I have been playing around with Raspberry Pis for years. I got my first Pi about a year or two after high school. My closest friend had a Raspberry Pi and when he showed it to me I could not help but be amazed. A computer, for $30? It was a circuit board but it could do so much. My friend had it rigged up with Retro Pi but what intrigued me was the desktop environment. It was unlike anything I had seen before. There’s no other way to describe it than to say that I found the Raspberry Pi cool.
When it was released, I bought a Sense HAT to play around with. I had been playing around with the Raspberry Pi for a while and I was growing more attached to building Python programs. The Sense HAT looked like the perfect experimental tool. Unfortunately, I gave up on it. I stopped using my Raspberry Pi for a while. This was made evident when I tried to turn one of them on only to realize that it no longer worked. The Raspberry Pi didn’t take well to being in a dusty drawer in the corner of my room for over a year without being touched.
I have started to get back into building with the Sense HAT. It’s been as amusing as I remember.
Building for the Sense HAT
The first project I took on was simple. I have been building an application that calculates the sizes of files on my blog. The code could be applied to other projects. I’m interested in it as a way to keep track of how many bytes my blog takes up. If you’re interested, you can see the code on GitHub. This project was how I was able to report the exact size of my index.html file in a blog post a few days ago.
I had been thinking about my Raspberry Pi for a few days and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I have my Raspberry Pi sitting next to me on my desk at all times. I just got it and I was never entirely sure what I’d do. I remembered that I had a Sense HAT and so I thought it would be cool to play around with it. This led me to an interesting idea. I decided that I should combine my file size calculator with the Sense HAT.
The result of this hybrid was an artistic project. I built a program which sets the color of pixels on the Sense HAT depending on the sizes of files. Files over a certain size are red. I can’t remember the rest of the colors I set. The idea was to create a pretty picture from data that I already had lying around. Another idea was to create a pixel art project from my financial transactions. I might do this one as well. It’s not going to be technically complex but it would be interesting to give it a go!
What I Can Do
What’s exciting about the Sense HAT is that there is so much potential. I am presently building a game similar to snake. The difference is that the snake does not get bigger as I play. The aim is to collect as many points as possible within a certain period of time. I’m still trying to figure out how to get the timer working. When I do, I’ll be happy indeed.
For all my projects so far, I have been focused on two features: the pixel art grid and the joystick. The pixel art grid is great because it is like a canvas. I tried pixel art earlier this year and I found it quite interesting. I’ve always loved LEDs. The Sense HAT is an excellent combination of these two ideas. I am painting my own art from data. It’s exctiing.
The joystick is a new way of interacting with a computer for me. I do recall that when I was young my family had a computer joystick for some reason. It was for playing computer games. I never used it. The Sense HAT is the first time that I’m playing around with a computer using a joystick. For my pixel art game, the joystick is the primary interface through which I interact with it. My character’s pixel moves based on input from the joystick.
There are so many other features available. As I write, I am reading what is written on my Sense HAT. I can see that there is an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a “mag,” and a humidity sensor and pressure sensor. There’s a lot I could do with this. I am not sure what I will build next. I am still building my game. What’s great about the Sense HAT is the creative possibilities. It can do so much. I never thought I’d use my Sense HAT again. It has just sat in a drawer. I am happy that I have brought it out and am now using it.