Category Archives: education

Torbay Tech Jam Nov 2015

The next Torbay tech jam is on the 14th November at Paignton Library 1 – 3 pm

More details are on the website

Open to all ages / abilities.

I am hoping to be able to present a mini workshop on Interfacing the Raspberry Pi to an LED,  it is a start and hopefully the work shops can build up to more complex projects over time.  Also I want to do the same thing with Arduino.


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

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

Torbay Raspberry Pi jam – Feb 15

This months Pi jam was a real gem,   lots of things being demoed and some excellent progress being made with various projects.

Tom, brought along his Marco 2 robot,  which if you are following this blog or are a regular attendee of jams.  This has now been updated to allow control via a web interface.

More information on this is on the Feb 2015 Exeter Jam write up blog post.  So I will let people go there for more info.

Tom also brought along Freddie and after some basic set up this worked fine,  following a green ball with his eyes.


Video taken back in July

Doodle bot also made an appearence this is really good as it works without any user interaction and can draw (or try) to draw what it has been programmed to.


We also helped a lady get up and running with her new pi,


Here is the pi being installed from the NOOBS install tool


And a picture of the pi running the Raspbian OS after install.

I also demonstrated my Minecraft Pi coding with python.  I will post a video to youtube and put this on my website blog.


We also helped out a user who had an older install of GNU / Linux on his PC (Debian)  and wanted a newer GNU / Linux installed so flash player would function properly.

We were unble to help fully however he will be back at the next jam iwth his PC backed up so we can install Linuxmint 17.1

One of our younger members also worked on getting a cluster of computers up and running and thanks to a router / switch donated by Rick at Wifispark he got 2 laptops and my Pi up and running and proved that by sharing the load calculations can be performed quicker.   There is a dedicated page for this on the website.  Where results will be posted shortly.

We also had a Dan from the TDA drop in to see what was going on with the view on how they can help further and perhaps involve some of the local hi tech companies.

So a BIG thank you for everyone involved today and everyone who came along to support the event.  Hopefully next month will be more of the same and perhaps even bigger and better.

We also had Sarah from Inspiring Dreams, Achieving Change, who offered to help promote what we are doing.

The word on the Pi jams IS spreading.  which is a good thing.

See everyone on the 14th March 2015 at Paignton Library.  13:00 to 15:00


Exeter Raspberry Pi jam – 1/11/2014

Today was another excellent pi jam up in Exeter,  and well attended,  the word is getting out there.


Tom Brough demonstrated the parity bit trick and also had some coloured cones to demonstrate how a bubble sort works,  you can try this take about 8 cones of different sizes and put them randomly in a line now sort them one by one so the line goes from biggest to smallest.

I spent some time, with some help working on getting scratch to talk to the pi liter,  once done (not too difficult) we spent some time then creating a program that is the same as the chaser type program written in python.  This works really well,  further enhancements allows the user to interact, chance speed as well as stop / start the routine.

I also had a chat with another user who showed me his chromebook running lubuntu.  This was also connected to the Pi with vnc,  the performance was excellent.

Ivan was also showing various projects and we had minecraft running on another pi.  In the fab lab was the usual beginner work shop where you can learn to light up leds on a bread (project) board using the raspberry Pi GPIO

So in all excellent,   Looking forward to next week as it is the Torbay Pi jam from 1 – 3 at Paignton Library,   good news is that the 3 sd cards (well micro + adapters) arrived to day so these are all ready for next week,    I may look at preparing at least one with Noobs,  as this may save time next week.

Thank you to Simon and Exeter library for hosting another pi jam and everyone who attended.

Free & Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women

This came through on e-mail today

Free & Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women

The GNOME Foundation started the Free & Open Source Software Outreach Program
for Women, OPW, in 2006. It was quite successful, and in the January-April 2013
round, many other FOSS organizations joined the program. We are happy to
announce that Debian will participate in the next round
(December '14-March '15) and, pending sponsorship, we'll offer up to three

You can find more details about the program:
* with details about
Debian's participation.
* with details about the
program in general.

Call for mentors and projects

OPW allows applicants to work on any kind of project, including coding,
design, marketing, web development... If you have any idea for a
project and you want to mentor it, please contact us at
and we'll guide you through the process.

OPW provides a lot of useful information for mentors on the GNOME Wiki at Please
have a look, and don't hesitate to contact us if you have any question.

Call for participants

The main goal of this program is to increase the number of women in
FOSS, so all women who are not yet a Debian Developer or a Debian
Maintainer are encouraged to apply. There are no age restrictions and
applicants don't need to be a student.

If you want to apply, you must follow three steps:

1. Choose a project from the list of proposed projects on Those lists may change as
mentors add themselves over the next few weeks.

2. Make a small contribution to Debian. Projects will add a task the
applicant must complete as part of the pre-selection process. If no task
is provided, you are welcome to ask the mentors of the project. You can
also make a different extra task of the one listed to show your skills
and interest.

3. Create a page in the Debian wiki with your application. You can do so
under pseudonym, but in that case, please give us information about
yourself privately by email to the people below!

The Debian OPW coordinators <>
 Tom Marble
 Nicolas Dandrimont

Pi Jams – What we try and do

With monthly Raspberry Pi jams in Paignton,  what would you like to see at these jams.  Given they are now more about just raspberry

At present we :

Help on how to get started,  what you need to get started, what to buy etc

Show you some of the many add on boards etc available for the pi

Demonstrate projects based on the PI AND Arduino systems (which will hopefully inspire your projects)

Help with getting started with programming or provide advice  on the next step for example where to go after using scratch.

We have a few laptops (with Linux)

Help with hardware projects (either stand along or linked to Pi , Arduino and similar devices)

Networking with other users

We would like to encourage young people to network with other young people and advocate collaboration and peer supported learning

We sometimes invite people in,  for example in September we had the virtually safe team in who spent some time discussing the concerns of the young people at the jam
We also try and advocate other groups and initiatives that may be of interest to young people: for example Young rewired state, coder dojos, after school clubs. Promote events for adults for example hack4good events or hackathons on services such as geekli.stWe can also help with Linux user group related activities such as install and set up help for Linux. Advice on software or general discussion on related issues.Promote and advocate the use of free and open source software and the work of the Free software foundation Europe..Advocate and promote the new school Computer science curriculum. Enguage with parents, students and teachers in order to facilitate support if needed.Promote STEMnet and Stem activities. Free giveaways such as stickers if available,  copies of Linux cd’s again when / where available.

September Raspberry Pi jam

Torbay Raspberry Pi jam – Write up 13th September 2014

This month we had the usual mix of projects, help and advice.

First off :

Tom Brough brought along freddie and bob, to demonstrate, Freddie now has a user interface, written in python and I guess tkinter. This allows control over features, which colour the web cam detects OR you can control freddies arms with the interface. Again this proved popular and there could be some interest to run a build your own freddie activity at a future event.

Gordon was on hand to demonstrate some of his ever increasing array of add on boards for the Pi, this is now looking rather impressive esp with the pi-moroni kit to look at.

We also had the virtually safe people along in a tie in to advise people on internet safety, while we didn’t get anyone in specifically to see them, they did talk to the 3 young people and discussed issues that concerns them e.g swearing in chat rooms. The young people also showed them their projects, including a minecraft clone in scratch. We also installed minetest which is the free MC clone.

So a big thank you to the two PCSOs from the virtually safe team. I think you gained something from the chat with the young people which is a good thing. I will discuss getting you back in, in the mean time we have some flyers for the next Pi jam.

The Pi jam now have 3 laptops for people to use, the idea here being that these are extra computers to either run scratch, or perhaps use for remotely accessing a Raspberry Pi.

I helped a young lad and his dad with some advice on what is needed to get started with a Pi, where to buy from and what can be done with a pi, and then left them to have a go with scratch / Python.

A big thank you to everyone involved, and especially Dan S for bringing two laptops and a stack of Maplins flyers down. Thank you also goes to Rob Beard for PAT testing the PSU’s this means they are certified as safe for people to use.

The next Pi jam in Devon is 4th October at Exeter library 10 – 12

The next Pi jam in Torbay is 11th October, this is the same week as European code week, so the Jam is listed on the codeweek website.

Please tell friends, teachers, work colleages, children / young people lets get lots of people to the events in October.

The event is slowly building up, we took positives from today so we are working on a few items behind the scenes.

Next time expect more of the same, I am hoping to demonstrate ToriOS which is a minimal Linux based operating system based on Ubuntu 12.04 (

There is more to a Pi jam than simply Raspberry Pi. It is also about coding, education, help & advice and keeping safe while coding.