Welcome

Welcome to 3d Electronic Circuits .com.

We are going to be bringing some new concepts to the world of electronics here and are also going to be covering the more general electronic theories and circuits.

My basic theory for building true 3d electronic circuits can be found on “The Theory” page.

I am also hoping to be able to provide you with some electronic designing and project kits.

Keep checking back as this site is brand new and it does take some time to get some content up.

Distortion Correction Algorithms Adapt Video in Real-Time

Imaging technology company Immervision said it is now able to offer real-time video distortion correction software algorithms to remove stretched bodies, change lines, objects and face proportions and adjust scenes in real-time on images and videos captured on smartphones.

Patrice Roulet Fontani
Patrice Roulet Fontani

The company will license the new algorithms directly to mobile OEMs through its distribution partner and lead investor CEVA. In an interview with EE Times, vice president and co-founder of Immervision Patrice Roulet Fontani said this new real-time, on-the-fly distortion correction wasn’t really available before. “Some things were there, but to be able to run on a portable device without draining the battery, and providing the appropriate correction, you didn’t have that before.”

He explained the background. “Smartphones are having wider screens, but up to now, whenever you look at a video, it’s still in a 4 by 3 type of ratio. If you want to fill the screen you need to process the image to crop and then split and then increase the size of the image on your sensor. Now with cinematographic and wide-angle lenses, they allow you now to fill the screen, but not without having some artefacts or some distortions. Correcting the picture is one thing, because you can snap the picture, maybe get half a second to process it and modify it. But with a 30-120 fps video, that’s another story.”

“To bring that distortion correction, we have introduced a new algorithm that not only corrects the distortion in terms of one setting, but you can also have multiple types of distortion correction, depending on the situation. And it can be done in real time, correcting areas for example where there are people, we might want to have the people look more normal. Where you have panoramas, you maybe want to provide a feeling of being a wide, immense area.”

Immervsion distortion correction
With skyrocketing demand for video recording on phones, software is needed to create the ideal framing for high-quality videos. Immervision said its new algorithms help deliver “20/20 vision” in a range of smartphones, correcting video distortions in real-time to improve the captured to display experience, without compromising the field of view. (Image: Immervision) 

“What you might see in existing devices today is that they do not correct the distortion at all. There is distortion correction for images, and videos, but they are focused very much on the straight line. And they correct only one distortion correction feed that feeds all the applications scenarios. What we notice with this is, you cannot have one processing that corrects the straight line, and at the same time preserve the body or face proportions. So, in most smartphones today, the body and face proportions as you go towards the edge of the FOV [field of view] are very much distorted. So, they are stretched where the face or the body appear wider than they are.”

“Instead of having one processing feed for all scenarios, we provide smartphone OEMs different video distortion correction processing, depending on the scenarios. So, if you want to capture a landscape, it would be a different processing to if you have a group of people or portrait image. We developed video distortion correction plus what we call face protection, to make the faces appear as they are in reality and not distorted and not stretched. In addition, this process is performed in real time. Our commitment to our customer is to enable what you see is what you get.”

In many newer phones, the wider field of view creates more apparent distortion. Immervision said its new software algorithms help remove stretched bodies, change line, object and face proportions in real-time adjusting to the scene, and reduce editing time, all in one solution.  The software provides different levels of correction, varied projections and real-time adaptation to the scene. This gives smartphone OEMs the capability to offer different options to its users – for example, to leave preset configurations as they are, or be able to fully customize, or let end-users make the decision, as well as allow phone orientation to dictate or leverage machine learning to control the experience.

Fontani said being able to enable distortion correction in real-time is important. “Because when you are filming, there are two things happening. One you are recording, or you are broadcasting, that needs to be done as it goes. You cannot record and then process after.”

Immervision said with the skyrocketing demand for video recording on phones, software is needed to create the ideal framing for high-quality videos. Having worked with its customers for 20 years, it said its hardware and software experts have been working closely with OEMs to fine tune the algorithms to meet specific needs. The new algorithms, it added, help deliver “20/20 vision” in a range of smartphones, correcting video distortions in real-time to improve the captured to display experience, without compromising the field of view.

Adding an off-the-shelf 125 degrees wide-angle lens
In a second announcement, Immervision also introduced what it claims to be the highest-performing off-the-shelf 125-degree wide-angle lens, pre-configured on popular sensors without need for camera customization, and aimed at tier two and tier three mobile OEMs.

Wide-angle lens reduces the number of cameras and costs, while improving image quality for landscape, group, and close-up pictures and videos taken with mobile phones.  While the majority of tier one OEMs have wide-angle lens in their phones, tier two and tier three mobile brands have yet to adopt. Immervision’s technology has been preconfigured on popular sensors including Sony, Omnivision and Samsung.

“Tier two and tier three mobile OEMs are challenged with delivering the same level of image quality of leading-edge mobile phones,” said Immervision’s executive vice president, operations and chief commercial officer, Alessandro Gasparini. “Immervision’s 125 wide-angle lens integrates all the industry-leading metrics into one lens. In the past, these best-in-class metrics were found in multiple phones. Now they are available in one lens with ready-to-use software, reducing camera customization and integration time, and providing the same image quality as in well-recognized mobile phone brands.”

“This is a new optical design in which we achieved the best balance between different parameters to reach the widest possible FOV that doesn’t compromise the f-number, the relative illumination, and without any drop in resolution up to the edge, up to 21 megapixels. It will allow tier two and tier three phone vendors to be able to offer a complete experience going from wide angle to traditional imaging with one single camera. In other words, having two different features on the same camera.”

He added, “What we are doing is making this technology accessible, since it’s usually only in flagship big brand phones. This will be the best lens in terms of performance achieved at wide angle.”

The post Distortion Correction Algorithms Adapt Video in Real-Time appeared first on EETimes.

What Really Does and Doesn’t Work for Fair Use in the DMCA

On July 28, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held another in its year-long series of hearings on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The topic of this hearing was “How Does the DMCA Contemplate Limitations and Exceptions Like Fair Use?

We’re glad Congress is asking the question. Without fair use, much of our common culture would be inaccessible, cordoned off by copyright. Fair use creates breathing space for innovation and new creativity by allowing us to re-use and comment on existing works. As Sherwin Siy, lead public policy manager for the Wikimedia Foundation, said in his testimony: “That fair uses aren’t rare exceptions to the exclusive rights of copyright law but a pervasive, constantly operating aspect of the law. Fair use not only promotes journalism, criticism, and education, it also ensures that our everyday activities aren’t constantly infringing copyrights. Especially now that so much of our lives are conducted on camera and online.”

Unfortunately, the answer to Congress’s question is: not enough. The DMCA, in particular, by design and as interpreted, doesn’t do enough to protect online fair uses. This is the case in both Section 1201 of the DMCA—the “anti-circumvention” provision which bans interference on technological restrictions on copyrighted works—and Section 512—the provision which immunizes platforms from liability for copyright infringement by their users so long as certain conditions are met.

Fair Use and Notice and Takedown

The DMCA was meant to be a grand bargain, balancing the needs of tech companies, rightsholders, and users. Section 512 embodies a carefully crafted system that, when properly deployed, gives service providers protection from liability, copyright owners tools to police infringement, and users the ability to challenge the improper use of those tools. Without Section 512, the risk of crippling liability for the acts of users would have prevented the emergence of most of the social media outlets we use today.

But Congress knew that Section 512’s powerful incentives could result in lawful material being censored from the Internet, without prior judicial scrutiny, much less advance notice to the person who posted the material, or an opportunity to contest the removal. For example, users often making fair use of copyrighted works in all kinds of online expression. That use is authorized by law, as part of copyright’s “built-in First Amendment accommodations.” Nonetheless, it is often targeted for takedown under the DMCA. 

For Section 512, user protections are supposed to be located in sections 512(g) and 512(f). In practice, neither of these sections have worked quite as intended.

Section 512(g) lays out the requirements for counternotifications. In theory, if a takedown is issued against a work making fair use, then the target can send a counternotice to get the work restored. The counternotice contains personal information of the creator and an agreement to be subject to a court case. If the person or organization doesn’t respond to the counternotice with a legal action within two weeks, the work goes back up. In practice, very few counternotices are sent, even when the original takedown was flawed.

512(f) was supposed to deter takedowns targeting lawful uses by giving those harmed the ability to hold senders accountable. Once again, in practice, this has done little to actually prevent abusive and false takedowns.

Columbia Law Professor Jane C. Ginsburg agreed, saying that these parts of 512 “may not always have worked out as intended.” She highlighted that automated takedown notice systems don’t take fair use into account and that there are relatively few counternotices. She allowed that “fear or ignorance” would cause users not to take advantage of counternotices, a point backed up by cases of trolling and the intimidating nature of the counternotices.

Evidence of how users avoid the process was given by Rick Beato, a musician who also has a popular YouTube channel that teaches music theory. He noted that he has made 750 YouTube videos, of which 254 have been demonetized and 43 have been blocked or taken down. Beato noted that he’s never disputed anything – it’s too much trouble.

Several witnesses urged the creation of some sort of “alternative dispute resolution” to make taking down and restoring content easier. We disagree. Section 512 already makes takedowns far too easy. The experience of the last 22 years shows just how much of the fundamental right to freedom of expression is harmed by extrajudicial systems like the DMCA. The answer to the DMCA’s failures cannot be yet another one.

As for the European model, there is no way to square the Copyright Directive with fair use. The European Union’s Copyright Directive effectively requires companies to ensure that nothing is ever posted on their platforms that might be infringing. That incentivizes them to over-remove, rather than take fair use into account. And to handle that need, filters become necessary. And so it creates a rule requiring online service providers to send everything we post to the Internet to black-box machine learning filters that will block anything that the filters classify as “copyright infringement.” And, as Beato testified to in the hearing, filters routinely fail to distinguish even obvious fair uses. For example, his educational videos have been taken down and demonetized because of a filter. And he is not alone.

Witnesses also suggested that fair use has expanded too far. This is a reassertion of the old bogeyman of “fair use creep,” and it assumes that fair use is set in stone. In fact, fair use, which is flexible by design, is merely keeping up with the changes in the online landscape and protecting users’ rights.

As witness Joseph Gratz put it:

Nobody likes to have their word, or their work, or their music used in ways that they can’t control. But that is exactly what fair use protects. And that is exactly what the First Amendment protects. Whether or not the copyright holder likes the use, and indeed, even more so where the copyright holder does not like the use, fair use is needed to make sure that free expression can thrive.

Fair Use, Copyright Protection Measures, and Right to Repair

On balance, Section 512 supports a great deal of online expression despite its flaws. The same cannot be said for Section 1201.  Section 1201 makes it illegal to circumvent a technological protection on a copyrighted work, even if you are doing so for an otherwise lawful reason.

Sound confusing? It is. Thanks to fair use, you have a legal right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment. But thanks to Section 1201, you do not have the right to break any digital locks that might prevent you from engaging in that fair use. And this, in turn, has had a host of unintended consequences, such as impeding the right to repair.

The only way to be safe under the law is to get an exemption from the Copyright Office, which grants exemptions to classes of uses every three years. And even if your use is covered by an exemption, that exemption must be continually renewed. In other words, you have to participate in an unconstitutional speech licensing regime, seeking permission from the Copyright Office to exercise your speech rights.

Nevertheless, Christopher Mohr, the Vice President for Intellectual Property and General Counsel of the Software and Information Industry Association, called Section 1201 a success because it supposedly prevented the “proliferation of piracy tools in big box stores.” And Ginsburg pointed to the triennial exemption process as a success. She said it “responds effectively to the essential challenge” of balancing the need for controls with the rights of users.

That’s one way of looking at it. Another is that even if you have an exemption allowing you access to material you have a Constitutional right to use, you can’t have someone with the technological know-how to do it for you and no one is supposed to provide you a tool to do it yourself, either. You have to do it all on your own.

So if you are, for example, one of the farmers trying to repair your own tractor, you now have an exemption allowing you to do that. But you still can’t go to an independent repair store to get an expert to let you in. You can’t use a premade tool to help you get in. This is a manifestly absurd result.

We’re glad Congress is asking questions about fair use under the DMCA. We wish there were better answers.

Turning Lead to Gold with FPGA

We have an exciting announcement: SparkFun Electronics is now producing all Alchitry FPGA boards! Two new FPGA options are available, with the Xilinx Artix 7-equipped Au, and the Lattice iCE40 HX-equipped Cu boards. We also have two shield-like boards called “Elements” that support each of the FPGA’s inherently strong capabilities and logic cells.

Don’t forget that you can get a free SparkFun Qwiic Pro Micro BoogieBoard with any purchase of $75 or more using promo code “BOOGIEBOARD20” (some restrictions apply).

Now onto our new products!

The gold standard of FPGA!


Alchitry Au FPGA Development Board (Xilinx Artix 7)

added to your cart!


Alchitry Au FPGA Development Board (Xilinx Artix 7)

In stock


DEV-16527

The Alchitry Au is the gold standard for FPGA development boards and it’s possibly one of the strongest boards of its type on…


$99.95

The Alchitry Au Development Board is the “gold” standard for FPGA development boards, and it’s one of the strongest boards of its type on the market. The Au FPGA features a Xilinx Artix 7 XC7A35T-1C FPGA with over 33,000 logic cells and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. This board is a fantastic starting point into the world of FPGAs as the heart of your next project. Now that this board is built by SparkFun, we added a Qwiic connector for easy I2C integration!



Alchitry Cu FPGA Development Board (Lattice iCE40 HX)

added to your cart!


Alchitry Cu FPGA Development Board (Lattice iCE40 HX)

In stock


DEV-16526

If you are not needing a lot of power to start your FPGA adventure, or are looking for a more economical option, the Alchitry…


$49.95

If you don’t need a lot of power to start your FPGA adventure or are looking for a more economical option, the Alchitry Cu FPGA Development Board might be the perfect option for you! The Alchitry Cu is a “lighter” FPGA version than the Alchitry Au but still offers something completely unique. The Alchitry Cu uses the Lattice iCE40 HX FPGA with 7680 logic cells and is supported by the open source tool chain Project IceStorm, as well as the SparkFun Qwiic Connect System. The Cu truly exemplifies the trend of more affordable and increasingly powerful FPGA boards arriving each year.



Alchitry Io Element Board

added to your cart!


Alchitry Io Element Board

In stock


DEV-16525

The Alchitry Io Element Board is the perfect way to get your feet wet with digital design.


$24.95

The Alchitry Io Element Board is the perfect way to get your feet wet with digital design. The Io features four 7-segment LEDs, five momentary push buttons, 24 basic LEDs, and 24 DIP switches. All these features lend themselves to fantastic beginner tutorials that will walk you through the basics of FPGAs.



Alchitry Br Prototype Element Board

added to your cart!


Alchitry Br Prototype Element Board

In stock


DEV-16524

The Alchitry Br Element Board is a prototyping periphery for the Au or Cu FPGA Development Boards.


$14.95

The Alchitry Br Element Board is a prototyping periphery for the Au or Cu FPGA development boards. The Br breaks out all the signals on the four headers running from your Au or Cu, and has a large prototyping area with a 0.1″ pin grid for custom circuits.

There are also female headers (sold separately) available that can be soldered into the prototyping area, turning the Br Element into a breadboard so you can test out new circuits without making them a permanent resident!



RGB LED Clear Lens Common Cathode (5mm)

added to your cart!


RGB LED Clear Lens Common Cathode (5mm)

In stock


COM-16911

These 5mm units have four pins – one for each color and a common cathode (the longest pin).


$2.05

These 5mm LEDs have four pins – one for each color and a common cathode (the longest pin). Use this LED for three status indicators, or pulse width modulate all three and get mixed colors!


That’s it for this week! As always, we can’t wait to see what you make! Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what projects you’ve made!

Never miss a new product!

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The PACT Act Is Not The Solution To The Problem Of Harmful Online Content

The Senate Commerce Committee’s Tuesday hearing on the PACT Act and Section 230 was a refreshingly substantive bipartisan discussion about the thorny issues related to how online platforms moderate user content, and to what extent these companies should be held liable for harmful user content.

The hearing brought into focus several real and significant problems that Congress should continue to consider. It also showed that, whatever its good intentions, the PACT Act in its current form does not address those problems, much less deal with how to lessen the power of the handful of major online services we all rely on to connect with each other.

EFF Remains Opposed to the PACT Act

As we recently wrote, the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, introduced last month by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD), is a serious effort to tackle a serious problem: that a handful of large online platforms dominate users’ ability to speak online. The bill builds on good ideas, such as requiring greater transparency around platforms’ decisions to moderate their users’ content—something EFF has championed as a voluntary effort as part of the Santa Clara Principles.

However, we are ultimately opposed to the bill, because weakening Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230) would lead to more illegitimate censorship of user content. The bill would also threaten small platforms and would-be competitors to the current dominant players, and the bill has First Amendment problems.

Important Issues Related to Content Moderation Remain

One important issue that came up during the hearing is to what extent online platforms should be required to take down user content that a court has determined is illegal. The PACT Act provides that platforms would lose Section 230 immunity for user content if the companies failed to remove material after receiving notice that a court has declared that material illegal. It’s not unreasonable to question whether Section 230 should protect platforms for hosting content after a court has found the material to be illegal or unprotected by the First Amendment.

However, we remain concerned about whether any legislative proposal, including the PACT Act, can provide sufficient guardrails to prevent abuse and to ensure that user content is not unnecessarily censored. Courts often issue non-final judgments, opining on the legality of content in a motion to dismiss opinion, for example, before getting to the merits stage of a case. Some court decisions are default judgments because the defendant does not show up to defend herself for whatever reason, making any determination about the illegality of the content the defendant posted suspect because the question was not subject to a robust adversarial process. And even when there is a final order from a trial court, that decision is often appealed and sometimes reversed by a higher court.

Additionally, some lawsuits against user content are harassing suits that might be dismissed under anti-SLAPP laws, but not all states have them and there isn’t one that consistently applies in federal court. Finally, some documents that appear to be final court judgments may be falsified, which would lead to the illegitimate censorship of user speech, if platforms don’t spend considerable resources investigating each takedown request.

We were pleased to see that many of these concerns were discussed at the hearing, even if a consensus wasn’t reached. It’s refreshing to see elected leaders trying to balance competing interests, including how to protect Internet users who are victims of illegal activity while avoiding the creation of broad legal tools that can censor speech that others do not like. But as we’ve said previously, the PACT Act, as currently written, doesn’t attempt to balance these or other concerns. Rather, by requiring the removal of any material that someone claims a court has declared illegal, it tips the balance toward broad censorship.

Another thorny but important issue is the question of competition among online platforms. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) expressed his preference for finding market solutions to the problems associated with the dominant platforms and how they moderate user content. EFF has urged the government to consider a more robust use of antitrust law in the Internet space. One thing is certain, though: weakening Section 230 protections will only entrench the major players, as small companies don’t have the financial resources and personnel to shoulder increased liability for user content.

Unfortunately, the PACT Act’s requirements that platforms put in place content moderation and response services will only further cement the dominance of services such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which already employ vast numbers of employees to moderate users’ content. Small competitors, on the other hand, lack the resources to comply with the PACT Act.

Let’s Not Forget About the First Amendment

The hearing also touched upon understandably concerning content categories including political and other misinformation, hate speech, terrorism content, and child sexual abuse material (“CSAM”). However, by and large, these categories of content (except for CSAM) are protected by the First Amendment, meaning that the government can’t mandate that such content be taken down.

To be clear, Congress can and should be talking about harmful online content and ways to address it, particularly when harassment and threats drive Internet users offline. But if the conversation focuses on Section 230, rather than grappling with the First Amendment issues at play, then it is missing the forest for the trees.

Moreover, any legislative effort aimed at removing harmful, but not illegal, content online has to recognize that platforms that host user-generated content have their own First Amendment rights to manage that content. The PACT Act intrudes on these services’ editorial discretion by requiring that they take certain steps in response to complaints about content.

Amidst a series of bad-faith attacks on Internet users’ speech and efforts to weaken Section 230 protections, it was refreshing to see Senators hold a substantive public discussion about what changes should be made to U.S. law governing Internet users’ online speech. We hope that it can serve as the beginning of a good-faith effort to grapple with real problems and to identify workable solutions that balance the many competing interests while ensuring that Internet users continue to enjoy the diverse forums for speech and community online.

A new, fully modular CNC controller

bdring’s new universal CNC controller for Grbl_ESP32 , that is available on Github:

The blog post details a new CNC controller I designed. I have probably designed 40-50 different controllers over the years, but this one has me really excited. My past controllers were generally application specific. My recent controllers have all been for the Grbl_ESP32 firmware. The I/O on the ESP32 is very flexible, but somewhat limited in pin count. There have always been enough pins to control the machine, but not enough to make a general purpose CNC controller that can target any machine.

Project details at buildlog.net.

Check out the video after the break.

Adafruit Weekly Editorial Round-Up: AdaBox015, National University of Singapore used Intel neuromorphic chip to develop touch-sensing robotic ‘skin’, Raspberry Pi E-Ink Event Calendar using Python & more!

INewImage 21 1 1


ADAFRUIT WEEKLY EDITORIAL ROUND-UP


We’ve got so much happening here at Adafruit that it’s not always easy to keep up! Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. Each week we’ll be posting a handy round-up of what we’ve been up to, ranging from learn guides to blog articles, videos, and more.


BLOG

National University of Singapore used Intel neuromorphic chip to develop touch-sensing robotic ‘skin’

Robots are getting closer to actually feeling things! Drawing inspiration from human skin researchers are working on “electric skin” to give robots fine grained tactile sense. Read more here.

More BLOG:


LEARN

AdaBox 015 has started shipping! Check out the full learn guide here.

More LEARN

Browse all that’s new in the Adafruit Learning System here!

EFF to Court: Trump Appointee’s Removal of Open Technology Fund Leadership Is Unlawful

Government Attempts Takeover of Private, Independent Nonprofit Protecting Internet Freedom

San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today joined a group of 17 leading U.S.-based Internet freedom organizations in telling a federal appeals court that Trump administration appointee Michael Pack has no legal authority to purge leadership at the Open Technology Fund (OTF), a private, independent nonprofit that helps hundreds of millions of people across the globe speak out online and avoid censorship and surveillance by repressive regimes.

EFF, Wikimedia, Human Rights Watch, Mozilla, the Tor Project, and a dozen more groups urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit in a filing to rule that Pack violated the First Amendment right of association and assembly and U.S. law —which both ensure that OTF is independent and separate from the government—when he ousted the fund’s president and bipartisan board  and replaced them with political appointees. Government-funded OTF filed a lawsuit against Pack last month to stop the takeover.

OTF projects have provided digital tools used by more than 2 billion ordinary citizens, protestors, journalists, and human rights activists in places ranging from Hong Kong, China, to Iran, Venezuela, and Russia to evade government censors and cyberattacks. OTF grants have also supported EFF’s technical security tools like Certbot, the development of the Tor network, the technology underlying the Signal secure messaging app, and much more.

Activists work with OTF and put their trust in the technologies OTF provides because the fund is both perceived to be, and actually has been, independent and free from U.S. government influence, EFF told the court. Government claims that Pack—the newly-installed head of an agency that oversees and financially supports the fund—is authorized to take over OTF undermines Congress’ explicit declarations that OTF is not a federal entity and sets a dangerous precedent for private organizations receiving government grants.

“In our democracy, the state can’t just decide to take control of a private organization, kick out the top officials, and install its own hand-picked administrator, even if it does provide some funding and support for the work of the organization” said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn. “At risk is not just the independence of a single small nonprofit that receives U.S. government funding. At risk here is years of work facilitating the technical and educational underpinnings of freedom of speech and assembly, a free press, democracy, and digital security in places where oppressive regimes seek to undermine these and other basic rights. Snatching OTFs independence also puts at risk LGBTQ and domestic violence victims worldwide, along with activists and journalists, who need basic security and safety in their communications. This work requires building trust, and ensuring that those who receive support are not targeted as spies or pawns by often hostile foreign dictatorships.”

The good news is that a panel of three circuit court justices this week issued an order preventing Pack from ousting and replacing OTF’s leadership. “The justices correctly recognized that his actions have already put OTF in jeopardy,” said Cohn. “OTF can only do the important work of combating online censorship around the world if it is regarded as independent and not as a mouthpiece ‘for some partisan agenda,’ as the court put it.” The order will stay in place while OTFs appeals a lower court ruling siding with the government.

“We’re proud to be fighting alongside OTF, whose work protecting Internet freedom and free speech is so vital right now,” said Cohn. “We urge the appeals court to put an end to the government’s blatant attempt to take control of a private, technical support organization relied upon by those seeking freedom around the world.”

Contact: 
Cindy
Cohn
Executive Director
Corynne
McSherry
Legal Director

Watch wildlife with a Raspberry Pi nature camera| Hackspace 33

The past few months have given us ample opportunity to stare at the creatures that reside outside. In issue 33 of Hackspace Magazine, out today, Rosie Hattersley looks at ways to track them.

It’s been a remarkable spring and early summer, and not just because many of us have had more time than usual to be able to appreciate our surroundings. The weather has been mild, the skies clear, and pollution levels low. As a result, it ought to be a bumper year for plants and wildlife. Unfortunately, the lockdown limited opportunities for embracing unexpectedly good weather while simultaneously making us more aware of the wildlife on our doorsteps.

“It’s a great time to take a fresh look at the world around us”

If you’re the outdoorsy type who likes to get out and stare intently at feathered friends from the comfort of a large shed on the edge of a lagoon, you may have spent the past few months getting to know suburban birds during your exercise walks, rather than ticking off unusual species. As things finally open up, it’s a great time to take a fresh look at the world around us, and some of the projects focused on the creatures we share it with.

Make your own nature cam

Equipped with a Raspberry Pi connected to a camera and USB power bank, we are able to spy on the wildlife in our garden. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 is a good option here (it’s less intrusive than the newer High Quality Camera, though that would make a superb critter-cam). It’s important not to disturb wildlife with lighting, so use an infrared module, such as the NoIR Camera Module, if you want to snap evening or night-time wildlife activity. Connect the Camera Module to the Camera port on Raspberry Pi using the cable provided, then gently pull up the edges of the port’s plastic clip and insert the ribbon cable. Push the clip back into place and the Camera Module will remain attached. Try our ‘Getting started with the Raspberry Pi Camera Module‘.

A Raspberry Pi plus camera is a great solution for web-enabled snapping

Set up your Raspberry Pi and let it perform any OS updates needed. (The Raspberry Pi Imager tool can help)

You’ll need a keyboard and mouse to set up the Raspberry Pi, but you can disconnect them at the end. Insert the updated microSD card and use a regular power supply to start it up (keep your power bank on charge separately while you set things up). Go through the Raspberry Pi setup, making sure you change the default password (since it will be accessible to anyone), and connect to your wireless network. It helps if you can access this network from the garden.

Turn on the interface for the camera, and enable SSH and VNC so you can access Raspberry Pi OS remotely when it’s sitting out in the garden. To do this, open Menu > Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration and click on Interface, then set Camera, SSH, and VNC to Enabled (see this documentation). Click Yes when advised that a reboot is needed. 

Next, test the camera. Open a terminal window and enter:

raspistill -o Desktop/image.jpg

A preview window will appear. After a few moments, it will save an image to the Desktop. Double-click the image.jpg file to open it.

You can use Python to take pictures and shoot video. This is handy if you want to create a time-lapse or video camera. This Raspberry Pi Project guide explains how to control the camera with Python.

You can use a USB power bank to run your Raspberry Pi wildlife camera

Note that recording video will quickly fill up your storage space and drain the battery. A better idea is to leave the preview running and use VNC to view the camera remotely. A neater option is to hook up your Raspberry Pi to YouTube (as explained in this Raspberry Pi infrared bird-box project).

Open a web page and go to studio.youtube.com. Sign in, or set up a YouTube account. You will need to enable permission to live-stream. This involves providing YouTube with your phone number. Click Settings, Channel, and ‘Feature eligibility’, expand ‘Features that require phone verification’, and click ‘Verify phone number’. Type in your phone number, then enter the code that YouTube sends you as a text message. For security reasons, it will take 24 hours for YouTube to activate this feature on your account.

Get your key and add to terminal

On the left-hand side of the screen you should see a menu with the My Channel option available:

In the middle of the screen you should see the Video Manager option. On the left you should see a Live Streaming option. Look for and select the ‘Stream now BETA’ option. 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you should see the ENCODER SETUP option.

Here there is a Server URL and a Stream name/key. The key is shown as a line of asterisks, until you click the Reveal button. Keep the key secret and don’t share it online. Copy your Stream Key to a text document (password-protect it, ideally).

Open a terminal window and enter this command (replacing <key goes here> with your own key:

raspivid -o - -t 0 -w 1280 -h 720 -fps 25 -b 4000000 -g 50 | ffmpeg -re -ar 44100 -ac 2 -acodec pcm_s16le -f s16le -ac 2 -i /dev/zero -f h264 -i - -vcodec copy -acodec aac -ab 128k -g 50 -strict experimental -f flv rtmp://a.rtmp.youtube.com/live2/<key goes here>

With this running on Raspberry Pi, you can view the stream from your camera on YouTube on any computer. This infrared bird-box project explains more about the command options. 

You’ll want this script to execute on startup. Create a file for your startup script and add the aforementioned raspivid stream command to it:

sudo nano /etc/init.d/superscript

Make the script executable:

sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/superscript

And register the script to run at startup:

sudo update-rc.d superscript defaults

You can see details of scripts running at startup here.

Shut down Raspberry Pi and fit the computer and Camera Module inside a case (if you are using one). Position Raspberry Pi in your garden and power it with the USB power bank. It will connect to your wireless network, and run the YouTube streaming key. 

Navigate to your channel on YouTube at any time to see the action taking place in your garden. 

Get HackSpace magazine issue 33 — out today

HackSpace magazine issue 33: on sale now!

HackSpace magazine is out now, available in print from the Raspberry Pi Press online store, your local newsagents, and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

You can also download the directly from PDF from the HackSpace magazine website.

Subscribers to HackSpace for 12 months to get a free Adafruit Circuit Playground, or choose from one of our other subscription offers, including this amazing limited-time offer of three issues and a book for only £10!

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App note: FT90X ethernet LED control

App note from FTDI/Bridgetek demonstrating LED control over Ethernet. Link here (PDF)

In an increasingly connected world, more and more devices are going online. To enable online connectivity typically requires an MCU with Ethernet or Wi-Fi capabilities. To demonstrate the principle, this Application Note describes an implementation of a web server which allows for control of 2 WS2812 serial addressable LEDs. A web server is implemented on an FT90X device which when connected to a Local Area Network (LAN) allows a web browser to control the LEDs on an MM900EVxA board from a graphical web page.