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Hacked Infragram Raspberry Pi camera now on the International Space Station

by warren | 21 days ago | 3 | 2

(Reposted from the Rosco company blog with permission)

This blog post covers an exciting development over at the Astro Pi Challenge, which builds on work by Public Lab contributor @nedhorning, @cfastie, and many others from the Infragram project, (including collaborators from Farm Hack) from the past few years. We are currently working in partnership with NASA's AREN project on the Infragram platform and the Image Sequencer project designed specifically for this kind of hacked Raspberry Pi camera! Great job, folks!

The European Astro Pi Challenge gives students the opportunity to run science experiments using two Astro Pi Computers that are aboard the International Space Station. Russian Soyuz Mission MS-08 recently delivered upgrades for the Astro Pi Computers -- including some Rosco color filters -- that will allow some of those students to conduct their own observations of our planet's vegetation while safely at home on Earth.

LIFTOFF! @Astro_Ricky, @Astro_Feustel and @OlegMKS launched at 1:44pm ET in their Soyuz spacecraft. The trio will travel on a two day journey before reaching their new home on @Space_Station this Friday. Watch:

— NASA (@NASA) March 21, 2018

The Astro Pi Computers include many different sensors to collect data, but one of them is equipped with an infrared, Pi NoIR Camera from Raspberry Pi that enables the students to observe Earth's vegetation health and growth from space. A Pi NoIR Camera features the same technical properties as a standard camera, except that it has the IR filter removed so that it can perceive the infrared spectrum of light.

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Astro Pi computer equipped with Pi NoIR Camera

The upgrades that recently arrived at the I.S.S. included some Rosco #2007 Storaro Blue filters that have been modified for installation onto the Astro Pi Computer. The R2007 filter was laser-cut to friction-fit onto the 12 inner heatsink pins on the base of the Astro Pi unit and positioned so that the aperture of the Pi NoIR Camera is properly covered.

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Raspberry Pi Camera -- laser cutting the R2007 filter -- Astro Pi Computer with R2007 filter installed

Some of the student teams taking part in the Astro Pi competition are investigating the health of vegetation on Earth. Having learned that plants grow through photosynthesis, what they're learning now is how photosynthesis translates into color reflectance. Healthy plants reflect a significant amount of infrared energy, which is invisible to the naked eye. Most of the visible spectrum (predominantly blue and red wavelengths) is absorbed, with some green light reflected. This accounts for the green color that we see in healthy vegetation. As stress in plants increases, photosynthesis slows down or stops, infrared wavelengths are absorbed and more visible red light is reflected, which accounts for the "browning" of unhealthy vegetation.

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The R2007 filter absorbs most of the red and green wavelengths while allowing the blue and near-IR sections of the spectrum to pass onto the camera's sensor. By examining the data in this "infra-blue" energy, the Astro Pi Computer can evaluate the photosynthetic activity of plants by calculating the ratio of blue and infrared light that is reflected from plants to determine the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The students back on Earth can use this NDVI measurement to assess plant-health around the world.

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Image setup (L), resulting NDVI image (r) (via @nedhorning)

Since the R2007 filters have only just arrived at the International Space Station, we don't have any of the imagery the Astro Pi Computers will capture yet. The image above from, however, uses a similar technique and is an excellent example of what that NDVI imagery might look like. Note how the healthy grass registers blue/green, while the dead grass in the upper left corner registers green/yellow/red. You can find more information about this NDVI experiment and learn how to shoot your own NDVI imagery on this Public Lab webpage.

If you'd like more information about Raspberry Pi and how their affordable, easy-to-use technology is encouraging kids around the world to code computers -- even in space -- visit To learn more about the filter products used in these experiments, be sure to explore our Rosco Color Filters webpage.

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ndvi nasa filter raspberry-pi


by stella | about 1 month ago | 12 | 6

Organized by : Rails Girls Nairobi Rails Girls Community


  February 16th - 1400hrs to 1700hrs
  February 17th - 0800hrs  to 1700hrs

Faceook Event URL : Event Link Photos URL : Rails Girls Nairobi Twitter hashtag : #RailsGirlsNairobi #MegaCoding

Organizers Name & Email

Our Sponsors:

  • Microverse
  • Gitlab
  • Riara University
  • Google
  • Software Lab Ventures, LLC
  • Gold Avenue Music, LLC


How many registered to attend : 100 How many turned up in total : 61 Male Attendees : 20 Female Attendees : 41


The aim of the event was to introduce Ruby on rails to attendees and help them realize the importance of tech communities in career development. Our target audience was students from the age of 16. We also wanted to bring coaches who have experience on these technologies to come and speak to the attendees and also have a hands-on sessions with them as they start their journey on Ruby on Rails and software development in general. We managed to bring together 16 awesome coaches who use Ruby daily in building softwares and had a total of 39 beginners who wrote their first code in Ruby on Rails during our event.

Overall Objective:

We the Rails Girls Nairobi organizers, thought of organizing our first major event after completing the training of the1st cohort of the Rails Girls program which had about 6 ladies committed to the program. We needed continuity and growth to the tech community in terms of outreach and knowledge transfer to those interested in venturing into the world of programming, using Ruby as the programming language to get them started. Our major target was college students due to their flexibility in attending the scheduled meetups. The aim of the event was to introduce Ruby on Rails to attendees and help them realize the importance of tech communities in career development. The students were also introduced to open source world and be guided on how to contribute to open source projects. We had Alumna of great student opportunities such as Google Summer of Code, Outreachy, Rails Girls Summer of Code and Anita Borg also gave tips on how to get into such opportunities.

Success Highlights:

Attendee Feedback: After the event we sent out a feedback form to the attendees and coaches. Summary of the feedback was: - The event was amazing and informative - Direct involvement from the coaches helped them understand and grasp the content better. - Lightning talks such as opportunities in tech, real life tech stories, good programmer practices, version controlling were very inspiring and made them be inspired to keep continue building softwares. - The warm-up games were awesome and helped people to bond and clear their minds. They would love such events to be organized outside Nairobi.

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education events workshop software

Building miniature kites at a family science night

by SuziT9 | about 2 months ago | 4 | 4

On March 1, 2018, several members of our Montana State University team (Academic Technology and Outreach)

shared a hands-on engineering activity with hundreds of kids and adults at MSU's annual Family Science Night on March 1.

We are all part of the NASA AEROKATS and ROVERs Education Network (AREN), and our goal was to engage and excite kids of all ages by helping them build miniature kites (see supplies, equipment and observations below). AREN is a program supported by NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Education that designs and uses low-cost instrumented systems for in-situ and remotely sensed Earth observations including kite-based "AEROKATS" and remotely controlled aquatic and land-based "ROVERS."

In the morning, the event hosted 150 fifth graders from local Title 1 schools (high percentage of free and reduced lunch). The evening saw 385 members of the community - mainly families with children, some as young as 2 or 3 years old.

To say it was controlled chaos is putting it mildly!

At our AREN station, kids (and sometimes their parents) used tissue paper, mylar, silk thread and 20-inch straws to build one of two different miniature kites based on the excellent designs and resources of Glenn Davison. AREN team members assisted with the construction process while sharing an overview of the NASA AREN project and words of encouragement for our country's future scientists and engineers. The miniature kites featured blue and gold materials to celebrate Montana State University's 125th birthday.

Overall, kids and adults really enjoyed this activity, and -- if they followed the instructions -- the kites really flew!

Below are the materials and equipment we used, preparation, observations and possible extensions.



* Tissue paper (Experimented with copy paper and plastic tablecloths; tissue worked best)

* Mylar (roll of 24" x 8 feet) (Experimented with audio cassette tape; mylar worked best)

* Silk thread

* 20" straws (bought in packs of 200 for about $20 on Amazon)


* Tape dispensers (many)

* Scissors (several)

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* Signs /banners publicizing the activity/project

* Signs or laminated sheets with step-by-step instructions (This was really helpful because we had so many kids at once and one-on-one help was not possible)

* Cardboard template(s) if kids will be cutting their own tissue paper (We pre-cut the tissue)

* Large surface area for construction plus chairs


* Pre-cut tissue paper for Rokkoku and Koren Fighter Kite designs (or kids can do it themselves if you have more time and less chaos)

* Pre-cut gold mylar tails (The mylar is fairly expensive and a bit hard to cut so allow enough time. Best if kids don't do it)

* Marked off 18-inch spans with painter's tape on table (for thread) (Kids tended to cut the thread way too long, thinking longer is better)

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* Kids under about fifth grade require parent's help

* Kids (and parents) want to experiment with the design ("be creative"), but those kites do not fly. Need a gentle way of telling people to follow the instructions

* "Being creative" can also use up your materials supply

* Kids will try to take a big straw (because they're fun) without making a kite

* Need to find the balance between "helping" and "doing it for them."

Possible extensions

* Make a list of questions we as facilitators could ask (either orally or on a sign) that encourage kids to think about the design process

* If lots of time and small group, could experiment with various designs before "unveiling" the field-tested design that really flies.

For more information, feel free to contact me! It was super fun and educational, too.

Suzi Taylor -

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kite-mapping education nasa k-12

Call for Summer of Code 2018 proposals!

by warren | 2 months ago | 17 | 8

RGSoC and GSoC

We're part of two different summer fellowship programs this year, Rails Girls Summer of Code (#RGSoC) and Google Summer of Code (#GSoC) -- both recruit software contributors to work on open source projects.

We've done GSoC for a few years now, and are really excited to be part of RGSoC for a second year. They write:

All people with non-binary gender identities or who identify as women (transgender or cisgender) are welcome to apply.

Learn more about the program and get involved! They are also seeking coaches to help teams out over the course of the summer -- learn more about coaching here.

So, we're asking students from both programs to start posting their proposals for comment, here. Read on!


RGSoC's application deadline is the 28th of February. GSoC's is March 27th.

Read proposal ideas

Once you've gotten a bit familiar with our project (see our welcome page here), the first step is to look over our ideas page, which you can find here.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below, or to join our chat channel at https://publiclab/chat

Our welcoming page will help you understand how we collaborate, and we'll be there to help you take your first step. And try tackling a first-timers-only issue, to get an idea of how to become a contributor!

Please ask questions! We're very friendly and we love welcoming new people into our community.

Post a proposal for comment

Once you've read through some of these ideas and become a bit more familiar with our projects, it's time to post a proposal of your own.

You don't need to have a complete or even concrete idea -- share your thoughts early and we'll help you refine your proposal, and help you choose something that's the right difficulty level as well as being something our project really needs.

We've created a template for you to post a proposal here. Click this button to begin:

Start drafting a proposal

Note: RGSoC's official application is directly to the RGSoC organization, through their website. But we would like all RGSoC applicants to post a proposal here as well, because:

  • we will review proposals here in looking over applications and indicating our preferences to to RGSoC folks leading up to Feb 28th
  • we think it's great to have a dialogue with teams
  • we'd like to know specifically about your planning process in tackling a project or set of projects
  • we're friendly!

Read other proposals

Before or after you post your own draft, read through others' listed below. Your best comments and input may come from other applicants!


Title Author Updated Likes
GSoC Proposal: Email Integration Project @gauravano about 13 hours ago
RGSoC: v2 API development @milaaraujo 9 days ago
GSoC proposal: Social Media Integration and Leaflet-Layers Library . @sagarpreet 19 days ago
RGSoC proposal: Upgrade to Rails 5 @meghana-07 19 days ago
GSoC proposal: v2 API development @rishabh07 23 days ago
GSoC proposal: Calendar Events and Graphs Integration @500swapnil 25 days ago
GSoC Proposal: v2 API development and third party app integrations @sukhbir 27 days ago
GSoC proposal: Upgrade to Rails 5 @souravirus 28 days ago
GSoC proposal: Leaflet Blurred Location Part 2 @mridulnagpal 28 days ago
GSoC proposal: Email integration Project @namangupta 28 days ago
GSoc Proposal: OAuth & Upgrade to Bootstrap 4 @bansal_sidharth2996 about 1 month ago
GSoC proposal: Card UI/UX Implementation v2 & Bootstrap 4 Upgradation @amitsin6h about 1 month ago
GSOC-18 Email notification overhaul @vidit about 1 month ago
GSoC proposal: Image-Sequencer v2 : Processing on steroids @tech4gt about 1 month ago
GSoC proposal: Computer Vision enhancements for Raspberry Pi based Public Lab Science Projects @MaggPi about 1 month ago
GSoC proposal: v2 API development | Grape | Swagger Specification @Raounak about 1 month ago
RGSoC proposal: Entrepreneurial Network And Enhanced UX @SrishtyMittal about 1 month ago
SoC proposal:RGSOC PROPOSAL: Upgrade to Rails 5.1.5 @stella about 1 month ago
RGSoC proposal: Upgrade to Rails 5 @cess about 1 month ago
RGSoC proposal: Rich Editor Extras @soniya2903 about 2 months ago
RGSoC proposal : Pollution tracker @evjam about 2 months ago
SoC proposal: Pollution analysis on google maps @sid2111995 about 2 months ago
GSoC proposal: Email integration project @vishesh 2 months ago
Show 13 more


Title Author Updated Likes
Software project ideas for upcoming 2018 Summer of Code fellowships? @warren 3 months ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions

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website software gsoc blog

The discovery of the Clotilda and the community 'still fighting'

by stevie | 3 months ago | 2 | 2

Lead photo by Ben Raines | More photos can be found here.

This week, something really exciting happened for our partners in Africatown, Alabama. The historic slave ship the Clotilda was reported discovered in Mobile Bay (also see this piece by Ben Raines in Alabama Local News). For those who have been following the posts and projects of MEJAC and Africatown (also see Bridge the Gulf and MEJAC), you will have heard of the Clotilda before. It's known as the "Last Known Slave Ship in U.S."

However, the dark history of the Clotilda does not end the story of injustice brought to those the ship carried below its wood and iron deck. Today's piece in the Guardian "'Still fighting': Africatown, site of last US slave shipment, sues over pollution" highlights many of these struggles, and what Africatown residents are doing about them:

"Today, this mostly black, low-income community has more than just a unique history as an against-the-odds bolthole of black independence in the Reconstruction south. Residents say they also have a serious industrial pollution and public health problem, and a group of about 1,200 have launched a lawsuit against the owners of a now-shuttered paper plant that was built in 1928 on land that was then owned by A Meaher Jr.
“People born after 1945 seem to be dying before the age of 65,” said Womack, who grew up during the mid-century heydey of the International Paper plant that drew thousands of workers here but also, according to residents, spewed ash across the town."

MEJAC President, Ramsey Sprague, sums it up:

"The news of the Clotilda slave ship discovery is incredible, but so is the resolve of Africatown residents fighting for Environmental Justice today! International Paper may have been a keystone economic driver for Mobile for most of the 20th century, but that does not mean it should have been given immunity from compliance with federal law. No one should be able to poison with impunity. Mobile must deal with its legacy of environmental racism...It's amazing that Africatown’s dioxin/furan contamination lawsuit against International Paper and the formation of CHESS is finally getting attention after a year of work - in a UK media outlet no less. Local media, where are y’all?"

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mobile blog environmental-justice ej

MapKnitter update: very high resolution mapping

by warren | 3 months ago | 1 | 4

For the first time in a while, we've updated -- after the release of Leaflet.DistortableImage v0.1.3 -- incorporating new improvements from @justinmanley's Leaflet.toolbar project, as well as some key changes to the image distortion (rubber sheeting) interface. Thanks to @icarito for the help!

The biggest change, however, is that, due to supporting Leaflet v1.0, we now support very high zoom levels in MapKnitter -- a long-requested feature we could never get working under older versions of Leaflet. You can now zoom well past the resolution of the reference map, which will just stretch to fit.

This means you can do really really high resolution maps -- like gardens, for example. In the example above, the left image shows a single van parking space at a YMCA near where I used to live, while the right image shows the highest zoom level available under the old version of MapKnitter -- the maximum zoom of the reference map. It just stretches, but this is really key for very small mapmaking!

Here's another example of a map by @radikaltech that I hope will be able to use this higher-zoom system! Please tell me if it helps!

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balloon-mapping kite-mapping mapknitter aerial-photography