Friday 29 November 2013

BirdBox Activity Counter; what can we expect?

Fitting a sensor to the entrance of a garden bird box can provide you with additional data.

But what can you expect this data to reveal about your little feathered friends?

Prompted by ConwayChallenger's recent Blue Tit Monitor, I've just been taking another look at some bird box data from spring 2011.

Sunday 24 November 2013

BirdBoxPiCam 2014; #3 Camera Modification

The RaspberryPi camera board is a great accessory, but the lens does not give a wide enough viewing angle for use in BirdBoxPiCam 2014.

So this is how I modified the camera assembly to fit an M12 board lens.

The first step is to remove the existing lens from the Pi camera without breaking something.

Friday 22 November 2013

Don't Waste Power With L.E.D.s

I've been playing with a mixed bag of white LEDs to work out how many I need to illuminate BirdBox 2014.

As this project is battery powered, I want to minimise power consumption where possible to extend battery life.

Like all 5mm LEDs, there is no obvious way to determine what exactly they are (i.e. there are no part numbers). And as this is a mixed bag, I need to sort them by type before including any of them in my circuit.

Saturday 16 November 2013

BirdBoxPiCam 2014; #2a Activity Based Power Control Details

Following on from an earlier post, I now have a prototype circuit undergoing testing.

This seems to be behaving as expected, and draws very little current when in standby.

Just to recap, this circuit will power-up my RaspberryPi when activity is detected at the entrance to a bird box (e.g. a bird or an insect breaking the beam between an infrared source and a detector).

Tuesday 12 November 2013

What is the difference between a Mapped drive and a simple network share?

The popular internet answer appears to be "very little".


But if you are trying to install crappy educational software on a Windows network, you may need to create a mapped drive on any local computers to get it to work.

As I discovered this week, some Windows applications appear to be written such that they expect a mapped drive, rather than simply allowing a user to use a straightforward path to a server shared folder.

Friday 8 November 2013

Maplin's RaspberryPi GPIO Breakout Board

Just bought one of these little kits to connect my RaspberryPi to a breadboard.

Well, it was cheap...only £3.39.

I was actually looking for a set of jumper leads, and wondering whether I needed male-female, female-female or some other sexual combination, when I spotted this kit from Maplin.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

RaspberryPi Case; add a GPIO slot

Our Computer Science students have just started hanging components on the RaspberryPi GPIO.

However, the nice cases that protect the RaspberryPi also make it difficult to connect wires to the P1 connector.

Rather than removing the lid from all boxes completely, I decided to cut a slot in the top, just large enough for nimble young fingers to connect insulated jumper wires.

Class Notes; #2 Using Breadboard for the Flashing LED Circuit

Teachers having to train themselves for the new English Computer Science syllabus, have a lot to learn in a short time.


Many have no experience of handling and working with electronic components, as I recently discovered.

So this post expands upon my earlier post: How To Drive LEDs From A RaspberryPi, and is taken directly from my class notes produced for young Computer Science students.

Sunday 3 November 2013

RaspberryPi GPIO; Using Gambas

The digital IO on the RaspberryPi is very useful for reading switches and turning on relays, lights and driving small motors....

...and controlling the digital IO with Gambas turns out to be really easy.

Here is a very basic example which makes use of the wiringPi library written by Gordon Henderson.

Friday 1 November 2013

Class notes; How To Drive LEDs From A RaspberryPi

I was asked recently to help with a RaspberryPi training session for a group of young Computer Science pupils.


So this post is simply the hand-outs from this session.

BirdBoxPiCam 2014; #2 Activity Based Power-up & Power-down

Although the power drawn by the RaspberryPi is very low for a computer, its still significant for battery powered equipment such as my bird box monitor.

So here is an idea to reduce power consumption during periods of inactivity.

During the early weeks of the nesting season, visits by birds to garden nest boxes may be infrequent. Typically here in southern England, garden birds may start checking out nest sites during February, with more activity running into April, when nest building typically gets under way.