My Universal Translator (PiTranslate) Featured on Make Magazine

This is a prototype I completed last year, but have been working closely with Make Magazine and Radioshack to create this great step by step guide for their Weekend Project Campaign. Check out the guide here, and the amazingly awesome video below:

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Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Translator with Speech Recognition and Playback (60+ languages)

UPDATE
This project has been picked up by Make Magazine and Radioshack to create this great step by step guide for their Weekend Project Campaign. Check out the guide here, and the amazingly awesome video below:


I get many requests from people who are still looking for cheap, easy, and fun project ideas for their Raspberry Pi’s, so I wanted to share this translator project I’ve been working on. With very little effort, we can turn this 35$ mini-computer into a feature rich language translator that not only supports voice recognition and native speaker playback, but also is capable of dynamically translating between 1000’s of language pairs, FREE! Even if you are not interested in building this exact translational tool, there are still many parts of this tutorial that might be interesting to you (speech recognition, text to speech, Microsoft/Google translation APIs). Just like the rest of my posts, this one starts with our shopping list. Most of my readers will probably already have most of these items around the house:

Shopping List

QTY Required Items Price(USD)*
1 Raspberry PI $35.00
1 Micro USB cable $5.49
1 Logitech USB Headset $28.53
1 SD Card (class 4 and 4gb minimum) $13.10
Total: $82.12
Optional Items
1 Power Supply $9.95
1 HDMI Cable $2.28
1 Case $12.75

*There are definitely cheaper options available for USB Headsets, I chose the logitech as it is plug and play. For alternatives, check this list for verified Raspberry Pi supported sound cards

Assumptions

This tutorial assumes your Raspberry Pi has:
-the latest version of Raspian installed
-an internet connection
-the correct sound card drivers for your headset

Configuring and Testing Your Headset

Before we start writing any code, lets ensure that we can record and playback sound using our USB Headset. The easiest way to do this is with the built in linux commands ‘arecord’ and ‘aplay’. But first lets make sure our file system is up to date.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Now, plug in your USB Headset and run the following commands

cat /proc/asound/cards
cat /proc/asound/modules

You should see that the Logitech Headset is listed as card 1. Additionally, the second command should show that the driver for card 0 (the default raspberry pi output) is snd_bcm2835 and the driver for card 1 (our logitech headset) is snd_usb_audio.

alsa cards module usb headset

This is a problem because it shows that Raspberry Pi defaults to transmitting sound over its built in hardware, and does not have an audio input device configured. To solve this, we need to update ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) to use our Headset as default for audio input and output. This can be done by a quick change to the ALSA config file located in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf:

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

Near the end of this file, change the line that says

options snd-usb-audio index=-2

to

options snd-usb-audio index=0

Save and close the file and reboot the Raspberry Pi using the following command:

sudo reboot

After the system comes back online, the sound system should be reloaded so that when we rerun the above commands…

cat /proc/asound/cards
cat /proc/asound/modules

…we should see the USB Headset is now the default input/output device (card 0) as shown below.

alsa after update

We can now test this out by recording a 5 second clip from the microphone:

arecord -d 5 -r 48000 daveconroy.wav

and play it back through the headphone speakers:

aplay daveconroy.wav

To adjust the levels you can use the built in utility alsamixer. This tool handles both audio input and output levels.

sudo alsamixer

Now that our headset is configured, we can move onto the next step of converting from Speech to Text.

Speech to Text or Speech Recognition with a Raspberry Pi

There are a few options for speech recognition with rPi’s, but I thought the best solution for this tutorial was to use Google’s Speech to Text service. This service allows us to upload the file we just recorded and convert it to text (which we will later use to translate).

Let’s create a shell script to handle this process for us.

sudo nano stt.sh

with the following contents

echo "Recording your Speech (Ctrl+C to Transcribe)"
arecord -D plughw:0,0 -q -f cd -t wav -d 0 -r 16000 | flac - -f --best --sample-rate 16000 -s -o daveconroy.flac;
 
echo "Converting Speech to Text..."
wget -q -U "Mozilla/5.0" --post-file daveconroy.flac --header "Content-Type: audio/x-flac; rate=16000" -O - "http://www.google.com/speech-api/v1/recognize?lang=en-us&client=chromium" | cut -d\" -f12  > stt.txt
 
echo "You Said:"
value=`cat stt.txt`
echo "$value"

Make it executable

sudo chmod +x stt.sh

The last step before we can run the script is to install the FLAC Codec that is not included in the standard Raspian image.

sudo apt-get install flac

Now we can run the Script

./stt.sh

This will automatically start recording your voice, just press Ctrl+C when you are done speaking. At that point the script uploads the sound file to Google, they transcribe it and return it so it can be displayed on our screen. Pretty impressive for only a few lines of code! Sample output below:
here is an example speech recognition raspberry pi

Microsoft Translation and Google Text to Speech

Now that we can record our voice and convert it into text, we need to translate it to our desired foreign language. I would love to be able to use Google’s Translate tool for this, but unfortunately there is a 20$ sign up fee for use of this API. I plan on purchasing this for myself, but I wanted to make this project free so every one had an opportunity to try it.

As an alternative, we will be using Microsoft’s translate service which currently is still free for public use. The list of supported languages and their corresponding codes can be found here. In our previous example we used a simple shell script, but for the translation and playback process – I’ve written a more powerful python script.

All of this code can be found on my github repository (contributions welcome!).

Lets first create the file:

sudo nano PiTranslate.py

and add the following contents

import json
import requests
import urllib
import subprocess
import argparse
 
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description='This is a demo script by DaveConroy.com.')
parser.add_argument('-o','--origin_language', help='Origin Language',required=True)
parser.add_argument('-d','--destination_language', help='Destination Language', required=True)
parser.add_argument('-t','--text_to_translate', help='Text to Translate', required=True)
args = parser.parse_args()
 
## show values ##
print ("Origin: %s" % args.origin_language )
print ("Destination: %s" % args.destination_language )
print ("Text: %s" % args.text_to_translate )
 
text = args.text_to_translate
origin_language=args.origin_language
destination_language=args.destination_language
 
 
def speakOriginText(phrase):
    googleSpeechURL = "http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?tl="+ origin_language +"&q=" + phrase
    subprocess.call(["mplayer",googleSpeechURL], shell=False, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
 
def speakDestinationText(phrase):
    googleSpeechURL = "http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?tl=" + destination_language +"&q=" + phrase
    print googleSpeechURL
    subprocess.call(["mplayer",googleSpeechURL], shell=False, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
 
args = {
        'client_id': '',#your client id here
        'client_secret': '',#your azure secret here
        'scope': 'http://api.microsofttranslator.com',
        'grant_type': 'client_credentials'
    }
 
oauth_url = 'https://datamarket.accesscontrol.windows.net/v2/OAuth2-13'
oauth_junk = json.loads(requests.post(oauth_url,data=urllib.urlencode(args)).content)
translation_args = {
        'text': text,
        'to': destination_language,
        'from': origin_language
        }
 
headers={'Authorization': 'Bearer '+oauth_junk['access_token']}
translation_url = 'http://api.microsofttranslator.com/V2/Ajax.svc/Translate?'
translation_result = requests.get(translation_url+urllib.urlencode(translation_args),headers=headers)
translation=translation_result.text[2:-1]
 
speakOriginText('Translating ' + translation_args["text"])
speakDestinationText(translation)

For the script to run we need to import a few python libraries and a media player.

sudo apt-get install python-pip mplayer
sudo pip install requests

The last thing we need to do before we can run the script is sign up for a Microsoft Azure Marketplace API key. To do so, simply visit the marketplace, register an application, and then enter your client id and secret passcode into the script above.

Now we can run the script:

sudo python PiTranslate.py -o en -d es -t "hello my name is david conroy"

The script has 3 required inputs:
-o orignation language
-d destination language
-t “text to translate”

hola me nombre david conroy

The above command starts in English and translates to Spanish. My favorite part about the whole tutorial is how quickly you can change between languages you are translating, and how the returned voice changes according to the destination language.

Putting it all Together

It is actually very easy to combine the two scripts we created in this tutorial. In fact, it only takes one line of code to be added to the bottom of stt.sh shell script we created earlier (assuming PiTranslate.py and stt.sh are in the same directory).

sudo nano stt.sh

python PiTranslate.py -o en -d es -t "$value"

For those of you who skipped around in this tutorial, here is the entire script again with that line added:

echo "Recording your Speech (Ctrl+C to Transcribe)"
arecord -D plughw:0,0 -f cd -t wav -d 0 -q -r 16000 | flac - -s -f --best --sample-rate 16000 -o daveconroy.flac;
 
echo "Converting Speech to Text..."
wget -q -U "Mozilla/5.0" --post-file daveconroy.flac --header "Content-Type: audio/x-flac; rate=16000" -O - "http://www.google.com/speech-api/v1/recognize?lang=en-us&client=chromium" | cut -d\" -f12  > stt.txt
 
echo "You Said:"
value=`cat stt.txt`
echo "$value"
 
#translate from English to Spanish and play over speakers
python PiTranslate.py -o en -d es -t "$value"

Now, run the Speech To Text script again, and it will translate it from English to Spanish by default.

./stt.sh

Change your origin and destination languages in the last line as desired, and the PiTranslate.py script will do the rest! There are literally 1000’s of language pairs supported here. Here is a screenshot:

PiTranslate

Video Demo

I apologize this video is a little shaky, it was difficult holding the headset to the phone while running the scripts.

Known Limitations and Additional Resources

Both the origin and destination languages have to be supported by Microsoft Translate and Google Translate in order for this script to work.

Language Codes:
Microsoft
Google

Some special characters in certain languages will also cause trouble with the translation services, but I am working on a fix for that.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed working on this project as it incorporates a wide range of technology and tools to create something immediately useful and fun to play with. Plus, its all FREE. If you have any questions at all regarding this project, just leave a comment below or on github and I’d be happy to help you!

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Beginners Guide To Turn Your Raspberry Pi into an Affordable Bitcoin Mining Rig

raspberry pi bitcoin rig
First off, I know this post is a little late in the game as it is becoming less profitable for amateurs to mine Bitcoins, and that there are more efficient ways to go about this. But I am writing this anyways for posterity’s sake as I know for a fact there are people out there who have idle Raspberry Pis and are looking for a project. I’m sure there are also others like myself who are just looking to learn more about cryptocurrencies. To get started, here is our shopping list (if you are reading this, you probably already own some of these items):

Shopping List

QTY Required Items Price(USD)*
1 Raspberry PI $35.00
1 Micro USB cable $5.49
1 ASICMiner Erupter USB 336MH/s Sapphire Bitcoin Miner $10.99
1 Powered USB Hub** $25.00
1 SD Card (class 4 and 2gb minimum) $7.49
Total: $83.97
Optional Items
1 Power Supply $9.95
1 HDMI Cable $2.28
1 Case $12.75
1 USB Fan (The mining devices run hot) $8.43

*Prices are subject to change
**The Pi alone can not power one of these miners, a Powered USB HUB is mandatory to mine bitcoin.

Bitcoin Wallets

Before we setup the Mining software on the Pi we need to setup a bitcoin wallet where we will store the credit from the mining. There are countless options(Software, Web, Mobile) when it comes to setting up a bitcoin wallet. I’ve listed a few below but there are many more and each method has its own risks, luckily bitcoin.org has a great writeup on how to choose a wallet.

Windows/MAC/Linux
Multi-Bit – Quick and Lightweight Bitcoin Wallet
Bitcoin-QT – Takes a day or two to download ~6gigs of Bitcoin Transactional Data
Armory – Desktop Add-on Application

Web/Hosted
Coinbase
Blockchain.info

Android
Bitcoin Wallet

iOS
Currently the app store does not allow any bitcoin wallet applications.

Mining Pools

Bitcoin Pooled Mining is the best way to get started mining. Pooled Mining allows multiple users to work together to “crack” a single bitcoin and then share the benefits fairly. Due to the competitive nature of mining, if you tried to mine on your own it could be a long time before you successfully mined anything. Pooled Mining is a nice way to receive smaller and more regular payouts instead. For people with slower rigs, pooled mining might be the only way you ever earn bitcoins.

Two Mining pools I recommend and have verified are:
Slush’s Pool
BTC Guild

The setup for both pools is straight forward. You create a username, password, and then worker credentials(for each mining device). You also add the bitcoin wallet address you created above to your pool so you receive bitcoin payments when you hit the pool’s payout thresholds (usually around .01 BTC). It’s also recommended you sign up for multiple pools in case one experiences technical difficulties, the software we are about to install will switch if one goes down.

Installing Mine Peon the rPi

Now that we have a bitcoin wallet and have joined a mining pool, Neil Fincham and his project Mine Peon makes getting the software running on the rPi quite easy. Mine Peon is an ARM Mining Platform that is built specifically for Raspberry Pi. It is built on Arch Linux and uses the popular cgminer and bfgminer for the heavy lifting. To get started, you simply download the latest image here and burn it to your SD card.
If you are using Windows to flash your SD Card, I recommend using Win32DiskImager. This tool can also be used after our initial setup to create an image of our finalized implementation(very useful as a backup).

mine-peon

For other operating systems, you can find a handy guide on flashing SD cards from eLinux.org here.

After the image is flashed, you can boot your device. The first boot takes about a minute as it needs to generate the SSH keys, but future boots take only about 10 seconds. Use your router or keyboard/video/mouse to find out the IP address of the rPi. The default username and password for SSH and for the WebUI are:

Username: minepeon
Password: peon

After the rPi has booted, you can navigate to Mine Peon’s handy WebUI by opening your browser and entering the Raspberry Pi’s IP address. There you can insert the mining pool and worker information.
mine peon pools

The best part about Mine Peon is that it automatically supports the USB mining devices, so you can be up and running in a few minutes without having to worry about drivers/compatability issues. There are even handy graphs to check your stats!
mine peon stats

For Further information on Mine Peon check out their installation guide here.

Closing Remarks

Are you going to get rich quick using the Raspberry Pi for bitcoin mining? Of course not. This tutorial was never meant to give that impression. But, could you potential recoup your investment costs and perhaps end up a couple bucks ahead after 6-12 months? Definitely possible!

PS – If you have any questions about earning potential, profitability, or just basic setup, just add a comment below and I’d be happy to help! And if you get your rPi working and mining Bitcoin – Feel free to send a tip to my blog’s BTC address:

1Q9ASkZFAHXLvpPAzAVipcKUH5Vy2xmsA6

Donate Bitcoins

Thanks for reading!

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