Tech Jam Write-ups

December 2017.

This month was another successful tech jam, with lots going on.

The Physical computing section was set up early with Pi's, monitors etc, along with some extra monitors for use by visitors. This area has become pretty much self sufficient.

This month we again had our switch setup, so each Pi / workstation can get easy wired access to the Internet which is great for getting work online.


We also had 2.times do come down and Ian brought their 3d printer. This proved popular and two visitors left with a small 3d printed project.

3d printer 3d printer2

They also brought down 2x Arduino robots and we installed the software and required code files on one of the netbooks.

We had a Modified Nintendo Wii, that can play retro console games.

Wii setup Wii game

Michael brought along his raspberry Pi based Tablet project.

diy tablet

This is a work in progress, using a Raspberry Pi, screen driver and a large touch screen.

Fixing / building / Upgrading computers is another aspect of the jam.

PC build

This seemed to go well.

We also had discussions around the ttj e-mail system and other infrastructure issues.

I also helped with a project we started months ago, Originally this was installing Android onto a netbook, this failed, despite numerous attempts. As we also have a netbook installed with ChromeOS, with some help from Harley and Samadi we swapped over the hard disks so the netbook had Chrome OS on.

Samadi also fixed my broken netbook keyboard by re-attaching the a key to the keyboard, this may sound simple but it is fiddly.

I also went out and bought some biscuits for the jam attendees.


October 2017

This month was another busy Jam. The physical computing activities were popular, with a mix of hardware hacking with the Pis, and coding in Scratch and Python.

We also had a SNES which proved popular, as did a selection of Gameboys brought down by Andy.

More work was done on the inventory and RFID card system, with Harley taking photos for the RFID / ID cards which will be used as part of the inventory itme sign out system.

Matthew also did a really interesting talk on Linux Subsystem for Windows (LXSS). This is a Microsoft component for Windows 10 that allows you to run Linux binaries within windows 10. Matthew demonstrated his set up with the bspwm window manager and zsh shell (as oppoosed to the default bash shell).

September 2017

Another successful Jam. This month we did some more GPIO hacking with the Pis and visitors got some simple traffic lights up and running. Other visitors were using Scratch for both basic coding and GPIO hacking. Andy was also supporting people with Python.

Hacking area

We also tested the Wii which was donated last month by Caroline and Theo. This worked well, and it was suggested we try hacking Linux onto it at some point.

Nintendo Wii Nintendo Wii

Matthew, Josh and Harley also spent some time taking PCs apart and reassembling them for servers - one turned out to be quite dusty!

PC dust PC dust

Jack also tried to install xubuntu on one of the netbooks - however it turned out that the install disk was bad, which should hopefully be remedied for next month.

Matthew and Samadi also live launched the new website, with Matthew giving a run through of the site, and Samadi doing the DNS changes as well as explaining how the Python backend works.

Gordon Henderson also brought along his project which is a Raspberry Pi based PDP8/I emulator, inside a case, designed to look like the original device.


As always thank you to everyone for supporting the Jam, and as always if you need help between now and the next Jam on the 14th October then please feel free to chat to us on IRC (see link at the side) or send an e-mail.

See you next month and happy hacking :)

August 2017

This month was a mix of programming, hardware hacking, learning and other cool stuff.

Pi hacking area

This is the main Pi hacking area ready for coding and hardware hacking.

Lucy also helped some younger visitors with building a traffic lights system controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

Pi-powered traffic lights

We also helped Bruce with installing MS Office 2010 and getting page numbers formatted correctly and had a lady drop in asking for help to set up e-mail.

Phil Gardner did a talk on C++ covering basic structure of source code and what programs look like when viewed in Binary and Assembler. This was based on his book Learning C++ on the Raspberry Pi which is available online or directly from Phil at the Torbay Tech jam.

C++ talk

Gordon Henderson also brought along some old PCs which were taken home by several of our younger attendees, as well as some being stripped for parts to rebuild the Tech Jam file server.

Stripping PCs

Tom Brough also brought along his Ozobot, which is a really small programmable robot.


Hopefully more of the same next month.

June 2017

Today was another successful Tech Jam.

We helped Caroline and Theo with their Pi Zero-based zumo robot. Despite initial issues with some monitors, we got the code for the robot working correctly; the issue was due to having two files with the same name. There were also a few power issues which we resolved.

Work was also carried out on the website, and new flyers were finalised and printed.

We also bought a copy of Phil Gardener's book, "Program using C++ on the Raspberry Pi".

There were discussions around a variety of topics; for example, we also started to discuss how we should best approach a ticketing system for the Jam. This would not be mandatory, but rather used to identify how many people are coming to the Jam, and plan accordingly. Andy Wills brought along some printed activities from code club. These are now stored in folders, so at future Jams they can just be taken from the cupboard and used.

IRC (Chat)