Raspberry Pi Blog

This is the official Raspberry Pi blog for news and updates from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, education initiatives, community projects and more!

GoBox: A Robotics Subscription Service

Kit maker Dexter Industries pulled the wraps off their latest Kickstarter, GoBox, the first-ever robot subscription service. It’s aimed at kids age 7 and up along with the help of an adult. No prior knowledge of robotics is required and step-by-step guides and videos will be provided.

In the first month of service, kids will receive the popular GoPiGo kit to act as the core of their robot. This kit includes a Raspberry Pi, chassis, battery pack, motors, motor controller board, and wheels. Each subsequent month, they’ll receive a new component such as a sound sensor, servo, light sensor, and many more. Each month, they’ll also receive step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish a particular mission. See their Kickstarter page for details on the different backer rewards and a sample draft mission.

Of course, we’re delighted that Dexter Industries uses Raspberry Pi in their robotics kits. Why do they like our computer? I’ll let John Cole, Dexter’s Founder & CEO, speak for himself:

We’re using the Raspberry Pi because it’s the most open, flexible, and easy to start with hardware for learning programming. We can use Scratch to start with, which is super-easy for young learners to use. And we can walk learners all the way up to command line programming.

There are two interesting and important aspects to what makes GoBox different. The first is that we are starting with little to no background assumed. When we looked at other platforms for starting robotics, they assume you know something (maybe something about coding, about electronics, or about computers). We really wanted to minimize that, and make starting with robotics and programming as easy as possible. So that is why the Raspberry Pi is a perfect platform — because we really start the story from the beginning.

The second is that we’re trying to design the program to keep learners engaged over a long period of time with the subscription service. We’re helping learners gradually, and encouraging open-ended design problems, but with a new delivery every month, you keep learning over the course of a year, rather than rush in, try a few things, lose interest, and throw the program in a corner. A new box every month really encourages people to keep going, and to keep trying new things without overwhelming them all at once.

We think this is a powerful formula to learn some of the most important skills needed in the world today. We also are seeing the creative projects (“missions”) we have developed appeal to girls and boys alike, which is really encouraging.

Check out the GoBox Kickstarter for more details.


Barrel o’ Fun: Arcade machine barrel table

What do you do if you are given a big old wine barrel? You could make it into a twee garden planter; go over Niagara Falls in it; or cut off the end and make a secret passage like in Scooby Doo. Or you could do the obvious thing and build a Raspberry Pi-powered arcade machine. Matt Shaw did just that. Arcade games, wine and Donkey Kong style barrels—three of our favourite things in one.

The arcade machine in all it's barelly glory

The arcade machine in all its barrelly glory

The machine itself has the benefit of a sit-down cocktail cab (you can put your drinks on top) with the standup advantage of being able to jostle your opponent. It’s a nice clean build—deliberately low tech—wired using crimps and block connectors with no soldering. The Raspberry Pi runs the excellent PiPlay, an OS for emulation and gaming.

The other great thing about this project is its scrounginess. Reusing and repurposing makes us happy and this whole project does just that: an unloved 4:3 monitor, free table glass from online classifieds and an old barrel. The main costs were the buttons, joysticks and wiring and the whole build came in at around £90.

Circuit testing at it's finest!

The circuit tester is quite brilliant

Although we’ve blogged about Pi-powered arcade machines before (we have two in Pi Towers, we like them, OK? :)) the point is that if you have a Pi lying around then you can make a games machine out of almost anything. For not much money. (And as someone who spent every Saturday feeding their pocket money into arcade machines in seedy arcades in Southport, that’s an amazing thing.)


MATLAB & Simulink Student Suite – Raspberry Pi Bundle

Today, a look at a speedy way for students to prototype, test, analyse and deploy sophisticated applications on Raspberry Pi, using industry tools: MathWorks’ MATLAB, a high-level programming environment for visualising and analysing data, computation, mathematical modelling, and algorithm development; and Simulink, which provides a block diagramming environment for modelling and simulating dynamic systems.

element14 recently launched a Learn to Program Pack consisting of MATLAB and Simulink Student Suite bundled with their Raspberry Pi 2 starter kit, which gives you a Pi 2, microSD card, power supply and case. The bundle provides students with everything they need to kick off their projects quickly using the same tools that professional engineers and scientists use day-to-day: you can use Simulink on your Raspberry Pi to describe, simulate and test your system, analyse it with MATLAB, then generate code from Simulink to deploy to a Raspberry Pi or another platform.

Here, Eben uses Simulink to program and test a robot with simple image processing and autonomous navigation:

There are endlessly rich possibilities here: how about getting your Pi robot to detect faces and behave accordingly? You’ll find lots more resources to help with using these powerful tools on the MATLAB & Simulink element14 community.


Fish tank temperature probe: an ideal beginner’s project

Determined to redress the moggie-doggie bias of the internet Lauren Orsini decided to use a Raspberry Pi and a waterproof temperature sensor to monitor her fish tank.


It’s not a recent project but it deserves a place here because it’s such a brilliant introduction to physical computing on the Raspberry Pi: one sensor, one purpose and a few lines of “English with a funny syntax” (aka Python). It’s a great tutorial too—Lauren writes clearly and shares her beginner’s point of view, documenting things that more experienced people might take for granted. The setup is based on a tutorial from Adafruit and although Lauren hadn’t done any “hardware hacking” before, she says that the hardest part was “taping the wires inside the temperature sensor to the wires that fit inside the breadboard.”


So it’s a real beginner’s project but one that can be expanded as you learn. Lauren, for instance, extended the project to turn it into a true Internet of Things device that texts her when the fish tank gets too hot. All in all it’s a great way to slowly build your Raspberry Pi computing skills.

It’s also pocket money cheap. In fact if you already have the CamJam EduKit #2 then you already have the kit needed for this project. And of course the sensor doesn’t have to be in a fish tank. Monitor the temperature of your bathwater; your cup of tea; the fridge; your dad’s armpit while he dozes in front of the TV. If you’re looking for something to do with your Pi on the last day of your summer holiday then this comes highly recommended.


Bonus back to school question #1: If ‘dogs’ = 5; ‘cats’ = 2; and ‘cheese’ = 1, what is the value of ‘fish’? Answer tomorrow…


Joker: a Raspberry Pi + Python joke machine

Today is a public holiday here in the UK, and Pi Towers is silent and still. Clive’s in a field “with no network (not even mobile),” he specifies, just in case someone were tempted to try and make him do something anyway. By the time this post appears, I’ll be pursuing a couple of kids around the Cambridge Museum of Technology. Liz and Eben have one-upped everyone by going to Scandinavia. So, in keeping with the leisurely, end-of-summer vibe of today, we thought we’d share a project that’s designed to amuse. We hope it’ll cheer up all those of you unlucky enough to live in places where you don’t automatically get to bunk off on the last Monday in August.

Raspython, a new project aiming to offer tutorials and learning resources for the Raspberry Pi community and for new makers and programmers in particular, brings us instructions for making Joker, a Raspberry Pi joke machine.

A fact that ought to be more widely known is that our own Ben Nuttall is founder and chairperson of the Pyjokes Society. He and co-founders Alex Savio, Borja Ayerdi and Oier Etxaniz have written pyjokes, a Python module offering lovingly curated one-liners for programmers, and it’s from this that Joker gets its material. Ben and friends encourage you to improve their collection by submitting the best programming jokes you know that can be expressed in 140 characters or fewer; you can propose them on GitHub via pyjokes’ proposal issue or via pull request.

Joker’s display is an affordable Adafruit 16×2 LCD Pi plate; this comes as a kit needing assembly, which Adafruit’s detailed instructions walk you through gently. With the LCD assembled and mounted, getting Joker up and running is just a matter of installing the pyjokes module, LCD drivers and Joker script, together with a little bit of other set-up to allow your Raspberry Pi to talk to the LCD.

Everything you need is in the tutorial, and it makes for a really great self-contained project. Give it a whirl!


Capacitive touch HAT from Adafruit

While we’re on the subject of HATs, here’s one of my favourites, from our friends at Adafruit.

We had email a couple of weeks ago from José Federico Ramos Ortega, who has prepared a video and tutorial about the HAT (which he calls a Sombrero Capacitivo) in Spanish. Extra points for the use of cactus fruit to change instrument.

You can get your hands on one of these at Adafruit, who, despite the name, do not sell the fruit required to build a fruit piano of your own, but who do sell everything else. Lettuce turnip the beet!




Issue #37 of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, is out now!

The second print edition of The MagPi is here and this month our cover feature is all about digital home automation!

Click to see the latest issue and admire Sam Alder's amazing artwork!

Click to see the latest issue and download your Creative Commons PDF

UK readers can buy it today in newsagents & WHSmiths and US readers can buy the previous issue in Barnes & Noble or MicroCenter.

Buy now from the Raspberry Pi Swag Store

Call +44(0)1202 586848 or visit The MagPi Subscriptions site

Take a closer look at what's inside this issue

Click for a closer look at what’s inside this issue

Highlights from #37: 

  • The Raspberry Pi digital home
  • Stream to your PC
  • Build a computer vision sequencer
  • Make a fridge monitor
  • The Fallout Pip-Boy
  • Pi in the movies
  • Cool beats with Sonic Pi
  • and much more!


Another new face!
Barely a month seems to have gone by recently without an announcement about an exciting new appointment. Well here’s one more: Rob Zwetsloot.

Rob has joined us in the role of Features Editor fresh from a long stint as a staffer on Linux User & Developer magazine.

Rob Zwetsloot is The MagPi's new Features Editor

Rob Zwetsloot is The MagPi’s new Features Editor

He’s got some great ideas for the magazine, though his mission right now is to find yet more writing talent hidden in the Raspberry Pi community. If you have an article or idea you’d like to see featured in the magazine you can reach him via rob.zwetsloot@raspberrypi.org.

By the way, if you’re unsure how to pronounce his surname (it’s Dutch), just vocalise the sound that the TurboLift doors make in Star Trek: TNG (at least that’s what I do).


Buy the Sense HAT – as seen in space*!

*Not actually in space yet. Wait till December.

Today we have a new product launch: the Sense HAT is now available from the Swag Store, and through our partners RS Components and Premier Farnell/CPC. Here’s a video from Matt Timmons-Brown, freshly released from GCSE exam hell, to show you around.

The Sense HAT was originally developed around James Adams’ idea to make a cool toy-style board that showed off just how much you could do with your average modern MEMS gyroscope, 64 RGB LEDs and some Atmel microcontroller hackery.

Somewhere between prototype and production, it seems to have attracted extra features like a pressure sensor, a humidity/temperature sensor and a teeny joystick. It also seems to have been comandeered and made an integral part of the Astro Pi mission, which will see two Raspberry Pis, two Sense HATs and a lot of code written by UK schoolkids hosted on the International Space Station – I guess I’m to blame for that.

Astro Pi sense HAT LED

The board forms the basis for many of the experiment sequences that will be run on the ISS – many of the schools competition winners’ entries made good use of the HAT’s sensors to gather their experimental data. The LED matrix also provides a feedback mechanism and interactivity for British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake when he’s tasked with deploying the Astro-Pi board on the ISS (he’ll be setting it up on-orbit to run the experiment sequences). One of the winning entries – Reaction Games – programmed a whole suite of joypad-operated games played via the LED matrix. Snake is hilarious on an 8×8 screen.

The board itself has a suite of sensors, a “D-pad” style 5-button joystick and an 8×8 RGB LED matrix driven by a combination of an LED driver chip and an Atmel AVR microcontroller – an ATTiny88.

For the terminally curious, here are the schematics of the board.

The Sense HAT and its Pi tucked snugly in the Astro Pi flight case

The Sense HAT and its Pi tucked snugly into the Astro Pi flight case

Here’s the hardware run-down:

Sensing elements:

Pressure / Temperature
ST Micro LPS25H
– 24-bit pressure measurement resolution (260hPa to 1260hPa)
– 16-bit temperature measurement resolution (0-125°C)

Humidity / Temperature
ST Micro HTS221
– 16-bit humidity measurement resolution (0-100% relative humidity)
– 16-bit temperature measurement resolution (0-60°C)

Acceleration/Gyroscope/Magnetic field
ST Micro LSM9DS1
– 9 degrees of freedom (X, Y, Z independent axes for all sensors)
– ±16 g acceleration measurement range
– ±16 gauss magnetometer measurement range
– ±2000 dps (degrees per second) gyroscope measurement range
Each of these measurement channels has 16 bits of resolution.

All of these sensors have features for periodic sampling of sensor values – complete with internal FIFO storage. The LPS25H and HTS221 have maximum sample rates of 25 per second, the LSM9DS1 has a maximum sample rate of 952Hz – we are already imagining the birth of a million Pi-controlled stunt quadcopters.

LED Matrix
The LED matrix is driven by a combination of a constant-current LED driver and an Atmel ATTiny88 running a custom firmware that delivers an 8×8 display with 15-bit resolution RGB colour. If you want to get into the gory details, the AVR firmware is available on Github.

The Atmel is responsible for sampling the joystick. We didn’t have enough pins left on the Atmel to dedicate the five that we needed to sample the joystick axes independently, so they’ve been spliced into the LED matrix row selects. The joystick gets updated at approximately 80Hz, which is the scan rate of the LED matrix.

All of the sensors (and the base firmware for the Atmel) are accessible from the Pi over I2C. As a fun bonus mode, the SPI peripheral on the Atmel has been hooked up to the Pi’s SPI interface – you can reprogram your HAT in the field! We use this method to get the firmware into the Atmel during production test – and we leave it unprotected so you can substitute the stock firmware to get it to do whatever you want. Seriously. First person to turn this sensor HAT into a quadcopter controller HAT wins a cookie from me.

If you’re not assembly-language inclined, you can always use the HAT’s sensors from our shipped Python library – standard function calls return sensor values, give you joystick key events and allow you to display things on the LED matrix. The Sense API is available through the Raspbian APT repositories.

To access the magic, simply enter:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sense-hat
sudo pip-3.2 install pillow

into a terminal window. Note you will have to reboot for the Sense HAT to be recognised.

The API is well-documented (and tested extensively by schoolchildren as part of Astro-Pi) – get reading here.

The LED matrix appears as a Linux framebuffer device – for fun you can compare the results of

cat /dev/urandom > /dev/fb0


cat /dev/urandom > /dev/fb1

to fill either your attached monitor or the LED matrix with random noise. The joypad appears as a standard input device – the “keys” map to Up/Down/Left/Right and Enter.

The baseline price (excluding spacers and screws, and local taxes) is $30. You’ll be able to buy from all the usual suspects – the Swag Store (which is bundling spacers and screws for free), RS Components/Allied, Premier Farnell/Newark and all their subsidiaries have stock today. Secondary suppliers may take a couple of days to get their hands on stock.

So, what are you waiting for? Get sensor hacking!


PiDP-8/I – remaking the PDP-8/I

We often see really fantastic looking retro builds that are one-offs; so you can’t replicate them at home without a lot of artistic and mechanical skill. So we were really pleased when Oscar Vermeulen emailed us yesterday about the project he’s been working on. As well as having made something that’s both functional and utterly desirable, he’s had the smarts to make a number of kits available to buy. This is it: a simply beautiful replica of the PDP-8/I.


For comparison, here’s the original, courtesy of VintageComputer.net.


Even I’m not old enough to remember these first hand. The PDP-8 was the first computer that came in at less than the size of a house to find commercial success. The original PDP-8, launched in 1965, was around the size of a fridge and weighed about 160lbs (with 60lbs of that weight being the power supply). Subsequent generations like the PDP-8/I were smaller, and could be used on a desktop or rack-mounted. DEC made and sold more than 50,000 PDP-8s altogether, before they were displaced from the consumer computing market by things that look more like the desktop computers we use today, like the Apple II and IBM’s first PCs. (If you’re interested in digging some more into the history of the PDP series, there’s a fascinating article from the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley you can read, along with lots of detail about architecture and programming the machines on Wikipedia.)

The Raspberry Pi version is a pretty faithful replica. Here’s Oscar to explain more.

Oscar’s replica is open-source hardware, so if you do have the wherewithal to make your own, everything is made available for you to do just that. He says:

From a hardware perspective, the PiDP is just a frontpanel add-on for a Raspberry PI. In the hardware section below, the technical details of the front panel are explained. In fact, the front panel could just as easily be driven by any microcontroller, it only lights the leds and scans the switch positions.

From a software perspective, the PiDP is just a Raspberry Pi, running the Raspbian flavour of Linux, which automatically logs in to the SimH emulator. SimH is modified to drive the front panel in the appropriate manner – meaning it has instructions added to reflect the state of the PDP-8 CPU registers through the leds, and responds to the switch settings.

It’s a neat solution that looks fantastic, and is faithful to the original hardware.

Front panel from behind

Front panel from behind

To get your hands on your own, head over to Obsolescence Guaranteed, Oscar’s website, and join the mailing list; the next batch of kits is going out in October.


Astro Pi: Mission Update 5 – flight safety testing


The road to space is long and winding, but the two Astro Pi flight units are almost there! The next thing for us after this is to hand over the final payload to the European Space Agency so it can be loaded onto the Soyuz-45S rocket for launch on December 15th with British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.

To be allowed on the rocket, you need a flight safety certificate for your device, and these can only be obtained by presenting a whole host of measurements and test results to a panel of experts at ESA ESTEC in Holland.

The expertise and equipment to carry out many of these tests is well outside the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and without the facilities and personnel available through our UK Space partners this would not have been possible – we’ve had to use facilities and partners all over Europe to get the work done.

I’ll list below the tests that were done approximately in chronological order starting from March.

Power integration test

AIRBUS Defence and Space, Bremen, Germany >

Once in orbit, the Astro Pi will have two ways of getting power. It can use an AC inverter (above) that allows the crew to use all kinds of standard domestic appliances (like a normal USB power block); it’s also able to get power from any laptop USB port.

It is likely that when the Astro Pi is deployed in the Columbus module we will run from an AC inverter, but when we’re in the Cupola module we’ll just draw power from one of the laptops which is also there.

To gain permission to draw power from a laptop like this we needed to do a power integration test, to evaluate that the electrical load doesn’t have any adverse effect on the laptop.


The most common laptop on the ISS is the IBM Thinkpad T61P (circa 2007 from before Lenovo acquired them – Eben also uses one of these). Pictured above is an identical ground laptop with a special USB current probe connected to an oscilloscope. Note that this was done before we had the aluminium flight case, so you’re just seeing the Sense HAT, Raspberry Pi and camera parts of the whole Astro Pi unit.

The flight hardware was then powered up through the current probe so the oscilloscope could measure current inrush as well as maximum current when using the Astro Pi at max performance. Some diagnostic software was then used to check that there were no adverse affects experienced by the laptop.

Coin Cell Battery

Surrey Satellite Technology, Guildford, UK >

Since the Astro Pi will not be connected to the LAN on the ISS the only means it has of keeping the correct time is with a Real Time Clock (RTC) and a backup battery.

The flight stack up for Astro Pi is as follows:

  1. Raspberry Pi B+
  2. Custom RTC Board (has coin cell holder and push button contacts)
  3. Sense HAT

Batteries on the ISS have a whole host of possible hazards associated with them, and so any battery flown is subject to a stringent set of batch tests.

Astro Pi has a batch of eight Panasonic BR-1225 coin cells which were all tested together. Here is number 5, which is one of the ones that will fly:


The test procedure involved visually inspecting the coin cells, measuring their width and size with callipers, testing their voltage output during open circuit and under load followed by exposing them to a vacuum of about 0.6 bar (~450 mmHg) for two hours.

Afterwards the measurements were redone to see if the coin cells had leaked, deformed or become unable to provide power.

Conformal Coating

Surrey Satellite Technology, Guildford, UK >

One of the safety requirements for circuit boards in space flight is that they are coated in a protective layer, rather like nail varnish, called conformal coating. This is a space grade silicone-based liquid that dries to form a hard barrier. In microgravity a metallurgical phenomenon called tin whiskers occurs. These are tiny hairs of metal that grow spontaneously from any metallic surface, especially solder joints.

The hazard here is that these little whiskers break off, float off and become lodged somewhere causing a short circuit. So the conformal coat has two purposes. One is to protect the PCB from any invading whiskers, and the other is to arrest any tin whiskers that may grow, and prevent them breaking free.


For the Sense HAT (above) we needed to define a number of keep out zones for the coating so as not to compromise the pressure and humidity sensors. The surfaces of the LEDs were not coated to avoid dulling their light too. If you look closely you can see the shiny coating on the HAT; in particular, see the joystick bottom right.

It’s much easier to see on two camera modules:




AIRBUS Defence and Space, Portsmouth, UK >

Vibe testing is not actually required for safety, but we undertook it anyway as insurance that the payload would survive the vibration environment of launch. The testing involved placing an Astro Pi into some flight equivalent packaging and strapping it down onto a vibe table.

The vibe table is then programmed to simulate the severity of launch conditions on a Soyuz rocket.

The tests needed to be done in x, y and z axes. To accomplish this two different vibe tables were employed, one for up and down (z, see above) and one for back and forth (x and y, see below).

After the vibration sequence the Astro Pi was tested to ensure the vibration had not caused any issues, the case was also opened and the interior was inspected to ensure no connections had become loose.

Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

AIRBUS Defence and Space, Portsmouth, UK >

EMC is the study and measurement of unintended electromagnetic signals that could interfere with other electronics. Almost all electronic devices these days undergo EMC testing in order to get CE or FCC markings. The Raspberry Pi B+ and Sense HAT both carry these markings; however their test results were obtained in a home-user setup, with a keyboard, mouse, HDMI monitor and Ethernet all connected.

The Astro Pi flight unit will be used without all of those. So these tests were required to ensure that, when used in this way, the Astro Pi doesn’t cause any problems to other systems on board the ISS (like life support).

The tests were conducted in a special EMC test chamber. The walls are lined with super-absorbent foam spikes that exclude all electromagnetic signals from coming into the room from the outside.

That way, any electromagnetic signal measured must have originated inside the room.

A test script was run on the Astro Pi to stress it to maximum performance while a series of antennae were used to examine different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum.

A set of electromagnetic susceptibility tests was also conducted to evaluate how the Astro Pi would behave when experiencing strong magnetic fields.

No issues were found, and all tests passed.

Off Gassing

ESA ESTEC, Noordwijk, Holland >

The off-gassing test is done to ensure the payload does not give off any dangerous fumes that might be harmful to the crew.

The test involves placing the payload into a bell jar and pumping out all of the air. Synthetic air of known properties is then pumped in, and the whole jar is held at 50 degrees Celsius for 72 hours. Afterwards the synthetic air, plus any gasses released by the payload, are pumped out and analysed using a mass spectrometer.


If you look closely, you can also see some Raspberry Pi SD cards in there. The test needed to be representative of the entire payload, so it’s one of the flight units plus five SD cards. The resulting measurements were then just doubled to account for two Astro Pi units with ten SD cards.

Thermal Capacity

Raspberry Pi, Cambridge, UK

This test needed to demonstrate that no touchable surface of the Astro Pi flight case would ever reach or exceed 45 degrees Celsius.

In microgravity the process of convection doesn’t occur, so the case was designed with thermal conduction in mind. Each of the square pins on the base can dissipate about 0.1 watts of heat. We also wanted to avoid any fans as these cause EMC headaches and other problems for safety (moving parts).

We used five temperature probes connected to another Raspberry Pi for the data logging. Four of the probes were placed in contact with the surface of the aluminium case using small thermal pads and kapton tape (HDMI side, base by the camera, SD card slot side and top side). One was used to monitor ambient temperature some distance away. The Astro Pi was then placed inside a small box to simulate the reduced airflow on board the ISS and was then stressed to maximum performance for four days.

The results showed that an equilibrium was reached fairly quickly where the only input into the system was the fluctuation of ambient temperature.

Sharp edges inspection

ESA ESTEC, Noordwijk, Holland >

This test was almost a formality, but was done so ESA could verify there were no sharp edges that could cause harm to the crew. The test was done using a special piece of fabric that was dragged over the surface of the flight case. If it snags then the test is failed, but thankfully we passed without issue first time.

The test is important because a crew member with a cut or infected hand is a serious problem on orbit.

Experiment Sequence Test

ESA-EAC, European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany >

The experiment sequence test is a full end-to-end reproduction of everything that Tim Peake will do on orbit. It was done in a replica of the ISS Columbus module on the ground.

On orbit they have step by step procedures that the crew follow and these tests are an opportunity to improve and refine them. There is a procedure for deploying the Astro Pi, one for powering it from the ISS mains, and another for powering via laptop power. There is one for fault finding and diagnostics and also one for getting files off the Astro Pi for downlink to Earth.

The tests used a surrogate crew to play the role of Tim Peake. Each procedure was run, and any anomalies or problems that caused a deviation from the procedure were noted.

The Astro Pi will run a Python program called the MCP (master control program*) and this oversees the running of the competition winning code from the students. It is designed to monitor how long each has run for, and ensures that each receives the allotted run time, despite the Astro Pi being, potentially, rebooted multiple times from single event upsets due to the radiation environment on the ISS.

There were a couple of minor issues found, and we’re required to repeat one of the tests again in September. But otherwise everything worked successfully.

All the test reports are then combined into a Flight Safety Data Pack (FSDP). This also includes a flammability assessment which is an examination of all materials used in the payload and their risk of being a flame propagation path on the ISS. The main heavy lifting with the FSDP documentation was done by Surrey Satellite Technology, whom we’re eternally grateful to.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Next mission update will be after we’ve handed over the final payload.