ScratchGPIO Sound Problem

I am working on a project to demonstrate some of the things you can do with a Raspberry Pi. I am doing this for our local library. One of the things I thought about building is a drum machine or a piano. The premise is when you touch a switch it causes the Raspberry Pi to play a sound. Very easily done in Python (the language I know best).

However, since this project is to target new users of the Raspberry Pi, I thought it would be nice to use the Scratch programming language. This is a visual programming language that is very powerful and really kid friendly.

The problem with using Scratch though is that it doesn’t natively handle the GPIO interface (General Purpose Input Output). These are 40 pins (or 26 on the older models) coming out of the Raspberry Pi that you can use to control hardware such as robots.


There is a project called ScratchGPIO that gives me the control I need. However, I had a problem with playing sound out of the computer when using the GPIO pins. Each time I would make the program play a sound, Scratch would exit (force quit). Looking through several forum threads did not turn up a solution quickly.

Finally, I found a forum post that gave an answer that solved the problem for me. I wanted to include it here in case it may be a help to others (and because I will probably forget the answer the next time I need it). Hopefully no one will have to dig as long as I did to find a solution.

The steps below assume that you have already read the instructions for getting the program installed. It is also probably a good idea to run the basic first program. Having said that, you probably wouldn’t have come here unless you already had the program up and running and fell into the same problem I had with sound.


  1. Start the ScratchGPIO program. When you install it, it will place an icon right on your desktop. Just double click the icon.
  2. After it is loaded, simply close it.
  3. Open a terminal window. I do this by typing “alt+F2” that will open a start program box. Inside that box type “lxterminal” and hit enter. Don’t actually type any of the quotation marks in this step.
  4. Inside the terminal window type “/usr/bin/scratch.old &” then hit enter. Again, no quotes.
  5. Scratch will re-open. Go to File | Open and select the “rsc” program (which is installed when you install ScratchGPIO).

That should make it so you can now use sound in your programs when using the GPIO interface.

I really don’t know if all those steps are necessary. I know I have opened a program I was working on in step 5 without opening the rsc program. It worked fine without doing that final step.

I would think that some of this can be automated with a script if someone wants to try and think that through. For me, the steps aren’t too cumbersome.

This is another one of the many things I have written up so that I can find the answer for myself when I need it in the future. I hope it is a help to others.

Buy a Raspberry Pi

If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi, head on over to MCM Electronics and buy one from the official US distributor.

Podcasters Who Didn’t Deliver the Norm

Normally I tend to harp on the negative aspects of what podcasters do, but this time I want to applaud two podcasts for doing something different. They each broke out of their normal mode to share content that was appropriate for their audience even though it didn’t fit their expected format. One is a case where a podcast went much longer than normal and the other is a case where they delivered a shorter than normal episode.

Get-It-Done-Guy PodcastLong, But Just Right

I don’t mind long shows as long as they are packed with content and aren’t long for the sake of being long. Stever Robbins at the Get-It-Done Guy podcast released an episode this week that was 20 minutes in length. His shows are normally between 5 and 7 minutes. Though the show was longer and an interview format (he normally does well-scripted monologues) it was appropriate and bursting with great information.

Short, But Appropriate

IPM Partnership Podcast logogThe other show is the IPM Partnership Podcast with Matt Barfield. Bro. Matt’s shows are usually 15 to 20 mintutes in length with him conducting an interview. In the episode I heard the other day he had someone else conduct the interview and the show was less than 8 minutes long. I applaud him for letting someone else take the mic and for not feeling like he had to fill 20 minutes of time when he only had 8 minutes of content.

Bravo to these two podcasts! And thank you both for being good examples of when it is appropriate to make a show longer and when to make one shorter.

Digital Calendar to the Rescue

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my office actually getting work done. (That is quite an amazing accomplishment most days.) Suddenly I got a notification on my phone that said I had an appointment in 1 hour.

image of book coverThe last time I thought about that particular appointment was 3 or 4 days prior to the event. However, because my calendar sends me these types of notifications I was able to prepare for my monthly time at the assisted living home where I am reading a book to the group. We are reading a book about Eric Liddell the Olympic gold medalist and missionary to China.eric-liddellbook cover image

While I enjoy the convenience of a paper calendar, and thbook cover imagee ability to see large blocks of time easily, this is one time where the digital calendar saved me.

Each time I enter an event in my calendar I try to remember to set a notification early enough that if I totally forget about the event, the calendar will remind me in enough time to make it there. In one case I had completely forgotten about scheduling a meeting in a church on a Sunday night in Maryland. My calendar notification went off Friday night to remind me of the speaking engagement. That gave me plenty of time to be ready for the event and no one at the church had to know that I forgot about being there. I think that is the only time I have spaced out on a meeting like that. At least, if I’ve missed others no one called me and told me about it.

WordCamp Nashville

Sitting here at WordCamp NashvilleWordCamp Nashville 2015 realizing that I haven’t updated this site in a while. I was in the middle of a series and got distracted. But at least I have something here.

I attended a talk on creating custom fields presented by @JoeHills. Though I’ve not build custom fields before, I have wanted to. This was great information for how to get started.

The next session I attended was on building themes more quickly by @AndyInTheWild. Good tips on how to ramp up theme-building production. Mostly I just modify themes, but I have built one theme from a basic framework. This is for Baptist International Outreach (the mission board where I spend my days).

Now I am sitting at the registration table holding down the fort during an hour where I couldn’t get excited about any of the topics. This worked out well since the lady running the table before me didn’t care about any session except the one during this hour.

Podcasting Thoughts — Introduction

Recently a listener to Missionary Talks contacted me and said that he was interested in doing a similar podcast. He asked if I had any advice for him. I do, and am glad he asked.

What you will read in the next few posts is a compilation of what I wrote to him and others who have asked similar questions.

Intro to the Intro

This is kind of an introductory post for several things I would like to talk about over a series of 3 or 4 posts. Mostly my thoughts on podcasting relates to recording an interview-type show like Missionary Talks. There have been a few other missionary interview podcasts that I know about and will probably point out through these posts.

I don’t intend to get into the nitty gritty of actually putting together a podcast website and posting episodes. Those are topics best covered by people like Dave Jackson at the School of Podcasting and Daniel J. Lewis at The Audacity to Podcast. There are several other podcasts about podcasting, but those are my two favorites. Though if you only have time for one, I would start with Daniel’s show because he has such good show-notes. You are able to skim through his archives and see the details of what he covers before you listen to a whole show.

As with any technology related topic, I recommend you listen to the most recent shows and work your way backwards instead of starting at number 1 and coming forward. There are things that have changed since Daniel and Dave started recording their podcasts. It is best to learn the current right way of doing things instead of hearing old information first that will just confuse you later.

Missionary Talks

Though I haven’t recorded a Missionary Talks interview in a couple of years, I still keep all the interviews available for anyone to listen to and enjoy. I have grand hopes of starting to record interviews again. But until then, I am pleased with the number of interviews that are available and I am glad for some of the decisions I made about the podcast early on. One of the biggest choices I made was to not date the interviews. Obviously they have a date for when they were posted to the website, but if you were to just listen to an interview, you would not know if it were recorded last week or 8 years ago.

Though listener numbers have dropped off significantly since I haven’t put up a new episode in almost 3 years, there are still over 1,000 interview downloads a month for the various episodes. When I was reading some of the stuff I previously wrote about Missionary Talks, it got me interested in going back and listening to a few episodes that I haven’t heard in years. That, in and of itself, may get me even more fired up about recording new interviews.

Interview Recording

I have done a couple of posts specifically about the topic of recording interviews. I will cover some of that material again, but I will also include links back to other posts that I’ve done that cover a particular topic in-depth. In some cases those links will take you to articles I’ve written on other sites.

Learn How to Interview

I certainly don’t have a degree in recording interviews. However, I do have my own thoughts on what makes a good interview. I encourage anyone who is planning to do an interview podcast to do some studying on the subject.

Learn how to ask questions and how to shut up. The shutting up part is hard to do, but makes an interview much better. I know you got interested in podcasting because you like listening to your own voice and you feel like you have something to share that will benefit others. But, an interview should be about the other person, not about the host.


In this series I also want to talk about editing. Not so much about how to go through the process, but more about what you will and won’t say. Or, learning to censor yourself and put aside your pet topics for the greater good. This doesn’t apply to every type of podcast. For me though, I chose to interview some missionaries because of the type of ministry they were doing—not just because I agreed with everything they did or the way they went about it. That meant I recorded some interviews with missionaries I would not feel comfortable working with on a day-to-day basis.

To do that, I chose not to pick fights where there was no need. This will need to be an intentional choice on your part.

So, there are some of the big topics I plan to cover. I have written these same types of things in emails to other podcasters who have asked me about recording an interview-style podcast. Hopefully, this will be a help to others who want to get my thoughts but may not feel comfortable asking. Also this will help me have a place that I can point to when others ask the same questions in the future. This is not because I don’t want to answer questions, but because if I can get you to read this first, then you can ask more specific questions where I can give more helpful answers.

 Page 1 of 205  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »