Issue 8

December 2012


Welcome to the eighth edition of The MagPi magazine,

It’s Christmas! In this issue we hope to entice you into some festive projects to try after gorging yourself to the brim with Christmas pudding.

In this month’s edition, we introduce you to a simple home automation project allowing you to control lights and appliances in your house using the power of the Pi! Just in time to catch Mr Claus!  We get your Skutter project in motion with Morphy’s article on adding wheels to your base. Gordon teaches us how to light up a Christmas tree, we have more on using the Pi to control an Arduino and Ben describes how to control servos attached to the Pi using the internet! If this isn’t enough we have more of the old favourites plus an introduction to SQL.

As always, we have some great prizes for you to win in our monthly competition. The MagPi would like to say a big thank you yet again to PC Supplies Ltd who this month has outdone themselves by offering up for grabs a 512MB Raspberry Pi!

In addition to this we have some exciting news for you this month.  As of December 1st, we at The MagPi are so excited to be able to offer our readers the possibility of a printed version of all eight issues of the magazine!  This is something which gets constantly requested of us from our readers.  All eight issues will be beautifully wrapped up in a limited edition MagPi binder making it a great gift to yourself or any of your loved ones of any age. For more information on this please visit

On behalf of the whole team, thank you again for all your support. We hope you have a fantastic Christmas and we will see you in the New Year (1st of February).

Ash Stone,
Chief Editor of The MagPi

Issue Contents

  1. Skutter Returns – Adding a motorised base part 2

    A simple, switching “H bridge” In the last article we looked at some physical means of adding motors to a robot and investigated adapting some motorised electronic toys as a potential source for robot bases. In this article I will … Continued4
  2. Home automation – the Santa trap

    Automate your home with a Raspberry Pi… and catch Santa in the act!   This article covers an easy to build, cheap and above all, safe way to control mains powered devices with a Raspberry Pi. Nothing in this project … Continued8
  3. Control your Arduino board with Raspberry Pi and Python

    Introduction An Arduino board can communicate with the Raspberry Pi via a serial over USB connection. This creates a virtual serial interface, which it uses like a normal interface, reading and writing to the serial device file. To begin, attach … Continued12
  4. PiGauge

    Summary Controlling hardware that is hooked up to the Pi is really fun. Controlling hardware from across town or another state that is hooked up to the Pi is awesome. We are controlling five servos; each servo controls a needle … Continued14
  5. Pibow Interview

    The Pibow guys give us an insight into the inner workings of their factory, how the Pibow has affected them, what plans they have instore for us and even tips on starting your own buisness. Meeting the pibow guys was … Continued18
  6. CESIL Pi

    Learn how to create a 70s Christmas tree with CESIL and a Raspberry Pi. CESIL – Standing for Computer Education in Schools Instructional Language was designed in the 1970s as an attempt to introduce young people in schools into the … Continued20
  7. C++ Cache – Compiling and running programs

    Last time we looked at the very beginning of C++ and writing our first few programs. Today we’ll carry on, as well as showing you how to run your programs and some more variable types. Compiling and Running Programs Once … Continued22
  8. Ada, a language for everyone

    Introduction Following on from issue 6, we will continue to cover the basics of the Ada language. Numeric types (continued) Integer types can have negative numbers, such as -10, -55, etc. Natural types can only accept values starting from 0 … Continued24
  9. Database bootcamp

    There seems to be a good deal of debate about the language most suitable for learning on computers and one rarely offered is SQL – ‘Structured Query Language.’ It is the international standard used to control databases and I contend … Continued26
  10. The Python Pit

    Python can launch subprocesses that function separately. Using this approach it is possible to create any number of desktop widgets. We will create two widgets: a simple RSS news reader and an image downloader for Astronomy Picture of the Day. … Continued30