PiRitos Star Trek interface

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

Star Trek: Lower Decks is a surprisingly faithful The Next Generation-era Star Trek show with a few extra jokes thrown in – and because it’s set in that era, the familiar LCARS computer interface designed by Michael Okuda for Next Gen is seen throughout the show. This interface has been replicated a lot over the years, but this version is a little different.

“Ritos is a website LCARS system based off of Star Trek: Lower Decks,” James Mitchell, creator of PiRitos, tells us. “It was created by meWho Rob. Basically, it is a pretty screensaver-type site for fans. PiRitos is the extension of the Ritos system, hosted on a Raspberry Pi and has some extra server-based features. For example, connecting to sensors and syncing red alert status to other connected web clients.”

This means if you really want to do some light Star Trek roleplay, you can have several screens in one room which have some degree of connectivity – such as displaying a red alert.

“After that, I connected LEDs to the back of my monitor and they would pulse red if the status was ‘red alert’,” James continues. “I connected a Raspberry Pi Sense HAT to the Flask server, so room weather data would be sent to the PiRitos system. Finally, for a bit of fun, I connected a Pico to the server and it transmitted its own internal temp sensor reading to the Flask server. This was also sent to all the connected clients.”

Isolinear processing

The project itself started solely as Ritos in the browser but, after seeing it in action, James asked meWho Rob if he could have the source code to make PiRitos. He used it as an excuse to learn Flask and Socket.IO, as he reckons he learns best via a project.

“meWho Rob decided to help me for a few weeks, and we managed to work together to open some of the JS functions and attached the Socket.IO code,” James explains. “After that, it was a simple case of having Flask and Socket.IO communicate to the connected clients. Once communication between server and client was working, it was super-easy to extend to physical hardware like LEDs and sensors.”

Second contact

The result is fantastic – we mentioned it in our previous issue after it got shared far and wide on social media, with many Raspberry Pi and Star Trek fans getting excited by the project.

“At the moment, I don’t think I have any plans to do anything more with the PiRitos system,” James admits. “It’s been a bit of fun and a great learning experience, but it would take a lot of work to get this into something more useful. Personally, I want to tinker more with connecting Raspberry Pi with other smart services like turning on/off smart plugs and lights. This could go into PiRitos at some point. Or the reverse, getting a voice assistant, like Alexa, to set the red alert status would be awesome, but [we] don’t have any road map for that… I know [meWho Rob is] moving on to make a LCARS site based off the Picard series, and maybe we can work on getting that to also work with Raspberry Pi!”

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