Raspberry Pi Controls the Cardboard Dog

This is a project for beginners using the Raspberry Pi (RBPi) single board computer. The RBPi is used to control a servo for turning the head of a cardboard dog away whenever a person is looking at it. This is to mimic a begging dog that seems ashamed of its begging nature.

This project requires the SBC RBPi, its power supply with the 5 V micro-USB cable, a USB keyboard and mouse, a display, and an HDMI cable. For storing the OS, an 8 GB micro SD card is also necessary. Another computer will be necessary to write the OS to the micro SD card and edit the files in it. The official PI camera will help to recognize the faces looking at the dog, and a micro servomotor is required to turning the head.

The RBPi will be controlling the servo through its GPIO pins. The servo has three wires that need to connect to the GPIO pins using female connectors. The camera has a ribbon cable, which goes into the port labeled camera on the RBPi. The HDMI cable goes into its port on the outside of the RBPi, and its other end goes to the HDMI-compatible TV or monitor.

Download and install the latest version of the Raspbian (with Pixel) from the official website of the RBPi. While installing the image on to the micro SD card, the process will destroy all data on the card, so be sure there is nothing of value before you begin.

Once the OS is installed on the micro SD card, insert it into the slot on the reverse side of the RBPi. If the power cord is now plugged into the RBPI socket and the power turned on, there should be some code running on the monitor screen, with the desktop showing up at the end. At this time, right click anywhere on the desktop and select “Create a New File.” Name the file Dog Turn.py, and select it to open with Python 2 IDLE.  Now open IDLE, and paste the code from here into it.

To make the code in the file to work, the RBPi will need additional Python modules to be installed. These are the libopencv-dev, python-opencv, python-dev, and you must use the sudo apt-get install command to download them.

The cardboard dog for this project uses four 9×6 inch cardboard rectangles, and two 6×6 inch squares, which form the main body. A hole at the top of the box allows the servo to go through. Another 5-inch cardboard cube forms the head, and attaches to the servo. Some cardboard legs make the dog look more realistic.

The entire electronic hardware can fit within the body of the dog. It may be necessary to use standoffs to hold the RBPi in place. The camera should look out from one of the eyeholes in the dog head. Fix it in place so that the cable has sufficient play when the servo moves the head. Simply running the python code should be enough to let the dog do its trick. To stop, turn off the power.