A simple Raspberry Pi camera setup is helping staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum track and identify insects that are threatening priceless exhibits.
“Fiacre, I need an image of bug infestation at the V&A!”
The problem with bugs
Bugs: there’s no escaping them. Whether it’s ants in your kitchen or cockroaches in your post-apocalyptic fallout shelter, insects have a habit of inconveniently infesting edifices, intent on damaging beloved belongings.
And museums are as likely as anywhere to be hit by creepy-crawly visitors. Especially when many of their exhibits are old and deliciously dusty. Yum!
Tracking insects at the V&A
As Bhavesh Shah and Maris Ines Carvalho state on the V&A blog, monitoring insect activity has become common practice at their workplace. As part of the Integrated Pest Monitoring (IPM) strategy at the museum, they even have trained staff members who inspect traps and report back their findings.
“But what if we could develop a system that gives more insight into the behaviour of insects and then use this information to prevent future outbreaks?” ask Shah and Carvalho.
The team spent around £50 on a Raspberry Pi and a 160° camera, and used these and Claude Pageau’s PI-TIMOLO software project to build an insect monitoring system. The system is now integrated into the museum, tracking insects and recording their movements — even in low-light conditions.
Emma Ormond, Raspberry Pi Trading Office Manager and Doctor of Bugs, believes this to be a Bristletail or Silverfish.
“The initial results were promising. Temperature, humidity, and light sensors could also be added to find out, for example, what time of day insects are more active or if they favour particular environmental conditions.”
Learn more: http://rpf.io/ Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?
Fantastic collections and where to find them
Large, impressive statues are truly a sight to be seen. Take for example the 2.4m Hoa Hakananai’a at the British Museum. Its tall stature looms over you as you read its plaque to learn of the statue’s journey from Easter Island to the UK under the care of Captain Cook in 1774, and you can’t help but wonder at how it made it here in one piece.
But unless you live near a big city where museums are plentiful, you’re unlikely to see the likes of Hoa Hakananai’a in person. Instead, you have to content yourself with online photos or videos of world-famous artefacts.
And that only accounts for the objects that are on display: conservators estimate that only approximately 5 to 10% of museums’ overall collections are actually on show across the globe. The rest is boxed up in storage, inaccessible to the public due to risk of damage, or simply due to lack of space.
Museum in a Box
Museum in a Box aims to “put museum collections and expert knowledge into your hand, wherever you are in the world,” through modern maker practices such as 3D printing and digital making. With the help of the ‘Scan the World’ movement, an “ambitious initiative whose mission is to archive objects of cultural significance using 3D scanning technologies”, the Museum in a Box team has been able to print small, handheld replicas of some of the world’s most recognisable statues and sculptures.
Each 3D print gets NFC tags so it can initiate audio playback from a Raspberry Pi that sits snugly within the laser-cut housing of a ‘brain box’. Thus the print can talk directly to us through the magic of wireless technology, replacing the dense, dry text of a museum plaque with engaging speech.
The Museum in a Box team headed by CEO George Oates (featured in the video above) makes use of these 3D-printed figures alongside original artefacts, postcards, and more to bridge the gap between large, crowded, distant museums and local schools. Modeled after the museum handling collections that used to be sent to schools, Museum in a Box is a cheaper, more accessible alternative. Moreover, it not only allows for hands-on learning, but also encourages children to get directly involved by hacking its technology! With NFC technology readily available to the public, students can curate their own collections about their local area, record their own messages, and send their own box-sized museums on to schools in other towns or countries. In this way, Museum in a Box enables students to explore, and expand the reach of, their own histories.
With the technology perfected and interest in the project ever-growing, Museum in a Box has a busy year ahead. Supporting the new ‘Unstacked’ learning initiative, the team will soon be delivering ten boxes to the Smithsonian Libraries. The team has curated two collections specifically for this: an exploration into Asia-Pacific America experiences of migration to the USA throughout the 20th century, and a look into the history of science.
The team will also be making a box for the British Museum to support their Iraq Scheme initiative, and another box will be heading to the V&A to support their See Red programme. While primarily installed in the Lansbury Micro Museum, the box will also take to the road to visit the local Spotlight high school.
Museum in a Box at Raspberry Fields
Lastly, by far the most exciting thing the Museum in a Box team will be doing this year — in our opinion at least — is showcasing at Raspberry Fields! This is our brand-new festival of digital making that’s taking place on 30 June and 1 July 2018 here in Cambridge, UK. Find more information about it and get your ticket here.
A couple of weekends ago, we celebrated our sixth birthday by coordinating more than 100 simultaneous Raspberry Jam events around the world. The Big Birthday Weekend was a huge success: our fantastic community organised Jams in 40 countries, covering six continents!
We sent the Jams special birthday kits to help them celebrate in style, and a video message featuring a thank you from Philip and Eben:
To celebrate the Raspberry Pi’s sixth birthday, we coordinated Raspberry Jams all over the world to take place over the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend, 3-4 March 2018. A massive thank you to everyone who ran an event and attended.
The Raspberry Jam photo booth
I put together code for a Pi-powered photo booth which overlaid the Big Birthday Weekend logo onto photos and (optionally) tweeted them. We included an arcade button in the Jam kits so they could build one — and it seemed to be quite popular. Some Jams put great effort into housing their photo booth:
If you want to try out the photo booth software yourself, find the code on GitHub.
The great Raspberry Jam bake-off
Traditionally, in the UK, people have a cake on their birthday. And we had a few! We saw (and tasted) a great selection of Pi-themed cakes and other baked goods throughout the weekend:
Raspberry Jams everywhere
We always say that every Jam is different, but there’s a common and recognisable theme amongst them. It was great to see so many different venues around the world filling up with like-minded Pi enthusiasts, Raspberry Jam–branded banners, and Raspberry Pi balloons!
Thank you so much to all the attendees of the Ikana Jam in Krakow past Saturday! We shared fun experiences, some of them… also painful 😉 A big thank you to @Raspberry_Pi for these global celebrations! And a big thank you to @hubraum for their hospitality! #PiParty #rjam
Being one of the two places in Kenya where the #PiParty took place, it was an amazing time spending the day with this team and getting to learn and have fun. @TaitaTavetaUni and @Raspberry_Pi thank you for your support. @TTUTechlady @mictecttu ch
The Philly & Pi #PiParty event with @Bresslergroup and @TechGirlzorg was awesome! The Scratch and Pi workshop was amazing! It was overall a great day of fun and tech!!! Thank you everyone who came out!
Thanks everyone who came out to the @Raspberry_Pi Big Birthday Jam! Special thanks to @PBFerrell @estefanniegg @pcsforme @pandafulmanda @colnels @bquentin3 couldn’t’ve put on this amazing community event without you guys!
Personally, I managed to get to three Jams over the weekend: two run by the same people who put on the first two Jams to ever take place, and also one brand-new one! The Preston Raspberry Jam team, who usually run their event on a Monday evening, wanted to do something extra special for the birthday, so they came up with the idea of putting on a Raspberry Jam Sandwich — on the Friday and Monday around the weekend! This meant I was able to visit them on Friday, then attend the Manchester Raspberry Jam on Saturday, and finally drop by the new Jam at Worksop College on my way home on Sunday.
Thanks to everyone who came to our Jam and everyone who helped out. @phoenixtogether thanks for amazing cake & hosting. Ademir you’re so cool. It was awesome to meet Craig Morley from @Raspberry_Pi too. #PiParty
It’s @Raspberry_Pi 6th birthday and we’re celebrating by taking part in @amsterjam__! Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi, we’re so happy to be a part of the family! #PiParty
For more Jammy birthday goodness, check out the PiParty hashtag on Twitter!
The Jam makers!
A lot of preparation went into each Jam, and we really appreciate all the hard work the Jam makers put in to making these events happen, on the Big Birthday Weekend and all year round. Thanks also to all the teams that sent us a group photo:
Lots of the Jams that took place were brand-new events, so we hope to see them continue throughout 2018 and beyond, growing the Raspberry Pi community around the world and giving more people, particularly youths, the opportunity to learn digital making skills.
So many wonderful people in the @Raspberry_Pi community. Thanks to everyone at #PottonPiAndPints for a great afternoon and for everything you do to help young people learn digital making. #PiParty
Special thanks to ModMyPi for shipping the special Raspberry Jam kits all over the world!
Don’t forget to check out our Jam page to find an event near you! This is also where you can find free resources to help you get a new Jam started, and download free starter projects made especially for Jam activities. These projects are available in English, Français, Français Canadien, Nederlands, Deutsch, Italiano, and 日本語. If you’d like to help us translate more content into these and other languages, please get in touch!
PS Some of the UK Jams were postponed due to heavy snowfall, so you may find there’s a belated sixth-birthday Jam coming up where you live!
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?
We had a total of 212 Mission Space Lab entries from 22 countries. Of these, a 114 fantastic projects have been given flight status, and the teams’ project code will run in space!
But they’re not winners yet. In April, the code will be sent to the ISS, and then the teams will receive back their experimental data. Next, to get deeper insight into the process of scientific endeavour, they will need produce a final report analysing their findings. Winners will be chosen based on the merit of their final report, and the winning teams will get exclusive prizes. Check the list below to see if your team got flight status.
Flight status achieved:
Team De Vesten, Campus De Vesten, Antwerpen
Ursa Major, CoderDojo Belgium, West-Vlaanderen
Special operations STEM, Sint-Claracollege, Antwerpen
Flight status achieved:
Let It Grow, Branksome Hall, Toronto
The Dark Side of Light, Branksome Hall, Toronto
Genie On The ISS, Branksome Hall, Toronto
Byte by PIthons, Youth Tech Education Society & Kid Code Jeunesse, Edmonton
The Broadviewnauts, Broadview, Ottawa
Flight status achieved:
BLEK, Střední Odborná Škola Blatná, Strakonice
Flight status achieved:
2y Infotek, Nærum Gymnasium, Nærum
Equation Quotation, Allerød Gymnasium, Lillerød
Team Weather Watchers, Allerød Gymnasium, Allerød
Space Gardners, Nærum Gymnasium, Nærum
Flight status achieved:
Team Aurora, Hyvinkään yhteiskoulun lukio, Hyvinkää
Flight status achieved:
INC2, Lycée Raoul Follereau, Bourgogne
Space Project SP4, Lycée Saint-Paul IV, Reunion Island
Dresseurs2Python, clg Albert CAMUS, essonne
Lazos, Lycée Aux Lazaristes, Rhone
The space nerds, Lycée Saint André Colmar, Alsace
Les Spationautes Valériquais, lycée de la Côte d’Albâtre, Normandie
If you’re an educator from the UK, chances are you’ve heard of Bett. For everyone else: Bett stands for British Education Technology Tradeshow. It’s the El Dorado of edtech, where every street is adorned with interactive whiteboards, VR headsets, and new technologies for the classroom. Every year since 2014, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been going to the event hosted in the ExCeL London to chat to thousands of lovely educators about our free programmes and resources.
On a mission
Our setup this year consisted of four pods (imagine tables on steroids) in the STEAM village, and the mission of our highly trained team of education agents was to establish a new world record for Highest number of teachers talked to in a four-day period. I’m only half-joking.
Educators with a mission
The best thing about being at Bett is meeting the educators who use our free content and training materials. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the everyday tasks of the office without stopping to ask: “Hey, have we asked our users what they want recently?” Events like Bett help us to connect with our audience, creating some lovely moments for both sides. We had plenty of Hello World authors visit us, including Gary Stager, co-author of Invent to Learn, a must-read for any computing educator. More than 700 people signed up for a digital subscription, we had numerous lovely conversations about our content and about ideas for new articles, and we met many new authors expressing an interest in writing for us in the future.
We also talked to lots of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators who we’d trained in our free Picademy programme — new dates in Belfast and Dublin now! — and who are now doing exciting and innovative things in their local areas. For example, Chris Snowden came to tell us about the great digital making outreach work he has been doing with the Eureka! museum in Yorkshire.
Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Chris Snowden
Digital making for kids
The other best thing about being at Bett is running workshops for young learners and seeing the delight on their faces when they accomplish something they believed to be impossible only five minutes ago. On the Saturday, we ran a massive Raspberry Jam/Code Club where over 250 children, parents, and curious onlookers got stuck into some of our computing activities. We were super happy to find out that we’d won the Bett Kids’ Choice Award for Best Hands-on Experience — a fantastic end to a busy four days. With Bett over for another year, our tired and happy ‘rebel alliance’ from across the Foundation still had the energy to pose for a group photo.
Cue the lights! Cue the music! Picademy is back for another year stateside. We’re excited to bring our free computer science and digital making professional development program for educators to four new cities this summer — you can apply right now.
We’re thrilled to kick off our 2018 season! Before we get started, let’s take a look back at our community’s accomplishments in the 2017 Picademy North America season.
Picademy 2017 highlights
Last year, we partnered with four awesome venues to host eight Picademy events in the United States. At every event across the country, we met incredibly talented educators passionate about bringing digital making to their learners. Whether it was at Ann Arbor District Library’s makerspace, UC Irvine’s College of Engineering, or a creative community center in Boise, Idaho, we were truly inspired by all our Picademy attendees and were thrilled to welcome them to the Raspberry Pi Certified Educator community.
JWU Providence’s College of Engineering & Design recently partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to host Picademy, a free training session designed to give educators the tools to teach computer skills with confidence and creativity. | http://www.jwu.edu
The 2017 Picademy cohorts were a diverse bunch with a lot of experience in their field. We welcomed more than 300 educators from 32 U.S. states and 10 countries. They were a mix of high school, middle school, and elementary classroom teachers, librarians, museum staff, university lecturers, and teacher trainers. More than half of our attendees were teaching computer science or technology already, and over 90% were specifically interested in incorporating physical computing into their work.
Picademy has a strong and lasting impact on educators. Over 80% of graduates said they felt confident using Raspberry Pi after attending, and 88% said they were now interested in leading a digital making event in their community. To showcase two wonderful examples of this success: Chantel Mason led a Raspberry Pi workshop for families and educators in her community in St. Louis, Missouri this fall, and Dean Palmer led a digital making station at the Computer Science for Rhode Island Summit in December.
Picademy 2018 dates
This year, we’re partnering with four new venues to host our Picademy season.
I’ve been earning a living in the technology industry since 1977, when I worked in one of the first computer stores in the country as a teenager. Looking back over the past 40 years, and realizing that the Altair, IMSAI, Sol-20, and North Star Horizon machines that I learned about, built, debugged, programmed, sold, and supported can now be seen in museums (Seattle’s own Living Computer Museum is one of the best), helps me to appreciate that the world I live in changes quickly, and to understand that I need to do the same. This applies to technology, to people, and to attitudes.
I lived in a suburb of Boston in my early teens. At that time, diversity meant that one person in my public school had come all the way from (gasp) England a few years earlier. When I went to college I began to meet people from other countries and continents and to appreciate the fresh vantage points and approaches that they brought to the workplace and to the problems that we tackled together.
Back in those days, there were virtually no women working as software engineers, managers, or entrepreneurs. Although the computer store was owned by a couple and the wife did all of the management, this was the exception rather than the rule at that time, and for too many years after that. Today, I am happy to be part of a team that brings together the most capable people, regardless of their gender, race, background, or anything other than their ability to do a kick-ass job (Ana, Tara, Randall, Tina, Devin, and Sara, I’m talking about all of you).
We want to do all that we can to encourage young women to prepare to become the next generation of engineers, managers, and entrepreneurs. AWS is proud to support Girls Who Code (including the Summer Immersion Program), Girls in Tech, and other organizations supporting women and underrepresented communities in tech. I sincerely believe that these organizations will be able to move the needle in the right direction. However, like any large-scale social change, this is going to take some time with results visible in years and decades, and only with support & participation from those of us already in the industry.
In conjunction with me&Eve, we were able to speak with some of the attendees at the most recent Girls in Tech Catalyst conference (that’s our booth in the picture). Click through to see what the attendees had to say:
Sandy Carter – Amazon VP and President of the Board for Girls in Tech.
I’m happy to be part of an organization that supports such a worthwhile cause, and that challenges us to make our organization ever-more diverse. While reviewing this post with my colleagues I learned about We Power Tech, an AWS program designed to build skills and foster community and to provide access to Amazon executives who are qualified to speak about the program and about diversity. In conjunction with our friends at Accenture, we have assembled a strong Diversity at re:Invent program.
PS – I did my best to convince Ana, Tara, Tina, or Sara to write this post. Tara finally won the day when she told me “You have raised girls into women, and you are passionate in seeing them succeed in their chose fields with respect and equity. Your post conveying that could be powerful.”
Physics! Particles! Statistical modelling! Quantum theory! How can non-scientists understand any of it? Well, students from Durham University are here to help you wrap your head around it all – and to our delight, they’re using the power of the Raspberry Pi to do it!
At the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition, taking place in London from 4-9 July, the students are presenting a Pi-based experiment demonstrating the importance of statistics in their field of research.
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2017 features 22 exhibits of cutting-edge, hands-on UK science , along with special events and talks. You can meet the scientists behind the research. Find out more about the exhibition at our website: https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2017/summer-science-exhibition/
Ramona, Matthew, and their colleagues are particle physicists keen to bring their science to those of us whose heads start to hurt as soon as we hear the word ‘subatomic’. In their work, they create computer models of subatomic particles to make predictions about real-world particles. Their models help scientists to design better experiments and to improve sensor calibrations. If this doesn’t sound straightforward to you, never fear – this group of scientists has set out to show exactly how statistical models are useful.
The Galton board model
They’ve built a Pi-powered Galton board, also called a bean machine (much less intimidating, I think). This is an upright board, shaped like an upside-down funnel, with nails hammered into it. Drop a ball in at the top, and it will randomly bounce off the nails on its way down. How the nails are spread out determines where a ball is most likely to land at the bottom of the board.
If you’re having trouble picturing this, you can try out an online Galton board. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
You’re back? All clear? Great!
Now, if you drop 100 balls down the board and collect them at the bottom, the result might look something like this:
The distribution of the balls is determined by the locations of the nails in the board. This means that, if you don’t know where the nails are, you can look at the distribution of balls to figure out where they are most likely to be located. And you’ll be able to do all this using … statistics!!!
Similarly, how particles behave is determined by the laws of physics – think of the particles as balls, and laws of physics as nails. Physicists can observe the behaviour of particles to learn about laws of physics, and create statistical models simulating the laws of physics to predict the behaviour of particles.
I can hear you say, “Alright, thanks for the info, but how does the Raspberry Pi come into this?” Don’t worry – I’m getting to that.
Modelling the invisible – the interactive exhibit
As I said, Ramona and the other physicists have not created a regular old Galton board. Instead, this one records where the balls land using a Raspberry Pi, and other portable Pis around the exhibition space can access the records of the experimental results. These Pis in turn run Galton board simulators, and visitors can use them to recreate a virtual Galton board that produces the same results as the physical one. Then, they can check whether their model board does, in fact, look like the one the physicists built. In this way, people directly experience the relationship between statistical models and experimental results.
Hurrah for science!
The other exhibit the Durham students will be showing is a demo dark matter detector! So if you decide to visit the Summer Science Exhibition, you will also have the chance to learn about the very boundaries of human understanding of the cosmos.
The Pi in museums
At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, education is our mission, and of course we love museums. It is always a pleasure to see our computers incorporated into exhibits: the Pi-powered visual theremin teaches visitors about music; the Museum in a Box uses Pis to engage people in hands-on encounters with exhibits; and this Pi is itself a museum piece! If you want to learn more about Raspberry Pis and museums, you can listen to this interview with Pi Towers’ social media maestro Alex Bate.
It’s amazing that our tech is used to educate people in areas beyond computer science. If you’ve created a pi-powered educational project, please share it with us in the comments.
The maker of one of our favourite projects from this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area took the idea of an ’embedded device’ and ran with it: Ronald McCollam has created a wireless, completely epoxy-encased Pi build – screen included!
*cue epic music theme* “Welcome…to resin in resin.”
Of course, this build is not meant to be a museum piece: Ronald embedded a Raspberry Pi 3 with built-in wireless LAN and Bluetooth to create a hands-on demonstration of the resin.io platform, for which he is a Solution Architect. Resin.io is useful for remotely controlling groups of Linux-based IoT devices. In this case, Ronald used it to connect to the encased Pi. And yes, he named his make Resin-in-resin – we salute you, sir!
“Life uh…finds a way.”
Before he started the practical part of his project, he did his research to find a suitable resin. He found that epoxy types specifically designed for encasing electronics are very expensive. In the end, Ronald tried out a cheap type, usually employed to coat furniture, by encasing an LED. It worked perfectly, and he went ahead to use this resin for embedding the Pi.
This was the first time Ronald had worked with resin, so he learned some essential things about casting. He advises other makers to mix the epoxy very, very slowly to minimize the formation of bubbles; to try their hands on some small-scale casting attempts first; and to make sure they’re using a large enough mold for casting. Another thing to keep in mind is that some components of the make will heat up and expand while the device is running.
His first version of an encased Pi was still connected to the outside world by its USB cable:
Updates don’t get more “hands off” than a Raspberry Pi encased in epoxy — @resin_io inside resin! Come ask me about it at @DockerCon!
Not satisfied with this, he went on to incorporate an inductive charging coil as a power source, so that the Pi could be totally insulated in epoxy. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Matt Richardson got a look the finished project at Maker Faire Bay Area:
If you’re at @makerfaire, you must check out what @resin_io is showing. A @Raspberry_Pi completely enclosed in resin. Completely wireless. https://t.co/djVjoLz3hI
The charging coil delivers enough power to keep the Pi running for several hours, but it doesn’t allow secure booting. After some head-scratching, Ronald came up with a cool solution to this problem: he added a battery and a magnetic reed switch. He explains:
[The] boot process is to use the magnetic switch to turn off the Pi, put it on the charger for a few minutes to allow the battery to charge up, then remove the magnet so the Pi boots.
“God help us, we’re in the hands of engineers.”
He talks about his build on the resin.io blog, and has provided a detailed project log on Hackaday. For those of you who want to recreate this project at home, Ronald has even put together an Adafruit wishlist of the necessary components.
Does this resin-ate with you?
What’s especially great about Ronald’s posts is that they’re full of helpful tips about getting started with using epoxy resin in your digital making projects. So whether you’re keen to build your own wireless Pi, or just generally interested in embedding electronic components in resin, you’ll find his write-ups useful.
If you have experience in working with epoxy and electronic devices and want to share what you’ve learned, please do so in the comments!
This weekend saw my first anniversary at Raspberry Pi, and this blog marks my 100th post written for the company. It would have been easy to let one milestone or the other slide had they not come along hand in hand, begging for some sort of acknowledgement.
The day Liz decided to keep me
So here it is!
Joining the crew
Prior to my position in the Comms team as Social Media Editor, my employment history was largely made up of retail sales roles and, before that, bit parts in theatrical backstage crews. I never thought I would work for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, despite its firm position on my Top Five Awesome Places I’d Love to Work list. How could I work for a tech company when my knowledge of tech stretched as far as dismantling my Game Boy when I was a kid to see how the insides worked, or being the one friend everyone went to when their phone didn’t do what it was meant to do? I never thought about the other side of the Foundation coin, or how I could find my place within the hidden workings that turned the cogs that brought everything together.
12 Likes, 1 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “… when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a new job with a dream company. #raspberrypi #positive…”
A little luck, a well-written though humorous resumé, and a meeting with Liz and Helen later, I found myself the newest member of the growing team at Pi Towers.
Ticking items off the Bucket List
I thought it would be fun to point out some of the chances I’ve had over the last twelve months and explain how they fit within the world of Raspberry Pi. After all, we’re about more than just a $35 credit card-sized computer. We’re a charitable Foundation made up of some wonderful and exciting projects, people, and goals.
High altitude ballooning (HAB)
Skycademy offers educators in the UK the chance to come to Pi Towers Cambridge to learn how to plan a balloon launch, build a payload with onboard Raspberry Pi and Camera Module, and provide teachers with the skills needed to take their students on an adventure to near space, with photographic evidence to prove it.
332 Likes, 5 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “All the screens you need to hunt balloons. . We have our landing point and are now rushing to…”
I was fortunate enough to join Sky Captain James, along with Dan Fisher, Dave Akerman, and Steve Randell on a test launch back in August last year. Testing out new kit that James had still been tinkering with that morning, we headed to a field in Elsworth, near Cambridge, and provided Facebook Live footage of the process from payload build to launch…to the moment when our balloon landed in an RAF shooting range some hours later.
“Can we have our balloon back, please, mister?”
Having enjoyed watching Blue Peter presenters send up a HAB when I was a child, I marked off the event on my bucket list with a bold tick, and I continue to show off the photographs from our Raspberry Pi as it reached near space.
13 Likes, 2 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “Spend the day launching/chasing a high-altitude balloon. Look how high it went!!! #HAB #ballooning…”
You can find more information on Skycademy here, plus more detail about our test launch day in Dan’s blog post here.
Dear Raspberry Pi Friends…
My desk is slowly filling with stuff: notes, mementoes, and trinkets that find their way to me from members of the community, both established and new to the life of Pi. There are thank you notes, updates, and more from people I’ve chatted to online as they explore their way around the world of Pi.
By plugging myself into social media on a daily basis, I often find hidden treasures that go unnoticed due to the high volume of tags we receive on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Kids jumping off chairs in delight as they complete their first Scratch project, newcomers to the Raspberry Pi shedding a tear as they make an LED blink on their kitchen table, and seasoned makers turning their hobby into something positive to aid others.
It’s wonderful to join in the excitement of people discovering a new skill and exploring the community of Raspberry Pi makers: I’ve been known to shed a tear as a result.
Meeting educators at Bett, chatting to teen makers at makerspaces, and sharing a cupcake or three at the birthday party have been incredible opportunities to get to know you all.
You’re all brilliant.
The Queens of Robots, both shoddy and otherwise
Last year we welcomed the Queen of Shoddy Robots, Simone Giertz to Pi Towers, where we chatted about making, charity, and space while wandering the colleges of Cambridge and hanging out with flat Tim Peake.
Ahhhh!!! I still can’t believe I got to hang out and make stuff at the @Raspberry_Pi towers!! Thank you thank you!!
Meeting such wonderful, exciting, and innovative YouTubers was a fantastic inspiration to work on my own projects and to try to do more to help others discover ways to connect with tech through their own interests.
Those ‘wow’ moments
Every Raspberry Pi project I see on a daily basis is awesome. The moment someone takes an idea and does something with it is, in my book, always worthy of awe and appreciation. Whether it be the aforementioned flashing LED, or sending Raspberry Pis to the International Space Station, if you have turned your idea into reality, I applaud you.
Some of my favourite projects over the last twelve months have not only made me say “Wow!”, they’ve also inspired me to want to do more with myself, my time, and my growing maker skill.
Great to meet @alexjrassic today and nerd out about @Raspberry_Pi and weather balloons and @Space_Station and all things #edtech ⛅🛰🤖
Projects such as Museum in a Box, a wonderful hands-on learning aid that brings the world to the hands of children across the globe, honestly made me tear up as I placed a miniaturised 3D-printed Virginia Woolf onto a wooden box and gasped as she started to speak to me.
Jill Ogle’s Let’s Robot project had me in awe as Twitch-controlled Pi robots tackled mazes, attempted to cut birthday cake, or swung to slap Jill in the face over webcam.
19 Likes, 1 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “Made a Gif Cam using a Raspberry Pi, Pi camera, button and a couple LEDs. . When you press the…”
The next twelve months
Despite Eben jokingly firing me near-weekly across Twitter, or Philip giving me the ‘Dad glare’ when I pull wires and buttons out of a box under my desk to start yet another project, I don’t plan on going anywhere. Over the next twelve months, I hope to continue discovering awesome Pi builds, expanding on my own skills, and curating some wonderful projects for you via the Raspberry Pi blog, the Raspberry Pi Weekly newsletter, my submissions to The MagPi Magazine, and the occasional video interview or two.
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for joining me on the ride!
April showers bring May startups! This month we have three hot startups for you to check out. Keep reading to find out what they’re up to, and how they’re using AWS to do it.
Today’s post features the following startups:
Lobster – an AI-powered platform connecting creative social media users to professionals.
Visii – helping consumers find the perfect product using visual search.
Tiqets – a curated marketplace for culture and entertainment.
Lobster (London, England)
Every day, social media users generate billions of authentic images and videos to rival typical stock photography. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, Lobster enables brands, agencies, and the press to license visual content directly from social media users so they can find that piece of content that perfectly fits their brand or story. Lobster does the work of sorting through major social networks (Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, Vk, YouTube, and Vimeo) and cloud storage providers (Dropbox, Google Photos, and Verizon) to find media, saving brands and agencies time and energy. Using filters like gender, color, age, and geolocation can help customers find the unique content they’re looking for, while Lobster’s AI and visual recognition finds images instantly. Lobster also runs photo challenges to help customers discover the perfect image to fit their needs.
Lobster is an excellent platform for creative people to get their work discovered while also protecting their content. Users are treated as copyright holders and earn 75% of the final price of every sale. The platform is easy to use: new users simply sign in with an existing social media or cloud account and can start showcasing their artistic talent right away. Lobster allows users to connect to any number of photo storage sources so they’re able to choose which items to share and which to keep private. Once users have selected their favorite photos and videos to share, they can sit back and watch as their work is picked to become the signature for a new campaign or featured on a cool website – and start earning money for their work.
Lobster is using a variety of AWS services to keep everything running smoothly. The company uses Amazon S3 to store photography that was previously ordered by customers. When a customer purchases content, the respective piece of content must be available at any given moment, independent from the original source. Lobster is also using Amazon EC2 for its application servers and Elastic Load Balancing to monitor the state of each server.
In today’s vast web, a growing number of products are being sold online and searching for something specific can be difficult. Visii was created to cater to businesses and help them extract value from an asset they already have – their images. Their SaaS platform allows clients to leverage an intelligent visual search on their websites and apps to help consumers find the perfect product for them. With Visii, consumers can choose an image and immediately discover more based on their tastes and preferences. Whether it’s clothing, artwork, or home decor, Visii will make recommendations to get consumers to search visually and subsequently help businesses increase their conversion rates.
There are multiple ways for businesses to integrate Visii on their website or app. Many of Visii’s clients choose to build against their API, but Visii also work closely with many clients to figure out the most effective way to do this for each unique case. This has led Visii to help build innovative user interfaces and figure out the best integration points to get consumers to search visually. Businesses can also integrate Visii on their website with a widget – they just need to provide a list of links to their products and Visii does the rest.
Visii runs their entire infrastructure on AWS. Their APIs and pipeline all sit in auto-scaling groups, with ELBs in front of them, sending things across into Amazon Simple Queue Service and Amazon Aurora. Recently, Visii moved from Amazon RDS to Aurora and noted that the process was incredibly quick and easy. Because they make heavy use of machine learning, it is crucial that their pipeline only runs when required and that they maximize the efficiency of their uptime.
Tiqets is making the ticket-buying experience faster and easier for travelers around the world. Founded in 2013, Tiqets is one of the leading curated marketplaces for admission tickets to museums, zoos, and attractions. Their mission is to help travelers get the most out of their trips by helping them find and experience a city’s culture and entertainment. Tiqets partners directly with vendors to adapt to a customer’s specific needs, and is now active in over 30 cities in the US, Europe, and the Middle East.
With Tiqets, travelers can book tickets either ahead of time or at their destination for a wide range of attractions. The Tiqets app provides real-time availability and delivers tickets straight to customer’s phones via email, direct download, or in the app. Customers save time skipping long lines (a perk of the app!), save trees (don’t need to physically print tickets), and most importantly, they can make the most out of their leisure time. For each attraction featured on Tiqets, there is a lot of helpful information including best modes of transportation, hours, commonly asked questions, and reviews from other customers.
The Tiqets platform consists of the consumer-facing website, the internal and external-facing APIs, and the partner self-service portals. For the app hosting and infrastructure, Tiqets uses AWS services such as Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, and Amazon ElastiCache. Through the infrastructure orchestration of their AWS configuration, they can easily set up separate development or test environments while staying close to the production environment as well.
Tiqets is hiring! Be sure to check out their jobs page if you are interested in joining the Tiqets team.
Fancy yourself as James Bond? In honour of English treasure Roger Moore, we think it’s high time we all became a little more MI5 and a little less MIDoneYet?
It’s been a while and M is worried you’re a little…rusty. Best head back to training: go see Q. He has everything you need to get back in shape, both physically and mentally, for the challenges ahead!
Q here, good to have you back.
First thing’s first: we need to work on your skills and get you ready for your next assignment. Let’s start with your reaction times. This skill is critical in getting you prepared for stealthy situations and averting detection.
Head into my office and grab a Raspberry Pi, LED, and a button to build your own Python Quick Reaction Game. Not only will it help you brush up on your quick thinking, it’ll also teach you how to wire a circuit, use variables, and gather information. This could be key in getting you out of some sticky situations further down the line if you find yourself without one of my gadgets.
Though speaking of…have you seen our See Like a Bat echolocation device? I’m rather proud of it, even if I do say so myself. Now, even in the darkest of times, you can find your way through any building or maze.
We’ll need you to gather some important information for us. But what can you do to make sure no one steals your secret intel? We need you to build a Secret Agent Chat Generator to encrypt information. Once you have completed it, send the information to M via this Morse Code Visual Radio.
Do do this, you’ll need a Morse Code Key. You can find them online or at your local war museum, though they may not care for your taking theirs. But we’re spies. And spies are experts in taking forbidden artefacts. After all, this is what your Laser Tripwire training was for. Oh, you haven’t completed it yet?
Well, get to it. Time’s a-wasting!
Locks and Detection
You’re done? Good. Back to the intel.
Until you can find a Morse Code Key, why not hide the information in this Sense HAT Puzzle Box. It’s a wonderful tool to help you learn how to create loops and use conditional statements and functions to create ‘locks’.
You’ll also need to…wait…did you hear that? Someone is listening in, I’m sure of it. Check the Parent Detector to see who is trying to spy on us.
Are they gone? Good. Phew, that was a close one. We can’t be so careless in the future. Let’s set up a Raspberry Pi Zero Time-Lapse Camera for constant surveillance of the training camp. You could also attach the camera to your glasses. No one will notice, and you’ll be able to record images of your missions – vital for debriefing.
James Bond seal of approval
Right. That’s all from me. Report back to M for your mission. And remember, this blog post will self-destruct in five…wait, wrong franchise.
This week, we trained our 1000th Raspberry Pi Certified Educator at a Picademy in Cardiff, south Wales. These teachers, librarians and other educators are now equipped to begin sharing the power of digital making with their learners, their local communities and their peers.
Our newest Raspberry Pi Certified Educators: now there are 1000 of them!
Picademy is a free CPD programme that gives educators the skills and knowledge to help learners get creative with computing. Classroom teachers, museum educators, librarians, educator coaches, and community educators can all apply. You don’t need any previous experience, just an enthusiasm for teaching computing and digital making.
Demand for Picademy places is always high, and there are many parts of the world where we don’t yet offer Picademy. In order to reach more people, we provide two free online training courses which are available anywhere in the world. They’re especially relevant to educators, but anyone can take part. Both started this week, but there’s still time to join. Both courses will run again in the future.
Wherever you are, you can also read Hello World, our new magazine about computing and digital making written by educators, for educators. It’s free online as a downloadable PDF, and it’s available to UK-based educators in print, free of charge. In its pages over the next issues, we know we’ll see some of our first 1000 Raspberry Pi Certified Educators inspire some of our second 1000.
We hope that you, too, will join this creative, supportive community!
This column is from The MagPi issue 54. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.
When you contemplate the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s educational mission, you might first think of young people learning how to code, how computers work, and how to make things with computers. You might also think of teachers leveraging our free resources and training in order to bring digital making to their students in the classroom. Getting young people excited about computing and digital making is an enormous part of what we’re all about.
Last year we trained over 540 Certified Educators in the UK and USA.
We all know that learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom – it also happens in the home, at libraries, code clubs, museums, Scout troop meetings, and after-school enrichment centres. At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we acknowledge that and try hard to get young people learning about computer science and digital making in all of these contexts. It’s the reason why many of our Raspberry Pi Certified Educators aren’t necessarily classroom teachers, but also educate in other environments.
Raspberry Pis are used as teaching aids in libraries, after-school clubs, and makerspaces across the globe
Even though inspiring and educating young people in and out of the classroom is a huge part of what we set out to do, our mission doesn’t limit us to only the young. Learning can happen at any age and, of course, we love to see kids and adults using Raspberry Pi computers and our learning resources. Although our priority is educating young people, we know that we have a strong community of adults who make, learn, and experiment with Raspberry Pi.
I consider myself among this community of lifelong learners. Ever since I first tried Raspberry Pi in 2012, I’ve learned so much with this affordable computer by making things with it. I may not have set out to learn more about programming and algorithms, but I learned them as a by-product of trying to create an interesting project that required them. This goes beyond computing, too. For instance, I needed to give myself a quick maths refresher when working on my Dynamic Bike Headlight project. I had to get the speed of my bike in miles per hour, knowing the radius of the wheel and the revolutions per minute from a sensor. I suspect that – like me – a lot of adults out there using Raspberry Pi for their home and work projects are learning a lot along the way.
Internet of Tutorials
Even if you’re following a tutorial to build a retro arcade machine, set up a home server, or create a magic mirror, then you’re learning. There are tons of great tutorials out there that don’t just tell you what to type in, but also explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it at each step along the way. Hopefully, it also leaves room for a maker to experiment and learn.
Many people also learn with Raspberry Pi when they use it as a platform for experimental computing. This experimentation can come from personal curiosity or from a professional need.
They may want to set up a sandbox to test out things such as networking, servers, cluster computing, or containers. Raspberry Pi makes a good platform for this because of its affordability and its universality. In other words, Raspberry Pis have become so common in the world that there’s usually someone out there who has at least attempted to figure out how to do what you want with it.
A Raspberry Pi is used in an interactive museum exhibit, and kept on display for visitors to better understand the inner workings of what they’re seeing.
To take it back to the young people, it’s critical to show them that we, as adults, aren’t always teachers. Sometimes we’re learning right beside them. Sometimes we’re even learning from them. Show them that learning doesn’t stop after they graduate. We must show young people that none of us stops learning.
“Honey, can you pass me a tube of Theremin? The theremin bit me and I think it might be infected.”
In order to help their visitors better understand the origin of the theremin, Australia’s MAAS Powerhouse Museum built an interactive exhibit, allowing visitors to get their hands on, or rather get their hands a few inches above, this unique instrument.
As advocates of learning by doing, the team didn’t simply want to let their museumgoers hear the theremin. They wanted them to see it too. So to accomplish this task, they chose a BitScope Blade Uno, along with a Raspberry Pi, BitScope, and LCD monitor.
The Raspberry Pi and BitScope are left on display so visitors may better understand how the exhibit works.
BitScope go into a deeper explanation of how the entire exhibit fits together on their website:
The Raspberry Pi, powered and mounted on the BitScope Blade Uno, provided the computing platform to drive the display (via HDMI), and it also ran the BitScope application.
The BitScope itself, also mounted on the Blade, was connected (via USB) to the Raspberry Pi and powered by the Blade.
The theremin output was connected via splitters (so they could also be connected to a sound amplifier) and BNC terminated coaxial cables to the analogue inputs via a BitScope probe adapter.
We’d love to see a video of the MAAS theremin in action so if you’re reading this, MAAS, please send us a video. Until then, have this:
Last friday I posted a little Lazyweb experiment, a hunt for information about a certain kind of lamp sold by a street dealer in Mexico City. A quick followup on the results:
Surprinsingly many people responded, mostly by email, and partly by blog comment. As it appears I am not the only one who’s looking for this specific type of lamp. Furthermore, a non-trivial set of Planet Gnome readers actually already owns one of these devices. Apparently counterfeit versions of this lamp are sold all around the world by street dealers and on markets.
The lamp seems to be a modified version of the “IQ Light”, a self assembly lighting system made up of interlocking quadrilaterals. It is a scandinavian design, by Holger Strøm, 1973. It is nowadays exclusively distributed by Bald & Bang, Denmark. The lighting system has a very interesting web site of its own, which even includes an HOWTO for assembling these lamps. The Bald & Bang web site has a very stylish video which also shows how to assemble an IQ lamp.
While my mexican specimen and the official design are very similar, they differ: the mexican design looks – in a way – “tighter” and … better (at least in my humble opinion). For comparison, please have a look on the photo I took from the mexican version which is shown above, and on the many photos returned by Google Images, or the one from the IQ Light homepage. It appears as if the basic geometrical form used by the mexican design is somehow more narrow than the official danish one.
So, where can one buy one of those lamps? Fake and real ones are sold on eBay, every now an then. The Museum Store of the New York MoMA sells the original version for super-cheap $160. If you search with Google you’ll find many more offers like this one, but all of them are not exactly cheap – for a bunch of thin plastic sheets. All these shops sell the danish version of the design, noone was able to point me to a shop where the modified, “mexican” version is sold.
Given the hefty price tag and the fact that the fake, mexican version looks better then the original one, I will now build my own lamps, based on the mexican design. For that I will disassamble my specimen (at least partially) and create a paper stencil of the basic plastic pattern. I hope to put this up for download as a .ps file some time next week, since many people asked for instructions for building these lamps. Presumably the original design is protected by copyright, hence I will not publish a step-by-step guide how to build your own fake version. But thankfully this is not even necessary, since the vendor already published a HOWTO and a video for this, online.
Thank you very much for your numerous responses!
The collective thoughts of the interwebz
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