Raspberry Pi Competition – The Results

Last night at Potteries Hackspace was the Raspberry Pi Competition.

The judges were:

  • Carl Plant (bITjAM)
  • Richard Smedley (Founder & Programme Manager at Cuprium c.i.c.)
  • Paul Simmons (Curriculum Leader for Level 1 and 2 Vocational Computing at Newcastle-under-Lyme College)

The scoring system was (similar to Robot Wars):

  • INNOVATION. (Weight of 4) 1-5 points x 4 = Score for Innovation.
  • FUN. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Fun.
  • PRACTICALITY. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Practicality.
  • STYLE. (Weight of 1) 1-5 points x 1 = Score for Style.

The deadline was:

  • Tuesday 29th October
  • 9PM

All entries will be displayed and demonstrated at the Newcastle-under-Lyme Raspberry Jam event on November 7th. (PS. If you’ve not already signed up, sign up now).

We all had Pizza and soft drinks.

Thanks for everyone who attended and made it a fantastic evening!

The Projects

In 4th place, we had Dave’s greenhouse system. Dave wasn’t able to attend and we struggled to get it working initially.

The idea was to automate a greenhouse, turning on or off various switches for water, light, opening vents and such depending on the input of temperature and water saturation sensors.

Unfortunately the screen wouldn’t turn on and we struggled to get the relay to switch on or off until after the demo.


In third place was the “MusicBox”. A system that booted up to load the Music Player Daemon (MPD), stream the playlist over Icecast and download new tracks released under the Creative Commons License, for commercial use from ccmixter using a scraper written in Python. The MPD allows you to remotely control it from your mobile phone or PC too.

The idea of the project is to circumvent license fees charged by companies such as PRS or PPL, which could potentially save a business thousands of pounds each year.

Given more time the project would have a voting system allowing you to easily drop the tracks you don’t like and replay the tracks you do more often. Giving you more control over what is played.


In second place, John had decommissioned his ferret web server to replace it with something a little more entertaining.

A Raspberry Pi based Arcade machine, running MAME and a Wii arcade controller with a USB converter.

It was hooked up over HDMI to a neat little display he’d managed to acquire for next to nothing which displayed the games beautifully.

All in all, it was lots of fun and probably because it was overclocked slightly more than is recommended, it ran the games very smoothly.



In first place was “The Beast”.

As it’s almost Halloween, this was definitely the most seasonal of the projects.

It comprises of a coffin, a former robot project, a Raspberry Pi and a speaker.

Once booted, you can SSH into the Raspberry Pi to control direction using the “old skool” W,A,S,D configuration and for the piece de la resistance, certain digits will play our various Halloween related sounds or tracks.

For effort alone, this thing wins hands down, but the fun factor really gave it the edge.

Well done guys!


Thanks again!

Thanks again to everyone that came down, especially the judges who took the time out of their business schedules and called in favours to make it down to our first ever competition.


Before the evening was over, we even managed to get Dave’s relay system up and running.


Next time: Robots


Oh and don’t forget we’ll be displaying and demonstrating all of these projects at the Newcastle-under-Lyme Raspberry Jam event on November 7th, so get signed up!


Raspberry Jam Competition

Raspberry Pi Users

Are you ready?

Just a quick update to let you know that the competition is less than 2
weeks away (29th October).

The judges and prizes are now secured so now it’s just down to you.

We’ll be opening up this Saturday (19th) from around 10am until about
1pm which should give some extra time to make headway.

However, don’t worry, your project doesn’t need to be complete, it just
needs to be able to demonstrate how a Raspberry Pi can be used.

The winner will be decided on a points based system by independent

The best projects will be demonstrated at the NULC Raspberry Jam on the
7th November.

Good luck!


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 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!

Update May Week 2

This week was pizza night, but we were pretty distracted by all the action.

DSC_1516First off, DanW very kindly got stuck in with his PAT testing kit. First for the chop was my donated angle grinder, which was great because I actually needed to use it.

Thanks to DanW and his handy PAT checker and some sticky labels we’re now a little bit safer.


Paul, Si and Tom were all getting stuck in to getting Sarah’s 3D printer up and running, which isn’t far off now. Just a case of connecting the hot end and reconfiguring the firmware and we’re ready to go…

What would you print? Let us know in the comments!


Ben and Finn were getting stuck in with their robot project. It looks complicated! I’m glad they know what they are doing! 🙂

Let’s just hope the three laws of robotics are applied!

Keep an eye out here as I’ll be posting it’s progress here.


This looks technical. There’s a multimeter involved and everything.

Turns out it was a software issue. I think they needed to reverse the polarities.

Everyone knows you always reverse the polarities


Thanks for fixing my angle grinder Dan.

This plug dates back to before british standards were actually a thing.

Life saver, possibly literally.


This angle grinder can now go into the log for approval as it passed the PAT check after the plug was swapped for a good one.

Dan managed to do about 30 items before running out of sticky labels.

I’d say it was a thankless job, only I do remember thanking him many times, but another one won’t go amiss, so thanks Dan!


Charlotte was practicing her cup song, she even wrote a little tutorial for it.

Maybe we’ll have a few more tutorials heading our way soon…

Sorry guys, no videos this week, maybe next.

Speaking of next week…

Will we get Sarah’s 3D printer actually printing? Will we get the Raspberry Pi connected to our 3D printer with a screen? Will more people turn up with interesting gadgets? Will there be videos!?

Find out in next weeks post!

PS. Sorry for no pizza photos, we scoffed it all down before I had thought to take any.

Update April Week 4

DSC_1274This is our tap, there are many taps like it but this one is ours…

The first hack of the session was thanks to DanW who brought down a hose pipe connector kit. Adding this was essential to making the water flow better for our coffee and tea making facilities. I know, I know, the excitement is overwhelming!

DSC_1260DSC_1273DSC_1276DSC_1263Moving very swiftly back on to our 3D printer, we reconnected everything back up from last week to see where we were up to.

Only this time we thought we’d give it a go on Linux, after all the eventual plan would be to use a Raspberry Pi to interface with the RAMPS kit.

DanR got his laptop out and started hammering away at the keys in an attempt to get the “printrun” software we’d tried before to run on Linux.

However, through no fault of his own an error was returned. “ImportError: No module named printcore”, apparently this is a known issue on Debian based Linux systems.

Oddly enough, printrun works perfectly on Windows, so we went back to that until the issue on Linux is resolved with the developers.

Through this software we were able to figure a few bits out, set the dimensions in the configuration and recompile, then upload the updated firmware to the Arduino.

We did successfully manage, with some accuracy to get the bed to go up and down the threaded bars, especially since we’d correctly configured the work area dimensions however there was a bit of a wobble.

DSC_1267DSC_1271Discussion quickly turned to how we were going to solve this problem. We talked about the possibility of moving the existing threaded rods to the corners and adding two additional ones which would be belt driven. Another idea after confirming against the Ultimaker was to use a larger drive nut, or indeed use two drive nuts, simply adding an additional one above the bed, opposite the one below.

Meanwhile, John was getting on with his on-bike sound system. The previous wooden lid had rotted away so he took the opportunity to replace it with an all weather plastic solution.

DSC_1270We also discussed (re)assembling the vacformer into a fixed position, however we’re in need of a heater unit.

Anyone got one of those portable halogen heaters spare?

Better check the attic…

Update: These are the missing videos footage that I forgot to publish.


Hi all,

DSC_0885To begin with we weren’t sure who was coming down, but it was a good turn out.

It’s great to see people helping each other with various projects, there’s a great sense of community building up from the group, which is fantastic. So thanks for everyone who came down. You guys really make it what it is.


Coffee, Milk and Sugar needed replenishing so now we’ve got enough for quite some time, so come down and have a brew with us! 🙂


Thanks to Kate who redid my “prototype”, we’ve now got our binary “Brew Board” setup so, if you’re getting a round in for your fellow hackers, you know their default choice without having to risk distracting them while holding a hot soldering iron or getting hands on with an angle grinder.

Nobody wants more than one sugar though right?

DSC_0889After blowing up a power supply that Si had carefully worked on for most of a previous session, Dave, Jib, DanR and myself worked on a few more desktop power supply units that we could utilise for powering an array of projects that we’re working on. We’ve now got a good few of these ready to be used.

DSC_0888We’re building up quite a collection of small screens now. DanR took to task on them trying to figure out how to not only power them on, but get a video feed from a Raspberry Pi.

Not quite there yet, but hopefully we’ll have a Raspberry Pi demo setup in the next few sessions.

DSC_0890Will brought down some Roomba robot vacuum cleaners. One which he intends to turn into some kind of Raspberry Pi powered death bot, or perhaps a roaming hackspace video streaming bot (we’re not sure yet) and perhaps even more oddly the other for actual vacuum cleaning… Who would have thought?

DSC_0894The electronic components arrived!

Si brought down our order and got a home for them mounted on the wall.

Perhaps now we can actually start building some prototype boards and using our Arduinos.

DSC_0897Having said that, a few guys were already getting stuck in with their own components and circuits which was great to see.

The hackspace is very quickly becoming a hive of activity, which is brilliant.

DSC_0898Dave brought down his DIY vacuum former and some plastic to try, so we set to work heating up the plastic enough so it was tacky, then placing it over the Dyson powered vacuum bed hoping that it would take the shape of the moulds we had to hand.

DSC_0903Unfortunately the puny Dyson wasn’t powerful enough and we’re not sure we got the plastic hot enough, yet we persevered by getting a much larger, industrial sized vacuum and a heat gun to double up the heating process.

This seemed to work much better, so with a bit of tweaking we should have a fully functional “vacformer” kit ready to go.

However, unfortunately the Dyson has been relegated back to regular vacuum cleaning.

DSC_0907Amongst all the chaos, heroically Tom continued to work on the 3D printer, recruiting one or two of us now and again to be grips. By the end of the night the X/Y axis was actually looking like it was coming together nicely.


The hackspace is coming together nicely now, we all got a lot done last night. There was a great buzz.

For those of your interested, due to the success of the night we’ll be opening on Saturday from 10am, so if you struggle to make Tuesday nights now’s your chance to come down and say hello!

See you on Saturday!