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!

Coolest Projects: it’s for the whole family!

Wherever in the world I meet members of the Raspberry Pi community, I am always amazed by their enthusiasm for learning and making. And I often meet families that are enjoying computing together: kids who have introduced their parents to something that’s a whole new world for them, adults who are sharing a hobby they love with their children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews, and whole families that are learning alongside one another.

Coolest Projects logo Raspberry Pi

Earlier this summer, I met Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Heidi Baynes at Picademy in Denver, Colorado, and asked her about the Coolest Projects North America showcase event, which she and her son will be attending to on September 23 in Santa Ana, California. We hope you’ll join us there too, and to help you plan and build your own project to showcase, we’ve created a handy step-by-step guide for you to follow. Heidi and I talked about how she got involved with the Raspberry Pi community, and what she and her son are looking forward to at Coolest Projects.

Christina Foust: Heidi, what makes you excited about Coolest Projects?

Heidi Baynes: I love the idea of bringing kids together from all over North America to share their excitement about computer science and digital making. While I love all things Raspberry Pi, I like that this event includes projects from a variety of different sources. I’m excited to see projects built with Arduino, micro:bit, and other microcontrollers. I also can’t wait to see the digital creations that students have programmed as part of their coding classes and coding clubs. It’ll be a great celebration of computer science, robotics, and coding classes throughout North America.

CF: I can’t wait either! We’ve got some great projects registered. You’ve been part of the Raspberry Pi community for a few years. Can you tell me what first got you involved?

HB: As an educator, I was curious about Raspberry Pi and what it could mean for students and education. I applied to attend Picademy in the summer of 2016, and I was thrilled to be accepted to the Austin cohort. It was the most enriching professional development opportunity that I have ever attended, and I couldn’t wait to get back to my district and share everything I had learned. I’ve been lucky enough to continue my Picademy journey as a facilitator in Providence, Irvine, and just recently, in Denver. It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to experience Picademy across the country and connect with so many wonderful educators!

CF: We love that you’re a part of the Raspberry Pi community, and we’re excited to have you join us for Coolest Projects. Your son is registered to present his project, Star Wars Piano. Where did the idea for his project come from?

HB: Music in general is a big focus in our house, so we purchased the Piano HAT to explore music and coding. As we searched through soundbites, we ran across a bank of Star Wars sounds and knew what we had to do. My son has talked about incorporating the piano into a costume so that different sound effects could be easily played while in character.

Heidi Baynes on Twitter

My son and I had a blast working on this Star Wars themed 🎹🎩 project. #picademy #pichatusa #piparty @bquentin3 @kboyceq https://t.co/mYOlVp5UxX

CF: I love Star Wars! What is he most excited about for Coolest Projects?

HB: He loves seeing what other kids have done and gets inspired by their creativity. In fact, as we’ve been talking about Coolest Projects and preparing his Star Wars Piano, he’s decided that he’d also like to try building a robotic car to share at the event. We’ve purchased the kit, and hopefully he’ll have time to complete it so he can share that project as well.

CF: I love that he’s inspired to keep building. We’d love to have him share the car too. What is he doing to get ready to share his Star Wars Piano project?

HB: He’s been adding a few more sound effects to his piano and is hoping to add another octave of sounds before he shares it at the event. We’ve talked about him creating images on the Sense HAT to play along with the sounds, so we’ll see what happens between now and then!

CF: That’s super exciting! I can’t wait to see how the project evolves. Do you have any advice for educators or parents with kids considering Coolest Projects?

HB: Stop considering and sign up! Don’t hesitate to come and share what you are working on, no matter how big or small the project might be. The Raspberry Pi and CS educator community is the most welcoming group of people. You and your students are sure to walk away with a few new ideas and some questions answered. We all learn from what others are doing. Your project could be the spark for someone else!

Coolest Projects North America

Coolest Projects will take place the Discovery Cube Orange County on September 23, 2018, and projects from young people with all levels of experience are welcome: we love to celebrate what kids and teens have created, whether they’re beginners showcasing their first projects, or seasoned makers! Find out how to attend the event and register your project at coolestprojects.org/northamerica.

1 Comment

Build your own NASA Curiosity rover

Put together your own remote-controlled Curiosity rover with the help of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a Raspberry Pi.

NASA JPL rover Raspberry Pi

Why wouldn’t you want one of these?!

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

To educate the curious about the use of rovers in space, the Pasadena-based NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) built a mini-rover, ROV-E, to tour classrooms, museums, and public engagement events.

NASA JPL rover ROV-E Raspberry Pi

The original ROV-E comes with a much higher price tag, so the JPL engineers decided to scale it down for home makers

And so engaged was the public by the rover and its ability to manoeuvre harsh terrain, rocks, and small children, that the JLP engineers have published a building plan that allows rover-enthused makers to build their own for around $2500 using off-the-shelf parts.

Curiosity for the curious

The JPL open-source rover is a scaled-down model of Curiosity, the car-sized rover currently on day 2187 of its mission to explore the surface of Mars.

NASA JPL rover Raspberry Pi

The Mars rover sings Happy birthday to itself on 5 August every year, and this fact breaks out hearts!

And while the home-brew version of Curiosity may not be able to explore the Red Planet, project sponsor Tom Soderstrom believes it can offer plenty of opportunities to future STEM pioneers:

“We wanted to give back to the community and lower the barrier of entry by giving hands-on experience to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and programmers.”

A Pi at the heart of the rover

The rover uses a variety of tech makers may already have in their arsenal, including USB cameras and a Raspberry Pi. JPL’s design also gives you the option to swap out components with alternatives.

NASA JPL rover Raspberry Pi

Control the rover however you please: via a games controller, a smartphone, or a program of your own design

To control the rover, JPL decided to use a Raspberry Pi:

We chose a Raspberry Pi to be the ‘brain’ of this rover for its versatility, accessibility, simplicity, and ability to add and upgrade your own modifications. Any method with which you can communicate with a Raspberry Pi (Bluetooth, WiFi, USB devices, etc.) can be interfaced into the control system of the robot.

Full plans for the six-wheel rover are available on JPL’s GitHub, where they also list all parts required, final specs, and supporting info such as links to the project forum and parts suppliers. You can also visit the official project website to control your own rover on the surface of Mars…a simulated rover, of course, but one can dream!

10 Comments

Prepare yourself for winter with the help of squirrels

This article from The MagPi issue 72 explores Carsten Dannat’s Squirrel Cafe project and his mission to predict winter weather conditions based on the eating habits of local squirrels. Get your copy of The MagPi in stores now, or download it as a free PDF here.

The Squirrel Cafe on Twitter

Squirrel chowed down on 5.0 nuts for 3.16 min at 12:53:18 CEST. An #IoT project to predict how cold it’ll be next winter. #ThingSpeak

Back in 2012, Carsten Dannat was at a science summit in London, during which a lecture inspired him to come up with a way of finding correlations between nature and climate. “Some people say it’s possible to predict changes in weather by looking at the way certain animals behave,” he tells us. “Perhaps you can predict how cold it’ll be next winter by analysing the eating habits of animals? Do animals eat more to get additional fat and excess weight to be prepared for the upcoming winter?” An interesting idea, and one that Germany-based Carsten was determined to investigate further.

“On returning home, I got the sudden inspiration to measure the nut consumption of squirrels at our squirrel feeder”, he says. Four years later and his first prototype of the The Squirrel Cafe was built, incorporating a first-generation Raspberry Pi.

A tough nut to crack

A switch in the feeder’s lid is triggered every time a squirrel opens it. To give visual feedback on how often the lid has been opened, a seven-segment LED display shows the number of openings per meal break. A USB webcam is also used to capture images of the squirrels, which are tweeted automatically, along with stats on the nuts eaten and time taken. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Carsten says that the squirrels are “focussed on nuts and are not showing interest at all in the electronics!”

The Squirrel Cafe on Twitter

Squirrel chowed down on 4.5 nuts for 6.60 min at 14:23:55 CEST. An #IoT project to predict how cold it’ll be next winter. #ThingSpeak

So, how do you know how many nuts have actually been eaten by the squirrels? Carsten explains that “the number of nuts eaten per visit is calculated by counting lid openings. This part of the source code had been reworked a couple of times to get adjusted to the squirrel’s behaviour while grabbing a nut out of the feeder. Not always has a nut been taken out of the feeder, even if the lid has been opened.” Carsten makes an assumption that if the lid hasn’t been opened for at least 90 seconds, the squirrel went away. “I’m planning to improve the current design by implementing a scale to weigh the nuts themselves to get a more accurate measurement of nut consumption,” he says.

Squirrel Cafe Raspberry Pi The MagPi

Just nuts about the weather!

The big question, of course, is what does this all tell us about the weather? Well, this is a complicated area too, as Carsten illustrates: “There are a lot of factors to consider if you want to find a correlation between eating habits and the prediction of the upcoming winter weather. One of them is that I cannot differentiate between individual squirrels currently [in order to calculate overall nut consumption per squirrel].” He suggests that one way around this might be to weigh the individual squirrels in order to know exactly who is visiting the Cafe, with what he intriguingly calls “individual squirrel recognition” — a planned improvement for a future incarnation of The Squirrel Cafe. Fine-tuning of the system aside, Carsten’s forecast for the winter of 2017/18 was spot-on when he predicted, via Twitter, a very cold winter compared to the previous year. He was proven right, as Germany experienced its coldest winter since 2012. Go squirrels!

Follow The Squirrel Cafe

Track the eating habits of the squirrels through some utterly adorable photos on The Squirrel Cafe Twitter account, and learn more about the project on The Squirrel Cafe website.

1 Comment

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter: wizard-worthy Pi projects

Today marks Harry Potter’s 38th birthday. And as we’re so, so very British here at Raspberry Pi, we have no choice but to celebrate the birth of The Boy Who Lived with some wonderfully magical projects from members of the community.

Harry Potter birthday Raspberry Pi

Build your own Daily Prophet

After a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Piet Rullens Jr wanted to build something special to remember the wonderful time he and his wife had at the amusement park.

Daily Prophet poster with moving object

Daily Prophet with moving object

Piet designed and printed his own front page of The Daily Prophet, and then cut out a photo and replaced it with our Official Touch Display. The Raspberry Pi hidden behind it runs a short Python script that responds to input from a motion sensor by letting the screen play video footage from their wizarding day whenever someone walks by.

Read more about Piet’s project on our blog here, and in The MagPi here.

Wizard duelling

Since Allen Pan is known for his tech projects based on pop culture favourites, it’s no surprise that he combined a Raspberry Pi and Harry Potter lore to build duelling gear. But where any of us expecting real spells with very real consequences such as this?

Real Life Harry Potter Wizard Duel with ELECTRICITY | Sufficiently Advanced

Harry Potter body shocking wands with speech recognition…It’s indistinguishable from magic! With the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we took magic wands from Harry Potter to create a shocking new game. Follow Sufficiently Advanced! https://twitter.com/AnyTechnology https://www.facebook.com/sufficientlyadvanced https://www.instagram.com/sufficientlyadvanced/ Check out redRomina: https://www.youtube.com/user/redRomina Watch our TENS unit challenge!

When a dueller correctly pronounces one of a collection of wizard spells, their opponent gets an electric shock from a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine.

Learn more about how the Raspberry Pi controls this rather terrifying build here, and remember: don’t try this at home — wizard duels are reserved for the Hogwarts Great Hall only!

Find family members with the Weasley clock

Curious as to where your family members are at any one time? So was Pat Peters: by replacing magic with GPS technology, Pat recreated the iconic clock from the home of the Weasley family.

Harry Potter birthday Raspberry Pi

But how does it work? Over to Pat:

This location clock works through a Raspberry Pi, which subscribes to an MQTT broker that our phones publish events to. Our phones (running the OwnTracks GPS app) send a message to the broker whenever we cross into or out of one of our waypoints that we have set up in OwnTracks; this then triggers the Raspberry Pi to run a servo that moves the clock hand to show our location.

Find more information, including links to the full Instructables tutorial,  on our blog.

Play Wizard’s Chess!

Motors and gears and magnets, oh my! Bethanie Fentiman knows how to bring magic to Muggles with her Wizard’s Chess set.

Harry Potter birthday Raspberry Pi

We bet ten shiny Sickles that no one has ever finished reading/watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and not wanted to play Wizard’s Chess. Pieces moving by magic, Knights attacking Pawns — it’s entertaining mayhem for the whole family. And while Bethanie hasn’t managed to get her pieces to attack one another (yet), she’s got moving them as if by magic down to a fine art!

Learn more about Bethanie’s Wizard’s Chess set here, where you’ll also find links to the Kent Raspberry Jam community where Bethanie volunteers.

Find your house with the Sorting Hat

Whether you believe yourself to be a Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw, the only way to truly know is via the Hogwarts Sorting Hat.

Harry Potter birthday Raspberry Pi

Our free resource lets you code your own Sorting Hat to establish once and for all which Hogwarts house you really belong to.

I’m a Gryffindor, by the way. [Editor’s note: Alex is the most Gryffindor person I’ve ever met.]

Create a wand-controlled lamp

Visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter may have found themselves in possession of souvenir interactive wands that allow them to control various displays throughout the park. Upon returning from a trip, Sean O’Brien and his daughters began planning how they could continue to use the wands at home.

They soon began work on Raspberry Potter, an automation project that uses an infrared camera and a Raspberry Pi to allow their wands to control gadgets and props around their home.

Find the full tutorial for the build here! And if you don’t have a wand to hand, here are Allen Pan and William Osman making their own out of…hotdogs?!

Hacking Wands at Harry Potter World

How to make your very own mostly-functional interactive wand. Please don’t ban me from Universal Studios. Links on my blog: http://www.williamosman.com/2017/12/hacking-harry-potter-wands.html Allen’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVS89U86PwqzNkK2qYNbk5A Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/williamosman Website: http://www.williamosman.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/williamosmanscience/ InstaHam: https://www.instagram.com/crabsandscience/ CameraManJohn: http://www.johnwillner.com/

You’re a project theme, Harry

We’re sure these aren’t the only Harry Potter–themed Raspberry Pi makes in the wild. If we’ve missed any, or if you have your own ideas for a project, let us know! We will never grow tired of Harry Potter projects…

Harry Potter birthday Raspberry Pi

2 Comments

Automatic mazes with Raspberry Pi and recursive backtracking

Engineerish is back with another Raspberry Pi–based project that you didn’t know you needed until now.

PRINT MAZES WITH RASPBERRY PI

Don’t already have a device around your home that, at the press of a button, prints something cool? Build one! Mine prints randomly generated mazes but why stop there? Thermal printer: https://www.adafruit.com/product/597 Source code: https://github.com/mattiasjahnke/rpi-maze-printer Recursive backtracking algorithm: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maze_generation_algorithm#Recursive_backtracker ———— Consider subscribing to the channel so you don’t miss out!

Printed mazes

Mattias Jahnke, better known as Engineerish to his online followers, was asked by his nephew to draw labyrinth mazes for the youngster to complete. While the task was fun to do by hand, Mattias soon found himself wondering what code and technology he could use to automate it. He soon hit upon the idea of using a Raspberry Pi, a thermal printer, and the recursive backtracking algorithm to produce mazes.

What is recursive backtracking?

Engineerish offers a simplified explanation of recursive backtracking in the video above, and you can learn even more about this algorithm here, here, and here.

The latter of these links provides the following summary of backtracking:

Backtracking problems are solved one step at a time. Literally!  Here’s the general algorithm:

1) Is where I am a solution?
2) No. OK, where can I go from here? If I can go somewhere, choose a place to go.
3) Go there.
5) Was that a solution? If yes, return true!
5) If there are remaining places to go, choose one and go to #3.
6) Out of places to go. Return false.

Building an automated maze printer

To fit the Raspberry Pi and printer, as well as an arcade button and a power supply, Engineerish built a custom wooden box.

This is me – only seconds away from realizing how mankind first discovered how to make a fire. They’ve must have been trying a cut a whole in a wooden box with a Dremel for a maze-generating raspberry pi project.

492 Likes, 17 Comments – Engineerish (@engineerish) on Instagram: “This is me – only seconds away from realizing how mankind first discovered how to make a fire….”

The arcade button is wired to GPIO pin 16, and pressing it starts a Python script that runs the recursive backtracking algorithm and lets the thermal printer produce the finished maze.

Endless fun for the whole fam! Randomly generated mazes with adjustable difficulty at the click of a button. Even though that “button” is currently an ssh connection to a raspberry pi, the execution of two python scripts with passed process arguments to set difficulty and nanoing source code to set the maze size. I’ll try to go full Windows Vista on the user friendlyness another day. For now – it works!

689 Likes, 40 Comments – Engineerish (@engineerish) on Instagram: “Endless fun for the whole fam! Randomly generated mazes with adjustable difficulty at the click of…”

Engineerish has provided the complete code for the project on his GitHub account, allowing everyone to try their hand at printing (and completing) these awesome mazes.

Engineerish

If you’d like to see more from Engineerish, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube account and follow him on Instagram.

Engineerish recursive backtracking raspberry pi mazes

And be sure to also check out his Raspberry Pi Binary Clock, which we covered here on the blog in January.

1 Comment

Synesthiser, an accessible electronic music instrument

A Raspberry Pi is the beating heart of this accessible musical instrument, built by South Korean maker Jaewon “J. One” Choi to enable more people with hearing impairments to create music:

synesthiser.

experimental musical instrument, 2018 Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Pure Data, Python

Making music more accessible

J. One’s latest project, synesthiser, produces vibration alongside sound, and is an exploration into music production and performance for hearing-impaired people.

Its main objective is to make music producing/performing more accessible for those who have a hearing impairment. By producing not only vibration but also audible wave, it could widen the opportunity of designing sound for handicapped and non-handicapped people equally.

synesthiser

The build’s interface is a round surface that reacts to pressure and rotation. By turning it with the flat of their hand, users of synesthiser alter the frequency of sounds; by pressing on it, they manipulate the amplitude and modulation of the waveform.

J. One raspberry Pi synesthiser

A transducer within the unit provides vibrations that resonate throughout the entire device to let people with hearing impairments experience its sound via touch. And hence the project’s title, a portmanteau (or mashup!) of ‘synesthesia‘ and ‘synthesiser’.

Seoul

seoul.

installation / media art, 2017 Max 7, p5.js, Swift, Raspberry Pi filmed by Jaewon Choi special thanks to Gayeong Baek, Jongmin Jung The atmosphere of Seoul is sophisticated. A cold wind of the dawn, endless traffic, people yelling each other, and the rhythm of the footsteps. Everything vaporises to the noise.

You can find more of J. One’s projects on their website, including Seoul, a Raspberry Pi–powered sound exhibit that allows visitors to incorporate their own sounds into layers of real-time noise of Seoul.

Build a synth with Raspberry Pi

Musicians and Raspberry Pis make beautiful music together. This much we know to be true, and a quick search of the interwebs will confirm it for you. We and our community have created Raspberry Pi projects for even the most novice of programmers to try out.

Start with our guide to building a GPIO music box if you’re unsure how to hit the high notes with music and code, and then move on to our introduction to Sonic Pi, the open-source live coding environment.

And for a truly sensational music-based digital making project, have a look at the beautiful mix of sound and aesthetics that is Toby Hendricks’ Raspberry Pi Looper-Synth-Drum…Thing.

Toby Hendricks Raspberry Pi looper

Yes, that’s its actual name.

And if you’re more classically inclined, why not implement this Pi-powered AI algorithm to accompany you on the piano?

No Comments

MagPi 72: AI made easy for your Raspberry Pi

Hi folks, Rob from The MagPi here! With AI currently a hot topic in hobby tech, we thought we’d demystify it for you and your Raspberry Pi in The MagPi 72, out now!

AI made easy, in issue 72 of The MagPi!

The MagPi 72

AI made easy covers several types of current AI and machine learning tech that you, as a hobbyist and consumer, can get your hands on and use with your Pi. Many companies offer voice and image recognition services that work with the help of machine learning, and it’s actually pretty easy to get started with these.

We asked several AI experts to help us out with this, and we cover robot automation, getting the details of an image, and offline voice recognition. We promise it’s Skynet-safe.

Make sweet music

Want to make music? Then follow our guide to create your own Raspberry Pi–powered recording studio — all you need to bring to the table is your own musical talent.

We’ve also got some great tutorials on how to make a mini magic mirror and hack Minecraft Pi with Mathematica, along with some fantastic project showcases such as the squirrel cafe and a ghost detector.

Still not satisfied? Then check out our reviews and community segments — there’s a lot of excellent stuff to read about this issue.

Get The MagPi 72

You can get The MagPi 72 today from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, head over to your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center in the next few days for a print copy. You can also get the new issue online from our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF as well.

Rolling subscription offer!

Want to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the magazine? You can now take out a monthly £5 subscription to the magazine, effectively creating a rolling pre-order system that saves you money on each issue.

The MagPi subscription offer — The Magpi 72 - AI Raspberry Pi

You can also take out a twelve-month print subscription and get a Pi Zero W plus case and adapter cables absolutely free! This offer does not currently have an end date.

See you next month!

No Comments

Block ads at home using Pi-hole and a Raspberry Pi

Today’s blog post comes from Jacob Salmela, creator of Pi-hole, a network-wide ad blocker used by Raspberry Pi enthusiasts to block advertisements on all devices connected to their home network.

What is Pi hole?

An explainer video about the network-wide ad blocker and how to install it.

What is Pi-hole?

Pi-hole is a network-wide ad blocker. Instead of installing adblockers on every device and every browser, you can install Pi-hole once on your network, and it will protect all of your devices. Because it works differently than a browser-based ad-blocker, Pi-hole also block ads in non-traditional places, such as in games and on smart TVs.

I originally made Pi-hole as a replacement for the AdTrap device. I have a background in networking, so I figured I could make something better with some inexpensive hardware like the Raspberry Pi. I spent two summers working on the project and made the code open source. Four years later, we have several developers working on Pi-hole, and we have grown into a very large project with a vibrant community.

How does it work?

Pi-hole functions as an internal, private DNS server for your network. For many home users, this service is already running on your router, but your router doesn’t know where advertisements are — but Pi-hole does. Pi-hole will intercept any queries for known ad-serving domains and deny them access, so ads won’t be downloaded.

Using Pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi

Users configure their router’s DHCP options to force clients to use Pi-hole as their DNS server.

This means websites will load normally but without advertisements; since ads are never downloaded, sites will load faster. Pi-hole also caches these queries, so responsiveness to commonly visited websites can also be noticed.

Pi-hole and Raspberry Pi

The Pi-hole software has very low resource requirements and can even run on a Raspberry Pi Zero W. And despite its name, you can also install Pi-hole on several other Linux distributions. Many users install it on a VM or in a container and let it provide services that way. But since Pi-hole’s resource requirements are so low, many users have found it to be a good use of their older, lower-powered model Raspberry Pis. Simply install Pi-hole, connect the Pi to your router, and begin blocking ads everywhere.

Using Pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi

The Pi-hole web interface allows users to monitor ad-blocking data, to access the query log, and more.

You can also pair Pi-hole with a VPN to get ad blocking via a cellular connection. This will help you with bandwidth limits and data costs, because your phone won’t need to download advertising videos and images.

Install Pi-hole

Pi-hole can be downloaded to your Raspberry Pi via a one-step automated install — just open a terminal window and run the following command:

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

You can find more information about setting up Pi-hole on your Raspberry Pi on the Pi-hole GitHub repository here.

If you need support with using Pi-hole or want to chat with the Pi-hole community, you can visit their forum here.

If you’d like to support Jacob and the Pi-hole team as they continue to develop the functions of their ad-blocker, you can sign up as a Patreon, donate directly, or purchase swag, including the Pi-hole case from Pi Supply.

13 Comments

Mu, a new Python IDE for beginners

Mu is a very simple-to-use Python editor and IDE (integrated development environment) and this week, version 1.0 was released!

Mu Python IDE for beginners Raspberry Pi

New Mu

Mu is designed to be as user-friendly and as helpful as possible for new Python programmers, presenting just the tools that are useful, such as:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Automatic indentation
  • In-built help
  • Code checking
  • Debugging

Great for new programmers

Mu is intended to be not the only Python IDE you’ll ever need, but the first one — the editor that helps you start your coding journey, but not necessarily the one you finish it with. So when you’re ready, you will have the skills and confidence to move on to using a more advanced Python IDE.

You can use Mu in a number of modes; modes make working with Mu easier by only presenting the options most relevant to what you’re using Mu for:

Mu Python IDE for beginners Raspberry Pi

Available now

Mu version 1.0 is available now for Windows, macOS, Linux, and the Raspberry Pi’s official operating system Raspbian! And to help new Python programmers get started, we have created a guide to Getting Started with Mu for all these operating systems.

Mu Python IDE for beginners Raspberry Pi

Mu is the brainchild of Nicholas Tollervey, who has worked tirelessly to create Mu. I recently met up with him and some of the Mu team at the world’s first Mu-“moot” to celebrate this release:

Nicholas Tollervey on Twitter

World’s first Mu-moot. :-(

One of the inspirations for Mu was the keynote presentation at EuroPython 2015 given by Raspberry Pi’s Carrie Anne Philbin. She talked about the barriers to children getting started with Python, including the lack of an suitably easy-to-use IDE:

Carrie Anne Philbin – Keynote: Designed for Education: A Python Solution

Carrie Anne Philbin – Keynote: Designed for Education: A Python Solution [EuroPython 2015] [23 July 2015] [Bilbao, Euskadi, Spain] The problem of introducing children to programming and computer science has seen growing attention in the past few years. Initiatives like Raspberry Pi, Code Club, code.org, (and many more) have been created to help solve this problem.

Raspberry Pi has provided support for the project, helping to take Mu from its first implementation as a micro:bit programming tool to a general-purpose and simple-to-use Python editor and IDE!

You can find installation instructions as well as tutorials on Mu’s website.

20 Comments

Happy 7th birthday, CoderDojo!

What is CoderDojo?

CoderDojo is a global network of free informal clubs for young people aged 7-17 to learn how to code and create with technology. There are more than 1400 active Dojos in 75 countries, regularly attended by 40000 young people.

Happy birthday, CoderDojo 🎂

Seven years ago today, on 23 July, James Whelton and Bill Liao held the first-ever CoderDojo session in Cork, Ireland. When that first group of volunteers and young people (Ninjas) came together to learn how to make a website, design a game, or write their first program, they never imagined how far the CoderDojo movement would go. But the message of CoderDojo and its values of openness, inclusivity, creativity, and community have resonated with many thousands of people and continue to encourage them to get involved to learn and to volunteer.

CoderDojo birthday Raspberry Pi

Founders of CoderDojo James Whelton and Bill Liao

Going global in 95 countries

Since that first Dojo session, the movement has become truly global: there are now more than 1900 Dojos in 95 countries around the world. And not only CoderDojo clubs have developed, but also a fantastic, welcoming, worldwide community of volunteers, and a foundation that provides it with support and resources and is part of the Raspberry Pi family.
CoderDojo birthday Raspberry Pi

Sharing the community spirit

As if running and growing the network of Dojos wasn’t enough, our community also runs wonderful events: CoderDojo volunteers started the Coolest Projects showcase in 2012 as a way for Ninjas to come together and share the projects they have created.

Celebrating Coolest Projects International 2018

Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that empowers and inspires the next generation of digital creators, innovators, changemakers, and entrepreneurs from across the globe.

This year, more than 1000 young coders showcased what they have built at the international Coolest Projects event in Dublin, with regional events taking place in Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, the UK and, in two months’ time, in North America.

Passionate CoderDojo community members also saw the importance of meeting each other and sharing experiences of running their Dojos, so they decided to create an event to bring community members together: DojoCon gives volunteers from around the world the opportunity to gather in person, make friends, and learn from each other to better run and develop their Dojos. Regional DojoCons have been held in Toscana (Italy), Perth (Australia), and Osaka (Japan), along with numerous smaller mentor meetups that offer more localised support and friendships.

And MegaDojos have enabled groups of hundreds of young people to meet up for a day and code together, also providing the chance for newcomers to get involved and try a variety of technologies.

Forming regional bodies

In regions where the concentration of Dojos and the drive to create more clubs are high, CoderDojo community members have formed regional bodies to provide focused support for growth.

“We are located in a city in Italy hit by the earthquake in 2016. We do not have a lot of places to meet. But every month, with a lot of work, we organize a CoderDojo, and the happiness in the children’s eyes is all we need!” – Dojo champion, Macerata, Italy

This highlights the grass-roots nature of the movement, and the passion that people involved have to achieve our goal of every child worldwide having the opportunity to learn to code and to be creative with technology in a safe and social environment.

Publications and initiatives

Since 2011, community members have created and shared learning resources, and translated content at home and in organised hackathon events to help more young people learn to program. Following on from these resources developed in Dojos, two CoderDojo books have been released and translated into ten languages to help even young people in areas where Dojos haven’t cropped up develop the skills to be tech creators.

CoderDojo birthday Raspberry Pi

The CoderDojo Foundation is implementing initiatives to encourage diversity in all Dojos, such as the CoderDojo Girls Initiative, which was inspired by and shares the outstanding work that Dojo volunteers around the world already do to encourage more girls to become Ninjas and learn to code.

Award winners

Since CoderDojo began, we’ve had eight girls attending Dojos be named European Digital Girl of the Year. Ninjas have been nominated for the BAFTA Young Game Designers award and won regional robotics challenges. They’ve travelled to the European Parliament to show MEPs a thing or two about coding. Ninjas have coded in libraries, tech-hubs, nursing homes, hotels, community centres, children’s hospitals, under trees, and on buses!

Answering the call

CoderDojo has encouraged cross-collaboration and intercultural learning. For example, Ninjas in Japan made 1000 origami shuriken to share with Ninjas attending this year’s Coolest Projects International in Dublin, and young people and volunteers in Dojos in Argentina and Belgium worked together to enter the European Astro Pi Challenge. And on community calls, volunteers from different continents, who would never have the opportunity to talk to each other otherwise, ask each other questions and offer each other advice.

“CoderDojo provides Ninjas with a positive, safe space for them to exercise their brain and to work on various projects. The sense of recognition and achievement among the young people is amazing. [Where our Dojo is located] is considered a disadvantaged area with a high level of poverty, substance misuse issues, and unemployment. Having such a positive space like CoderDojo for the young people of this community is acting as a prevention factor to the issues. Our young people are continuously learning, exploring, building relationships, and increasing their chances at a better quality of life.” – Dojo mentor, North Dublin, Ireland

Over the past seven years, thousands of amazing volunteers and supporters around the world have enabled 200000 young people to be technology creators. In 2017 alone, volunteers gave an incredible 290000 hours to support Ninjas to gain the confidence and skills to create with code!

☯CoderDojo☯ on Twitter

It was amazing celebrating our 7th birthday today. Well done in particular to all the young people who attended, those who shared what they were working on with the Duke & Duchess of Sussex, to their parents/guardians, & all the volunteers for their support thoughout the day!♥️

But it’s not just time they give, volunteers have contributed their enthusiasm, creativity, and love to create a generous and fun community! We would not have reached this seventh birthday without all the champions, mentors, and other volunteers who are the backbone of the CoderDojo movement, so thank you! We hope, with all your help, to continue to inspire young coders around the world.

Join the CoderDojo movement

“As the champion, the Dojo is the thing in my life I am most proud of, and that I look forward to each week. It is the most meaningful thing that I do, and seeing all the kids having a great time with their friends each week, and enjoying the learning experience, is truly fulfilling. It makes me wish I was young again to have such an opportunity to learn and be cool with all the great kids involved. It re-ignites my own passion for technology, which sometimes is easy to forget!” – Dojo champion, Kildare, Ireland

If you would like to start a fun, inclusive coding club for 7- to 17-year-olds in your local area, then find out more about setting up a Dojo here.

No Comments