Tag Archives: Rasberry Pi Projects

ElectroSmash Pedal for the Raspberry Pi

Guitarists favor expensive gear. For instance, they hold online discussions about the best types of wire for guitar pickups. They even go to great lengths while selecting the type of transistors that will give them the best fuzz tone. They hold extensive discussions about the merits of the pentode rectifier over the tetrode type. While the geeks in the electronics world share several common characteristics with the guitar geeks, the ElectroSmash Pedal Pi would interest both.

Both teams are already familiar with the single board computer, the Raspberry Pi (RBPi). ElectroSmash provides a pedal that works with the RBPi Zero and allows the user to program the effects. The brains behind the project are in the code that the user has to download and compile on the RBPi.

Although it is possible to write the code afresh, but downloading the sample provided by ElectroSmash is more sensible, and gets you started faster. The community behind the Pedal Pi has contributed the code, and the user has the complete freedom to use it as it is, or to modify the parameters. ElectroSmash provides the Pedal Pi in a kit form, which means owners have to assemble it first.

Instructions for the assembly are available from the ElectroSmash website. The kit comes with all components neatly labeled, which makes the kit easy and straightforward to put together. One does not need extensive soldering experience for the assembly.

The kit has two ICs, the first an op-amp, and the other an analog to digital converter chip. Follow the instructions on the ElectroSmash site to place them on the board the right way around.

Typically, the RBPi Zero comes with the header pins not soldered to the board, and the user has to do the placement and soldering. However, one can get around this problem by using the RBPi ZWH variant, as this board comes with the header pins soldered in place.

Once you have assembled the pedal, you may find it is not as robust as the regular guitar pedals available on the market. According to ElectroSmash, the aim of the Pedal Pi project is to offer learning about guitar pedals and having fun with them. As an electronics kit, the ElectroSmash Pedal Pi kit certainly lives up to its claim.

Although the kit may seem slightly expensive, comparing it with other guitar pedals shows its true value. For instance, the distortion pedal from Ibanez, the classic Tube Screamer, costs almost twice the full kit. Although the ElectroSmash kit has about ten other effects built in, the user can add many more—in fact, only the programmer’s ingenuity, imagination, and programming skills limit the range of effects that the kit can handle.

Following the code sample that ElectroSmash provides is simplicity itself. They list the code sample in order of increasing complexity, ranging from the simple tone to the looping effect. The user can have fun playing with different types of distortion and use a processed quality on the fuzz, bit-crusher effect, and distortion. The effects are all available in the file fuzz.c and one can change a few numbers to give a new effect.

The GoPiGo Robot Kit for the Raspberry Pi

Making a robot work with the tiny computer Raspberry Pi or RBPi has never been so easy. If you use the RBPi robot kit GoPiGo, all you will need is a small screwdriver with a Phillips head. The GoPiGo kit comes in a box that contains a battery box for eight or 6 AA batteries, two bags of hardware, two bags of acrylic parts, two motors, the GoPiGo board and a pair of wheels. For assembling all this into a working robot, follow these step-by-step instructions.

You start with the biggest acrylic part in the kit, the body plate or the chassis of the GoPiGo. Lay the plate on the GoPiGo circuit board and align the two holes with those on the circuit board. Place two short hex spacers in the holes below the body plate to make sure of which way is the upper side.

Next, you must attach the motors to the chassis. Use the four acrylic Ts in the kit for attaching two motors. Do not over tighten the bolts while attaching the motors, as this may crack the acrylic.

With the motors in place, it is time to attach the two encoders, one for each motor. These encoders fit on the inside of the motors and poke through the acrylic chassis of the GoPiGo. Encoders are an important part, providing feedback on speed and direction of rotation of the motor. If the encoders will not stay on, use blue ticky tacky to make them stay.

Now it is time to attach the GoPiGo board to the chassis. Place the GoPiGo board on the spacers and line its holes with the holes in the board before holding them together with screws. Two hex supports on the back of the GoPiGo board allow you to attach the castor wheel.

That brings us to attaching the wheels to the GoPiGo. You must do this gently, backing the wheels so they do not touch or rub against the screws. The battery box comes next, to be placed as far back on the chassis as possible. This gives it extra space and prevents the box from hitting the SD card on the RBPi.

This completes the mechanical assembly of the GoPiGo robot and only the RBPi remains to be attached. Locate the black plastic female connector on the GoPiGo and slide the GPIO pins of the RBPi into this connector. The RBPi remains protected by a protected plate or a canopy that has to be attached by screwing it on to the chassis.

Make the electrical connections according to the instructions. Be careful while flashing the GoPiGo hardware and leave the motors unconnected during the flashing. After connecting the GoPiGo for the first time, if you find any motor running backwards, simply reverse its connector.

GoPiGo comes with an ATMega 328 micro-controller, operating on 7-12VDC. SN7544 ICs handle the motor control part, which has two optical encoders using 18 pulse counts per rotation and a wheel diameter of 65 mm. External interfaces include single ports of I2C, Serial, analog and digital/PWM. The idling current consumed is about 3-500 mA, and full load current is 800 mA – 2A with both the motors, the servo and the camera running with the RBPi model B+.