RASPBERRY PI III – September London Raspberry Jam

[Fig.0] Pete Demonstrating live control of a Lego Robot using the Raspberry Pi and Python. Image Credit: me.

Last Thursday was the third London Raspberry Jam. There was noformal structure to this event but there was a palpable buzz as projects started earlier were starting to reach adolescence. There were three or four main congregations around various ongoing projects people had brought with them and it turned out to be a very productive evening. I think this time there was a significant amount of networking done by all.

One project by Mr Vidler (@vidler) was a direct answer to a plea made by teachers at a previous event to help create schemes of work using the Raspberry Pi to help get it into the curriculum now. You can read more about that call to action in my coverage of the July event [HERE]. Mr Vidler had created a wind turbine that had the Rpi set up as a voltmeter. The faster the turbine spun, the higher the voltage returned and results were displayed in realtime with visual bars to show magnitude. He is creating an instruction guide to go with it along with a kit list and other support material. It is designed to be a six week project, however it could be combined with other small projects to make a larger overall one. The webpage, under construction, where the information will be made available is [HERE]. The project uses Python.

[Fig.1] The prototype instruction manual for the Wind Turbine Project by Richard Vidler. Image Credit: me.

 Miss Philbin (@missphilbin) & Stephen Lockyer (@mrlockyer) set up a brainstorming table with various categories to allow those present to contribute ideas and suggestions on what needed to go into a full rounded IT curriculum. This did not just include the computer science side, but also things like copyright law, ethical computer practices, EULA, DRM and open source software. It was really interesting to hear some of the weird and wonderful suggestions and the conversation was constant throughout the event. This dialogue between educators and experts is precisely what the Raspberry Jam’s facilitate so it was great to see.

One of the things that came out of this discussion was a book recommendation. Andrew Schulman, an apparently prolific author has written several books aimed at programmers regarding various backdoor functions loaded into operating systems. The title “Undocumented Windows” was recommended to me. Not knowing vast amounts about programming, perhaps this book will be somewhat heavy for my tastes; however I will track down a copy and let you all know. ISBN–0201608340.

[Fig.2] Some of the ideas on the brainstorming table, and they were not limited to Raspberry Pi related themes. Image Credit: me.

Peter Blatchford (@555) was back, this time with a Lego Mindstorm robot and an Ethernet cable. During the event he downloaded the NXT library for Python and was sending live commands from the Rpi directly to the robot that was subsequently executing the orders. It was a really fun demonstration and a very easy way to show the potential of programming in a tangible way. This is something that can be done in a single lesson with some set up time, or conversely students could build the robots, and then use the Rpi to program them as a longer project. One such NXT library can be found [HERE].

I also had a discussion with a man named Russel. We were discussing the subject of digital independence. Digital independence is the idea that we as computer users are very dependent and beholden to companies that facilitate our transfer of information. We use cloud services and storage, gladly surrendering our “intellectual property” under whatever terms of service we didn’t bother to read. I am on the path to digital independence although not very far along. I still use Googlemail and WordPress online for instance. Eventually I will get to the stage where I have my own ftp server, host my own cloud storage, website and mail client.

To this end Russel was telling me about a bit of code called shell in a box. This is a web based SSH client that can allow remote terminal access without any locally installed software. It is compiled for Ubuntu and Debian so in theory can be installed on a Raspberry Pi. He has yet to get it working on the Rpi and no-one has as yet responded to his thread on the Rpi forums [HERE]. Installation instructions can be found [HERE] and the code page is [HERE]. If anyone has any success with it please let me know or post in the forum thread. If anyone does get it going, or I do, I will post an entry demonstrating the features.

 

[Fig.3] The Brannigan’s with their book.

The final thing that I saw at the jam was amazing. Paul and Mark Brannigan (@proactivepaul) have co-authored a book titled “Coding for Kids”. It is an excellent introduction to coding for younger years and it is available to buy. The remarkable bit; Mark Brannigan is 10 years old. He has written this book with his father. It is an incredible project and story, and they plan to release a whole series of workbooks and other material aimed at younger years. The project home is [HERE] and the book can be purchased on the site.

Sorry the photos are not so great this time, I left my tripod at home. Thank you again to the Mozilla Space for hosting us.

As usual if you liked the coverage don’t forget to subscribe in the sidebar or follow me on twitter (@scientificmoust).

Regards

John

The Raspberry Jam is in no way affliated with the Mozilla Space or the Rapsberry Pi Foundation. Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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