All posts by Amy Appler

Teaching Kids About the Raspberry Pi

photo-21The Raspberry Pi was made to teach kids about computers. My little brother Paul has been doing fun stuff with the Raspberry Pi like I have, so for a school project, he taught his class about the Raspberry Pi. The picture here shows my brother teaching his class. His friends really enjoyed his presentation, and hopefully some of them will at least consider doing something with the Raspberry Pi.

Sorry I haven’t been posting a lot lately. I’ve been learning more Python on Codecademy and making lots of Scratch programs(more on Scratch soon). I love to program, and I’ll work on my project more soon.

Sending a Text With Email

My dad and I were doing some research when we came across this website:

Here’s what we found on this website:

“Send a text message from email to an AT&T wireless device

To send a text message to an AT&T wireless device from your email, address it to the recipient’s 10-digit wireless phone number, followed by, (e.g., You won’t need to include dashes or spaces in between the numbers.
To send a picture or video message to an AT&T wireless device from your email, address it to recipient’s 10-digit wireless phone number, followed by, (e.g., You won’t need to include dashes or spaces in between the numbers.”

This means I can send a text using email! With this knowledge, I can simply put a new address into my Python program, and I’ll be able to text my mom instead of emailing her. This is good for my project, because my mom will be able to see a text faster than an email, so if there are birds on the cove, she’ll know right away.

Success With Sending Emails

Today I did some work with the Raspberry Pi, and I figured out how to use Python to send an email!

First, I learned how to send an email using the command line. I got the code here. Second, I tried to use Python to send an email using the code here. Unfortunately, that didn’t work, so I tried the code here. Luckily, this code worked! All I had to do was modify it so it had the correct email addresses, message, and subject. I’ll eventually make this code a function so I can use it in my program for the bird detector. If you looked at my list in an earlier post, you’ll see that this was Step 5. Next, I’ll probably try to detect motion using the Raspberry Pi camera or control the Raspberry Pi camera using Python.

Video Links

As promised, here are the links to some of the videos I took using the Raspberry Pi camera. video with nothing on it swimming in the cove little brother acting like a bird

These videos aren’t particularly exciting, but some of them have motion in them that I can use while making my bird detector. These videos are the first steps in finishing my project.

Breaking Down the Problem

When you have a big problem to solve, the first thing you should do is break it into manageable pieces. That’s why to help me solve my bird-detector problem, I’ve broken the problem into steps. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. Use Python to control camera.
  2. Use camera to detect motion.
  3. Use Python to detect motion.
  4. Modify Python program to only detect birds.
  5. Use Python to send an email or text message.
  6. Modify Python program to send an email or text message when it detects birds.
  7. Modify Python program so it works at the lake.
  8. Mount Raspberry Pi and camera at the lake and start the program.

I think I’m going to start by solving problems 2 and 3, because if they don’t work, nothing in the program will work. Wish me luck!

Lake Photos and Videos

I recently went to my Lake House. While there, I used the Raspberry Pi camera to take some photos and videos of the lake and birds on the lake. I want to use these as test photos so I can get started on my project. I think the first step in completing this project is to detect motion using the Raspberry Pi. My dad and I know about a few motion-detecting programs we could use for this project, but we’re not yet certain which one we’ll use.

I’ll post the videos on youtube soon and put up a link here.

First Photos



My first photo with the Raspberry Pi camera!

A few weeks ago, I managed to take my first photos using the Raspberry Pi camera I got recently. I’m sorry that I haven’t posted for a while, but now that I’m not doing many activities I’ll have more time to post.

The picture you see posted here was taken using the Raspberry Pi camera I have. Here’s another photo I took with it.


As you can see, the camera takes pretty good long distance photos, as well as photos up close.

Christmas in April!


A few days ago, Mr. Jim, one of my dad’s friends, came over to my house to see my Raspberry Pi. He brought me lots of electronic toys, including the toys you can see in the picture here. My dad and I would like to hack into some of these toys with the Raspberry Pi and see what cool things we can make them do. Before that, though, I’m going to have to finish my bird detector, but after that, I sure won’t be bored!

Camera Module Forum

On, Liz, one of the founders of the Raspberry Pi, has created a thread for the camera competition winners. Here’s the link:

If you scroll all the way down, there will be a button that says “Return to CSI camera module”. If you click this, you will see other forums people have created about the camera module. The one by mappler is by my dad. On the forums, my name is aappler. The forum mentioned in the first paragraph is helpful if you want to keep up with the progress of the other camera contest winners. I suggest you take a look at it!

My Camera Is Here!

photo-18My camera came today! You can see my eleven year-old hand holding it in the picture on the left. Now that I have my camera, I can get started on my project.

Sorry that I haven’t posted a lot lately. I do a program called Odyssey of the Mind where teams solve a problem and present their solution by making a skit. My team won at our regional competition, so we get to compete in the state competition. This is exciting, but it means I have to spend a lot of time working on Odyssey of the Mind and I don’t have a lot of time for Raspberry Pi work. The state competition is this Saturday, so after this weekend I’ll be back to doing Raspberry Pi work.

I can’t wait to start using my new camera!

I Won!

image recently had a contest in which the winners won a pre-production camera board (pictured here). To win, you had to tell the people at what you would do with the camera board. They wanted cool, interesting ideas that would test the camera board thoroughly. Nearly 700 entries were sent in, but only 10 people could win the contest. I was one of those 10 people! My idea was to make a bird detector. Here’s what I said about it in my entry:

“I have a house on a lake, and my mom loves it when birds come in the cove near our house. I want to connect a camera to my Raspberry Pi and have it detect when there are birds in our cove. When it detects that there are birds in our cove, I want the Raspberry Pi to notify my mom by sending her a text message or email so she can come outside and look at the birds.

This would definitely be a challenging project to do, but I’m excited to give it a try!”

Now that I’ve won the contest, I better start thinking about how I’m going to do this project!

Pi Plate

photo-16 My dad recently got a thing called a Pi Plate. It connects to the Raspberry Pi and gives the user many more GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins to hook things up to the Raspberry Pi with. If you look in the picture, you will see a big blue board on top of our Raspberry Pi. That is the Pi Plate. The Pi Plate was made by Adafruit. Here’s another picture of the Pi Plate up close:


As you can see, there are lots of holes you can plug things into. This Pi Plate will be very helpful in future projects.

Happy Pi Day!

Hey, everybody! Today is Pi Day! Pi is a number that you get when you divide the circumference of a circle by the diameter. Pi is a nonterminating, non-repeating decimal. Pi=3.14159265358979 and so on. Today is Pi Day because it’s March 14, or 3/14. Have a very happy Pi Day, everybody!


Codecademy is a website that teaches people how to code. Codecademy is free. I’m currently using Codecademy to learn Python, a language you can use on the Raspberry Pi. I found out about Codecademy from the Raspberry Jam my dad and I attended online. A girl named Amy Mather (age 13) was talking about a project she did with the Raspberry Pi, and she said she learned Python from Codecademy. Codecademy is fun and easy to use. When you start to learn how to code, Codecademy assumes you have no prior knowledge in coding, so it tells you everything you need to know! If you want to learn how to code, I suggest you try Codecademy.

Raspberry Jam

On Saturday, there was a special event held in Manchester, UK called a Raspberry Jam. A Raspberry Jam is when lots of Raspberry Pi experts talk about the Raspberry Pi to people who either used the Raspberry Pi or are interested in learning how to use one. I woke up at 5:30 A.M. on Saturday so I could watch the Raspberry Jam live (UK time is 5 hours ahead of my time here in Virginia). My dad had signed us up to attend the Raspberry Jam online, so we could watch the Jam and send in questions by using Twitter. If you’re interested in attending future Raspberry Jams, here’s a link to a site that tells a bit about them and how to sign up for one: If you’re into the Raspberry Pi, I suggest you think about attending a Raspberry Jam, either in-person or online. It was really helpful to my dad and me. We have lots of good ideas for new projects and a better idea of just how much our Raspberry Pi is capable of. I hope a Raspberry Jam can do the same for you.

Here are some links to some of the websites mentioned in the Raspberry Jam:

Geek Gurl Diaries-video tutorials of things you can do with the Raspberry Pi.

Laser Bots-a cool video of a project done by university students using the Raspberry Pi. You have to watch this-it’s super cool!

Tank Project-Another project done by university students.

Turbo Scalextric-Another project done by university students.

Pi Moble Phone Controlled Arduino Rover-Another project done by university students.

Codecademy-A website that teaches people how to code. (I’ll talk more about Codecademy in another blog)

I hope you enjoy looking at some of these websites!

Time Lapse Photography of Snow

Time Lapse RigThere’s a snow storm coming, so my dad and I decided to make a time lapse video of the snow falling. This is a picture of the rig my dad and I set up to take photos of the snow. Every 20 seconds, the Raspberry Pi will send power to the infrared shutter release (taped to the piece of wood on the table). The infrared shutter release will tell the camera (bottom right corner) to take a picture. At the end of today, we’ll take all the photos we took and make them into a time lapse video using a program that makes photos into time lapse videos. Hopefully, this will result in a really cool time lapse video of the snow falling. Once we finish the video, we’ll post it on Youtube and I”ll post a link to the video.