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Halloween!

via Raspberry Pi

There’s a lot of spooky Pi shenanigans going on this Halloween. Here at Pi Towers, our very own Rachel Rayns is trialling the first run of the Raspberry Pi Digital Creatives Bronze award we plan to be running formally from 2015. (More of that in a later post.) Amy and Dan Mather are acting as our guinea pigs for this trial; and here are the (orange, approximately spherical) fruits of their first day’s labour.

I’ll be prodding the Mather kids for a write-up on how to rotoscope your own face onto a pumpkin soon.

A little further from home, at one of my favourite places in the UK, the team at the Lost Gardens of Heligan have made a slightly-too-successful Halloween project. People walking past this installation trigger a motion sensor, which makes a speaker up in the tree hoot in a Halloween fashion.

“Slightly-too-successful” in this instance means that at twilight, visitors walking past triggered the audio: and real, female tawny owls responded to it, and were attracted to the tree. Which is great for owl-spotters, but a bit unfair on the owls. So the Heligan team swapped out the audio for the blood-curdling howls of a wolf (not native to Cornwall), and all was well again. You can read more about the project over at our friend Phil Atkin’s blog.

Further afield, Cabe Atwell in the USA has a haunted porch. (Careful watching this one if you have small children in the room – it’s a bit unsettling.)

There’s a lot of how-to detail in Cabe’s video, and a full write-up over at element14.

Back in the UK, Halloween’s being used as a teaching tool by TeCoEd.

Here’s a how-to video, and you’ll find everything you need to make one yourself next year at TeCoEd’s website.

You’ll find plenty more projects from previous years under the Halloween tag. Have you made something spooky with a Pi this year? Let us know in the comments!

Gameboy Halloween costume

via Raspberry Pi

The good people at Adafruit pointed us at this video. Besides the fact that the costume is driven by a Raspberry Pi, we don’t know much about the build (or the guy who made it – he goes by MikeHandidate on YouTube, but we suspect that’s not actually his name) – good though, isn’t it?

More Halloween goodies to come tomorrow. Are you using a Pi in your costume or house decorations this year?

Pi Talks at PyConUK

via Raspberry Pi

You may remember our Education team attended PyConUK in Coventry last month. We ran the Education Track, which involved giving workshops to teachers and running a Raspberry Jam day for kids at the weekend. We also gave talks on the main developer track of the conference.

Carrie Anne gave a fantastic keynote entitled Miss Adventures in Raspberry Pi wherein she spoke of her journey through teaching the new computing curriculum with Raspberry Pi, attending PyConUK the last two years, being hired by the Foundation, and everything she’s done in her role as Education Pioneer.

See the keynote slides here

I also gave my talk PyPi (not that one) – Python on the Raspberry Pi showing interesting Pi projects that use Python and demonstrating what you can do with a Pi that you can’t on other computers.

See the talk slides here

Alex gave his talk Teaching children to program Python with the Pyland game - a project Alex led over the summer with a group of interns at the Computer Lab.

See the talk slides here

The conference ended with a sprint day where Alex led a team building and testing Pyland and adding challenges, and I worked with a group of developers porting Minecraft Pi to Python 3.

If you missed it last week, we posted Annabel’s Goblin Detector, a Father-daughter project the 8 year old demonstrated at PyConUK while enjoying the Raspberry Jam day.

Real-time depth perception with the Compute Module

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: We’ve got a number of good friends at Argon Design, a tech consultancy in Cambridge. (James Adams, our Director of Hardware, used to work there; as did my friend from the time of Noah, @eyebrowsofpower; the disgustingly clever Peter de Rivaz, who wrote Penguins Puzzle, is an Argon employee; and Steve Barlow, who heads Argon up, used to run AlphaMosaic, which became Broadcom’s Cambridge arm, and employed several of the people who work at Pi Towers back in the day.)

We gave the Argon team a Compute Module to play with this summer, and they set David Barker, one of their interns, to work with it. Here’s what he came up with: thanks David, and thanks Argon!

This summer I spent 11 weeks interning at a local tech company called Argon Design, working with the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module. “Local” in this case means Cambridge, UK, where I am currently studying for a mathematics degree. I found the experience extremely valuable and a lot of fun, and I have learnt a great deal about the hardware side of the Raspberry Pi. And here I would like to share a bit of what I did.

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My assignment was to develop an example of real-time video processing on the Raspberry Pi. Argon know a lot about the Pi and its capabilities and are experts in real-time video processing, and we wanted to create something which would demonstrate both. The problem we settled on was depth perception using the two cameras on the Compute Module. The CTO, Steve Barlow, who has a good knowledge of stereo depth algorithms gave me a Python implementation of a suitable one.

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The algorithm we used is a variant of one which is widely used in video compression. The basic idea is to divide each frame into small blocks and to find the best match with blocks from other frames – this tells us how far the block has moved between the two images. The video version is designed to detect motion, so it tries to match against the previous few frames. Meanwhile, the depth perception version tries to match the left and right camera images against each other, allowing it to measure the parallax between the two images.

The other main difference from video compression is that we used a different measure of correlation between blocks. The one we used is designed to work well in the presence of sharp edges and when the exposure differs between the cameras. This means that it is considerably more accurate, at the cost of being more expensive to calculate.

When I arrived, my first task was to translate this algorithm from Python to C, to see what sort of speeds we could reasonably expect. While doing this, I made several algorithmic improvements. This turned out to be extremely successful – the final C version was over 1000 times as fast as the original Python version, on the same hardware! However, even with this much improvement, it was still taking around a second to process a moderate-sized image on the Pi’s ARM core. Clearly another approach was needed.

There are two other processors on the Pi: a dual-core video processing unit called the VPU and a 12-core GPU, both of which are part of the VideoCore block. They both run at a relatively slow 250MHz, but are designed in such a way that they are actually much faster than the ARM core for video and imaging tasks. The team at Argon has done a lot of VideoCore programming and is familiar with how to get the best out of these processors. So I set about rewriting the program, from C into VPU assembler. This sped up the processing on the Pi to around 90 milliseconds. Dropping the size of the image slightly, we eventually managed to get the whole process – get image from cameras, process on VPU, display on screen – to run at 12fps. Not bad for 11 weeks’ work!

I also coded up a demonstration app, which can do green-screen-free background removal, as well as producing false-colour depth maps. There are screenshots below; the results are not exactly perfect, but we are aware of several ways in which this could be improved. This was simply a matter of not having enough time – implementing the algorithm to the standard of a commercial product, rather than a proof-of-concept, would have taken quite a bit longer than the time I had for my internship.

To demonstrate our results, we ran the algorithm on a standard image pair produced by the University of Tsukuba. Below are the test images, the exact depth map, and our calculated one.

Tsukuba_L Tsukuba_R

groundtruth

StereoViewC

We also set up a simple scene in our office to test the results on some slightly more “real-world” data:

all_image

colour_map

bg-224

However, programming wasn’t the only task I had. I also got to design and build a camera mount, which was quite a culture shock compared to the software work I’m used to.

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Liz: I know that stereo vision is something a lot of compute module customers have been interested in exploring. David has made a more technical write-up of this case study available on Argon’s website for those of you who want to look at this problem in more…depth. (Sorry.)

 

Making a Unicorn HAT

via Raspberry Pi

Our good friends at Pimoroni have made a very sparkly HAT. We thought you’d like to see where unicorns come from.

The Unicorn HAT is available at Pimoroni for £24 – get them while they’re warm (but not hot)! Clive’s busy writing a graphics resource for learners featuring this particular HAT – watch this space for more details.

Scooter with blinkenlights

via Raspberry Pi

Alex Markley, a programmer, writer and comedian, has a young relative who, thanks to a Model A Raspberry Pi, some Adafruit Neopixels, some sensors and a scooter is currently the world’s happiest nine-year-old.

I asked Alex if he’s written the project up – he says he’s working on it. We’ll add a link to any build instructions he produces as soon as they’re available.

Welcome to our new OSHWA Board Members!

via Open Source Hardware Association

Thank you to our members who voted for OSHWA’s new board members! Your vote is a major contribution as we need to reach quorum (at least 10% of our members) to make anything official in OSHWA. This year, we filled 3 board member seats which will be held for 2 years.

Please welcome our new board members! They are:

Toni Klopfenstein, Michael Weinberg, and Rose Swan Meacham

You can see the data here.

Thank you to all who participated in nominations!

Robot volcanology

via Raspberry Pi

Earlier this week, we talked about Raspberry Pi robots under the sofa. Today, we’ve got a Raspberry Pi robot under a volcano to show you.

carolynparcheta

Dr Carolyn Parcheta studied volcanology in Hawaii, and now works as a NASA postdoctoral fellow in Pasadena. Her particular area of study is the geometry of volcanic fissure vents: something that’s very hard to map, because they’re inaccessibly narrow, coated with sharp glass from eruptions, and are often destroyed when magma flows through them.

Learning about that geometry is crucial in building an understanding of how eruptions work: how magma flows, and how gas escapes. So with the help of a Raspberry Pi, Dr Parcheta has built a wall-climbing robot to go where humans can’t, and is using it to model cracks and vents in much more detail than has been possible before.

She made this video about the project for a National Geographic award last month, where she placed in the finals.

Dr Parcheta’s eventual goal is to 3d-map all of the fissures in Kilauea, an active volcano on Hawaii. There are 54 in all, and she completed maps of two in May this year. We’ll be keeping an eye on her progress – and on the progress of that brave little robot!

Eben at Techcrunch Disrupt

via Raspberry Pi

Eben was speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt in London yesterday, where he had a display board and HAT to show off, and some other bits of news. You’ll get to see a PiTop (a laptop kit that’s currently going great guns on Indiegogo), be tantalised with some details about the A+, and learn about what we think is important if you’re growing a hardware business: enjoy!

 

ToyCollect. A robot under the sofa.

via Raspberry Pi

On Saturday December 6 (we’re letting you know ahead of time so you’ve got absolutely no excuse for not finishing your build in time), there’s going to be a special event at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam, held at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. Pi Wars is a robot competition: unlike the televised Robot Wars you’ve seen in the past, though, nobody’s robot is going to be destroyed. There are a number of challenges to compete in (none of which involve circular saws, which will please some of you and sadden others), some additional prizes for things like innovation and feature-richness – along with the Jim Darby Prize for Excessive Blinkiness, and more. We’re absurdly excited about it. You can listen to Mike Horne, the organiser of the Cam Jam (and writer of The Raspberry Pi Pod blog, and occasional helper-outer at Pi Towers) explain more about what’ll happen on the day, on this episode of the Raspi Today podcast.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 12.33.12

Mike’s expecting people to come from all over the country (it’s amazing how far people travel to come to the Cam Jam – I bumped into friends from Sheffield and from Devon at the last one). It should be a blast. We hope to see you there.

I was thinking about Pi Wars this morning, when an email arrived from Austria, complete with some robot video. Dr Alexander Seewald used a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino to build a tiny little robot, small enough to fit under the sofa, to rummage around and rescue his two-year-old daughter’s lost toys. (I do not have a two-year-old daughter, but I do have cats, who take great delight in hiding things under the sofa. Once, horrifyingly, we found a mummified burger down there. It had been some months since we’d eaten burgers. I could use one of these robots.)

The robot has a Pi camera on the front, with a nice bright LED, so the operator (using a tablet) can see where the bits of LEGO are. The voiceover’s in German, but even if you don’t speak the language you should be able to get a clear idea of what’s going on here.

Dr Seewald has made complete instructions available, so you can make your own ToyCollect robot: there’s everything you need from a parts list to code on his website (in English). It’s a nice, complete project to get you started on building a robot that has some use around the house – let us know if you attempt your own. And see you at Pi Wars!

Seeking the next Alan Turing – the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge

via Raspberry Pi

Last week saw the London Film Festival open with the premier of The Imitation Game, a film which chronicles the awe-inspiring work of Alan Turing cracking the German naval Enigma machine at Bletchley Park, Britain’s code breaking centre during WWII.

Alan_Turing_photo

Alan Turing was a man of startling intellect and one of the founding fathers of computer science. After his work at Bletchley, Alan Turing went on to make significant contributions to the development of ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and later on the Manchester Mark 1 at Manchester University. Turing was a mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and also a marathon and ultra-distance runner (all qualities to which I can only aspire and fail to measure up on every count). Of course, the tragedy of his life is how he was persecuted and prosecuted for his sexuality, which ultimately led to him taking his own life. This injustice was eventually recognised by the British Government in 2012, leading to a posthumous pardon by HM Queen Elizabeth in 2013. To this day Alan Turing remains one of the most notable figures in the development of computing in the UK.

Enigma-G

As an undergraduate at King’s College Cambridge, Alan Turing studied mathematics. It was during this time he did his seminal work on computation. Turing devised a methodology of describing hypothetical abstract machines, and demonstrated such machines are capable of performing any mathematical computation if it could be represented as an algorithmTuring machines are a central object of study in the theory of computation. Building on this earlier work in 1949 Turing proposed an experiment, the Turing test. In this test Turing attempted to understand and define the basis of machine “intelligence”. Turing’s assertion was that a computational device could be said to be “intelligent” if a human interrogator could not distinguish between the responses from the machine and that of another human being, through conversation alone. To this day the Turing test continues to spark debate around the meaning of artificial intelligence, so in homage of his work we’ve created an educational resource – a whole scheme of work for KS2 and KS3 – for teachers to explore the Turing experiment.

Turing Test lesson plan

At Bletchley, Turing had a bit of a reputation. He was nicknamed “The Prof” in recognition of his curious mannerism, his intellect and his understanding of computation. Here at Pi Towers, we are keen on all things computing, and we are always looking for ways to grow the next generation of Turings, so in conjunction with ARM Holdings and Oxford University we are proud to support and sponsor the UK Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge.

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The Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge is open to all schools in the UK, for pupils from Year 2 to Year 13, and runs during the week beginning November 10. The challenge is free to enter, takes about 40 minutes and is completed online. If you are not sure what to expect, you can have a go at questions from previous year’s competitions here, but if you are interested in taking part in this year’s competition your school must register by October 31. Not in the UK ? Don’t worry, this is only the UK chapter of an international competition, so you can find out your national organising body at the Bebras site under countries.

OSHWA Board Nominees

via Open Source Hardware Association

This year, we have 10 board nominees for 2 open seats on the OSHWA board. Board members will hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. As every nominee answered “Yes” to having 5 hours a month to give to the board, we did not include that question in each nominee’s data. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carrying out compliance of the organization’s purposes and bylaws. The vote will be open on Oct. 20 and Oct 21. Since the post is so long, here is also a .pdf spreadsheet of the nominees. Members will be emailed a link to vote. Here are the nominees in random order:

Toni Klopfenstein

Why do you want to be on the board?

Over the last few years through my work at SparkFun Electronics, I have seen the great benefits and necessity of having a unified Open Hardware community. I would like to be on the board to continue improving and strengthening this community, and to help the community by working towards more common, widely known standards for open source hardware. For myself personally, all OSHWA-hosted events I have attended previously have been of great personal benefit and growth, and have given me the opportunity to meet many people and see many projects from the open source hardware community that I may not otherwise get a chance to work with.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

No.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

My current role at SparkFun Electronics includes maintaining and distributing our documentation via tools like GitHub, so I am well aware of many ambiguities the current open hardware definition has. I am passionate about helping the community grow and improve based on what feedback I see from the community in that role, as well as my previous role in tech support, where I was able to see many of the places that users of open hardware run into trouble or get confused.

I also am skilled at working with people of many different backgrounds and experience levels with open source hardware, and have the communication skills necessary to enable productive communication between extremely technical open-hardware ‘veterans’ and complete newbies to the field.

I also am very self-motivated, and good at prioritizing work that is not necessarily well-defined or clearly driven by others.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

Yes.

Tamer Elzayyat

Why do you want to be on the board?

To utilize my knowledge and experience.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

No, but I am a member in many organizations.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

PhD research now in electronics, and aim in same way.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

Yes.

Matt Joyce

Why do you want to be on the board?

I need something worthwhile to do. A raison d’tre. OSHW is an amazing organization supported by amazing people. I’d love to help push it forward, pull it up, and let it rest on my shoulder as needed. Of course more likely than not with the community behind it, it would more likely be like riding a jet powered tiger.

I’d still love to help out if I can. So I offer my assistance.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

Nope.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I believe in the mission deeply. I’m honest. I have no incentives to work against or for anyone. I am surrounded by some of the best hardware folks in NYC. And, I’m generally a pretty good person.

I don’t think a board should want more than that out of its members.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

No

Michael Weinberg

Why do you want to be on the board?

While not as important as actual design and creation of OSHW, legal and licensing issues have the potential to have a huge impact on its development and growth. OSS serves as a guide, but not a perfect analogy, for hardware. I want to be on the board of OSHWA to try and help make sure that legal and policy structures are in place to foster OSHW. I also want to make sure that the OSHWA does everything it can to encourage the development of easy to understand best practices that allow non-lawyers to easily navigate some of these thorny issues.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

No

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve never been qualified for anything I’ve ever done. That being said, I helped organized the OH/DC event that brought open source hardware to policymakers in Washington, DC, helped OSHWA with some of the legal issues in its FAQ, talked about policy and legal issues surrounding OSHW at a few Open Hardware Summits, and write about OSHW legal issues every once in a while.
I am not, however, proficient in KiCad. If that’s a requirement I probably shouldn’t be on the board. Not that I wouldn’t like to be proficient in KiCad or anything. Just that I’m not right now.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

No

Nahid Alam (nominated by Addie Wagenknecht)

Why do you want to be on the board?

Nahid served as the review chair for this years OHSummit and I [Addie] found her to be dependable, dedicated and easy to work with, she always was available for calls, meetings and was quick to respond to emails. In addition she is a member of the OSH community. She is founder at litehouse.io

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

Nahid served on the board of Chicktech (http://chicktech.org) and helped them with arranging robotic workshop (http://chicktech.org/programs/past-events/chicktech-high-school-2013-psu/) for woc and girls in tech.

She also arranges a monthly hardware meetup (http://www.meetup.com/Bay-Area-Modular-Electronics-Meetup/)

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Please see above. I highly recommend her -Addie

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

Yes

Lars Zimmermann

Why do you want to be on the board?

To push and support open source hardware and help to develop it. With being on the board I hope to get more grip, a network and possibilities to do this beyond the scale I am already doing this. 

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

No

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I advocate for open source hardware for years now, as open source economist. I am not an engineer. For that reason I have different motivations and viewpoints on the matter.

I like to explore the potential of open source for hardware in other fields than electronics. My current main interests are to make open source hardware work/bring it to the discussion for a circular economy as well as for the future of our freedom and democracy.

I initiated and am part of different projects focussing on open source hardware like:

The Open It Agency: http://openitagency.eu

The IPO Tables: http://ipotables.net (new)

Baubus: http://baubus.de (new)

OWi: http://owiowi.net

I write about open source hardware in my blog, there you can find also more projects: http://bloglz.de

I did research and do workshops and consulting on open source hardware business models. I wrote the chapter about business models for an upcoming book about open source hardware “building open source hardware”.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

No

Joshua Pearce

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to help legitimize open source hardware as a concept to ease government and investor funding of its development, accelerate commercialization and catalyze mass-scale deployment. I want open source hardware to be the established default rather than the exception. I would also like to help the OSHWA build a centralized database to house all kinds of OSH to make it easier to find, use, adapt and share.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

I am on the advisory board for the AMSE Additive Manufacturing Challenge (IAM3D) and have agreed to sit on the Advisory Board for Adopting Appropriate Technology (ADAPT) as a Framework for the Technology and Engineering Education Curriculum for the National Science Foundation’s DRK-12 Grant Program. In Canada, I was on the board of advisors for Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative in 2009 and the Advisory Committee of the Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre from 2011. I have also sat on numerous advisory boards for small stat-up companies and NPOs.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I have a well-documented track record as a major advocate of open-source hardware in academia and the popular press. I have published extensively on both the technology of 1) open source appropriate technology (OSH for sustainable development), 2) RepRap 3-D printing (OSH for distributed manufacturing), 3) OSH for scientific equipment development and 4) policy against closed IP. For example, I published the seminal call for OSH scientific equipment in the journal Science (a top journal) and followed up with the book Open Source Lab (2014) published by Elsevier (the top scientific publisher) to help legitimize the now burgeoning field. I also published in Nature (another top journal) a piece challenging both patents as a innovation source and the public funding of closed research. My work is regularly covered by the mainstream media, where I am careful to ensure the meme of “open source hardware is a technically superior method of development” at every opportunity. For example, see the Newsweek article on our open source metal 3D printer for less than <$1200.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

No

Theodore Ullrich

Why do you want to be on the board?

I was at the very first OSHW meeting at Eyebeam in 2010. Here are some photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/teddesigns/sets/72157623642265534/

I started and run a product design and development consultancy, called Tomorrow Lab (http://tomorrow-lab.com). Since day one, Tomorrow Lab has always looked to uphold and create Open Source Hardware, however it has been difficult to keep commercialization as a priority when you are also trying to stay ‘open’. That being said, I’m interested in pushing to merge the two towards everyone’s benefit. I believe you have to resolve these issues in order for OSHW to flourish.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

Tomorrow Lab is is on the World2NYC Board with the NYCEDC, and the NextTopMakers Board.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Ultimately, I see the role of a Board Member to guide the application of the organization’s goals to current activities and opportunities. Its all about staying relevant. Therefore, a connection to industry is an important qualification.

As an engineer, industrial designer, and startup founder, I am familiar with the needs of the hardware community. I meet with new hardware startups in NYC almost daily. My business consults for dozens of them per year. I believe the insights available from a person in my position would offer value for OSHWA.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

Yes

Rose Swan Meacham

PERSONAL STATEMENT
Ensuring that new technology and hardware is made available to everyone is essential to fostering innovations that will improve the standard of living and education for us all. I strongly believe that anyone (no matter what age, gender, race, or economic background) is capable of contributing to scientific discovery in transformative ways.

This is a topic I feel extremely passionate about and I strongly believe that Open Source Hardware can be used by communities world-wide to fill in for failing governmental systems such as clean living standards, STEM education and private healthcare. By unifying innovators with new ideas for creating, improving, or sharing Open Source Hardware I believe we can help individuals make visible impact on their communities worldwide.

I would be honored to invest my energy and resources to ensure that Open Source Hardware is made both accessible and easy to work with by people from all backgrounds.

OUTREACH & EDUCATION
If allowed to serve on the board for OSHWA, I would organize educational events within schools and community spaces for the general public, including STEM topics for young adults (especially girls!), where open source hardware is used as a way to fuel interest and share technical skills.

I had the privilege of giving a TEDx Talk last year about Women In Science and through my research learned that while the number of girls in many undergraduate STEM programs outnumbers boys, the number of graduate level female students reversed to the minority. Among women surveyed in PhD level mathematics courses at Columbia, the majority attributed this to feelings of being undervalued and a lack of support from their peers.

Creating a common voice and networking space through OSHWA would help disseminate new knowledge about developing Open Source Hardware, but it would also provide the support many minority and underprivileged individuals need to be successful in STEM fields.

ONLINE NETWORK
It is important to take advantage of an online network to help connect OSHWA members with likeminded Makers worldwide. This network could include live streamed panel discussions that we host, video lectures from experts who lead our outreach educational events, and an encyclopedia of source code and data on Open Source Hardware.

These entries could reference StackOverflow and resources like Arduino’s Forum to help provide our community with the tools necessary to advance their own hardware projects and share improvements on existing schematics. In a sense, it could become a new user-driven forum for learning about the Open Hardware movement and advancing its progress by supporting those who are working with new designs.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

The most recent non-profit organization that I worked with was the Imagine Science Film Festival, which organizes an annual film festival in New York, as well as events throughout the year that make science accessible to the general public through film. The events were designed to make accurate, often esoteric scientific concepts more engaging and relatable through panel discussions and interactive activities for all ages.

The experience I gained would be extremely valuable to help with fundraising and creating a stronger global network of like-minded Makers. My responsibilities included planning and attending board meetings and developing new strategies that could help bridge the gap between art and science. I managed volunteers and hosted film screenings, panels with scientists and artists, planned educational events, fundraising parties, and started the first overseas outreach program which hosted film events and workshops in Saudi Arabia, Ireland, France, and Ecuador.

I worked directly with investors and sponsors, including Nature, Science/AAS, Google, Vimeo, NY Science Exchange, and universities such as NYU, New School, and Rockefeller to maintain the support we needed to bring quality content to the general public for free whenever possible. For example, I worked with Google and the University College Dublin to create the Mobile Science Cinema Truck – a private theater that was designed to bring science-themed activities and films to underprivileged areas throughout Ireland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTt4XfCcHxI

Another example includes an educational series that I organized with the New York Hall of Science to teach children about biological sciences and how to create their own animations. The culmination of the event was a screening of their films that was hosted online from our sponsor Vimeo and in theaters throughout New York during the film festival.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

The mission of OSHWA is very dear to me and I believe that my unique research experience would enable me to make a tangible difference.

My experience working for non-profit companies and sitting on boards gives me a pre-established network and resources I could draw from to help develop OSHWA. But perhaps more importantly, as a recent masters graduate from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, I have hands-on experience working with Open Source Hardware. I am currently applying this knowledge as a researcher in a Neuroscience Lab at NYU and developing a new experiment with collaborators in the Psychology and Neuroscience departments at Princeton University.

With new efforts being made by researchers to make their experiments available to the general public for free, I can see a huge potential for immense discovery by people outside of academia in the next decade. But a link between access to research and open source hardware and technology needs to be formed. I would like to start new movements among researchers to connect directly with the Open Source Hardware community to make the new technology developed in laboratories available to everyone. For example, Jack Andraka, was in high school when he invented a revolutionary test for pancreatic cancer and attributed his discovery to Aaron Swartz.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

Yes

James “Laen” Neal

Why do you want to be on the board?

I believe in open source–software as well as hardware– as a tool for the advancement of technology. I think OSHWA does excellent work promoting the philosophy of open source, and I’d like to lend my skills and resources to helping further its goals.

Do you currently serve on the boards of other organizations?

No.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

As a maker, I develop open source hardware. As a hobbyist, I use open source hardware. As the owner of a manufacturing service, the main group I want to serve are people making open source hardware.

Do you have an interest in serving as the board President?

No

Conversations with Two Summit Scholarship Recipients

via Open Source Hardware Association

OSHWA gave financial assistance to several women to attend the 2014 Open Hardware Summit in Rome, Italy. Below are conversations with two of these scholarship recipients, one from Pune, India, and the other from Colorado, USA. Both women have wonderful thoughts to share, plus Toni Klopfenstein is seeking a seat on the OSHWA Board in the upcoming election. Please read on to hear their stories.

Sphoorti Headshot

What is your name?
Sphoorti Joglekar

What is your age?
21

Where do you live?
Pune, India

Where are you from originally?
Pune, India

What is your title at your job?
Member of Technical Staff, Airtight Networks (Pune, India)

What do you do specifically for work?
I work on kernel and driver level features for the company’s product.

Why did you want to attend the Open Hardware Summit? Before attending, what did you hope to get out of it?
I was introduced to the open hardware community while working on my thesis project, and robotics and embedded applications have always been my interest. Before attending the Summit, I hoped for an opportunity to meet and learn from people contributing and making a huge difference in the open source hardware world. And the Summit provided me with that, and more!

What does open source hardware mean to you?
I am a beginner, and I am learning a lot about open source hardware and looking for mentors to guide me in my journey.

What do you see as the biggest struggle with open source hardware?
Being a beginner to the open hardware community, I find the absence of hackerspaces and FAB Labs a challenge.

What are your thoughts on the gender and/or racial issues around open source hardware as a subject overall?
I feel more and more women should get involved in open hardware community.

What did you get out of The Summit? What was your favorite part?
I gained a lot out of the Summit. I met fellow scholarship recipients, and also Alicia, Addie, Aileen, Becky and Phoenix who are really great at what they do. I came to know about the various open hardware projects people are working on worldwide through the talks session on Day 1 of the Summit. The second day was more about community participation and building a strong community through the workshops that were conducted.

Most importantly, I gained confidence to interact with really talented people on this huge platform and I am so thankful to OSHWA for encouraging me to attend and interact with all these people.

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Toni's Headshot

What is your name?
Toni Klopfenstein

What is your age?
26

Where do you live?
Boulder, CO

Where are you from?
Monument, CO

What is your title at your job?
Quality Assurance Engineer, Sparkfun Electronics (Boulder, CO)

What do you do specifically for work?
I manage all Github repositories, work on circuit boards where the original engineer no longer works at SFE, organize the Hackers in Residence that come to work with our engineering team, assist with board revisions when necessary, and act as a liaison between engineering and tech support.

Why did you want to attend the Open Hardware Summit? Before attending, what did you hope to get out of it?
I was interested in getting to listen to and share ideas with other folks in this arena, and to strengthen our community. My hope was to leave the Summit with new people to collaborate with, and determine where we need to improve.

At last year’s Summit someone discussed open hardware farm tools, which was fascinating and really opened my eyes to the diversity of open hardware, and the fact that it is not just about circuit boards. I’m eager to see what this year has in store, and to learn more about other exciting projects. Even though it’s different from my own work, it’s important to take into consideration these other ideas to allow me to make better working decisions myself.

I hope to represent SFE well at The Summit. I want to truly listen to other ideas out there, and be sure that as leaders in this movement, we are staying true to the community and working with them, not accidentally against them. Communication, listening, and gathering is key.

What does open source hardware mean to you?
Open source hardware means there are no secrets or black boxes filled with things that you cannot see into. It is accessible so you can learn about something, and then go find its data sheets somewhere to learn even more. It’s not a product that is full of secrets and made specifically for one specific company. There are far fewer trade secrets, and much more accessibility.

What do you see as the biggest struggle with open source hardware?
How do you translate open hardware information to people? How do you share this kind of documentation with people and ensure that it is accessible? The common consumer can use open source software quite easily, but there are larger challenges with hardware.

What are your thoughts on the gender and/or racial issues around open source hardware as a subject overall?
This scholarship was created to ensure that women, and their voices, have a place at the table. The Summit is a brainchild of two women, which is important because this is still a very male-dominated industry.

What did you get out of The Summit? What was your favorite part?
The 2014 Summit was very valuable for me. During the first day, I got to learn about many new open-source projects that I was not aware of yet. One that really stood out to me was the Open Seed Initiative, which again, was great to learn about as it reminded me that “open hardware” doesn’t necessarily just mean electronics, but instead can include a wide range of materials and supplies, including agricultural items.

The talks on the first day overall were also really inspiring, especially getting to see so many new faces (at least to me!) in the open hardware field.

The workshops on the second day were also great. Not only did I get to learn some interesting insights about running an open hardware business from Eric Pan of Seeed Studio, but I got to work with folks from companies that I am familiar with from a business standpoint, but not from a personal standpoint. Because of this, for me personally, it helped create a more personal connection for me to other companies in the open source field that I would not necessarily have gotten the chance to meet otherwise. In my opinion, events like that help enforce the community aspect of open hardware, which is important and is something that could still be improved greatly.

RACHEL-Pi – delivering education worldwide

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have noticed more and more frequent mentions over the last year of a piece of kit called RACHEL-Pi. RACHEL is an offline server, run on a Raspberry Pi, full of educational content from teaching curriculums, Khan Academy materials, Wikipedia, classic literature, reference material and textbooks; alongside vital community materials like medical and first aid textbooks.

We’re very proud to be able to support World Possible’s RACHEL-Pi project through our education fund. It’s being used all over the world in remote places where the internet is unavailable – and this year it’s gone from strength to strength. Here’s Jeremy Schwartz, the Executive Director of World Possible, to show you what they’ve been doing with the project in the last year.

What an incredible 12 months it has been. World Possible has seen RACHEL-Pi (our Raspberry Pi-based educational server) deployed in scores of countries – often in the most remote of locations – delivering a world of educational content to tens of thousands of students previously far removed from the great online learning tools those of us reading this blog take for granted almost every day.

1 2 4

How’d we get here?

It’s worth taking a few seconds to get some history on World Possible’s RACHEL server. In 2009, World Possible (an all-volunteer team, mostly from Cisco) curated a package of creative commons resources (Wikipedia, Khan Academy, CK12 textbooks, and much more) for offline distribution. Coupling the content with open-source web server software, we could create “Remote Area Community Hotspots for Education and Learning,” (“R.A.C.H.E.L.”) – a locally cached web server accessed through any connected web browser (with no need for internet connectivity).

RACHEL is accessed via a web browser

RACHEL is accessed via a web browser

Probably more naïve than anything, an attempted round of pilot projects of RACHEL (which at the time was a power-hungry NAS device) in 2009, in Sierra Leone, failed in pretty dramatic fashion.

The failure took a real toll on World Possible and forced us to rethink RACHEL distribution, ultimately building a distribution network of partnerships with on-the-ground teams that could do the hard part for us, and many of which still lead the RACHEL distribution charge today:

UConnect in Uganda and East Africa more broadly - read more

UConnect in Uganda and East Africa more broadly – read more

Despite the early successes of those groups, we still didn’t have the final piece of the puzzle that has exploded RACHEL deployment today (development of open-source educational resources + uniform standards of web browsers + proliferation of low cost computing hardware and storage). In comes the Raspberry Pi, giving us the ability to create a plug-and-play webserver and hotspot at a price point that we can distribute to masses of people without any required computer literacy background.

Is it working? – “Content is king; distribution is King Kong”

Almost exactly a year ago, a partnership with the Gates-Backed Riecken Libraries in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a funding leap of faith by a few loved donors and the Rotary Club of Portola/Woodside Valley (CA), allowed us to launch a new phase of World Possible and RACHEL-Pi focused on creating, curating, and distributing relevant content from and within disconnected communities. A good old fashioned sneaker-net, delivering locally relevant (and often locally created) digital educational content to disconnected schools, libraries, orphanages and community centers.

The World Possible team in Guatemala is now led by Israel Quic, a native Mayan, initially attracted to RACHEL-Pi as a means of preserving and teaching his Mayan heritage and language to local communities.

Israel Quic presents RACHEL at Campus Tec, the technology department of University de la Valle

Israel Quic presents RACHEL at Campus Tec, the technology department of University de la Valle

Israel quickly saw an opportunity to collect more locally relevant agricultural and political resources than we currently distribute as part of our Spanish-language RACHEL-Pi. In April, the fruits of his labor truly began to sprout, when word came from one agricultural community, an early RACHEL-Pi recipient, which built a drip irrigation system out of old plastic bottles after discovering how to do it from a single teacher’s smartphone while researching our Guatemalan content on their RACHEL-Pi.

A  drip irrigation systems made from old plastic bottles, using how-to content from RACHEL-Pi

A drip irrigation system made from old plastic bottles, using how-to content from RACHEL-Pi

The successes only caused us to redouble our efforts. Aided by our local Facebook page, World Possible Guatemala solicits offers of help and requests for RACHEL from across the country.

Current RACHEL-Pi installations in Guatemala

Current RACHEL-Pi installations in Guatemala

Installations of RACHEL-Pi in community centers and libraries are often made available 24/7, enabling anyone with a smart phone to come learn, research, and explore.

San Lucas Toliman RACHEL-Pi wifi access point

San Lucas Toliman RACHEL-Pi wifi access point

Facebook post of Biblioteca Comunitaria Rija’tzuul Na’ooj

Facebook post of Biblioteca Comunitaria Rija’tzuul Na’ooj

San Juan del Obispo in Sacatapequéz is an agricultural community where middle school kids are using RACHEL to learn not only how to grow and irrigate, but also how to cultivate mushrooms and make fresh peach jam. Along the way they get business skills as well.

The mission in Guatemala is still just beginning, but the lessons learned and successes are providing a key roadmap for World Possible. Make available valuable educational resources, supplement them with locally relevant vocational and cultural content, get buy-in from local community volunteers, and distribute… distribute… distribute. The results are truly inspirational.

What’s next? – “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Globally, the RACHEL effort is still driven by the hundreds of groups that download RACHEL and distribute independently in their own communities. Everything we do is free to download through our website, FTP site, BitTorrent sync, or even shared Dropbox. The Raspberry Pi has also made it so anyone can do this on their own, a powerful democratization of access to a world-class education.

World Possible will continue to support these groups through our own volunteer network, through independent advice, and by creating the best package of content available. Even more today, a biweekly newsletter is connecting thousands of RACHEL advocates in nearly 40 countries who have been through the process and can provide best practices to new users locally.

What excites us most is our ability to replicate the successes that have been achieved in Guatemala. In Micronesia, Professor Hosman and her students curated a RACHEL for the state of Chuuk. She’s now working with Inveneo to deploy RACHEL to the entire region’s network of schools.

Grace, a teacher at Akoyikoyi School in Chuuk, receives a RACHEL-Pi

Grace, a teacher at Akoyikoyi School in Chuuk, receives a RACHEL-Pi

In Kenya and East Africa, thanks to a generous grant from this very Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’ve just completed a hire (Bonface Masaviru) to follow the roadmap that Israel Quic laid out in Guatemala. Bonface is spreading RACHEL throughout Kenyan schools…

… and working with local volunteers such as Zack Matere to help us curate RACHEL Shamba (an offline package of farming resources):

RACHEL Shamba

Where we can, we’ll look to our long-time distribution partners to help create full labs to access RACHEL-Pi. Here in Uganda, Romeo Rodriguez gives his “children” their first ever look at technology in a new library thanks to a full “digital library-in-a-box” from World Possible.

We’ll continue to find ways to hire additional country managers, local to their communities, who have proven their dedication to RACHEL, to involve indigenous people in creating and distributing the content they currently lack.

If you’d like to be part of the mission, we’d love to have you. A great group of development volunteers can be reached at rachelproject@googlegroups.com. If you have networking expertise, we can pair you with a group that might need your help deploying RACHEL – info@worldpossible.org.

If you want to join the Raspberry Pi Foundation in supporting our efforts financially, we’d love it – donate here.

If you want us to come talk to your group, or help deploy RACHEL, we’d love that also – please don’t hesitate to get involved! Thank you to all of the individuals and groups who already have; there is so much more we can do together.

Compute Module IO Board Hardware Design Files Now Available!

via Raspberry Pi

Back in April we announced the Compute Module, and since then we’ve had a lot of interest from manufacturers who are looking to design the module into real products. We’ve already had orders for significant numbers of modules.

It has taken a little while to spin up the wheels of mass production, but they are now well and truly turning, and behind the scenes our initial customers who have already made orders are now getting their modules. Now that production is in full swing, Compute Modules will soon be available to the masses from the usual partners, for $30 in volumes of 100 or more, or individually if you pay a premium. Premier Farnell have the ability to back-order here and RS Components here.

When we announced the Compute Module we released all the schematics for the module itself and also the schematics for our ‘get you started’ Compute Module development board, the Compute Module IO Board. We had always promised to also release the full CAD for the IO board, and today we are doing just that!

cmio-cad

Compute Module IO Board as viewed in the CAD tool

The design files are the Cadence OrCAD schematic file, Cadence Allegro PCB file and the full board Gerbers, bill of materials (BOM) and PDF version of the schematic. People should be able to take the design and easily modify it, or just take the Gerber files and create copies of the board if that’s what they want to do.

As a bonus we are also releasing the full CAD for the Camera and Display adaptors as well.

These design files can be found here and are released under a modified BSD licence (the licence is included in the zip with the design files).

Note that the only difference from the official Raspberry Pi Compute Module IO Board is that this publicly released one does not (and cannot, without permission from Raspberry Pi) have the Raspberry Pi logo on it. We have also removed the CE and FCC compliance logos, as again this is something board manufacturers are responsible for: you must perform your own certification for any clones or derivatives of this board.