Raspberry Pi Day - 17th January 2015

When you hear the words 'raspberry pie', you'd be forgiven for not thinking about a credit card-sized computer.

However, earlier this year, Strathclyde's Department of Physics introduced newcomers to a whole new world of computer programming, and a device that shares its name with a tasty dessert.

So, just what is a Raspberry Pi?

The size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi is a low cost but capable device that can be used by people of all ages to learn about computing. It connects to the internet, plays HD video, and can be installed with a variety of Linux operating systems.

The Raspberry Pi also makes it easy to connect to external sensors and electronics, allowing it to be incorporated into a wide range of projects, such as robots, games consoles, network routers, spacecraft, weather stations and more.

The device supports a multitude of applications and development tools, such as Scratch, which is designed to teach programming concepts to young people.

The importance of programming

Experience programming, and solving problems with computers, can greatly enhance career opportunities for students and employees.

Computer programming is a key skill in today's world. It's used everywhere, from optimising the way car engines function, controlling aeroplanes in flight, designing precision components, to modelling complex systems like the weather. However, computer programming is a skill that needs to be learnt and practised.

The Raspberry Pi Day

The Department of Physics' Raspberry Pi Day was an event for all abilities. Talks were given during the day, covering the basics of the Raspberry Pi, as well as programming and electronics applications. There was also a laboratory area, with 24 Raspberry Pis set up for interactive demonstrations.

Time Speaker Title Abstract Slides
10:00-10:20 WH Bell Computing and the Raspberry Pi An introduction to the Raspberry Pi, discussing why programming is useful for many different applications. Computing and the Raspberry Pi
10:30-10:50 Colin Pegrum Using a Raspberry Pi for environmental monitoring A system has been developed, targeted at horticultural use in a commercial greenhouse, to monitor and record temperature, light, humidity levels and other key factors affecting plant growth. It uses a Raspberry Pi and a range of widely-distributed 1-wire sensors. The presentation will give a brief overview of the hardware and software and some critical issues in its design and operation. Using a Raspberry Pi for Environmental Monitoring  
11:00-11:20 Jeremy Singer Cloud Computing on a Tight Budget: Glasgow Raspberry Pi Cloud Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft spend millions of dollars on their cloud computing data centres. At Glasgow University, we built a scale model data centre using Raspberry Pi boards and Lego bricks. It cost around 2000 pounds. Come along and find out fun facts about cloud computing with our scale model. Glasgow Raspberry Pi Cloud  
12:00-13:00 Lunch break      
13:00-13:20 Dave Honess Astro Pi: Your Code in Space David Honess is one of Raspberry Pi's educational resource engineers. Dave will be available to talk through the plan for the Astro Pi competition, forthcoming educational resources and answer any questions you may have. Find out more.  
14:00-14:20 Jonathan Jamieson Raspberry Pi Powered Structural Inspection Robot

Grangemouth based agrochemical company, Syngenta, have corrosion issues with their reaction vessels. The manual inspections are expensive and require significant periods of downtime so they approached the University of Strathclyde for a solution.

A group of five final year students from the engineering department were chosen to build a robot that provided visual evaluation using an onboard camera and thickness measurements using an ultrasonic probe.

A Raspberry Pi was used as the high-level controller for the robot and hosted a web-interface to control the robot, take and display readings and store still photographs for future evaluation.

The project was successfully completed and demonstrated at the departmental tradeshow.

Raspberry Pi Powered Structural Inspection Robot
14:30-14:50 Donald McKendrick The Coding In Scotland: From Hobby to Career Thanks to places in Scotland like Codebase in Edinburgh, there are large number of companies solving a wide variety of problems across different industries with code, meaning people from all backgrounds can benefit from learning to code.  
15:00-15:20 WH Bell Minecraft & Python: learning to program with Minecraft A quick overview is presented of the Python interface to Minecraft, demonstrating how to connect external hardware to character actions within Minecraft.  

For comments and suggestions, please contact Timothy Briggs.



Photos from the Raspberry Pi Day

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