Tag Archives: Community

European Maker Week

via Raspberry Pi

A large part of the Raspberry Pi community identify as makers. We all love to make things – from robots to yarn to pottery to art – and share our creations with others. European Maker Week is a celebration of this rapidly growing community, and it takes place between 30 May and 5 June in 28 countries.

European Maker Week banner: "a celebration of makers and innovators all over Europe"

EMW is an initiative promoted by European Commission and implemented by Maker Faire Rome in collaboration with Startup Europe. Over 80 events are scheduled for the week so there’s plenty to get involved with. And if you’re running a Raspberry Jam that week, you can submit it to the EMW website to be included on the map.

Map showing European Maker Week events in countries across Europe

European Maker Week events

This weekend, Maker Faire UK takes place in Newcastle. Maker Faire Rome, the largest in Europe, takes place in October, and their call for makers opens on 26 April – it’s a great opportunity to show off your latest Raspberry Pi project, or to attend and observe the great hacks on display in the city of Rome. This year a prize of €100,000 is available for the best maker project with the highest social impact.

Banners at the entrance to Maker Faire Rome: "16-18 Ottobre 2015" and "Scopri. Inventa. Crea."

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Maker Faire Rome

There are many ways of connecting with the wider maker community. We strongly encourage you to check out a Maker Faire if you get the chance, and if you’re near a hackspace, a maker space, a fab lab or a repair café, you’ll find people there who are happy to share skills and tools. And, of course, there are Raspberry Jams around the world for you to get involved with too, such Raspberry Jam Berlin, Pi and More in Trier, and Rhône Raspberry Jam. A jam doesn’t have to be a huge event, it can be a small gathering – why not think about setting one up? Head over to our Jam page to find out how to get started!

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Success for Code Clubs in South Wales libraries

via Raspberry Pi

It’s four o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and, in an old Victorian library in a small town in South Wales, big things are happening. The computer room is crammed with children, all intently focused and engaged. Working independently or in pairs, they are building games and animations in Scratch. This is the Penarth Library Code Club, and, as you may have guessed, it’s a roaring success. The club is very popular: every workstation has at least one occupant, and library staff have even offered their own laptops so that more children can join in. Some late arrivals have to be turned away, as the room simply won’t hold any more people. It’s vibrant, educational, and a long way from the stereotypes of dusty books and severe, shushing librarians.

Code club Dinas

I help a young coder get to grips with the Raspberry Pi. Photo credit: Paul Templing

When you think of coding, it’s probably a fair bet that public libraries are not the first things to spring to mind. Indeed, most Code Clubs are run in schools, but libraries are also an important venue offering young coders the chance to learn new skills outside of the classroom. While public libraries have no formal or official obligation to support the National Curriculum in schools, many have taken it upon themselves to engage with and support the new focus on computing and programming at both primary and secondary level. It’s particularly telling that this drive to engage with programming has come from a sector which is conventionally seen as reluctant to embrace or adapt to emerging technologies. It’s also interesting that library-based Code Clubs are significantly more common in Wales. Code Club notes that 3.6% of active clubs across the UK are in libraries; in Wales, however, the figure stands at 6.2%. There is, of course, a very strong element of local pride at work here, especially since the merger of Code Club and Raspberry Pi. Almost all Pis sold worldwide are made in the Sony factory in Pencoed, just 20 miles away from Penarth: significant numbers of jobs have been created, and there is genuinely an enormous amount of admiration in the area for the the tiny computer. It’s not surprising that locals both young and old are keen to get to grips with coding in general, and coding on the Pi in particular.

Coding robots

Photo credit: Paul Templing

The librarians of the Vale of Glamorgan are one group who have particularly embraced technology, coding, and digital making, and key to this enthusiasm are Phil Gauci, a Library Support Officer, and James Emery, who works in digital development. In addition to Penarth, there are three other full-time libraries in the Vale, together with five part-time ones run by volunteers. Phil and James have been energetically mobilising colleagues across the area to encourage local children to get coding. Their efforts have been so successful that they are now planning to move on to introducing the children to physical computing: inspired by Technoclubs hosted by the libraries of Neath Port Talbot and funded by Carnegie UK, they planned to run robotics workshops using Lego Mindstorms and Scratch. However, the relatively high cost of the hardware renders it inappropriate for public libraries, especially given the serious reductions in funding faced by most services.

Pi in a library

Photo credit: Paul Templing

Fortunately, an alternative solution was available in the form of the Raspberry Pi. Phil and James started using Pis in Penarth Library in 2014; they have now tripled the number of units in operation, and are working on introducing them across the Vale. In order to meet the high levels of demand from prospective club members, they are beginning to run additional sessions at weekends, as well as putting on special events: this half term, 40 children gathered in Penarth, Dinas Powys, Cowbridge, and Barry libraries to make model robots with flashing LED antennae, writing the code in both Scratch and Python on Raspberry Pis. The sessions proved very popular, and plans are afoot to run further sessions exploring Sonic Pi and Minecraft, among other things.

Library Robots

Photo credit: Paul Templing

How do Phil and James see libraries as fitting into the overall mission of Code Clubs and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, then? James explains:

Our clubs are more dynamic than traditional code clubs because we welcome seasoned coders alongside those who are just starting out. The kids who turn up will often come from different schools and it’s really exciting to see how they share and interact with others’ projects. We’re hoping to keep improving our own skills and understanding so that we can take Code Club to the next level and run workshops all across the Vale, creating some new partnerships along the way. It’s all about promoting the library service to a new audience, who may not be aware of how much we’ve changed and what we now offer.

Libraries have for some time had a role to play in encouraging information literacy among adult users. Now they are extending this to the next generation of aspiring programmers, and their efforts really seem to be paying off.

We currently have a vacancy for Code Club’s Regional Coordinator covering Wales, and we’re also recruiting Regional Coordinators for Yorkshire & North East and for the South West. The deadline for applications is 9am on Monday 21 March: go to Code Club’s jobs page to find out more.

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What a party!

via Raspberry Pi

On Monday 29 February, we celebrated the fourth (or first) birthday of the Raspberry Pi computer by giving a little gift to the community in the form of the Raspberry Pi 3.  A lot more power, with built in wireless LAN and Bluetooth, for the same great price of $35.

On 5 and 6 March, the community paid us back and then some.  Well over 1500 people of all ages gathered at the Cambridge Computer Lab for our Big Birthday Weekend.  An amazing festival of digital making and creativity, showcasing the very best that our community has to offer. For us at the Foundation, it was the best birthday present we could have hoped for.

boy at piparty

Here are some of my personal highlights.

Across the two days, there were 47 talks from community members and Foundation staff showcasing projects, sharing experiences of using Raspberry Pi in education, talking about Code Clubs, introducing new software developments, and exploring some of the big issues like getting more women and girls involved in digital making.  The lecture theatres were packed all weekend.

packed lecture theatre

photo credit: @teknoteacher

I was particularly pleased to see so many great contributions from young community members, like European Digital Girl of the Year Yasmin Bey‘s powerful talk on Sunday morning about encouraging more girls into tech.

Yasmin Bey

Yasmin Bey

It was great for me to be able to give a talk on what we’ve been up to in the Foundation and get some feedback on our strategy from the community. Thank you to everyone who came along to that session.

Philip Colligan

Me talking about the Foundation’s strategy at #piparty

We were also treated to both (accidental) pyrotechnics and (deliberate) magic.  All of the talks were recorded and will be available online in the next few days, so don’t worry if you missed them.

Raspberry Pi Drone Fire at the Pi Party Weekend

One of the talks at the Raspberry Pi Birthday Party weekend was one given by Andy Barker. He demonstrated “Zoe”, a Raspberry Pi powered quadcopter. His talk went well but the highlight was test run three. This is where “Zoe” drifted to one side, attacked Andy and then burst into flames.

There were 28 workshops where kids and adults had the chance to get hands-on with Raspberry Pi, have a go at hacking Minecraft, make music with Sonic Pi, and learn how to make projects with Scratch. Again, the vast majority of these were led by volunteers from the community, including several that were led by young people.

workshop

One of the workshops run by our Creative Technologists

One of my personal highlights was the workshop that brought together Raspberry Jam Makers from all over the world, to share experiences and explore how we could work together to grow the community even further.

jam workshop

The show and tell zone was packed full of ingenious projects that members of the community had built for the sheer joy of it. Like most people, I got lost for hours among the games, robots, demos, and inventions.

Sherry Coutu on Twitter

Loved watching the little girls everywhere at the @Raspberry_Pi #PiParty pic.twitter.com/rx7PK6i9F5

Show and tell

I’ll also confess to a little competitiveness trying to defeat the AI Connect 4, a contest which sadly ended in an honourable draw. I know how Lee Sedol must be feeling after his first couple of games of Go against DeepMind.

Connect 4 Robot at Raspberry Pi Birthday Party

A Raspberry Pi powered robotic arm that plays Connect 4

The marketplace brought together lots of the best makers and distributors in the ecosystem.  Pimoroni, The Pi Hut, ModMyPi, pi-top, and many, many more were on hand.  They’re such an important part of the community and it was great to catch up with them and play with some of the new toys they have on offer.

market place

There was a bustling marketplace

Special thanks to our friends pi-top who presented Eben, Liz and David (our esteemed chairman) with a fourth birthday edition of their wonderful Raspberry Pi-powered laptop.

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Saturday night ended with a massive party involving 110 pizzas, a huge quantity of cake, gallons of soft drinks, 2.5 barrels of beer brewed using a Raspberry Pi, and one barrel of Raspberry Blush cider.

David Bower on Twitter

Happy 4th Birthday @Raspberry_Pi #PiParty @EbenUpton @Liz_Upton pic.twitter.com/n3VBSoFLhB

We were also treated to a live coding music performance by the wonderful Sam Aaron, creator of Sonic Pi, with his band Poly Core.

David Pride on Twitter

The superb @samaaron jamming live @Sonic_Pi at the @Raspberry_Pi #PiParty – with backing band!! pic.twitter.com/QZJhsZ7CIn

Perhaps the best thing about the Big Birthday Party was that it was a community effort.

Enormous thanks go to Mike Horne and Tim Richardson, the organisers of Cam Jam, who once again gave huge amounts of their time to make it all happen.

We’re also hugely grateful to the Cambridge Computer Lab who very generously gave us the use of their fantastic building.  Thanks, too, to Microsoft and Real VNC, who sponsored the event and provided fantastic interactive demos. Thanks to Ben at Fuzzy Duck brewery for the Irrational Ale.

One of the stand-out contributions over the weekend was from our growing community of young people, including the self-styled but appropriately named “Pi Squad”, and our very own Creative Technologists. They are such a talented bunch of people, and it’s great to see them already taking leadership positions in the community.

The Pi Squad at #PiParty

“The Pi Squad at #PiParty”

The Foundation team was also out in strength across the weekend, giving talks, running workshops, signing up volunteers for Code Club, and generally helping out wherever would could.

Our own Dave Honess deserves a special mention for spending all of Sunday in a space suit to promote our new Astro Pi competition. As another colleague (Matt Richardson) said, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”.

Dave and Tim

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

We might all be exhausted, but we’re already looking forward to next year.

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Four Years of Pi

via Raspberry Pi

We are going to be doing some celebrating here at Pi Towers on Monday: February 29 is the 4th anniversary (or 1st, if you’re prissy about leap years) of the first sales of the Raspberry Pi 1.

We’ll have more reminiscing to do on the day, but to whet your appetite, here’s an absolutely wonderful video (for which read: “a video that made Liz cry again”) from Matt Timmons-Brown, aka The Raspberry Pi Guy, celebrating what the Raspberry Pi community has achieved over the last four years.

Four years of Pi!

Four years. One leap year. 8 million Raspberry Pis. I was an 11 year old school boy when I first heard about the Raspberry Pi in 2011. It seemed pretty darn cool that I could own a personal computer for under £30.

I liked this so much I thought it deserved to stay up over the weekend rather than getting swallowed up in Monday’s blog post of reminiscences: enjoy! (Thanks Matt!)

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Raspberry Pi Weekly – stay connected with the Raspberry Pi community

via Raspberry Pi

Two-and-a-half years ago, as a humble Raspberry Pi fanboy, I started Pi Weekly, an email newsletter summarising what was going on in the world of Raspberry Pi. After a few weeks, Liz featured it on the Raspberry Pi blog and the subscribers grew steadily. Six months later I started working here at the Foundation, and I continued to run the newsletter in the same way. I’ve sent out 140 issues now and never missed a single week (ok, it’s a day or two late now and then). It’s never been difficult to find a bunch of links to include in the newsletter, as there’s been an increasing amount of activity around the web the stronger the Pi community has grown.

raspberry-pi-weekly

Today I sent out Issue #140 as the official Raspberry Pi newsletter. We’ve brought it in-house, given it a great new look and it’s going to continue providing the best news, projects and articles from the community each week, including content from our own blog, and from the many brilliant blogs of Pi users around the world.

All the past issues are available on the web, and if you subscribe, you’ll get it in your inbox every Friday.

Go and read today’s issue Izzie, featuring Astro Pi, Chromium OS, PiGRRL, Pimoroni’s IoT pHAT, a radio stream recorder, a voice controlled drone, a grown-up WiFi banana (seriously), 42 useful Linux commands and more. If you like it, sign up and you’ll be on the list for next week’s issue.

pi-weekly-preview

We’re also on Twitter and Google+, which is another way to consume the newsletter’s content throughout the week.

Thanks to everyone who supported Pi Weekly, including Ryan Walmsley, who helped run it in the early days, all the sponsors who made it possible to scale, all the contributors, and of course all the subscribers who made it worthwhile. Also thanks to Sam Alder for his work on the new layout, and to phpList who are supporting the email list from today.

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Owing DirtyPCBs: an opportunity lost

via Dangerous Prototypes

dirtyboards-sticker

With the Chinese company out of the way, I’ve had some time to work on projects and plan what to do next. One thing I have to do is own DirtyPCBs, I’ve failed at some basic stuff.

DirtyPCBs.com was a joke. It started as a quick script so our team and a few Shenzhen locals could get PCBs from our cheap fab with less hassle. A comment on a blog post said the PCB silk screen sucked, so we started calling it “Dirt cheap, dirty boards”. Unfortunately DirtyBoards.com was taken, so we stuck the site up at DirtyPCBs.com.

It stayed below radar for about 4 months, taking a couple orders a week from friends and neighbors. Then BAM! It’s on Hack a Day and suddenly getting hundreds of orders.

It isn’t a feasible business, but it’s so cool to see people actually use this thing I built. People have done some really incredible stuff with DirtyPCBs, and I’ve met a bunch of amazing hackers because of it.

Even as everything “dirty” became a common reference at Hacker Camp Shenzhen and around the BBQ joint, I kept it at arms length. I’ve been really hesitant to own it or fold it into Dangerous Prototypes. The dirty cheap PCB business model doesn’t pay for the level of support I want to offer.

I was wrong, that was a huge mistake.

Over the past two years it became a big support nightmare anyways, while also not being profitable. If we had spent that time building a DirtyPCBs community things could have been different. That doesn’t mean marketing, social media, or “community development managers” – all we needed was a forum.

This is the most basic tenant of open hardware shops. Adafruit covers it in their earliest tutorials, and I’ve talked about it at Maker Faires and accelerators.

I failed big time.

Whether we meet here in Shenzhen, or just via support email, DirtyPCBs customers are insanely awesome! For the last two years I should have brought them together to help document the service and lighten the support load. At the very least I should answer questions in a forum once, instead of every day by private email.

It’s a simple thing, and I got it wrong.

Here’s a new DirtyPCBs forum, right here at Dangerous Prototypes. Vimark and I will handle all design questions there in the future. DirtyPCBs.com has been updated with lots of crass reminders to seek help in the forum.

dpcbs-head

There are two links to the forum in the menu. “Forum”, and if you miss that, “*Help*” goes to the same place.

hcsz2015

Hacker Camp Shenzhen is another meat-space thing that’s been hard to bring online. Hacker camp gets a forum too, and I’ll handle future camp questions there. Also open for general Shenzhen trip help.

The Chinese company and Dangercore have been all-consuming monster projects. The worst seems to be over. It’s great to be back blogging a couple times a week and documenting what we’re working on. I think we have some really freaking exciting (and buggy) stuff coming, but DirtyPCBs has been an uncomfortable reminder that small stuff makes a huge difference in the long run.