Peterborough Raspberry Jam – 9th April – a review



On a fresh (read: a bit chilly) Saturday morning, I drove up the A1 to Peterborough to attend the Peterborough Raspberry Jam, organised by Hannah Mills & Mike Mills (no relation!). It had been a while since I attended a Jam that I hadn’t organised, so I was really looking forward to it. I was not disappointed!

TL;DR: I had a great time, there were lots of people there and plenty of fascinating projects and products as well as great talks and workshops.


Once I’d eventually found the right building (my sense of direction got it wrong!) I was warmly greeted by Hannah who let me have a timetable and some extra times to cover various duties and a Jam Maker badge. I proudly wore it all day! So nice to be helping out at someone else’s event!

To start with, I browsed around the foyer which was host to their Show and Tell exhibits and Marketplace. While not as large as the facilities at CamJam’s Institute of Astronomy, this was a great space filled with Pi-related stuff and helped to generate a real buzz.

First up was Steve Upton and his awesome LED display screen. This has lots of bright LEDs in strips which make up a pixelated screen onto which various messages and games can be displayed. Here’s Steve (left) and Hannah (right) as she plays Space Invaders!

Hannah playing Steve Upton’s Space Invaders

Next was Pi Top. Jesse was introducing a child to the wonders of the Pi Top’s operating system and multi-player online game designed to educate children in algorithms and coding with exploratory play.

Pi Top

Pi Top

Next along was Ragworm. It was great to see Connor and Stacey again and their selection of circuit boards.

Connor from Ragworm

The FUZE team was here with their rugged all-in-one keyboard/Pi solutions. They’ve got some exciting things coming up soon (which I can’t tell you about) so keep an eye on the blog for more about that in the next couple of weeks.



David Saul was next in line. He was displaying some of his great display add-on boards for the Pi but what really caught my eye was the multi-language word clocks controlled by the Raspberry Pi Zero.

David Saul's word clocks

David Saul’s word clocks

The major vendor at the Jam was Rapid Electronics (The Pi Hut were unable to attend due to a family emergency). I was impressed by their selection of products and their friendly manner. I particularly liked the bargain bins down the bottom full of hackable goodies. I picked up a make-it-yourself mobile phone kit that I’d wanted for ages.

Rapid Electronics Marketplace stand

Rapid Electronics Marketplace stand

Robin Newman, who attends lots of Jams and always has something new to show, was next. He had a Pimoroni Flotilla robot to try out. I’m still not sure about all the cables, but it was great to see it ‘in action’.

Robin Newman’s Flotilla robot

He also had his Sonic Pi demonstration equipment (although I didn’t get a chance to find out what it was all about – he was very busy!)

Robin Newman’s show and tell

Next around the room was Digital People in Peterborough, an organisation that tries to bring technological people in the city and surrounding towns together. As part of their display, Stuart Elmore was displaying his voice-activated, talking mirror project. This used the Google Voice API to analyse vocal commands and provide responses. At the moment, it’s a few phrases but Stuart hopes to expand it to have some kind of artificial intelligence.

Stuart Elmore's voice activated talking mirror

Stuart Elmore’s voice activated talking mirror

Just inside the entrance, there were two large Show and Tell exhibits. The first, which I didn’t get a photo of (doh!) was a set of real full-size, traffic lights using salvaged parts which would otherwise have been headed for land-fill. A Pi detected the pedestrian button-press and then activated the traffic lights sequence. Great stuff!

I’ve left the most fun exhibit until last. Taking inspiration from Pi Wars 2015, maker Brian Corteil has created “Micro Pi Noon”. In it, teams use mini robots to fight each other and burst a balloon attached to their competitor. You can see Brian explain the rules and a (very) quick duel between two house robots in the video below:

Here’s Brian with his creation:

Micro Pi Noon with creator Brian Corteil

Micro Pi Noon with creator Brian Corteil

And here’s the Hitchin Hackspace boys with their custom competitor robot:

The Hitchin Hackspace boys set-up for Micro Pi Noon

It was also great to catch up with lots of people:

Hilary, Steve and his daughter

Hilary, Steve and his daughter

In the afternoon, I gave a presentation on HATs and Add-On Boards. Following Brian’s talk on robotics, I bravely switched my laptop on… and was promptly faced with a Blue Screen of Death. Darn you, Windows! So, I switched to my backup plan – a printed copy of my presentation placed on the ‘visualiser’!

Emergency measures during talkGiving the presentation

Thanks to a couple of people in the audience who took and tweeted these snaps!

After that, it was straight into the workshop room to prepare for the session I was running using the first CamJam EduKit. I had 15-18 people in the room wiring up circuits and programming their Pis using RPi.GPIO from Tim Richardson’s EduKit worksheets. This was the first workshop I had ever run and (despite me being nervous) it seemed to go pretty well. I certainly learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Next time, we’ll use different material specifically designed for a 45-minute burst of activity. Less reading, more doing, is how the lessons can be summed up!

The CamJam EduKit workshop

I had about an hour after the workshop so I helped to tidy and pack everything away. Big thanks to Mike Mills for loaning the Pi workstations to the Jam – it’s really great kit!

After that, it was into the centre of Peterborough to the Argo Lounge for a bite to eat with some of the exhibitors, speakers and organisers. Very nice it was too – my first try of tapas!


I had a really great time – big thanks to Hannah and Mike for making it seem so effortless and creating a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they do the next one!

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