Sandy Walsh thought it’d be cool to host a trivia night in his living room. Most of us would make do with paper, biros and shouting: but it’s from little ideas like this that splendidly grandiose Raspberry Pi projects are born. In this case, projects involving a shipment of Chinese bike handles and a very large amount of speaker wire.
Sandy wanted a physical, game-show setup, so he hacked together some switches and an old terminal block he had lying around (you will probably have to buy one) with speaker wire and a Pi Face interfacing board.
The Pi runs a GUI for the game on a TV, and also deals with inputs from button switches mounted on each handle, so players can buzz in with an answer. The GUI works in concert with a live Quizmaster, who asks questions and adjudicates answers. Here it is in action:
Sandy says he thinks there’s a lot of refinement that could be added: he’s keen to see people add patches to what he feels is a bit of a hack. You can check out the repository on GitHub. This isn’t a difficult build, and I’m considering getting one of our work experience students to build a similar setup for the demo table: any refinements you think we should add?
If you were one of the people following us on Twitter a couple of Saturdays ago, when we all hoofed it up to Manchester for the Manchester Raspberry Jam, you’ll have had a sneak preview of this: Dr Andrew “Pi Face” Robinson’s latest Pi escapade. I’ll let Andrew explain what’s going on. (Notice the mildly humiliating guest appearances from me and Clive.)
We think this is one of the most interesting photographic applications we’ve seen in the flesh so far. (Although I will admit to a moment’s disappointment when, on seeing it, getting excited and asking what it did, I was told that it was not a working Stargate after all.) You’ll have read many posts here about bringing down the price of professional photography equipment: we’ve seen focus-stacking on a budget, gigapixel photography, setting up moving time-lapse rigs, and shooting water droplets along with many, many other applications. (The photography tag here is one of my favourites – if you’ve got a few minutes, go and have a read.)
Andrew’s Frozen Pi setup shows us yet another example of bringing photographic technology with an astronomical off-the-shelf price down to achievable levels: of course, with 48 Raspberry Pis this still works out pretty pricey, but it means that any school with a classroom set of Pis suddenly finds it has bullet-time effects photography well within its grasp.
Liz: Here’s a guest post from our friend Dr Andrew Robinson at the University of Manchester, who has been leading a team of undergraduates this summer (most of whom seem to be called Tom – hi, Toms, it was a pleasure to meet you) in developing school projects and materials around the Raspberry Pi. They’ve got big plans for the coming months, including a contest, more schools outreach, festival appearances, work with kids and some fun with a Raspberry Pi-enabled birdbox (which had its very own table in the pub here in Cambridge when they last came to visit). Over to Andrew, who will explain a bit more about what they’ve been up to.
At the School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester we want to get more people interested in computer science and using Raspberry Pi. As such we’re launching the Great British Raspberry Pi Bake Off, a competition to get people making projects with a Raspberry Pi. We’ve also produced some example projects and sample worksheets to help people get started.
The competition has categories for under 18s and over 18s so everyone can enter, and they’ll be loads of hot tech prizes to win! We’ll make an official announcement soon on our competition page with the full rules.
We’re very lucky to have some of our talented students working for us; they’ve been paid to play – sorry, to develop – with Raspberry Pi over the summer. How cool is that? They’ve produced activities that teachers will be able to use in the classroom, but more importantly, that are really fun. You’ll be able to try the activities yourself at the Manchester Science Festival – we’ll be publishing more details soon.
Our Raspberry Pi bird box is the result of one of these projects. It’s got light beams that detect when a bird enters or leaves which then sends a message so you know to look out your window or it will take a photo. We’ll be adding other sensors for temperature, weight, etc. and combining these with image recognition from the camera to get some data mining going.
We want lots of people building their own nest boxes all feeding data back to bird mission control, a central webserver where you’ll be able to monitor bird activity across the world in real time! Using our Python and Scratch libraries with our hardware interfaces, even an absolute beginner can get something going in a matter of minutes.
With the help of MOSI and STEMNET we’re supporting teachers and STEM ambassadors to take Raspberry Pi activities into schools. The first sessions booked up in 3 hours, so we’ll be scheduling more soon. We’re developing activities that bridge the gap between what kids are interested in, e.g. nature, music or crafts; and computer science.
So, how can you join in the fun? Get your thinking caps on for a project to enter in to the bake off. Full details will be published later in September. [Liz: we'll be publicising them here when the guys in Manchester are ready.] If you’re a teacher or group leader (e.g. Scouts) then get in touch if you’re interested in knowing more about our worksheets, or want to come to one our sessions. Just leave your details on our website. We look forward to hearing from you!
Blimey, that was good. We spent Saturday with just under 300 of you at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam. After an afternoon of talks and demos, we staged a takeover of West Cambridge’s pubs; there were enough Raspberry Pis spread out on the tables at The Punter to drive the robotics for a fairly large factory. Actually, there’s an idea…
We'd brought some Raspberry Pis to sell to the crowd; a few teachers bought classroom-sized sets. I'm still not used to the idea that 200 of the things fit on the front seat of the car. (Each of the large cardboard boxes here holds 50 Raspberry Pis.)
Gert brought along a prototype camera board to show the crowd. We're hoping to release the final version, which will have a 5MP sensor, in the next few months.
Andrew Edney from Connected Digital World brought his camera again (thanks to Andrew for all the pictures in this post); he’s got a blog post with more pictures you should go and read as soon as you’ve finished this, and recorded the video below from the question and answer session the members of the Foundation did at the end of the Jam. (You’ll need to turn your speakers up.)
People kept asking us to sign stuff, which is nearly as weird as the way people keep sticking microphones up our noses.
Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC did a quick interview with Eben, in which Eben’s arm got sore.
Gert brought along a Gertboard to demonstrate.
Note name badge.
We watched a presentation from Manchester University’s Pi Face team, who are making an interfacing board for education with the Raspberry Pi. London Zoo sent some technologists along to talk about their EyesPi project, which will be using Raspberry Pis to power camera networks spotting and recognising animals in the wild (we’re going to be talking to them some more about the camera add-on we’re working on at the moment). RISC OS came and did a demo of their port, currently in alpha, running on a Raspberry Pi, which we’re excited about not just for reasons of nostalgia.
I’m particularly pleased to have seen so many teachers in the audience; we love that teachers who are familiar with the Raspberry Pi are sharing their knowledge and experience with teachers who want to become familiar with it. The Teach Meet after the presentations was packed; we’re very grateful to all the teachers who are taking the Raspberry Pi and running with it.
And we finally got to meet Liam Fraser in the flesh. Liam, as many of you will know, is the 18-year-old giant brain who runs our downloads server, who runs the Raspberry Pi Tutorials YouTube channel (he’s recording new tutorials now his A Level exams are finished), and who now has a monthly column about the Raspberry Pi in Linux User magazine. We feel we know Liam really well; Eben and I have been talking to him regularly for over a year now, and I feel I know him well enough that I’d trust my handbag (or, for that matter, my downloads server) to him. It felt like it couldn’t possibly be the first time we’d actually shared physical space: but it was, and it was a real pleasure to grasp him by the paw and thank him in person for all the work he’s been doing (and continues to do) for us. Yes, I recycle a joke from the first video here. Must try harder.
As Alan O’Donohoe, the central Raspberry Jam organiser says: please spread this Jam. There are now Raspberry Jams taking place all over the world, from Portland, Oregon; to Athens; to Melbourne, Australia. They’re a really great way to meet other Raspberry Pi enthusiasts, get to grips with a Raspberry Pi if you’re a bit daunted by the whole thing, learn what you can do with one, share other people’s projects, and boast about what you’re doing with your own Raspberry Pi. You can learn what’s involved in setting a Raspberry Jam up yourself here. Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to James Abela and Alan for organising it all; let’s do it again soon!