Tag Archives: skycademy

New software to get you started with high-altitude ballooning

Post Syndicated from James Robinson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pytrack-skygate-hab-software/

Right now, we’re working on an online project pathway to support you with all your high-altitude balloon (HAB) flight activities, whether you run them with students or as a hobby. We’ll release the resources later in the year, but in the meantime we have some exciting new HAB software to share with you!

High altitude ballooning with Pi Zero

Skycademy and early HAB software

Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to conduct several high-altitude balloon (HAB) flights and to help educators who wanted to do HAB projects with learners. In the Foundation’s Skycademy programme, supported by UKHAS members, in particular Dave Akerman, we’ve trained more than 50 teachers to successfully launch near-space missions with their students.

high-altitude balloning Raspberry Pi
high-altitude balloning Raspberry Pi
Dave Akerman high-altitude balloning Raspberry Pi

Whenever I advise people who are planning a HAB mission, I tell them that the separate elements actually aren’t that complicated. The difficulty lies in juggling them all at the same time to successfully launch, track, and recover your balloon.

Over the years, some excellent tools and software packages have been developed to help with HAB launches. Dave Akerman’s Pi In The Sky (PITS) software gave beginners the chance to control their first payloads: you enter your own specs into a configuration file, and the software, written in C, handles the rest. Dave’s Long Range (LoRa) gateway software then tracks the payload, receiving balloon data and plotting the flight’s trajectory on a real-time map.

Dave Akerman high-altitude balloning Raspberry Pi

Dave at a Skycademy event

These tools, while useful, present two challenges to the novice HAB enthusiast:

  • Exposing and adapting the workings of the software is challenging for novice learners, given that it is written in C
  • The existing tracking software and tools are fragmented: one application received LoRa signals; another received radioteletype (RTTY) data; photos were received and had to be manually opened elsewhere; and so on

Introducing Pytrack and SkyGate

Making ballooning as accessible as possible is something we’ve been keen to do since we first got involved in 2015. So I’m delighted to reveal that over the past year, we’ve worked with Dave to produce two new applications to support HAB activities!

Pytrack

Pytrack is a Python implementation of Dave’s original PITS software, and it offers several advantages:

  • Learners can create their own tracker in a simpler programming language, rather than simply configuring the existing software
  • The core mechanics of the tracker are exposed for the learner to understand, but complex details are abstracted away
  • Learners can integrate the technology with standard Python libraries and existing projects
  • Pytrack is modular, allowing learners to experiment with underlying radio components

SkyGate

After our last Skycademy event, I started to look for a way to make tracking a payload in flight easier. For Skycademy, we made a hacky tracking box using a Pi, a 7” screen, and a very rough GUI app that I wrote in a hurry lovingly toiled over.

Skygate high-altitude balloning Raspberry Pi
Skygate high-altitude balloning Raspberry Pi

 

Since then, we have gone on to develop SkyGate, a complete tracking application which runs on a Pi and fits nicely on a 7” screen. It brings together all the tracking functionalities into one intuitive application:

  • Live tunable LoRa reception and decoding
  • Live tunable RTTY reception and decoding (with compatible USB SDR)
  • Image reception and previewing
  • GPS tracking to report your location (when using compatible GPS USB dongle)
  • Data, images, and GPS upload functionality to HabHub tracking site
  • An Overview tab presenting a high-level summary and bearing to payload
  • Full customisation via the Settings tab

You can get involved!

We would love HAB enthusiasts to test and experiment with both Pytrack and SkyGate, and to give us feedback. Your input will really help us to write the full guide that we’ll release later this year.

To get started, install both programmes using your command prompt/terminal.

For your payload, run:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install python3-pytrack

And your receiver, run:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install skygate

Follow this guide to start using Pytrack, and read this overview on SkyGate and what you’ll need for a tracking box. To give us your feedback, please raise issues on the respective GitHub repos: for Pytrack here, and for SkyGate here.

We’ve developed these software packages to make launching and tracking a HAB payload easier and more flexible, and we hope you’ll think we’ve succeeded.

Happy ballooning!

Disclaimer: each country has its own laws regarding HAB launches and radio transmissions in their airspace. Before you attempt to carry out your own HAB flight, you need to ensure you have permission and are complying with all local laws.

The post New software to get you started with high-altitude ballooning appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Community profile: Dave Akerman

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/community-profile-dave-akerman/

This column is from The MagPi issue 61. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition through your letterbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve our charitable goals.

The pinned tweet on Dave Akerman’s Twitter account shows a table displaying the various components needed for a high-altitude balloon (HAB) flight. Batteries, leads, a camera and Raspberry Pi, plus an unusually themed payload. The caption reads ‘The Queen, The Duke of York, and my TARDIS”, and sums up Dave’s maker career in a heartbeat.

David Akerman on Twitter

The Queen, The Duke of York, and my TARDIS 🙂 #UKHAS #RaspberryPi

Though writing software for industrial automation pays the bills, the majority of Dave’s time is spent in the world of high-altitude ballooning and the ever-growing community that encompasses it. And, while he makes some money sending business-themed balloons to near space for the likes of Aardman Animations, Confused.com, and the BBC, Dave is best known in the Raspberry Pi community for his use of the small computer in every payload, and his work as a tutor alongside the Foundation’s staff at Skycademy events.

Dave Akerman The MagPi Raspberry Pi Community Profile

Dave continues to help others while breaking records and having a good time exploring the atmosphere.

Dave has dedicated many hours and many, many more miles to assist with the Foundation’s Skycademy programme, helping to explore high-altitude ballooning with educators from across the UK. Using a Raspberry Pi and various other pieces of lightweight tech, Dave and Foundation staff member James Robinson explored the incorporation of high-altitude ballooning into education. Through Skycademy, educators were able to learn new skills and take them to the classroom, setting off their own balloons with their students, and recording the results on Raspberry Pis.

Dave Akerman The MagPi Raspberry Pi Community Profile

Dave’s most recent flight broke a new record. On 13 August 2017, his HAB payload was able to send back the highest images taken by any amateur flight.

But education isn’t the only reason for Dave’s involvement in the HAB community. As with anyone passionate about a specific hobby, Dave strives to break records. The most recent record-breaking flight took place on 13 August 2017, when Dave’s Raspberry Pi Zero HAB sent home the highest images taken by any amateur high-altitude balloon launch: at 43014 metres. No other HAB balloon has provided images from such an altitude, and the lightweight nature of the Pi Zero definitely helped, as Dave went on to mention on Twitter a few days later.

Dave Akerman The MagPi Raspberry Pi Community Profile

Dave is recognised as being the first person to incorporate a Raspberry Pi into a HAB payload, and continues to break records with the help of the little green board. More recently, he’s been able to lighten the load by using the Raspberry Pi Zero.

When the first Pi made its way to near space, Dave tore the computer apart in order to meet the weight restriction. The Pi in the Sky board was created to add the extra features needed for the flight. Since then, the HAT has experienced a few changes.

Dave Akerman The MagPi Raspberry Pi Community Profile

The Pi in the Sky board, created specifically for HAB flights.

Dave first fell in love with high-altitude ballooning after coming across the hobby in a video shared on a photographic forum. With a lifelong interest in space thanks to watching the Moon landings as a boy, plus a talent for electronics and photography, it seems a natural progression for him. Throw in his coding skills from learning to program on a Teletype and it’s no wonder he was ready and eager to take to the skies, so to speak, and capture the curvature of the Earth. What was so great about using the Raspberry Pi was the instant gratification he got from receiving images in real time as they were taken during the flight. While other devices could control a camera and store captured images for later retrieval, thanks to the Pi Dave was able to transmit the files back down to Earth and check the progress of his balloon while attempting to break records with a flight.

Dave Akerman The MagPi Raspberry Pi Community Profile Morph

One of the many commercial flights Dave has organised featured the classic children’s TV character Morph, a creation of the Aardman Animations studio known for Wallace and Gromit. Morph took to the sky twice in his mission to reach near space, and finally succeeded in 2016.

High-altitude ballooning isn’t the only part of Dave’s life that incorporates a Raspberry Pi. Having “lost count” of how many Pis he has running tasks, Dave has also created radio receivers for APRS (ham radio data), ADS-B (aircraft tracking), and OGN (gliders), along with a time-lapse camera in his garden, and he has a few more Pi for tinkering purposes.

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Raspberry Crusoe: how a Pi got lost at sea

Post Syndicated from James Robinson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/lost-high-altitude-balloon/

The tale of the little HAB that could and its three-month journey from Portslade Aldridge Community Academy in the UK to the coast of Denmark.

PACA Computing on Twitter

Where did it land ???? #skypaca #skycademy @pacauk #RaspberryPi

High-altitude ballooning

Some of you may be familiar with Raspberry Pi being used as the flight computer, or tracker, of high-altitude balloon (HAB) payloads. For those who aren’t, high-altitude ballooning is a relatively simple activity (at least in principle) where a tracker is attached to a large weather balloon which is then released into the atmosphere. While the HAB ascends, the tracker takes pictures and data readings the whole time. Eventually (around 30km up) the balloon bursts, leaving the payload free to descend and be recovered. For a better explanation, I’m handing over to the students of UTC Oxfordshire:

Pi in the Sky | UTC Oxfordshire

On Tuesday 2nd May, students launched a Raspberry Pi computer 35,000 metres into the stratosphere as part of an Employer-Led project at UTC Oxfordshire, set by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The project involved engineering, scientific and communication/publicity skills being developed to create the payload and code to interpret experiments set by the science team.

Skycademy

Over the past few years, we’ve seen schools and their students explore the possibilities that high-altitude ballooning offers, and back in 2015 and 2016 we ran Skycademy. The programme was simple enough: get a bunch of educators together in the same space, show them how to launch a balloon flight, and then send them back to their students to try and repeat what they’ve learned. Since the first Skycademy event, a number of participants have carried out launches, and we are extremely proud of each and every one of them.

The case of the vanishing PACA HAB

Not every launch has been a 100% success though. There are many things that can and do go wrong during HAB flights, and watching each launch from the comfort of our office can be a nerve-wracking experience. We had such an experience back in July 2017, during the launch performed by Skycademy graduate and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Dave Hartley and his students from Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA).

Dave and his team had been working on their payload for some time, and were awaiting suitable weather conditions. Early one Wednesday in July, everything aligned: they had a narrow window of good weather and so set their launch plan in motion. Soon they had assembled the payload in the school grounds and all was ready for the launch.

Dave Hartley on Twitter

Launch day! @pacauk #skycademy #skypaca #raspberrypi

Just before 11:00, they’d completed their final checks and released their payload into the atmosphere. Over the course of 64 minutes, the HAB steadily rose to an altitude of 25647m, where it captured some amazing pictures before the balloon burst and a rapid descent began.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi
Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi

Soon after the payload began to descend, the team noticed something worrying: their predicted descent path took the payload dangerously far south — it was threatening to land in the sea. As the payload continued to lose altitude, their calculated results kept shifting, alternately predicting a landing on the ground or out to sea. Eventually it became clear that the payload would narrowly overshoot the land, and it finally landed about 2 km out to sea.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

The path of the balloon

It’s not uncommon for a HAB payload to get lost. There are many ways this can happen, particularly in a narrow country with a prevailing easterly wind like the UK. Payloads can get lost at sea, land somewhere inaccessible, or simply run out of power before they are located and retrieved. So normally, this would be the end of the story for the PACA students — even if the team had had a speedboat to hand, their payload was surely lost for good.

A message from Denmark

However, this is not the end of our story! A couple of months later, I arrived at work and saw this tweet from a colleague:

Raspberry Pi on Twitter

Anyone lost a Raspberry Pi HAB? Someone found this one on a beach in south western Denmark yesterday #UKHAS https://t.co/7lBzFiemgr

Good Samaritan Henning Hansen had found a Raspberry Pi washed up on a remote beach in Denmark! While walking a stretch of coast to collect plastic debris for an environmental monitoring project, he came across something unusual near the shore at 55°04’53.0″N and 8°38’46.9″E.

This of course piqued my interest, and we began to investigate the image he had shared on Facebook.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

Inspecting the photo closely, we noticed a small asset label — the kind of label that, over a year earlier, we’d stuck to each and every bit of Skycademy field kit. We excitedly claimed the kit on behalf of Dave and his students, and contacted Henning to arrange the recovery of the payload. He told us it must have been carried ashore with the tide some time between 21 and 27 September, and probably on 21 September, since that day had the highest tide over the period. This meant the payload must have spent over two months at sea!

From the photo we could tell that the Raspberry Pi had suffered significant corrosion, having been exposed to salt water for so long, and so we felt pessimistic about the chances that there would be any recoverable data on it. However, Henning said that he’d been able to read some files from the FAT partition of the SD card, so all hope was not lost.

After a few weeks and a number of complications around dispatch and delivery (thank you, Henning, for your infinite patience!), Helen collected the HAB from a local Post Office.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

SUCCESS!

We set about trying to read the data from the SD card, and eventually became disheartened: despite several attempts, we were unable to read its contents.

In a last-ditch effort, we gave the SD card to Jonathan, one of our engineers, who initially laughed at the prospect of recovering any data from it. But ten minutes later, he returned with news of success!

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi
Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi
Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi
Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi

Since then, we’ve been able to reunite the payload with the PACA launch team, and the students sent us the perfect message to end this story:

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

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“Only a year? It’s felt like forever”: a twelve-month retrospective

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/12-months-raspberry-pi/

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.

Alex, Matt, and Courtney in a punt on the Cam

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.

… when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a new job with a dream company. #raspberrypi #positive #change #dosomething

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.

All the screens you need to hunt balloons. . We have our landing point and are now rushing to Therford to find the payload in a field. . #HAB #RasppberryPi

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.

RAF firing range sign

“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.

Spend the day launching/chasing a high-altitude balloon. Look how high it went!!! #HAB #ballooning #space #wellspacekinda #ish #photography #uk #highaltitude

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.

Letter of thanks to Raspberry Pi from a young fan

*heart melts*

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.

Queen of Robots @simonegiertz came to visit #PiTowers today. We hung out with cardboard @astro_timpeake and ate chelsea buns at @fitzbillies #Cambridge. . We also had a great talk about the educational projects of the #RaspberryPi team, #AstroPi and how not enough people realise we’re a #charity. . If you’d like to learn more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the work we do with #teachers and #education, check out our website – www.raspberrypi.org. . How was your day? Get up to anything fun?

597 Likes, 3 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “Queen of Robots @simonegiertz came to visit #PiTowers today. We hung out with cardboard…”

And last month, the wonderful Estefannie ‘Explains it All’ de La Garza came to hang out, make things, and discuss our educational projects.

Estefannie on Twitter

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.

Museum in a Box on Twitter

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.

Jillian Ogle on Twitter

@SryAbtYourCats @tekn0rebel @Beam Lol speaking of faces… https://t.co/1tqFlMNS31

Every day I discover new, wonderful builds that both make me wish I’d thought of them first, and leave me wondering how they manage to make them work in the first place.

Space

We have Raspberry Pis in space. SPACE. Actually space.

Raspberry Pi on Twitter

New post: Mission accomplished for the European @astro_pi challenge and @esa @Thom_astro is on his way home 🚀 https://t.co/ycTSDR1h1Q

Twelve months later, this still blows my mind.

And let’s not forget…

  • The chance to visit both the Houses of Parliment and St James’s Palace

Raspberry Pi team at the Houses of Parliament

  • Going to a Doctor Who pre-screening and meeting Peter Capaldi, thanks to Clare Sutcliffe

There’s no need to smile when you’re #DoctorWho.

13 Likes, 2 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “There’s no need to smile when you’re #DoctorWho.”

We’re here. Where are you? . . . . . #raspberrypi #vidconeu #vidcon #pizero #zerow #travel #explore #adventure #youtube

1,944 Likes, 30 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “We’re here. Where are you? . . . . . #raspberrypi #vidconeu #vidcon #pizero #zerow #travel #explore…”

  • Making a GIF Cam and other builds, and sharing them with you all via the blog

Made a Gif Cam using a Raspberry Pi, Pi camera, button and a couple LEDs. . When you press the button, it takes 8 images and stitches them into a gif file. The files then appear on my MacBook. . Check out our Twitter feed (Raspberry_Pi) for examples! . Next step is to fit it inside a better camera body. . #DigitalMaking #Photography #Making #Camera #Gif #MakersGonnaMake #LED #Creating #PhotosofInstagram #RaspberryPi

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!

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Live-streaming YouTube Drone

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/live-streaming-youtube-drone/

I’ll be tweeting, recording, and schmoozing my way through day one of Bett tomorrow. One thing I sadly won’t be able to do is live-stream to YouTube via drone.

Turn Your Raspberry Pi into the Open Source Drone Youtube Live Video Streamer

Raspberry Pi Video Streamer Pack Now on Kickstarter! http://kck.st/2ef6gnD for SD Card image and how to write image to SD Card: https://youtu.be/lRd4BhN4BHk for more info: www.sixfab.com

However, thanks to this handy guide from Mahmut on Hackaday, such dreams could possibly be realised for future Raspberry Pi events, such as Skycademy and the Big Birthday Weekend.

YouTube Drone

Mahmut uses an LTE shield to supply 4G access to the onboard Raspberry Pi and Camera Module. Then, using the image he supplies here, you’re good to go.

If you want to make your own Pi-powered drone, you’ll find Greg Nichols’s step-by-step guide for building one here. Greg uses a Pi Zero and the total cost comes in under $200.

A Raspberry Pi Zero drone

This video shows a Linux drone made with the PXFmini (http://erlerobotics.com/blog/pxfmini/) autopilot shield for the Raspberry Pi Zero. The drone runs a customized Debian file system with real-time capabilities and the APM flight stack.

The small, lightweight nature of the Raspberry Pi makes it perfect for drone building. If you’ve made your own, we’d love to see it in the comments below.

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Join our workshops and talks at Bett 2017

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/workshops-talks-bett-2017/

Next week brings another opportunity for educators to visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Bett 2017, the huge annual EdTech event in London. We’ll be at ExCeL London from 25-28 January, and we’ll be running more than 50 workshops and talks over the four days. Whether you’re a school teacher or a community educator, there’s something for you: visit our stand (G460) to discover ways to bring the power of digital making to your classroom and beyond.

BROWSE OUR TALK AND WORKSHOP TIMETABLE

Last year’s survivors photo

What’s on

A BIG announcement in the Bett Show Arena

Our CEO Philip Colligan will be launching an exciting new free initiative to support educators, live in the Bett Show Arena at 13:25 on Wednesday 25 January. Philip will be joined by a panel of educators who are leading the movement for classroom computing and digital making.

One of our younger community members, Yasmin Bey, delivering a workshop session

Raspberry Pi Stand (G460) – Free workshops, talks, demos, and panel discussions

Find us at our STEAM Village stand (G460) to take part in free physical computing and STEAM workshops, as well as talks led by Raspberry Pi Foundation staff, Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, and other expert community members. We have a huge range of workshops running for all levels of ability, which will give you the opportunity to get hands-on with digital making and gain experience of using the Raspberry Pi in a variety of different ways.

There is no booking system for our workshops. You just need to browse our Bett Show 2017 Workshop Timetable and then turn up before the session. If you miss a workshop and need help with something, don’t worry: the team will be hosting special drop-in sessions at the end of each day to answer all your questions.

Workshop participants will get the chance to grab some exclusive goodies, including a special Educator’s Edition of our MagPi magazineWe also have an awesome maker project for you to take away this year: your very own Raspberry Pi badge, featuring a glowing LED! We’ll supply all the materials: you just need to come and take part in some good old-fashioned digital making.

You can be the proud maker of this badge if you visit our stand

These fantastic free resources will help to get you started with digital making and Raspberry Pi, learn more about our goals as a charity, and give you the confidence to teach others about physical computing.

Our staff members will also be on hand to chat to you about any questions you have about our educational initiatives. Here’s a quick list to get the cogs turning:

  • Astro Pi: our initiative to enable schools across Europe to send code into space
  • Code Club: our programme for setting up extra-curricular computing clubs in schools and community spaces
  • Online training: our new web-based courses for educators on the FutureLearn platform
  • Picademy: our flagship face-to-face training for educators in the UK and USA
  • Pioneers: a new initiative that sets digital making challenges for teams of UK teenagers (twelve- to 15-year-olds)
  • Skycademy: our programme for starting a near-space programme in your school using high-altitude balloons

Talks will be held on the STEAM village stage (pictured) and on our stand throughout Bett

STEAM village sessions

In addition to running workshops and talks on our own stand, we are also holding some sessions on the STEAM village stand next to ours:

TimeDayPresenterTitleLocation
13:25 – 13:55WednesdayOlympia Brown, Senior Programme Manager, Raspberry Pi FoundationPioneers: engaging teenagers in digital making, project-based learning, and STEAMSTEAM Village Stage
12:30 – 13:00ThursdayCarrie Anne Philbin, Director of Education, Raspberry Pi FoundationA digital making curriculum: bridging the STEAM skills gap through creativity and project-based learningSTEAM Village Stage
16:10 – 16:40FridayPanel chaired by Dr Lucy Rogers, Author, Designer, Maker, and Robot Wars Judge!These ARE the droids we’re looking for: how the robotics revolution is inspiring a generation of STEAM makersSTEAM Village Stage
11:20 – 11:50SaturdayDave Honess, Astro Pi Programme Manager, Raspberry Pi FoundationCode in space: engaging students in computer scienceSTEAM Village Stage

 Raspberry Jam and Code Club @ Bett

For the second year running, we are taking over the Technology in HE Summit Space on Saturday 28 January to run two awesome events:

  1. A Raspberry Jam from 10:00 to 12:50. Led by the wonderful Raspberry Pi community, Raspberry Jams are a way to share ideas, collaborate, and learn about digital making and computer science. They take place all over the world, including at the Bett Show! Come along, share your project in our show-and-tell, take part in our workshops, and get help with a project from experts and community members. It’s fun for all the family! Register your interest here.
  2. A Code Club primer session from 13:00 to 15:00. Our regional coordinator for London and the East of England is holding a workshop with a team of young people to show you how to start a Code Club in your school. Come and take part in the live demos and get help with starting your own club.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to speak to so many different educators from across the world. It’s really important to us to spend time with all of you face-to-face: we want to hear about the great things you’re doing, answer your questions, and learn about the way you work and the challenges you face so we can improve the things we do. We really do value your feedback enormously, so please don’t hesitate for a moment to come over and ask questions, query something, or just say hi! And if you have questions you’d like to ask us ahead of Bett, just leave us a comment below.

See you next week!

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New online training courses: your questions answered

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-online-training-courses-your-questions-answered/

Train with Raspberry Pi anywhere in the world

We recently created two free online CPD training courses that are available to anyone, anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside our current live training offerings, Picademy and Skycademy, and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training.

Our courses begin on 20 February 2017, but you can sign up for both of them right now. To anticipate some of the questions you might have about them, we’ve put together this handy set of FAQs.

If you want to sign up, go to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s page on FutureLearn.

Who can I speak to about online training?

Send us an email at [email protected] and one of the teacher training team at Raspberry Pi will get back to you.

What can I expect from the two courses that start in February 2017?

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python: this four-week course will introduce you to physical computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a game with buttons and LEDs. If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using the Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

Teaching Programming in Primary Schools: this four-week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, and is designed for primary or K-5 teachers who are not subject specialists. Over four weeks, we’ll introduce you to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls, and develop strategies to fix them.

How long will the courses take?

Both courses are four weeks long. Each week has around two hours of content for learners to work through. It’s absolutely fine to take more time to reflect and learn at your own pace, though.

Do the courses cost anything?

No, the courses are completely free. If you want a printed certificate to prove that you have completed the course, this is available through FutureLearn for a small fee.

Do I need to be an educator to sign up?

Everyone is welcome to sign up for the courses, though they will be of particular relevance to educators.

Teaching Programming in Primary Schools is designed for non-subject-specialist primary or K-5 teachers. You don’t need any prior experience of programming to take part.

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python is designed for anyone interested in physical computing. It will be of particular use to non-subject-specialist teachers, computing teachers, and design and technology teachers who are interested in using the Raspberry Pi and Python in their classroom.

I don’t know anything about digital making. Can I still sign up?

Yes! You don’t need any prior experience of programming or physical computing to take part.

Do I need any specific kit to take part?

To take part in Teaching Programming in Primary Schools, you’ll need a computer and access to Scratch.

To take part in Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python, you’ll need:

  • a Raspberry Pi (any of the models from the B+ through to Pi 3 will be fine)
  • a micro SD card (8GB minimum) with our Raspbian operating system installed
  • a monitor and HDMI cable (or VGA adaptor)
  • a USB keyboard and mouse
  • a 400-point breadboard
  • three LEDs
  • a button
  • a buzzer
  • some 47Ω resistors
  • jumper cables

You can purchase the last six items on the above list as a bundle in the CamJam Edukit 1.

What if I have questions about using a Raspberry Pi?

You can find answers to questions about getting started with Raspberry Pi on our help page.

Where do I find resources to use the Raspberry Pi in the classroom?

We provide a wide selection of free resources for teaching, learning, and making on our Resources pages.

How do I apply for Picademy, the Foundation’s face-to-face training programme?

Picademy is a two-day course that allows educators to experience what they can achieve with a little help and lots of imagination. Through a series of workshops, we introduce a range of engaging ways to deliver computing in classrooms all over the world. Highlights include using physical computing to control electronic components like LEDs and buttons, coding music with Sonic Pi, and terraforming the world of Minecraft. On the second day, attendees have the opportunity to apply what they learned on the first day by developing their own project ideas, learning from each other and our experts.

You can find out more about our Picademy courses in this post.

A teacher attending Picademy laughs as she works through an activity

Raspberry Pi’s free training makes educators happy

We hope this has answered any questions you have, but remember you can always contact us at [email protected]. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now, and get ready to get learning!

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Announcing our new online training series

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/announcing-our-new-online-training-series/

At the end of this week, with our final Picademy of 2016 taking place in Texas, we will have trained over 540 educators in the US and the UK this year, something of which we’re immensely proud. Our free face-to-face training has proved hugely popular: on average, we receive three eligible applications for each available place! However, this model of delivery is not without its limitations: after seeing our Picademy attendees getting excited on Twitter, we often get questions like: “Why haven’t you run a Picademy near me yet? When are you coming to train us?”

Cartoon: an apparently clothes-less man sits at a desk with a keyboard, monitor and Raspberry Pi, on a tiny sandy island surrounded by blue sea. A stick figure wearing a Pi T-shirt waits under a palm tree beside him to be taught about computing using Raspberry Pi. A shark repeatedly circles their island.

We grew frustrated at having to tell people that we didn’t have plans to provide Picademy in their region in the foreseeable future, so we decided to find a way to reach educators around the world with a more accessible training format.

We’re delighted to announce a new way for people to learn about digital making from Raspberry Pi: two free online CPD training courses, available anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside our face-to-face training offerings (Picademy, Skycademy, and Code Club Teacher Training), and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training. This new free training supports our commitment to President Obama’s Computer Science For All initiative, and we’re particularly pleased to be able to announce it just as Computer Science Education Week is getting underway. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect:

Course 1: Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

In the foreground, a Raspberry Pi computer with a small "traffic lights" board attached; it has red, yellow and green LEDs, and the yellow one is lit. In the background, various electronics components, a mouse and a keyboard.

This four-week course will introduce you to physical computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your new-found knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a button and LED game.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

Course 2: Teaching Programming in Primary Schools

A boy and a girl aged around 9-11 years sit at a desk in a classroom, focussed on the activity they are doing using laptops. From the girl's screen we can see that she is programming in Scratch. A man sits beside the boy, helping him with his work.

This four-week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, and is designed for primary or K-5 teachers who are not subject specialists. Over four weeks, we’ll introduce you to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls, and develop strategies to fix them.

Registration opens today, with the courses themselves starting mid-February 2017. We hope they will inspire a new army of enthusiastic makers around the world!

Visit our online training page on FutureLearn.

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Skycademy 2016

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/skycademy-2016/

Over the next three days, we have 30 educators arriving at Pi Towers to learn how to build, launch, and track a High Altitude Balloon (HAB). For the uninitiated, Skycademy 2016 is our second CPD event which provides experience of launching balloons to educators, showing them how this can be used for an inspiring, project-based learning experience.

Skycademy_Header_v2

This is my first year preparing for Skycademy, and it has been a steep but worthwhile learning curve. Launching a HAB combines aspects of maths, physics, computing, design and technology, and geography, and the sheer scope of the project means that it’s rare for school-age children to get these types of experiences. It’s great news, then, that Raspberry Pi have the in-house skills, ambition, and commitment to run such things, and train others to run them too.

Skycademy runs over three days: on the first day, delegates form teams and take part in several workshops aimed at planning and building their flight. Day Two sees them launch, track, and recover their payload. Day Three has them regroup to reflect and plan for the year ahead. The support doesn’t end there: our Skycademy graduates go on to take part in a year-long project that will see them launch flights at their own schools and organisations, helped by their own students.

Tracking tomorrow’s launch

If you’re interested in watching the launch tomorrow, you can follow our progress by searching for #skycademy on Twitter. You can also use the links below to track the progress of different teams. Today, you will begin to see their payloads appearing on the map, and tomorrow you’ll be able to follow the chase.

 

TrackingImages
All teamsrpf.io/flightsrpf.io/flights/images
Altorpf.io/altorpf.io/alto/images
Cirrusrpf.io/cirrusrpf.io/cirrus/images
Cumulusrpf.io/cumulusrpf.io/cumulus/images
Nimbusrpf.io/nimbusrpf.io/nimbus/images
Stratusrpf.io/stratusrpf.io/stratus/images

 

Our current launch plan is to set the balloons free slightly to the west of Cambridge around 10am, but we’ll be posting updates to Twitter.

If you aren’t lucky enough to be taking part in Skycademy today, don’t worry: we’ll be making lots of resources available in the near future for anyone to access and run their own flights. Alternatively, you can also visit Dave Akerman’s website for lots of HAB information and guides to get you started.

Welcome to Dan Fisher’s ‘Fun with HABs’

I recently found out what lay in store for our latest crop of educators when I took part in a test launch two weeks ago…

We made our way to the launch site at Elsworth, Cambridgeshire, feeling nervous and excited. We arrived at 09.30, as experts Dave Akerman and Steve Randall were already starting to assemble their kit. The hope was that we might actually be able to break the world record for the highest amateur unmanned balloon flight. Dave and Steve are continually leapfrogging each other for this title.

IMG_0478

The payload Dave is making in the picture weighs about 250g and consists of a Raspberry Pi A+ connected to Pi-In-The-Sky (PITS) and LoRa boards. The lighter the payload, the higher the potential altitude. The boards broadcast packets of data back to earth, which can be decoded by our tracking equipment.

IMG_0554

Surprisingly, the payload’s chassis assembly is hardly high-tech: a polystyrene capsule gaffer-taped to some nylon cord and balsa wood, to which the balloon and parachute are attached. For this launch, Dave and Steve used hydrogen rather than helium, as it enables you to achieve higher altitudes. Having no previous experience working with pure hydrogen, I had visions of some kind of disaster happening.

Hindenberg

We weighed the payload to calculate how much hydrogen we would need to fill the balloon and ensure the correct ascent rate. Too much hydrogen means the balloon ascends too quickly and might burst early. Too little hydrogen results in a slow balloon which might not burst at all, and could float away and be lost.

IMG_8205

After Dave filled the balloon with hydrogen, we attached the real payload (lots more gaffer tape) and we were ready for a good ol’ launch ‘n’ track. However, as is often the case, it didn’t exactly go to plan…

Home, home on the range

Picture the scene: two Raspberry Pi staffers are driving off-road through a military firing range. Behind the wheel is Dave Akerman, grinning broadly.

“It’s so much more interesting when they don’t just land in a ditch,” he says, speeding the SUV over another pothole.

We’ve tracked our high altitude balloon for two hours to an area of land in Thetford Forest, Norfolk which is used for live ammo practice: not somewhere you’d want to go without permission. Access is looking unlikely until we get a call from the nearby army base’s ops team: we’re in. We make our way past the firing range and into the woods.

IMG_0564

After tracking as far as we can by car, we continue on foot until we spot the payload about ten metres up in a fir tree with very few branches. There’s no way of climbing up. Fortunately, Dave has come armed with the longest telescopic pole I’ve ever seen. It even has a hook on the business end for snagging the parachute’s cords. I act as a spotter as Dave manoeuvres the pole into position and tugs the payload free.

IMG_0568

Giddy with the unexpected success of our recovery, we head back to the SUV and make for the exit, only to find we’ve been locked in. Scenarios where we’ve unwittingly become contestants in the next Hunger Games cross my mind. Armed only with long plastic poles, I worry we might be early casualties.

IMG_0569

After feverish calls to the base again, they agree to come out and free us: a man in a MoD jacket dramatically smashes the lock with a hammer. We race back to Cambridge HQ, payload in hand and with a story to tell.

The Great Escape

Uploaded by David Akerman on 2016-07-26.

That’s it for now; look out for our post-Skycademy follow-up post soon!

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Apply for Skycademy 2016

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/apply-skycademy-2016/

Before humans took to the skies in metal tubes powered by jet engines, there was a gentler mode of transport that we used to conquer the skies: the humble balloon.

The Montgolfier brothers' first human-crewed balloon takes off at the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, on November 21, 1783

The Montgolfier brothers’ first human-crewed balloon takes off at the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, on November 21, 1783

After the success of last year’s launches, we are giving you another opportunity to blaze a trail across the sky and become a pioneer of aviation with the return of Skycademy, our High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) training programme.

Skycademy is a FREE, two-and-a-half day CPD event that provides experience of HABing to UK-based educators, demonstrating how it can be used as an engaging teaching tool. We’ll help you take ballooning to a whole new level (literally), where the hot air of Victorian era ballooning is replaced with space-age Helium to send your balloon soaring into the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 35 km. Fun fact: that’s around three times the cruising altitude of a Boeing 747!

IMG_20151009_090006446_HDR

Attached to the HAB is the payload consisting of a Pi-In-The-Sky GPS tracker board (developed by the wonderful Dave Akerman and Anthony Stirk), and a camera module, both controlled by a Raspberry Pi. You will use these elements to capture the balloon’s epic voyage and collect data to use back in your classroom.

Read more about last year’s adventures, mishaps, and balloons that were lost somewhere over the North Sea here.

vlcsnap-2015-09-03-08h25m55s123

See the earth from a whole new perspective.

At this point you might be thinking: “That sounds pretty cool, but I’m new to ballooning and nervous about launching into our airspace. Do we just get the kit and roll with it or do we get training?”

Enter Skycademy. Thirty lucky attendees will be guided through the steps to running a launch and, weather permitting, get hands-on experience of a real flight, so you’ll have all the experience you need before taking it back to the classroom. The event is free to attend and will be held from 8–10 August 2016. While the course is based in Cambridge, launch day will require you to travel to the launch site and then drive to recover your payload.

Training Itinerary

Day 1: Planning and workshop sessions on all aspects of HAB flights.

Day 2: Each team launches their payload, tracks, follows and recovers it.

Day 3: Teams gather together for plenary morning.

Skycademy team

A team prepares their HAB for launch.

Sharing the fun

Attendees are supported throughout the course by experienced HAB enthusiasts and the Raspberry Pi Education Team. However, the 2.5 days of training is only the start of a longer process where educators are expected to run launches at their own schools. Skycademy attendees will therefore receive the support and equipment needed to achieve this as part of a twelve-month programme.  The ultimate aim is to get young people excited and inspired by the project, and about all the STEM skills around it. A great example of this came from a successful launch by Queen Margaret’s School for Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival 2015:

WOW Near Space Programme – WOW 2016

As part of WOW 2016, a girls school will use weather balloons to send a small payload into near space, at altitudes of around 30km, where atmospheric temperature drops to -50C. The satellite carries a Raspberry Pi computer transmitting images of the WOW hash tag and the curvature of our planet.

Launch Day Butterflies

Seeing your HAB ascend majestically into the sky is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Skycademy graduate Sue Gray knows this feeling all too well after she launched at Elsworth, Cambridgeshire in May 2016:

“It was quite scary letting it go! Once it was let loose, there was no turning back.  If anything had been forgotten, it would stay that way! The balloon and payload sailed off into the bright blue sky and grew smaller and smaller as it flew away. A fantastic sight indeed.

Then it was time to pack up the launch box, wish the other teams good luck and set off on the chase.  A quick phone call to Mr Verma confirmed that he was receiving the telemetry from the payload and could see it moving across the map.

We got to Bourne a little ahead of the payload but…something was wrong.  It seemed to be hanging in the air just to the east of Peterborough and we hadn’t received any telemetry for over twenty minutes.  We stopped to take stock (and grab some food and drinks), Mr Verma confirmed that he too was not seeing any movement although he’d seen the balloon change to a parachute on the tracker – indicating a burst!”

After tracking the payload to a general area and searching the surrounding farmland, the team had to give up the search. As luck would have it, someone continued searching on their behalf and tracked it down!

Sue on Twitter

FANHAB is found!! Our payload stopped completely but it was joined wiv Steve’s & his sprung into action again & he tracked it! @LegoJames

These are just some of the ups and downs you can expect from a launch. Sounds like fun right? Ready to get involved?

People we are looking for:

  • UK-based educators who want to run their own High Altitude project with young people should apply.
  • Community members who want to help or support the educator launches, please comment below.

APPLY FOR SKYCADEMY

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