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Harry Potter and the Real-life Weasley Clock

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Pat Peters (such a wonderful Marvel-sounding name) recently shared his take on the Weasley Clock, a device that hangs on the wall of The Burrow, the rickety home inhabited by the Weasley family in the Harry Potter series.

Mrs. Weasley glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner. Harry liked this clock. It was completely useless if you wanted to know the time, but otherwise very informative. It had nine golden hands, and each of them was engraved with one of the Weasley family’s names. There were no numerals around the face, but descriptions of where each family member might be. “Home,” “school,” and “work” were there, but there was also “traveling,” “lost,” “hospital,” “prison,” and, in the position where the number twelve would be on a normal clock, “mortal peril.”

The clock in the movie has misplaced “mortal peril”, but aside from that it looks a lot like what we’d imagined from the books.

There’s a reason why more and more Harry Potter-themed builds are appearing online. The small size of devices such as the Raspberry Pi and Arduino allow for a digital ‘brain’ to live within an ordinary object, allowing control over it that you could easily confuse with magic…if you allow yourself to believe in such things.

So with last week’s Real-life Daily Prophet doing so well, it’s only right to share another Harry Potter-inspired project.

Harry Potter Weasley Clock

The clock serves not to tell the time but, rather, to indicate the location of Molly, Arthur and the horde of Weasley children. And using the OwnTracks GPS app for smartphones, Pat’s clock does exactly the same thing.

Pat Peters Weasley Clock Raspberry Pi

Pat has posted the entire build on instructables, allowing every budding witch and wizard (and possibly a curious Muggle or two) the chance to build their own Weasley Clock.

This location clock works through a Raspberry Pi that subscribes to an MQTT broker that our phone’s publish events to. Our phones (running the OwnTracks GPS app) send a message to the broker anytime we cross into or out of one of our waypoints that we have set up in OwnTracks, which then triggers the Raspberry Pi to run a servo that moves the clock hand to show our location.

There are no words for how much we love this. Here at Pi Towers we definitely have a soft spot for Harry Potter-themed builds, so make sure to share your own with us in the comments below, or across our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and G+.

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Join our workshops and talks at Bett 2017

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Next week brings another opportunity for educators to visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Bett 2017, the huge annual EdTech event in London. We’ll be at ExCeL London from 25-28 January, and we’ll be running more than 50 workshops and talks over the four days. Whether you’re a school teacher or a community educator, there’s something for you: visit our stand (G460) to discover ways to bring the power of digital making to your classroom and beyond.

BROWSE OUR TALK AND WORKSHOP TIMETABLE

Last year’s survivors photo

What’s on

A BIG announcement in the Bett Show Arena

Our CEO Philip Colligan will be launching an exciting new free initiative to support educators, live in the Bett Show Arena at 13:25 on Wednesday 25 January. Philip will be joined by a panel of educators who are leading the movement for classroom computing and digital making.

One of our younger community members, Yasmin Bey, delivering a workshop session

Raspberry Pi Stand (G460) – Free workshops, talks, demos, and panel discussions

Find us at our STEAM Village stand (G460) to take part in free physical computing and STEAM workshops, as well as talks led by Raspberry Pi Foundation staff, Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, and other expert community members. We have a huge range of workshops running for all levels of ability, which will give you the opportunity to get hands-on with digital making and gain experience of using the Raspberry Pi in a variety of different ways.

There is no booking system for our workshops. You just need to browse our Bett Show 2017 Workshop Timetable and then turn up before the session. If you miss a workshop and need help with something, don’t worry: the team will be hosting special drop-in sessions at the end of each day to answer all your questions.

Workshop participants will get the chance to grab some exclusive goodies, including a special Educator’s Edition of our MagPi magazineWe also have an awesome maker project for you to take away this year: your very own Raspberry Pi badge, featuring a glowing LED! We’ll supply all the materials: you just need to come and take part in some good old-fashioned digital making.

You can be the proud maker of this badge if you visit our stand

These fantastic free resources will help to get you started with digital making and Raspberry Pi, learn more about our goals as a charity, and give you the confidence to teach others about physical computing.

Our staff members will also be on hand to chat to you about any questions you have about our educational initiatives. Here’s a quick list to get the cogs turning:

  • Astro Pi: our initiative to enable schools across Europe to send code into space
  • Code Club: our programme for setting up extra-curricular computing clubs in schools and community spaces
  • Online training: our new web-based courses for educators on the FutureLearn platform
  • Picademy: our flagship face-to-face training for educators in the UK and USA
  • Pioneers: a new initiative that sets digital making challenges for teams of UK teenagers (twelve- to 15-year-olds)
  • Skycademy: our programme for starting a near-space programme in your school using high-altitude balloons

Talks will be held on the STEAM village stage (pictured) and on our stand throughout Bett

STEAM village sessions

In addition to running workshops and talks on our own stand, we are also holding some sessions on the STEAM village stand next to ours:

Time Day Presenter Title Location
13:25 – 13:55 Wednesday Olympia Brown, Senior Programme Manager, Raspberry Pi Foundation Pioneers: engaging teenagers in digital making, project-based learning, and STEAM STEAM Village Stage
12:30 – 13:00 Thursday Carrie Anne Philbin, Director of Education, Raspberry Pi Foundation A digital making curriculum: bridging the STEAM skills gap through creativity and project-based learning STEAM Village Stage
16:10 – 16:40 Friday Panel chaired by Dr Lucy Rogers, Author, Designer, Maker, and Robot Wars Judge! These ARE the droids we’re looking for: how the robotics revolution is inspiring a generation of STEAM makers STEAM Village Stage
11:20 – 11:50 Saturday Dave Honess, Astro Pi Programme Manager, Raspberry Pi Foundation Code in space: engaging students in computer science STEAM Village Stage

 Raspberry Jam and Code Club @ Bett

For the second year running, we are taking over the Technology in HE Summit Space on Saturday 28 January to run two awesome events:

  1. A Raspberry Jam from 10:00 to 12:50. Led by the wonderful Raspberry Pi community, Raspberry Jams are a way to share ideas, collaborate, and learn about digital making and computer science. They take place all over the world, including at the Bett Show! Come along, share your project in our show-and-tell, take part in our workshops, and get help with a project from experts and community members. It’s fun for all the family!
  2. A Code Club primer session from 13:00 to 15:00. Our regional coordinator for London and the East of England is holding a workshop with a team of young people to show you how to start a Code Club in your school. Come and take part in the live demos and get help with starting your own club.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to speak to so many different educators from across the world. It’s really important to us to spend time with all of you face-to-face: we want to hear about the great things you’re doing, answer your questions, and learn about the way you work and the challenges you face so we can improve the things we do. We really do value your feedback enormously, so please don’t hesitate for a moment to come over and ask questions, query something, or just say hi! And if you have questions you’d like to ask us ahead of Bett, just leave us a comment below.

See you next week!

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Book-wrangling at Wordery with a Raspberry Pi

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While we mostly deal in pretty technologically advanced stuff here at Pi Towers, we are huge fans of the printed word too. It’s great to hear, then, that the Raspberry Pi has been helping booksellers to keep bibliophiles like us supplied with all the reading matter they could wish for. Jeff Podolski, IT and network technician at Wordery, recently got in touch to tell us just how his company has been using the Pi in their warehouse.

At work in the Wordery warehouse.

Wordery is an online bookshop which offers over 10 million books, including a wide range of Raspberry Pi titles. Jeff tells us that the company has been working on improving their productivity and customer service over the past few years, with a recent drive towards greater automation in our sorting and distribution operation. “We needed to get PCs on the desks used for packing and mailing, so we could track packed items and provide interactive feedback for our staff,” says Jeff. A PC with a screen and barcode scanner on a desk takes up considerable space and power, so the IT team came up with the idea of using Raspberry Pis instead.

After some initial tests using a Pi and a standard PC screen, Jeff and his team streamlined the setup using the official 7” screen and case, along with a USB barcode scanner. This allowed them to have a unit on the desk which took up one fifth of the space a PC would have needed, while using dramatically less power.

The Pi and touchscreen assembly

Jeff’s next challenge was to keep the Raspberry Pi safe from being knocked and bumped by all the items being packed, lest an unsecured Pi become a Pi smashed on the warehouse floor. “We found an excellent tablet mounting arm designed for wheelchairs: we simply clamped that to the table and attached a back-board to the tablet bracket,” Jeff explains. “We were then able to attach the Pi using the rear mounting screw holes”. After a little tidying of cables, Jeff and the team had created a small, low-power, easily movable interactive terminal which can be used by all the staff in the warehouse.

A mobile terminal, thanks to a hacked tablet holder

The project was such a success that over 40 of these terminals have now been installed, and the benefits are already clear to see. “This year we have been able to process record volumes through our warehouse, up 11% on the previous year,” notes Jeff. “The Pis were key to us handling this additional volume, enabling us to increase packing productivity by 30%. The beauty of a project like this is we’re now advocating using these Raspberry Pi terminals elsewhere in the building, further reducing our power consumption and equipment costs”.

We’re really happy to see the success of a project like this: it shows how the Raspberry Pi can make automation much cheaper and more accessible, as well as much more flexible. Jeff’s team did a great job of hacking the tablet arm to make it fit another purpose, too. It also really speaks volumes of the helpfulness and engagement of the Raspberry Pi community. The team at ModMyPi helped with sourcing large amounts of kit and cables, as well as the cases themselves. The Raspberry Pi Thin Client Project worked on making a simple, configurable thin client for Jeff’s team to use. Finally, Martin Kirst, the lead programmer on the open-source project TN525j, helped Jeff and his team to make the terminal emulator screens easily readable and to add new functionality to the units.

Using the Pi enabled Wordery to work more efficiently

Thank you for sharing your work with us, Jeff: it shows what great work you can do with the Raspberry Pi in an industrial setting.

In celebration of the success of this Pi-powered automation project, the nice folks at Wordery are offering a discount on Raspberry Pi titles on Wordery.com until the end of January: use the code “HAPPYREADING” and receive 10% off your second book. Wordery offer free delivery on all orders too.

 

 

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Compute Module 3 Launch!

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Way back in April of 2014 we launched the original Compute Module (CM1) which was based around the BCM2835 processor of the original Raspberry Pi. CM1 was a great success and we’ve seen a lot of uptake from various markets, particularly in IoT and home and factory automation. Not to be outdone by its bigger Raspberry Pi brother, the Compute Module is also destined for space!

Compute Module 3

Since releasing the original Compute Module we’ve launched 2 further generations of much faster Raspberry Pi boards, so today we bring you the shiny new Compute Module 3 (CM3) which is based on the Raspberry Pi 3 hardware, providing twice the RAM and roughly 10x the CPU performance of the original module. We’ve been talking about the Compute Module 3 since the launch of the Raspberry Pi 3, and we’re already excited to see NEC displays, an early adopter, launching their CM3-enabled display solution.

Compute Module 3

The idea of the Compute Module was to provide an easy and cost effective route to producing customised products based on the Pi hardware and software platform. The thought was to provide the ‘team in a garage’ with easy access to the same technology as the big guys. The module takes care of the complexity of routing out the processor pins, the high speed RAM interface and core power supply and allows a simple carrier board to provide just what is needed in terms of external interfaces and form factor. The module uses a standard DDR2 SODIMM form factor, sockets for which are made by several manufacturers and are easily available and inexpensive.

In fact today we are launching two versions of Compute Module 3. The first is the ‘standard’ CM3 which has a BCM2837 processor at up to 1.2GHz with 1GByte RAM (the same as Pi3) and 4Gbytes of on-module eMMC flash. The second version is what we are calling ‘Compute Module 3 Lite’ (CM3L) which still has the same BCM2837 and 1Gbyte of RAM but brings the SD card interface to the module pins so a user can wire this up to an eMMC or SD card of their choice.

Back side of CM3 (left) and CM3L (right).

We are also releasing an updated version of our get-you-started breakout board, the Compute Module IO Board V3 (CMIO3). This board provides the necessary power to the module and gives you the ability to program the module’s Flash memory (for the non-Lite versions) or use an SD card (Lite versions), access the processor interfaces in a slightly more friendly fashion (pin headers and flexi connectors, much like the Pi) and provides the necessary HDMI and USB connectors so that you have an entire system that can boot Raspbian (or the OS of your choice). This board provides both a starting template for those who want to design with the Compute Module, and a quick way to start experimenting with the hardware and building and testing a system before going to the expense of fabricating a custom board. The CMIO3 can accept an original Compute Module, CM3 or CM3L.

Comprehensive information on the Compute Modules is available in the relevant hardware documentation section of our website and includes a datasheet and schematics.

With the launch of CM3 and CM3 Lite we are not obsoleting the original Compute Module, as we still see this as a valid product in its own right being a lower cost and lower power option where the performance of a CM3 would be overkill.

CM3 and CM3L are priced at $30 and $25 respectively (excluding tax and shipping) and this price applies to any size order. The original Compute Module is also reduced to $25. Our partners RS and Premier Farnell are also providing full development kits which include all you need to get started designing with the Compute Module 3.

The CM3 is largely backwards compatible with CM1 designs which have followed our design guidelines. The caveats are that the module is 1mm taller than the original module and the processor core supply (VBAT) can draw significantly more current and consequently the processor itself will run much hotter under heavy CPU load – i.e. designers need to consider thermals based on expected use cases.

CM3 (left) is 1mm taller than CM1 (right)

We’re very glad to finally be launching the Compute Module 3, and we’re excited to see what people do with it. Head on over to our partners element14 and RS Components to buy yours today!

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Our full 2017 schedule of UK Picademy events

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Happy new year to everyone! We’re back with a new programme of Picademy events for 2017. All our UK events have been scheduled up to the end of the year, so you can look ahead and choose something at a location and date that is convenient.

An educator gets to grips with our Camera Module

For the uninitiated, Picademy is a free CPD programme that aims to give educators the skills and knowledge they need to get creative with computing, no matter what their level of experience. In fact, you don’t need any previous experience to apply, just an enthusiasm for teaching kids computing. Each course lasts for two full days and is a mixture of digital making workshops, project-based learning, and hacking. Delegates graduate as Raspberry Pi Certified Educators (RCEs).

Last year’s Picademy events yielded some wonderful moments. We trained over 540 educators in the UK and the US, so we had lots of highlights to choose from; I certainly witnessed many in person while delivering events in Glasgow. Two of my favourites included the educator who created music by coding DNA into Sonic Pi as note values (amazing!), and the project that used the Sense HAT to input notes to Sonic Pi and then convert them into coloured blocks in Minecraft for a digital disco.

It was so great to see the enthusiasm, the camaraderie, and the willingness of educators to be open to new experiences. You could see the cogs turning as they thought about how they could apply the new ideas to work in their own classrooms. It was also great to hear about things educators found less easy, and to answer questions about aspects of the computing curriculum. We find this feedback particularly useful as we are always looking for ways to improve our content and provide better support.

Below you’ll find details of the Picademy events we’re running across the UK in 2017:

CITY VENUE DATES
Cardiff Tramshed,
Clare Rd,
Cardiff,
CF11 6QP
21/22 February
Manchester MadLab Manchester,
36-40 Edge St,
Manchester,
M4 1HN
14/15 March
02/03 October
Birmingham The Learning Hub,
Birmingham Airport,
Birmingham,
B26 3QJ
10/11 April
04/05 December
Cambridge Raspberry Pi Foundation,
30 Station Road,
Cambridge,
CB1 2JH
15/16 May
London TBC Late May*
Late November*

* While London details are not fully confirmed, you can still apply for these events. We will email details to applicants later in 2017.

Who should apply?

We are looking for inspirational educators who are passionate about computing, enthusiastic about creating awesome learning experiences for their students, and proactive at sharing good practice.

While we’re primarily looking for primary, secondary, FE and HE teachers to apply, we’re also seeking other outstanding educators such as librarians, community educators, trainee teachers, and trainers of teachers.

We’re committed to running free high-quality training, and we invest substantial time (and money) in the educators that attend. Our hope is that our certified educators not only return home with a digital making mindset to inspire students and colleagues, but also have an impact on their wider education community through social media, meetups, or running their own training.

With this in mind, we should point out that Picademy events are often oversubscribed: for this reason, it’s really important that we get a sense of the person behind the application. We would therefore urge you to take your time when answering questions that ask you to reflect on your own experiences and reasons for applying.

A cohort of Picademy graduates in Manchester

How to apply

To apply for any of the events, fill in our Online Application Form. If you have any further questions, you can email picademy@raspberrypi.org or post a message in the Picademy area on our forums.

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2017: inspiring young makers and supporting educators

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By any measure, the Raspberry Pi Foundation had a fantastic 2016. We ended the year with over 11 million Raspberry Pi computers sold, millions of people using our learning resources, almost 1,000 Certified Educators in the UK and US, 75,000 children regularly attending over 5,000 Code Clubs in the UK, hundreds of Raspberry Jams taking place all over the world, code written by schoolkids running in space (yes, space), and much, much more.

Tim Peake on Twitter

Fantastic to see 5,000 active Code Clubs in the UK, helping over 75,000 young people learn to code. https://t.co/OyShrUzAhI @Raspberry_Pi https://t.co/luFj1qgzvQ

As I’ve said before, what we achieve is only possible thanks to the amazing community of makers, educators, volunteers, and young people all over the world who share our mission and support our work. You’re all awesome: thank you.

So here we are, just over a week into the New Year, and I thought it might be a good time to share with you some of what we’ve got planned for 2017.

Young digital makers

At the core of our mission is getting more young people excited about computing, and learning how to make things with computers. That was the original inspiration for the Raspberry Pi computer and it remains our number-one objective.

One of the ways we do that is through Code Club, a network of after-school clubs for 9- 11-year-olds run by teachers and volunteers. It’s already one of the largest networks of after-school clubs in the world, and this year we’ll be working with our existing partners in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Ukraine, as well as finding more partners in more countries, to bring Code Club to many more children.

Code Club

This year also sees the launch of Pioneers, our new programme for teen digital makers. It’s built around a series of challenges that will inspire young people to make things with technology and share their makes with the world. Check out the first challenge here, and keep watching the hashtag #MakeYourIdeas across your favourite social media platforms.

This is Pioneers #MakeYourIdeas

UPDATE – The first challenge is now LIVE. Head here for more information https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzza7LJog Woohoo! Get together, get inspired, and get thinking. We’re looking for Pioneers to use technology to make something awesome. Get together in a team or on your own, post online to show us how you’re getting on, and then show the world your build when you’re done.

We’re also expanding our space programme Astro Pi, with 250 teams across Europe currently developing code that will be run on the ISS by ESA French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet. And, building on our Weather Station project, we’re excited to be developing new ideas for citizen science programmes that get more young people involved in computing.

European Astro Pi Challenge – Code your experiment

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is onboard the ISS, keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units too.

Supporting educators

Another big part of our work is supporting educators who are bringing computing and digital making into the classroom, and this year we’re going to be doing even more to help them.

Certified Educators

We’ll continue to grow our community of official Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, with Picademy training programmes in the UK and US. Watch out for those dates coming soon. We’re also opening up our educator training to a much wider audience through a series of online courses in partnership with FutureLearn. The first two courses are open for registration now, and we’ve got plans to develop and run more courses throughout the year, so if you’re an educator, let us know what you would find most useful.

We’re also really excited to be launching a brand-new free resource for educators later this month in partnership with CAS, the grass-roots network of computing educators. For now, it’s top-secret, but if you’re in the Bett Arena on 25 January, you’ll be the first to hear all about it.

Free educational resources

One of the most important things we do at Pi Towers is create the free educational resources that are used in Code Clubs, STEM clubs, CoderDojos, classrooms, libraries, makerspaces, and bedrooms by people of all ages learning about computing and digital making. We love making these resources and we know that you love using them. This year, we want to make them even more useful.

resources

As a first step, later this month we will share our digital making curriculum, which explains how we think about learning and progression, and which provides the structure for our educational resources and programmes. We’re publishing it so that we can get feedback to make it better, but we also hope that it will be used by other organisations creating educational resources.

We’re also working hard behind the scenes to improve the content and presentation of our learning resources. We want to include more diverse content like videos, make it easier for users to track their own progress, and generally make the experience more interactive and social. We’re looking forward to sharing that work and getting your feedback over the next few months.

Community

Last, but by no means least, we will continue to support and grow the community around our mission. We’ll be doing even more outreach, with ever more diverse groups, and doing much more to support the Raspberry Jam organisers and others who do so much to involve people in the digital making movement.

Birthday Bash

The other big community news is that we will be formally establishing ourselves as a charity in the US, which will provide the foundation (see what I did there?) for a serious expansion of our charitable activities and community in North America.


As you can see, we’ve got big plans for the year. Let me know what you think in the comments below and, if you’re excited about the mission, there’s lots of ways to get involved.

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