Raspberry Pi Competition

In conjunction with the upcoming “Raspberry Jam” at Newcastle-under-Lyme Collage we’re running a Raspberry Pi competition.

Si wrote:


So after an idea from Steve, and some further discussions, we’ve come up with an idea.

We are thinking about setting friendly competitions based around a common theme, with a display night and some prizes at the end of each. Hopefully each competition should run for a few months, giving people chance to get something really cool built.

There are a few reasons we want to do this:

Lately we’ve been involved in getting larger projects off the ground, in particular the 3d printer. Because these large projects require more expertise and a learning curve, it seems to be more difficult for newcomers and people with less experience to get involved.

If we set themes, everyone can work on similar ideas, sharing expertise and knowledge, hopefully learning a few things as well.

It will be great to see some cool ideas come together, and should help everyone in the group participate together.

We will also have some nifty toys to show off, this will help to promote us and mean we can go along to events such as the Maker Faires and Raspberry Jams.

Tying in with the Newcastle Raspberry Jam in November, we are hopefully going to have a display there and James has volunteered to do a short talk.

Because of this, we are setting the first competition theme as Raspberry Pi based. Closing date for entries is the 29th of October, when they will be judged at the Hackspace.

Entries can be anything as long as its a) not too killy, b) Pi-based.

If you’re allergic to Raspberries, we will also be starting a line-following robot competition, with a face-off sometime around Christmas!

Its the chance to build something cool, win prizes and earn the undying envy/admiration of your peers..

As always, let us know what you think!



Raspberry Pi Competition Poster

Raspberry Pi Competition Poster


Update July

Hi all,

Throughout July we’ve had a lot of activity down at the hackspace, but a few of us have either been away or focusing all our efforts into our 3D printer.

This has left little time for taking photos and promotion.

However, I thought I’d just drop a post out there to say we’re moving forward and our 3D printer is now printing, we’re just in the “tweaking” stages we’d hoped to be at weeks ago.

Bring on August!

Update June Week 1

DSC_1598 This is the makerbot 3D printer that we’ve been working on for weeks and it’s now almost ready to rock and roll.

We spent most of last week trying to work out why it was moving 10cm rather than 1cm.

This week was spent reconfiguring the firmware trying to get it to move the correct distance.

DSC_1597 We took some shots of the motherboard for our own reference. It’s a MakerBot MotherBoard v2.4. It says Instructions are at wiki.makerbot.com/mb2, however, that page has since been taken down by makerbot as they’ve gone commercial. However, thanks to the wayback machine, the MakerBot Motherboard v2.4 article is reachable.DSC_1594

Much like the motherboard, the stepper motor board has similar scribes on the PCB. It says Stepper Motor Driver v3.3, instructions wiki.makerbot.com/smd3 (Wayback Machine).

DSC_1593Then there’s the extruder board, which says Extruder Controller v3.6, and docs at wiki.makerbot.com/ec3 (Way Back Machine). That’s it.

With all this information we should be configure it correctly and connect everything where it’s meant to go.

DSC_1588Our next job is to get the extruder and hot end correctly connected up.

At present it’s not wired correctly and there’s limited details on how it should be connected, so it may be a case of trial and error to ensure we’ve got the motor connected correctly.

DSC_1587This is the “MakerBot Automated Build Platform v2.0”, this is described as a bigger build area with a conveyor  which will clear the build surface area between prints, which is nice. From that I found the original Thing-O-Matic product for sale on there website in 2011 (Wayback Machine).

This lead to the official Thing-o-Matic documentation including the assembly instructions and user manual (Wayback Machine) as well as the MakerBot documentation on their current site. Which is useful.


Si and Kate were toying around on their laptops with SketchUp, producing 3D models, including a tardis (Kate being into Dr. Who is an understatement apparently).

They seemed to get stuck in pretty quickly, which was most impressive. It won’t be long before we’re knocking out Dr Who memorabilia left, right and centre.

DSC_1581Mikey came down again with his robot again, this time it was working, but it needed a tidy up job doing on the circuit, as well as needing to be configured to do a 360 degree turn.

Before we wrapped up, Mikey had almost got it all working. Details to follow.

DSC_1580The beast 3D printer was moving forward as well.

Now we’ve got the aluminium X/Y Carriages done we’ll be able to get it all joined together and ready to start moving the printer head (hot end).

The Raspberry Pi will need to be updated and have printrun installed, and the touch interface configured.

DSC_1579Here’s DanR on the case with the MakerBot 3D printer, trying to get it configured with the correct firmware so it will move the correct distances.

I believe we did get it working in the end through a process of trial and error.

DSC_1578Here’s the full crew getting stuck in with their various projects, or helping with existing ones.

It’s not like there’s nothing to do, we’ve always got projects going on and plenty of bits to play around with.

If you’re not sure about something, you can always ask.

DSC_1577I thought I’d do a quick tour of our storage room this week just to give people an idea of what we’ve got for you to play with.

DSC_1574The rack on the left has various tools, including soldering irons, saws, multimeters, hammers, screwdrivers, paint brushes, glue gun, to name a few. The rack on the right is our disassembly rack. These are components (such as motors) salvaged from various machines (such as printers, scanners).

Our other racks are crammed full of computers, computer components and an array of electronics and electronic devices. Far too much for me to begin to list, so you’ll have to take a look for yourself!

See you next week!

Update May Week 4

DSC_1537Well well well, here we are again.

This time we started by going through the 3D drawings for the X & Y carriages that needed machining out of aluminium. DanW was kindly on the case with this, so with any luck we might be able to have our 3D printer completely constructed by next week.

DSC_1538I also adding this printer back on our network, it’s on or (I’ll have to double check). It’s a Dell Laser 5100 Colour Network Printer. So we used this to print off the carriage models for DanW.

You can use it too.

DSC_1539DanW also very kindly supplied us with some shortbread which he brought down, which were excellent. But then I’ve yet to find a bad shortbread so I’m probably a bit bias.

It goes without saying they went down very well, especially with a new brew (Thanks Si!).

DSC_1540Here’s the current MakerBot setup. As you can see we’ve got ReplicatorG installed on the Linux based laptop and updated the Sailfish firmware on the 3D printer motherboard. Not far off now, I think we’re just having problems with it moving 10mm rather than 1mm. Bugs in the software.

DSC_1541Here’s our new champion who came down with his bluetooth controlled robot. I believe there was some kind of bug, but with a bit of group help I believe the issue was narrowed down, so hopefully we’ll see it in action next time. Perhaps we can have races with the Roomba!

DSC_1544I was determined this time to get the “potbot” broadcasting script I’d written up and running on our CentOS server. Once I’d downloaded the potbot git repo from bitbucket and installed the Python dependencies we were pretty much all up and running. The next step is to monitor the network for my phone and then broadcast then.

DSC_1546Everyone’s getting stuck in as normal. It’s good to see people getting stuff done. Look at the concentration on everyone’s face. Doesn’t it just make you want to get stuck in?

Maybe I should stop taking so many photos… Naaa.

DSC_1547Here’s the makerbot plugged in and moving, but still having problems with distances.

I’ll be sure to have another look at it, I’m hoping it’s something simple that may have been overlooked.

Fingers crossed!

DSC_1548Ah, this is the circuit board that Si was getting stuck in with. I had no idea what he was doing, but apparently he was looking for a particular component to get the bluetooth working on the robot. I’m glad Si knows what he’s doing. At first glance I had written it off as a software problem.

I love it when a plan comes together.


Charlotte very kindly put this donations pot together on the brew table.

Although we do ask for donations on a monthly basis, we also appreciate any loose change you may have.

DSC_1550This all looks very technical…

Check out the hardware, a multimeter and an oscilloscope. Apparently it wasn’t a software problem…

I’m expecting this thing to be moving next time!


DSC_1553Well, I did stop taking photos and by the end of the night I’d setup the RaspberryPi, installed rasbian OS  and connected this touch screen monitor to a RaspberryPi.

All that remains now is to install Printrun and we’re ready to print to the RAMPS directly from the RaspberryPi using a touch screen DSC_1555interface.

This 7″ TFT Wide Screen LCD Colour Monitor (Pixelon SP-7 VGA/TouchScreen) that was originally planned for a car PC in it’s hay day is now primed for printing a 3D model directly to our 3D printer. Perfect.

DSC_1558A bit like our roomba project, this thing won’t yet operate without cables, but hopefully next time it’ll be all change and we’ll have a video to show what it does.


Although, I’m still not sure what the ultimate goal is…

DSC_1559What’s this? Technical diagrams? Proof that we do actually do some clever stuff now and again…

Anyway, don’t be shy, come down and check us out, see the action for yourself or get involved.

Until next time, enjoy.

Update May Week 3


Last time at Potteries Hackspace…

After the suspense I left last week I decided to go the whole hog and start with a recap, so if you cast your mind back a bit you’ll remember last time…

We were looking at connecting the Raspberry Pi to a touch screen monitor and well we’re one step closer. Everything is connected, it’s now a case of configuring the software. 3D printing… Soon.

Dave and Will came down armed with their laptops and random bits of hardware, such as a roomba that Will was working on, with a front mounted camera.

Eye spy with my little eye!

The idea is that soon enough we’ll have a video streaming wireless robot roaming the hackspace that you can control. Pretty neat huh?

Look busy everyone, I’m taking a photo… Here’s the team busily working on the 3D printer and roomba robot respectively.

Here’s the end result. It sort of looks like a monster that found its way out of our storeroom at the moment, but before long we’ll be able to transform it into a proper piece of kit that looks the part too.

Plus lots of masking tape…

If you were paying attention, you’ll also see Jib’s bike in the background that John and he were working on.

On yer bike!

We’ve got videos this week of the Roomba in action.

Next time at Potteries Hackspace…

  • Dave’s coming down with the mission to fix Sarah’s printer. Will he turn up and get it done?
  • Will DanW turn up with the bits we need for our 3D printer?
  • Will I actually get this this Raspberry Pi connected to a screen!?
  • Will’s finishing his Roomba robot to go full wireless and become a hackspace scout with a full web based API so you can annoy the hell out of us. Will Will will his will power and not wilt?
  • Will I ever stop making bad jokes?
  • Will any more people turn up to check out what’s going down at Potteries Hackspace?!

Who knows… but find out next time here at the Potteries Hackspace blog…

See you tonight at 7PM!