3 weeks ago

Anne Carlill interview

Veteran programmer and founder of York Raspberry Pi Jam

“York is a small city but I felt it had potential to have a regular Jam,” Anne Carlill explains to us. For those outside of the UK, York is a historic city, even if it is a little small, and a symbol of the North of England.

This article first appeared in The MagPi 84 and was written by Rob Zwetsloot

Anne herself definitely has the know-how to run a Jam in York. She’s been coding for 45 years, passing on her skills to her children with a BBC Micro in the eighties. She’s also been a college teacher, and now, although she’s retired, she has been running a Code Club for four years.

“There had been a couple of big Jams at the STEM Centre but no follow-up,” Anne continues. “I’ve been going to Leeds Raspberry Jam for about four years and have learnt so much from their organiser Claire Garside – and it was Claire who suggested I should consider running a Raspberry Jam. I went to Cambridge for the training, took a while to find venues, and started running my own at the beginning of 2017. I think of YRJ as a little offshoot of Leeds, as our attendance is small, but we are growing. York Explore Libraries have been very supportive and both of our venues are libraries: one in West and one in East York.”

What are the York Raspberry Jam attendees like?

They are all ages and abilities, but mostly parents with children: they’re beginners right up to people who know a lot more than me. Luke (@YorkPiJam) and I began organising together in March 2018. It’s a bit odd having a 16-year-old and a grandma, in her late 60s, planning together, but it works. We plan by social media as we don’t see each other between Jams. Luke is the brains, and I’m the facilitator who makes sure the kit works and there are biscuits, etc.

How did you learn about Raspberry Pi?

I heard a report on the Radio 4 Today programme about six years ago and just had to have one. My Model B setup cost £60 and I have about £20 a month to save up or spend on electronics kit. What excites me most is to see people who haven’t got much cash really taking to the Raspberry Pi! And I’m very keen to know how well Raspberry Pi is going down in places like India and Africa where the cost really matters. I love hearing from people in those places about what they’re managing to do with their frugal kit of Raspberry Pi devices.

What have you made with a Raspberry Pi?

I’m a beginner with physical computing, but I really enjoy having a go. I’ve made the CamJam EduKit #3 robot buggy and several light-up wearables. I think my best project so far has been the My Naturewatch Camera Trap, though, because I was given a Raspberry Pi Camera Module a few years back and didn’t know what to do with it. Then I heard about this Raspberry Pi Zero project, I just had to have a go – and it works! So far, my pictures have been rubbish, but I’m determined to persist.

Any Raspberry Pi projects you’d love to make?

I’m really keen on the environment and looking at climate change, so I’d love to get a full environmental monitor, such as the Enviro+ with particulate matter sensor, because I’d love to do some citizen data science and be part of a large-scale data project.