Category Archives: Online Training

Raspberry Pi for Theater

Raspberry Pi: Live @ The Brick Box

I was helping with a Theater production at the Brick Box here in Rutland, Vermont. I was in charge of running the lights and sound, but the only sound they needed for the show was a telephone ring. I could have looked online for a phone ring device designed to be used in theater, but instead I decided to use a Raspberry Pi to get the job done. Here is how I did it.

First off, I was going to be in the back of the audience, and the phone ring needed to come from behind the stage. So I needed a way to have my Raspberry Pi Setup back stage, but be able to control it from the back of the theater. I decided to set it up as it’s own wireless access point, with DHCP server. To accomplish this, I configured the wireless adapter on the Pi with a static IP address of, and installed a program called hostapd. The hostapd program allows you to broadcast an SSID (name of network for other devices to see and connect). Then I edited the config files to use the name I wanted for the network, as well as set a password, so only I would be able to connect to the network. I also needed to install  isc-dhcp-server which allows the Pi to act as a DHCP server, and assign IP addresses to any device that connects to the Pi’s wireless access point. After all of these were install and set up properly, my Pi was ready to run headless (without a monitor connected to it).

To set up the wireless access point, I followed instructions found here:

Now that my Pi was set up properly, all I needed to have plugged into it was power, and a speaker for the ring noise. I used a rechargeable speaker called a Music Bullet I got for Christmas a few years ago, but never really used til now. I also used a Lenovo Battery pack for recharging devices like cellphones and tablets on the go. I tested it, and the battery pack can keep the Pi powered and running for the better part of a day on a single charge. The only thing left to do was copy the sound file to it.

Pi Project finished

Bottom: Lenovo Battery, Middle: Raspberry Pi in a case, Top: Music Bullet rechargeable speaker.


All that needed to be plugged in was Power on the left, and speaker audio cable on right. The wireless adapter is inside the side door of the case, and protected from being removed.

Screenshot from 2015-03-22 11:10:02

I connected my Laptop to the wireless access point of the Pi, in my case it was called TheCocktailHour as that was the name of the show.

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Videos From Raspberry Pi Event

Thanks to everyone who attended the Raspberry Pi Event we hosted at the Rutland Library on March 14th 2015 (Ultimate Pi Day).

Here are the videos that were shown at the presentation. The first few are from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, on their website.  The rest are from YouTube.  There are many more videos on the Raspberry Pi on YouTube, which you can easily find by searching for them.

What is Raspberry Pi?

San Diego (CA) school kids and Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Stories (links to more videos and articles)

Raspberry Pi as seen on YouTube (more videos)

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Next event, January 31: HOUR of CODE Challenge

Saturday, January 31, 2015, 1-3PM
Rutland Free Library, Fox Room (upstairs)
10 Court Street, Rutland, VT

All ages welcome.  Bring your laptops.  We will do the “HOUR of CODE” challenge.

Learn the basic concepts of computer programming, using a fun visual approach.  If you have never done the Hour of Code, you can start with the HOC Challenge.  Using a video-game maze theme, build short computer programs to make Angry Bird catch Bad Piggie, by snapping together Lego-like program code blocks on your screen. Later on you can make the Zombie find the Sun Flower in the corn maze.  When you successfully complete the HOC, you will get an online Certificate of Completion.  We can help you save or bookmark your certificate image to your computer, so you can print it out at home.


In between the HOC exercises you can view video messages from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Black Eyed Peas founder, and NBA star Chris Bosh (he studied computer science in college).

If you have done the HOC Challenge before, you can go “Beyond the HOC” with additional exercises and challenges to learn more programming concepts on  Also, for those who might be interested, you could also try the free tutorials from, another free to use website to learn programming logic.

In 2014, we held two events around Scratch programming.  If you complete the Hour of Code and/or Codecademy, you will be ready to tackle Scratch programming, which has even more capabilities, and is also a visual approach to computer programming.

As Douglas Rushkoff’s book title says: “Program or Be Programmed”.  Learning to program is like learning another “language”.  It’s another aspect of “computer literacy”, writing programs, instead of just using them.

Tell your friends and family about the Rutland Tech Club.  This event is also posted on the Rutland Herald inViTe Calendar!

We look forward to helping you with the Hour of Code Challenge,

Ron, Steve and Chad

RTC’s Scratch homepage on

If you want to check back and see if there are any new updates to Scratch projects on Rutland Tech Club, here is the RTC Scratch homepage.

From there, you can click on a project, run the project and also “Look Inside” to see the code blocks and sprite images.  If you see a project you would like to Remix, then just click the orange Remix button in the upper right corner of the Scratch Editor screen.

Have fun with Scratch!

Scratch Starter Project to Animate Letters and Numbers

After working with Scratch a bit I realized that finding or creating the images for backdrop and sprites can be time consuming.  In fact, for a given project you could spend as much time on the graphic images that you would spend on putting the code blocks and events together.

So in order to expedite learning the Scratch coding blocks and categories, I have setup a Scratch project with some ready made sprites.  The project is titled, “Be Creative With Letters and Numbers”.


I obtained the alphabet letters and number images from the free clip art website called (Thank You).  The letter and number images for sprites are in the motif of a keyboard key per character.

Go ahead and run this Scratch project and “look inside” to see the “snap-together” code blocks for each sprite.  The Scratch Cat mascot gives you the introduction and instructions.  The letters A, B and C are animated when you press the respective keys on your keyboard.

If you want to start your own project, then just Remix this project.  The Remix will make a new copy for you to work with, and it won’t affect the original project.  If you are not a registered user of Scratch, then you won’t be able to save your work.  So you might want to register for Scratch first.

In order to Remix, click the “See Inside” button.  Then once you are in the Scratch editor, click the orange Remix button in the upper right corner of the screen (next to the See Project Page button).

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Scratch Programming Demo: Garden Box

Here is my first Scratch program, besides the Getting Started Tutorial.  Given that Rutland is known for it’s local foods, with the Farmers Market, RAFFL, the Vermont Farmers Food Center, and community gardens, I thought I would follow that theme.

Here is my Garden Box Scratch program.


Just click on a vegetable or flower to see a message.  Then click inside a square in the 3×3 garden box to plant the chosen veggie or flower.  Turn up your computer speakers to hear a musical note when each plant is placed in the garden box.

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Scratch Programming: Getting Started Tutorial

I’ve gone through the Scratch “Getting Started” tutorial to create my first Scratch Project.  Click here for the tutorial that walks you through creating the program step by step.  In order to save your project, you will first need to register as a user on Scratch website, by clicking the “Join Scratch” button in the top right corner of the screen.

Once you are registered, logon to Scratch, and start the tutorial project.  This project is a simple animation that teaches you some basic things about “sprites” and event-driven programming.  This project has two sprites, the cat and the dancing girl.  The cat is positioned via move commands.  The dancing girl is moved via having multiple “costumes” per sprite.  Each costume in a sprite is a separate picture.  The dancing girl has four separate pictures which are looped.  When the cat moves, the snare drum and cymbals play.  The “backdrop” image is the stage with lights.

You can choose some stock backdrops or sprites, or you can create your own within Scratch.  You can also upload other photos from your camera, or images you created with other software such as Microsoft Paint.

After I completed the tutorial, I was able to “share” it.  This allows other people to view the project.  Click the green flag to run the Scratch project.