CamJam!

Yesterday was the lovely camjam hosted by Tim Richardson and Michael Horne. I feel like in terms of the UK, there’s 2 big hubs of raspberry pi community goodness – Manchester and Cambridge, with lots of little jams in between. This is quite natural since Cambridge is the pi home, and Manchester is a reasonably big city in the North which has a lot of technology companies in residence.

Anyway, quite a lot of the southern community I’d not met unless they bothered to go up to Manchester, but equally from talking to everyone on twitter they feel like my family and conversations flowed with everyone.

Since I’d not actually planned to go to Cambridge this weekend (friend’s birthday celebrations moved to this weekend), I didn’t have a ticket but walked in with the lovely Craig and David who’d given us both a lift, and got recognised by Matthew who runs Raspberry Pi Beginners, a youtube channel, and therefore got told “you can just go in” (being e-famous has it’s privaledges :P)

There were quite a lot of electronics sellers, as per usual, including Ryan who’s board is now already sold out on Adafruit, with plenty of flashing lights from phenoptix – successfully avoided buying myself the cylon display because there’s literally no reason for owning it other than “YAY BATTLESTAR GALACTICA STUFF” (some would argue that’s reason enough…) – and a 65kg robot from PiBorg – video soon to come. When asked “why did it need to be this big?” the response was “go big or go home” which is the correct answer for everything. I told them to sell tickets to get a ride round the car park on it at the next jam since it has a lid you can sit on, for which I’m taking a cut of 50% and shotgunning first ride. We did however decide anyone riding it would need to sign a disclaimer form…

Photo 08-02-2014 10 49 31

David Whale’s infamous networking workshop (which debuted at the volunteering day back in December in Stevenage) went down a storm and me and Craig helped him out with the demo at the beginning – I love the whole plan of the workshop because it’s basically what we studied at the beginning of second year’s module on Networking which shows how viable it is as a workshop, and because the demo is great to help anyone learn how the Internet works which most people pretend to know, but actually don’t. It’s also stupidly fun to play around sending each other messages on bits of paper down pieces of string in front of a class of 32…

myself (left), david (center) and craig (right)

myself (left), david (center) and craig (right)

I gather Carrie-Anne’s sonic pi workshop went well (though that was in the morning session so I wasn’t there), and got chance to have a chat with her about how my wearable tech workshop’s going and about the future of it.

Photo 08-02-2014 11 42 43

A few other people took an interest in it especially since my hair was partially illuminated by my GEMMA earrings.

me

A lot of people worried my hair would catch fire…

Wearables are always a great conversation starter and a few people asked for advice on powering them and a couple of kids I explained how they worked. I got talking to Hamish from the University of Sheffield (who currently has a kickstarter for mobile power supplies for the raspberry pi – see here) about help organising running my workshop in Sheffield when I’m back North which is really useful and I’ll definitely be trying to do that, and a few people congratulated me on getting the funding.

We also discussed distinguishing each other at raspberry jams – I’m relatively easy to spot because my profile picture on twitter is me (I’d also tweeted a photo of myself that morning, see above…), and I’m female + talk at jams (COME ON LADIES TALK MORE), so most people who came up to me knew who I was but I wasn’t always sure who I was talking to – for instance Gordon Wheeler came up told me not to buy any electronics or I’d “sew them to a bear and leave them on a train” before I even knew that was Gordon…One option is for everyone to wear their twitter handles, which Simon Walters already does, but my personal preference is everyone wears a different colour LED/name label and then tweets what colour they are at the next jam because you can never have enough LEDs. You could also have a list of LEDs to names listed alongside the jam programmes.

However this basically suckered me into running a workshop to make those badges at the next jam so maybe it’s not such a good idea :P

Michael Horne’s picorder was also cool to see – the tricorder from Star Trek but on a Raspberry Pi – a great combination of lots of little sensors rolled into a simple project he wanted to do. Zachary’s robot was a cool little project, I need to get on with making my own since I have yet to review Ryan’s fabulous board, I’m just waiting on my parts to come from Proto-Pic.

Another great project I saw was AberSailbot which is a robot sailboat for a competition in the US, made by a few second year Computer Scientists from Aberystwyth (I think I spelt that wrong…). Aber has a special place in my heart after Lovelace Colloquium because Hannah Dee who lectures there runs Lovelace, and also gave me a great boost with my wearable tech workshop funding as well as Amanda Clare, another academic at Aber, so I mentioned them and told the boys to get some videos of it in action. (I also know several female students there who are awesome, but sadly I just talk to them on Twitter now occasionally). They’d managed to get funding from several companies including the Raspberry Pi Foundation and ARM to get over to Boston last year, and are doing it again this year which is super awesome.

Overall a very relaxing day, not speaking or stressing about live demos, and fab to meet so many people – on Friday I also popped in to Pi Towers which is a 10 min walk from where my friend lives in Cambridge, but pretty much wasted the afternoon watching really stupid videos. Ben and Ryan really shouldn’t be paired together…

I may come down to the next jam if possible or at least a CamJam in the future since it’s a really nice atmosphere (as all jams are), but it’s all time and money dependent, so we shall see.

Below is the timelapse Zach made – see if you can spot yours truly…

Photo credits go to Andy Batey for the photo from the Networking workshop, and to J. Teigland for others.

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