Mr McKay is cooler than your computer science teacher because he has created a missile-firing Grinch for his classroom.
I found out via Twitter that Mr McKay’s civilian name is Fraser, but seeing as he’s a teacher, it feels only right to continue referring to him as Mr McKay, even though I am one thousand percent sure he is more than a decade younger than me. I fear authority.
Each Christmas, Mr McKay’s students are invited to take part in a cyber challenge. They have worked on hackable Christmas lights and, last year, a hackable Grinch. The fluffy green curmudgeon was a big hit, so Mr McKay hung onto him ready for a Raspberry Pi makeover for this year’s challenge.
How it works
The Grinch has his own email address and command line mail client. The classroom has its own local network, and students who are able to guess the username and password can SSH in to the Raspberry Pi Zero hiding inside the Grinch’s shrivelled heart.
Once they’ve cracked this, students can use the command line to control the Raspberry Pi camera and make the Grinch talk using text-to-speech software espeak. Mr McKay challenged his students to figure out how to remotely take a “grinchie” and email it to themselves.
How the Grinch fired missiles
The USB rocket launcher was a find from Mr McKay’s childhood bedroom. Shout-out to his parents for keeping hold of it, but they had obviously not serviced this important toy regularly enough, so the insides had to be gutted and the motors replaced with servos controlled by the Raspberry Pi powering the Grinch.
A Python file is hosted on the Raspberry Pi so that students can access it and control the servos to move the turret towards their target of choice before releasing the rockets. Like I said – cool teacher.