Mozilla Raspberry Jam and the Monsters under the bed!

The MozSpace in central London played host to a Raspberry Jam on Thursday evening 20 Sep 2012. For the uninitiated, that’s an event where owners of a Raspberry Pi get together with others to display their current projects and to explore new ideas. A Rasberry Pi is a small computer without extras – it’s like buying a car chassis with an engine but without the wheels, the seats, and controls!

Our first thoughts when we heard about the Raspberry Pi (RPI) was that anybody who wanted a small computer would be better off spending their money on one which was complete and usable. However, that opinion changed when we heard about the General Purpose Input Output (GPIO). The GPIO connector (top left in this photo) allows the RPI to interact with external devices, either sending instructions, receiving data, or both. And that opens up a world of possibilities.

We don’t have a Raspberry Pi yet, but we will get one.

Now, consider for a moment the AR Drone. That’s an expensive toy – a quadro-copter – which you can fly over wifi by using an iPhone. We don’t have one of those either, but we’ve been lucky enough to try them out on more than one occasion. The beauty of the AR Drone is that as you fly it with your iPhone, the video from the drone’s on board camera is streamed to your phone.

Do you see where this is going? Imagine if you could build a device around an RPI which you could then “pilot” using your mobile phone? Could be an Android phone, doesn’t have to be an iPhone! That was the spark that helped us come up with the idea for building semi autonomous robots which we call . . .

Monsters Under The Bed

And, if we had a 3D printer like a MakerBot¬† - no, we don’t have one of them either, but we are reliably informed on the grapevine that Santa is bringing us one if we’re good this year, then we would be able to make most of the component parts of our robot monsters.

So equipped with an RPI, a MakerBot, a box of bits and pieces (there are a lot of bits and pieces at London Hackspace and similar organisations) and some pictures in our head of the Mars Rover wearing a cyclist’s helmet cam. . .

. . . we think that we can find enough Raspberry Jammers to help us make progress with Monsters Under The Bed (or MutB for short). Don’t hold your breath! We don’t have the money, the time, nor the right kit to do this. We simply have the creativity and some elementary skills in hacking software and hacking hardware. A whole lot of things have to happen in the right place, at the right time, and in the right sequence.

But if we can build one, then we can build many. Imagine this -  one MutB commander leads an army of clone MutBs who seek and destroy all the alien monsters under your bed!

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