Featured post

About the DCGLUG

images images (1)


http://www.nikeairmaxfreedom.com nike air max 95


The Devon and Cornwall GNU/Linux User Group is for anyone who uses – or is interested in using – Free, Libre and Open Source Software.  The group is made up of a wide range of people from home users to professionals and between us we have a wide range of experience and knowledge. Please feel free to join our discussion mailing list where most of the discussions take place. or you can chat with us on IRC (chat).

Members in South Devon are involved in running the Torbay Raspberry Pi & Arduino jam.


Please click on logo to be taken to the Raspberry Pi jam page.

March Pi jam,

Saturday 14th of March saw the 3rd Pi jam of 2015.   We had a good turn out,  this video is of Ivan the line following robot,  taken before the jam fully got underway.   Project by Tom Brough.


Next Pi jam is 11th April,

Raspberry Pi jam 7th March

Today saw another really good Pi jam in Exeter.

Demonstrations included a Pi based home automation system,  which also included a webcam which takes a photo of whoever presses the doorbell and e-mails you a picture.


Led Traffic lights ( I think this is PIC based) – Tom Brough

SAM_0207 SAM_0206

Toms latest robot (crazy Ivan)  this moves around, and can turn randomly and move forward again.


Sadly marco mark 2 had a problem, so was here but just not working as planned.


Pi Ready for eager coders to use.


Lots of people with new Pi’s in need of set up. so I did quite a bit of support here,  also minecraft-pi was popular and people seemed to like my modification which drops tnt blocks over grass.

Robots will make another appearance at next weeks Torbay Pi Jam 14th March, Paignton Library from 13:00

“NewBot” Project

Its been another busy week at work and at home, but finally the “slow boat from china” has delivered a new robot platform for me to work with.

2 wheel drive robot kit assembled with battery box attached

2 wheel drive robot kit assembled with battery box attached

I’m hoping to use this robot platform as the basis for a “build a bot” event at one of the forthcoming Paignton Pi Jam’s, the idea is to create a “robotic solution” that is reasonably priced an has functionality (such as line following / maze running / object avoidance). The micro controller of choice will be an Atmega chip commonly found in Arduino Open Hardware reference boards, although the final layout and component configuration has yet to be worked out, and we may even add a pi into the mix at a later stage (just like marco 2).

The platform itself is relatively cheap coming in at £7.21 directly from China, which is the only catch as you have to wait approximately 7 working days (possibly longer) for it to arrive, and you are at mercy of the prevailing humour of the Tax and Customs officer. The current regulations seem to allow up to £36 for items marked “gifts” (which this doesn’t fall under) or £15 for other items (which I guess this does) before paying import taxes.

So the kit arrives as a “bag of bits” that need to be assembled:

Robot kit  in seal transparent packaging.

“Newbot” kit comes as a bag of bits…

The instructions are in Chinise (naturally) but luckily the diagrams are mostly servicable and the Youtube video on the website was even more informative in terms of assembly strategy.

I had mine pretty much assembled in 20 – 30 minutes, although I did have to reassemble one of the metal blocks attached to the motor because I had assembled it upside down.

I was a little disappointed that there was a hairline crack in the acrylic base plate. Whether this happened during manufacture or during transit we will never know, and the only other annoyance was that while there were holes in the base plate strategicly placed for adding line following / IR object detectors and encoder wheel sensors, none of the hole configurations lined up to a standard ardunino system board. Finally although wires are provided for the motors, you will need to attach these yourself, which realistically means a bit of soldering. As the “build a bot” session is intended to be a “plug and play” event for younger robotics engineers to enjoy I will need to factor in some time to pre-solder the wires to the motors.

"Newbot" base with caster wheel attached and showing motors with wires attached (soldered).

“Newbot” base with caster wheel attached and showing motors with wires attached (soldered).

Overall I am happy with the purchase as this provides a very reasonable platform at £7.21 for experimenting with robotics and computing. Hopefully when I have had some time to work out a final layout we will be able to put on a “build a bot” session at Paignton Library.

Finally some more pictures:

"Newbot" assembled with white nylon standoffs attached.

“Newbot” assembled with white nylon standoffs attached.

"Newbot" with fomex plate placed on top of standoffs.

“Newbot” with fomex plate placed on top of standoffs.

Please note that these pictures may not be representative of the final design and configuration.

A Kit A Month Soldering Subscription Service


A company called Pocketmoneytronics who made the Raspberry Pi GPIO Christmas Tree in late 2014, have got a new Kickstarter campaign running called A Kit A Month.

A Kit A Month is a subscription service where you will subscribe and receive some easy to solder kits, such as a robot that has light up LED eyes powered off a 9V PP3 battery.
That’s not all, included in the parcel you will also receive some other components to experiment with, such as a bag with some LEDs and resistors.

I think this is a great service, as this is great to help people learn to solder while learning about electronics at the same time. I could see this also being useful in educational establishments such as running an after school electronics/solder club.

You can check out the campaign here

Another reason to use FLOSS

It seems Lenovo the PC  / Laptop makers have been installing spyware on their PC’s without the users knowledge or consent


I think this is a good reason to either re-install your OS when you get a new computer.  Normally you get install / restore media or the option to make this,  however in this case if the spyware is pre-installed it could be on these restore cds.  so you will be no better off,  you can possibly get a removal tool, but these removal tools usually end up putting other malware on to your computer,  removing it is a PITA.


Install a free and open source OS such as Mint, Ubuntu or a pure free software and take back control of your computer.

Join a GNU / Linux user group so you can learn more.

This is also a good reason why you need to know more about what your computer is doing..

Cluster Progress

At the Raspberry Pi Jam on Saturday the 14th I was working on creating a cluster supercomputer with a piece of software, GNU Parallel. It was successful, and I did a test with the prime number generator Paul made. It seems to require me to copy all files involved to all computers involved. However, it appears around 40% faster when using two computers instead of just one.

It appears that GNU Parallel has trouble finding the amount of cores on each computer, which is likely the reason for Paul’s inital results, which showed not using parallel to be faster. For all computers it says ‘Could not find the amount of cpu’s on 192.168.1.x, using 1′. It is possible to specify to parallel how many cores computers have, so I will research this.

At Minecraft club on Wednesday, we attempted to link Parkfield’s netbooks together with their switch. We discovered something extremely odd; the Linux netbooks there, along with one of the laptops from Raspberry Pi jams, do not have OpenSSH Server (sshd) installed, even though it is meant to be installed by default on Linux. One of the netbooks wouldn’t let us install it either, but that didn’t really matter – it just meant we had to use parallel on that machine instead of another. We didn’t get time to run a test, but we should have time next Wednesday.

Although so far we have just used GNU Parallel with a python program, it can be extremely useful. For example if you have a password-protected archive with important files, but you forgot the password, you can decrypt the folder much quicker with more processing power.