We first met Alex Klein shortly after we’d launched the Raspberry Pi, when he was working for Newsweek and came to visit to write a story about us. Next we’d heard, he’d left Newsweek to start a company with Raspberry Pi at its heart. Today, he and his team have launched their project on Kickstarter.
Kano is one of the nicest Pi kits we’ve seen to date, and is aimed squarely at users who aren’t confident of their technical skills right out of the gate. It’s easy to put together, all the bits and pieces you’ll need are right there in the box, the software environment is designed to be accessible and intuitive, and the Kano team think it’s a great way into Raspberry Pi (and into computing) for young people, for people who don’t have computing experience and for other beginners.
In the box you’ll find:
1 – Kano Books
2 – Kano OS and Levels on 8GB SD card
3 – DIY Speaker
4 – Raspberry Pi Model B
5 – Kano Keyboard Combo
6 – Custom case
7 – Card mods and stencils
8 – Stickers!
9 – Cables: HDMI, Mini-USB
10 – Smart power plug (all region pins available)
11 – WiFi powerup
These primary school pupils below were among the first 200 testers to get their hands on a kit.
Alex Eames runs RasPi.TV, which we think is probably the best of all the Pi YouTube tutorial channels out there; if you haven’t subscribed already, you should. He dropped by the office last week (it was deeply, deeply weird hearing his voice coming out of an actual human being) to say hi, and to show us this nice little display unit in its homemade case. My first reaction, as with everything, was to tweet a picture of it:
What you see above is the rough prototype of an affordable, mobile HDMI display (complete with homemade case) that Alex is creating with help from Cyntech and Paul Beech from Pimoroni. (Paul designed the Raspberry Pi logo, and wonderful stuff like the Pibow: his job is to make sure that nobody has to suffer through one of Alex’s homemade cases.) Here’s their Kickstarter video:
We think this is a brilliant little project: a portable, affordable HDMI screen for the Pi just isn’t available at the moment, and we know the demand is out there from what you’ve been saying on our forums. Head over to Kickstarter to let Alex and the team know you’re interested. We wish them the very best of luck with getting things rolling!
Laika is a modular add-on board for the Raspberry Pi that allows control of motors, switches, lamps, robots and more. There are plenty of great hardware control boards out there for the Raspberry Pi but we especially like this one because of the educational focus.There’s lots more information on what it can do and how you can use it on their Kickstarter page.
How a learning environment should look
In 2014 computing is coming back into the UK school curriculum. And whilst this makes many of us run outside at random intervals to do Snoopy’s Happy Dance we shouldn’t underestimate the challenges involved. Computing is effectively a brand new subject and there are currently few specialist teachers, so the easier we can make it to teach (and learn) computing in an accessible, engaging and creative way the better. This is especially true in primary school.
So anyone creating educational resources to go along with their hardware or software makes us happy and the Laika team are doing just that. Here they are running a robotics workshop at Highgate School in London.
You can read more about Laika here and if you’d like to get hold of one for yourself or for your school then their Kickstarter has just a few days left to run. We think that Laika has great educational potential but of course you don’t have to be in school to start learning.
A Laika-Pi powered rover wandering the icy wastes of Europa, the smallest of the Galilean moons.
He’s now launched Littlebox, a Kickstarter for a DIY kit to turn your Pi into a desktop PC.
There’s a resistive touchscreen! A USB hub! A lovely little GPIO panel that’s brought out in the front of the unit! Speakers and an amp! Greg has details of the development over at Instructibles if you want to learn more about the build.
We met Shota Ishiwatari at the three-day Raspberry Jam in Tokyo in May. He’s an established inventor of very, very cool stuff – you may have read about his Nekomimi cat ears, which were featured all over the internet when they came out last year. These ears have a 14-point electroencephalography sensor that presses against your forehead; they’re operated by your brainwaves, and lie flat, twitch or perk up in line with your emotions. Here’s a short video in case you’ve not seen them before:
And here’s some British lady wearing a pair. They really do work. No video, thank God. You can buy a set at Nekomimi.com.
Shota-san has real skill in getting that very special sort of Japanese cuteness (there’s even a word for it: かわいい, or kawaii) combined with tech. He does all the technical development, CAD and physical modelling, circuit design and building, programming (and sewing, in the case of Nekomimi) himself. His current Kickstarter is Rapiro, (RAspberryPIRObot), and it’s quite the most かわいい thing I’ve ever seen. Rapiro had his first public outing at a hardware breakout session at the Tokyo Jam.
You’ll notice that the prototype we’re playing with here is not the same as the one in the Kickstarter video; after the event we got Shota-san sorted out with a camera board in time for the Kickstarter. Rapiro’s not just cute: he’s very adaptable. He’s voice activated (and he can be set to recognise and respond to only his owner’s voice), or, with a wifi or bluetooth dongle, he can be controlled with a phone or gaming handset. He’s a connected device, so he can alert you to emails or Facebook messages; he can manage your calendar and work as a sort of very cute secretary/butler, bringing you objects from around the house and reminding you about meetings. Away from home for the week? Walk him around the house and use the camera in his forehead to monitor what’s going on: Rapiro makes a great security droid. He can even water your plants for you while you’re away. And with an IR LED, he can act as a remote control for your TV, or turn on your air conditioning if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where it’s needed.
And because the technology is Pi-based, Rapiro will, if it makes its Kickstarter goals, be much less expensive than currently available equivalents. Shota-san says that at the retail price he’s set, Rapiro works out at 1/4th the price of current aesthetic robot kits, and 1/10th the price of current Linux-powered humanoid robot kits.
The prototype we got to see worked perfectly. We’ve already ordered a unit for the Foundation, which we’re going to be using in schools and other teaching workshops. We think robotics is a really powerful way to get young people interested in physical computing, and we think Rapiro is the most engaging and inviting example of Pi-based robotics we’ve seen yet. This is a Kickstarter we’re very exited about.
Many thanks to Yuriko Ikeda for the photographs (thank you very much for the homemade umeboshi too, Yuriko-san, and for the recipe!)
There’s just over a week to go on the MagPi’s Kickstarter. They’ve met their original goal, but they’ve got some stretches to make, and we’d love to see you support them to become even bigger and better in 2013.
Regular readers will know that we are big fans of The MagPi, the only magazine in the world dedicated to the Raspberry Pi. It is created each month by a team of volunteers and usually with unique content found nowhere else. You can download each issue for free from the Pi Store or from www.themagpi.com.
Here at the Foundation, we’ve been printing each issue off – which takes time and costs a fortune in ink. (It has been bandied about that perhaps the next world-changing project we need to engage in is an affordable printer ink scheme.) The MagPi folks are often asked to make printed copies of the magazine available. It’s a tricky proposition, as they are volunteers with no capital, so they started a Kickstarter project on 1 December to make all 8 issues available in print. The MagPi team have told me they are blown away by your support. At the time of writing they have nearly 400over 400 (several of you have signed up in the few minutes since this was posted – thank you!) backers and have tripled their financial goal – money which gives them the opportunity to explore the translations into other languages they’ve been exploring, and the ability to make print copies available in the future. They have also seen several schools place orders for the magazine, which we’re very excited about. The money is important for their continued success, but even more important is the number of individuals who support them subscribe to the printed edition: it’s the number of subscriptions which gives them the security to keep doing what they’re doing, so we’d love to see you sign up to their Kickstarter.
What you don’t know is that with every single pledge on their Kickstarter project, The MagPi team is making a donation to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. (We didn’t know this either until they mailed us about it.) The Kickstarter rules do not allow them to mention charitable benefactors – but I can mention it here – and we at the Foundation are really touched and grateful for their support; the MagPi guys already go above and beyond to support this project, and this bit of icing on top of the cake really caught us by surprise. Eben and I are also supporting the MagPi Kickstarter project by making available a limited number of personalised, signed copies of the “Raspberry Pi User Guide” book to people pledging more than £100.
The MagPi stand at the Bristol BCS in a rare quiet moment – spot the floppy-haired interloper.
With only a few days remaining there is still an opportunity to participate in this project. There are a wide range of pledges available and if you want these to be a gift, the MagPi team have created gift certificates that you can download and print at home after you have made a pledge. If you don’t want any magazines or Raspberry Pi hardware, the Fuzzy Glow (£2) and Sticker Madness (£5) pledges will let you show your appreciation for keeping The MagPi free.
We are also very pleased to announce that Pimoroni and Adafruit Industries will be sponsoring The MagPi during 2013. Ian from the magazine mailed me about the news this morning; he says: “We are both humbled and incredibly excited to be supported by these companies. Pimoroni and Adafruit, together with almost 400 other supporters, have all contributed to make our Kickstarter project a huge success for us, our partners and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.”
It’s the first of the month again. What better on a cold December evening than settling down on the hearthrug with a paper copy of the MagPi and a glass of mulled wine, and building a Santa-trap with a Raspberry Pi?
Our friends at The MagPi do an incredible job. They’re now working on the ninth issue of the magazine: it’s the only magazine in the world that’s dedicated to our little computer and what you can do with it. It’s produced entirely by volunteers – if you want to get involved, there are details in each issue telling you how to join in. The magazine is published under a Creative Commons licence: every issue is completely free to read online. It’s an amazing educational resource, and for us it’s a monthly reminder of just how totally incredible the community that’s been building up over the last 18 months or so around the Pi is.
Many people have been asking for a printed version of The MagPi. Last month, the MagPi team started to explore print. Many individuals prefer a paper magazine, and schools and colleges in particular find them a very useful way to consume The MagPi. The paper version of last month’s issue was a great success, but there have been a huge number of requests for the whole back catalogue to be made available in print too. Printing a magazine is an expensive undertaking, and volumes bought need to be significant if doing so is to be affordable for the publishers. So the team at The MagPi have launched a Kickstarter, aimed at bringing out the whole back catalogue as a bumper pack, with a swanky binder; the Kickstarter is there partly to raise the necessary funds, and partly so they can assure themselves that the demand is there for printed copies in the future and look into some other plans, like translating the existing magazines into other languages, and exploring new kinds of content and new kinds of distribution.
There’s some valuable content in there, and I challenge you not to be inspired: hardware projects galore, enormous lists of games and other software you can download onto your Pi, along with courses in Scratch, Python and C: with only the MagPi and no other Pi experience, you can go from knowing nothing about computing to building a robot or automating your house if you work through all the exercises and articles.
Please pledge something to the project via their Kickstarter – and if you can’t afford to do that, please think about volunteering for The MagPi. They’re always looking not only for content creators, but also for designers, educators, administrative support, typesetting and editorial help, and help with all the other less glamorous bits that come with making a magazine.
We at the Raspberry Pi Foundation couldn’t be more grateful to the guys at The MagPi, who have dedicated huge amounts of personal time and effort to making this community what it is. We hope you, like us, will support them in making The MagPi even bigger and better in 2013.
>look You are at home: a dark cupboard under the stairs of Raspberry Pi Towers. The screen of an Escom P75 glows faintly, warding off grues. To the east, faint cracks of light define an small, unfamiliar door.
>i You have a sonic screwdriver, a half-eaten packet of Spangles and a Bable Fish.
>open door, e Hallway You scuttle crab-like into the hallway, shielding your eyes against the violent glare. To the north, a vast marble staircase sweeps upwards and out of sight. There is a largish machine being operated down the hall to the east. A bust of Clive Sinclair squats purposefully in an alcove to the south.
>examine bust The bust is beautifully sculpted from snow-white alabaster and has a faint, eerie glow. A ragged sign hangs around its neck by garden twine.
>read sign Written in red crayon on the back of a Netto cornflake box it says, “Back in two weeks. All passwords are ’123456′. Sort it out.”
And that, dear readers, is the true story of how I found myself looking after the blog for a fortnight. Please bear with me as I’m rather etiolated…
Guest blogs and EVE Alpha
Thanks to everyone who sent in a guest blog: there’s some amazing stuff going on out there and we really are privileged to have such a talented and passionate community. The first guest blog will be posted tomorrow with regular appearances thereafter.
In the meantime, Dominic of Nottingham Hackspace has told us about a wireless development board for the Raspberry Pi called EVE Alpha, developed by some of the Hackspace folk and a tiny local electronics firm CISECO. It’s on Kickstarter if you want further details and/or to support it. I’m posting this now because EVE alpha is being demonstrated at the Nottingham Raspberry Jam tomorrow, Tuesday 6th November. Get down to the Cape Bar on Victoria Street in Nottingham for 6.30pm and say hello! Sorry for the (very) short notice but if you are in the area then this is a chance to be one of the first to see what looks to be a very interesting piece of kit.
I am driven to blog from Starbucks today, thanks to lousy public transport and awkwardly timed meetings. I am amazingly caffeinated.
A Picade prototype
So. Kickstarter finally launched its UK offering today, and the very first project to get approved (proof of this rather awesome feat is available here at the Kickstarter blog) has a Raspberry Pi at its heart (we notice that those involved with Raspberry Pi seem to be extremely skilled at hitting F5, hence the excellent positioning of this project at the head of the Kickstarter queue). If you’ve been following the news on this site, you may have noticed that it’s a project that’s being run by some familiar people very close to the Foundation’s hearts.
Prototype under development. You may recognise the beardy fella with the hat.
Paul Beech and Jon Williamson run Pimoroni, a company they set up to make the very popular Pibow case. It’s my favourite of the cases out there: I use one myself. It’s now open source and available on Thingiverse, and was acclaimed “the best-looking Raspberry Pi case ever” by Gizmodo. Paul is also the designer of the Raspberry Pi logo. We published a post here about what they’ve been up to over the last few months, in a period where they’ve become employers and business owners on the back of the Pibow, a few weeks ago. They’re both old-school gamers, and they have a plan for a new product, for which they need Kickstarter funding.
Enter the Picade.
Picade! (Prototype model)
The Picade is intended to be a very high-quality, hackable, desktop arcade machine. It’ll come in kit form, with a top-notch screen; a good-looking, solid cabinet; a proper arcade joystick; and handsome microswitch controls: all you need to provide is the Raspberry Pi. We love the idea, and we know that Paul and Jon’s attention to detail, finish and quality is exceptional. The Picade’s going to be quite a special piece of kit when it’s done.