Here is an example of a really lovely Raspberry Pi Tricorder:

A what now?

If you don’t know what a tricorder is, which we guess is faintly possible, the easiest way we can explain is to steal words that Liz wrote when Recantha made one back in 2013. It’s “a made-up thing used by the crew of the Enterprise to measure stuff, store data, and scout ahead remotely when exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilisations, and all that jazz.”

A brief history of Picorders

The Raspberry Pi Foundation have seen other Raspberry Pi–based realisations of this iconic device. Recantha’s LEGO-cased tricorder delivered some authentic functionality, including temperature sensors, an ultrasonic distance sensor, a photosensor, and a magnetometer. Michael Hahn’s tricorder for element14’s Sci-Fi Your Pi competition in 2015 packed some similar functions, along with Original Series audio effects, into a neat (albeit non-canon) enclosure.

Brian Mix’s Original Series tricorder

Brian Mix’s tricorder, seen in the video above from Tested at this year’s Replica Prop Forum showcase, is based on a high-quality kit into which, he discovered, a Raspberry Pi just fits. He explains that the kit is the work of the late Steve Horch, a special effects professional who provided props for later Star Trek series, including the classic Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribble-ations.

A still from an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Jadzia Dax, holding an Original Series-sylte tricorder, speaks with Benjamin Sisko

This episode’s plot required sets and props — including tricorders — replicating the USS Enterprise of The Original Series, and Steve Horch provided many of these. Thus, a tricorder kit from him is about as close to authentic as you can possibly find unless you can get your hands on a screen-used prop. The Pi allows Brian to drive a real display and a speaker: “Being the geek that I am,” he explains, “I set it up to run every single Original Series Star Trek episode.”.

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This blog post is written by Chris Penn for the Virtual Pi Jam #PiParty

What you will need:

  • A Raspberry Pi with Minecraft Pi edition / Windows Laptop with Minecraft Java edition
  • Python 3
  • A Micro:bit
  • Read this blog on how to get started with David Whales BitIO library. (here)


This code uses the Micro:bit as an interactive controller in Minecraft. You can read all about it in BitIO blog 1 here to fully understand how to set it up and run it. But suffice to say that the Brains behind it is David Whale. Over the course of the the last 8 months I have been integrating the Micro:bit into my Minecraft coding experiments.

This is the latest… you will…………………..


  1. Build a strip of TNT blocks in Minecraft Pi / Java edition.
  2. Set a start position for the character in the world.
  3. Plug in the Micro:bit
  4. Open Idle / thonny / MU etc. Copy the code from below. Check for errors.
  5. Run the code and then click the ‘a’ button as many times as you can in a given time period I’ve set it to for 14 seconds for now.
  6. Race your mates, the ultimate winner is who can click the most in the time available. This will propel you along the TNT track and at the end reset your position.

Race your mates and celebrate the Raspberry Pi Birthday weekend on the 3-4 of March.

Once you have read all of the stuff above you can either download the completed code from the link below or follow the instructions above to complete the code, then run it. Good luck.

Example screenshots

Code (python)

#Written by Chris Penn 21/01/18 MB Transport. Adapted to Mini game 03/03/18 by Chris Penn

import time

import microbit

from mcpi.minecraft import Minecraft

import time

import random


mc = Minecraft.create()


LineColour = 46#block type of powered blocks



#initial research from here about timers



def procedure():




Start_Time = time.time()

Total_Time = 0.0

Button_Presses = 0


#set starting position

mc.player.setPos(-80,81,-248)# start position / reset race insert your own start coordinates here


while Total_Time <= 12.0:



if microbit.button_a.was_pressed():#while a button being pressed keep going fwd

Button_Presses = Button_Presses +1


Total_Time = time.time() – Start_Time

print(Total_Time,”Seconds lapsed”)

x,y,z = mc.player.getPos()

#get block -1

CurrentBlock = mc.getBlock(x,y-1,z)

#Go straight ahead

#if block -1 == 46 then

if CurrentBlock == 46 & mc.getBlock(x,y-1,z-1)== 46:#1ststraight


if CurrentBlock == 46 & mc.getBlock(x,y+1,z+1)== 46:#1ststraight



mc.player.setPos(-80,81,-248)#reset race insert your own start coordinates here

print(Button_Presses,” clicks in 12 seconds”)



By Peter Kent                        

I like to make things but am not very handy. Also my coding skills fall somewhere on the spectrum between lamentable and laughable.

For these reasons, I have to choose my projects carefully. Which is to say I need someone else to have already done the heavy lifting of fabrication and software development. Turning a 1990’s era Dualit Four-Slice toaster into a Raspberry Pi-based Google Assistant and internet radio was right in my sweet spot. Very Red Dwarf!

Why not just buy a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, you ask? Too easy! Also while many people seem to have no issues talking to a plastic speaker, I prefer to speak to a beautifully sculptured chunk of metal that also makes toast (NB. some care and electrical expertise is required here to avoid burning down your house).

The Google Assistant SDK allows easy deployment of the Assistant to a Raspberry Pi, and there are many tutorials on Youtube and elsewhere if further assistance is required.

What makes the Dualit ideal for this project (aside from iconic design status) is that it has plenty of unused real estate inside – room aplenty to stuff a Pi 3B, mini digital amp, OLED display, speakers, power supplies, and assorted other gubbins. If you prefer, you can omit much of this and output a line-level or Bluetooth signal to external components. The ends of the Dualit are aluminium, so easy to work with for the minor alterations necessary.

Of course, you can ask the Assistant to play the radio but I wanted dedicated physical controls – and a station indicator display. I had to write a bit more custom code for this side of the project but nothing outside my spectrum.

From Hackspace Issue #03 – Feb.2018