Yesterday the media lab in our Leeds office was taken over by a strange TARDIS looking pod.  People walking past seemed very interested in the flurry of activity going on within the strange structure.  It was actually Andrew Robinson of PiFacePiFace fame and his two little elves Tom and Tom setting up their famous 'bullet time' camera rig.


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After a mad dash in the morning to Leeds Market to buy 20 metres of black fabric to create the pod to house the rig and several hundred extension cables later the stage was set and employees were invited to come down to record their own Christmas messages.


After a few network issues the team managed to get the cameras working and the employees started to filter down with their various festive ideas from a hand made light up LED Christmas jumper to a charity message from Santa.




The rig is created with 48 PiFace Control and Display units which sit neatly on top of the Raspberry Pi to allow users to interact with the credit card sized computer without the need for a monitor, keyboard and mouse.  The effect, called Bullet Time, or Time-slice, consists of taking a number of pictures from multiple cameras at the same time, but playing them back one after another. Because all the frames are taken at exactly the same time from different views but shown in order, it gives the effect of moving around a scene while time is frozen.  The project was fairly involved requiring a three metre ring of 48 Raspberry Pi’s, half a kilometre of network cable and a few industrial network switches!

For other projects with the PiFace Control and Display visit www.elelement14/community .  Get your own PiFace Control and Display here.

Dr Andrew Robinson, creator of the PiFace Control and DisplayPiFace Control and Display is visiting the element14 offices tomorrow and has kindly agreed to answer your questions about the PiFace DigitalPiFace Digital, Control and Display and also the Pi RackPi Rack. Don't miss this chance to ask a question of one of the luminaries of the Raspberry Pi movement. Ask your question in the comments below, tweet them to element14, post on our Facebook page or also on our Google+ page.

We'll post the answers here later this week.



LAST WEEK the team at PiFace Digital unveiled this epic project, which used the Control and DisplayControl and Display to create a bullet time effect using a number of Raspberry Pi camerasRaspberry Pi cameras, boards and control units. Whilst this project is super cool, it's potentially a little too grand for most to replicate given amount of kit you would need. So in this equally cool project which can be undertaken by mere mortals such as you and I, the team now demonstrate how the control and display can also be used to speed up and well as slow down time by building a time lapse camera.


Here you can see end results and below they show you how it was done. Don't forget to check out the PiFace blog for full details and remember you can buy your own PiFace Control and Display right now.


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Get your Control and DisplayControl and Display here and if you already have a Raspberry PiRaspberry Pi and a camera, don't forget to check out the PiFace website which has details of all their projects and products

So what do you get when you combine 48 Raspberry Pis48 Raspberry Pis, 48 PiFace Control and DisplaysPiFace Control and Displays, 48 Pi Cameras48 Pi Cameras and half a kilometer of network cable? The answer is your own DIY bullet time camera rig and arguably one of the most innovative and ambitious Raspberry Pi projects to date! Watch the video below as Dr Andrew Robinson from PiFace Digital explains how this unbelievable project was put together and talks about the inspiration behind it. You can read the full blog over on the PiFace website.



Get your own PiFace Control and Display herehere.


Image from PiFace – PiFace Blog

"You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

Stay tuned for more bullet time videos next week and get your PiFace Control and Display HEREHERE!

From the initial design sketch a specification began to emerge. Top of the list it had to be easy to use. Despite not using a full keyboard I wanted the user to find it easy to interact with the Raspberry Pi. Selecting a menu option needed to take seconds and the buttons had to fall under a user's fingers. It also had to be easy for the programmer, no harder than getting user input from a keyboard.


Next on the list, was that the control and display unit mustn't be bigger or more expensive than the Raspberry Pi itself.




At this stage I wasn't sure if the specification was too ambitious. I needed to build something easy for users, and developers and within the size and price of a Raspberry Pi! To find out if was possible, it was time to build one!


I had a rough idea of what was important to create a friendly user-interface. If nothing else, the toil of setting the time on digital watches using two buttons told me what not to do! Instead, what was needed was more inputs, arranged in a natural way. I wanted something that would make it easy to select an item from a range of options, or jump to a particular menu. It was time to scour the 11500 switches and 2000+ displays on the element14 website!

With a few components identified as options I started creating footprints to design the PCB with CadSoft Eagle. I already had the outline of PiFace Digital that fitted well on top of the Raspberry Pi, so I used this the target area to fit a display and various controls. After a few days I was beginning to despair at Pete Lomas' excellent, some could say magical, work in getting a Raspberry Pi as small as it was; my early designs for control and display had parts overhanging the boundaries of a credit card!


Eventually I had a couple of physical layouts that looked viable and the next step was to add the electronics that made them function. With the parts ordered from element14 and a few days of design iterations later and it was time to order the PCB. Despite the number of PCBs I’ve created, whenever I order one, there's always an anxious wait to see if I've done something stupid and created another fibreglass coaster...

For more information or to buy , visit PiFace Control & Display


When I needed a new radio in the kitchen I naturally thought of building an Internet radio with a Raspberry Pi. Being a somewhat messy eater, I didn't want a monitor, mouse and keyboard in the kitchen. I wanted to see what I was listening too, and be able to change station, volume and switch to playing or select a track from my media server. I've heard of designs sketched on the back of napkins when there's no paper to hand, but with no napkin to hand, kitchen towel had to do.


Post crunching of cornflakes, I quickly drew out what was needed and the PiFace Control and DisplayPiFace Control and Display was begun. Then it struck me, this was just one of many applications which needed a simple, low cost compact way of getting status information out of the Raspberry Pi, with a compact way to control it.


Previously I'd used Raspberry Pis in a field in Wales to monitor nature. Setting them up was difficult as it wasn't possible to take a monitor out in the field. It would have been really useful to have a simple display and menu structure on the Raspberry Pi and a few buttons to select options. I began thinking of other projects, I knew someone embedding a Raspberry Pi in an industrial control system that needed simple menu driven user interface.


This was looking like there was a bigger need than just my kitchen media centre. What was needed was a way to control the Pi and display its status. It was time to get designing...

More information: PiFace Control & Display