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We’re on holiday!

via Raspberry Pi

It’s a bank holiday here in the UK, so we’re taking the day off to spend some time with our families. If you’re desperate to read some content, I’ve got good news for you: there are thousands of posts about the Raspberry Pi that you can leaf through right here. Head over to the archive and fill your boots!

Normal service will resume tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s Hypnotoad so you can have something to look at.

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Eight years, 2000 blog posts

via Raspberry Pi

Today’s a bit of a milestone for us: this is the 2000th post on this blog.

Why does a computer company have a blog? When did it start, who writes it, and where does the content come from? And don’t you have sore fingers? All of these are good questions: I’m here to answer them for you.

The first ever Raspberry Pi blog post

Marital circumstances being what they are, I had a front-row view of everything that was going on at Raspberry Pi, right from the original conversations that kicked the project off in 2009. In 2011, when development was still being done on Eben’s and my kitchen table, we met with sudden and slightly alarming fame when Rory Cellan Jones from the BBC shot a short video of a prototype Raspberry Pi and blogged about it – his post went viral. I was working as a freelance journalist and editor at the time, but realised that we weren’t going to get a better chance to kickstart a community, so I dropped my freelance work and came to work full-time for Raspberry Pi.

Setting up an instantiation of WordPress so we could talk to all Rory’s readers, each of whom decided we’d promised we’d make them a $25 computer, was one of the first orders of business. We could use the WordPress site to announce news, and to run a sort of devlog, which is what became this blog; back then, many of our blog posts were about the development of the original Raspberry Pi.

It was a lovely time to be writing about what we do, because we could be very open about the development process and how we were moving towards launch in a way that sadly, is closed to us today. (If we’d blogged about the development of Raspberry Pi 3 in the detail we’d blogged about Raspberry Pi 1, we’d not only have been handing sensitive and helpful commercial information to the large number of competitor organisations that have sprung up like mushrooms since that original launch; but you’d also all have stopped buying Pi 2 in the run-up, starving us of the revenue we need to do the development work.)

Once Raspberry Pis started making their way into people’s hands in early 2012, I realised there was something else that it was important to share: news about what new users were doing with their Pis. And I will never, ever stop being shocked at the applications of Raspberry Pi that you come up with. Favourites from over the years? The paludarium’s still right up there (no, I didn’t know what a paludarium was either when I found out about it); the cucumber sorter’s brilliant; and the home-brew artificial pancreas blows my mind. I’ve a particular soft spot for musical projects (which I wish you guys would comment on a bit more so I had an excuse to write about more of them).

As we’ve grown, my job has grown too, so I don’t write all the posts here like I used to. I oversee press, communications, marketing and PR for Raspberry Pi Trading now, working with a team of writers, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, videographers and managers – it’s very different from the days when the office was that kitchen table. Alex Bate, our magisterial Head of Social Media, now writes a lot of what you see on this blog, but it’s always a good day for me when I have time to pitch in and write a post.

I’d forgotten some of the early stuff before looking at 2011’s blog posts to jog my memory as I wrote today’s. What were we thinking when we decided to ship without GPIO pins soldered on? (Happily for the project and for the 25,000,000 Pi owners all over the world in 2019, we changed our minds before we finally launched.) Just how many days in aggregate did I spend stuffing envelopes with stickers at £1 a throw to raise some early funds to get the first PCBs made? (I still have nightmares about the paper cuts.) And every time I think I’m having a bad day, I need to remember that this thing happened, and yet everything was OK again in the end. (The backs of my hands have gone all prickly just thinking about it.) Now I think about it, the Xenon Death Flash happened too. We also survived that.

At the bottom of it all, this blog has always been about community. It’s about sharing what we do, what you do, and making links between people all over the world who have this little machine in common. The work you do telling people about Raspberry Pi, putting it into your own projects, and supporting us by buying the product doesn’t just help us make hardware: every penny we make funds the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s charitable work, helps kids on every continent to learn the skills they need to make their own futures better, and, we think, makes the world a better place. So thank you. As long as you keep reading, we’ll keep writing.

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Moving to Open Source Email List Software

via Open Source Ecology

We just took another small step on our path to creating the open source economy. We are pleased to announce that we have installed the free, libre open source (FLOSS) email list software on OSE servers – phpList. We are now transitioning all of our email lists into phpList. When we decided on phpList in 2018 for the OSE Newsletter, it was determined to be the most feature-rich FLOSS alternative to the gold-standard paid alternative, MailChimp.

And this is a good time to get into compliance with GDPR – the recent European privacy regulations. To keep receiving updates from OSE – you will need to resubscribe to our lists if you are on them. Or to start receiving updates – you can subscribe for the first time:


We have several email lists. OSEmail is our main OSE Newsletter featuring news updates, workshop announcement, progress reports, and other noteworthy items. OSEmail comes out a few times per year at monthly or longer intervals. Anyone can sign up to receive our free newsletter. You can see more information at https://wiki.opensourceecology.org/wiki/OSEmail

We also have another newsletter for Design Sprints. Design Sprints are online virtual collaboration events where we engage in design and documentation work. Design events last from one to a few hours – typically on Friday or weekends – where we collaborate in real-time as a team. We use online editable documents and the OSE wiki to coordinate development work. Anyone with technical skills can participate, and we host several design sprints per year as needed. The Design Sprint newsletter is an announcement of upcoming Design Sprints which comes out every time that a Design Sprint is organized. It provides background information on the Design Sprint so that contributors get a heads up on what to expect. If you would like to participate, you can sign up at the Design Sprints Newsletter.

What kind of updates do we have in store? I am taking a ‘sabbatical’ to write a book. In 2008, we formulated the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) and began blogging regularly. Continued progress got us to the world stage with my GVCS TED Talk in 2011. Since then, there has been lots of exciting developments – and not enough time to document them. At this here one decade mark since the beginning of the project – I decided to write a book about our learnings – and how to take the Global Village Construction Set to the next stage. The experiment is as alive as ever, with every day producing new evidence that transcending artificial scarcity and achieving freedom – for the first time in human history – is more possible than ever.

Still, we are far from the kind of impact that Linux has done for software. Why? That is the central question I will attempt to answer – as we focus for the next decade on opensourcing critical infrastructures of material prosperity. That is a prerequisite to self-determination and freedom – a central question that our civilization has not yet mastered. And many question whether we will survive at all. In another decade, end of 2028 – I’m retiring for the third time to work on applications of technology, not technology per say. That means helping people to grow – and building village campuses for global regeneration.

I believe that taking OSE to the next level requires a thorough analysis of all OSE learnings – as well as a survey of all knowledge gained by civilization to date across many disciplines. This helps put our work into perspective – as we are doing nothing new. We are just integrating and applying existing know-how and standing on the shoulders of giants.

So if you would like to keep receiving OSE news – or to join our mailing list for the first time – please do so by subscribing to the list below. For reasons of GDPR internet privacy regulations, we require that everyone on our existing lists resubscribe so that OSE is in compliance with the regulations.

Trick or (the ultimate) treat!

via Raspberry Pi

I’ll keep today’s blog post short and sweet, because Liz, Helen, and I are all still under the weather.

Raspberry Pi 4!

Don’t tell Eben, Liz, or the rest of the team I showed you this, but here’s your Halloween ‘trick or treat’ gift: an exclusive sneak peek at the Raspberry Pi 4.

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming from tomorrow.

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We have the plague

via Raspberry Pi

Apologies to our daily visitors (we love you guys); we don’t have a proper blog post for you today because we’re all really ill. (I have food poisoning, Helen is coughing up goo and can barely speak or breathe, and Alex is being sick.)

You’ve got a day until Halloween; if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got several years of archived spooky project posts for you to check out. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and have a little lie down.

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Autonomous drones (only slightly flammable)

via Raspberry Pi

I had an email a little while ago, which opened: “I don’t know if you remember me, but…”

As it happens, I remembered Andy Baker very well, in large part because an indoor autonomous drone demo he ran at a Raspberry Pi birthday party a couple of years ago ACTUALLY CAUGHT FIRE. Here’s a refresher.

Raspberry Pi Party Autonomous drone demo + fire

At the Raspberry Pi IV party and there is a great demo of an Autonomous drone which is very impressive with only using a Pi. However it caught on fire. But i believe it does actually work.

We’ve been very careful since then to make sure that speakers are always accompanied by a fire extinguisher.

I love stories like Andy’s. He started working with the Raspberry Pi shortly after our first release in 2012, and had absolutely no experience with drones or programming them; there’s nothing more interesting than watching someone go from a standing start to something really impressive. It’s been a couple of years since we were last in touch, but Andy mailed me last week to let me know he’s just completed his piDrone project, after years of development. I thought you’d like to hear about it too. Over to Andy!

Building an autonomous drone from scratch

I suffer from “terminal boredom syndrome”; I always need a challenging hobby to keep me sane. In 2012, the Raspberry Pi was launched just as my previous hobby had come to an end. After six months of playing (including a Raspberry Pi version of a BBC Micro Turtle robot I did at school 30+ years ago), I was looking for something really challenging. DIY drones were emerging, so I set out making one with a Raspberry Pi and Python, from absolute ignorance but loads of motivation.  Six years later, with only one fire (at the Raspberry Pi 4th Birthday Party, no less!), the job is done.

Here’s smaller Zoë, larger Hermione and their remote-controller, Ivy:

Zoë (as in “Ball”), the smallest drone, is based on a Pi ZeroW, supporting preset- and manual-flight controls. Hermione (as in “Granger”) is a Pi3 drone, supporting the above along with GPS and obstacle-avoidance.

Penelope (as in “Pitstop”), not shown above, is a B3+ with mix of the two above.

Development history

It probably took four years(!) to get the drone to simply hover stably for more than a few seconds. For example, the accelerometer (IMU) tells gravity and acceleration in 3D; and from sum math(s), angles, speed and distance. But IMU output is very noisy. It drifts with temperature, and because gravity is huge compared to the propeller changes, it doesn’t take long before the calculated speed and distance values drift significantly. It took a lot of time, experimentation and guesswork to get accelerometer, gyrometer, ground-facing LiDAR and a Raspberry Pi camera to work together to get a stable hover for minutes rather than seconds. And during that experimentation, there were plenty of crashes: replacement parts were needed many many times! However, with a sixty-second stable hover finally working, adding cool features like GPS tracking, object avoidance and human control were trivial in comparison.

GNSS waypoint tracked successfully!

See http://blog.pistuffing.co.uk/whoohoo/

Obstruction avoidance test 2 – PASSED!!!!!

Details at http://pidrone.io/posts/obstruction-avoidance-test-2-passed/

Human control (iPhone)

See http://pidrone.io/posts/human-i-am-human/

In passing, I’m a co-founder and assistant at the Cotswold Raspberry Jam (cotswoldjam.org). I’m hoping to take Zoë to the next event on September 15th – tickets are free – and there’s so much more learn, interact and play with beyond the piDrone.

Finally, a few years ago, my goal became getting the piDrone exploring a maze: all but minor tweaks are now in places. Sadly, piDrone battery power for exploring a large maze currently doesn’t exist. Perhaps my next project will be designing a nuclear-fusion battery pack?  Deuterium oxide (heavy water) is surprisingly cheap, it seems…

More resources

If you want to learn more, there’s years of development on Andy’s blog at http://pidrone.io, and he’s made considerable documentation available at GitHub if you want to explore things further after this blog post. Thanks Andy!

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