September 2014 CamJam

More Jam

News and more from the latest CamJam event in Cambridge.

On September 6, 2014, I attended CamJam [1], which is the name of the Cambridge Raspberry Jam. As the name suggests, this event is held in Cambridge in the UK. CamJam is held every two months (or thereabouts), and it is located at the Institute of Astronomy, on the outskirts of the city (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK, where CamJam is held.

The first Cambridge Raspberry Jam was held in July 2012, shortly after the Raspberry Pi was officially released to the public; however, this was an event organized separately from CamJam. The CamJam (Figure 2) we now know had its first event in May 2013, and I think it is fair to say that it's one of the best, most established Jams around the world. It's regularly attended by more than 100 people of all ages.

Figure 2: CamJam logo.

Despite being in the hometown of the Raspberry Pi, the event is not actually run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation themselves (they are almost certainly far too busy with other things!) but by two extremely dedicated volunteers who are heavily active in the Raspberry Pi community  – Michael Horne and Tim Richardson. When they are not organizing CamJam, Michael is a ColdFusion web developer and runs the Raspberry Pi Pod blog [2], and Tim is a Performance Architect.

This September, the CamJam was obviously the place to be because it was also attended by a selection of the Raspberry Pi family – Eben and Liz Upton, Gert van Loo, and a few members from the education team. They also had a team from CNBC in tow, who were filming various bits and pieces from the event for use in a feature they were working on about our favorite credit card-sized computer and the city in which the idea was conceived [3].

As per usual, the Jam was split into four sections that included the talks, workshops, show-and-tell, and marketplace areas. Unfortunately, I registered for the event fairly late, which meant I was not able to attend any of the talks – they were all, as always, fully booked very quickly after the event was announced. In any case, a variety of talks were presented on subjects ranging from robotics to cheating on your mathematics homework using Wolfram Mathematica – all of which sounded very interesting!

The good thing about not being able to attend any of the talks or workshops was that it gave me a chance to have a good look around the show-and-tell area and speak to a number of Raspberry Pi community members that I had not yet met in person (only via Twitter/email, as is often the way nowadays).

Alex Eames (from RasPi.TV fame) was there showing off production-ready samples of his latest project, HDMIPi. I personally backed this project when it was launched on Kickstarter last year and had been keenly following the production progress, so I was very pleased to see the production-quality version in the flesh. It certainly made me very excited to receive my Kickstarter reward.

Next door to Alex was Gert van Loo, who was displaying his latest invention called the Gert VGA 666 board (Figure 3). This is a hardware VGA adapter to be used with the new Model B+ Raspberry Pi (you can find a little more info about this in the News article elsewhere in this issue).

Figure 3: Gert van Loo displaying his Model B+ VGA adapter (photo courtesy of Alex Eames from http://RasPi.TV).

A selection of vendors (including The Pi Hut, Dawn Robotics, SK Pang, and several others) were also on hand so that the attendees could purchase anything Raspberry Pi related that they could ever really need. Additionally, an outdoor soldering area allowed people to get into some electronics tinkering in a well-ventilated area (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Outdoor soldering area; despite the gloomy picture, it was a beautiful day.

Paul Beech from Pimoroni made an appearance and brought with him a couple of prototypes (Figure 5) of their new add-on boards – the Display-o-Tron 3000, which is an RGB LED backlit LCD screen, and the Unicorn HAT (their first HAT), an 8x8 matrix of RGB "neopixel" LEDs! HAT stands for hardware attached on top – see Raspberry Pi Geek's first look at the Raspberry Pi Model B+ for more information about HATs [4].

Figure 5: Pimoroni Display-o-Tron 3000 and Unicorn HAT.

I also had the opportunity to meet and talk to a number of other prolific community members, such as Richard Saville, a.k.a. Average Man vs. Raspberry Pi [5], Paul Brown from MyPiFi [6], Harry Gee from PiBot [7], Russell Barnes from RasPi.Today [8], and several others.

All in all, it was a very productive and tiring day with plenty of enjoyment to be had.

Pi Wars

You may have heard about Pi Wars [9] already in a previous News and Events report, but I have not really talked about what it is (Figure 6). It is an event organized by the same team that brings you CamJam, but this time it's war! Pi Wars is the first ever dedicated Raspberry Pi robotics competition and will take place on 6 December at the same venue.

Figure 6: Pi Wars logo.

Infos

  1. CamJam: http://camjam.me
  2. Raspberry Pi Pod: http://www.recantha.co.uk/blog/
  3. Visit to Pi Towers: http://www.raspberrypi.org/cnbc-visit-pi-towers/
  4. "Exploring the B+" by Aaron Shaw, Raspberry Pi Geek, Issue 07, 2014, pg. 18: http://www.raspberry-pi-geek.com/rpi/Archive/2014/07/Exploring-the-new-Raspberry-Pi-Model-B
  5. Richard Saville: http://@AverageManvsPi
  6. Paul Brown: http://@mypifi
  7. Harry Gee: http://@ThePiBot
  8. Russell Barnes: http://@RasPiToday
  9. Pi Wars: http://piwars.org

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