Raspberry Pi powered interactive digital art? Absolutely!

One of my favorite pieces at the show is Being Present – an interactive digital piece that aims to show people the benefits of mindfulness – of being present, even if only for 2 minutes.

I have loved watching everyone try it out – not everyone sees it to the end but those that do (and it’s only 2 mins!) say it’s very restful and calming.

Here is the technical spec followed by a gallery of shots from the last few weeks:

Being Present

  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Adafruit 64 x 32 RGB LED Matrix x 2 (giving 12,288 controllable points of red, green and blue, each with 255 levels of brightness)
  • Adafruit RGB Matrix HAT & Real Time Clock
  • WaveShare 5″ Touch Screen Display
  • Mini Keyboard with Mouse Mat
  • Custom electronics for control
  • Pressure sensitive mat
  • Raspbian Jessie Operating System running Python programs
  • IBM Node Red for Internet of Things

The installation is a collaboration between myself and technical expert Bradley Hawkins who has spent a great deal of time programming in order to get the effect I wanted.   Each time the process runs it is unique for each viewer and if they step away the work closes down.   The colours, shapes and effects have been carefully chosen to show chaos and then peace.

You can try the innovative work yourself at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (Action Stations, first floor) daily until 2nd September 2015.  It’s free to enter, just mention us at the gate.


A raspberry pi digital clock! Creativity at it’s geekiest.

I thought I would dedicate this post to creativity of a different kind, electronic geeky stuff.  No less creative than more artistic endeavors and sometimes a little more useful.

A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the fact that in the night I often find it hard to read my clock if I wake up.   For some reason my brain may be a few % awake, my eyes may be open but the numbers on the clock become gibberish and ‘swim’ in front of my eyes.   Sometimes I really have to concentrate to work out what the time is.   Sounds rather pathetic now I have written that down!

In addition, surely all we really need to know, a bit like a kid on a long journey is “Are we nearly there yet?”   ie “Is it time to get up or can I go back to sleep?”.

My husband is a bit of a geek and into programming Raspberry Pis and he took this problem and ran with it.

A few days later a Raspberry Pi appeared on the bedside table complete with a simple display.

What he had created is genius (I may be biased!) – a simple clock that shows the time remaining (you set a getting up time) as a series of light bars (or should that be bars of light?).   If there is a lot of time to go till morning, there are a lot of bars.  If you wake up and there is just one light left on the last bar, you have less than 15 mins to go before the alarm (so you might as well not go back to sleep).  Genius!    It is such a simple idea, but I use it every night when I wake up.  Instead of straining my few awake brain cells to look at digital numbers, all I have to do is think “is there a lot of red left?”.   And fall back to sleep having not really woken up much.

He did also go the extra geeky mile and add a binary clock – and to my utter dismay I have learnt to read it in a rudimentary fashion (although not in the middle of the night!).

And that is another form of creativity, see a problem, create a solution.  Beautiful.    I can’t say the execution is totally beautiful, I guess it’s pared down electronic chic though!   It is a lot smaller than the picture above suggests, just a few inches square.

(During the day, the clock displays a random generation of lights, together with the binary clock – it’s quite sweet to look at but don’t tell him I said that).  The picture above is daytime mode,  because I am not getting my phone out at 2am to take a picture of it at night!  Can you tell what the time is?!   (The blue lights).


Whilst ‘researching’ this blog I came across a blog about a man who has used his Raspberry Pi to allow his dog to tweet.   Proving, I think beyond reasonable doubt, that all Raspberry Pi owners are bonkers 🙂   Or just very very creative thinkers!