Raspberry Pi Roundup - a Pi-controlled coral reef, an update to Raspbian and a compact Atari

Raspberry Pi Roundup - a Pi-controlled coral reef, an update to Raspbian and a compact Atari

Coral Reef

Ranjib Dey loves his salt water aquarium which is home to a miniature, living, coral reef. It takes a lot of expertise and monitoring to keep this fragile ecosystem alive and to do it he has decided to bring in a little bit of Raspberry Pi know-how. The system, called reef-pi, which comprises the Pi, some relays and an analogue-to-digital converter to grab sensor readings, is growing all the time and currently has the following features:

  • AC 110/220v equipment control (on demand and periodically based on timers)
  • DC pump velocity and LED based light intensity control (using PCA9685 PWM driver)
  • Dawn to dusk lighting setup
  • Temperature and similar sensor (pH, ORP etc) integration using MCP3008 analog to digital converter
  • Automated photo capture (using Raspberry Pi camera)
  • Touch screen and web based interface (allows for directly controlling the Pi using touch screen or by accessing the web UI from mobile or tablet)
  • Adafruit.io integration (temperature and similar data will be sent to adafruit.io, where users can build their dashboard/triggers etc)
  • PID controller is integrated to allow for temperature regulation and other failsafe measures

You can read more about the system, which is written in Go, on his GitHub repository: there’s a full bill-of-materials and all the code on there.

Raspbian Update

Simon Long has posted on the Raspberry Pi website about an update to Raspbian that has been released. The following changes have been implemented:

  • Scratch 2.0 (offline version) pre-installed, including ability to do physical computing!
  • Thonny IDE for Python pre-installed (a new IDE which gives a nicer experience than the popular IDLE IDE).
  • New icon set with thinner outlines.

Also released is an x86 image of the update, allowing both live-booting from a USB stick and wipe-and-installation.

Simon also announced that software development is well under way for the new version of Raspbian, based on Debian Stretch.

Read more about the update here and download the new Raspbian image here.


PJ Evans posted up a picture of his latest project on Twitter: an Atari 2600 console made out of a Raspberry Pi Zero embedded in an Atari game cartridge. He has since blog-posted an account of the building of the console. This is a great write-up of a great project, well in the capabilities of an intermediate maker. He used a craft knife and a rotary tool on the cartridge case and then embedded the Pi Zero inside. A couple of serial port connectors were added to allow the addition of the Atari joysticks and, of course, several buttons and toggle switches to mimic the original console. PJ has used RetroPie as the main operating system and then loaded Stella to emulate the Atari. He has then added Adafruit’s Retrogame library to the mix to handle the translation of GPIO triggers into keyboard commands. To read the full write-up, and see lots more photos, head over to PJ’s blog.

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