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Whats New (2016 #2)?

posted Jul 4, 2016, 4:29 PM by Galen Raben   [ updated Jul 4, 2016, 5:27 PM ]
July 4, 2016
Much new stuff to chat about since my last post. Several new announcements out of the Raspberry Pi Foundation that have been of great interest to me and I am sure to many who visit my (often ignored for months at a time) blog. FIRST - they have added a Pi Camera interface connector to the Pi Zero. This was one of the BIG things I thought was missing in the original Pi Zero when it was released last Christmas and they remedied that, at no additional cost to the Pi Zero! This little board is quite amazing at $5 US and with the camera interface it opens up the possibility of live streaming video from a very diminutive bot! Read more about the updated Pi Zero at https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/zero-grows-camera-connector/

Which leads into the SECOND interesting announcement from from the Pi Foundation. They have upgraded their original 5mp camera board to a new 8 mp chip, again at the same price as the original board! Read more at https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-8-megapixel-camera-board-sale-25/ So now not only can you stream video from your Pi Zero but you can do so at a higher resolution than the original board!

The THIRD big announcement from the Raspberry Pi Foundation was they released a new more powerful version of the Raspberry Pi computer board called the Raspberry Pi 3. This board not only sports a 1.2 ghz 64-bit quad core ARM Cortex A53 CPU, but they have also added Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (both standard and LE). This is 5 or 6x improvement over the old 32-bit ARM Cortex A7's in the Pi 2 and a 10x improvement over my original Pi 1 model B that I've been using for a couple years now. This is pretty big news as you no longer need a Wi-Fi dongle for your Pi and you also get 4 usable USB ports on the Pi 3. I recently purchased a Pi 3 for Droidbuilder and it was a pleasure to set it up and get it running and very quickly displaced my old Pi 1 to the project bin for use in a future robotics project. With the new Raspian software the foundation has recently released, this little computer could easily serve as a primary computer in a typical household or as student computers in secondary or high schools that currently do not have computers available for their students. The Raspian Jessie distribution comes with a very capable version of Libre Office which will will open and create most common types of documents anyone would probably need to open. If only someone were to provide proper packaging with a touchscreen display and keyboard into a laptop style case cheaply enough the old dream of a laptop for every child looks like it might be possible...

Some rather interesting robotics projects I have run across as of late...
"Ava" and "Anna" from LetsMakeRobots user mtriplett, a pair of very interactive robots using some serious AI and both seem to be very actively moving forward (see "Annabelle" which is a revised version of Anna performing stand-up robotic comedy!)

And then there is this amazing project Raspberry Echo which explains how to build Amazon's Alexa voice service onto a Raspberry Pi... which is based on this earlier project http://sammachin.com/the-10-echo/ The Raspberry Pi version may also run around $10 depending on whether you can find an inexpensive USB Mic or Headset that can be used on the Raspberry Pi?

Sparkfun's AVC! Another quick note is SparkFun's AVC competition which I have written about in past blog posts here. This year they have moved the date from its usual Father's day weekend date to into the fall (September 17th). I hope to be there this year as I have missed the last two years in which both my brother and nephews have competed in. Once again, I won't have an entry ready in time for this years event, but I still enjoy watching the successes and failures others see in this competition. As seems to be usual in robotics, one learns far more from the failures than from the successes, so I expect to learn much again this year by watching others...