Meru University Raspberry Pi Project

Meru University of Science and Technology won a KENET Raspberry mini grant. This project is geared towards using a credit size gadget called Raspberry Pi (RPI) to teach computational units in the university.

Institutions Awarded

Out of the 10 applications which were received, the following 4 institutions received the award:

  1. Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Nairobi (UoN)
  2. Department of Electrical Engineering, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT)
  3. School of Science and Technology, United States International University (USIU)
  4. Department of Physical Sciences, Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST)

Recommendations from the awards team

  1. That all the materials developed in these projects shall be released under the creative commons license with attribution
  2. It would be desirable if the four teams would collaborate in implementation of the student labs
  3. Each team will avoid developing materials from scratch but instead aim to use as much of the open content available from other universities and Open Education Resources
  4. The focus shall be students experimentation and hands-on activities

Raspberry Pi is a small device that was developed for teaching computer science in schools. Besides being portable, RPI is affordable and can be easily interfaced with the outside used to perform automation projects.

As a pilot project, we will use RPI to teach three computational units on offer in the university during the April August 2015 semester. We will also be conducting RPI related projects with an aim of publishing the results in referred journals. Students will be encouraged to develop their own projects using the pi and eventually showcase them within the university and other forums organized by RPI stake holders. 

Figure 1 : set up of RPI in Meru University physics lab

set up of RPI in Meru University physics lab

Meru University RPI team undergoes the First training

On 2nd march 2015 RPI project team under went their first training on getting started with RPI. The course focused on the key components of the Pi, downloading and load the Raspbian (Raspberry Pi official OS) to the SD card, powering up the Pi, configuring the pi OS, launching basic Pi applications for word processing, spread sheet, presentation and internet browsing. Members were also introduced to Python programming using the Python IDE which comes with Raspbian.

Figure 2: First training for RPI team

 First training for RPI team

Launch of RPI to computer science students

On 15thMarch  2015, the Meru University RPI team introduced RPI to computer science students. The students were explained the capabilities of the gadgets with demonstrations. In this meeting students resolved to organize themselves into groups to learn and develop more RPI applications.

RPI related projects

1. RPI imaging module for crop stress monitoring

We are developing a system for detecting crop stress in green houses using Raspberry imaging module. The module comprises of the RPI connected to RPI camera. An executable Linux script for periodically taking photos is written and incorporated to the Linux task scheduler (cron) so that upon reboot the pi starts taking photos after a specified period. The system is powered by solar. So far the imaging module is complete and has been tested in the green house and has been found to be working fine. We are now working on suitable algorithms for processing the images captured for stress. We intend to use python and open CV imaging processing library to accomplish the task.

Read more about this funding

RPI imaging module

Imaging module solar power supply

An image capture in green house by the module hanged at the roof