Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire

Not all the tech fun in the UK happens down near Pi Towers in Cambridge. Here in Scotland, the Mini Maker Faire has been the Edinburgh International Science Festival’s grand finale for four years now. This year’s was the biggest yet, so I headed over to see what was going on. There were plenty of projects using Raspberry Pis, loads of new maker spaces and Jams, and even a mildly terrifying giant robot stalking around the courtyard. I’m sure someone did a headcount of the children at the end, don’t worry.

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The first person to spot my neon Pi T-shirt was Tony from Newcastle MakerSpace, promoting the MakerFaire coming up on 23 April and attracting over 10,000 attendees. His mini Pi-powered Pacman arcade cabinet drew a sizeable queue, and his dinky Pi Zero game controllers looked like the ultimate in portable gaming: just plug into a TV and play!

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MakLabs are also springing up across Scotland, with the largest meeting in Glasgow. Their showpiece was a Bigtrak-style toy tank with a webcam, controlled by REST and with a Pi acting as a server. While the internet was somewhat patchy in a hundred-year-old former veterinary school, it was still an impressive build.

Aberdeen boasts the 57North hacklab. It was hard to miss their amateur radio station tracker, with a PDP-8 minicomputer for added flashing light goodness. The hulking unit consisted of a Pi, two screens and the open-source XASTIR tracking software, showing the various stations.

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The newest Makerspace on the block is in Dundee, Scotland’s gaming capital, so it seemed fitting that a tiny minimalist Pi Zero platform game, using a Pimoroni pHAT, was pride of place. They’re running weekly meetups and hope to set up a Jam in the near future.

Finally, we spotted Robotical, a PhD project now seeking crowdfunding for its adorable walking robots. We watched a tense football match between two bots, controlled by Model B Pis in their back and with micro:bit remote controls to move them. (The red robot won, incidentally. My gaming reflexes aren’t what they used to be.)

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It was great to see what the community up here is doing with their Pis, and I’m looking forward to the Edinburgh Raspberry Jam on the 30 April where there will no doubt be even more brilliant projects being demonstrated.