Summer Tech-Dojo – Rhyl 2015

Come and learn all about the fun and exciting things you can do with a Raspberry Pi. There will be a range of activities including hacking Minecraft using Python and creating an artificially intelligent chatbot.

This event is aimed at 10 year olds and above, if your child is younger than 10, please contact the event organiser prior to booking.

Each day is exactly the same so you only need to book your child on to one of the days as places are limited therefore BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL ON ONE OF THE DAYS ONLY. 

Parents/carers are encouraged to attend with their child however only a child place needs to be booked.

The Rhyl Tech-Dojo will run for 3 dates in July, please book using one of the links below.

Monday 27th July 2015 10am – 2pm

Tuesday 28th July 2015 10am – 2pm

Wednesday 29th July 2015 10am – 2pm


Picademy – The Raspberry Pi Academy

It’s been almost a week since the Picademy began, and for me I suppose it held a different meaning to the majority of teachers that attended. I’ve had a Pi since day 1 when I was frantically clicking just like everyone else to get hold of one. Again, like most, I plugged it in, thought “Kewl!” And then it sat there for maybe a month or so until I cracked to open to have a real go at what it could do. For me, being a child who coded back in the 80’s and spent most of my young life on Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and the like, one of the first things I got it doing was retro gaming, this provided a spark of interest amongst the children in my school, most of which had never heard of the likes of Frogger! I digress, back to Picademy!
As a lead teacher at Picademy, I was invited because of the success I have had in integrating the Pi into the Tech-Dojo events I have organised at Ysgol Bryn Elian and for some of the innovative tasks I have had children complete using Scratch.
So bright and early on Monday 14th April 2014, we all waited in anticipation of what lay ahead. The agenda for the day was absolutely jam-packed, and rightly so. So much to cram in that was fun, relevant, useful, and had a deep learning outcome. We played with the PiCamera initially, something I’d yet to have a go with, I’ve got to say, the libraries of software that comes with this is impressive, with lots to do and learn along the way. It was at this point that my focus in Picademy took hold.

I was completely immersed in watching how teachers learn.

They obviously learn in the same way children do, and face the same issues children do, and experience the same things children do. Fear of embarrassment, exploration, discovery, awe, wonder, intrigue, sense of achievement, but then teachers have that extra facet to their learning, application. The conversations throughout the tasks often centred around where the best learning outcome was in the task for children. Of course there were many. Creativity, coding, and problem solving to mention a few.
Working with another Wales based colleague I guided him through coding in Python where we encountered syntax errors and then shared the joy when we were successful.

We then moved on to physical computing and experimenting with the GPIO pins on the Pi, coding traffic lights. A task I’d already completed with my Year 7 class using Scratch last term. Again, seeing how teachers tackled this was really intriguing. Here we were, only two sessions in and complete novices were confidently plugging in hardware.
This was a completely new experience for most of the teachers, but one which they all found a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. I heard lots of of people burst out with “Yes!” a few times when it worked as they wanted it to.
Next up was Minecraft, the tasks provided by Craig Richardson were absolutely brilliant and allowed all to code Minecraft using Python. Dave Honess couldn’t overstate just how much children love Minecraft and that by using this as a hook, once again, deep learning could take place. If you haven’t seen the Minecraft work by Craig before, it is seriously top drawer and well worth a peek! You’re children will love it!
What followed in the afternoon was a session using @SamAaron‘s Sonic Pi. Sam is one of the most inspirational, motivated coders with an absolute passion for what he does it was a pleasure to be in his company. He provided a session on Sonic Pi before everyone got coding music. It all went a bit disco/90’s rave by the end of it, but some great music was being coded across the room.
The second day began with talks from Eben Upton, Matt Manning, and Sam Aaron, before a day of hacking and making got underway. Lots of great projects took shape and teachers were busy playing with components, LED’s, PiCameras, and breakout boards. There was a real buzz in the air as everyone started hacking their projects.
Here is a video of our bullet-Time Babbage project, unfortunately, not the desired matrix style as we ran out of time, but not forgetting, the production as well as the filming of the video was all done on a Raspberry Pi!

For the Foundation, it’s vitally important that the whole Education arm is sustainable, particularly as far as educational resources are concerned. For that reason, we enjoyed a session on GitHub from Ben Nuttall about how best to go about documenting lesson plans and schemes of work. Lincoln even made an appearance here which he was very pleased with.
The event was wrapped up by Carrie Anne Philbin who did a superb job in putting this quality CPD together. Attendees shared their experiences of the two days before eagerly heading off on their individual journeys to a life of Pi.

For me personally, I look forward to mirroring the success of this event when I take Picademy to the teachers of North Wales this summer. One thing is for sure as far as the Foundations core aims are concerned building and getting the Pi to where it is now was the first part of the job, now, it’s up to educationalists alike to populate a wealth of resources to really take the movement forward so that computer science can once again become commonplace amongst our young learners.

Look out for more Picademy events in the future!

Make an Intruder Alarm with a Raspberry Pi and a Pibrella

In this post we are going to have a look at how we might go about making an intruder alarm using a Raspberry Pi and the Pibrella add-on board.

You will need a Raspberry Pi and a Pibrella board connected directly or via a ribbon cable, IMPORTANT: don’t push too hard, get the pins lined up and push steadily and firmly.

Pibrella Connected

Firstly, you need to open Python (IDLE) on the Raspberry Pi.

Then click File > Open >

In this Python window, we are going to program a working intruder alarm using the code from the master file below.

Make sure  the code looks exactly as shown, the smallest of mistakes will cause your code not to run or give unexpected results.

SAVE your file as alarm

Now you need to wire up the alarm so that we have a working ‘live’ circuit.

Using the jumper wire provided, connect both the ‘A’ terminals together. This will act as our door or window contact.
Jumper Cable

When you have saved the file and wired the contacts, open LX Terminal from the desktop, when the terminal opens type:

sudo python then press ENTER

sudo allows us to run commands as a super user so we can have access to the GPIO pins, python tells the system to run the next file in the python environment and is the file that should be opened.


Your intruder alarm is now active, to test it works, remove one end of the wires from the contact, your lights should flash and the alarm should go off, like in the video below. If it doesn’t work, your code may have an error which will need to be found and fixed, more debugging!

To reset the alarm, simply press the button.


You could try and modify the code so that the alarm is intermittent
– Then you could try to change thecode further by altering the frequency of the buzzer to make it a two tone alarm (tip: use different values in the brackets of the buzz command)

Using the Pibrella board with a Raspberry Pi you can control lots of other devices like PIR sensors, control motors, and lots more.

Intruder alarm code taken from

The ideal Raspberry Pi setup in school


So I’ve recently been adding bits and bobs to the Raspberry Pi’s at school and begun to face the same problem I’m sure many of you have. You find a resource/program/app to add and then you have to go and add it to all the other cards for the rest of the pi’s. Including all the little setup tweaks we like to have. Which got me working on my latest mission, create an ideal setup with the majority (as far as it can be) of software required for a school environment and then clone it to all the other cards, setup and all.

Here’s the list so far that includes additions from my PLN:

Weather Station – @heyiolo
XiX Music Player
xrdp – for Remote Desktop
Wifi and VNC – @boeeerb
Python pi-camera – @TommyBobbins

Some hardware suggestions:

Pibrella and 7 Segments of Pi (@Cyntech1) – @Geeky_Tim @recantha @gadgetoid

Adventures in Raspberry pi by Carrie Anne Philbin is also a must have!!

So what else do we need for the perfect setup for school? Tweet me at @MrAHeard and I’ll add your suggestions to the list.