I brought together a group of hackers / makers / electronic engineers and computer experts to help Blackgang Chine, a Theme Park on the Isle of Wight take control of their animatronic dinosaurs.
Currently the dinosaurs run a pre-programmed sequence of events – roar, tail wag, neck movement etc. However, the Park would like to change the order and duration of each event.
One of Blackgang’s staff, Mark Butler, Technical Projects coordinator, had already adapted one of the dinosaur controllers to work with a Raspberry Pi. The Pi has the advantages that the Blackgang staff can alter the programs to suite their needs, and also the component is relatively inexpensive. If something goes wrong, the Pi or SD card can be easily swapped out, making any dinosaur down time as short as possible. However, most Blackgang staff members had not had any experience with programming or Pi’s.
So I invited some Pi experts, some people who hack things for fun and some people with an open and technically curious mind for a couple of days of “hacking dinosaurs” – and also to help train Blackgang staff members.
The results were amazing.
With the help of Neil Ford (@neilcford), a Raspberry Jambasador, and IBM’s Andy Stanford-Clark (@andysc) within an hour everyone was programming the Pi’s using Node-RED – a “drag and build” method of programming.
This started with the simple switches and lighting LED’s I described in my previous blog and then moved on to whatever interested those involved.
Will, a web developer at We3Create used the switch to change from one web site to another, and then to control the movement of an animated mouse across the screen.
Tom, a programming expert, got the Pi sending tweets on Twitter and playing sound files.
James Macfarlane (@RocketEngines), an electronics engineer at Airborne Engineering Ltd., spent the first day reverse-engineering the control electronics already in use.
The Blackgang Chine staff, along with @andysc, focused on what they’d like the dinosaur to do.
Each Friday is PiDay here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts, tutorials and new Raspberry Pi related products. Adafruit has the largest and best selection of Raspberry Pi accessories and all the code & tutorials to get you up and running in no time!
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.