(Previous Southend Raspberry Jams: March 2014June 2014 • August 2014 • November 2014)

Yet another exhilarating Southend Raspberry Jam event this past weekend.

As you can see from the schedule listed below, there were lots of things to do at the May 2015 Southend Raspberry Jam #6, held within different conference rooms at the Tickfield Centre in Southend.

Southend Raspberry Jam #6 May 2015 Schedule

As always with the Southend Raspberry Jam there was plenty to dive right into, whether you’re an inquisitive child discovering the Raspberry Pi for the first time, or a professional Linux server administrator with years of experience in the exciting world of Computer Science. There was something for everyone, and an opportunity for everyone to learn something.

Kids Hackathon with Minecraft, Python, Scratch and Electronics!

Kids Minecraft Hackathon at Southend Raspberry Jam #6 May 2015

Was amazing to see the number of children at the Southend Raspberry Jam this time around. Every Jam, it seems the number of children in attendance is more and more. At Southend Raspberry Jam #6, half of the Darwin room seemed to be a Kids Hackathon all day long. As children of all ages tinkered with electronics using Scratch GPIO or learning how to program in Python using Minecraft as a learning tool.

Minecraft Hackathon at Southend Raspberry Jam #6 (May 2015)

With the event’s organisers assisting children and answering any questions that parents may have about coding and what they can do at home to encourage their child to continue their coding out of school.

3D Printing at Southend Rasberry Jam #6!

3d Printing at Southend Raspberry Jam

This time at Southend Raspberry Jam #6, there was an entire room dedicated to 3D printing, learning how it’s done and what free browser-based software is available to allow you to create your own 3D printable goodies.

3d Printing at Southend Raspberry Jam

As well as fiddling about with “here’s one I made earlier” 3D thingamajigs, you could see how each one is made, and watch things being printed in 3D.

Talks all throughout the day!

Southend Raspberry Jam #6 May 2015 Talks

One of the main attractions of any Raspberry Jam is the talks. And there were some brilliant talks at this one! Robin Knight had a particularly interesting talk about Chatbots and WikiData, which explored the different types of chatbots (scripted, conversation mining and semantic), as well as the ethical issues of chatbots such as befriending them, etc. He explained how you can use JSON to gather real world structured data for the charity, so you can ask it a question and it can answer based on real world facts (like Siri, etc), and use a sort of “backward chaining” to gather more information on the subject. When building a chatbot, you can use conversation mining or pull from recent conversation history for subject context and have scripted responses based on pattern-matching or a semantic chatbot that extracts meaning from your responses and can perform sentiment analysis or process what is actually meant by what you are saying by analysing the words that you are using and their polarity/subjectivity.

Super interesting.

Lifebox Project by Ferran

Ferran Fàbregas came all the way over from Barcelona to be at the Southend Raspberry Jam and present his latest project – LifeBox! LifeBox is NOT Game of Life! – before you ask. Although visually inspired by Conway’s Game of Life, Ferran states that LifeBox is not algorithmically related to it at all. Within the LifeBox exist two pixelic entities representing two species who are competing against each other to survive and reproduce within the LifeBox. You can change certain parameters of the species and the plants which they eat to grow like, for example, life expectancy, energy, birth chances, death chances, etc. The idea is to encourage learning through playing, and the LifeBox embraces the STEM philosophy, allowing anyone (not just children!) to learn wood design, electronic tinkering, programming and algorithms as well as basic biology as you learn about how ecosystems work. All of that in a single fun project that you can display as a beautiful decorative piece for your home once you’ve finished! To build one, you mainly just need the wood, a Raspberry Pi and an LED RGB panel of 32×32.

Other talks throughout the day included:

  • Andy Knight’s “Object Oriented Programming with Python” that showed the basics of creating objects in Python and the benefits of OOP. He demonstrated how you can use OOP for basic game development and for database management.
  • “How Raspberry Pi Changed My Life” with 15 year old Pi prodigy and inspiration, Zachary Igielman.
  • “Violent Python” – which seemed to cause quite the controversy due to its rather questionable subject matter….

Show and Tell Demonstrations

Laser Target Webcam

There were “Show and Tells” scattered around the main conference room, demonstrating the many projects that people have been working on including the robot arm laser pictured above. This interesting project uses a webcam to locate the red target and the robot arm automatically moves to line up the cross hairs with the target’s centre and fire a laser beam at it.

Essex Ham at Southend Raspberry Jam #6 (May 2015)

Essex Ham were at the Jam again this month! Alongside their “Send Your Name in Morse Code” demonstration and educational resources on amateur radio, they also brought with them a musical potato piano! Yup! It was as amusing as it sounds. Touch the potatoes to play different notes and come up with your own little potato ditty. (You could actually hear from the other side of the room how popular it was…)

Raffle Time at the Southend Raspberry Jam!

The Southend Raspberry Jam raffle allows the event’s organisers to raise money in order to keep the event free and therefore accessible for anyone to attend, participate and learn. Though the Southend Raspberry Jam event is free, donating in the form of a raffle tickets purchase is a great way to help keep the event free!

There were some fantastic prizes up for grabs, donated by the event’s sponsors, including:

  • Nebula Android Tablet
  • Maplin Gift Voucher (worth £25)
  • Raspberry Pi 2
  • SoSLUG BIKE kit (starter electronic kit)
  • Components pack worth £5
  • Urban Future book
  • SDD + HDD adaptor
  • Chocolates!

Southend Raspberry Jam #6 Raffle

I won the Nebula tablet! :D
And I will be sure to make good use out of it! *checks Twitter…*

A big THANK YOU as always to SoSLUG!

Thanks to SoSLUG (Southend-on-Sea Linux User Group) for putting on yet another fantastic Southend Raspberry Jam. And to those who are interested in regular meetups with Southend’s Linux and programming community, SoSLUG meet up every Monday night at TAP Gallery on North Road.