Sci Fi Your Pi continues with Star Trek and Steampunk designs

By Sagar Jethani, head of content, element14

element14’s Sci Fi Your Pi challenge is in full swing and, with the winner due to be announced in September, our 25 finalists continue to bring their Raspberry Pi-powered devices to life, drawing inspiration from their favourite Sci Fi films, books and TV shows.

In our last post we examined those designs that could be grouped under one of three popular themes – robotics, Star Wars, or the fusion of nature and science. From robots that can complete household tasks, to telepresence video conferencing tools, we explored the functionality of the devices proposed by our competitors.

However, as with any element14 competition, Sci Fi Your Pi has presented our finalists with various challenges to overcome.

In this post we will look at two designs, in order to find out how the competitors have used the components and software solutions available to them, and what obstacles they have faced along the way.

The Picorder

Taking his inspiration from Star Trek TOS, Michael Hahn is hoping to put a spin on the original tricorder that Dr Leonard McCoy used to monitor and record the bodily information of his patients.

While such a medical device already exists, Hahn is using a Boarduino module and a combination of sensors to elevate his portable Picorder, adding temperature and pulse measurement capabilities so that it can support human exploration through unknown territories. However, Hahn is also committed to his Picorder replicating the same sounds as the device does on television.

As such, for this designer the remaining weeks of the competition will be all about configuring the display function and adjusting the correct ‘’pin out’’ to operate seamlessly with the Raspberry Pi. Hahn will also need to finalise the sound effects that he intends to use, as well as the scripting needed to trigger them at the appropriate times, to ensure the full effect of the Picorder.

Sci Fi and Steampunk

Steampunk, a major influence on many big-budget adventure films, is a sub genre of Sci Fi that melds futuristic technology with industrial steam-powered design.

Neil Bizzell is creating an interactive map that he hopes will completely change the way adventurers travel around the world. Inspired by one of his favourite Steampunk films, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Bizzell’s design uses a GPS tracker and map display to allow travellers to pinpoint their exact location and follow a guided path to their next destination.

The Raspberry Pi, along with stepper motors and servos, will control the longitude and latitude, whilst the GPS module must be relied upon to capture and deliver that information to an incredible degree of accuracy. Keeping in line with his Steampunk theme, the design will include dramatic wheels, gears and levers as part of its operation.

Bizzell’s main challenge is ensuring that the positional accuracy of the GPS module is correct and that it fits the flat form of his map.

His focus over the upcoming weeks will be to test each separate function to find the best enclosure so that the device will be complete by the end of the challenge in September.

To find out more about either of these designs, visit the Sci Fi Your challenge page at element14. In our next post, we’ll be taking a look at some of our other competitors’ projects to see the progress they have made, and the different technical challenges they face.

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