Raspberry Pi Wacky Inflatable Tube Guys Keep Students in Line

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Thecaptnjim)

The number of peripherals that one can attach to a Raspberry Pi is seemingly endless, and Thecaptnjim’s latest project demonstrates this exceptionally well. Forget servos and LEDs; this maker uses a Raspberry Pi to power a couple of wacky waving inflatable tube guys (opens in new tab). All it takes is a little patience and a few relays, and you’re well on your way to creating a Linux-powered celebration of your own.

As exciting as this Pi-powered dance party is, the project serves an even greater purpose in the world of education. Thecaptnjim is a high school graphics teacher and wanted to find a way to stop students from logging out of their machines before class is over. So instead of using something simple like an alarm clock or notification prompt, Thecaptnjim opted for a more entertaining solution.

The idea was to create a visual-based warning system accompanied by sound. The result is a timer that plays a “hurry up” soundbite from one of the Super Mario Brothers games, followed up 30 seconds later with the activation of a pair of wacky waving inflatable tube men that dance to a random song—signaling to the students that class is over. After that, it’s okay to start packing up.

A Raspberry Pi 3B+ powers the operation, but there’s no reason you couldn’t recreate this project using a Raspberry Pi 4. In addition to the Pi, it relies on two wacky waving inflatable tube guys, a sound-activated light, a push-button switch, a relay, and an amplified speaker for playing the audio clips.

The software for this project was written using Python and relies on Crontab for scheduling the inflatable tube guys’ dance party. There is also a script that stops the music when you press the push button and one for selecting a song at random from a predetermined folder.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project, check out the original thread shared on Reddit (opens in new tab) by Thecaptnjim for a closer look at how it goes together and a demo of the wacky waving inflatable guys in action.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.