Cambridge Raspberry Jam – February 2014

It was a wet and windy journey but we made it to Cambridge in good time ready for the CamJam. I drove with Graham (raspberrypischool.org) and Harry (pibot.org) as passengers.

Unlike our last trip to Cambridge we decided to not bring any show and tell items so we could spend more time looking around and talking to people. We arrived just after the morning workshops were ending and it was good to see so many kids at the venue. To read about the morning Sonic Pi workshops take a look at claremacrae.co.uk.

CamJam February 2014The first talk I listened to was “Minecraft, Progamming with Python” by Craig Richardson. He explained how you could use Python scripts to interface with and manipulate Minecraft worlds.

Through the medium of explosives he showed how useful Minecraft could be in engaging people in programming. He’s got plenty of supporting information and examples on his blog. No cows were hurt during this demonstration.

CamJam February 2014Wesley Hill (@hakobyte) presented a talk about the Internet of Things and used his “Twiimote” project as an example. This used Nintendo Wii remotes to indicate activity on Twitter. They could be used to show incoming messages on a users stream or react to Tweets containing a specific hash tag.

There was lots of mobile phone fumbling as people rushed out Tweets containing #CamJam!

CamJam February 2014Over in the show and tell area was the Aber Sailbot Team. They were showing off their autonomous sail boat. It’s 1.3 metres long and made out of fibreglass.

A Raspberry Pi and Arduino control the sails and rudder using an electronic winch and servos. It uses GPS and a wind sensor to detect position, orientation and wind direction.

CamJam February 2014As usual there were a number of Pi accessory companies present and between us we picked up a handful of bits. I picked up a Snap Circuits kit from Cyntech which will help with the experiments I am running through with my son.

I’ve got plenty of normal electronic components but I find with young children you need some thing that is a lot less fuss that wires and crocodile clips.

CamJam February 2014Alan from DawnRobotics did an interesting talk on building robots and the things that need to be considered in robot design. It was focused on the Raspberry Pi but applied to robots based on any computer system.

Each section he covered was a topic in itself but he gave a good overview. As a PhD student he knows his robotics and is always happy to help and advise others.

CamJam February 2014The PiBorg team had a selection of items for sale from their range but they also displayed an interesting Raspberry Pi powered vehicle. Lead acid batteries, motorbike starter motors, chains and a lot of metal.

It’s called the Doodleborg and is described as a “rover”. It’s basically a tank without the fire power. It’s got a tow hitch on the top for pulling stuff. Trailers. Caravans. Boats. The usual basic things you need to move around the home.

CamJam February 2014Andrew Young was there with a group of “Raspberry Pi Club” pupils from Stewards Academy. They’ve been working on lots of Pi related projects and this was another nice example of the Pi doing exactly what it was designed for.

I didn’t get a chance to take a photo but most of their equipment was mounted on the back of the two computer monitors they had on their table.

CamJam February 2014Alex Eames from RasPi.TV had a few HDMIPi screens to demonstrate. These are 1280×800 HD screens for your Pi (or anything else with an HDMI output). Due to a successful Kickstarter campaign these will be an extremely good value for money way of adding a compact screen to your projects.

The quality is extremely good and the prototype case from Pimoroni looks very sylish. You can pre-order HDMIPi screens from the website linked above. There is also more info about the screen itself and the people behind it.

CamJam February 2014Hamish Cunningham from Sheffield had a table for his MoPi accessory. This is a hot-swap, uninterruptible, multi-supply mobile power addon for the Raspberry Pi. He is currently running a KickStarter campaign to fund it’s release. It is T shaped so it fits within a standard PiBow case. It will open up a range of project possibilities as you will be able to concentrate on other parts of your design and let the MoPi deal with the power.

CamJam February 2014I finally got to take a look at Mike Horne’s famous “PiCorder” in the flesh. This now includes more sensors than ever and can measure things such as moisture, explosive gas, temperature, CO2, humidity and GPS position.

Ben Nuttall (@ben_nuttall) from the Raspberry Pi Foundation was there and could be found slaving over a laptop creating content for the re-vamped official website. Even at the weekend the Foundation’s work is never done!

CamJam February 2014I took the opportunity to buy a motor control board from Ryan of Ryanteck fame and I’ll use that to build some sort of robot as soon as I find some time!

It was also great to see a show and tell table manned by two young chaps from the Suttle Family. They had Sonic Pi, Scratch and a robot arm on display.

UPDATE:

CamJam February 2014After publishing this article I realised I had forgotten to mention a few of the projects I had seen. The first one was the line following robot by Zachary Igielman (@zacharyigielman). This small two-wheeled robot followed a defined black line on the floor.

It could even manage a figure-of-eight with a few modifications to the line. It carried a Pi camera which could be viewed on a nearby laptop.

He also created a timelapse video of the entire event using a Raspberry Pi (obviously!). The video is available from YouTube.

CamJam February 2014Over on Alex’s table there were two projects supplied by Pau (@smstextuk). One was an International Space Station alert (see issabove.com) which told you when to look up for the ISS. The other was a “cacheberry pi”. This is a device to help you find “caches” as part of the Geocaching treasure-hunt hobby/sport/game. There is more information about both these projects on smstextblog.blogspot.co.uk.

Apologies for anything or anybody I haven’t mentioned. Thanks to the organisers and their helpers for all their hard work behind the scenes.

Here are the photos I took during the day :

Stuff I Bought : Snap circuits kit, Cyntech Pi case with SD card cover, Pi drinks coasters, flashing USB leads, Ryanteck motor controll board, 300mm Pi camera ribbon cable.

Vendors : DawnRobotics, RyanTeckPiHut, Ciseco, Cyntech, PiBorg, Phenoptix

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