Main Content

A hugely improved and updated version of my Artificial Life project using the Pimoroni Unicorn HAT HD!

The project before
This is an update on a previously existing project: Artificial Life which I made way back in the old times of 2017. It is essentially running a simulation on life forms represented by LED’s on a matrix and seeing how they interact and evolve.

It used the original Unicorn HAT which has an 8x8 array of RGB LEDs; perfect for drawing a board of life forms to move around. It was also running on an original Pi Zero - so the processing power wasn’t so good, especially for expansion of the project.

It was very glitchy, the life forms could pass and overwrite each other the image blanked out for a small amount of time as each life form moved and there was tons of messy/bad code that mad PyCharm sad.

I find this a lot when revisiting old projects for revision/sequels; with the amount of stuff I’ve learnt since going back and seeing all the old mistakes and things I could do better, it just shows how valuable it is to keep learning and evolving.

Hardware updates
So the first thing that needed an upgrade was the old Pi Zero - even on an 8x8 board it would struggle when running higher amounts of life forms, on top of the sub-optimal code it was running.

I upgraded to a Pi 3 A+; which has a nice form factor for fitting the Unicorn HAT on and also has some decent power with a quad core and 512mb RAM. I put a heatsink on the SoC and then put it in a nice PiBow case.

The next item on the list was to get the Unicorn HAT HD which has 16x16 pixel matrix, allowing for 256 maximum entities at once, over the 64 of the old Unicorn HAT SD. It also comes with a nice diffuser top which makes the LEDs look really nice and less harsh on the eyes.”

Link to article