Hour of Code 2015

via Raspberry Pi

Hour of Code is a worldwide initiative to get as many people as possible to have a go at programming computers.

Each December for the past couple of years, educators, tech businesses and non-profits alike have made a big push to get kids and adults to try their hand at writing a few lines of code. This year there’s a huge number of resources and projects available online, and schools all over the world will be taking part in what promises to be the biggest Hour of Code ever.

"Hour of Code" banner with children coding and egg timer

Here at Raspberry Pi Towers, we’re thrilled to play our part with a cracking selection of digital making projects for beginners and intermediate programmers.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we’re about to send Raspberry Pi computers to the International Space Station as part of Astronaut Tim Peake’s Astro Pi mission. You can find out all about the mission, and how you can get involved, on the Astro Pi website. As a special treat, we’ve included a selection of awesome space projects in our Hour of Code offering.

You don’t even need a Raspberry Pi computer to enjoy them. Our Gravity Simulator and Astronaut Reaction Time games both use the visual programming language Scratch, and while that works brilliantly on a Raspberry Pi, it works just as well on any old PC or Mac you’ve got lying about.

Two children wearing space suits play the Astronaut Reaction Time game, while floating in zero gravity!

Make a game in Scratch to test your reaction skills and see if you could become an astronaut

If you’re one of the 10,000 or so people who have got their hands on one of our lovely Sense HATs (that’s the add-on board with lots of sensors that we’re sending into space), then there are lots of cool projects for you. There’s a Minecraft Map and the wonderful Flappy Astronaut, which is not at all related to another game with a similar name (honest).

My personal favourite this year has to be the Interactive Pixel Pet project, which uses the Python programming language to transform your Sense HAT into an interactive companion. My eight-year-old son Dylan had no trouble completing it in an hour, although he’s spent a lot longer than that showing it off to his mates.

Dylan’s Hour of Code project

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If none of those projects gets you excited, or perhaps when you’ve finished them all, head over to our resources section where there are dozens of excellent project ideas, lesson plans and much, much more.

You should also check out our community magazine, The MagPi, which brings you 100 pages of projects every month, and is always free to download as a PDF.

Whether you’re in a classroom or a bedroom, our job is to provide you with the tools, inspiration and support to learn about digital making. What are you waiting for?

Part of our Hour of Code page, showing a selection of Beginner and Intermediate resources

Hour of Code is a really important initiative, but anyone who tells you that you can teach someone how to code in an hour (or a day) doesn’t know what they’re talking about. What Hour of Code can do is help demystify computer science and spark an interest in learning more.

Initiatives like Code Club translate that interest into something more substantial, giving young people the knowledge and confidence to shape their world through code.

If Hour of Code inspires you, then why not get involved in setting up or running a Code Club at a primary school near you? Whatever your level of skills, giving just an hour a week of your time will make a huge difference.

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Seeed Studio’s Annual Big Sale Holiday: Seeeday!

via Dangerous Prototypes


Huge saving @ Seeeday! Collect Seeeday coupons for $0 shopping:

Seeeday comes from word “Seeed Day”. It is Seeedstudio’s special sale holiday, and it is a one day only event that takes place on the second Wednesday of December every year. It will be on December 9th this year. We offer screaming deals on various items on whole site.

Part 1:  Buy more, get more Seeeday Coupons (Nov. 23 – Dec. 7, 2015 EST)
Part2:  Crazy Flash Deals (Nov. 26, Nov. 27 and Nov. 30
Part3:  $0 Shopping with Seeeday Coupons on Seeeday! Let’s rock Seeeday!

Visit Seeed Studio’s promo page for details.

App note: Protecting the Universal Serial Bus from over voltage and overcurrent threats

via Dangerous Prototypes


An old application note from Littelfuse about USB protection. Link here (PDF)

This application note addresses the various requirements for protecting the Universal Serial Bus (USB) from overcurrent and overvoltage environmental threats. The solutions presented cover both USB 1.1 and the higher speed USB 2.0 circuitry. Specific emphasis is placed on USB 2.0 with information directed at hot connection over current conditions and electrostatic discharge (ESD) induced in the USB system.

Free PCB Sunday: Pick your PCB

via Dangerous Prototypes


We go through a lot of prototype PCBs, and end up with lots of extras that we’ll never use. Every Sunday we give away a few PCBs from one of our past or future projects, or a related prototype. Our PCBs are made through Seeed Studio’s Fusion board service. This week two random commenters will get a coupon code for the free PCB drawer tomorrow morning. Pick your own PCB. You get unlimited free PCBs now – finish one and we’ll send you another! Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times every week:

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • Be sure to use a real e-mail in the address field so we can contact you with the coupon.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.
  • PCBs are scrap and have no value, due to limited supply it is not possible to replace a board lost in the post

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App note: Automotive circuit protection using Littelfuse automotive TVS diodes

via Dangerous Prototypes


An interesting app note from Littelfuse about automotive circuit protection but also discusses about where transients came from in an automotive setup. Link here (PDF)

The designers of automotive electronics face many technical challenges during the system design process, including designing methods of protection against a variety of electrical hazards. The three major sources of electrical hazards in these systems are electrostatic discharge (ESD), lightning, and switching loads in power electronics circuits. Overcoming transient surges that can harm the vehicle’s electronics is one of the biggest challenges of the design process.

Protecting automotive electronics includes eliminating transient surges that can damage the control units, infotainment electronics, sensors, fuel injectors, valves, motors, 12/24/42/48V powertrains and hydrolytic controllers, etc.

App note: AVR32 UC3 USB host mass storage bootloader

via Dangerous Prototypes


USB host mass storage bootloader (PDF!) app note from Atmel:


• In-System Programming (ISP) and Field Upgrade
– Configurable Start Condition with an Upgrade Firmware File ‘avr32fwupgrade.uc3’
Located on a USB Device Implementing the USB Mass Storage Class
• USB Protocol
– Based on the USB Host Mass Storage Class (MSC)
• USB MSC bootloader is additional to the pre-programmed USB Device Firmware
Upgrade (DFU) bootloader
• No computer required