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Bristol Jam spreads the Raspberry Pi love: Photos

Fans of the cheap, Linux-based computer met up in Bristol to show off devices based on the Raspberry Pi, one of a number of events intended to bring enthusiasts together.

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Topic: Innovation
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1 of 5 John Honniball

Fans of the Raspberry Pi computer descended on Bristol last week to show off innovative creations based on the $35 (£25) Linux device.

The inaugural Bristol Raspberry Pi Jam event took place at the Bristol and Bath Science Park on 20 August.

Among the devices on display was TwitBeeb (above), a 1981-vintage BBC B computer hooked up to a and running Twitter. Creator Barney Livingstone explains on his website that the educational intent behind both the BBC Micro and the Raspberry Pi made them an "obvious pairing".

"They share a common heritage," he said, noting that some of the team behind the BBC Micro worked on architecture for ARM, which supplies the chip in the Raspberry Pi.

Despite a capacitor in the power supply failing during the course of the evening, TwitBeeb proved popular in the Raspberry Pi Jam demo room.

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2 of 5 Richard Pitkin/BB Science Park

Another guest speaker was aerospace engineer Arthur Amarra, who showed off a voice-controlled robotic arm (above) running on Raspberry Pi.

Amarra's device uses the Julius open-source voice-recognition software, coupled with a USB microphone.

"What I love about Raspberry Pi is that it is so accessible to people, especially children," Amarra told the Bristol event.

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3 of 5 Richard Pitkin/BB Science Park

More than 100 people of all ages turned out at the Bristol Raspberry Pi Jam, which was supported by the Bristol and Bath Science Park (BBSP), electronic device maker Heber, and Broadcom, which supplies the chipset in the device.

"We had people from industry, teachers — we even had people who up to this point had no interest in this kind of thing, but were attracted by this whole buzz about the Raspberry Pi," said Alan O'Donohoe, compere of the event and an ICT teacher from Preston.

Other talks included a demonstration of RISC OS running on Raspberry Pi; the Django Pi Project, a website-building framework built on Python; and a word from Rob Bishop about the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

The Bristol Raspberry Jam group is hoping to stage further events soon. "When the schools start back, I think we can expect to see local jams springing up, with people perhaps attending larger events at BBSP (and possibly a city centre venue too) to share what they're doing locally," organiser Trevor Johnson told ZDNet.

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4 of 5 John Honniboll

IT consultant Gordon Henderson gave a demonstration of his Lego PiTrak Mk1.

Henderson's device began life as a Big Trak, a programmable six-wheeled toy from the 1980s. The project calls for the original control board to be replaced with a Raspberry Pi and for the addition of remote control and sensors.

The car uses a Raspberry Pi mounted on an Adafruit Prototyping Pi Plate, with sides built out of Lego.

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5 of 5 Richard Pitkin/BB Science Park

When it launched in February, supply of the . O'Donohoe began setting up Jams as a way for people who hadn't yet managed to get their hands on a Raspberry Pi to see the device in action.

O'Donohoe is now leading efforts to set up an international network of Raspberry Pi groups and Jams. The network has about 35 groups in countries around the world, including the UK, US, Europe, Singapore, Australia and Canada.

"The thing about the Raspberry Jam is that all you need is a space and some people to come together, and I'm just encouraging people to go out and hold one themselves," O'Donohoe told ZDNet. "If people need some guidance, talk to somebody else near them, or go to a Raspberry Jam, see what it's like and then hold one. You could even hold one in your kitchen!"

O'Donohoe is also keen to see more young people and families involved in the Jams, and cited the example of a nine-year-old presenter at an event in Cardiff and a 15-year-old who organised another Jam in Wales.

"We've had some really inspirational settings. And the people bring so much along to these things — hopes and ideas and projects that they've developed."

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