Posts tagged ‘education’

Raspberry Pi: Python in Education – free e-book from O’Reilly

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Ben Nuttall. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

This week PyCon is going on in Montreal – it’s the big worldwide Python conference – and for the occasion, O’Reilly asked our friend Nicholas Tollervey to write a free short book on Python in Education.

python-in-education

Click to download the book for free

The book tells the story of Python, why Python is a good language for learning, how its community gives great support, and covers Raspberry Pi as a case study.

You’ve probably heard about the computing revolution in schools, and perhaps you’ve even heard of the Raspberry Pi. The Python programming language is at the center of these fundamental changes in computing education. Whether you’re a programmer, teacher, student, or parent, this report arms you with the facts and information you need to understand where Python sits within this context.

Author Nicholas Tollervey takes you through the features that make Python appropriate for education, and explains how an active Python community supports educational outreach. You’ll also learn how Raspberry Pi is inspiring a new generation of programmers – with Python’s help.

Nicholas visited Pi Towers in February to speak to Carrie Anne, Eben and me about why we think Python is suited to education. He asked Eben how the idea for the Raspberry Pi hardware came about and why there was a need for an affordable hackable device. He asked us about the Python libraries those in the community provided (particularly RPi.GPIO and picamera) that we consider part of our infrastructure for education and hobbyist users alike; and about the sorts of projects that engage, empower and inspire young learners – and of course the way they learn and progress. We discussed Minecraft Pi, hardware projects, Astro Pi, PyPy, teacher training and more.

Read more on teaching with Python from Nicholas and download the book for free from O’Reilly.

Raspberry Pi: Launching Picademy@Google Leeds

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Carrie Anne Philbin. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

We love introducing educators to the Raspberry Pi; that’s why the education team are always on the road, at conferences, shows and events, sharing the Pi’s learning potential. Last year, we started a teacher training programme, and invited educators from all over the world to our headquarters for some fun hands-on learning. We called it Picademy. It’s been hugely popular, and so far we’ve trained around 200 teachers through seven events in our own unique way. The feedback has blown us away. Of those who completed our feedback questionnaire:

  • 97.5% stated that they were now likely or very likely to use Raspberry Pi in their classroom, and 
  • 98.8% stated that they were likely or very likely to share the training received with other teachers.

So we have a problem. We want to train thousands of educators – no – hundreds of thousands of educators, and that’s not possible for our tiny education team, even though it’s made up of a cracking bunch of superstars. Picademy is always oversubscribed.

We have huge ambitions for education. Thanks to the generosity and support of Google, we think we are heading in the right direction. Today we are excited to announce our new Picademy@Google programme for educators, kicking off in Leeds, UK. This is another opportunity for primary, secondary and post-16 teachers to attend Raspberry Pi-flavoured computing and science training, but this time at a Google Digital Garage near where you live. The Digital Garages are a group of pop-up spaces – this first one located in Leeds Docks – which will help 200,000 British businesses learn crucial skills for the digital age, and use the power of the internet to reach more customers and grow faster.

Here is trustee Pete Lomas with Lauren Hyams (Code Club Pro) and Roger Davies (Computing at School) who will also be offering teacher training opportunities at the Digital Garage

Here is Raspberry Pi Foundation trustee Pete Lomas with representatives from Code Club Pro and Computing at School (who will also be offering teacher training opportunities at the Digital Garage) at the launch event in March.

The Picademy@Google courses will be run by hand-picked community members and educators, and will be a a mix of hands-on making, project-based learning and general hacking (think Picademy meets Raspberry Jam!) They will run alongside our definitive Picademy course and are, as always, completely free to attend for teachers.

We will be launching Picademy@Google in other UK cities as Google Digital Garages open over the next few months – to be informed about when one opens up near you, please sign up to our education newsletter.

The Leeds Digital Garage will be open between now and November, and we’ll be running a number of Picademy@Google courses there, so start spreading the news: sign-ups for teachers are open!

TorrentFreak: Aussies Set For 200,000 Piracy Notices Per Year Under New Code

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Just 24 hours ago Australia was abuzz with the news that U.S.-based Voltage Pictures will now be allowed to launch a so-called ‘speculative invoicing’ scheme Down Under.

The company will obtain the names of people behind ISP accounts linked to the unlawful sharing of their works online and pursue them for cash settlements. It’s a business model with a grubby reputation, one that mainstream rightsholders have largely steered away from in recent years.

Instead, the world’s largest entertainment companies are focusing their efforts on schemes designed to educate citizens, those in Australia included, in the hope that they will voluntarily change their online media consumption habits.

The local result is today’s publication of ‘Industry Code C653:2015, Copyright Notice Scheme’(pdf), the anti-piracy framework hammered out by telecoms companies and key entertainment industry companies including ARIA, Australia Screen Association, Foxtel, Music Rights Australia, News Corporation and Village Roadshow.

A draft was presented in February but today’s paper represents its final form following more than 370 public submissions.

While there have been some tweaks and clarifications, the majority of the core policies outlined in the earlier publication remain the same. ISPs providing fixed access services to 1,000 account holders or more will take part, which amounts to roughly 70 local service providers.

Vision

According to telecoms body the Communications Alliance, the scheme will have “a strong emphasis on public education” and does not contain “explicit sanctions against internet users”. While it does have ‘teeth’ (we’ll come to that shortly), informing subscribers comes first.

Notices

The three-step notice process remains, with account holders receiving ‘educational’, ‘warning’ and then ‘final’ notices each subsequent time their IP addresses are connected to infringing activity online. Only users of P2P systems such as BitTorrent are affected.

“Any Account Holder who receives three Notices within a 12 month period will have the option to seek a review conducted by an independent Adjudication Panel,” the paper reads.

Appeals against notices, consumer protection

One significant change is the elimination of a fee if a subscriber feels he or she has been wrongly issued with a notice. While subscribers can appeal against any notice, so-called ‘Challenge Notices’ can only be sent to the adjudication panel upon receipt of a ‘Final’ notice.

Rightsholders will pick up the tab on appeals for now but if any abuse of the appeal process is observed, fees could be reintroduced.

There will also be “stronger consumer representation” on the Copyright Information Panel, the body that will oversee the notice scheme and operate the website setup to educate the public.

The sting in the tail

There are no disconnections or suspensions for subscribers who don’t get the message after three warnings but the scheme does have a potentially tougher lesson up its sleeve.

By accommodating a ‘facilitated preliminary discovery’ process, ISPs will be expected to assist (not challenge) copyright holders who decide to take legal action against persistent infringers.

“Where an Account Holder has received three Notices within a 12 month period and a Rights Holder files an application for preliminary discovery in a prescribed court seeking access to the Account Holder’s details, ISPs will act reasonably in relation to the preliminary discovery application,” the paper reads.

“It remains a matter for the Court to decide whether preliminary discovery should be granted. An Account Holder’s details will not be provided by ISPs to Rights Holders in the absence of a court order.”

Notice volume and who will pay

Considering that the issue of costs has been derailing anti-piracy discussion between ISPs and rightsholders for many years, the speed at which this code has been agreed after government issued an ultimatum last year is somewhat surprising.

However, it appears that who will pay is not only still undecided, but could also remain a secret even when it is.

“There are still some commercial details, including elements of the scheme funding arrangements, to be finalized and the finished product must meet the approval of the ACMA,” says Communication Alliance CEO, John Stanton.

The current agreement allows for up to 200,000 notices to be processed and sent by all ISPs during each 12 months of the scheme’s operation. However, if rightsholders subsequently deem that number to be insufficient to achieve their objectives, further financial negotiations can take place with ISPs with a view to them sending more.

“Any funding arrangements must be designed to ensure that smaller ISPs are not unduly burdened by the requirements of the scheme,” the code adds.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will now consider whether to register the code. Once put into place, the effectiveness of the scheme will independently evaluated 18 months after launch.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Peter Sunde: The ‘Pirate Movement’ is Dead

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Peter Sunde. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-fire-burnWell, I for one don’t give a flying fuck. I don’t care if the “pirate movement” lives, exists or whatever. I only care about the causes. Too much focus is put on the form, liveliness and influence of groups, organizations and nostalgic icons.

What’s the point on spending energy and resources (not to talk about lost publicity) to discuss the meta-debate about the form of the causes? It’s just pointless.

You’ve all heard it. The “pirate movement” is dead, diminishing and what not. But ignore that. What are the causes that we talk about here? Freedom of information, freedom of speech, surveillance, state corruption, corporate overlords, control of our infrastructure, the right to access education and culture, plenty. Are these discussions dead? No. But are we moving anywhere with them? I’m afraid not.

As I’ve said numerous times over and over again, we lost those battles. Now some people are refusing to give them up, in true Monty Python spirit, claiming that their beloved “pirate movement” is not dead. Mixing apples and pears.

Give up the idea of pirates being cool. They’re not. My biggest regret in my part in all of this was to use the word pirate. Not even Johnny Depp can make pirates look cool – and he manages to make cocaine-dealers look awesome. Pirates are awful. And today’s pirates – the ones in Somalia – also lost their battles. Good! So let’s get rid of this stupid culture of having a stupid culture.

In the essence of what a pirate means today – I’m talking the political pirate – I’m all in. But I’m also so much more and I hope you guys are as well. I hope you care about the bigger picture. The “pirate movement” does not have space for that though. So why would you limit yourself to that? Why would you spend your energy and time on something that has no working big picture? It’s a subset of politics that the “movement” has been dealing with. And that’s fine, but not in the form of a party.

A party needs to be able to have that ideological big picture view. Who can say what the “pirate movement’s” view on immigration is? Or the war against drugs and so on? It would be different in each country. There’s no alignment here.

So fuck the “pirate movement”. Rename it, re-brand it, do whatever you want. Just fucking don’t be a pirate. Be something more awesome. Be a world citizen that cares about the same topics. Join other parties and make them understand the topics at hand. Infiltrate them. Cooperate and have people join all the parties in your nation, make sure they all agree. Be a fucking undercover ninja for all I care. Just don’t sing songs about pirate booty, looting and shit.

Anyhow, i’m pretty sure we lost the big fight. But I don’t mind you guys trying to fix it. I’m involved no matter if I want to be or not anymore – but I’m spending my time on new approaches. I’m doing art and I’m traveling to tell you all that you’re stupid. It’s fun to do that. And fun is what’s missing in your beloved “pirate movement”.

You’re stuck in 2005. 10 years of history on the ‘nets is an insane amount of time for being stuck. For most it’s half of your life. And you’re refusing to evolve. If that’s the message of a “pirate movement” I don’t get why anyone wants to be involved.

The “pirate movement” is dead – yeeey! Long live everything else. This is the only essence of what used to be a “movement” that should be there. Ignite, re-ignite, burn and ignite again. Pyromania is creative.

About The Author

Peter Sunde is the former spokesperson of The Pirate Bay. He’s currently working for the micro-payment service Flattr, the encrypted chat client Heml.is and several other technology startups.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Movie Licensing Group Demands $350K From Schools

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

cashIn many countries there are exceptions to copyright law that allow those in education to use copyrighted material to further their studies.

Those exceptions often have limits but copying for research, comment and reporting purposes are generally allowed while teachers are able to make multiple copies of content to hand out to their students.

Following the tabling of a new intellectual property law in Spain, last December the Department of Education sent out a circular reminding schools that the showing of audiovisual content outside strict “fair use” parameters is completely banned.

While airing short clips should be ok, the government had become concerned that schools stepping over the mark could be forced to obtain prior authorization to show content or might even find themselves being sued. That resulted in the decision-making body in the autonomous region of Galicia striking a private licensing deal with rightsholders from the movie industry.

According to Praza.gal the existence of the deal was revealed in a letter (pdf) sent to schools this week by the local CEO of the worldwide Motion Picture Licensing Corporation.

The letter revealed that MPLC was willing to license each student for the price of 1.25 euros per year. While that doesn’t sound much in isolation, there are 260,000 students in the region making a grand total of 325,000 euros ($350,000) to be sent to MPLC’s movie and TV show company members.

The CIG-Ensino union has reacted furiously to the news and is now calling for local authorities to prohibit the collection of any monies and ensure that audiovisual resources for use as teaching and learning aids remain free.

“[Schools and teachers] should not to pay any tax for doing their job and should be able to continue using all kinds of tools that are needed to do their jobs as effectively as possible,” the union said.

“It is incomprehensible to try to limit the task of educating exclusively to the use of the textbooks and reducing the use of resources such as film, music, documentaries in classrooms.”

MPLC has not yet commented on the news.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: First Pi in space

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: James Robinson. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Recently you may have seen some of the awesome things that Dave Akerman has been doing with Raspberry Pi and Balloons. For the eclipse he was able to capture this image from his high altitude payload.

Dave who’s been doing high altitude flights for some time has racked up some pretty impressive bragging rights including the first Raspberry Pi (B, A and A+) in near space.

As many of you will also be aware we will be sending a pair of Raspberry Pi B+ to the International Space station later this year as part of our Astro Pi competition.

We felt a little sorry for the Pi B 2, as it’s never even been close to space! Having recently joined the education team, and with a little experience in launching a near space flight with my school, I wanted to do something about this. So for the last few weeks I’ve been working on launching a Pi 2 with a helium balloon and a Pi In The Sky (PITS) board. Here you can see the PITS+ board stacked on my Pi 2 ready for launch.

IMAG0380

This morning around 6:00am we launched our payload and sent it soaring to near space! However something quite remarkable happened….

The first part of the flight went well, the payload ascended rapidly and sent back some early flight images.

However, we then we lost contact with the payload at around 10,000m…

About 15 minutes later we re-established contact and were shocked to find it was at 37,000m above ground level! This is a much faster rate of ascent than we’d expected, roughly 6x quicker!

In fact it didn’t stop there, and appears to be rising still, the last piece of telemetry data we received put the payload at around 113,000m (that’s technically outer space!)

scene00146

We don’t know how but the payload appears to have reached escape velocity and is continuing to ascend. We’ve received a couple of images from the flight and are hoping they keep coming!

Wow! This is the first Pi in Spaaaacceeee……

Raspberry Pi: The Young Innovators’ Club in Ulaanbaatar

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Helen Lynn. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

The Young Innovators’ Club is a new initiative to promote engineering and tech education for school-aged children in Mongolia. It’s currently piloting a Raspberry Pi-based after-school club in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, with support from the National Information Technology Park, where activities take place:

Blinky lights
Girl with Pi
Student breadboarding
Students collaborate

Scratch and Python are on the menu, and electronics features prominently, with students using Raspberry Pis to control LEDs, sensors, motors and cameras. Club Coordinator Tseren-Onolt Ishdorj says,

So far the result of the club is very exciting because parents and children are very much interested in the club’s activity and they are having so much fun to be part of the club – trying every kind of projects and spending their spare time happily.

The idea of introducing Raspberry Pi-based after-school clubs was originally put forward by Enkhbold Zandaakhuu, Chairman of the Mongolian Parliament and himself an engineer by training; a group of interested individuals picked up the idea and established the Club in late 2014, and it has since attracted the interest of peak-time Mongolian TV news and other local media. The Club plans to establish After-School Clubs for Inventors and Innovators (ASCII) across the country with the help of schools, parents and other organisations and individuals; this would involve about 600-700 schools, and include training for over 600 teachers. They’re hopeful of opening a couple of dozen of these this year.

We’re quite excited about this at Raspberry Pi. It was lovely to see our Raspberry Jams map recently showing upcoming events on every continent except for Antarctica (where there are Pis, even if not, as far as we know, any Jams), but nonetheless there’s a displeasing Pi gap across central Asia and Russia:

Jams everywhere

Raspberry Jams on every continent except Antarctica (yes, really: the one that seems to be on the south coast of Spain is actually in Morocco)

It’s fantastic to know, then, that school students are learning with Raspberry Pis in Ulaanbaatar. We’ll be keeping up with developments at the Young Innovators’ Club on their Facebook page, where you can find lots of great photos and videos of the students’ work – we hope you’ll take a look, too.

Breadboard robot
Pi and breadboard
Lego robot

TorrentFreak: Popular Torrent and Streaming Sites Blocked in Denmark

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

stop-blockedFor nearly a decade Denmark has been a testbed for pirate site blockades. The first blocks were ordered back in 2006 after music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the Russian MP3 sites AllofMP3 and MP3sparks.

Not much later Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay.

After some small additions during the years that followed, a Danish Court has now ordered another round of pirate site blocks, the largest one thus far.

Following a complaint from the local Rights Alliance (RettighedsAlliancen) group the blocklist was updated with 12 popular torrent, streaming and MP3 download sites.

The new domains are free-tv-video-online.me, watchseries.lt ,solarmovie.is, tubeplus.me, mp3vip.org, rarbg.com, extratorrent.cc, isohunt.to, eztv.ch, kickass.to, torrentz.eu and music-bazaar.com.

Due to a recent agreement the sites will be blocked by all ISPs, even those not mentioned in the lawsuit. Late last year Rights Alliance and the telecommunications industry signed a Code of Conduct which ensures that blockades are put in place country-wide.

Speaking with TF, Rights Alliance head Maria Fredenslund says that their primary goal is to limit piracy through education. For this reason, the blocking page includes links to legal stores and services.

“Right Alliance doesn’t merely take an enforcement approach. We want to understand user behavior offer people legal alternatives,” Fredenslund says.

“We are quite happy that there are so many people who are looking for online entertainment. Our goal is to steer them in the right direction, instead of simply blocking access,” she adds.

For the affected sites there will be a drop in Danish visitors. Interestingly, however, not all site owners are disappointed.

TF spoke with the operator of one of the torrent sites on condition of anonymity. He says that these blocking efforts are free advertising and that users can still access the blocked domains through proxies or anonymizing services.

“Blocking is the greatest thing that can happen to a site. It is free advertising for your site. People want the things they can’t have,” the operator says.

“Whoever is blocking the sites is actually doing us a favor by telling the users that they can’t open the site, thus making the users want to open the site even more.”

Rights Alliance sees things differently and points to the results of a test on the effectiveness of blocking efforts.

“There are clear signs that our approach works. A recent test revealed that if people were warned that they had attempted to visit an unauthorized site, 84% chose not to continue,” Fredenslund tells us.

danishnudge

The test in question was conducted at various Danish schools. Instead of completely blocking access the schools inserted a notification which allowed users to visit legal alternatives or continue to the illegal sites. The majority of the people who saw this notice decided not to visit the page.

Whether the result will also translate to people’s non-monitored home connections is not clear. In any case, the new blockades in Denmark are throwing up an extra hurdle.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: PiJuice: portable power for your Pi projects

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Helen Lynn. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Helen: some Kickstarter campaigns just jump out at you. When I took a look at PiJuice it was obvious it was the real deal – they’ve only gone and sorted out portable power for the Raspberry Pi, with bells on. Their Kickstarter runs until Tuesday, so you’ve got the weekend to jump on board. Here’s Aaron Shaw to tell you more.

I started playing with the Raspberry Pi since the very beginning and after being involved in The MagPi and various other activities I am now fortunate enough to call Raspberry Pi tinkering my “work”. The thing that got me hooked back in 2012 was the hardware and physical computing capability – writing code to do things in real life (probably because of my background in Automotive Engineering) and I still spend a considerable amount of my time just learning new things and playing around with everything the Raspberry Pi has to offer. It has been a fantastic opportunity and I want to share it with as many people as possible.

PiJuice

Around a year ago I met Harry Gee from PiBot and we started by just throwing around our ideas for how we could help to make the Raspberry Pi even better. One of the things that we had both found difficult was creating portable or remote projects – it was of course possible, but it was just a lot harder than it needed to be. This ultimately led us to the idea of making a neat, safe, portable power solution for the Raspberry Pi to allow people to do even more exciting things with their Pi, whilst saving a lot of time and effort in the process.

PiJuice module

We’ve called this the PiJuice and it’s the ultimate product for portable and remote Raspberry Pi projects. The idea with PiJuice was to remove a barrier to entry from portable Pi projects so that beginners and professionals alike could focus on building, making and learning rather than worrying about the complexities of lithium battery charging and other electronics issues, whilst reducing the costs in the process.

 

Maker Kits – Made for Makers

PiJuice is more than just an add-on board. We are passionate about education and are keen to turn PiJuice into a modular project platform – a way to allow people to build their awesome ideas much more quickly and easily.

To kick things off and provide some inspiration we have developed a number of exciting tutorials and projects including a Raspberry Pi games console, a compact camera, a Pocket Pi and more.

Make cool stuff

We are calling these Maker Kits and they are already available to purchase in kit form from our Kickstarter page and are being uploaded as free guides on Instructables.

These guides will soon be turned into high quality step-by-step guides that you can either use with our Maker Kits or to build and make your own.

Free Off-Grid Power To the Pi

Off-grid power

When creating Raspberry Pi projects outdoors we’ve also been interested in using solar power as it is free and renewable. We’ve worked hard to create an efficient and low cost solution that will open up new off-grid and sustainable applications for the Raspberry Pi.

The PiJuice Solar has additional circuitry which adds functionality to enable truly autonomous, self-monitoring operation of the Raspberry Pi – perfect for weather stations, remote camera systems for nature watching and more.

Additionally, we are actively investigating possibilities for affordable wind and thermoelectric power generation with PiJuice Solar for added flexibility.

What would you do with yours?

What would you do with yours?

We are really interested in what you want to do with your own PiJuice. We want to create the projects that appeal to you the most, so please suggest us your ideas in the comments, or on Twitter (@ThePiJuice) using the hashtag #ProjectPiJuice to get our attention. We will turn the best of these into free projects for everyone to enjoy!

We really hope to help as many people as possible create awesome portable Raspberry Pi projects as well as continuing to create beautiful guides for cool projects! We’re currently coming to the closing stages of our Kickstarter and would appreciate any support to help make PiJuice even better – http://pijuice.com.

– Aaron & The PiJuice Team

Raspberry Pi: Our 1000th blog post!

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Ben Nuttall. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

We recently noticed that we were soon to be approaching our 1000th post since our blog began in July 2011, and thought we ought to curate some stats and share some of our proudest moments from this incredible journey with you!

Eben set up the blog to let people know about developments of the Raspberry Pi and its use in education. This is what the website looked like back then:

first-post

We’ve come a long way since that first post: the blog has seen two (2013, 2014) major redesigns (as well as that joke one), and it’s brought you eight product launches (Model B, Model B rev2, Model A, Camera module, Pi NoIR camera, Compute module, Model B+, Model A+ and Pi 2 Model B); we’ve announced Picademy, free learning resources, our million pound education fund, we announced we’re sending Pis to the International Space Station, we’ve run several competitions and many more education initiatives as well as featuring countless amazing Raspberry Pi projects.

Some stats

In the 1000 posts to date, there have been:

  • 1691 images
  • 51,974 comments in total
  • 1702 tags
  • 5370 links

These 1000 posts have all come from just 15 authors (though some are guest articles posted by one of the team). Liz has written (by far) the most:

liz-is-pacman

Pi chart

The most common tag is education (57).

Dave tends to write the longest posts with a 9313-character average, and the longest post was Ben’s Mega USA Tour.

Our first post was on 24th July 2011. Here’s what we posted on 24th July in subsequent years:

Top 10 commented posts:

  1. Raspberry Pi 2 on sale now at $35 (837)
  2. And breathe… (706)
  3. We’ve started manufacture! (635)
  4. Model B now ships with 512MB of RAM (586)
  5. Ladies and gentlemen, set your alarms! (554)
  6. New product launch! Introducing Raspberry Pi Model B+ (552)
  7. Raspberry Pi Compute Module: new product! (509)
  8. Competition: name our bear! (492)
  9. The Raspberry Pi User Guide is here! Win a signed copy (543)
  10. Pricing updates (good news!) from Element 14/Premier Farnell and RS Components (449)

You can browse the entire history of the blog in our Archive page.

And this is what the homepage looks like today:

website-1000th-post

www.raspberrypi.org – 25 March 2014

I look forward to seeing what it looks like on the day of our 2000th post, expected Wednesday 23 January 2019.

Raspberry Pi: A Pi’s eye view of the solar eclipse

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Helen Lynn. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Last Friday morning I got up at an unfamiliar hour to board a train to Leicester, where BBC Stargazing were broadcasting a special live show to coincide with the partial solar eclipse over the UK. Regular readers will have seen Dave Akerman write here last week of his plans to launch two Model A+ Pis with Pi in the Sky telemetry boards on a weather balloon as part of the BBC’s event, with the aim of capturing stills and video of the eclipse from high above the clouds. As we’ll see, Dave was far from the only person using Raspberry Pis to observe the eclipse; to begin with, though, here’s a downward-facing view from one of his Pis of the launch, done with the help of a group of school students:

I caught up with Dave a bit later in the morning, by which point the payload had been recovered after a shortish flight.

Dave, John and Helen

Dave explains to my three-year-old son that the balloon payload has come down in fields by Leighton Buzzard

The chase vehicle tracked and recovered the payload
Onlookers were surprised

BBC Radio Leicester interviewed Dave, making for a really interesting five-minute introduction to what a balloon mission involves. BBC Television filmed several interviews, too, including this one, broadcast on BBC Stargazing live the same evening, featuring images of the eclipse captured by the Pis:

My favourite moment is when the balloon bursts, having reached a diameter of about eight metres. Despite the lack of air, as Dave points out, the pop is clearly audible:

If you watched right to the end of the BBC Stargazing interview, you’ll have heard Lucie Green mention another project, this one with the involvement of BBC Weather’s Peter Gibbs. The Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading is running a citizen science programme, the National Eclipse Weather Experiment (NEWEx), to collect data to study small weather changes expected to accompany an eclipse, such as a drop in temperature and changes to clouds and wind. They particularly encouraged schools to join in, and we sent one of our weather station prototypes to the National STEM Centre in York so that they could help a local primary school take part. They installed it on their roof:

Weather station prototype on National STEM Centre roof

Matt Holmes from the STEM Centre displayed data from the weather station alongside a webcam image of the eclipse:

If you’re in the UK and you’d like to watch the (very) brief interview with Peter Gibbs that followed the one with Dave Akerman, you can catch it on BBC iPlayer, starting at 29m40s.

Other people were using Raspberry Pis to take weather measurements during the eclipse too. Cookstown High School in Northern Ireland have set up another of our weather station prototypes; you can see live data from it at www.piview.org.uk/weather/, which you can drag to see older data and zoom for more detail. School staff are also tweeting more photos and information about the weather station as @STEAM4schools. Here are its temperature recordings during the eclipse:

PiView Weather Station - 20 March 2015, morning

As you can see, it’s difficult to separate out effects of the eclipse from other temperature variation, which is where NEWEx’s big-data approach will hopefully prove valuable.

One computing teacher planned his Friday morning class’s eclipse observations in our forums, with help from forum regular Dougie, whose own measurements are here, and others. They held an eclipse party before school, and they and others have shared their measurements in the forum.

School eclipse party

HOW COOL: REALLY COOL!!!

We’ve seen a number of timelapse films of the eclipse captured using Pis, too. Berlin Raspberry Jam organiser James Mitchell used a Raspberry Pi to make a timelapse of the 74% eclipse seen there:

It’s really great to see Raspberry Pis used in such a variety of ways to enhance people’s experiences of a rare and remarkable astronomical event, and particularly to see the involvement of so many schools. Did you use a Raspberry Pi for observations during Friday’s solar eclipse? Tell us in the comments!

Raspberry Pi: Raspi-LTSP is now PiNet: easily manage a Raspberry Pi classroom

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Helen Lynn. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Helen: Over the past year and a half, Raspi-LTSP has become very popular as a simple and easy-to-set-up way of managing Raspberry Pi users and files in a classroom setting. Today its 18-year-old developer Andrew Mulholland launches PiNet, the new incarnation of this very valuable, free, open source project. He’s written us a guest post to tell you more about it.

PiNet

For nearly two years now, I have been working on RaspberryPi-LTSP. The goal setting out was clear: a simple, free and easy-to-use system for schools that allowed them to manage their Raspberry Pis more easily.

So today I am proud to announce PiNet, the replacement for RaspberryPi-LTSP. The idea for PiNet/Raspi-LTSP was spawned out of a workshop I was teaching two years ago in a local primary school. The workshop ran over two days and I had forgotten to install a piece of software on all the SD cards before cloning them. I also had somehow to remember which student’s work was on which SD card so I could hand it out to them the next day. Logistically, managing it was a bit of a nightmare! And I only had one class of kids to worry about.

How can you manage students’ work when you have perhaps hundreds of different students using a set of Raspberry Pis in a week? Does each student get assigned her or his own SD card? And what happens when those SD cards need to be updated with the most recent software update?

After many (many) hours of work researching possible solutions, I came up with a proof-of-concept script. The script used LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) to build a virtual Raspbian operating system on a server, then let Raspberry Pis network boot off it. I released this on GitHub back in September 2013 not expecting much to come of it. Rather surprisingly, people slowly started playing around with it, I started getting emails with new ideas and I discovered there was an interest in the project.

PiNet classroom with lapdocks

A PiNet classroom, using Motorola lapdocks to provide display, keyboard and trackpad

200+ commits and 3000+ lines of code later, the feature list has grown after a huge amount of feedback from educators right across the world.

PiNet’s features include:

  • Network-based user accounts, so any student can sit down at any Raspberry Pi in the classroom and log in
  • Network-based operating system, so if you want to change the operating system (for example, by adding a new piece of software), you just edit the master copy on the server and reboot all the Raspberry Pis
  • Shared folders to allow teachers to share files with students
  • Automated backups of students’ work
  • Automated work collection/hand-in system
  • Super-easy to set up and maintain
  • Completely free and open source.

PiNet is a replacement for Raspi-LTSP, not an upgrade, so if you’re already running Raspi-LTSP, you’ll need a new installation to get PiNet running on your server (PiNet will automatically update your SD cards the first time you boot up your Raspberry Pis after installing it, so you don’t need to make any changes to those yourself). To make everything as easy as possible, a migration utility has been included in every Raspi-LTSP release since November to allow you to migrate user data and files to PiNet; read the migration guide for help doing this.

PiNet desktop

The Raspberry Pi desktop with PiNet is like the one you’re used to

Here are some of the things that other people have said about PiNet/Raspi-LTSP:

PiNet is already used across the world in over 30 different countries. To give it a go in your school, all you need is an old computer, a router and some networked Raspberry Pis! To get started, head over to the PiNet website at http://pinet.org.uk/ and hit Get Started!

Raspberry Pi: Piper: Learning electronics with Minecraft

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Matt Richardson. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

At Raspberry Pi, we’re interested in many of the different ways that computers and education converge. To hear more about a new approach, I’ve invited Mark Pavlyukovskyy to write about his project, Piper, which you can find on Kickstarter now. Here’s Mark:

I was a junior in college when I first heard about the Raspberry Pi. It seemed miraculous that you could have a full Linux board, that could run off of your phone charger, that cost only $35. While I imagined hundreds of different projects that I would want to make with the Pi, I realized that at such a low price point, the board would be perfect for giving kids in all over the world a way to hack and play with technology. It could democratize who had access to creating with technology.

picreate

My first project was to add peripherals like screens and keyboards to the Pi and send these cheap mini-computers to Africa and India for kids to learn about computer hardware and software. Today you can be a software developer from anywhere in the world, and I wanted to use the Pi to serve as an interactive instruction manual to let anyone get started with programming. Not only was it logistically difficult to ship dozens of black boxes with wires and electronics to different countries, but the biggest challenge was actually getting kids interested. For the majority of the students we worked with, the interface or the games we made didn’t interest them as much as putting together the pieces and seeing a working computer as a result of their efforts.

We went back to the drawing board to figure out a way to let kids not only build a computer, but to continue building and creating; to spark their curiosity and show them that they could build real things themselves. After doing dozens of workshops with schools back in the US, we found the hook that would get kids interested – Minecraft. Minecraft is a virtual building blocks game that allows kids (and adults) to create anything they want in virtual reality; even if that anything is virtual replicas of Hogwarts, the Starship from Star Wars, or the city of Beijing. And luckily for us, the Pi had a version of Minecraft that we could modify with Python. The other beauty of the Pi was the GPIO pins. These programmable input/output pins allowed us to create a modified Minecraft that kids could alter by adding their own hardware and electronics to the Pi. We could modify the game, so that once kids built the correct hardware and connected it to the pins on the Pi, the Minecraft would react in some way.

Fav 4_00000

We designed and created a storyline, where you were sending a robot to a different planet, and on the way over, his hardware was damaged, so you had to repair his hardware on the Raspberry Pi right in front of you in order to advance through the levels. In each level of the game you would have to physically build a power-up, such as a button, a switch, a row of LED lights, and these power-ups would give an advantage in the game. The switch for example opens hidden doors, while the row of LEDs serves as a proximity sensor for finding diamonds, so the closer you are to diamonds, the more lights light up.

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And as we started showing this to kids, we couldn’t get them to stop playing. It was really amazing how interested kids were in both the Minecraft and the hardware. For many, they had played regular Minecraft, and were fans, but modifying it by adding your own real gadgets was a novel concept, and excited them. Many kids had never built anything physical prior to Piper, and they got excited because it showed them that the in-game possibilities were endless.

We are currently creating a sandbox platform that will allow players to make their own levels and add custom hardware, and then share their creations with friends. Because as kids see the endless possibilities of what they can create in the game with Piper, we know that they will remember these lessons, and eventually see the whole world around them as full of possibilities which they can create and invent. We want Piper to inspire an entire generation to believe that they are superheroes not just in the virtual world, but in the real world too. Not to see technology as a black box that works on magic, but as something anyone can remix and create. And together with the incredible community of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts like you, we can bring this vision to life! Please join us in bringing Piper to inventors and creators all over the world!

Raspberry Pi: Picademy North at the National STEM Centre

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Carrie Anne Philbin. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Once again the Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Team is taking Picademy, the official Raspberry Pi professional development course for teachers, on the road. This time to the North, thanks to our friends at the National STEM Centre in York!

national-stem-centre-logo

The National STEM Centre houses the UK’s largest collection of STEM teaching and learning resources, and high-quality subject specific CPD, in order to provide teachers of STEM subjects with the ability to access a wide range of high-quality support materials.

We work with business, industry, charitable organisations, professional bodies and others with an interest in STEM education to facilitate closer collaboration and more effective support for schools and colleges, and promotion of STEM careers awareness.

Picademy North will take place on 26 and 27 May 2015 and we have space for 24 enthusiastic teachers from primary, secondary and post-16 who are open to getting hands-on with their learning and having some fun. It is our hope, by running this event in York, that we will reach those teaching in locations that are not already represented by Raspberry Pi Certified Educators.

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Can you help us put more markers on my Raspberry Pi Certified Educators map?

Picademy is free to attend and applications are open to all teachers from around the world as long as you can fund your own travel and accommodation. If you have applied before but been unsuccessful, please apply again. Our selection process is based on keeping a good mix of gender, location, type of school and so on. We often identify those who have applied more than once to give a place on the course.

If you are interested in taking part and becoming a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator then complete this Picademy application form.

Yesterday I shared this news with the thousands of educators signed up to our education newsletter and was overwhelmed by the positive responses – and I promise there isn’t a Yorkshire bias here, whatever anyone thinks!

[Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова] : Класация на университетите в света 2014 – 2015

This post was syndicated from: [Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова] and was written by: nellyo. Original post: at [Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова]

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015

Класация на университетите

2015 rank 2014 rank Institution
1 1 Harvard University (US)
2 4 University of Cambridge (UK)
3 5 University of Oxford (UK)
4 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
5 3 Stanford University (US)
6 6 University of California, Berkeley (US)
7 7 Princeton University (US)
8 8 Yale University (US)
9 9 California Institute of Technology (US)
10 12 Columbia University (US)

Класация на университетите по области

Top 100 за социални науки

А ако се интересувате от социалните науки в Европа – ето началото:

 

Rank Institution Location Overall score change criteria
3 University of Oxford United Kingdom
93.2
5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
92.0
9 Imperial College London United Kingdom
87.5
13 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
84.6
22 University College London (UCL) United Kingdom
78.7
29 Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Germany
71.9
34 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
70.9
34 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom
70.9
36 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
70.4
40 King’s College London United Kingdom
69.4
44 Karolinska Institute Sweden
66.8
52 University of Manchester United Kingdom
64.5
55 KU Leuven Belgium
63.7
61 École Polytechnique France
62.2
63 Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Italy
61.9
64 Leiden University Netherlands
61.3
67 Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Germany
61.0
70 Heidelberg University Germany
59.6
71 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
59.2
72 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
59.1
73 Wageningen University and Research Center Netherlands
59.0
74 University of Bristol United Kingdom
58.9
75 Universität Basel Switzerland
58.4
77 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
58.2
78 École Normale Supérieure France
58.1
79 Utrecht University Netherlands
58.0
80 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
57.9
81 Free University of Berlin Germany
57.6
83 Durham University United Kingdom
56.9
90 Ghent University Belgium
56.2
94 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
55.3
98 Stockholm University Sweden
54.6
98 Technical University of Munich Germany
54.6
98 Uppsala University Sweden
54.6
101
Maastricht University
Netherlands
54.3
103 University of Helsinki Finland
53.9
103 Université Pierre et Marie Curie France
53.9
103
University of Warwick
United Kingdom
53.9
103 University of Zürich Switzerland
53.9
107 Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
53.8
107 University of Geneva Switzerland
53.8
111 University of St Andrews United Kingdom
53.6
111 University of Sussex United Kingdom
53.6
113 University of York United Kingdom
53.4
113 Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen Germany
53.4
117
University of Groningen
Netherlands
53.1
118 Royal Holloway, University of London United Kingdom
53.0
119 Lund University

Raspberry Pi: BBC Make it Digital

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Clive Beale. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

BBC Make it Digital Logo

For Christmas 1982 my brothers and I got our first games console (an Intellivision as it happens. Yes reader, we were that family) and it was truly, mind-blowingly amazing. In fact, it was like magic. And that was the problem–it was like magic. No one had a clue how even their Grandstand Entertainment System (aka ‘Pong 8-ways’) worked and they certainly didn’t have the tools to make their own computer games even if they wanted. We were consumers of tech, not creators.

BBC Micro, the breakfast of champions

BBC Micro, the breakfast of champions

So the early 1980s was basically rubbish and we were all sad. VHS clocks across the nation flashed in sync because nobody knew how to set them. Then along came home computers and changed *everything*: the majestic BBC Micro; the mighty Spectrum (the best because I had one and I say so); the marvellous C64. And the Dragon 32. At last we could get to grips with how computers worked and use them to make stuff. Amazing things came from this revolution–including the Raspberry Pi– but that’s another story.

Fast forward at C-90 cassette speed to the present day. Life is full of space gadgets like smart phones, HD TVs and talking shoes. It’s like magic. And that’s the problem. Yet again, we are consumers of tech, not creators.

Raspberry Pi was made to help fix this problem and we constantly champion computing as a creative tool for young people. You can see this in many of our resources as well as initiatives such as our Creative Technologists mentoring program. In short–we think digital creativity is hugely important. Which is why we are delighted and proud to be one of the partners of BBC Make it Digital which launched today.

BBC Make it Digital Logo

Make it Digital is a UK-wide initiative that aims to inspire “a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology” and to “capture the spirit of the BBC Micro.” It will include free hardware for all year 7 students in the UK; training for thousands of young people; TV and radio programmes and online activities; national education events; and partnerships with organisations from all areas of digital creativity, technology and computing.

The Micro Bit

One part of Make it Digital is the small programmable device codenamed ‘Micro Bit’ that is currently in development and will be given to all schoolchildren in year 7 later this year.

BBC Make it Digital 'Micro Bit'

BBC Make it Digital ‘Micro Bit’

The aim is to get young people programming on a simple platform that then acts as a “springboard” to full computers such as the Raspberry Pi. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on the hardware to see what it can do.

GTA TV

Along with links to flagship programmes such as Dr Who there are a host of new programmes for TV and radio. We were especially intrigued by the announcement of “a drama based on Grand Theft Auto”. I’m hoping that they run it back to back with the documentary on Ada Lovelace so that I can celebrate digital creativity in a happy yet cognitively dissonant sort of way. The line-up looks great and it will be good to see digital creativity and computing represented in depth on TV and radio at last.

Education

The BBC will be providing a range of formal learning activities and resources and there will be a resource finder to allow students, teachers and parents to find and access this material and more.
We’re excited by BBC Make it Digital because it’s closely allied with our own educational and creative aims. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s CEO Lance Howarth explains, “Getting kids excited about computing and making is crucial; it’s central to the mission of Raspberry Pi. It’s great to see the BBC and other organisations coming together to tackle this challenge. BBC Make it Digital will add to the range of affordable and accessible tools for kids everywhere. We look forward to developing educational resources to support the initiative.”

Raspberry Pi: I spy… Carrie-Anne on BBC Technobabble

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Rachel Rayns. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

We were very excited to welcome children’s TV presenter Frankie Vu from CBBC’s Technobabble, a TV show for children dedicated to explaining how technology works in a fun way, to Pi Towers towards the end of 2014 to talk about how computers are often found inside lots of different appliances, toys, and products.

Screenshot 2015-03-09 12.54.47

In an episode dedicated to Computing, Carrie Anne demonstrates some of our fun projects such as the weather station project and hamster party cam, both of which you can make and build with your students thanks to our free resources.

If you missed it, and you’re in the UK, you can watch it here (the segment starts at about 4 minutes in).

 

Raspberry Pi: Big Birthday Bash – the aftermath

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Liz Upton. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

We are all very tender, aching and sleepy. It was a fantastic weekend.

1300 of you came to see us at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory over the weekend, where you listened to 24 lecture theatre talks, took part in 14 workshops, shared hundreds of incredible projects you’d made with your Pis, and ate 110 pizzas.

2015-02-28 13.21.11

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The workshops were amazing: thanks so much to everybody who helped run them. Here’s Imogen, age 10, who is a Scratch pro (we loved your maze game, Imogen!): this is the first time she’s ever done any robotics, and we thought her robot turned out just great.

Alan McCullagh came all the way from France, where he runs the Rhône Valley Raspberry Jams, to join the other volunteers teaching kids in the Beginners’ Workshop.

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(Private note for Alan: ROWER. I said ROWER.)

The projects on display were brilliant. Phil Atkin brought along PIANATRON, his Raspberry Pi synthesiser. Pete from Mythic Beasts (you can only see his hands), who is such a good pianist I’m always too embarrassed to play in front of him, was joined by Jonathan “Penguins” Pallant on the “drums”. (Jonathan gave me an update on the penguins project: the Pis all survived the Antarctic winter; however, the solar panels did not, so some more work’s being done on how to manage power.)

We loved watching kids see the music they were making.

magic keyboard

Some kids learned a bit of history.

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Others got to work on custom devices.

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Brian Corteil’s Easter Bunny (which he lent us last year for YRS) made an appearance, and laid several kilos of chocolate eggs.

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We found more kids in quiet corners, hacking away together.

kids

Workshops aren’t just for young learners: here’s Dave Hughes, the author of the PiCamera library, giving a PiCamera workshop to some grown-up users.

davepicamera

There were 24 talks: here’s our very own Carrie Anne explaining what we do in education.

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A certain Amy Mather made a Pi photobooth, the results of which, in this particular instance, I found horrifying.

lizphotobooth

Vendors set up stands to sell Pis and add-ons on both days. Here’s Pimoroni’s stand, as gorgeous as ever.

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All the cool kids played retro games.

gaming

Poly Core (Sam Aaron and Ben Smith) provided live-coded evening entertainment. (My Mum, who came along for the day, is still adamant that there must have been a tape recorder hidden in a box somewhere.) They were amazing – find more snippets on their Twitter feed.

Dan Aldred brought a newly refined version of PiGlove. The capitalisation of its name is of utmost importance.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 14.17.00

Ben Croston from the Fuzzy Duck Brewery (and author of RPi.GPIO) uses a Raspberry Pi controller in the brewing process, and made us a batch of very toothsome, special edition beer called Irration Ale (geddit?) for the Saturday evening event.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.52.17

There was cake.

cake

It was a bit like getting married again.

weddingphoto

There was more cake.

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After the beer (and raspberry lemonade for the kids) and cake, several hundred people played Pass the Parcel.

The foyer centrepiece was a talking throne which we borrowed from an exhibition at Kensington Palace (thank you to Henry Cooke and Tim from Elkworks for making it, and for your heroic work getting it to Cambridge!) We understand a door had to be removed from its frame at Kensington Palace to get it here.

throneempty

A selection of members of Team Pi were photographed on it. Please note the apposite labelling – the throne uses a Pi with RFID to read what’s on the slates out loud. (Ross has cheese on his mind because we interrupted his burger for this shot.)

gameofthrones

And we appear to have lost Eben. He was last seen heading towards Bedford in an outsized, Pi-powered Big Trak.

Enormous thanks to all the exhibitors and volunteers – and most especially to Mike Horne, Tim Richardson and Lisa Mather, who made this weekend what it was. We can’t thank the three of you enough.

There was so much more – we were so busy we didn’t get pictures of everything, and I didn’t manage to get to talk to anything like as many of you as I’d like to have done. (Does anybody have a picture of the gerbils?) I’ll add links to other people’s accounts of the weekend’s events as they come in.

Thank you to the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory for letting us take over the building for the weekend.

Thank you to our incredibly thoughtful and generous sponsors for the pass-the-parcel gifts, the contents of the goodie bags, and other giveaways:

  • 4tronix
  • @holdenweb
  • @ipmb
  • @whaleygeek
  • Adafruit
  • AirPi (Tom Hartley)
  • Bare Conductive
  • Brian Cortiel
  • CamJam
  • CPC
  • CSR
  • Cyntech
  • Dawn Robotics
  • Dexter Industries
  • Django
  • Eduboard
  • Energenie
  • Farnell
  • GitHub
  • IQaudIO
  • Low Voltage Labs
  • Manchester Girl Geeks
  • ModMyPi
  • MyPiFi
  • NewIT
  • No Starch Press
  • O’Reilly
  • PiBorg
  • Pimoroni
  • PiSupply
  • RasPi.TV
  • RealVNC
  • RS Components
  • RyanTeck
  • Sugru
  • The Pi Hut
  • UK Space Agency
  • Watterott
  • Wiley
  • Wireless Things

Tableware and Decorations were kindly sponsored by:

  • @WileyTech
  • @RealVNC

 Wood and Laser Cutting was generously sponsored by:

  • @fablabmcr (FabLab Manchester)

rainbow

Raspberry Pi: Announcement: Creative Technologists 2015-16

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Rachel Rayns. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Hey everyone!

After much preparation we are super happy to announce an exciting new project from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

 

Creative Technologists

The Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists is a mentoring programme for creative people interested in technology aged 16 – 21 years old. If your passion is the creative arts, and you’re wondering how you can use technology to enhance that, this is for you.

Ben and I are heading up the programme, and the first year will run from April 2015 to April 2016. We will provide individual and group mentoring via online video chats, industry networking and technical support. It’s free to participate. As well as costs of food, travel and accommodation, each participant will also receive a Raspberry Pi 2 starter kit and a £300 materials grant, and the group will receive a £1000 grant for exhibition costs.

Applications are now open and the deadline is 9am on 31st March 2015.

We are both certified Arts Award Gold Advisers – so participants will have the opportunity to complete Trinity College London’s Arts Award Gold accreditation; a Level 3 Award, a QCF credit value of 15, and 35 UCAS points.

We will also have some amazing partners helping us out with mentoring and site visits: Victoria and Albert Museum Digital Programmes, Writers’ Centre Norwich, FutureEverything, Pimoroni, Saladhouse and Hellicar&Lewis.

For full details on the programme, and how to apply, visit the new Creative Technologists page.

TorrentFreak: Aussie Telecoms Minister Receives Downloading Warning Notice

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

choice-downAfter years of complaints from mainly Hollywood-affiliated companies and anti-piracy groups, Australia is now having to deal with its online piracy issues.

Faced with deadlock the government ordered ISPs and entertainment companies to find a solution and against a backdrop of failed negotiations, last week telecoms body Communications Alliance published a draft proposal on behalf of its ISP members.

Titled ‘Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code‘, the document outlined a graduated response “three strikes”-style mechanism to deal with file-sharers. It was put together in concert with rightsholders, so it’s fair to assume Hollywood is somewhat satisfied with the framework.

The same cannot be said about Australia’s leading consumer group, however.

Choice, which has long warned against a file-sharing crackdown, says that current proposals raise the specter of a streamlined conveyor belt of consumers heading towards a notoriously litigious entertainment industry.

“Although an ‘education scheme’ to stop piracy sounds harmless, the proposed Code will actually funnel internet users into court actions where industry can seek unlimited amounts of money for alleged piracy, and provide a way for rights holders to gain access to your internet records and personal details so they can sue you or send you a letter demanding payment,” the group warns this morning.

Highlighting mechanisms already in place in the US, UK and New Zealand, Choice says that the proposals for Australia are the worst of the bunch. ‘Education’, ‘Warning’ and ‘Final’ notices could be followed by rightsholder access to subscriber details alongside threats of legal action and potentially limitless fines.

“The system proposed by the industry purports to be educational, but clearly has a focus on facilitating court actions. There is no limit on the amount of money that a rights holder can seek from the customer,” Choice explains.

Also under fire is consumer access to remedy should they have complaints about notices received in error, for example. While there is a system being proposed, access costs Internet subscribers $25, and even then the adjudication panel is far from impartial.

“If a consumer objects to any notice received, they can lodge a complaint with a largely industry-controlled body. There is no avenue for appeal if the consumer disagrees with the decision made,” Choice complains.

In order to raise awareness of these shortcomings, Choice says it has now implemented its own “three-strikes” program. And the first notice is about to go out.

“CHOICE is concerned that this scheme will funnel consumers into legal action, bypassing ordinary checks and balances. We’re sending an Education Notice to the Minister for Communications to let him know about the dangers of these ‘education’ measures for consumers,” the group says.

The notice to Malcolm Turnbull reads as follows:

EDUCATION NOTICE

You are receiving this Education Notice due to a complaint from the Australian public that it has detected the development of a damaging, industry-run internet policing scheme in your portfolio.

This scheme will allow big Hollywood corporations to obtain consumers’ contact details and internet records from Internet Service Providers, based on unproven accusations.

There is no limit to the amount of money that could be sought in court. In the US, a student was recently ordered to pay $675,000 for downloading and sharing 30 songs.

You may not be aware of this anti-consumer scheme. Perhaps somebody else in your household accessed your internet account and provided instructions to your Department without your knowledge.

If you believe this is the case, please forward this notice to the person who may be responsible. If the Government is serious about addressing piracy, it needs to address the real causes of the problem: the fact that Australians pay far too much for content that is often delayed or completely unavailable..

We know that you are a well-educated consumer, so we ask you to step in before it is too late.

This Education Notice is your first warning. If Australian consumers detect further infractions, we reserve the right to take further action.

The warning letter is being “authorized” by the Australian public who are being asked to sign a petition in support of Choice’s position.

After just a few hours online the petition is already close to reaching its initial target but whether it will make any difference remains to be seen. It’s taken so long for the ISPs and Hollywood to agree on any action against piracy, it will take something huge to derail it now.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: Welcome James to our Education Team

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Carrie Anne Philbin. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

If you visited us at the Bett Show in January, or came to Picademy in October or February half term, then you will recognise James Robinson as one of our education team volunteers. He is a well-established member of the Computing At School community, as both a CAS Master Teacher and CAS Hub Leader for Cambridge. He is also a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator and a frequent attendee of Cambridge Raspberry Jams.

james-r-start

I’ve known James for roughly a year now. He is a hugely successful and experienced teacher whose opinion I have sought on regular occasions. We also seem to keep bumping into him at Computing education events like the CAS Conference, and PyconUK as well as at community events like Piwars. It seemed like we were destined to work together!

James says:

I have always enjoyed tinkering with technology and understanding exactly what’s going on under the surface. To learn more, I studied Computer Science at university, and graduated with first class honours. This enhanced my passion for the subject, and I worked at IBM for a while. I initially trained as a maths teacher, but within a term I was leading an ICT department in a middle school, and offering training to non-specialists. Most recently I worked at Soham Village College as lead teacher for Computing. I am very excited about the introduction of Computing to KS3 and 4, and enjoy testing and developing projects with students. My current interests and projects include: using Raspberry Pi in the classroom, Minecraft Pi, Sonic Pi and High Altitude Ballooning. Looking forward to working on the weather station and getting more schools involved with Pi in the sky!

As part of the Foundation’s Education Team, James will be writing educational resources for the website (especially schemes of work for teachers of KS4), as well as continuing to assist with Picademies and other outreach. James has the best case I’ve ever seen for all his Raspberry Pi bits and bobs, and as soon as I saw it I knew he would fit in around here.

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Raspberry Pi: Five million sold!

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Liz Upton. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Yesterday we received some figures which confirmed something we’ve suspected for a few weeks now: we’ve sold over five million Raspberry Pis.

The Pi has gone from absolutely nothing just under three years ago, to becoming the fastest-selling British computer. (We still have Sir Alan Sugar to beat on total sales numbers – if you include the PCW word processor in the figures, Amstrad sold 8 million computers between 1984 and 1997.)

We roll this picture out every time we have a sales update: this is the first batch of Raspberry Pis we ever had made, around this time three years ago. There are 2000 original Raspberry Pis in this pallet. That’s 0.04% of all the Raspberry Pis that are currently out there. (Every individual Pi in this pallet now has 2500 siblings.)

There were so few Pis in this first production run that Eben and I were able to stick them in our car and drive them to RS and Farnell’s headquarters.

Three years ago today, I was sitting at my kitchen table stuffing stickers into envelopes (we were selling them for a pound a throw to raise the money we needed to kick off the original round of manufacture). Today, I’m sitting in an office with nineteen other people, and if I’m quite honest, we’re not quite sure how we got so far so fast. It definitely feels good, though.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity. That means that we personally don’t make a profit from the Pi – all profits go straight back into our educational mission and into R&D. Your five million purchases mean that we’re able to train teachers for free; provide free educational resources; undertake educational outreach; fund open-source projects like XBMC (now Kodi), PyPy, Libav, Pixman, Wayland/Weston, Squeak, Scratch, Webkit and KiCad; and – for me, most importantly – we fund this sort of thing (and much more; you’ll hear more about projects we’ve sponsored with our education fund over the coming year, as they get written up by their owners).

Thank you. The Raspberry Pi community is a wonderful thing, and we’d be absolutely nowhere without you all.

Raspberry Pi: Astro Pi: Mission Update 1

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: David Honess. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Astro_Pi_Logo_WEB-300px

I’m sure a few of you are wondering why we’re not screaming about this from the rooftops, right? Okay: stand back, here we go.

To quote the Portal space core: “SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!!!

Back in March 2014 Eben sent a casual email around the office asking if anyone wanted to join him at a meeting between the Surrey Space Centre, Airbus Defence and Space and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL). So, being a space geek, I tagged along and we found ourselves talking about the possibility of using a Raspberry Pi in space flight for a variety of applications.

There was excitement over the possibility of flying several compute modules on a cube-sat for a space software lab experiment, and Stuart Eves, who is the lead mission concepts engineer at Airbus Defence and Space, was especially enthusiastic about using Raspberry Pi as a mechanism for educational outreach by UK Space (a trade association of companies that contribute to the UK space industry).

UK_Space_Agency

A month or so later, another meeting was on the cards, and this time the UK Space Agency (UKSA, an executive agency of the British Government) was going to be there.

That’s when I met Libby Jackson and Jeremy Curtis. Libby and Jeremy were behind the Great British Space Dinner competition you may remember from last year, and, between them have years of experience in human space flight. Doing something with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s six month ISS mission was on the table, but we were not sure how it was going to look.

It was clear to everyone that the existing popularity of Raspberry Pi, the connection with computer science education, and the forthcoming changes to the UK curriculum would cast a wide net over the UK; and together could generate a lot of participation in a potential coding competition. We realised that a situation where UK schools could own the same computer hardware that was in space had never, as far as we knew, existed before.

Doug Liddle, head of science at SSTL, told me that the possibility to achieve this was more exciting than anything else the UK Space trade association had been considering for Tim Peake’s flight. So over the course of several further meetings we put together an outreach plan that would provide a range of computer science challenges to cover the diverse needs of the space industry. At the core of these would be a Raspberry Pi with a range of peripherals and sensors which would act as the platform for the pupils to send their software into space.

Libby and Jeremy took the plan to the European Space Agency (ESA) for approval, and it was well received. To very briefly summarise: the programme would be split into two halves, with some activities that Tim would do up on the ISS during his mission and a competition run on the ground before blast-off.

At this point we still hadn’t decided a name for it and I think it might amuse you to see the names that we were considering:

  • Pi in the Sky
  • Astronaut Pi
  • Astro Pi
  • Cosmic Pi
  • Fly Pi
  • Space Pi
  • Chris HATfield
  • Astronaut HAT
  • Orbital Pi
  • Peake Pi
  • Raspberry Peake

As the year went on, we were well into discussions about what the hardware would be like. It was agreed that it would be a B+ HAT that could be mass produced and made widely available to schools and the general public. The same HAT would then be flown, along with Tim’s Raspberry Pi, to the ISS, thus creating the situation where all school pupils have exactly the same computer hardware as the astronauts are working with in space. They would be able to write code against their own Pi, and that could then be sent to the ISS and run on Tim’s Pi!

If you win the Astro Pi competition this is exactly what will happen to your code.

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We didn’t want the Astro Pi HAT to have any single purpose, but rather to be a toolkit that could be employed in many different ways. Initially the list of sensors we wanted to have on it was enormous, and this had to be trimmed down due to the physical space constraints of the HAT standard. The sensors that made the cut were chosen for their ability to provide learning opportunities in the context of space flight. The solar arrays on the ISS, for instance, each have about 12 gyroscopes to control their orientation so that they can track the sun. Accelerometers are used to measure forces exerted by thrusters on all space craft, and magnetometers work like a compass so you can know which way you’re facing in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field.

We also knew that we wouldn’t be able to plug the Astro Pi into anything like a monitor or keyboard, and that it would have to run headless. Having some kind of visual output, despite this constraint, would be important: so this is why we included the 8×8 matrix of LEDs. Use it wisely!

ESA_LOGO

So all that was the easy part. Meanwhile we began the process of getting the hardware approved for space flight with ESA. Space conditions are challenging, and because of this there is an abundance of testing that must be done for any object going up to the ISS. What you need to possess, to be allowed up there, is a flight safety certificate. The process to obtain this for Astro Pi is still ongoing as I write this blog entry.

There two kinds of payloads (space cargo consignments): they’re called “educational” payloads and “real” payloads. Educational payloads are usually inanimate objects, like balls which are sent up to collide together in zero gravity to demonstrate the conservation of momentum effect or similar. Real payloads are things like the complex machines that are designed to perform a job on the station, or robotic arms that can be controlled by an astronaut. The thing that differentiates the two is the simple question: does it plug in and turn on?

So we found ourselves in the unique situation of being an educational payload that has to consume power from the ISS mains. This meant that our path through the safety approval process was not going to be trivial. Fortunately we have some of the best people in the UK Space industry on our side, who are actively working towards making this happen. ESA have also hooked us up with engineers and safety experts, who are helping guide us through their processes too. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to work with these folks.

Here is a list of some of the tests we have to do:

  • Flammability assessment
  • Off-gassing assessment
  • Electromagnetic interference / susceptibility assessment (the CE and FCC ones don’t count in space)
  • Electrical interface testing (to prove we can consume power from the ISS safely)
  • Vacuum exposure assessment
  • Sharp edges hazard assessment (so we don’t accidentally poke holes in any astronauts)
  • Launch conditions vibration test (to make sure the Astro Pi still works afterwards)

We plan to shout about each of these on social media in the coming months, as they happen, so stay tuned! Once we have the flight safety certificate we can be scheduled for a launch. This was originally planned to be an ATV or Space X Dragon capsule, however it now looks more like we’re going up on the Soyuz rocket with Tim Peake himself. I can’t believe I just typed that.

Tim Peake Mission X

I had opportunity to meet Tim at the Farnborough Air Show last year too. He was there doing the closing ceremony of Mission X with the UK Space Agency, but was able to spare an hour of his time to attend one of the UK Space progress meetings. We gave him a general Raspberry Pi demonstration and talked a bit about the competition and what he would be required to do. He was really enthusiastic and said he wanted to make it as interactive as possible, even suggesting the possibility of a live debugging session with the competition winners.

Imagine randomly getting a phone call from the ISS: “Hello this is Tim Peake on the International Space Station, I’ve just found an error on line 21 of your code. Does it work properly on yours?”

I don’t know if that will happen, but it might!

Aside from the flight safety procedures, a lot of mission specific documentation needs to be produced too. You may not know this, but a lot of the European crew operations on orbit are controlled from a little house in Lucerne, Switzerland. Libby Jackson and I paid them a visit in December last year to give them an orientation on the hardware. They’re a division of Lucerne University called BIOTESC, and they write all of the step-by-step procedures that the crew follows during day to day operations. Understandably they all have very good personal and professional relationships with the crew members.

BIOTESC Lucerne Switzerland

They’re a lovely bunch of people who are going to become super-competent in the use and maintenance of a Raspberry Pi. They’ll be required to advise Tim should anything not work as intended up there. We had one of the Astro Pi prototype units with us and went through a few mock procedures that Tim would be expected to do. Libby took the opportunity to dust off her coding skills and spent about an hour programming a nice countdown sequence on the LED matrix which she blogged about here.

Back in the UK, the Astro Pi media drive was beginning to roll into action. Many people from UK Space trade association were working behind the scenes to get the website ready, setting up interviews and organising press conferences. The announcement was scheduled for 10 December at the CGI offices in Kings Cross, London. Press were invited and we had a number of school students from Weydon School in Surrey join for a Raspberry Pi workshop during the conference. The full report from that day can be found online here. The BBC were involved too and technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones caught up with Tim and interviewed him about Astro Pi.

Meanwhile, our artist and animator, Sam Alder, who had already designed the Astro Pi logo, was busily working on story-boarding and producing a cartoon about the competition. We were fortunate to be allowed to record Tim Peake’s voice for it. Sam and his colleague from Saladhouse Studios, Scott Lockhart, met up with Tim to do the recording at a hotel in London. He told me that they sat down, started looking through their notes, and looked up at Tim in his ESA polo shirt and whispered: “I can’t believe this! What the hell are we doing here?”

The final cut of the cartoon was kept under wraps with the intention to show it during the competition launch at BETT 2015 for the first time.

We had planned to do a live link interview with Tim, who would be in the United States, during the BETT arena presentation. Sadly this fell through because he was travelling on that Friday. So instead we organised a Skype call the night before, and I was the lucky one who got to interview him!

It was recorded on my computer at home. This was my own “What the hell are we doing here?” moment; I was a bit like a starstruck rabbit caught in the headlights for the whole interview.

So the next day Lance Howarth from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Jeremy Curtis from the UK Space Agency and Doug Liddle from Surrey Satellite Technology gave an exciting presentation to a crowded BETT arena. Here is the Skype interview:

The cartoon animation was then shown to round off the presentation. This is by far my favourite of all the animations Saladhouse have done for us.

So that just about brings us up to date. ESA have told us that Astro Pi is the most advanced educational payload that they’ve seen, and that they’re watching what happens here with interest. If we have a high degree of participation in the competition then ESA may decide to repeat the whole process for the rest of Europe with another astronaut. So please do your bit and tell everyone you know! We want every school in the UK to participate!

We’re working hard to get the Astro Pi HAT manufactured in volume and we’re hoping for them to be available by the middle of March. But don’t forget that you can win them too! Secondary school sign up is now live so head over to astro-pi.org and read more about the competition rules.

Primary Schools enter here.

Secondary Schools enter here.

Thanks for reading this far; I know this is a long post. One final thought I’d like to leave you all with is regarding an awesome tradition of the Russian space program that is still observed on all Soyuz launches to this day. The Russian commander is responsible for choosing a talisman that hangs inside the capsule. It’s a visual indicator of when the spacecraft has reached weightlessness and dates right back to Yuri Gagarin (the first person in space).

The talisman is usually some kind of stuffed toy, and if you watch the most recent launch video below, where Italian ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti went up, you’ll see they used Olaf from Frozen! Watch for the main engine cut off at 09:15 for when he shoots forwards and becomes weightless.

Can anyone think of a stuffed toy that might be appropriate for Tim’s launch?

TorrentFreak: ISP’s “Three Strikes” Scheme is Weird and Broken

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-cardMore than five years ago the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) ended its legal action against local ISP Eircom when the ISP agreed to implement a new anti-piracy policy.

The agreement sees Sony, Universal and Warner tracking Eircom subscribers online and the ISP forwarding infringement notices to customers uploading music without permission. Eircom promises to disconnect subscribers who are caught sharing three times.

The entire point of this scheme and others like it is to inform Internet users that a “graduated response” is in operation. Whenever a notice is received users should be in no doubt they’re edging closer to being punished and ultimately cut off.

For its part the music industry is clear. ‘Strikes’ regimes which don’t promise to disconnect or otherwise punish users are much less effective than those that have these measures. After all, who wants to be cut off by their ISP?

But if that’s indeed the case, why then is Eircom keeping the prospect of disconnections out of its communications with alleged pirates?

TorrentFreak has obtained one of the latest letters being sent out to Eircom subscribers. Received by a customer already on a warning, it begins normally enough.

“Eircom has a long association with Irish music and we believe that artists deserve to be paid for the work they create. Most music files are protected by copyright and while it may be acceptable for them to be stored on a computer for personal use, it is unlawful to share those files without the copyright owner’s permission,” the letter reads.

The warning goes on to note that sharing copyrighted music is a breach of Eircom’s terms and conditions and as such it’s the subscriber’s responsibility to ensure the connection is not used to breach copyright. Standard stuff so far.

At this point one might expect Eircom to be getting into the details of its “three strikes” scheme implemented on IRMA’s behalf, informing the subscriber how after the third time sharing copyrighted material he or she will have their broadband connection terminated. Instead, however, the ISP makes no mention of it.

“Please accept this letter as an advisory notice, and should no further activity as described above occur then no further action will be taken. The details of this notification will be retained for 12 months from the dates of this letter and will be deleted thereafter unless we receive an additional notification in that period,” the notice adds.

And that’s pretty much it. No mention of a graduated response, no mention that subscribers will disconnected from the Internet. It’s a very strange approach considering the substantial sums of money spent by IRMA and Eircom to reach their “three strikes” agreement.

So why the kid gloves?

Since disconnecting customers is not exactly helpful to profitability, Eircom’s agreement with IRMA requires that the ISP isn’t put at a commercial disadvantage. To that end, IRMA has been locked in a five-year legal battle to force rival ISP UPC to also implement “three strikes”.

Pending the outcome of that case, Eircom is currently the only ISP in Ireland promising to disconnect pirates. Playing that fact down in its letters to customers would certainly make commercial sense and stop those looking to jump ship.

However, the other elephant in the room is that last year Eircom admitted it hadn’t disconnected anyone in four years of the “strikes” scheme. Add that to “weak” letters being sent out to customers and some might presume that disconnections are already off the table, at least unofficially.

Still, there’s always the educational aspect to “graduated response” campaigns – you’ve been caught once so why not go straight now?

As required by the IRMA deal, Eircom informs “strike” recipients where they can go to obtain legal music downloads – or at least that’s the idea. Sadly, in its infringement notices Eircom points them to eircom.net/legalmusic, a page that hasn’t existed for some time.

eircom-wrong

A secondary educational effort in the letter sees the ISP encourage customers to completely remove file-sharing software and infringing files from their computers.

“IRMA provides a program called ‘Digital File Check’ which can be downloaded from their website. It checks for and removes any infringing files and applications commonly used to share music illegally,” the letter notes.

However, those following the link (www.ifpi.org/content/section_resources/digital-file-check.html) find it less than helpful. Links to the software on IFPI’s site send users round in a never-ending loop and the official domain DigitalFileCheck.com, for those who can be bothered to hunt it down, is completely dead.

The situation is baffling. Why spend years pushing for this system yet execute it so poorly once it’s in place? Why then force other ISPs to do the same? It’s debatable whether these schemes have any effect at all, but if this is the model that’s no surprise.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: Raspberry Pi Weather Station for schools

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: David Honess. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

When I first joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation, over a year ago now, one of my first assignments was to build a weather station around the Raspberry Pi. Thanks to our friends at Oracle (the large US database company), the Foundation received a grant not only to design and build a Raspberry Pi weather station for schools, but also to put together a whole education programme to go with it. Oracle were keen to support a programme where kids get the opportunity to partake in cross-curricular computing and science projects that cover everything from embedded IoT, through networking protocols and databases, to big data. The goals of the project was ambitious. Between us we wanted to create a weather experiment where schools could gather and access weather data from over 1000 weather stations from around the globe. To quote the original project proposal, students participating in the program will get the opportunity to:

  • Use a predefined Raspberry Pi hardware kit to build their own weather station and write application code that logs a range of weather data including wind speed, direction, temperature, pressure, and humidity;
  • Write applications to interrogate their weather station and record data in a cloud-hosted Oracle Application Express database;
  • Interrogate the database via SQL to enable macro level data analysis;
  • Develop a website on the Raspberry Pi to display local weather conditions that can be accessed by other participating schools; and
  • Access a Weather Station for Schools program website to see the geographical location of all weather stations in the program, locate the websites of other participating schools, interact with other participants about their experiences, blog, and get online technical support.

After a year of grafting on hardware prototypes and software development I’m pleased to announce that the final PCB design has been committed to manufacture and we are ready to start pre-registering schools who’d be interested in participating in the programme. We have 1000 weather station kits to give away for free so to find out how your school can be part of this read the rest of this post below, but first some background on the project.

If you’ve been on Twitter a lot you’ll have noticed me teasing this since about March last year. Below is a photo of the very first version.

I did a lot of testing to ensure that the components were reliable and wouldn’t become problematic on the software side after a long period of uptime. The goal was to have the Pi controlling everything, so that we could leverage learning opportunity: helping kids to learn about writing code to interface directly with the sensors, as well as displaying and analysing collected data. I settled on the following set of sensor measurements for the weather station:

  • Rainfall
  • Wind speed
  • Wind gust speed
  • Wind direction
  • Ambient temperature
  • Soil temperature
  • Barometric pressure
  • Relative humidity
  • Air Quality
  • Real Time Clock (for data logging purposes)

This seemed like a good enough spread of data. I’m sure some people will ask why not this measurement or why not that. It was important for us to keep the cost of the kit under control; although there is nothing to stop you from augmenting it further yourself.

Once that was nailed down I wrote a few lessons plans, and Lance and I trialled them with with two schools in Kent (Bonus Pastor Catholic College and Langley Park School for Boys).

BBC Schools Report were on site and recorded a short feature about the day here.

We gave the kids one lesson from the scheme of work, showing them how to interface with the anemometer (wind speed sensor) in code. One thing that was clearly apparent was how engaged they were. Once their code was up and running, and was able to measure wind speed correctly, they had a lot of fun seeing who could get the fastest movement out of the sensor by blowing on it (current record is 32 kph, held by Clive “Lungs” Beale). Warning: there is a fainting risk if you let your kids do this too much!

We went away from this feeling we were very much on the right track, so we continued to design the scheme of work. I’m also very glad to report that we’re not doing this all on our own! We’ve partnered with the Met Office and OCR Geography to produce the learning resources that will cover understanding how weather systems work and interpreting patterns in the data.

The scheme is has been broken down into three main phases of learning resources:

  1. Collection
    Here you’ll learn about interfacing with the sensors, understanding how they work and writing Python code to talk to them. You’ll finish off by recording the measurements in a MySQL database hosted on the Pi and deploying your weather station in an outdoor location in the grounds of your school.
  2. Display
    This will involve creating an Apache, PHP 5 and JavaScript website to display the measurements being collected by your weather station. You will have the opportunity to upload your measurements to the Oracle cloud database so that they can be used by other schools. Whether or not you choose to upload your data, you’ll still pull down measurements from other schools and use them to produce integrated weather maps.
  3. Interpretation of Weather
    Here you’ll learn how to discern patterns in weather data, analyse them and use them to inform predictions about future weather. This will be done for both local weather (using your own data) and national weather (using data from the Oracle cloud database online).

My next task was to take the breadboard prototype and create a PCB test version that we could use in a small trial of 20 or so units. I had not done any PCB design before this. So over the course of a couple of days I learnt how to use a free, open source, PCB design tool called KiCAD. I used a brilliant series of YouTube videos called Getting To Blinky by Contextual Electronics to get to grips with it.

Below is my second attempt. This board is what most hardware designers would call a sombrero. The Pi goes in upside down so it’s like a HAT that’s too big!

Weather Prototype KiCAD

I was aware that it was a huge waste of PCB real-estate. However, for the small volume run we were making, it was a convenient way to mount the board inside a cheap IP65 junction box that I wanted to use as the case. Below is the PCB prototype when first assembled. The little silk screen rain cloud graphic was borrowed from BBC Weather (thanks guys).

You’ll notice there are two boards. The small board marked AIR holds the pressure, humidity and air quality sensors. Since these must be exposed to the air they are at risk of atmospheric corrosion, especially in coastal environments. I wanted to avoid this risk to the Pi and the main board so this is why I split those sensors off to a separate smaller board. Below is how they look inside their respective cases.

The Pi sits inside the water-tight box on the left with M20 grommets to seal the cables going in and out. The AIR board on the right has conformal coating (a spray on protective layer), and is connected to the main board by a short length of cable. There are three large holes on the base of its case to allow the air in.

The weather station also needs a reliable network connection for remote monitoring, further code changes, to allow it to upload to Oracle, and to make sure that other computers on your school network can load its web pages.

Most importantly it also needs power. So instead of considering large batteries or solar panels I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use power over Ethernet. This allows power and network connectivity to be supplied through a single cable, reducing the number of cable grommets needed. You might be thinking that WiFi is an option for this; however, school WiFi networks are notoriously overloaded with many mobile devices competing for service.

So, if you go the same way as me, your school will need a long cable to run from the school building out to the location that you choose for the weather station. This basically means you never have to worry about its power or network connectivity. You are welcome to solve these challenges in your own way though, and this can actually be a very engaging and fun activity for the students to do themselves.

Once I had the PCB prototype working I had to get twenty more made and tested. This involved spending hours (it seemed longer) on the Farnell website building up a massive basket of electronic components. When the new boards and components were in my possession we took them down to a local company, EFS Manufacturing, in Cambridge for assembly.

Here are the twenty assembled and tested boards:

And here is another layer of the conformal coating spray going onto the AIR boards in the Pi Towers car park. It was a bit smelly and I didn’t want to gas out the office!

You’ll notice there are small bits of sticky tape on there. This is because the conformal coating needs to protect the solder joints on the board, but not block up the air holes on the sensors. This was a bit of a delicate job involving cutting the tape into tiny shapes, waiting for the coating to dry, and peeling it off using a scalpel.

So then it was just a matter of assembling the 20 kits with everything required to build a weather station. From the power bricks, rain gauges and wind vanes right down to grommets, screws and rubber washers. The trial participants were chosen by us to give us a coverage of field-trial users, schools and promotional partners. We kept one back to put on the roof of Pi Towers, and the rest were shipped at the end of November last year.

Slowly but surely reports have been coming in about these prototype kits being used in schools and code clubs.

Dan Aldred of Thirsk School & Sixth Form College has introduced Weather Wednesdays.

Matthew Manning, who runs the awesome YouTube channel RaspberryPiIVBeginners, made this video about setting his one up:

Andrew Mulholland, of Raspi-LTSP fame, has been using one at a Raspberry Jam where he volunteers in Northern Ireland.

James Robinson’s year 10 pupils from Soham Village College have been working through the scheme of work too.

OCR are putting one on their roof, and we’re still trying to acquire permission from the building owners at Pi Towers so we can put ours up on the roof. (Right now it’s operating from an outside window ledge.) Meanwhile, now that I was confident about it, I handed over the electrical schematic of the prototype to our engineering team. They imported it into the professional CAD package that the Raspberry Pi was designed in, and proceeded to make the Weather Board into an official HAT.

They have gone through it and essentially reworked everything to the same standard that you would expect from our products. So here it is, feast your eyes. You snap off the one side, and that is the equivalent of the small AIR board on the prototype.

Weather HAT labels

If you join our weather station scheme, this is what you will get, along with all the wind vanes, screws and other bits you’ll need. The plan is to mount the HAT onto the Pi using standard 11 mm stand-offs. Those will then mount onto a perspex sheet, and that sheet will screw into the electrical junction box. Nice and cheap.

The Raspberry Pi Weather Station kit is a great way to get your pupils involved in a wide range of computing activities whilst undertaking a practical science experiment. There is lots of opportunity for cross-curricular discussion on the science of meteorology, geography and global climate change. You will also get to participate in a global programme with other schools around the world. We have 1000 weather station units to give away to schools that sign up. The supporting educational resources are written in the English language and targeted at students aged around 15-16 years old; however we’re anticipating participation from pupils both younger and older than this. If your school would like to be one of this thousand then please sign up on THIS PAGE.

People we would like to thank:

In case you missed it above, here’s the School Sign Up again.