Category Archives: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Synthesizer

Raspberry Pi Synthesizer

This summer I’ve been working on a prototype for a low-cost, Raspberry Pi synthesizer that is completely self-contained and ready for performance. The prototype uses a Raspberry Pi B+ computer and the built-in GPIO pins to provide controller inputs. No external micro-controller is necessary. Pure Data is the software engine behind the instrument which provides a never ending array of sonic possibilities. The goal of the project is to provide an updated instrument for my own performances and to provide an update to the system I’ve been using in my Networked Music Performance class at CalArts. For now I’ve been focussing on creating an audio synthesizer but a video synthesizer that uses the same hardware is also in the works. One goal for the project is to basically create a hardware “shell” that can be flashed with different software configurations for audio (Pure Data) and video (Python, PiCamera). The hardware, 16 buttons, 8 knobs and 8 sliders, will be installed in a custom case that will house the Raspberry Pi, provide a stereo audio connector and access to the USB ports for WiFi connectivity and battery operation possibilities.

Pi Speaker photo gallery

The photo gallery below shows the process of building eight Pi Speakers over the course of a couple of weeks in the Summer of 2014.

PiAV Demo No.1

PiAv Demo No.2

PiAV premieres in the WaveCave gallery

My eight channel audio-visual installation PiAV premiere’s tomorrow in the WaveCave gallery at CalArts. The piece will be running from September 1st to September 9th. I have the pleasure of being the very first artist to present work in the newly created gallery space that is dedicated to sound works.

PiAV Info

Audio-Visual Installation at ICMC

I will be premiering a new audio-visual installation titled PiAV at this years International Computer Music Conference in Athens, Greece from September 14th through September, 20th 2014.

PiAV is an immersive multi-sensory environment created using twelve Raspberry Pi computers. I have created a portable 8-channel sound environment using custom made speaker boxes, networked Raspberry Pi computers, OSC and Pure Data. In addition I have created a 2-channel video-feedback and motion tracking system using four Raspberry Pi computers, Raspberry Pi camera modules, OSC and a custom Python script. Since the Rasperry Pi computers are so small the whole system is completely portable and only requires a gallery space, a wifi connection (I can bring an ethernet hub if necessary), two video projectors and power.

PiAV is an installation that can be observed and is also participatory but in a subtle way. In its more static form PiAV makes use of quiet sin waves that are tuned in a unique just-intonation scale and activate the space through subtle beatings. Meanwhile two channels of abstracted video images are generated using very simple digital processing inspired by traditional analog video feedback techniques. The system is cross-polinated whereby the ever-changing combinations of pitches (clusters) influence the video feedback system and the colors and the amount of motion within the video influence the audio parameters creating a meta feedback system. Two additional Raspberry Pis are used for simple motion tracking of the gallery space. When viewers/listeners enter the environment their movements are tracked providing another subtle input to the audio-visual system which cues interaction and participation.

Raspberry Pi Workshop at Machine Project

Raspberry Pi workshop

I will be teaching a three day Raspberry Pi workshop at Machine Project on Tuesday, July 29th, Thursday, July 31st, and Tuesday, August 5th, 2014. The workshop will focus on using the Raspberry Pi camera module with an emphasis on basic video and audio applications.

In this workshop we will cover getting started with Raspberry Pi computers with an emphasis on working with HD video playback, using the camera module and getting started with sound output using Pure Data. Technically inclined audio-visual artists are encouraged to attend but anyone with a general curiosity about the Raspberry Pi and Linux is welcome. The first class session will focus on getting the Raspberry Pi up and running which will include: installing the system, configuring a WIFI module, and running basic commands

The second class meeting will cover playing back HD video files with a Raspberry Pi and using the camera module to capture HD videos to disk, creating a Python script to make a time-lapse camera capture device, and if time permits we will explore a RaspberryPi “Video Synth” that is remotely controlled from your laptop.

The third class will meeting will delve into using the Raspberry Pi’s built-in audio functions which will include: basic audio playback, installing Pure Data, and running Pure Data patches on a Raspberry pi.

Dog Star Orchestra Concert Series

Dog Star Orchestra

I will be co-curating a concert and premiering a new piece for the 10th annual Dog Star Orchestra concert series. The concert will take place on Tuesday, June 10th 2014 at The Wulf in Los Angeles. The Dog Star Orchestra concert series was founded by composer Michael Pisaro over ten years ago and highlights experimental sound practices and performances by LA based composers and performers.

The first half of the concert on June 10th will feature a performance of Robert Lax’s Black and White Oratorio organized and directed by Sara Roberts. The second half of the concert will feature three new computer music works for the Raspberry Pi based speakers that I recently developed and built. Billed as Three Pieces for Networked Speakers the second half of the concert will feature Type A Nightmare No.2 by Clay Chaplin, Synopsis by Sepand Shahab, and A Glimpse by David Paha. Performers will include Jenica Anderson, Clay Chaplin, Heather Lockie, David Paha, Sepand Shahab, and Stephanie Smith.

Raspberry Pi – Installing the System

Installing the system on your SD Card

1. Download the system software here: – choose the latest Raspian “Wheezy” installer

Once the file downloads, extract the image by double clicking on the download file and put the image file on your desktop.

2. Insert your SD card into the card reader and see that it mounts on the desktop
3. Open the OS X Disk Utility application from your Utilities folder.
4. Select the SD card partition in the left-hand menu and click on the erase tab.
5. Make sure the format is MS-DOS(FAT) and click on erase to reformat the card.
6. Once the card formats choose ‘verify disk’ and look for the BSD name: must be something like diskn where n is a number (for example, disk4). Note this number.
7. Click Unmount from the menu above.
8. Open the Terminal application from your Utilities folder and run the following:

sudo dd if=path_of_your_image.img of=/dev/diskn bs=1m

Make sure to replace the ‘n’ of ‘diskn’ in the command with the number you noted from the BSD name in the previous step.

here’s what the command looked like on my computer

sudo dd if=/users/dwingus/desktop/2014-01-07-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/disk3 bs=1m

This step copies the Linux system software onto the card. Once you hit return to start the 'dd' command your terminal will look like nothing is happening at all. This is a good thing. Go get some coffee and relax. An eight gigabyte SD card takes around fifteen minutes or so to format properly. Larger SD cards will take longer.

When the card is formatted you will see something like the following on your terminal:
2805+0 records in
2805+0 records out
2962227200 bytes transfered in 1002.34582 secs

You're done!

Drag the icon for your SD card to the trash and remove it from your laptop.

Insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi and plug it in. Have fun!

Raspberry Pi – Initial Configuration for Video

raspberry pi video configuration

Raspi-Config Menu

When you boot your Raspberry Pi for the first time make sure it is connected to a display. The software configuration window should open. You can run the raspi-config program from the terminal at any time by typing:

sudo raspi-config

In the raspi-config menu navigate to the following options and make changes:

1) Expand the filesystem – will resize the amount of storage space available
2) Change User Password: the default is raspberry. change it to be r
5) Enable camera – yep. gotta turn it on
7) Overclocking — set to High or Turbo
8) Advanced options —
– A2 Hostname – you can change this if you’ll be working with multiple Pis via a command line
– A3 Memory split for gpu – set to 256
– A4 SSH – confirm that the SSH server is on. It should be by default

Click finish and reboot the Pi.

Change the Time Zone

On your Pi’s terminal type:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata


US, pacific ocean

Software Update
Its a good idea at this point to make sure all of the Pi’s software is up to date. The system version we installed was created in January so some of the libraries and programs have been updated since then. Type the following commands to do a complete software update

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade  

Your Pi is now configured! type the following to reboot

sudo reboot