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Raspberry Pi Bake-Off Hendrix College 2014

First place medal for winning the Raspberry Pi Bake Off competition at Hendrix College.

Raspberry Pi Bake-Off 2014Pi day was March 14th (3.14 of course) and we attended the Raspberry Pi Bake-Off competition hosted by Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.  It was the perfect place to show off the Raspberry sPIn, a new electric spinning wheel powered by a Raspberry Pi.  You can read all about the Raspberry Pi powered spinning wheel here.

The family and I were really excited to see all the things the community members created with a Raspberry Pi. Family on way to Raspberry Pi BakeoffHonestly, I didn’t know what to expect.  I was praying the Raspberry sPIn would work and hoping I’d be able to articulate all the steps taken to get the wheel spinning.  I was pretty nervous.

Let me get real with you here, I’m a huge chicken and a big time self doubter.  Almost all my ideas I second, third, and continuously question.  Thankfully, I have supportive family and wonderful friends who hear my doubt and then tell me to get over it.  Making this wheel was a way of testing myself to see if I could do it.  I was pretty proud of my creation.  But this is where self-doubt creeps in. Heading to the Bake-Off, I figured all the brainy gurus of Conway would scoff at my simple coding.  I assumed I would be ridiculed for wiring something wrong or for doing something elementary.

Scared to death, my hands shook as I set everything up.  With a few hiccups in getting the wheel going, great relief came when the wheel turned on and started showing off all it could do.  Once everything was working, my nerves quickly ran away and I immensely enjoyed the evening.  I created yarn throughout the event and talked up fiber arts and how fun it is crafting code.

Cyndi at Raspberry Pi Bake Off
Photo Credit to Michelle Corbet from the Log Cabin Democrat.

My experience at the Bake-Off was the absolute opposite of all my fears.  The brainy gurus scratched their heads and congratulated my accomplishments.  It was very rewarding and satisfying. It says a lot about our community as well.  Conway is supportive, encouraging, and totally rocks.

Creation is a way of life, whether it be through physical art like handspun yarn or through code and making things work. Don’t let anything like fear or self-doubt stand in your way of learning and creating. Get over it and get into it!IMG_0511_edited-1When it was time for the winning project announcements, my family and friends gathered around.  Honestly, I figured the Raspberry sPIn wasn’t high-tech enough or my coding was too simple to really win anything.  I figured it might be worth third place, or possibly second, but I would never get first!  I was just happy being there and seeing how the spinning wheel grabbed the public’s interest.

Third place announcement went to a Q-Bert Game Simulator.  It was a sweet interactive creation, where you stood on different squares to make Q-Bert move.

Second Place announced.  It wasn’t me.  But hey that’s okay!  Second place went to a 3D printer server.  It was definitely as cool as it sounds.  The Raspberry Pi was controlling the 3D printer and creating amazing things.  I really thought he would get first place.

First place announcement.  Me…wait…WHAT?!?!?!?!  To my absolute shock, the Raspberry sPIn won first place.  It just proves that when you put your mind to something you can do it. I was also the only woman in the competition. Girls can code too! Raspberry Pi Medal I won a sweet medal printed from the Hendrix 3D Printer and another complete Raspberry Pi set up.  My boys are already dreaming up all the things they want to make with the new Raspberry Pi.  Special thanks to Tony Bates of Arkansas Geek Central for generously donating the prizes!

Throughout the event a team from Hendrix filmed and interviewed attendees and participates.  Check out the video!

Below is the video from David Hinson’s website.

Very pleased with the win and huge personal accomplishment.  I’m already planning on improvements and things to add to the wheel.  Laser lights and a fog machine were suggestions offered during the event.  Ha!  I want to add something that counts the yards of yarn being spun and a few other fiber fun things.

Please check out the story in newspaper about the event by Michelle Corbet.

Much more to come from the Raspberry sPIn. Still looking for a good place for it in the studio, but it’ll be up and spinning soon.  You can come see it on May 3rd, 2014 during Toad Suck Daze, at The Locals.

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Raspberry Pi Electric Spinning Wheel

Raspberry Pi Spinning WheelOkay friends, I’m about to get super geeky on you here, but stay with me…it’s a pretty cool thing!  I made an electric spinning wheel that’s computerized and run by a Raspberry Pi.  I’ll try to spare you the super technical parts.

Have you heard of a Raspberry Pi?  No, it’s not something you eat that goes straight to your hips. Notice the different spelling of pi not pie?  Yup!  Raspberry Pi is a $35 computer board.  Yes, a computer.  (I did warn you on the geeky right?)

The Raspberry Pi is about the size of your cell phone, just a touch bigger than a credit card.  The cool thing about the Raspberry Pi in comparison to a regular computer is it has GPIO pins.  GPIO what you say?  Basically, little pins you can use to run electrical currents and make stuff move and work.

I had ZERO programing or electrical knowledge before embarking upon this adventure. I was at a WordPress Conway meetup (which happens the first Tuesday of every month at The Locals) and someone brought in their Raspberry Pi which was remotely hooked up to WordPress and the internet.  Hello!  I was totally intrigued.  I had to learn everything I could about this non fattening pi and get my head around it. Once I heard there was a competition in March, I was in.  (I am the most competitive person alive)

Raspberry Pi Spinning WheelBeing as passionate about yarn as I am and knowing the ends and outs of spinning, I figured what better way to dive into this new world and learn how to do something new by creating an electric spinning wheel.

To start, I bought a Raspberry Pi kit from Amazon.  The kit came with a bunch of fun gadgets I had zero idea what they were or how they worked.  Lots of wires, LED lights, buttons, and something called a breadboard that didn’t look anything like bread .  With an instructional book in hand and Google on my side my adventure started.

Nothing about this came easy to me…NOTHING. Things I thought would be simple took me days. Things I thought would be hard took me longer!  Google and YouTube were my best friends. I barely slept. My dreams were full of coding and wires and all kinds of things that sounded like food but wasn’t.

Standing on the shoulders of the giants who coded before me, I looked into all sorts of codes to make motors run. It needed to be simple. The wheel must turn one way to spin, the opposite way to ply, and had to shut off.  I ended up writing three separate programs.Raspberry Pi set up

There were two giant hurdles I had to overcome. First, finding a motor strong enough to spin the wheel while spinning yarn was difficult. (That was one of those things I thought would be easy). The first motor was too small…the following 3 motors were also too small. I ended up with a motor that runs with 9-18 volts of power.

Next , I had the issue of finding the right drive band. Knowing spinning wheels, I was planning on using a poly cord drive band (like what you find on most wheels today). But there was too much tension and the wheel wouldn’t spin.  I went through strings, cords, and multiple size rubber bands until I found the perfect little rubber band with the exact amount of tension.

With the help of my husband, we built the stand using wood, PVC pipes, glue, and spray paint.

On a side note, I fell in love with a cute little man in the PVC pipe aisle of our local hardware store. After strolling up and down every aisle in the store and being asked by countless people if I needed help, I finally broke down and informed this sweet gentleman of my project.

Spinning Wheel powered by Raspberry PiI explained “I made an electric spinning wheel using a computer. I’ve already programmed it, and know it works but am trying to think outside of the box to make the box to hold it.”

He said, while nibbling on his toothpick, “You’re telling me you built a computer that makes yarn on a spinning wheel, but you can’t figure out how to make a box?”

Yup!  That truly sums up my entire experience!

In the end my creation worked.  I created an electric spinning wheel. There was a moment straight from Weird Science and Frankenstein where I wanted to run into the street and scream “It’s alive!!!!”.  I spared my neighborhood the shout out and just turned it into a tweet.Raspberry sPIn Yarn Logo

Even though the spinning wheel is electric, this doesn’t mean the yarn coming off this wheel is not handmade. It totally 100% still is! It’s just the Raspberry Pi runs a program that makes a motor spin the wheel.  I still have to do all the drafting and spinning of the yarn with my hands…this machine just gives my feet a rest.

I have started calling the invention the Raspberry sPIn and even drew a little doodle to go with the wheel.  I’ve hooked up a webcam to the wheel to show off what’s being spun and even set it up to send out daily photographic pics of what’s on the wheel.  Soon, it will be hooked up and live tweeting @RaspberrysPIn.  It makes pretty sweet yarn too!

Spinning Wheel with Wool Raspberry PiNext, I have to share with you the story of the Raspberry Pi Bake Off competition at Hendrix and how that all went down. But that’s a story for another day.Boys at Raspberry Pi Bake-Off