Tag Archives: china

China press and community tour

via Raspberry Pi

As you might have spotted, if you follow us on Twitter, Eben and I spent the last week and a bit touring China, meeting the Raspberry Pi community there and giving interviews to the press, with some sterling organisational help from our friends at RS Components. (A special and huge thank you to Eric Lee, without whom we’d have been absolutely stuffed. Mostly with delicious pork confections and noodles, but stuffed nonetheless.)

Here’s what we got up to.

First up, there were a lot of press conferences to give, with help from the excellent William, our simultaneous translator; after a week of doing this, we ended up with more than 100 pieces of media being written or recorded about Raspberry Pi across China. This one, in Shanghai, is pretty typical.

Press conference

We noticed that the tech press in China is incredibly well-educated; a lot of these journalists trained as engineers and then moved into publishing. (And everywhere we went, at least 50% of the technical journalists were women – something I wish we’d emulate in the west.)

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We went to a Raspberry Jam in Shanghai, held at RS Components’ offices. We met some great people (Kevin Deng and the gang from 52pi.cn, a Chinese website dedicated to the Raspberry Pi, actually followed us on to the next event in Shenzhen as well), who’d built some amazing projects.

Shanghai Jam

The robot on our desk is LIDAR (laser radar)-equipped, from DFrobot. We’re listening to a talk about open source from David Li, one of China’s most famous open source pioneers. Eric Lee from RS is on the right.

lidarbot

This laser-etcher is one of the projects the 52pi gang had brought along; you can buy lasers for this sort of project off the shelf in China, where the integrity of your eyeball is your own responsibility. I’ve got a couple of coasters with our logo on them on my desk at the moment, made using this machine.

laser etcher

Jackie Li gave an amazing talk about the projects he’s made at home – cameras streaming to remote screens, a simplified media centre for his grandma, robots – and this excellent LED persistence of vision device for displaying reminders in the kitchen.

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We flew out next to Shenzen, where hundreds of people turned up for a Raspberry Jam, and where we did more press conferences and more interviews. Before we left for China, I’d been worried that the community base would be smaller than we’re used to. It turned out to be almost too large for us to deal with in the time we’d had allotted in each location.

Shenzhen Jam

It got a bit hard to move in Shenzhen for all the people wanting a photo. We saw some great presentations (one of which, from Martin Liu, who describes himself as a living-room maker, demonstrated the work we sponsored to get the XBMCmenu working in new fonts – including Chinese. It’s at the back of the photo here, behind all the people with cameras.)

allthecameras

We met a lot of Shenzhen makers who are also entrepreneurs; on the left here is Zoe from Seeed Studio. Eben’s holding some sensors from their Grove project, which works with Raspberry Pi.

seeed

This young gentleman had a robot to show us, controlled with Scratch (on the desk to the right), and a poster for Eben about Pi-controlled brewing. He was terribly shy, and I really wanted to give him a hug, but suspected that might have made matters worse.

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We managed to get about an hour at the enormous electronics market in Shenzhen with Eric, where we had some fun looking at components and working out if we could lower the bill of materials cost in the Pi itself. Unfortunately, it’s so big you need at least a week to work your way around the place; we plan to return.

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Next stop, Taipei. We started off at Noise Kitchen, where we met a group from CaveDu, a local hacker group. The robot in the middle was being prepared for the next day’s Jam at Tatung university – the display shows how many likes CaveDu’s Facebook page has.

CaveDu

These guys hung around for HOURS to meet us, for which we’re very grateful; our plane was delayed six hours, and we didn’t get there until nearly 11pm. I met a home-made laptop with a removable wireless keyboard (a clever way to get around the hinge problem), and made a new best friend.

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First thing the next morning, we headed out to Tatung university.

tatung uni jam

We were expecting a few tens of people, having failed to learn our lesson from Shenzhen. More than 250 people turned up.

tatung crowd

Among the crowd was my new best friend from the night before. We do not have a language in common, but we bonded over high-fives and fist-bumps.

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It was HOT; about 33C in the shade. And unfortunately, the air conditioning in the building got turned off an hour or so in, so we get damper and damper as these photos progress and the temperature climbs well above 40C.

We met a self-balancing robot in a hamster ball.

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We bumped into an old friend. (The beer is there for thermal reasons.)

Rapiro

Eben got interviewed, sweaty, by Taiwanese TV.

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And this is my other new best friend, Liang Chih Chiang, who gave a presentation (which he’s very kindly translated for me so you can all read it) about our community and social media – a subject that’s very close to my heart, for obvious reasons.

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We saw some amazing projects, like this gaming machine…

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…this Pi-powered 3d printer…

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…and this, which I was never able to get close enough to to find out what it does. I think it might be a musical instrument. Or possibly a cocktail machine.

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Any suggestions, anybody?

We had a wonderful, exhausting, wonderful time. Thanks so much to everybody who came to see us; and an especial thanks to Eric, Desiree, Soo Chun, Katherine and the rest of the RS gang, who looked after us so well. We hope we’ll be back in a year or so – and until then, here’s a picture of a bit of press that I can’t read, but that’s made me laugh more than anything else that’s been published about us this year.

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Making it in China

via Arduino Blog

Visiting the DimSum Lab hackerspace in Hong Kong. Photo by William Liang

(originally posted on Makezine)

Right after the overwhelming experience of Maker Faire Rome I left Europe for a week a quick tour in China. There are a lot of cool things happening there. I’d been to China twice before for a very short time so this time I wanted to spend a few days to meet with people and take part in some cool events going on in Shanghai and Shenzhen. I accepted an invitation to give a talk about Arduino at the School of Design of Hong Kong Polytechnic University and while I was there, William Liang (adjunt assistant professor at the same university) took me to visit the local community at the Dim Sum Lab hackerspace.

Dim sum is a delicious, Hong Kong speciality composed of a myriad of different, bite-sized delights. Similarly, the DimSum Lab hosts different types of communities with various interests, from coders to makers.

I then flew to Shenzhen to meet with the people at SeedStudio who took me around the city to discover the different opportunities this city offers. Makers are closer to the manufacturers here and have easier access to new components and parts. Clearly there is an advantage and certain makers, if they get organized, can jump quickly from a small idea to large scale manufacturing for a much lower cost.

This happens because they are not only close to manufacturers, but closer to the supply chain as 90 percent of electronic parts are made in China and you can basically assemble a device very quickly because of easy access to parts. Recently, Seeds Studio published the Maker Map of Shenzhen which looks a bit like the celeb’s house map you get in Los Angeles, but instead of getting information on where famous actors live, you can easily find out where suppliers, manufacturers and hackerspaces are.

maker map

There are also lots of projects based on Arduino. We realized more than 90 percent of the boards people use are fake, not even Arduino clones, but fakes. We discussed this topic with SeedStudio which has always been very respectful of the Arduino project and of the use of our trademark. It’s understandable, in a way, that an Arduino made in Europe tends to be quite expensive for most of the people in China. We know that the interest in Arduino is very high and we are working on how to provide official Arduino boards in China.

As we often said, it’s not only about making boards and selling them. It’s about creating all the official documentation in Chinese, having an official forum and social media presence, and making videos and sharing them outside of YouTube (inaccessible for many Chinese people). We clearly need to change the way we do things to be able to interact with the Chinese community. It’s going to take a bit than just focusing on providing accessible boards.

Massimo with Guo Haoyun the translator of Getting Started with Arduino. Photo by Silvia Lindtner

Later, when we visited the local hackerspace in Shenzhen called Chaihuo, some of the people I met there had just come back from Maker Faire Rome. They showed me all the pictures they took and it was amazing how they reported back to their peers the experiences they had in Italy and the projects they discovered during the event. During the Q&A session we had, they asked me a lot of really detailed questions and Eric Pan, from Seeds Studio, did a great job in translating my answers.

Next stop was Shanghai where I gave a talk at the Sino-Finnish Centre at College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University. I visited the community of the XinCheJian hackerspace and then participated in HackedMatter, a whole day focused on rethinking manufacturing from the point of view of science fiction narratives and exploring “how the professionalizing of maker culture is developing increasingly intimate relations with the small-scale factory owners and micro-entrepreneurs that make up China’s core of hardware manufacturing”.  The event was organized by Silvia Lindter in conjunction with the Shanghai Maker Carnival.

Speaking at HackedMatter in Shanghai.  Photo by Silvia Lindtner.

During Hacked Matter I gave a talk on the topic of collaboration, a concept at the heart of the Arduino approach, highlighting the idea that innovation is not purely about technology, but more on creating the right collaborations with the right people.

It was interesting to note that the maker community in Shanghai is pretty diverse and composed not only by locals as there are a lot of people coming originally from outside China who moved there. At the Maker Carnival I discovered many high quality projects and realized some differences with the community in Shenzhen. It was also interesting to understand how Chinese culture works and how Arduino can create channels to communicate within that culture.

Open hardware companies from around the world could clearly benefit from a trip to China especially if they can find someone local to work with, tapping into the local community to go beyond language barriers. There’s a lot of very talented people over there able to deal with complicated projects. At the various hackerspaces I visited I received interesting questions and I was lucky enough to have someone translating otherwise I’d never met these smart people.

Red Pi at night

via Raspberry Pi

Sad news for collectors: unless you’re in China, you won’t be able to get your hands on one of these.

We’ve been working on how to improve availability of the Raspberry Pi in China. China represents a massive potential market for the Pi, and one which comes with its own unique set of challenges. With this in mind, in partnership with our licensees RS Components and Premier Farnell, we have granted Egoman Technology Corp a licence to produce and distribute Pis in China and Taiwan.

As you can see from the vegetation, I’m not in Cambridge today. Click to embiggen!

We’ve made sure that the Chinese Pis are visually easy to distinguish from rest-of-world Pis. Because they do not carry FCC/CE marks (although they are fully compatible with the boards you can buy elsewhere), it’s not legal to import them into the EU or the USA, or into some other parts of the world.

Egoman are aiming to make these Pis widely available in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Here’s another picture; as usual, click to enlarge.

Red Pi

Five Questions for Zach “Hoeken” Smith

via MAKE » Category: Open source hardware

Zach "Hoeken" Smith, in a picture from his blogZach "Hoeken" Smith is a co-founder of MakerBot, but he left the company 18 months ago and now calls Shenzhen, China home. In addition to pursuing his own projects he's the program director for Haxlr8r , San Francisco-based hardware start-up incubator. As part of MAKE's coverage of the "maker pro" space, I recently interviewed Zach about his work in China.

Read the full article on MAKE