Thursday, December 13, 2012

Strathclyde Christmas Lecture

Raspberry Pi and Aduino: Pioneers of Open Hardware
Duncan Smeed - University of Strathclyde

{Live capture of Christmas lecture}

Computers of Christmas Past

Duncan Smeed's first experience of computers was as an undergraduate using the university's mainframe computer but the Rapberry Pi is now powerful enough to emulate those mainframes. His first home computer was the Dragon 32 and he recommended looking at The Register's history of the Dragon 32.

Also talked about the first British laptop - The Liberator - which was designed for the Civil Service.

Christmas Present

It was suggested that Luxor Jr from Pixar was a major influence on current computing - inspiring and showing what was possible. For example, it inspired projects such as Lamp which is a physical computing student project:

This project is possible thanks to Open Source Software and Hardware.

CERN have adopted an Open Source Hardware approach, so that anything they develop can be built and developed by others. The Arduino Uno is another example of Open Hardware. Anyone can download the diagrams etc. and build their own. More generally, Open Design is building items, not just computer using open source philosophy See for example the RepRap 3D printer project and various cases for the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Foundation was set up by academics who re-mortgaged their homes to set up it up. It has been hugely successful and they are on track to sell over one million Raspberry Pi devices by the end of the year. The Raspberry Pi is over 3000 times more powerful than the Dragon 32 from the 1980s and is significantly cheaper: £30 compared to approximately £800 at today's prices. The increase in power puts it on the right place on the Moore's Law curve.

An aspect of Open Source projects is the communities that support them. With the Raspberry Pi, there are: the official forums; user generated wikis; the suppliers (Farnell and RSS) provide information; user generated videos; and magazines (MagPi magazine sought funding through Kickstarter and now has more than enough backers and money to produce a print run of the magazine). There are a number of user generated SD Card images that have been developed so you can use the Rasperry Pi as a media centre.

Some examples of student projects were shown. For example: a key safe that only opens if you pass a breathalyser test; T-Shirt message display system; robot laser tag game.

Christmas Future

Chris Anderson and the Maker Movement. "Hardware is the new software!" See for example, FabLab.

Open Software, Open Hardware... Open Learner - get involved!

Example video of Raspberry Pi in the MAME cabinet. University of Manchester have a Raspberry Pi Bake Off.

Various YouTube videos can be found on Raspberry Pi projects.