Cotswold Raspberry Jam – Saturday 18 May – Get your free tickets to one of the best Raspberry Jams in the country!

Cotswold Jam is running again on Saturday 18 May 1-4pm in Cheltenham. There’s two floors of hands-on robots, retro gaming, show & tell projects and tutorials, including Minecraft coding.

One of their more unusual workshops this time is a session on Raspberry Pi Updates and Backups. You may have done many programming tutorials and created beautiful Minecraft worlds, but if your SD card got corrupted, would you lose all your work? Do you know how to keep your software up-to-date with new features and security fixes? This session teaches you how to update your software, and how to back-up your files to a USB memory key.

As usual, all equipment is provided, you don’t need to bring anything, and tickets are free from:

Cheltenham is easy to get to from Birmingham, Bristol or Oxford, and there’s free parking at the excellent University of Gloucestershire site, which is also only a 10 minute walk from Cheltenham railway station.

Hands-on with the Breadboard Pi Bridge from @RasPiO1 for the Raspberry Pi – an easy, very solid prototyping platform

My last post was to announce Alex Eames’ latest crowdfunding project, the Breadboard Pi Bridge. Now that the dust has settled slightly from Pi Wars 2019, I’ve had a chance to have a play with it, so I’ll give you my thoughts. If you want to get hold of one, head over to RasPiO. They cost £12 plus (cheap) shipping on pre-order and should be available in May.

The Bridge comes as a kit which will need soldering together (my review unit was pre-assembled so I could get to using it quicker!) This involves attaching a 40-pin female header and a 30-way male header to the underside of the circuit board. This is the way the Bridge works – you place the female header on your Pi’s GPIO pins and then the male header slots into the supplied breadboard. It is pretty simple soldering – you just need to make sure you don’t accidentally solder any pins together. The kit is completed with three pieces of black perspex – one to hold everything together, one to raise the stuck-on breadboard and one to (optionally) cover the Raspberry Pi.

I took apart the assembled kit that Alex sent me and then reassembled it around a Raspberry Pi 3B+, including the perspex cover. I needed to snap off the breakaway segment of the cover to allow space for those pesky Power-over-Ethernet pins that have been added to the 3B+, which was easy. You can see this in the top-down photo, below:

Having finally assembled it, I was immediately struck with how solid the whole thing felt. This is halfway between a permanent and temporary solution for your breadboarding project. It’s permanent enough that, if you’re in an educational situation, a child wouldn’t easily be able to pull the Bridge off the Pi, but temporary enough that you can do this with a little careful force.

One of the best things about the Bridge is that the pins are in sequential (Broadcom numbering system) order. This was a great idea for the RasPiO ProHAT, and it’s still a great idea now. It means that it’s so much easier to find the correct pin and then program it. GPIO Zero/Python is ideal for this, of course, and for simple projects the Bridge is a terrific accompaniment.

You will definitely need to use the supplied ground wire to take the ground from the left-hand rail (in the picture above) to the right-hand rail. You can do some rudimentary LED-type projects without doing so, but if you want to wire it up with multiple LEDs (or other components), as I have in the picture at the top, this is the best way to make that possible.

Photo by Alex Eames with decent lighting!

Overall, if you want a nice, stable platform for prototyping with a breadboard, you can’t do better than the Breadboard Pi Bridge. It’s solid, it looks nice and it’s pretty simple to put together. The price is right, at just £12. I’ve backed it and I hope you’ll consider doing so, too. The Bridge is available on pre-order from Alex over at RasPiO and should be delivered in May.

Make breadboarding your Raspberry Pi projects easier with the Breadboard Pi Bridge – a new Crowdfunding campaign

Alex Eames, from RasPiO, has just launched his latest crowdfunding campaign over on his website. He is hoping to fund the Breadboard Pi Bridge which is an easy way to bridge the gap between a Raspberry Pi and a breadboard, get solid connections and generally make your life easier. This is one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” products!

The bridge sits on top of your Pi’s GPIO pins and then breaks the pins out (backwards) and then plugs into the supplied breadboard. The pins are, in typical “Alex style”, in numerical, Broadcom, order. In simple terms, this means things like GPIO Zero will “just work” as they use the Broadcom numbering system. So, no more hunting around for the right pin. The kit (which needs to be soldered) comes with perspex plates for the bottom and to cover the Pi (if you wish) and all the fixings you need. It also comes with a selection of LEDs and resistors, and an extra wire if you want to connect up the “other” Ground rail on the breadboard. In fact, it comes with everything you see in the picture below. The only thing it doesn’t come with is the Pi itself, but I’m pretty sure you know where to go for one of them by now!

It’s a really neat product, I think, and solves the problem, particularly in education (but for hobbyists, too) of connecting things up incorrectly.

The Bridge costs £12 plus (very reasonable) shipping, but you can get it for £1 cheaper on an Earlybird basis by using the code “EARLY” at the checkout (this applies to the first 100 purchases or 24 hours after launch, whichever is reached first). There are also free gifts for multiple purchases, but I won’t go into those here – take a look at the page for details.

You can see more details and grab a Breadboard Pi Bridge here. If you want to read a bit about the development of the product, take a look at this post over at RasPi.TV.

Alex will only be putting this into production if 400 units are sold, so I hope some of you, at least, will see the benefits of it. I’ve already pledged in the hope that it will be successful.

Building your own Raspberry Pi-powered TV recorder

Pierre-yves Baloche has done a great write-up of his current project. He’s taken a Raspberry Pi and Pi TV HAT and created a TV recorder. He’s used a WD Pi-Drive and a spare Pi Zero case to house the HAT, connected with a ribbon cable and worked out how to get the software working. After this prototype stage, he then created a 3D-printed enclosure to house the HAT and some indicator LEDs in the shape of a Pimoroni Blinkt. You can read how he did it here.

Be a volunteer at Pi Wars and help us to celebrate Raspberry Pi robotics! – 30th & 31st March

The last weekend of March sees the 5th Pi Wars competition. Teams from all over the world will come together in Cambridge, UK and compete against each other on seven challenge courses, hoping to earn points, prizes and glory.

You can get involved at the event, and attend for free, by volunteering as a Judge and/or Marshal. It’s not as scary as it sounds! As a Judge, you’re given all you need to record scores and measure run times. As a Marshal, you’ll be manning the front desk and/or doing little jobs to make the event run smoothly. All we ask is for 2-3 hours of your time. The rest is yours to do with as you please – check out the robots, watch some challenge runs and get to know some of the members of this great community.

You can read a bit more about volunteering over on the Pi Wars website.

You can volunteer either by grabbing a free ticket from our ticket merchant or by contacting Mike via the Pi Wars website.

If you just want to attend Pi Wars as a spectator, tickets are still available – they are £5 per day or £7 for the weekend. Get your tickets here. You’ll be able to see all the robots in action, browse the Marketplace and Show and Tell stalls and, if you’d like to, take part in a robot programming workshop with Neil Lambeth of Red Robotics.

It’s all happening on 30th & 31st March, so come along and join in the fun. 🙂