Happy Holidays – from Mandy

I am teaching Mandy to sing (sort of).  Here’s Mandy playing along to Carol of the Bells in what may be the worlds “first” Periodic Table spectrum visualizer.  Now, before we blow up the Twitter sphere with allegations that Mandy belongs on the Top Ten List of Most Infamous Lip Syncing incidents, I’m not claiming that this is live.  Mandy wasn’t designed to do real-time spectrum analysis (she’s a Periodic Table, after all) but I wanted to see if some geeky visualizations would be possible.  So, I created my own version of Carol of the Bells (written in Sonic-Pi) and then analyzed the audio file using Mathematica, which has a neat function, SpectrogramArray[], that provides easy access to the frequencies in an audio file.  I then binned the frequencies into 118 buckets – one for each element on the periodic table, and converted the intensities into colors (blue for high amplitude, red for low amplitude).  I probably should have thought a bit more about which elements should display which frequencies, but time was running short so I simply made the heavier elements have the lower frequencies.  In any case – enjoy.

Mandy: The Table Revealed

Clearly it’s that time of the year when I have a boat-load of grading to do.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be procrastinating with posts to my website.

Here’s a video of how Mandy – The Bright Periodic Table looks on the inside, and a demonstration of how she responds to a user’s commands.

Mandy: The periodic table (teaser)

About six months ago, I started working on a project I like to call my piece de resistance. It combines a number of maker skills that I’ve learned over the past few years.  I call her Mandy, and she’s a laser-cut periodic table that has a bunch of three-color LEDS, an Arduino that controls the individually addressable LEDs, and a Raspberry Pi that stores information about the elements.  To make it stand out from being “just another bright periodic table”, I added a voice activation component, so Mandy is able to display different periodic trends at your verbal command!

I’m getting ready to move to a different part of the country, so I do not have time to provide more information about Mandy.  In the meanwhile, I created a teaser-trailer for your (OK, my) personal enjoyment.

Microwolf – running Mathematica on a Pi Zero

Wolfram’s Mathematica can run on a \$5 Raspberry Pi zero. While it may be painfully slow, it does open up opportunities to use Mathematica in low-power, remote-sensing applications. This blog post is a first in a series highlighting the design challenges I’ve encountered (and in some cases overcome) building Mathematica on Pi (MoP) devices. (Hey, I think I just created a new acronym.)

I’m late to the game, but I bet I’m not the only one. It turns out that there’s a very easy way to set up your old (version B, and presumably version A) Raspberry Pi as an FM radio transmitter.  Here’s how I did it and what I used it for.

Bake my Pi and eat it too?

Do you ever wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, so you decide to mess around with your Raspberry Pi, only to find out that the SD card has been baked and the operating system doesn’t load? This seems to happen to me more often than I’d like (both the waking up early and the baked RPi). There must have been something in that instant coffee (didn’t want to wake my wife with the noise of the coffee machine) and Italian Sweet Creme flavored creamer (instant coffee tastes awful without it) because I was able to come up with a reasonably clever solution to my problem this time.

Which came first

Ahh, the age-old question of the chicken or the egg. There’s a similar theme in my family having to do with my Dad and making stuff. He introduced me to electronics when I was too young to realize how awesome it was, I introduced him to the Raspberry Pi, then he introduced me to Adruino. I introduced him to video capture on the Pi (with the help of a 3D printed camera case) and he turned it around into a nest cam! Ahh, so there’s the bird connection, this is a post about setting up a quick and dirty (and surprisingly effective) nest cam!

A Vernier Go!Link package for Mathematica

The Go! Link from Vernier Software & Technology (Vernier), is a USB adapter for their proprietary sensors which also provides some basic features such as a buffer, sensor auto-identification and raw voltage reading conversion. Vernier provides a software development kit which allows programmers to use Go! devices in their own systems. Since Wolfram’s Mathematica software became available on the Raspberry Pi, I have been thinking about how one can build a flexible sensor system using Vernier’s products and based on the inexpensive computer and the powerful data analysis and visualization tools of Mathematica. This project isn’t new, and my earlier attempts were highlighted on the Raspberry Pi blog and I recently announced a previous version of this software package. What I’m presenting now is a more user-friendly system that makes data collection easy through the device driver framework incorporated into Mathematica.