On Saturday, the half of Cambridgeshire that wasn’t busy footling about in the sun descended on Cambridge Consultants’ offices, kindly lent to the Raspberry Jam folks for the afternoon, for a few hours’ Pi-wrangling. If you’d been there you’d have met a hearty slice of the Pi’s development team: JamesH (and his brother, which surprised and excited me because I’d always thought that James had hatched from an egg), Gert, James Adams, Eben and I were all hanging around and poking things. We had a great time, hooked up with some old friends and met some new ones.
Ryan picks a winner in the annual Cambridge Dress Like a Lumberjack competition
(I have also stolen Jonathan’s joke. I am not sorry. It’s better than any of mine.)
Huge thanks to Recantha for his hard work organising the Jam; I was really chuffed that one of the things I got to footle with/poke was his homebrew Tricorder, now equipped with pretty much every measuring device known to homo sapiens apart from a Geiger counter. Thanks also to Cambridge Consultants for the use of their space, and to everyone who gave talks and brought projects to share.
Please spread this Jam! You can find out where the Jams are every month in the MagPi, and on the events page of our forums; there’s also a calendar at the Raspberry Jams site (which Alan, the Raspberry Jambassador, promises me is due a makeover soon). If there isn’t one near you, why not try setting one up? There’s help available, and we can put you in touch with folk who will share their experiences and give you lots of advice on organising, publicising and all that good stuff. Leave a comment below, post in the forums, or mail me via the contact page if you’d like to be put in touch with Jam Central.
Recantha expects the next Cambridge Jam to be in September. We’re looking forward to seeing even more of you there!
We’re seeing Raspberry Jams pop up all over the world these days: Eben and I spent three days at the Jam in Tokyo last month (pictures and presentations from that will be coming soon), and an afternoon at the Silicon Valley Jam the week before that. We see video from a lot of these events, but this video, sent to me by John Cass from Young Innovators in Lilongwe, Malawi, is my favourite so far. It was recorded by a Malawi TV station, and ended up on national network TV. There were nearly 100 attendees, a whole lot of Scratch games programming, some brewing, an electric motorbike being tracked by GPS, music-making, and much more.
John and the Young Innovators team have been loaning Pis to interested people in Malawi, as well as donating them to schools and kids’ groups. A number of Pi-based projects are being developed by those people for the next Lilongwe Jam in September. He tells me that there’s a remote lock for a warehouse in the works, along with the development of an IT course for a refugee center, and an application for managing patients at a local clinic.
Young Innovators Malawi do some wonderful stuff; they are a non-profit, volunteer group running events and competitions to inspire young people all over Malawi to get involved with innovation and technology. If you’d like to support them, please visit their website, and consider making a donation. Your donations go towards funding Raspberry Pi kits, bundled with learning materials, which are given to kids and schools.
A post from Mr Raspberry Jam himself, Alan O’Donohoe. This one promises to huge and fabulous, and the National STEM Centre is an outstanding venue. I am strangley drawn to joining the trans-Pennine convoy from Preston.
“You may have seen that we are holding a big Raspberry Jam in York on Saturday 8th June, 3 weeks today. Tickets are available here.
I’ve been working with the folks at the National STEM Centre there to help establish a presence in Yorkshire for Raspberry Jams. There are a lot of people in Yorkshire who have bought Raspberry Pi computers or who have not bought one but are interested in discovering just what you can do with them and this event is to give them a taste of the Raspberry Pi.
This event is going to be much larger than our regular Raspberry Jam events and we know that people are travelling from far across the UK to attend. I will be travelling in a convoy of cars from Preston bringing old friends and new friends on the journey across the Pennines. Road-trips like these add an enormous amount to the whole experience.
Our busy programme of talks, demonstrations, stalls and hands-on classes is now filling up. We are delighted to have Pete Lomas of the Raspberry Pi foundation speaking and leading a workshop, he is the gentleman who actually designed the Raspberry Pi. We also have Amy Mather the 14 year old who learnt how to program Conway’s Game of Life on the Raspberry Pi, her film on YouTube has attracted over 27000 views.
If you look at our programme , you will see that we have a wide range of classes from how to switch on a Raspberry Pi to building weather stations, interfacing, networking, robotics, game making for all the family and programming in Python. David Whale will be running a workshop on how you can set up an after school Raspberry Pi club.
‘import random’, the start of great game! A Raspberry Jam programming class.
We hope to attract a diverse range of people to attend this family friendly event:
Teachers - who want to know if the Raspberry Pi is something they can use to support the teaching of Computing
Families - who together want to develop and nurture an interest in technology and computing
Hobbyists - who want to meet other people with a desire to share what they have been doing with their Raspberry Pi
Anyone - who has an interest in the Raspberry Pi at any level.
Here’s a guest post from our friend Pete Wood at RS Component’s community arm, DesignSpark. Pete is one of the organisers of the Oxford Raspberry Jams. This post was first published at www.designspark.com.
Raspberry Jams are now being held all over the world; I’ve been trying to go to about one a month, and am lucky enough to be in Tokyo for some press and meetings while the Tokyo Jam is on later this month. There’s a list of events in each month’s MagPi, and if you’re looking for something near you, it’s worth checking the events page on our forums. If you can’t find a Jam near your home, why not look into setting one up? There’s information on how to get started at the Raspberry Jam website, which Alan O’Donohoe tells me will be getting a redesign in the coming months.
Over to Pete!
This month’s Jam held at DesignSpark HQ in Oxford UK was our biggest turnout yet, with over 30 Pi Geeks crammed into the room!
Raspberry Pi Camera
I kicked off the event by showing the new Raspberry Pi camera module, which will be available from RS Components later in May. In the picture is a pre-production module, the production version is a couple of millimetres taller. The camera gives stunning HD video from a 5MP sensor at 30 FPS.
Next up was one of my RS colleagues, Pete Milne, who showed us his Digital Signage application. Pete has connected up a network of Raspberry Pis to flat screen TVs here at the RS Oxford Offices and at our main facility in Corby, Northamptonshire. The Pis run a libreoffice slideshow in a continuous loop and display Health and Safety messages for RS employees. He’s been running these continuously for over 8 weeks without having to re-boot, so it’s very robust. The Pis runs without a keyboard or mouse and the content can be updated remotely over the network.
If you want to create your own Digital Signage Application, Pete has shared how to do it on GitHub. Just follow the INSTALL file for setup details.
Wii Controller Car
Oxford Raspberry Jam regular Alex Eames presented another cool little project using a Wii controller and Nunchuck. This one was for controlling a remote control car that has an on-board Raspberry Pi with Bluetooth dongle. It also allows the control of brake lights, headlights and indicators and also drives an aircraft propeller. Alex plans to build all this into the car itself, which would need to accommodate the Pi, the electronics hanging of the GPIO, some model aircraft batteries and the motor and fan. Alex, I think you need a bigger car… how about a Monster Truck?
Our next demo was one that has been featured on the Raspberry Pi site a few weeks ago for a Raspberry Pi powered video wall. Alex and Colin from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) have built this system in C and some Python Code. It has clever features like bezel compensation to accommodate different styles of screens. They showed a 4 screen setup, but have also run a 9+4 configuration. The software is scalable to any size or shape. Each screen needs a Pi, and one separate Pi is used as the master. This is a classic example showing that you can build your own video wall for a fraction of the price of a commercial solution that would certainly cost a lot more! Chaps, I can see a business opportunity here for screening big screen sporting events on a budget down my local pub. ;0) They expect to licence the software/design at some point. More details are available on their website.
Motion Detected Camera
Another Oxford Jam regular, Dave R, showed his Pi with a webcam motion detection system and linked to a DSLR. Dave created this for his bird table, to capture pictures of birds when they land on the table, I think I need to build a similar solution to stop my kids from stealing my Haribos…
Touch Screen Display
Paul had two projects to show. The first was a simple touch screen for the Pi to allow control and display. Paul was reading and displaying temperatures. The screens are semi-intelligent, storing screen images and having a sound output available. The screen images are loaded via a Windows app and USB connection. The Pi can then control the display of those images.
Sky Remote Controlled LED Lighting
The second demonstration was a programmable LED strip and infrared receiver, controlled by a Sky TV remote control. A simple Python script reads the codes from a remote control. He could the use this to flash the LEDs in various patterns and colours. The LEDs are driven by SPI and can be daisychained up to 1024 LEDs.
Paul M and Annierei L, showed us their ChiPhone box. ChiPi is an Electronic messaging system for children allowing them to send and receive voice messages. They have designed a child friendly box with large buttons and microphone. With simple record and ‘To/play’ buttons it makes for an easy messaging system connected to the internet via WiFi. You can find out more about their project on their website.
Pi Keyword Cruncher
Pi Jam regular and Data Geek John finished off our live demos by showing us his Pi based RSS feed collector and keyword analysis tool. The Pi collects data from various RSS feeds every 30 minutes and stores the results in a MySQL database. The data is then used to monitor trends in keywords, which over time show either peaks of activity or trends of ‘chatter’ about specific topics. The advantage of John using his Raspberry Pi Instead of his 50W laptop, is that it the Pi only takes 2W and can be left on all the time. It also frees up his laptop to do other tasks.
RaspBMC Toddler In-Car Entertainment System
The final presentation of the evening from one of my Jam co-hosts Alex Gibson, who in true Hollywood awards winners style couldn’t attend in person so sent a video message! Alex’s video featured his project for a Pi based RaspBMC In-Car Toddler entertainment system. One of the most impressive bits was a headrest bracket he had printed out on his Raspberry Pi-based 3D printer.
Thanks to all those who showed their projects. Looking forward to the next event!
Eben and I are going to be out of the UK for much of the rest of May, doing press, meeting partners, visiting Raspberry Pi fans, hanging out with science fair kids and giving talks. We’ll be in Phoenix for Intel ISEF, San Francisco for Maker Faire (come and listen to our talk! We don’t have a stand this year, but Raspberry Pis will be on sale in the Make Shed), and, most excitingly for both of us, in Tokyo for the Japanese Raspberry Pi User Group’s Big Raspberry Jam on May 25.
Masafumi Ohta, who moderates the forums here (he’s most often to be found in the Japanese language forum, but also pops up in the English sections every now and then), is running the event. Admission is free. We’ve heard from people who don’t even live in Japan who are making the trip to Tokyo; it promises to be an amazing day, with lots of hacking sessions, tutorials, talks and opportunities to meet like-minded Pi enthusiasts. We were last in Tokyo back in November; the Pi has become much more easily available in Japan since then, and we’ve even seen an official Japanese translation of the Raspberry Pi User Guide appear since our last visit. Masafumi-san’s been sending me artwork for displays and badges, and notes about the day: we can’t wait to get stuck in. RS Components, who have a large presence in the far east and are one of our two manufacturing distribution partners, will be sponsoring the event.
Eben in Akihabara Electric Town last November.
Masafumi-san has asked me to publish the following information here on the blog. If you’re in Tokyo on the day, please come and see us!
Japanese Raspberry Pi Users Group will hold the event to welcome Eben and Liz Upton, Founder of Raspberry Pi Foundation coming to Japan. It is for encouraging Raspberry Pi users and community in Japan, now growing up rapidly.
Gathering 150+ people at the big event – 4 sessions, 1 mini session,3 LTs and more. It is also not only for Raspberry Pi users and geeks, but also the Raspberry Pi beginners. RS Components and some companies help the event, and have booths exhibiting Raspberry Pis and some stuff (books,boards,cases…and more).
13:00-13:30 Door Open
13:30-13:40 Greeting from Japanese Raspberry Pi Users Group and RS Components
13:40-14:30 Keynote by Eben Upton of Raspberry Pi Foundation
14:40-15:10 Session:WordPress Home Server with Raspberry Pi by Yuriko Ikeda
15:10-15:40 Session:Scratch Hacking with Raspberry Pi by Kazuhiro Abe
15:50-16:20 Session:Let’s play ‘Eject Command’ with Raspberry Pi – CD-ROM Cooking with Raspberry PI by Akira Ouchi
16:20-16:50 Session:Gadget Colloquia for Unix Natives by Hiroyuki Ohno
17:00-17:15 Mini Session:Raspberry Pi Lego Cases Cooking by Keika Komura
17:15-17:30 Lightning Talks (5 min x3)
17:00-17:50 Introducing Raspberry Pi by RS Components
17:50-18:00 Closing event
19:00- Raspberry PIe after-party for the attendees
This video of the closing panel discussion from last month’s Raspberry Jamboree has just appeared, and if you’re interested in applications of the Pi in schools, it’s well worth your time. If you want to find out more about the successful teaching of Computing in schools, this is a great place to start.
The OCR materials that are mentioned in the discussion are available for download for anyone: you don’t have to be a teacher. They’re only the start of a large planned scheme of work, and you’ll find materials for both pupils and teachers.
So watch the video, have a look through the worksheets, and let us know what you think. I’m meeting Alan O’Donohoe, who runs the Raspberry Jams, in…about ten minutes – if you have any questions for him please leave them in the comments, and I’ll pass them on!
Amy Mather is thirteen years old. She made a presentation at last week’s Raspberry Jamboree in Manchester, where she explains how she got into programming and why she loves it: “I wanted to make it do what I wanted it to do, not what the people working at Apple or Android wanted it to do”. Amy walks us through Conway’s Game of Life, which she ends up building…well, I won’t spoil it for you. Watch this one all the way through; it’s worth it.
In the week since the Jamboree, I think I’ve had more emails about Amy’s presentation than about anything else – people have wanted to know when the video will be ready (word about this excellent presentation spread very fast on Twitter), and to congratulate Amy.
I’m very struck by the number of different organisations that have been supporting Amy; Codecademy, Young Rewired State, the Raspberry Jams and Manchester Girl Geeks have all helped her on her journey. If you want to see more kids like Amy, there’s something you can do: support these organisations by volunteering or donating. We can’t expect schools to do it all for us; the wider engineering community has, we believe, a responsibility to give kids like Amy all the opportunities to learn she can get her crocodile clips on. The Raspberry Pi is all about putting opportunities in the way of kids, so they have a chance to discover, like Amy, something new that they can quickly become skilled at, and that they love doing.
Alan O’Donohoe, who organises the Jams with the energy of a toddler with a coffee machine, has blogged more about the day on the Raspberry Jams site. Well done Amy – and thanks Alan!
The first ever Raspberry Jamboree is being held on March 9 in Manchester, organised by the indefatigable Alan O’Donohoe. It’s a big event, showcasing uses of the Pi in education, where you’ll be able to share ideas about getting kids interested in computing and learn more about the wonderful Pi ecosystem. You’ll also be able to find out about setting up a Raspberry Jam where you live, and meet plenty of like-minded Pi fans.
Thanks to the success of ticket sales and some sponsorship from CPC, Frog, Bytemark and support from BCS Manchester, the Jamboree team has been able to fund high-quality recording of all the talks from the Jamboree as well as offering a live video stream during the event. Alan says:
At the moment we are only planning to make 100 video feeds available, but if demand increases we have plans in place to increase that number. I would love for as many as people as possible to be able to watch the video feed, but to avoid people signing up and then not using the facility we have added a nominal charge of £2 plus eventbrite fees of 70p. This won’t cover the cost of providing the stream – but will help us have control over the amount of people that sign up and should prevent people from using up all our tickets with no intention of using them.
We’ve got some fantastic speakers lined up, the likes of Professor Steve Furber, Carrie Anne Philbin, Amy Mather (the 13 yr old coder featured on BBC Womens Hour) and many more.
It would great if all of our web cast tickets sold out as well as our ‘in person’ tickets too. I would love to be in a position of having to increase our capacity to cope with the demand!
If you’re in the South West of England and you’re at a loose end tomorrow, why not drop in on the RISC OS South West show? There’s a Raspberry Jam going on at the same time, lots of Pi stuff for sale (the RISC OS shows are a brilliant place to pick up peripherals for your Pi, and a great place to see some Pi harware projects in the flesh), and the organisers are hoping to get a chance to introduce plenty of Raspberry Pi users to RISC OS.
RISC OS was made available for the Pi back in October. Steve Revill from RISC OS Open has sent us some graphs showing just what sort of impact that news has made on the RISC OS userbase. I’ll let them speak for themselves. (As always, click to enlarge.)
Eben and I are planning to visit the Wakefield RISC OS show in April – watch this space!
Here’s a guest post from Dr William Bell. Will works at CERN, and has been doing wonderful things with Raspberry Pi meetups and outreach in Switzerland (you may have read the piece in the Guardian from a few months ago about what’s going on there with the Pi; none of this would have happened without Will). Will’s just been to another couple of Pi events near Geneva: here’s what he found.
It has been encouraging to see the large number of Raspberry Pi jams in the UK and the work of CAS. The message is spreading in France and Switzerland, but is a little behind due to the language barrier and the lack of media coverage.
This week there were two events not far from Genève. In Bourg-en-Bresse on Wednesday, I was at the L’Ain teachers annual IT meeting in the old teaching college.
This annual meeting is for all primary teachers within the department of L’Ain (France). There were a few teachers present who had heard of the Pi or read about it on Wikipedia. One teacher even took a photo of a Pi running. The room of exhibits contained some general IT equipment, many interactive white boards and myself with two Raspberry Pis. While a few of the teachers were enthusiastic, it would appear to be difficult to change the status quo without changing the curriculum.
Back at CERN, we ran our second Raspberry Pi day today next to the UA1 detector.
UA1 – click the image to learn more on Wikipedia
This time the number of people who signed up was higher than the last time and the number of Pis we managed to patch together was higher also. The team (P. Freyermuth, P. Golonka, P. Lewis, T. Lunghi, M. Pohancenik, A. Robichaud-Veronneau, A. Voitier and myself) helped many people try out some Scratch, Python and GPIO applications. Axel brought his 3D laser printer and one of those who came along brought a GPIO controlled RC car. Unlike last time, a short presentation was given in French and English to try to further encourage those that attended.
There was quite a stream of people needing basic configuration advice and several SD cards were flashed with the most recent Raspbian image. We saw a lot of children from local primary schools and some engineers from the local community. It looks like we need to try harder to reach the college age children. One of the last conversations of the day probably sums up our experience so far. It was an engineer from France. He really valued the idea of the Raspberry Pi and was also frustrated by the situation we find ourselves in. In particular, he highlighted the lack of simple setup documentation in French. While children at primary school do have to learn English, their level of English probably is not good enough to deal with the documentation.
Hopefully, there will be another jam soon. It would be great to see a French speaking CAS (France, Canada and Switzerland) pushing forward with IT.