Tag Archives: Gordon Hollingworth

Talks from Team Pi

via Raspberry Pi

I’ve been pointed at a couple of videos which might interest you: you’ll learn something new from both of these.

First up, Eben explains more about the Compute Module to our friends at RS Components:

And a little later on, Gordon, our Head of Software, gave a talk to the Prime Conference at the Royal Institution about the decisions that led us to repatriate manufacture of the Raspberry Pi to the UK:

Enjoy!

Vectors from coarse motion estimation

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: Gordon Hollingworth, our Director of Software, has been pointing the camera board at things, looking at dots on a screen, and cackling a lot over the last couple of weeks. We asked him what he was doing, so he wrote this for me. Thanks Gordon!

The Raspberry Pi is based on a BCM2835 System on a Chip (SoC), which was originally developed to do lots of media acceleration for mobile phones. Mobile phone media systems tend to follow behind desktop systems, but are far more energy efficient. You can see this efficiency at work in your Raspberry Pi: to decode H264 video on a standard Intel desktop processor requires GHz of processing capability, and many (30-40) Watts of power; whereas the BCM2835 on your Raspberry Pi can decode full 1080p30 video at a clock rate of 250MHz, and only burn 200mW.

Grodon

Because we have this amazing hardware it enables us to do things like video encode and decode in real time without actually doing much work at all on the processor (all the work is done on the GPU, leaving the ARM free to shuffle bits around!) This also means we have access to very interesting bits of the encode pipeline that you’d otherwise not be able to look at.

One of the most interesting of these parts is the motion estimation block in the H264 encoder. To encode video, one of the things the hardware does is to compare the current frame with the previous (or a fixed) reference frame, and work out where the current macroblock (16×16 pixels) best matches the reference frame. It then outputs a set of vectors which tell you where the block came from – i.e. a measure of the motion in the image.

In general, this is the mechanism used within the application motion. It compares the image on the screen with the previous image (or a long-term reference), and uses the information to trigger events, like recording the video or writing a image to a disk, or triggering an alarm. Unfortunately, at this resolution it takes a huge amount of processing to achieve this in the pixel domain; which is silly if the hardware has already done all the hard work for you!

So over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get the vectors out of the video encoder for you, and the attached animated gif shows you the results of that work. What you are seeing is the magnitude of the vector for each 16×16 macroblock equivalent to the speed at which it is moving! The information comes out of the encoder as side information (it can be enabled in raspivid with the -x flag). It is one integer per macroblock and is ((mb_width+1) × mb_height) × 4 bytes per frame, so for 1080p30 that is 120 × 68 × 4 == 32KByte per frame. And here are the results. (If you think you can guess what the movement you’re looking at here represents, let us know in the comments.)

blamenuttall

Since this represents such a small amount of data, it can be processed very easily which should lead to 30fps motion identification and object tracking with very little actual work!

Go forth and track your motion!

Gordon and Eben talk Pi (and other things)

via Raspberry Pi

Gordon Hollingworth, our Director of Software, has been Googling himself, and mailed me to let me know about this video he found from Richard Ibbotson. Richard came by Pi Towers last month and filmed this little interview with Gordon and Eben – it’s worth a watch if you’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes. Enjoy!

Blue Pi Thinking from the University of York

via Raspberry Pi

The University of York asked if we could send someone up to judge a Raspberry Pi contest they’d been running for people joining the Computer Science department over the summer break. Our very own Dr Gordon Hollingworth is a York alumnus, so we sent him to revisit his old stomping grounds (in one of his collection of stylish Raspberry Pi t-shirts – you can buy your own at the Swag Store).

Freshers were given a Raspberry Pi when they won a place at the university back in August, and had been spending the time before arriving in York working on two challenges. Blue Pi Thinking challenged them to come up with the most creative use of the Pi they could think of; and BattlePi had them programming their Pis to beat all other entrants in a class-wide Battleships competition.

Gordon mailed me from his phone while he was there:

“I’m amazed by the quantity and quality of entries and the way they’re working together to improve their code as they go through the Battle Pi part of the contest…  I sat down with one guy who was trying to find out why his code had crashed in the middle of a game, and then while describing it to his opponent he suddenly saw the problem! (I obviously explained at this point why people do code reviews!)”

Here’s some video from the day. We’re incredibly impressed at what people were producing; we hope that some of the participants will find time to write their projects up and share them with us.

The eagle-eyed will spot Liam Fraser, one of our earliest and most helpful supporters, in one of the shots. Liam moved to Cambridge after his A levels and spent last year as a gap year working for our hosts, Mythic Beasts, on the back of his work on the Pi; he’s been maintaining our downloads server too. He’s now headed off to study at York. We’ll miss him while he’s away – we hope you enjoy your time at university, Liam!

Gordon Hollingworth talks to the Orlando Sentinel

via Raspberry Pi

Dr Gordon Hollingworth, our Head of Software, has been in Orlando visiting Familab, one of our favourite hackspaces. (I love it there – unusually, they’re in a big industrial unit, so they’ve got a lot of space for really big hardware. They’ve got cherry pickers, traffic lights, an industrial CNC milling machine and a lot of Lego.) The Orlando Sentinel went along to have a chat with him: here’s some video they took on the day.

Really sorry about the autoplay; we know you all hate it, but the video player used here doesn’t give us the option to turn it off when the video is embedded.Begone, autoplay!

Gordon sent an email to the office mailing list from his phone while he was there, saying that the pinball machine you see featured in the video was the coolest physical project he’s seen done with a Pi so far. Think you can do better? Let us know!

Bend Gordon’s ear

via Raspberry Pi

Gordon Hollingworth, our Director of Software, is saddened that I called him out for being camera-shy the other day. So he’s offered to star in a new feature, which we’ll make a regular happening here if readers (that’s you!) like the idea.

If you have a question about the Pi you’d like Gordon and his whiteboard to answer (we’ve hung it up properly and bought in pens of many colours just for the occasion), please leave a comment below. We’ll select a few of the most interesting ones and film Gordon’s responses next week.

The view from Gordon’s helmet

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: if you haven’t entered our contest to win a pre-production camera board, have a look at the post explaining what you’ll need to do. And if you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a guest post from Gordon, our Head of Software, about a mini-HD camera project he worked on at home using the prototype boards we showed the BBC back in 2011.

I may have mentioned that Gordon does a lot of cycling. He bodged up a 3D helmet cam a couple of years ago: here’s how he did it. (He has also made me include some 2D video because he likes showing off.)

Careful with the last video, which is in 3D – if you’re using bi-coloured 3D glasses to view it, as I did, you are liable to feel VERY motion sick if you’re susceptible to that sort of thing. Over to Gordon!

A few years ago I really wanted to play around with a helmet-mounted camera for my mountain biking. There were quite a few out in the market, but they were quite expensive, and it’s always difficult getting toys past my wife!  Because I was working at Broadcom, I was able to get my hands on what we called the MicroDB (the thing David and Eben first showed to the BBC as the Raspberry Pi), and since I had all the software and a bit of competence, I decided to try doing a bit of HD helmet recording.

The hardware I used was based on the same BCM2835 chip that we all know and love. The hardware also had a PMU chip (power supply), which meant you could power it directly from a lithium ion battery and record 720p HD video for about an hour.

So I rigged up some properly engineered mounting. I used a rubber from my daughter’s pencil case (Americans, breathe easy – this is the UK word for what you call an eraser), a couple of cable ties, and a USB socket! I set out on a voyage of discovery…apologies in advance for the lycra clad arses, but It’s something you’ll just have to put up with!

Liz interjects: that’s not the half of it. Eben and Gordon have a regular date on Wednesdays where they take an hour and a half over lunch to go cycling and have a software meeting at the same time. This means a certain amount of strutting sweatily around the office dressed in lycra at the end of the ride. This week, Jack turned up, tutted and said: “You two do realise there are showers downstairs, don’t you.” The rest of us cheered.

This is an example of the helmet cam being used in a chain gang, which is a fast-moving (we’re doing around 26mph average for the whole of the clip) club ride, where you continuously rotate who’s cycling at the front, making it a very efficient way of travelling at speed!

This is another clip from the helmet cam, at the start of a mountain bike race held by a good friend of mine who’s an elite rider.

When I took these videos, I expected to experience the same feeling of speed as when you’re riding for real, but it doesn’t quite make it. The main issue is that the feeling of speed you get is a product of the full 3D stereoscopic experience that the 2D camera throws away. It’s there and it’s fun, but it doesn’t actually feel real; you don’t quite get the full-force feeling of what it’s like to tear down that trail!

I was missing a dimension, so I had to go find it again!  OK, now you ask, surely it’s going to cost me a lot of money to buy a proper 3D camera, and you’d be right if you didn’t have a whole bunch of little camera boards kicking around in the office. I realised that all I needed was two of them, and a spot of work to synchronise the pictures: then Bob’s your uncle!

I took two MicroDB’s and connected them together (actually I used a USB -> USB connector which I then cable-tied to my bike helmet with a rubber/eraser to give it something soft to sink into). So what you get out is two videos (each 720p30). To get the images working together, you need to do some processing, which presents a number of problems:

1) The two cameras are not aligned and therefore you have to rotate and translate the images.

2) You also need to invert one of the images.

3) You need to hand-synchronise the two videos (and keep them synchronised during the video).

So I wrote a bit of software based on FFMPEG and SDL, and lots of handcrafted fun code to take the two videos and output them as one in a number of formats, including interleaved line (odd lines are left image, even lines right), horizontal half-resolution and vertical half-resolution (because we had a number of different 3D televisions to play with!)  Application of Bresenham’s algorithm is so much fun!

I then went and did a 24-hour mountain bike race in a team of five (we came third that year) and recorded the first half of one of the laps in glorious 3D. You are going to either need a proper 3D television to watch this or use some red/green (actually cyan is closer) glasses (the kind you get in breakfast cereals!) – otherwise you can just hold two bits of suitably coloured filters against your face.

Liz again: editing this post, I have realised that the next video gives me motion sickness even without Gordon’s 3D glasses. Proceed with caution. Gordon, I can’t believe you kept this stuff up without sleeping for 24 hours.

Why am I showing you this?  Well mostly because I had so much fun doing it, and it really shows how the real 3D helmet cameras can make the experience of home video just so much better if you’re doing something fast and aggressive. I hope you agree!

Finally, of course, the Raspberry Pi camera (now in production and being released next month) is very closely related to this one – although it’s actually higher quality; the images we’ve been seeing in test are looking fantastic. This project gives you an impression of the kind of thing you’ll be able to do with it with a bit of extra coding – and of the sort of extra legwork we’re looking for from people entering the competition to win a pre-production camera board.

I’ve been looking for where I put the video manipulation code; if I can find it, I’ll put it into GitHub somewhere so you can have a play yourself (if anyone is remotely interested)!

Finally – really finally – you have to think about the fact that the Raspberry Pi has two CSI interfaces, meaning there’s a potential to add two camera boards. Does that mean it would be possible to do all this completely on a single Raspberry Pi? We haven’t experimented with the idea yet – only the future can tell…

Win a pre-production camera board!

via Raspberry Pi

We’ve sent the first camera boards to production, and we’re expecting to be able to start selling them some time in April. And we’ve now got several pre-production cameras in the office that we’re testing and tweaking and tuning so the software will be absolutely tickety-boo when you come to buy one.

Gordon is in charge of things camera, and he’s got ten boards to give away. There is, however, a catch.

The reason we’re giving these cameras away is that we want you to help us to do extra-hard testing. We want the people we send these boards to to do something computationally difficult and imaginative with them, so that the cameras are pushed hard in the sort of bonkers scheme that we’ve seen so many of you come up with here before with your Pis, and so that we can learn how they perform (and make adjustments if necessary). The community here always seems to come up with applications for the stuff we do that we wouldn’t have thought of in a million years; we thought we should take advantage of that.

So we want you to apply for a camera, letting us know what you’re planning to do with it (and if you don’t do the thing you promise, we’ll send Clive around on his motorbike to rough you up). We want you to try to get the camera doing something imaginative. Think about playing around with facial recognition; or hooking two of them up together and modging the images together to create some 3d output; or getting the camera to recognise when something enters the frame that shouldn’t be there and doing something to the image as a result. We are not looking for entries from people who just want to take pictures, however pretty they are. (Dave Akerman: we’ve got one bagged up for you anyway, because the stuff you’re taking pictures of is cool enough to earn an exemption here. Everybody else, see Dave’s latest Pi in Space here. He’s put it in a tiny TARDIS.)

So if you have a magnificent, imaginative, computationally interesting thing you’d like to do with a Raspberry Pi camera board, email iwantacamera@raspberrypi.org. In your mail you’ll need to explain exactly what you plan to do; and Gordon, who is old-school, is likely to take your application all the more seriously if you can point to other stuff you’ve done in the past (with or without cameras), GitHub code or other examples of your fierce prowess. (He suggested I ask for your CVs, but I think we’ll draw the line there.) We will also need your postal address. The competition is open worldwide until March 12. We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

 

Happy birthday to us!

via Raspberry Pi

Today’s a very special day for us here at Raspberry Pi. It’s the first anniversary of the Pi’s launch day. (It’s as near as we can get; we launched on a leap day last year. We’re going to have a really great party in 2016.)

It’s been a crazy, wonderful year, and usually I’d have a lot to say about it. We never thought we’d find ourselves in the position we’re in today, with a million Pis sold, a sprawling community, real evidence that kids are picking the Pi up and learning with it, and new friends from all over the world.

But you hear from me all the time. So for today’s post I’ve asked members of the Pi family to share a few words with us about the way this year has looked to them instead. This is a long post. But it’s a good’un.

Clive Beale, Director of Educational Development, Raspberry Pi
When I asked everyone for a couple of paragraphs, Clive was the only one who responded with a screenplay. Before coming to work for us full-time, Clive volunteered for the Foundation on things educational, and also moderated the forums. Wondering where Scep went? He’s Clive.

Last year, Clive built a whole-pig-roasting device out of a dead shopping trolley.

FADE IN:

INT. STUDY – NIGHT

CLIVE is hunched over a crufty computer keyboard, cursing under his breath and frantically mashing keys like someone playing Track and Field after eighteen double espressos.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. STUDY – DAY

Clive is now pressing the F5 key once a minute with his nose. He bobs slowly up and down, like a sad Dippy Bird who has lost his top hat. He is weeping gently.

I cannot tell a lie, I killed that server.  I did it with my little F5 key.  But it paid off though, and a month later I had one of the first Raspberry Pis. Since then it’s been a complete blur of a year: mainly manic, sometimes surreal; but always exciting, always fun and always rewarding. One of the highlights for me was writing the blog for a couple of weeks while Liz took a break – I’m always amazed by what the community is doing with the Raspberry Pi and it was a pleasure to show their projects off. The forum members deserve a special mention too – it’s a huge community now (with nearly 58,000 members at the last count), but still has a helpful, friendly feel to it, and there’s a real energy about the place with tons of fantastic stuff going on.

It has been a remarkable year for the Raspberry Pi Foundation but also for me – two weeks ago I left teaching to start work as the Foundation’s Director of Educational Development. Our mission is (and always has been) an educational one. We want to change how people see computing, to give them access to stuff so that they can create and play and learn. We want kids of all ages to be empowered by computer science, to learn essential life skills and to have fun on the way. I’m looking forward to helping make that happen.

Mike Buffham, Premier Farnell/element14
Mike’s been our main contact at Farnell all along, and has worked wonders with negotiating parts prices, liaising with manufacturers and sorting out distribution. His personalised numberplate makes us all numb with envy.

If ever there was a word to describe the last 12 months it would be “Rollercoaster”! Six AM (UK) on Wednesday 29 February 2012 is a time I remember well, as I was sitting in my hotel room in Nuremberg, logged onto the Farnell/element14 website to check that everything went live OK. And then…BOOM!

To say that the demand for Raspberry Pi on day one was unprecedented would be an understatement, so by the time we got to the “launch” on our stand at Embedded World later that day (complete with an actual working model!) I had worn out 2 batteries on my Blackberry getting the latest demand updates, production updates and so on. The first few weeks continued to be fairly spectacular as we worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to close out various compliance testing, production and componentry issues, not to mention component supply. I remember one pivotal week in early April very well, when from my holiday deckchair, we negotiated supply of Broadcom 2835s and Samsung memory through to the end of September which, on reflection, gave us the platform to build our production plans on for the year!

Supply was clearly a challenge in the first few months, but during this time we worked very hard both with our original contract manufacturer in China, to drive the production volumes we required, and with the Foundation to bring the manufacturing of the Raspberry Pi to the UK. When we announced the deal with Sony UK Tec in September it was quickly followed by the launch of the 512MB board in October. The move to UK production remains something we are very proud to have been involved in. Now with Model As launched and shipping I have to admit at looking forward to year two with even more excitement, as there is no doubt in my mind that the success of Raspberry Pi has only just begun as it continues to change the computing landscape in education and elsewhere!

James Hughes, Broadcom
James likes cars and Kylie Minogue. (He likes her so much that he’s got a little photo of her tacked up above his desk.) He accidentally grew a beard for Movember because nobody told him he was supposed to concentrate on the top lip only.

It’s been quite a year! As  someone who has helped out in the forums from very early days, but who is also an employee of Broadcom who works with the VideoCore every day, it’s been fascinating being part of this Raspberry Pi phenomenon. From the lead-up to the launch, helping out with testing out wireless adapters, trying different languages and applications (and learning much more Linux on the way) to the complete panic of the launch day when it suddenly became clear that this device was going to be much more popular than anyone had ever imagined, it’s been a fantastic roller-coaster ride. The last year, which has simply flown by, has been mainly forum moderation (a very busy work life on other stuff at Broadcom preventing any real development work), and it has been a real privilege to help out, and see the community grow from the first few members to the over 55 thousand we have today.

There have been ups and down as with any venture; occasional rants from irate members, desperate dealings with those who have waited such a long time to get their Raspberry Pi’s, fencing with OSS people on the subject of binary blobs, and of course the occasional fed up emails from an irate Liz after something behind the scenes has derailed the latest blog posting!

So, what is on the list for the coming year? Well, more development work on the camera module code is my current project, for which I have high hopes, and of course, more forum moderation, but the community is doing so well in supporting itself that that job becomes less and less onerous every day. And I think that highlights the most impressive thing about the last year – the way in which the community has grown from a tiny acorn, to a fascinating oak tree of  people who, by now, know much more about the Raspberry Pi than I do, and are more than willing to donate their knowledge and time to help out this tiny charity with big educational aims.

Dr Gordon Hollingworth, Head of Software, Raspberry Pi
Gordon has a really interestingly shaped collar bone, thanks to a bike-racing accident. There are guinea pigs in his dining room. He is subject to brain-freeze if there isn’t a Rubik’s cube within arm’s length. Don’t start a conversation about cycling with him unless there’s nowhere you need to be soon.

Looking back over the past year, I must admit there are a few words I’d rather have had to live without: “USB, Synopsys, FIQ, IRQ, Split transactions”. They have been the bane of the last nine months!

My journey with Raspberry Pi probably started back three years ago with something we called the MicroDB at the time, when I played around with the helmet cam I’d hooked up for my bike, and after shoving it under Eben’s nose for the tenth time he and David finally took it to the BBC and showed them how small and beautiful such a piece of engineering could be. People just didn’t understand that a whole computer could be encapsulated into such a small space, and that first interview sparked the imagination of a million people.

I remember Eben telling me about the Foundation’s plan to create the hardware based on BCM2835 (a chip I had a lot of involvement in creating), and him saying that he thought 10K was a good number to start with!

My involvement from that point on was more of a friend to the project, using my group’s resources to help progress the project, organising and pushing for support at Broadcom both over and under the radar!  In my past work at Broadcom I wrote the USB boot code for 2835 (this is the ability of the 2835 to boot directly from a PC with no SD card), so when I realised there were problems in the USB that couldn’t just be explained away by power problems I got out the USB analyser and got to work.

Over the past year I realised that my job at Broadcom was becoming less fun and my Raspberry Pi work more fun until I finally decided it was time to work full time for Raspberry Pi.

What am I doing now? Well in general it’s USB, camera board, display board, some things I have been forbidden to talk about at all…oh, and herding cats, but that’s a story for another day!

Helen Lynn, High Priestess of Facebook, Raspberry Pi
Once, Helen and I went skinny-dipping in the Cam on a sunny midsummer’s evening, out in the countryside where the river is full of rats and barbed wire. Happily, nobody caught anything. 

When Eben and Liz first suggested that I do some work on behalf of the Raspberry Pi Foundation during the ten-ish hours out of every 24 for which my then-almost-one-year-old was sort of reliably asleep, I regretfully turned them down; it was quite clearly a daft idea.

Ho hum.

Several months, a surprise bout of meningitis and most of a pregnancy later, I’m running Facebook and Google+ pages for Raspberry Pi and reflecting on their cunning, as well as their incomprehensible conviction that I’m not about to disappear again without warning thanks to early labour or a freak accident with a Tommee Tippee sippy cup or, I dunno, rabies. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is new to both social media platforms, but the astonishing community of Pi fans isn’t; we’ve been warmly welcomed, and it’s exciting to begin figuring out what we can do with these new ways of talking with people.

If, over the next year, we can support teenagers to participate in the kind of active, knowledgeable, helpful and enthusiastic Raspberry Pi communities that adult makers and hackers currently enjoy, I’ll be thrilled. We need to make sure there are obvious ways in and plenty of support for young people whose family and friends aren’t engineers and programmers and scientists, and who haven’t been given reasons to start from the assumption that they’re going to be able to do this; and, crucially, we have to make sure we’re talking to girls as well as boys. I’ll be watching from behind a couple of very small people.

Glenn Jarrett, RS Components
Glen’s our main contact at RS. My mother-in-law saw him on the TV news at our launch last year and has been describing him as “that lovely man on television” ever since. 

Wow, what a year!  In the 75 year history of RS we have never experienced a phenomenon like the Pi that has seen such a fantastic level of interest and demand.  I think we can all confidently say that we’ll look back at Raspberry Pi as a milestone in the history of technology, and  I’m very proud that RS has been a part of bringing Raspberry Pi to the world.  Even though this first year has flashed past (not without a few challenges on the way!) it’s clear that this is the beginning of something much bigger.  We’d like to congratulate the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Pi community for their spirit of innovation, vision and tenacity, and their contribution to the world of technology, education and industry.

Paul Beech, Pimoroni
Paul’s had as curious a trajectory as any of us this year. When he won the competition to design a logo for the Raspberry Pi, he was a jobbing freelance designer. Now he’s a factory owner and employer, making awesome stuff to go with your Pi. Paul has a fetching selection of bobble hats. Next week, he’s helping me decorate the office. He says he’s found some raspberry-coloured blackboard paint.

Year 1 of the Pi. It’s been about transformation. The ludicrously low price of the Pi helps those who most need a leg up. It’s the difference between a lot of things happening or not happening. For Pimoroni it’s been about changing from coders and designers to makers and engineers. For a movement built around a neat little hardware board the people have been the best thing. The people at the Jams who ask “What can I do with my Pi?”, the people who’ve taken the time to tell us how they’re using the Pibow. The wonderful peeps at Adafruit and our friends at MagPi, Access Space, NottingHack and EMFCamp. Most of all the people of the Raspberry Pi Foundation for working tirelessly to make things better. Eben and Liz. We less-than-three you :D

What’s the plan for Year 2? First job: deliver on our promise of the Picade. It’s going to be awesome and we’re having fun overcoming the design challenges and noodling. Now that Pis are in the hands of a lot of people, we want to help them understand the possibilites and use the Pi to make insanely great stuff. We’ll be making tutorials and videos available and visiting a lot of Maker Faires. We’ll be producing add-on kits for the Pi. We’ll have more maker stuff available in our new shop and we’re working on making 2013 the year Making became big, with the Raspberry Pi as a wonderful beating heart.

We want people to do something rather than nothing.

Pete Stevens, Mythic Beasts
Pete directs the Cambridge company that hosts this website. He is bearded, he runs faster than burglars, and he is marrying the luscious Fiona this summer. 

A year ago at around 6am, we replaced the main Raspberry Pi website with a static page with the launch announcement expecting a bit of traffic. About thirty seconds after this went up and we saw the actual traffic load destroy all the linked-to sites, we wondered if we needed to start making a bigger plan.

We moved the main Pi website and forums to a decently fast server to provide a set of forums where trolls can be rude to us all are thrashed to within an inch of their lives with the Golden Banhammer. I stole Mooncake, ransomed her back for my first Pi, and turned it into a mirror server which shipped around 3000 SD card images before dying last week with a flash card filesystem error. Turns out the USB networking code wasn’t quite as crash prone as we all expected!

Pete Lomas, Founding Trustee and Hardware Guru, Raspberry Pi Foundation
You all know who Pete is, but what you might not know is that he owns a pair of tartan trousers.

I’ve spent the week at Embedded World in Germany, where Raspberry Pi had its first official outing just a year ago. People also ask me “why has Raspberry Pi been so successful?” It’s something I’ve pondered over the last few weeks. In large part it’s all the people who have posted their thoughts and comments in this blog. Without them, their damn hard work and their support for the vision we all share as to what Raspberry Pi is all about we would be – well – nowhere.

So to all one million of you, thanks a million for making Raspberry Pi what it is!

Jack Lang, Chair, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Jack’s a king among entrepreneurs, has a brick pizza oven in his garden and holds a commercial fireworks licence.

What a year it has been! Who knew we would sell over a million units?  We could not have done it without the support of the community, both locally in Cambridge, our manufacturing and distribution partners and wider via the forums, blogs and twitters Thank you all. We seem to have discovered both a new category of computer hardware, and a new business model. One of the key lessons is how effective the open source community is, and the importance of the engineering staff meeting and communicating with the users in the community.

However we must not get complacent and let hubris take over; there is still a lot to do, in both hardware and software.  In hardware we must continue to optimise, innovate and improve cost/performance both of the core product and peripherals such as the upcoming camera board. In software there is optimisation, documentation, and fixing holes like HTML5 performance. We need to make the out-of-the-box experience easier for non-experts. There is a whole slew of learning software and content we want to support, and I’m working on author assessable MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to support our educational mission. We should also acknowledge the wonderful work being done by the Computing at School group.

We want to bring enlightenment and knowledge, based on solid computational thinking, to many. We have been handed golden opportunities to build on.

What time are we going to the pub?

James Adams, Head of Hardware, Raspberry Pi
When I first met James, his car door wouldn’t open, so he had to get in and out like a more muscly version of Bo from the Dukes of Hazzard. He brews his own beer and owns a lathe.

Not much for me to write seeing as I’ve only been here 3 weeks! :)

I suppose the Raspberry Pi story for me started several years ago when I was leading the Broadcom ASIC team designing the 3D graphics accelerator in VideoCore4 (BCM2835). I certainly didn’t expect that chip to end up where it is today. Later on, I left Broadcom for another engineering job in Cambridge, but stayed in touch with Eben and the team.

Having watched the Raspberry Pi phenomenon grow over the past year I was delighted to join the engineering team in January as its newest member. I very much look forward to working with everyone to help further the exceptional work that has already taken place on this most worthy of projects!

Eben Upton, Executive Director, Raspberry Pi
Last year, Eben thought he might have got gout. Turns out he just has flat feet. Although he is 34 years old, Eben still plays with LEGO.

This year’s had some good bits and some tough bits (things like the surprise EMC testing, the magjack nightmare and the cynical and occasionally downright nasty reaction from some people to our very earnest attempt to open source as much of the multimedia drivers as possible) – but the good bits outweigh the tough so much. For me, the best part has been watching kids using the Pi and learning the things I’ve always loved: the schools visits, events like Broadcom MASTERS and the photos and videos parents and the children themselves send us discussing their projects make me very happy.

It’s great to see companies like Google and Broadcom, in their different ways, embrace and encourage Raspberry Pi. Broadcom has started really regarding the Raspberry Pi as something it believes in and is proud to be involved with. We are so grateful for their continuing to allow their engineers to volunteer for the Foundation, and the projects that we have been involved in through the Broadcom Foundation align really well with our educational aims. And, of course, concrete support like the million-dollar grant we just received from Google goes a long way to helping us achieve our goals.

One of the wonderful things about the success of the Pi has been that we’re able to take the money that we make from selling them, and do a range of things which we think are really useful for the community. On the technical side we are able to subsidise development and optimisation of open-source software like Pixman, Weston, Scratch and LibreOffice (you’ll see the results of this work later this year). And on the educational side, we’re developing educational materials and employing people like Clive to work with our partners to make the whole enterprise run smoothly; and to allow us to get Pis into the hands of the kids we want to see using them.

It’s been a privilege to work with so many remarkable engineers, business people and educators. It’s been a privilege to meet so many hackers, kids and electronic enthusiasts. And it’s been a privilege to be involved in something which I think just might end up changing the way we learn and the things we build for good.

UKScone, Forum Mod and Shoulder to Cry On, Raspberry Pi
A genuine Englishman in New York, Scone is a caffeinated gentleman who carries a stick, mostly, from what I can make out, to whack unruly youngsters with. He’s rubbish at using chopsticks. He mails me cheerful things and keeps me sane. Scone is brilliant.

It’s been a year since the Raspberry Pi was unleashed on the public, although thanks to a quirk of the calendar it’s only a quarter of a year and because “she who cannot be named, but who has a distinct lack of understanding on the meaning of the word quarter when talking about dates” probably chose the the day the 29th of February as the release date, I’ve christened this event the “1st Annual Raspberry Pi Liziversary”.

It’s has been a hell of a year though. The Raspberry Pi has gone from zero in the wild to over a million with no sign of the sales slowing down, and the Raspberry Pi community has grown from a couple of hundred members to over fifty five thousand on the forums alone. Several successful businesses have either been started or expanded to supply cases, add-ons, books and other Raspberry Pi related doodads, and the bottom line of the two manufacturing partners looks much more rosy these days thanks to the Raspberry Pi.

It hasn’t all been sweetness and light, unicorns, bluebirds and rainbows however, as there were teething problems with manufacture, supply, delays, a couple of design buglets (which were fixed in Revs 1.1 & 2) and the things that you’d expect when you have a global business with no actual employees. But on a scale of one to ten for the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s goals I’d say they were at a seven: they’ve got the hardware out there, a nice ecosystem of third parties offering extras and the educational documentation and software is steadily progressing. Bravo Raspberry Pi Foundation.

On a personal level the Raspberry Pi has changed my life. I’ve gone from basically being a bit agoraphobic and anti-social to someone who actually ventures outside for things other than to do the grocery shopping and laundry and I actually talk to people occasionally. As a direct result of the Raspberry Pi I’ve been to two OHSummits, two Maker Faire NYC’s and started taking an interest in what others are doing hardware and software wise. I’ve actually completed a few projects I’d been putting off for years, and have started building hardware again after a twenty-year break. I also have a supplier who can satisfy my desire for illicit Twiglets. :) However, it hasn’t all been positive, as I now spend the majority of my day on the Raspberry Pi forum moderating and replying to posts to the detriment of the housework and my “playing with the cats” time, and my addiction to “cozy” mysteries is going unsatisfied as I can no longer read one every day or so; it’s taking me a week to read only one.

Where will things be in a years time? I don’t know, but remember that the Amstrad CPC line sold 3 million in its lifetime, The BBC Micro 1.5 million and the Sinclair Spectrum 5 million; so round that up to 10 million, think of the number of professional engineers and programmers they produced between them, and then think of the 1 million (so far) Raspberry Pis out there. It’s only ten percent, but that’s still an awful lot compared to just a few years ago.

Good things are going to happen. Happy birthday Raspberry Pi!

Rob Bishop, Developer Evangelist, Raspberry Pi
Rob was a full 24 hours later than anyone else in getting me some text for this post. He rides a skateboard to the office.

When I began my internship at Broadcom aged 18, straight out of school, I had no idea that it would be the start of a journey that would eventually find me writing about being the first engineering employee of the fastest-growing computer company in the world from a hotel room in Lisbon, Portugal after giving a public workshop so popular that we had over 200 people on the waiting list…

In many ways I owe all of my involvement in the Raspberry Pi journey to that internship. I got to spend that year working with a Broadcom team on what would be marketed at CES as “the world’s smallest HD camcorder” and which ended up being in many ways the proof of concept for a Broadcom processor based Raspberry Pi. I still remember meeting Eben for the first time after we had the early prototypes of that hardware back from manufacture and how passionate he was about making a “keychain computer” that everybody could own. If it wasn’t for his passion I’m fairly sure there would be roughly a million people who wouldn’t now own something very similar to what he talked to me about on that day. Thanks for everything Eben.

I can’t wait to see where we end up by this time next year…

Professor Alan Mycroft, Founding Trustee, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Alan has treated this post as an exercise in talking about himself in the third person. He is terrifyingly, preternaturally good at chess, and co-wrote the Norcroft C complier, which means his terrifying, preternatural DNA is still present in ARM’s commercial compiler offering.

Alan Mycroft seems to have fallen into the role of doing talks on Raspberry Pi, e.g. for Sky News, BBC (Newsround, not Newsnight, unfortunately) and was part of the Guardian’s panel on ICT and Computer Literacy.

He also gave invited presentations to Computing at School, Campus Party Europe (10,000 geeks at Berlin Tempelhof ex-airport) and at ComputerBasedMath.org at the Royal Institution. Currently he is in India mixing his day job (researcher in programming languages, compilation and static analysis) with Raspberry Pi interests — not to mention a good bit of tourism in this amazing country.

He gave the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT’s are the Indian Oxbridge for Computer Science and Engineering and related subjects) talk “Raspberry Pi — putting the fun back into computing”) on 27 February, and is talking to possible partners in India.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is investigating reasons why BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) import far fewer Raspberry Pis than more advanced economies, and that’s something Alan is exploring in India — partly tariffs, but complaints on the ground include delivery mark-ups etc.

Plans for next year include more of the same and a regression to a misspent electronics youth (rehab anyone?) in finding time to assemble the hardware and software to replace current automated-number-plate-recognition equipment at the (University of Cambridge’s) Computer Laboratory with a Raspberry Pi version.

Dr Lorna Lynch, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Lorna has a PhD and three (count them) Masters’ degrees. She knits complicated and beautiful things, and makes her own yarn on a proper spinning wheel. One of my proudest achievements of the last year has been teaching her toddler how to Vogue. 

I’ve only been working directly for the Foundation since December, but I’ve been following the development of the Raspberry Pi with interest for ages: it’s a wonderful device, and I’m so excited to see all the amazing projects users have been working on during this first year.

I’ve been working on trademark enforcement, running the Twelve Pis of Christmas auction, and doing other general bits and pieces. Because I have a small child at home, I’m working part-time, but I’m very happy to have this chance to be working with friends, and supporting a project in which I wholeheartedly believe. My son really is too small to learn to use a Pi at the moment (at just two, he’d probably reduce one to its constituent atoms within minutes), but I can’t wait for the time when he is old enough to start tinkering around with one, and learning to write his own games, just like his dad did on a BBC Micro back in the 80s. I’m even feeling a strong temptation to start learning Python myself! I can’t wait to see what the next year brings, but I know I am both excited and grateful to be a part of it.

David Braben, Founding Trustee, Raspberry Pi Foundation
David is the guy who ensured many of the Foundation’s employees got lousy school reports because we were all to busy playing Elite. He has excellent glasses that make him look like a German architect.

It is now a year since we went ‘live’ selling Raspberry Pis, selling out in a small number of seconds at 6am on 29th February. A year ago I did the rounds at Television Centre – BBC News 24, BBC Radio 4’s today program, Radio 5 Live, BBC Worldwide, and a few local stations. By the end of that we had sold out of our initial batch.

The reaction and positivity to Raspberry Pi has been great. From that initial reaction from John Humphrys and Jim Nauchtie, to David Cameron, to all the excellent projects we have seen since. As we crossed a million sales just after Christmas, I loved the idea that a million people have been inspired to do something new. While I appreciate that many will be used in media centres or whatever, I like to think we have already made a difference to a lot of people.

It has certainly changed thinking. We already have Computer Science coming back to schools as part of the EBacc, but we have an exciting future too. Fantastic help from many, and a generous donation from Google, all help with this.

Here’s to another great year!

Abishur, Forum Mod Extraordinaire, Raspberry Pi
We wouldn’t have a forum without Abishur; he puts in a vast amount of behind-the-scenes work, and he’s patient, affable and knowledgeable. He’s the only person in this lengthy post whom I haven’t met yet (pesky geography), but I feel like we’ve been friends for ages – when I’m next in Texas I’m going to make the trip to Fort Worth just to see him, and buy him a very large, cold beer. 

Today the Pi turns one. (Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi Foundation!) It’s been an immensely fun ride thus far. I’ve been one of the lucky few who found the Pi in its infancy when it was just a simple blog with some people in the comments wondering about getting a forum. When said forum arrived, I remember being so excited when we hit 500 forum members… and then 1000 and 2000. People grew concerned that they might be one of the unlucky few who wouldn’t get a Pi. Just before the launch the forum had 12,123 members, and as it turns out that was the tiniest fraction of people who wanted a Pi and wanted it *right* now.

Today we have 57,544 board members, 86,518 Twitter followers, and just as many “likes” spread across the various Raspberry Pi Facebook sites.  There are more than 1 million Raspberry Pi boards out there now. It’s a staggering number for a device that we thought, back when there were only 500 of us, would sell 10K in its entire lifetime.

While it goes without say that we’re all enamored with Eben and co for working so hard to make this device, and with Liz for running all over the globe to make sure things continue to run smoothly for the Pi, a huge thanks goes out to all of the community members! The Pi is only as amazing as it is because y’all (yes, y’all, I’m a Texan :-p ) have run with it. You’ve turned it into a music controller for a printer, LED games stations, media centers, retro gaming consoles, you’ve dedicated bandwidth to help host Pi installation images, Raspbian repositories, and your own special code. You’ve sent it into (near) space and across the world.

Thanks everyone for making Year One of the Raspberry Pi so incredible!  Hopefully Year Two will push the Pi even further, though if you could make your posts a little less interesting I’d really appreciate it. I’d like to finally be able to get my own Pi Sprinkler Control finished at some point!

Mooncake, Official Cat, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Mooncake doesn’t really do much besides sleeping and eating. She has not really been very helpful this year, but we like having her around.

Meeow.

Alex Bradbury, University of Cambridge and mighty Linux hacker
When he’s not working on his thesis, Alex volunteers for Raspberry Pi, doing arcane and wonderful things to improve the software stack. He had a birthday yesterday too.

The year since the launch of the Raspberry Pi has of course been both busy and exciting. We’ve seen major developments in the Raspberry Pi software stack including improved performance. A significant event was the release of Raspbian (a Debian port optimised for the Raspberry Pi’s CPU) which is to me still the most impressive Raspberry Pi-related project. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to attend and talk at great conferences like Linux.conf.au, keynote at both PyCon UK and PyCon IE, as well as give a range of smaller talks. I’ve met many fantastic people I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise and hope this will continue. In the next year, I think we’ll really start to see what sort of performance can be squeezed out of the device. There’s been fantastic progress made so far, but it will be exciting to see what more can be done as applications like Scratch and key libraries like Pixman receive significant optimisation work. I’m also expecting to see the continued development of the library of Raspberry Pi-oriented educational material. With events like the release of Minecraft Pi and so much more in the pipeline, I believe it’s completely feasible for the Raspberry Pi to be a top present for kids next Christmas.

Dom Cobley, Broadcom
Dom’s another indefatigable volunteer. He’s upsettingly clever. He will beat you at any board game you put in front of him, usually for money, and has lovely big blue eyes. Dom is mostly nocturnal.

About two and a half years ago, after years of working with VideoCore, I got presented with a BCM2835 development board and a vague request to get Linux and 3d and video demos running. The ARM was snuck into 2835 as a bit of skunkworks from Eben, who had these wild ideas about the general public being able to buy a breakout board for our chip and program it themselves. Sounded great to me, but far-fetched. The only problem was that I knew very little about Linux. None of us did. But we had printk, and text came out of the uart, so that was enough to get started.

And eventually we got Ubuntu to boot. And Firefox to open a web page. Now, we’ve since discovered dozens of things that make the chip faster, but back then it took many minutes to render the simplest webpage. But you could see the potential. “apt-get install” seemed magical. I’ve ported all sorts of software to VideoCore, and it’s hard work, but the ARM had all the packages you could think of, just there.

Just over a year ago, Eben put the first “production” Pi board on my desk. Apart from one brief scare (the red bodge wire in the beta boards), I got it up and running and that evening recorded a video of it doing stuff called Raspberry Pi Beta Board Bring up. It was viewed by 100K people in a few days. And since then I’ve been busy…

Liz Upton, Head of Communications, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Liz is…ah, forget it. 

I’ve not got much to add. Thank you all for making this the most exciting, exhausting, entertaining year I’ve ever spent. Thanks to all my colleagues for being some of the best people in the world to work with. Thanks to the volunteers for your generosity: nothing’s worth more than your personal time, and we’re still amazed that so many of you offer it so freely. Big shout-out to the forum and blog mods and admins, the MagPi guys and the Raspberry Jammers here – you rock. Thanks to the open-source community for all the work on documenting, porting and evangelising you do. Thanks to Eben for managing to carry on doing some superb husbanding, despite some pretty serious stressors. (It’s tough enough doing his job, but doing it with a wife who sleep-talks about banhammers is awful, or so I’m led to believe.)

And thanks to you personally, whoever you are, for reading this blog and for being curious about what we do here. This year’s been a hell of a ride. I hope you’ll stay with us to watch what we do with the next one.

We’ve got offices!

via Raspberry Pi

You probably didn’t realise this, but up until now, we haven’t had an office to work from. We’ve been completely virtual: I work from the study at home, we’ve got some space at the University Computer Laboratory in Cambridge which we use for meetings with visitors, there’s a small electronics lab in our house, Jack deals with paperwork from an office in his house, we borrow space at St John’s College for board meetings…it’s not a very efficient way to run a million-unit computer company.

Now we’ve started taking on our first employees, it’s really not a tenable way to do things any more, so Rob Bishop (evangelist and developer), Gordon Hollingworth (GSH on the forums) and James Adams (software and hardware chaps respectively) have been moving into our new office in the centre of Cambridge this week. Clive Beale, Eben and I will be joining them when Clive’s teaching contract is up at the end of the month, and when Eben and I get back from a series of meetings in the US.

We finally have something to keep Rob in. (The chap on the right is from the removals company, and not a Pi person.)

Rob and James Adams survey the mess. Rather them than me; there’s nothing worse in the world than the sound of squeaky polystyrene. Gordon’s behind the camera.

We’ll be decorating soon, but it’s already a fully functional office (we’ve got an entry phone and everything), and best of all, it’s only a few hundred yards from the pub. It’s leafy, it’s central and I’m really looking forward to moving in next week!