Pi Lab, Asylum District, by Holdenweb

Summer Camp Computing: Some Fun in the Sun

Today was about getting three computers, each with a different operating system, all working together, to create something fun to look at.

  • In the basement: a Raspberry Pi 3, running a VPN server
  • in the main lab: a Mac Air running OSX and controlling the R-Pi through the VPN client over the local network, gatewayed to internet
  • an Asus tablet running Windows 10 and Rhino3D v.6, same local area network

I’m not suggesting anyone need duplicate this precise permutation, only that it’s a great workout having multiple operating systems working together.

An easy way to transfer files is by Gmail attachment. All three computers have web browsers. Logging in as myself triggered Google’s sending some verification codes to my Android, so really we’re talking four devices and four operating systems (not counting what goes on in the cloud).

The Raspberry Pi is a great little $50 machine for boning up on Linux basics, such as ./configure, make, make install, using sudo, bash and all the rest of it.

The challenge here was to apt-get update and upgrade, which took some hours, and then downloading the source code from Antiprism by Adrian Rossiter.

The Mac Air did most of my screen capturing, saving in TIFF format. I used iPhoto to import said tiffs and upload them to Flickr. Then I downloaded smaller versions as jpegs, for this write-up.

The Windows tablet, running a licensed version of Rhino 6, was all about importing OFF files from the Pi and giving us pictures like this:

rendered in rhino
truncated icosahedron

Once the Pi had finished compiling the antiprism toolset, which took some time, I turned my attention to downloading and compiling POV-Ray, which took even longer, given the complexity of the program. Adrian’s antiprism outputs to POV format, meaning this very capable free and open source raytracer has a lot to chew on.

Here’s a screen shot made on the Mac, uploaded to Flickr, then downloaded again for inclusion on Medium. What it shows is POV-Ray compiling, using the GNU compiler against the Boost libraries.

compiling povray on a raspberry pi

Here’s POV-Ray rendering its test file on the Asus tablet. I simply installed the Windows binaries, including the separate one for the POV file editor. Only the Windows version of POV-Ray comes with a fancy editor, especially designed for Scene Description Language.

povray on windows

If you want POV-Ray on your Mac as well, I recommend using Homebrew.

Finally, the Raspberry Pi finished compiling POV-Ray and I was able to feed it something from antiprism: a truncated icosahedron.

pov file from antiprism, rendered with povray on a raspberry pi

Antiprism also does geodesic spheres and “hexapents”, as shown below.

rendered on a raspberry pi starting from antiprism

Does this kind of computing interest you? Here in the Silicon Forest, you might find us teaching a Martian Math curriculum. Search my other Medium stories for more details. We’re always looking for new recruits who want to work with the martians.

Many thanks to Flextegrity, Inc. for the use of the Asus tablet with Rhino 6. As of this writing, Rhino 6 only runs on Windows. Macs will only run Rhino 5, and Linux machines will run neither version. Rhino 6 is a proprietary commercial project, not something you should expect to compile from source code yourself.

asus transformer pro on loan from flextegrity, inc.