Monday, October 16, 2017

16th Egham Raspberry Jam write up

It happened and people turned up 😃

So, yesterday, 15th of October was the 16th Egham Raspberry Jam.
I looked back and the first was January 2013.  This was after atttending a couple of the original Milton Keynes Jams at The National Museum of Computing  who have recently started up their Jams again.

The company I work for is very kind and over the past 4 years has allowed us to use the canteen on the ground floor for the Jam.  This was a big open space and worked really well.  With the companies growth we've moved nearly everybody into a shiny new building next door and most of the building the Jam was hosted in has been decommissioned. 

So, last week in the run up to the event I was talking to the facilities team about hosting the event and they were 100% committed to making it happen.  Then on Wednesday I was told the canteen had no power anymore and could we use the meeting room, which is exactly what we did.
The space we had yesterday is 2 meeting rooms that can have their adjoining wall opened up to make one big room.
This gave us a nice big space to run the Jam and allow people to mingle.

On arriving and checking the room out it became clear that the power sockets are out a good bit from the wall.  They're in locations for tables to be placed over them for workshop type sessions.  You'll see in the pictures below the space behind the tables  Does mean the people who brought projects were very comfortable and not squeezed up against the wall.

After packing the car, a final shopping trip to get something spooky and some sweets (I always try to have sweets on the day) and lunch at the nearby Burger King we arrived at the venue with 45 minutes to go.  Loads of time.
All packed. Ready to go.

OK, maybe one more thing required.

And of course a little bit of food to fuel me for the day
 When I pulled into the car park Joshua from Gwiddle Hosting had already arrived.
Gwiddle are a great enterprise that offers free web hosting to students from primary to university. So, if you're a student or even an educator looking for a place your students can host their content online then talk to Gwiddle.


Joshua is the one on the right

Even before I had begun unpacking my car others arrived.
David Sweeney brought a few really interesting projects with him.



David had a panel of flashing LEDs with no micro-controller or even a 555 timer. All done with resistors and capacitors. Very clever.

A wrap around RGB LED display with a scrolling message.  This got some attention on Twitter after the event.


Then who can't resist a 'mouse' made from tins with an ultrasonic sensor and LEDs as well as a wild clock where the hands seem to have a mind of their own.

I think it's a mouse.  Mainly going by the nose.


Wild clock and also LED Rubiks cube to solve


Thomas Stratford took on the challenge of making something scary and brought Halloween themed flashing lights.  These came from the local pound shop and with a small transistor circuit can be controlled by the Raspberry Pi


We like things that light up and make noise



Matt Sendorek brought along his Scratch controlled Robot Arm and some other bits and pieces that I didn't get a chance to investigate (next time, definitely next time)

Scratch controlled robot arm

Deep in discussion
Llewelyn Fernandes from Think Create Learn had some of the robots with him and was explaining that they teach people to program them to solve complex mazes and paths with dead ends

Wooden robots, not a 3D print in sight.

Business cards at a Jam. A rare sight.

Loads of notes and information to support the content

The Surrey & Hampshire Makerspace came along with their musical octopus and 3D printed octopus as well as a real, live 3D printer that was working away during the event.
Also, SH Makerspace is hosting their first Raspberry Jam on the 12th Of November at The Boileroom in Guildford. It's free to attend just register on the Eventbrite page.  

Musical octopus using a Makey Makey and Scratch

3D printed octopus. Very impressive

Somewhere in there is a 3D printer I promise






Oscar had his CamJam EduKit 1 running. 



There were also a few other projects that I didn't get a chance to take individual photos of but if you watch the video below you'll see them.

Peter Jones and his son had a Raspberry Pi controlled Lego Train with RGB LEDs.



In addition to all this fun there were workstations setup for people to follow tutorial worksheet to learn to flash LEDs on the 4tronix pi-stop, cause mass destruction in Minecraft using TNT blocks and make the 8x8 LED matrix on the Sense Hat Sparkle different colours.  These workstations were never empty. So, hopefully a few people went home with extra skills.





Friday, October 13, 2017

Egham Jam this Sunday 15th of October

How time flies. This Sunday 15th of October is the Jam.

If you are attending here are few things that may be useful to know.

The venue is Gartner, The Glanty, Egham, TW20 9AW
Gartner recently opened a new office on The Glanty.  It's a big shinny new building.
We're not in the one office.  We're in the old HQ Office next door as per the previous 15 Egham Jams
So, don't go to the shinny new MASSIVE Gartner building go to the one next door that looks like the picture below.



Google Map




While the building is the same we're in a different bit of it.  The canteen we previously used is now closed down so we will be using a large meeting room in the door on the right.  It's more than large enough for the Jam and the facilities team are making it work for us.
So, a bit different but no change to what to do when you arrive.

For people bringing projects to show

We'll be at the venue from 1:00, so if you want to arrive a little early to set up any time after 1.00 works.  If you can't make it before 2:00 that works as well.  We're a nice relaxed Jam.

There is no Internet provided, so if you need to connect to the outside work please either tether to a phone or bring a Mifi type device.
If you need to inter connect to devices at the venue then we can put in place a local Wifi network

Please bring extension leads.  There is power in the room and I expect for most people it will be exactly where it's needed but there is the potential that for our setup the power may be a little further away than a single power cable can reach.

For people attending
Have fun
Ask question
Be curious
Everyone showing is obviously proud of what they've made and are eager to share.
Use this as an opportunity to learn and be inspired.  Maybe what they did isn't exactly what you want to do but maybe some hurdle they overcame is a part of your solution


General Notes
Under 16 to be accompanies by an adult/guardian
No soldering onsite
Be respectful of others

From the previous Egham Jams and others I've attended the people who get the most from attending are the ones who get stuck in and are curious.  If you don't know how something works and want to know ask. If you would to follow up with someone ask for their email address or Twitter ID.  If you see something interesting take note so you have the details for when you need it.

If all else fails ask me. Albert.
My role on the day is to co-ordinate and try to make sure everyone who attends gets from the day what they want to achieve.

So, here's looking forward to meeting everyone on Sunday and to a great and entertaining 16th Egham Raspberry Jam.




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Announcing 16th Egham Raspberry Jam


Well, that came around quickly.  It's been about 2 months since the last Egham Raspberry Jam and we are already getting ready for the next one on the 15th of October.


Theme: Make Something Scary

With Halloween 2 weeks later this is the perfect time to get your spook on and build something awesome surprise the neighbours

So, get making and register for the 16th Egham Raspberry Jam on Eventbrite.


If you need a little inspiration to get started.

This is one of my favourite Raspberry Pi Halloween builds.




Maybe you want to go a bit bigger and do the whole house.


Or if you really hate the kids in the neighbourhood.



Hopefully, see you in Egham on the 15th of October.


NOTE: Gartner recently opened a new office building.  It's the big one next to the M25.
We're not in this office. We are still in the one next door.
So, for those who've been to the Egham Jam before the venue is the same. For those who haven't it's the one next door the really big building next to the M25.    I promise this will be enough detail to find the right building.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

15th Egham Raspberry Jam report


What a great Jam.

For the 15th Egham Raspberry Jam a few things were different.
It was the first Egham Jam where workshops were conducted
To increase local reach the Jam was promoted on a number of local Facebook pages
Again, to increase exposure flyers were sent to the 2 councils that overlap the area where people usually come from for the Jam.

Workshops.
From the feedback the workshops were a great success.
We ran Physical Computing with Scratch and Physical Computing with GPIOZero.
The GPIOZero workshop was based on the worksheet provided by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Scratch workshop was a reworking of the GPIOZero workshop but using Scratch instead of Python.

Both were fully booked and for the Scratch one there were people standing at the back listening in and learning even thought they did not have the opportunity to follow along with a Raspberry Pi.

We wee very lucky to have a nice big room with a large screen at the front for the Workshop leaders to show the instructions and sample code on.

Remove before setup.  This room is usually set up for meetings or workshops and so it was great to arrive and see it empty so we could set it up as we wished.

Room before set up - nice size

Physical Computing with Scratch workshop lead by Matt Sendorek with lots of people sitting and standing at the back. Scratch Physical Computer Worksheet is available to download 

Scratch Workshop was busy

Yes, that's  a lot of code and very successful code.  You can see the green LED is on.
First steps in physical computing.

We have working code and flashing LEDs

There was a real mix of ages. Everything from 8 years old to some that were definitely the wrong side of 50.

All ages taking part

The Python/GPIOZero workshop lead by Andy Balaam was also busy.  As mentioned the worksheets were supplied by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and you can download them from their website.

More successful code.  LEDs are on.

Loving the look of concentration

Some adapted their code so it worked for only super sonic vehicles with amazing brakes.

Have a funny feeling these traffic lights might be a little too fast for traffic

 While all this was going on the show and tell area was kept busy with a wide range of projects to inspire and education people on what was possible.

How about a musical knitted octopus that uses Scratch and a Makey Makey to allow you to play it like a musical instrument. Makey Makey is available in Maplin if you're looking for a UK based shop.

Musical Octopus
Chertsey Radio Club brought along some of their equipment to teach people about radio transmitters and receivers

Chertsey Radio Club transmitter

Chertsey Radio Club were beaming images across the room wirelessly

Google AIY robot arm that can be controlled by voice and also do image recognition with the assistant of Google service.
This was a fun one to put different objects in front of and see what Google thought it was.  The brand logos were very recognisable while the tennis ball confused it a bit

Voice controlled robot arm with image recognition

 If you've never been I recommend you go to PiWars in Cambridge.  It's a brilliant robot competition where the design of the hardware, software and the creativity of the robots is all taken into account for the scoring. This robot has interchangeable fronts depending on the challenge.
My favourite is the gold playing mole.

Main robot chassis with one of the animatronic fittings

Golf playing mole

Bare robot doing line following

Thomas Stratford was showing a 30+ year old VIC-20 programmed in BASIC with lots of poke commands controlling LEDs.  The VIC-20 has been a labour of love for Thomas.  Firstly getting the case and parts clean again after they had discoloured with age.  Then actually getting them fixed.  And finally learning to program it and interface with it to control electronics.
It was great to see a VIC-20 next to the Raspberry Pi.  The Pi costs about £50 to buy with all the bits.  Back in the day a VIC-20 would have costed £300 and that's before taking into account inflation.
For your £300 you got an 8bit 1MHz processor, with 3.5K RAM and no storage.
The Raspberry Pi for £50 gives you a 1.2GHz Quad Core 64 bit processor, with 1GB RAM and depending on the microSD you provide anywhere from 8GB to 128GB of storage.
How technology has moved on and improved.

Still the Physical Computing Workshop could have been run with a VIC-20 and we could have thought people how to use BASIC and specifically the poke command to turn on and off LEDs.




So, another success Egham Raspberry Jam.
Over 100 registered initially. Some cancelled before the date to free up their tickets, so the event finished with 95 register.  If this 78 attended.  This is a great turn out for a free event as people don't seem to be as bought in if the event didn't cost them money.

It also seems the local promotion made a big difference.  A lot of new faces and people mentioning they heard of the Jam from from Facebook.
No one mentioned the flyers and I didn't get a chance to revisit the locations where the flyers would go up to see if they were posted.  But I'll definitely do that again.
One person said they heard about the Jam from the flyer handed in at the Staines branch of Maplin. Looking like old school high street promotion still has it's place.

About 4:00pm people started heading away and all the displays were packed up and the room for the workshops was put back the way it was before.



It's like we were never there except that nearly 80 people got to experience the pleasure of being creative and learning how to make things with computers.  Maybe some of them will come to the next Egham Raspberry jam with a project they made and not just to see what others have done.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Egham Raspberry Jam 15 Workshops added



With the 15th Egham Raspberry Jam this Sunday we have updated the Eventbrite page to include the details for the Workshops.


Workshop 1 -  1:30 - 2:30 - Matt Sendorek
Beginning physical computing with Scratch.
Learn how to control the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi from Scratch and program a traffic light sequence.

Workshop 2 -   2:45 - 3:45 - Andy Baalam
Physical computing with Python.
Learn how to control the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi from Python with the GPIOZero library and program a traffic light sequence.

If you are interested in attend register for to attend the event first on the Eventbrite page.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Workshops and retro-computing at 15th Egham Raspberry Jam on the 23rd of July


Yeah!.  We can confirm that Andy Balaam will be running a programming workshop at the 15th Egham Raspberry Jam.  If you've been to a previous Egham Rapsberry Jam you will recognise Andy as the person with  Rabbit Escape game.

We are also finalising the details for a second workshop on physical computing with Scratch.

In addition we all love a bit of retro computing.
Install RetroPie and see what the little Pi can do when it comes to retro gaming.
Well, what about retro physical computing

How about doing physical computing on a computer released in 1980.  I had to count that out and it's 37 years ago.
Well, Thomas Stratford has agreed to bring along his VIC-20 where he has added an external adapter to enable him to do physical computing.



I've a soft spot for the VIC-20 as it's the first computer I ever bought and it's the one I did most of my programming on.  Having only 3.5K (yes kilobytes, not megabytes) and a 1MHz 8 bit processor teaches you to think compact when it comes to your code.

Also, it had 2 of my favourite games ever.

Arcadia, way better on the VIC-20 than the C64 which I traded the VIC-20 for.


Metagalactic Lamas Battle at the Edge of Time 
Again, came out on the C64 as well, but for me the VIC-20 version was more playable.
It was written by Jeff Minter who had a thing for Llamas and Sheep in his games.




Just in case some C64 fans are reading. I had my own favourite games on it too.

A puzzle, tile spinning game called Zenji from Activision. My main memory about Activision was they used the Function keys on the right to start their games, even after most people had move to using the joystick to make selections and start the game with the fire button.





Uridium was the other one. A top down space shooter when you could turn on your side to get through narrow gaps.  It was a fast game and really set the standard for all horizontal scrolling shooters on the C64 after it came out.  A unique thing it introduced was firing on pressing the fire button and on releasing it. So, it was worth while bashing the fire button rather than just pressing it as you could fire twice as many bullets/lasers.  








Maybe I should fire up a PiZero with RetroPie and see if I can find a copy of these classic games.

Hopefully, see you in Egham on the 23rd July.





Monday, May 22, 2017

Announcing 15th Egham Raspberry Jam

We're back again with a new Egham Raspberry Jam.
23rd July 2017.  Again, at the Gartner UK HQ on The Glanty.






For full details on the location check out the Eventbrite page where you can also register to attend.
https://eghamjam15.eventbrite.co.uk

For the first time ever we will be running a number of workshops.
Watch this space for confirmation of the exact details as we get closer to the event.

Pictures from 14th Egham Raspberry Jam - 30th April 2017


Some Pictures from the Egham Raspberry Jam on the 30th April 2017.