Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, the second of the two “star” franchises that form such a foundational part of nerd culture. Consequently, this is a special Star Wars edition of your faithful Raspberry Pi roundup.
It’s easy to see what Star Trek “means” as a part of nerdery – it’s a mostly hopeful vision of the future, where the adults mostly act like adults and the better angels of our natures win out much more often than our demons. Star Wars is harder to pin down. As lots of people have said, it’s really more fantasy than sci-fi, but it’s one where many have chosen to let their imaginations roam freely.
It’s beyond easy, therefore, to see why so many people have used Star Wars as creative inspiration – and inevitable that some of their projects would utilize the Raspberry Pi.
R2-D2 speaks Chinese
Somebody who goes by Greensheller on YouTube built himself an extremely impressive R2-D2 out of a used toy and a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian, and he did it all the way back in 2013.
It responds to simple commands, makes recordings, but apparently a saucy personality was too big an ask for a hobbyist project. (Understandable.) Still, it speaks both English and Chinese, so C-3PO isn’t the only one with extra forms of communication.
[H/T: Raspberry Pi Foundation blog]
That’s no moon…
It’s not technically a space station, either, but we’ll take it – some clever people at the University of Leeds in England created a spinning LED gizmo that looks just like a glowing picture of the Death Star. It’s an experiment designed to demonstrate the phenomenon of persistence of vision: where objects continue to be perceived even after light from them has stopped entering the eye.
There’s lots more information here, but the upshot is that it uses very sturdy bearings, a stepper motor, pulleys and chains, and a lot of LEDs to generate a cool-looking representation of the Death Star.
Pew pew pew
The arcade at a fair is always a good time, particularly if you’re a fan of shooting semi-functional pseudo-weapons at surprisingly difficult-to-hit targets. (Difficult to hit, that is, as long as you’re not me. Although I think my parents gave that stuffed dog I won to a young cousin years ago.)
Koldo Santisteban’s setup uses several Arduinos and, of course, a Raspberry Pi to let users shoot infrared light at some Star Wars-themed targets. The game speeds up as it goes along, to increase the challenge, and the gun “overheats” and stops working if players attempt to fire too quickly.
The sounds of space chess
I’ve always wanted to know how to play Dejarik, the holo-chess game that Star Wars: A New Hope uses to introduce Chewbacca’s ferocity and impatience with losing at board games, but a quick Googling reveals that no official rules have been released.
You’d think that would limit the appeal of this slick replica of the Millennium Falcon’s game board, but Jim Shima of Hyperdyne Labs added a Raspberry Pi with media player software, an amp, some speakers and a servo that lifts said speakers into a better position to create a polished-looking jukebox.
(H/T: Mag Pi magazine)