Donations, Tutorials and the new Raspberry Pi 2

As you may have heard, the new Raspberry Pi 2 was released this morning. That would explain why I was able to purchase a Raspberry Pi 1 B+ for less than £21 yesterday! The new model looks great and is currently on sale from the normal places for around £28-£30 inc. delivery.

At Cotswold Raspberry Jam we intend to support all models of Raspberry Pi in our main tutorial sessions for a very long time. I will be making the effort to ensure that our tutorial downloads work on everything from the original day one model B rev. 1.0 with only 256MB of RAM, right through to the rev 1.2 with 512MB, the B+, the new 2B with 1GB RAM and even the model A/A+ variants (although we’ll assume you have a powered USB hub if you’re using the model A/A+ for keyboards & mice).

Our fleet of tutorial machines now numbers 6 thanks to a fantastic amount of donations you gave at the 31th January 2015 event – £78. THANK-YOU. I donated two machines to get us started before the November event, we bought one with the donations after November, I bought another one in December in the hope that we’d raise enough in January, and as it turned out we could afford another two on top of that, even after paying for teas & coffees and pay-as-you-go 3G. All of these models are model 1 B+ and have the PiWorks flip-top clear case and an 8GB Samsung branded SD card. My daughter and I also have a couple of our own B+ machines which can bring the number of tutorial machines to 8, although they’re in Pibow cases and not the flip-top Piworks cases (IMHO the Pibows are more rugged, but the PiWorks cases are more accessible – even more accessible the Pibow Coupé, since the PiWorks flip-top makes it easier to attach and detach the camera lead).

The extra 4-core power, slight speed increase and 1GB RAM headroom does give the Pi 2 the opportunity to do heavy computing tasks which we would not have previously considered. Video processing is probably number one, but a more interesting scenario is Microsoft Windows 10 for Devices, which Microsoft intend to give away free for the Raspberry Pi. Win10 will absolutely not run on the Pi 1 models at all, and it will be interesting to see whether it is fast enough to run *usably* on the Pi 2. I have to say, I’m not convinced, but if it does run well, the big question will be: will there be a Visual Studio for Devices which will allow the Raspberry Pi 2 to be programmed in C# .NET which is highly demanded by employers? (Yes, I know there’s Mono C# .NET under Linux, but it’s not the same thing). All of these are big “ifs” at the moment, but there is a possibility that we might run C# coding sessions in 12-18 months’ time.

Whilst C# dominates the vocational skills arena, it’s not a very friendly language to begin learning coding. So even if C# Visual Studio does become available on the Pi 2, I think C# sessions will probably be for intermediate programmers – mid teens with a bit of experience – and not for the accessible-to-all 6-106 total beginner focus that our tutorials have had so far.

AndyB, others and I spoke this weekend about how we might use more rooms at 95 Promenade to provide show & tell or additional tutorial space. So how I’m seeing it, is that the accessible / beginner tutorials we already do will carry on in Scratch or Python, and we could add a second tutorial room for intermediate tutorials, such as C# or advanced Python. We certainly have the extra rooms available for us, all with projectors, so it’s just a question of having volunteers to prep and deliver tutorials. I’m certainly keen for us to have three tracks – informal in the conference room, beginners in one tutorial room and intermediate tutorials or advanced show-and-tell in a third room.

Amusingly, our wonderful hosts (and my employer) HESA have plenty more monitors for us to use, but we actually used *every* *single* *one* of their keyboards, mice and power gang leads. We also have a distinct lack of powered speakers for audio work, such as Sonic Pi. So it may well be that future donations also go towards accessories, not just more machines. And the raffle for an A+ was clearly very popular!

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2 comments on “Donations, Tutorials and the new Raspberry Pi 2
  1. Steve Martin says:

    Yes, I agree with the ethos of keeping all tutorials independent of Pi flavours.

    I think the idea of having multiple sessions would be very good. It will then be possible to provide more diverse subjects and target the lessons at different levels of experience.

    From the detailed feedback I collected I note that I had mainly children with very little experience, none of whom found it particularly taxing, so we can definitely push it up a notch, this would be easier with more tightly focussed tutorials.

    For next time I’d be happy to repeat the Minecraft Tutorial (either at the same level or push it on a bit). I’ve a Bash Tutorial all ready prepared, or I could do a Python specific tutorial. It’d probably be sensible for me to do a maximum of two sessions, although I’m happy for anyone else to make use of my resources.

    I wonder if it’d be a good idea to allow for pre-booking ? Or will that over-complicate things ?

  2. aoakley says:

    My take so far (and that’s only two events!) is that, give or take one or two, every single child wants to do the main programming tutorial.

    Once the Sibson (existing tutorial) room fills, which is 10 children (5 Pis at 2 per Pi) plus tutor, then we have three other rooms available:

    * Melville room – 6 (3 Pis at 2 per Pi) plus tutor

    * Marshall room – 8 (4 Pis at 2 per Pi) plus tutor

    * Sterling room – 6 (3 Pis at 2 per pi) plus tutor – but note that this room is connected by a foldaway wall to the main Ramsden conference room. My preference would be to simply use this room to extend the conference room.

    All rooms have short-throw HDMI projectors.

    Whilst Sibson and Melville have glass walls, meaning parents can keep an eye on their children without being physically inside the room, Melville and Sterling (when the wall is closed) do not, and thus would need to accommodate parents too. Whilst several of our staff, attendees and tutors are DBS (CRB) checked, unfortunately DBS clearance is by *event* as well as by person, and I don’t think we yet have the scale to sort out DBS clearance for all tutors & staff. For example, I’m DBS cleared as a school governor at a primary school in Tewkesbury, but unlike the old CRB that doesn’t give me DBS clearance to look after children anywhere other than that one primary school.

    So I think that just gives us the Melville room, with glass walls, and a capacity of 6 children (3 Pis) plus tutor.

    We could run show & tells for all ages in the other rooms, of course. (And there’s no reason why adults can’t do the tutorials – but so far it has been 90%+ children).