A Trip to the #RPIstore

What to do with the kids at half term? A pilgrimage to the new Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge of course! I’ve been feeling an irresistible magnetic draw since the shop opened, and we finally got to visit last week. 

What to do with the kids at half term? A pilgrimage to the new Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge of course! I’ve been feeling an irresistible magnetic draw since the shop opened, and we finally got to visit last week.

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First impressions were great, much bigger than I expected with Pis set up all around the store, showcasing the many different things you can achieve. Lots of hands-on stations for kids (and adults) too, making it easy for customers to get interactive.

I came to shop though – I only had a short window of dedicated pi-time before the wife & kids caught up with me, so I headed straight for the shelves. There was a pleasantly surprising array of products, with lots of HATs, kits and accessories, even maker staples like packs of jumper cables, far more than just the Pi-branded gear I had imagined. First to be scooped up was an official Pi Zero case – I have a fair few zeros but no cases and this thing looked so small and cute I had to have it. Next I grabbed a Pi-branded mug and tote bag, and finished off with some Sugru, which I haven’t seen in the wild since Maplin closed down.

It was fascinating to see the responses of other shoppers too – while I was ogling the cases a lady next to me pointed out the boxed Pi 3s interestedly to her husband, who responded “I think you’ll find that’s just the mouse in that box”. I resisted getting involved.

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After a while the family arrived and we tried out some of the Pi stations, then busied ourselves opening all of the MagPi magazines & specials we could find to pages showing my projects and left them out on the coffee table.

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As shops go it’s pretty impressive and inspiring, though we were naturally biased! Plenty of helpful staff around too. I did think it could do with being a little bit brighter in there, but obviously it’s early days. We’re all looking forward to a return visit next time we’re in Cambridge (or when the Norwich branch opens – cmon please?)

We’re in the MagPi Issue 78!

Very excited to have a project featured in the MagPi this month, it’s a vintage Hitachi television I converted last year. It displays digital TV from another Raspberry Pi running a TV HAT, and uses the original rotary tuning dial to change channels.

As you can see hard copies are available in shops as well as the pdf version online. It’s a great issue all round and I’ve already been inspired to grab some arcade joysticks and buttons to try out some of the tutorials.

The article covers my experiences using the TV Hat with a converted TV from the 1970s – the original TV build Instructable write-up is here and the more recent TV Hat version is here. The simple Python script used to change the channels is available on GitHub.

There’s also a YouTube video of the unboxing and setup of the TV Hat…

…and one that gives a bit more information about how the Hitachi Pi TV was converted.

I’ve always been fascinated by televisions, as evidenced by the photo they included of me unboxing my first TV, aged around 10. 

Google Pi Intercom in MagPi’s 75 Greatest Projects

We’re honoured to be mentioned in the MagPi’s 75 Greatest Raspberry Pi projects article this month, the Google Pi Intercom made number 10 in the “Top 50 Reader Voted” section.

It’s always a special occasion when we have a project in the MagPi, even more so in this case to be surrounded by so many other inspiring builds – there’s absolutely tons of inspiration to be had from this issue.

You can download the .pdf version for free but I’d recommend nipping to WH Smith or Sainsburys to get the super-tactile foil-cover hard copy!

We’re in HackSpace Issue 11!

Thrilled to be HackSpace magazine’s “Meet the Maker”  in issue 11, if you have a hard copy check out page 18-21, you can also download a free .pdf version.

I met the lovely people from HackSpace at Raspberry Fields and the article is mostly taken from the “lightning talk” I gave on the Sunday and our bit of chat around the stall.

It’s a great magazine for inspiration, I love that it covers all kinds of makes and makers, and I’ll almost certainly be having a crack at Sophy Wong’s LED Shoes (P102) with my daughter.

 

Our #RaspberryFields Experience

We had an absolute blast at Raspberry Fields last weekend, the whole family helped out with our show & tell stand and we came away truly inspired!

We weren’t sure what to expect but it was really welcoming and organised, especially the stamp trail which everyone enjoyed (while I was manning the stall, no Pi keyring 🙁 for me).  It’s the busiest Pi event I’ve attended so far, and speaking to so many people from all over the world it struck us that the Pi community is universally friendly and fantastically diverse.

 

Smile? It’s too hot to smile!

It was very warm in the Junction but even hotter outside to be fair, thankfully ice creams were readily available!  We took along the Alexaphone, Google Pi Intercom, Pi VCR, Kodak Pi, Info-TV and of course the freshly-named (and not yet documented) “Rabbit Ears of Doom” game, made from junk specially for the weekend. Despite the heat the projects worked well and didn’t catch fire as I’d feared, though the Intercom struggled with all the background noise and the Alexaphone was stricken with fatigue towards the end of Sunday. We didn’t use the siren much on the rabbit ears game as it startled people (as designed) and it was too dark to use the LCD Glasses, but we had a lot of fun with it.

So far so good.

I didn’t get much time to look around or attend many of the talks but saw a wild variety of amazing things, all with a Pi inside somewhere. The kids did it all though – I’d not expected them to last beyond lunchtime but they were sucked in and had a crack at absolutely everything, merrily gathering stickers as they went.

We all loved the super-artistic body painting, were fascinated by the potential of Museum in a Box and got to watch Cubert2.0 in glowing action all weekend as Lorraine Underwood had the stand next door to ours. And of course the lighthouse umbrella thing. It’s hard to shout-out all of our favourite displays & activities as it was all so good and people had obviously thrown a a lot of passion and time into preparing them.

The extended family

Among my personal highlights was showing numerous children which way up to hold a 70s trimphone and explaining what “hang up” meant, while waxing nostalgic and generally geeking out with the adults. I’m really pleased we stayed for the end-of-day shows too, Ada.Ada.Ada was genuinely inspiring and I was so glad my daughter got to see it. Brainiac Live was also brilliant and finished of the weekend perfectly (i.e. with an exploding microwave).

Sunday Setting Up

I did a quick lightning talk about upcycling old tech with the Pi on the Sunday, which went OK but I’m sure I went over my allocated time – I did get to see the other lightning talks though, enjoyed hearing all about the Mars-A project and the use of banks as cultural spaces in South Korea.

Bit far away from the microphone there. Photo by Paul Knighton.

We were all pretty worn out by the end of Sunday but it was an amazing & rewarding weekend, we’re still counting stickers and thinking about what to make with our swag and the booty I picked up from Pimoroni. Can’t wait for the next one, though I must remember to bring more business cards and stickers. General dump of photos below, I didn’t take many pics as the projects were all tethered to my phone’s wifi hotspot and I didn’t dare move it too far!

Kodak Pi in action. Photo by Izzy Bartley
Show us the shark!
A proper coding laptop
“You’re sure you want a hedgehog?”
Which way is the ice cream?
Quick get a picture while it’s all still working.

 

 

 

 

Prep for #RaspberryFields

It’s less than a month to Raspberry Fields and we’re trying to get organised early to save a last minute panic!

After picking up an old TV turntable at the car boot at the weekend the Pi VCR is ready for show-and-tell time, but will it still work 3 years on?

Cards and stickers have also arrived, the kids are very excited about dishing these out, not sure we’ll have enough so come and get one early if you want one!

Showing the Google Pi Intercom and ’75 Info-TV is challenging as they’re both wall-mounted, so I’ve slung together a display stand out of scrap wood, including an illuminated Old Tech New Spec sign (currently taking up lounge space).

We’re super-excited to be a small part of this event and hope to see you there.

We’re in the MagPi Issue 70!

A warm welcome from Old Tech. New Spec. to everyone following links from the May 2018 MagPi magazine!

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to this month’s upcycling feature, and hope you enjoyed reading it. If you don’t have your copy yet you can download a .pdf from the website or find it in all good newsagents.

If you want to know more about what I’m doing here have a look at the introduction page, and if you like what you see please join in on Twitter @OldTechNewSpec and subscribe to the YouTube channel for regular project videos.

We’re going to Raspberry Fields!

Exciting news! We’ve been accepted to have a Show & Tell stall at the Raspberry Fields event on 30 June / 1 July. More details to follow, but we’re hoping to bring along a selection of Old Tech. New Spec. projects, and hopefully “The Game” if it’s finished in time.

As they say on the official website:

Raspberry Fields is a brand-new event led by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with lots of help from our community of young people, educators, hobbyists, and tech enthusiasts. It will be a chance for people of all ages and skill levels to have a go at getting creative with tech, as well as a celebration of all that our digital makers have already learnt and achieved, whether through taking part in Code Clubs, CoderDojos, or Raspberry Jams, or through trying our resources at home.

It promises to be a great couple of days, come find us and say hello if you’re attending, there’ll be stickers!