lastly the speaker is wired up to one of the channels and the pi zero is slotted into the pHat.

There is a switch on the back of the pHat that must be set to single speaker mode.

The final and most important part of the build was adding the stickers. Its easy to get carried away so I only put two on.

The build took around 30 minutes and I had it up and running about 10 minutes after by following a guide on the Pimoroni forums.

It is currently using VLC to run a playlist of stations and the Pimoroni guys have made some python scripts to handle the buttons being pressed to switch station / volume etc…

I am more than happy with this setup at the moment as I only have to SSH into the pi to change the radio station list at the moment.

Finally here is a video of it in action!



3D Printer

I have been so busy playing with my 3D printer that I have neglected posting about it. I find it to be a deceptively simple machine with much configuration required to get things going smoothly.

I have got to the stage now where I can look at a 3d model and make the required tweaks to suite the printing of that particular model. This helps to avoid wasting time and filament on prints that are doomed to fail and is particularly important when you consider printing can take many hours.

Here is one of my favourite prints so far. Bender from Futurama painted using Tamiya paints. I downloaded model for this print from thingiverse details are underneath the images


Bender Bust by cerberus333

Published on November 13, 2013