Tag Archives: Minecraft

Updates to Minecraft Documentation – and a Python 3 version is on the way!

via Raspberry Pi

No … we’re not adding a Start Menu or a paperclip assistant. This update has nothing to do with Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang. See the note below for information about this.

mcpi-game

You may remember when Mojang released Minecraft: Pi edition for free on Raspberry Pi back in early 2013. If you’re unfamiliar, Minecraft is a popular sandbox open world-building game (like on-screen lego) available for a number of different platforms like PCs, consoles and phones. The Pi edition has a Python programming interface allowing users to use code to build things and manipulate the virtual world around them. It’s a great way to learn coding, and there are plenty of great projects out there people have done and shared with the world.

mcpi-flying

Last week when we announced the release of the new Raspbian image, we mentioned that Minecraft is now installed by default. Now if you download NOOBS or the standalone Raspbian image, it will come with Minecraft pre-installed. It’s also worth mentioning that the Minecraft application is packaged, so rather than downloading the zip file you can easily install it like a standard application:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install minecraft-pi

The accompanying Python module will be installed globally along with the game itself you don’t need to save your Python scripts in a particular folder like you did before. If you’re following books, guides, tutorials or worksheets that were written before, the code will still work the same and if you install Minecraft the new way you’ll be able to save your scripts anywhere.

Once it’s installed, here’s the basic setup to get a “Hello world” in Minecraft:

from mcpi import minecraft

mc = minecraft.Minecraft.create()

mc.postToChat("Hello world")

mcpi-idle

When we launched the new Raspberry Pi website in April it came with a documentation section, which we’ve been expanding ever since. In May we announced the usage guides within this documentation were complete, which feature basic how to guides for using each of the main applications on Raspberry Pi.

We’ve just revamped the Minecraft section to explore more of the fundamental components of the Pi edition and its programming interface, including installation, running the game and Python side-by-side, exploring the programming interface and getting a good all-round introduction to what can be done.

You’ll also find this guide in our resources section.

mcpi-tnt-explode

The edition we have at the moment was built for Python 2, and that’s still the case. However, the education team brought this up at PyConUK at the weekend and a team of developers offered to work on porting it to Python 3 – with some success!

IMG_20140922_114131.resized

The project is on GitHub and you can download the repository and use it the way you would use the old version of Minecraft (when you downloaded a zip) if you want to test it – just use IDLE 3 instead! We’re also planning to make some improvements to the API to make it more Pythonic and more intuitive. I’m not sure what the timescale will be for the port, but watch this space for news.

Python 3 is really important to us and we’re keen to make sure all libraries people use on the Pi are available in Python 3. Python 2 should not be the default, we should be pushing forward and adapting Python 3. As it says on the Python 2 or Python 3 page on python.org:

Short version: Python 2.x is legacy, Python 3.x is the present and future of the language
python.org

So if you’re the maintainer of a Python library, please help by making sure it’s available for Python 3. If you’re using a Python library that’s not available in Python 3 – please let us know so we can add it to the list and we’ll do what we can do get them ported.

One last note about the Microsoft acquisition of the Minecraft development company Mojang: many people have asked us what this means for the future of Minecraft on Raspberry Pi. In statements on their website, Microsoft claim they intend to continue to support Minecraft on all existing platforms. We don’t know for sure what the future will bring but Minecraft is important to us, particularly its use in education, and we’re confident that it won’t be taken from us.

A keyboard for Minecraft addicted to customize the gaming experience

via Arduino Blog

minecraft

The award-winning Minecraft is a very popular PC game and also pretty addictive. It was originally created  by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson, later developed and supported on different platforms and recently acquired by Microsoft for 2.5$ billions.

Arduino user lakhanm shared  a DIY keyboard prototyped with Arduino Uno and substituting the basic keyboard controls such as move forwards or backwards. The project is also compatible with most of the Arduino boards. 

Take a look at the circuit below and grab the sketch and bill of materials at this link.

minecraft-keyboard

 

Cambridge Jam: focus on education

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: Last week’s Cambridge Raspberry Jam was one of the biggest yet. I asked the organisers, Michael Horne (whom you might know as Recantha: he has a brilliant Raspberry Pi blog, which you should check out) and Tim Richardson, whether they’d be prepared to write a guest post for us about the event. They’ve done so in spades. Thanks both!

We (Michael Horne and Tim Richardson) have been asked to write an account of the Cambridge Raspberry Jam that took place on Saturday, 10th May 2014. Thanks to Jarle TeiglandDarren Christie and Alan O’Donohoe for some of the photos and thanks to Andy Batey for arranging the streaming and recording of the talks. Think of this as a Virtual Raspberry Jam!

Introduction

This was a very special Jam. We had decided after the December 2013 event that we wanted to try and make each Jam different to the previous one. We had already introduced programming workshops for kids and planned to continue that into the February Jam. So, what could we do for the event after that to make it special, to make it unique? The answer lay in the aims of the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Education! We decided that for the May Jam we would have our focus on education; we just had to make the concept for the event fit the resources and space we had available.

Institute of Astronomy

The Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

At our current venue, the Institute of Astronomy (above), we’re fortunate to have the following available: a 180-seat lecture theatre; a large foyer; a small 30-person meeting room and a small mezzanine with a couple of levels. It would be fair to say we went through quite a few ideas before finally settling on the concept: We would turn the lecture theatre over to presentations for educators (calling it ‘Focus on Education’) and hold workshops in the meeting room and foyer. We would also have projects on display on the mezzanine (we call it ‘Show and Tell’) and a cut-down version of our normal marketplace around the edges of the foyer with a slant towards education where possible.

Preparation… or “What does it take to make Jam for 200 people?”

We’ve held three previous Jams at the Institute of Astronomy and have sold out each time. Normally, we sell about 180 tickets and this time we were going to be inviting educators to the party, so we knew we had to be very prepared and very organised. We simply didn’t want to let anyone down, especially the teachers!

Normally we meet once every week or two for a two-hour meeting to discuss progress on the various tasks that need doing. Sometimes, we meet at the pub (if you’re ever in Potton, Bedfordshire, visit The Rising Sun where we meet!) and sometimes we meet round Tim’s house. We realised with an event of this size and importance that we would definitely need to meet every week in the three months after the February Jam, just to make sure that everything was done.

Rising Sun Potton

The Rising Sun, Potton – place of many-a-meeting

An idea that we had been thinking about for some time was having ‘maker tables’, where people could bring their kit along and experts would help them out with building them, or they could buy kits at the event and make them then and there.  We decided that this would be hard to plan for as we would not know what kits were coming and therefore who could help.  However, the idea of making things stayed with us, so we started to plan for a number of workshops instead of the usual one.

Eventually we fixed on workshops in which the Pi would detect and control the outside world: flashing LEDs (everybody likes those!), making sound, detecting temperature, light and movement, using a line follower and distance sensor, and controlling motors.  On top of that, we added in using the Raspberry Pi Camera module, Minecraft and using the Pibrella add-on board.

In the end we had nine hands-on workshops to sort out.  Yes, nine – we must have been out of our minds! Actually, make that ten, because some bright spark had the idea of running a soldering workshop throughout the day!

One of the things we wanted from the workshops was to develop a set of worksheets and kits that we could sell at close-to-cost to the people attending, which they could then take away with them. This meant ordering a lot of individual components from China and sorting them out into the kits. Tim ordered dozens of mini breadboards, hundreds of LEDs and resistors and lots and lots of sensors, along with motors, wheels and jumper cables. Which all needed to be sorted into bags. And our SD cards needed sorting out with all the software that would be required. And we also needed to find people to lead and assist in the workshops. Fortunately we’d built up an ideas-and-assistance group of about 20 people, and many of them were willing to give their time and energy to preparing the workshop material and teaching it.

Sensor man

Nice sensors, man! Just a small part of the huge amount of kit ordered for the workshops.

Meanwhile, Mike started sorting out a programme for the Focus on Education and asking people to the Show and Tell, doing a lot of the Jam & EventBrite admin and communications along the way. So, as you can tell, weekly meetings were a must!

On the day

So, there we were, and suddenly it was three months later: the 10th of May had swung around. We had even managed to find time to hold a social Jam (Potton Pi and Pints) in the meantime just to keep in touch with everyone.

At 8.30am on the morning of the 10th, we hit our first snag. Normally, we can get everything in Tim’s estate car (which is, basically, a huge cavern) for the trip to Cambridge. This time, however, we had a lot more to transport: we’d bought some tables plus all the kit for the workshops meant that we just couldn’t fit everything in. So, in two cars, we set out for the Institute.

The get-in for a Jam is always a bit chaotic, and damned hard work, and this time was no exception. The Institute looks very different on our arrival but, thanks to Andy Batey, (who works at the Institute, arranged the venue in the first place and is just an all-round helpful chap) we (including half-a-dozen volunteers, known as Jam Makers) manage to transform it into the configuration visitors see when they arrive. The most ‘fun’ task this time was to move a big marquee about 50 metres from one end of the quad to the other. Much mud was encountered!

Foyer workshop area (foreground), Marketplace (left) and Show and Tell mezzanine (top right)

Foyer workshop area (foreground), Marketplace (left) and Show and Tell mezzanine (top right)

If you want to get a feel for the day overall, Mathew and Leo have put together this brilliant video. You can even spot Tim (getting interviewed at the beginning) and Mike (with the loudhailer):

You might also want to listen to this podcast from Alan O’Donohoe which was recorded at the Jam.

Our first activity started at 11.10am and it was a Minecraft workshop led by Craig RichardsonMatt Timmons-Brown and Clare Macrae. This workshop had sold out within 1 hour of the free tickets becoming available. We’d had to cancel another workshop that we had been planning and replace it with a repeat of the Minecraft workshop, and that one sold out as well! We ended up with a waiting list big enough that we could have held another one! Minecraft is a major draw for kids.

Craig Richardson Minecraft workshop

Minecraft workshop number 1: Craig attempts the impossible by trying to reach into the big screen

Once we’d got that workshop going, it was all hands on deck to get the rest of the venue ready. Matt Manning, Andrew Scheller and Tim were our welcome team, and attempted the near-impossible task of checking tickets and ticking names off the registration list. With the teachers beginning to arrive, it got very busy, very quickly!

Mike and Tim had decided to split up so that Tim was outside managing the workshop preparations while Mike hosted the Focus on Education in the lecture theatre. We swapped halfway through the day.

Mike and Tim kicked off Focus on Education with a quick intro and then handed over to Clive Beale from the Foundation who was delivering the keynote: “Computing in Education and the new Curriculum”.

After Clive, Elizabeth Crilly from STEMNET and David Whale talked about the STEM Ambassador programme and what they can do for schools.

We then had a more practical presentation from Dr Sam Aaron, the developer of Sonic Pi. Sam’s a real rock star when it comes to live demos!

At the same time, in the meeting room we had a PiCamera workshop run by Jarle TeiglandMatt Manning and Andrew Scheller and in the foyer we had a beginners electronics/breadboarding workshop run by Alex EamesSway Grantham and Andrew Gale.

electronics workshop

Sway and Andrew watch over the basic electronics workshop

Back in the lecture theatre, we continued our presentation with Sophie Deen talking about Code Club and Code Club Pro (video not available) and then two live demo-style talks from Gordon Henderson (who covered FUZE and Return to BASIC):

and Darren Christie (who talked about the Pibrella and how simple it is to use):

At the same time as all of this, of course, we had our soldering workshop going on. Over 30 people took advantage of the free lessons given by Gee Bartlett (from Pimoroni) and Andrew Gale. They took place outside under a tent (so we didn’t set the fire alarms inside off!). We should mention at this point that we had a lot of generosity from the community with the soldering – Gee brought a load of stuff with him, including some kits that lit up; David Whale donated an entire box of oddments; Tom Hartley donated a batch of old AirPi boards.

soldering workshop

Andrew Gale teaches Sidney the finer points of not touching the hot end

We also had our Show and Tell area in full swing. We had projects from Brian CorteilRussell BarnesRyan WalmsleyIpswich SchoolWayne KeenanStewards Academy and Zach IgielmanAlex Eames was also to be found here showing off the latest prototype of the HDMIPi.

Brian Corteil

Brian Corteil and his naughty-and-nice machine (right) and egg-dispensing Easter bunny (left)

Ipswich School kids

Kids from Ipswich School showing off their automatic greenhouse watering system

robotic arm

Joseph from Stewards Academy shows off his robotic arm controlled by his real arm

We should also mention the exhibitors in the marketplace – we had the FUZE team, a group from the Little British Robot CompanyCyntechThe Pi HutGPIO.co.uk and Seven Segments of Pi. These guys really helped to give the Foyer a buzz!

Concurrently with the talks, soldering and Show and Tell, Tim had in the meantime started off a further two sessions: temperature, light and movement sensors in the Foyer (led by Matt Manning & Clare Macrae) and our second Minecraft workshop in the meeting room (Craig Richardson and Matt Timmons-Brown again).

Matt Manning

Matt Manning holds court in the sensors workshop

It was half-time in the lecture theatre so Tim and Mike swapped. We hit a slight snag at this point because the entire lecture theatre emptied and it became a little difficult to hear in the Foyer workshop… lesson learnt for next time!

With Tim now in charge in the lecture theatre, next up was Matthew Timmons-Brown giving his talk on how to make computing exciting for kids:

In the meantime, outside we had started off another two workshops: distance sensors and line followers (a vital robotics skill) led by Zach IgielmanRyan Walmsley and Jarle Teigland in the Foyer and a Pibrella workshop in the meeting room (led by Darren Christie, our in-house Pibrella expert!).

workshop

Young and old alike getting to know distance sensors and line followers in a workshop led by Zach Igielman (standing, in the green t-shirt)

In the lecture theatre, Alan O’Donohoe was up next: Engage and Inspire the Digital Creators of Tomorrow:

…followed by Craig Richardson giving a talk on using Minecraft in the classroom:

Out in the Foyer, Ryan Walmsley started off his workshop on controlling motors with the Pi, whilst in the meeting room Phil Howard and Jim Darby began their session on creating an Arduino and programming it with the Pi (we’re supporters of the school of thought that these devices can work together rather than in competition with one another!).

motor controller workshop

Ryan and Zach at the motor controller workshop, soldering workshop in the background outside

Back in the lecture theatre, Nevil Hunt talked about his invention, the Seven Segments of Pi, and how it can be used in schools:

Then, we had a talk from James Robinson from Computing at School:

And finally… we had a panel session that involved some of the Picademy graduates and was chaired by David Whale:

Then the big get-out began. This was a mammoth task at the end of a very long day. Many, many thanks to those who helped with both the get-in and, especially, the get-out. Without you guys we’d probably still be there!

All that was left to do was to drive home and… oh yeah… empty out both cars. Argh!!!

Aftermath

And so, the May Cambridge Raspberry Jam was over. It would be fair to say that neither Mike nor Tim could form a coherent sentence the next day, but it was worth it! We sent feedback forms out to attendees and, judging by the response, people were, on the whole, very happy with the way the day went. We certainly felt as though it had been a success, both in Focus on Education and in the activities in the Foyer/Meeting room.

What’s next? Well, we have a fair amount of work still to do for this Jam. We need to analyse all the feedback and come up with a list of ‘lessons learnt’. We also need to resort all the equipment we hurriedly packed and brought back from the Jam into the correct boxes.

And then there’s the small matter of the Jam on 5th July… and possibly a Potton Pi & Pints in June!

Right then… to the pub!

If you want to find out more about the Cambridge Raspberry Jam, visit our website at http://camjam.me or come and watch some more videos on the YouTube channel.

Minecraft Pi recipe cards to download and keep

via Raspberry Pi

We think Craig Richardson’s brilliant. His Python Programming for Raspberry Pi book (available as a free download) remains one of the very best tools for stealthily teaching rigorous and useful computing concepts and programming tricks to kids that we’ve seen. Kids love Craig’s resources (we’ve found it hard to make them stop working and pack up to go home when we’ve run Craig’s bag of tricks in workshops); and whether you’re a teacher, a parent or an interested learner of any age, you’ll find something in there to get your teeth into.

Craig’s Minecraft resources will be available to buy in print later in the year (we know a lot of you prefer to have textbooks and other reference material available as a dead-tree book). Speaking of dead trees, Craig’s preferred method of teaching times tables is to get kids fighting Minecraft trees. It goes down about 1000% better than number squares.

Not prepared to stop at one giant tome of Minecraft goodness, Craig is working on new materials all the time: his latest batch is a set of recipe cards for workshops or the classroom, which we used at the first Picademy for teachers.

Recipe card

 

Craig says:

Minecraft: Pi Edition has huge potential for engaging people with programming. The Minecraft game is hugely popular with children and adults alike, as it allows enormous creativity. Combining it with Python programming on the Raspberry Pi opens up an even greater level of creative freedom, and is a massive incentive for learning to program.

Following on from the first draft of my Python Programming with Minecraft Pi book, I developed a set of recipe cards.

The recipe cards provide short example Python programs that interact with Minecraft Pi. They are designed to be accessible for complete beginners. Each recipe card teaches the basics of a programming concept, such as variables or loops, and includes detailed explanations of how the code works.

When using the recipe cards to teach programming in workshops I’ve found that it is essential to leave scope for creativity. Having the opportunity to play and incorporate their own ideas into their programs is hugely beneficial for adults and children. It is more engaging than just copying code and helps develop a deeper understanding when they’re learning to program.

Creative freedom is one of the reasons that Minecraft is so popular, which is why it complements learning to program perfectly.

He’s right, too.

Several of you asked for a downloadable version of these cards when you saw the photographs from Picademy, so Craig has made them available on his website. Thanks so much Craig – we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next!

 

 

Using Minecraft: Raspberry Pi Edition to get kids computing

via Raspberry Pi

After a workshop last week, Clive, our Director of Educational Development, sent me the following in an email:

A parent came up to me, and said: “I’m concerned that on Minecraft you can blow things up with TNT, it’s all about destruction, I’m worried about the effect on children…”

If you ever want to make a six-foot-one Liverpudlian with a motorcycle cry, just repeat that sentence to him. Clive has been inconsolable for days. Why? Because Minecraft: Raspberry Pi Edition is a teaching and learning tool we’ve found absolutely invaluable. It’s a powerful way to get kids who didn’t realise they had an aptitude for programming excited about the Pi; it’s a creative, constructive tool; kids and teachers love it; and we find it’s enormously popular with kids all over the world. At an event this weekend, Carrie Anne Philbin and Alex Bradbury witnessed children crying (and I promise we are not the sort of people who try to make children cry) when asked to allow other kids to have a go.

Here’s Martin O’Hanlon, of Stuff About Code, to explain why teaching with Minecraft is such a good idea. This video was filmed at last month’s Raspberry Jamboree: thanks to Alan O’Donohoe for filming it.

We’re very close to launching our new website now: you’ll be able to see it, and the learning resources we’re producing, around the beginning of April. We’ll have plenty of Minecraft resources to show you then, packaged for teachers and for pupils. We hope you’ll enjoy using them as much as we have enjoyed making them.

Raspberry Pi Minecraft server

via Raspberry Pi

The first question people usually ask upon meeting me is, “Can you ride a pig?” I’ve never worked out if they mean in Minecraft or in real life. The second question is, “Can you run a Minecraft server on the Raspberry Pi?” The answer to both is, of course, “Yes”.

Edwin Jones (EdwinJ85 on the forums) explains how he made his.

You can get the original instructions by Jim Bruges here.

This does take some techincal nous — but you’ve had all day to install Raspberry Pi Minecraft and play, you should be experts. What I really liked about Edwin’s blog are his final comments. Whether you are hacking Minecraft or building a media server or sending them into near space or messing about in Scratch, this is why we do what we do:

You really have to admire the whole idea of the Raspberry Pi. They are brilliantly cheap, low power servers and whilst I may not have learned much about coding with them so far, I sure have learned a lot about the world outside of Windows, and just how much you can get out of very low priced hardware. The Pi represents a great deal of opportunity for all sorts of people with the ideas for all sorts of projects. I implore you to think of your own and give it a go, you won’t regret it.

And with that Manic Mineday has ended. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Goodnight.

Minecraft Snake arcade machine

via Raspberry Pi

You thought that we’d finished, didn’t you? You thought that I’d gone to bed to dream of building diamond cubes using nested loops. Think again! Tobias Hübner tells us how he has been using Raspberry Pi Minecraft in the classrooom (including interfacing using the GPIO pins) .

In particular Tobias has produced some fantastic documentation, ostensibly for teachers but in fact it’s a relly good read in general covering topics such as how computers work, binary, logic gates and, of course, the Raspberry Pi and Minecraft programming. It’s in German only at the moment, but it’s Creative Commons so you know what to do ;)

I just read your blog post and wanted to let you know that I use mineceraft with my pupils in a school in Germany and they absolutely love it.

When I bought a case from the guys at nwazet [Nwazet make brilliant add-on stuff for the Pi, check them out - clive] I had the idea to turn it into a joystick and then let my pupils play around with it. They came up with the idea to use it in minecraft. We therefore modified the snake game from stuffaboutcode.com so that it runs in a loop and made a little Raspberry Pi/Minecraft-arcade machine. I recorded a video for Fabien, the founder of nwazet, which shows how it runs. You can download it here: www.medienistik.de/case.mp4.

Pictures of the case can be found at www.medienistik.de/case.zip.

I also wrote a little Raspberry Pi-tutorial for teachers in Germany. It has a focus on using minecraft in combination with the GPIO-port. You can find it here: http://www.medienistik.de/Themenheft_RaspberryPi.pdf

I gave a talk about all this at the last Raspberry Pi Jam at the university in Trier/Germany (http://medienistik.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/pi-and-more-treffen-an-der-uni-trier/).  It was also featured in the latest Linux User issue (http://www.linux-user.de/Downloads/LUCE/2013/lu-ce_2013-08.pdf).

Greetings from Germany and thanks so much for the awesome work you`re doing!

No — thank you Tobi.

Minecraft Snake arcade machine

via Raspberry Pi

You thought that we’d finished, didn’t you? You thought that I’d gone to bed to dream of building diamond cubes using nested loops. Think again! Tobias Hübner tells us how he has been using Raspberry Pi Minecraft in the classrooom (including interfacing using the GPIO pins) :

I just read your blog post and wanted to let you know that I use mineceraft with my pupils in a school in Germany and they absolutely love it.

When I bought a case from the guys at nwazet [Nwazet make brilliant add-on stuff for the Pi, check them out - clive] I had the idea to turn it into a joystick and then let my pupils play around with it. They came up with the idea to use it in minecraft. We therefore modified the snake game from stuffaboutcode.com so that it runs in a loop and made a little Raspberry Pi/Minecraft-arcade machine. I recorded a video for Fabien, the founder of nwazet, which shows how it runs. You can download it here: www.medienistik.de/case.mp4.

Pictures of the case can be found at www.medienistik.de/case.zip.

I also wrote a little Raspberry Pi-tutorial for teachers in Germany. It has a focus on using minecraft in combination with the GPIO-port. You can find it here: http://www.medienistik.de/Themenheft_RaspberryPi.pdf

I gave a talk about all this at the last Raspberry Pi Jam at the university in Trier/Germany (http://medienistik.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/pi-and-more-treffen-an-der-uni-trier/).  It was also featured in the latest Linux User issue (http://www.linux-user.de/Downloads/LUCE/2013/lu-ce_2013-08.pdf).

Greetings from Germany and thanks so much for the awesome work you`re doing!

No — thank you Tobi.

Learning Python using Codecademy and Raspberry Pi Minecraft: a resource of great note

via Raspberry Pi

I met Craig Richardson at Newcastle Maker Faire and we got to talking about teaching using Raspberry Pi Minecraft. For a while I’d harboured a plan to write some proper teaching resources for it and had scribbled a few notes but hadn’t had time to develop it. Craig had had the same idea – yes, it was just like Darwin and Wallace – and we decided to get our heads together. Shortly afterwards Craig sent me what he had been working on. And here it is. It’s so good that I haven’t got anything glib to say. It’s a magnum opus.

Craig’s book is one of best teaching and learning resources that I’ve ever seen for any subject. It follows the Python lessons in Codecademy (one of the best online learning resources out there) and then reinforces these skills using Raspberry Pi Minecraft. It’s contemporary and it’s challenging and it’s fun. It’s got a 225 page student book with exercises plus separate teachers’ notes. It provides differentiation and it references the new Computing curriculum. It’s learning by stealth :)

If you are a teacher and are teaching Python in September: please go and get this, your students will thank you. (Would you rather teach loops by printing a times table or by fighting trees?)

Everyone else who would like to learn or improve their Python: please go and get this, it’s not just a classroom resource so don’t be put off.  If you don’t want to work your way through it from the start just cherry pick what you find interesting – it’s an excellent reference and I’ve used it as such in workshops, to great effect.

A treasure detector based on an exercise in Craig’s book. The LED flashes faster as you get nearer to the treasure.

The book isn’t quite finished and Craig says:

Right now the book is incomplete, especially in the later chapters. The vast majority of content is there, some bits are missing, and a lot of it needs polishing. I am just about to start teacher training and won’t be able to dedicate any time to the book for the next few months. … I do plan to finish the book, I’m just not sure when I will have the time. If you are interested in helping to further develop these resources please get in touch.

When it is done it will surely be an essential resource for learning Python on the Raspberry Pi, so if you’d like to help then please contact Craig. Oh — and there’s lots of other good Pi-related stuff on his blog too.

Nicholas, some breadboard and a passcode

via Raspberry Pi

Nicholas Harris is 11 years old, and he’s been learning to code with a Raspberry Pi. He’s set up a website to share his progress, and yesterday I was pointed at a project video he’d made.

Kids like Nicholas are the whole reason we started the Raspberry Pi project: seeing videos like this makes our day, and makes our job feel so worthwhile. Nicholas started with Codecadamy and a desire to control more of the world in Minecraft: Pi Edition (he’s a big fan of Martin O’Hanlon’s Stuff About Code, particularly the Minecraft bits, and Martin has been giving him pointers in his Minecraft work), and he’s now building bigger and bigger projects, learning Python, Ruby and some PHP.

Learning to program as a kid comes with its own set of difficulties. Nicholas’ baby sister threw the entire contents of his hardware kit (which I think was this Adafruit one – let me know if I’ve got that right, Nicholas) into the family LEGO box, and while he was able to retrieve most of the pieces, the light-sensitive photocell never turned up. But Nicholas is a resourceful sort, and found a project in which he could use all the other bits.

So here is Nicholas’ passcode reader. It’s great to see him SSH’ing into the Pi, writing Python, and learning electronics and binary, all in one project. Next stop: soldering!

Thanks Nicholas: and let us know if you do write up a tutorial like you mentioned!

Are you a kid who is learning about computing with the Pi at home? Do you have any projects you’d like to show us? You can get in touch with us via the contact page.

Minecraft in the classroom?

via Raspberry Pi

Last week I ran a short session at Campus London with a roomful of students from local schools. Only one of the students had seen a Raspberry Pi before and only a couple had used a command line interface or seen a computer program. In just over an hour they learned how to set up the Raspberry Pi, did a bit of Linux and then hacked Minecraft using Python. Here’s what they thought of it:

“I used a raspberry pi and it showed me how exciting and useful new technology can be. Also learning simple coding was very useful and made me want to learn more. It made me more interested in technology and coding. It made me really consider my careers options involving technology.” —William

“This has pushed me to finish my game I am currently developing.” —Joseph

“It has made me interested about learning coding. I have realised coding isn’t as hard as I thought.” —Lara

“I want to learn more about programming, because it was really interesting.” —Ellie

“The most important thing I learned was how to use Raspberry Pi.” —Finley

Running minecraft from the command line

“The most important thing I learned was how to change the commands to Mine Craft.” —Harjoat

“We had a go using a device called a Raspberry Pi which let us hack into a game and let us give it commands. It was really fun and exciting to learn all these new things.” —Jasmine

Reading these comments makes me smile, it was a fantastic session and shows what you can learn in short amount of time. A few lessons jump out from the feedback:

  1. When given the opportunity, most young people find computing to be a powerful and exciting thing.
  2. Everyone gets something different out of learning how to tell a computer what to do.
  3. Play is a powerful way to learn and computers are a good way to play.

These lessons are hardly new—it’s where Logo, Scratch and Lego Mindstorms come from—but what has changed is the accessibility and opportunity. With a £30 computer and a free game you can learn computer science in a beautiful, constructionist sandbox. (“Why dig when you can code?” “Are you an Alpha or an Epsilon?” “Hack with your brain, not with your pickaxe.” And other rubbish aphorisms coming soon to a T-shirt near you.) Quite simply, you can teach yourself to think in powerful ways while messing about. I don’t know about you, but as a teacher I think that this is quite profound.

Hacking Pi Minecraft using the API and Python.

I’m going to blog more about Pi Minecraft in future; I think that its potential as a teaching and learning tool is huge.  I’ll be writing lesson plans for it and hopefully not just computing lessons: Martin O’Hanlon’s analogue clock for example would be a brilliant to teach trig and geometry in the constructionist stylee. If anyone out there—teachers, programmers, Notch, whoever—want to help then get in touch. The School of Minecraft has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

P.S. Campus is an amazing place: if you are a tech start-up or entrepreneur (or would like to be!) and can get down there, check it out. I love it.

Hacking the Minecraft world

via Raspberry Pi

If you’re a Minecraft fan and a Pi owner, you’ve probably already downloaded a copy of Minecraft: Pi Edition. But are you getting the most out of the fact that you can modify the world with code in-game?

If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re looking for ideas (sometimes being given a blank canvas can be lousy for getting the brain sparking), Martin O’Hanlon at the marvellous <Stuff about=”code” /> has several tutorials on Minecraft: Pi Edition, from installing the game to using the Minecraft API to build wonderful things, like magical bridges that appear where’er you walk, games of hide and seek, and in-game analogue clocks.

The hide and seek hack is easy and rewarding: with a little coding you’ll be able to get the game to hide a diamond somewhere in the world for you to find, and to give you hints of the warmer/colder variety.

You can find code and an explanation of what’s going on over at Stuff About…

And we’re all agreed that the clock is just brilliant (it’s also big enough that you can go and stand on the hands). Again, the project has its own page with code and a spot of discussion.

We’d love to see what you’ve been doing in Minecraft – take some video, or write something about your experiments on your own website, and let us know about it!

Minecraft – it’s here!

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OK – I said I wasn’t going to post again until I was back in the UK, but I just opened my laptop to check my mail at the airport and found something that really couldn’t wait. The folks from Mojang have finished the Minecraft: Pi Edition port, and it’s available for download now. For free.

You can see a post from Mojang about the news on their main blog; they’ve also opened up a Pi Edition blog, where you can find download instructions. I know some of you have already downloaded the beta version that was released in December; if you have, you’ll want to replace it with today’s release, which fixes some bugs and has more features.

To read more about Minecraft on the Pi, check out our previous posts, where you’ll find video demonstrating how coding inside the Minecraft: Pi Edition environment works, a report from MineCon, and more. Thanks to all at Mojang for all the work you’ve done on this, and greetings to those of you who are coming to the Raspberry Pi platform to play this new edition – we’re really happy to be able to welcome all you Minecrafters to the Pi family!

 

Sneak peek – some more Minecraft: Pi Edition video

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As you’ll know (unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or very busy wrapping presents), we’re expecting to see the release of Minecraft: Pi Edition from Mojang very soon. Daniel Bates, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Undercover Minecraft Operative, has put together a video demo of how you’ll be able to use code within the Minecraft environment, programming the world to make building faster and easier.

Daniel says:

Note that this is a very early pre-release version, and it is subject to change before release. I’ll show off more features including interactive stuff in future videos.

 

Source code:
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~db434/files/minecraft.py
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~db434/files/setblockdemo.py

 

FAQ:
Q. Can I use X programming language?
A. Any language capable of communicating over the network will work. See the first source file as an example of what’s needed.

 

Q. When is it coming out?
A. No date has been confirmed yet.

 

Q. How much will it cost?
A. Nothing.

 

Q. Will it run on a 256MB Raspberry Pi?
A. Yes – this demo was filmed on an older model, and didn’t use any overclocking.

 

Minecraft: Pi Edition – video demo and more details

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We’ve had loads of questions about the upcoming Minecraft: Pi Edition over the last couple of days. We sent Daniel Bates, one of the University of Cambridge PhD candidates who volunteers for Raspberry Pi, to Disneyland Paris to join Mojang for their announcement at MineCon on Saturday. He got back yesterday with some video and more details about what you’re going to see when a download’s available. Over to Daniel!

What do you get when you combine Mickey Mouse, some game developers from Sweden, and an inexpensive educational computer? Good news all around! I was at MineCon in Disneyland Paris this weekend where we unveiled an early version of Minecraft: Pi Edition.

This new version is based on the Pocket Edition of Minecraft, which you may have seen running on mobile phones and tablets, but has one key difference: you can program it. All you have to do is set up a network connection to the running game, and then you can send text commands to control the world. This makes is possible to program in any language which supports network connections, and you can access the game from any computer which is connected to the Pi. One possible setup is to have a Python prompt and the Minecraft window side-by-side on the Pi.

Minecraft: Pi Edition has been in development for less than a week, but already Daniel and Aron from Mojang have got it running really smoothly. It runs on all versions of the Raspberry Pi with no overclocking necessary. Liz interjects: Daniel F from Mojang emailed me yesterday to say they’re seeing 40fps with a 256MB Pi, although the development work was done on a set of 512MB boards. (They say they want to optimise it more, but I couldn’t detect any slowness in my time with the game.) There’s currently the ability to place any block at any location, ask what type of block is at any location, and keep track of events such as player movements, with more features planned.

We see this as a very exciting way of drawing children into programming. The game can be played with no programming at all. Then, basic programming can be used to place large numbers of blocks in particular patterns to speed up the building process – the audience burst into applause when Daniel wrote a simple loop which simultaneously changed the position and type of blocks being placed, which soon resulted in lava cascading from mid-air and setting fire to the wood below. The more creative programmer will only be limited by their imagination. Want to build a digital clock into the wall of your house which displays the real time? Easy. Want to get back at a friend who stole your precious diamonds? Remove the floor from underneath their feet and let them fall into a pit of lava. The possibilities are endless.

The goal is to release Minecraft: Pi Edition before the end of the year, free of charge. We hope that this will further advance the Raspberry Pi’s aims of getting children excited about computing.