A history of Raspberry Pi in LEGO

There is a significant chance that this is the very best thing on the internet. Richard Hayler and his two boys have built a massive LEGO diorama tracking the history of the Raspberry Pi, from concept to Astro Pi’s visit to the ISS.


The level of detail’s amazing. Here’s a group of mad scientists inventing the Pi:


And here’s a primary school with its own Raspberry Pi setup, some deliveries going on in the background.


Here, for some reason, are a PIrate, MOnkey, RObot and NInja hiding in some bushes.


And here’s a lady in a pith helmet.


There are loads more pictures and much more explanation over at Richard’s website: click here, or on any of the pictures to marvel at the enormous detail Richard and the boys have gone into. Bonus points if you can work out what the hotdog guy is all about. (I couldn’t, and I work here.)



Avedo avatar

That’s how we imagine the Raspberry Pi Foundation headquaters. ;-)

Liz Upton avatar

It’s actually pretty close. On my desk there’s a stand with 35 bottles of fountain pen ink, a pot of mustard, some LEGO science ladies, a few awards, a plastic deer from Japan that does a poo when you squeeze it, a tank of brine shrimp, a pile of Linux magzines, Mumm Ra, a giant cuddly resistor, 144 coloured crayons and several pictures of my nephew.

And a pot of Marmite.

Martin Bonner avatar

Pictures, or you’re making it up.

Sean avatar

Woaaaaah. That makes my locker look clean, orderly and professional. That’s just… a mad scientist’s lair.

Emma avatar

Love the random things … are the peppers & herb pots your shopping, or do you have exciting lunches at work?
Also, from the first view (lady scientists [i also have them & Olivia’s Invention Workshop on my desk) – do you speak German, or has someone just sent you the mag?

Liz Upton avatar

We got a gift basket today from a charity award Eben did some judging for – those were the things I filched from it. I speak a bit of German – my brother lives there, and I can read the magazine, but I’m not very good at talking!

We do also have exciting lunches here: we use a Pi to cook stuff sous vide, we have office butchery deliveries, and a whole cupboard full of ramen…

The Raspberry Pi Guy avatar

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein

W. H. Heydt avatar

I once worked for a company that set great store in people having a clean desk at the end of the day. My solution was an empty drawer to shove everything on my desk into. Next day, take it all out again. Probably cost the company at least half an hour of my time per day.

Frank Bax avatar

At least you have a Mac! :)

Mike Cook avatar

I had a head of department who said to a colleague “The state of your desk reflects the state of your mind.”, To which he replied “Then I assume your desk is empty.”

Ken MacIver avatar

Untidy Desk == Untidy Mind
Is that the physical Desk or the Virtual Desktop.

My physical desktop looks like a landfill site in progress. But touch my icons and folder arrangements and you may die..sloowwly

Pesonally I follow the Empty Glass philosophy..
“OOh look a full glass, {Slurp slurp}, Problem solved”

Liz Upton avatar

I’m much the same: my virtual desktop is as clean as a whistle.

Chris Krz avatar

The saying goes: “If a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, what then does an empty desk signify?”
Although… every once in a while it helps to go beyond excavational activities and clear up the mess. Last time I did this, I happened to find several micro USB chargers, loads of breadboard cables, a resistor and a micro SD card with a long forgotten Raspberry Pi project.

Eric Bouchard avatar

Hi Liz. Could be a good idea to post photos of that (your desk). And a virtual tour (or something like that).

Rick Post avatar

This is SO AWESOME on so many levels!! It’s also, of course the whole reason the Raspberry Pi foundation exists so kids like this can be exposed to things like the Pi and all do “THE NEXT BIG THING!” with technology!

A big standing ovation for everyone involved! BRAVO!!

Now, about that Marmite……..

Andy avatar

Also see:
YOWSER! What programming lingo is that in the background???

J Alway avatar

That looks like Scratch to me.

-rst- avatar

Google Blockly maybe?

paddyg avatar

If you’ve never played with scratch do it now – even if you’re a hard nosed assembly coder.

Dougie avatar

You are joking of course. Real programming is done with 24 lines of 80 characters, green UPPERCASE only text on a black background. We don’t need no stinking visual GUI stuff.

Programming is supposed to be difficult, not a painting by numbers.

Eric Olson avatar

Whenever I’ve tried Scratch, it seemed much more difficult than just typing in the code. Maybe if my computer didn’t have a keyboard Scratch would have an advantage.

One interesting thing about the Raspberry Pi is that it provides, by default, the same Unix programming environment used on every modern supercomputer. For US$35 anyone can begin learning the same programming skills used by adults for serious computation.

Teaching Scratch is like teaching children to read and write using I.T.A., the initial teaching alphabet. What is learned has to be unlearned before something practical is obtained. As a result, most elementary schools start teaching the standard system of reading and writing used by adults from the beginning.

Since typing isn’t such a bad thing or even that hard, couldn’t we do the same with programming? Let’s start with methods that doesn’t have to be unlearned to be of practical use later.

Clive Beale avatar

Not sure where to start with this TBH, it’s very misinformed. You don’t have to “unlearn anything” and as for “more difficult than just typing” the whole point of Scratch is that it removes syntactical barriers and allows young people to tinker and create and to learn computing *concepts*. It also has a powerful collaborative aspect.

I suggest reading “Scratch: Programming for all” (http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/papers/Scratch-CACM-final.pdf) to start; then glancing at some of Resnick’s other stuff (http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/); then maybe some of the educational research on Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/info/research/).

Eric Olson avatar

Thank you Clive for replying even though this discussion on Scratch is off topic. I have read the article “Scratch Programming for All” and would like to point out “Learn to Code Code to Learn” from the same website.


The idea that Scratch allows beginners to be creative sooner is exactly a purported advantage of using the initial teaching alphabet in primary school. However, the ease of learning has to be weighed against the disadvantages of learning something that doesn’t extend to practical use cases. To quote the first article,

“For some Scratchers, especially those who want to pursue a career in programming or computer science, it is important to move on to other languages.”

At the beginning of the microcomputer age many systems booted up with a programming language called Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. BASIC provided an easy way to get started with programming, but was also used by adults to write accounting programs and worse. Since it could satisfy the needs of adults as well as children it is all that many people needed.

These early microcomputers were real computers in exactly the same was the Raspberry Pi is a real computer. To continue quoting from the article,

“But for many other Scratchers, who see programming as a medium for expression, not a path toward a career, Scratch is sufficient for their needs.”

Except for professional artists, most adults wouldn’t consider programming as a medium for expression. Where are the Scratch programs written by adults that do practical things grownups are interested in?

It would appear, and I may be wrong about this, that Scratch can’t even be used for the practical things a child might be interested in such as algorithmically building a maze in Minecraft, controlling a Pi-powered robot or monitoring a weather-vane anemometer. Maybe it would be better to start with Python. It is more likely to be of practical use to both children and adults who are not professional programmers.

Clive Beale avatar

“It would appear, and I may be wrong about this, that Scratch can’t even be used for the practical things a child might be interested in such as algorithmically building a maze in Minecraft, controlling a Pi-powered robot or monitoring a weather-vane anemometer.”

It can do the latter two and *much* more, it’s not the toy it might first appear :).

You’re right, this conversation belongs elsewhere (our forums!) but I’ll just say that I’m approaching this as an ICT/computing teacher of 12 years, including several years using Scratch as a teaching and learning tool with thousands of kids (and Python, Java, BASIC etc with hundreds of others). I’m going to take a guess that you are a professional engineer /scientist / academic – who uses computing as an everyday tool – and not a teacher. This is not to denigrate your arguments off-hand but I *know* that if you were a classroom teacher of computing you wouldn’t be saying what you are.

It’s hard to step back as an expert in something and understand that kids don’t have your worldview, dexterity, reasoning skills or experience. This is a good teacher’s super power ;)

Peter M avatar

What a relief! I was worried that the Raspberry Pi was made by robots.

Just got my Pi 2 and I can’t wait to see it doing something useful such as blinking a LED.

Since raspberries are a bit hard to find in wintery New York City, we’ll make a blueberry pie once the pie-two boots. Rock and roll and a pot of tea are on hand so success is assured. If that fails, the corner pub will supply solace.

My old Pie is looking wistfully at all this mayhem. But I shushed old-Pie reminding it how it was sneering at Arduino and how Arduino was chuckling at my Parallax Basic Stamp.

Just like I love all my Lego pieces equally, none of my little-bot-brains will ever be cast aside.

Derick avatar

Wish I could see the ink colours! And make out some of the other brands, apart from Diamine and Private Reserve. I don’t have any Private Reserve, but I can manage 30+ Diamine, a couple of Lamy and a couple of Waterman. Current favourites – Cult Pens custom Diamine ‘Deep Dark’ shades.

Liz Upton avatar

Welcome, fellow pen-nerd. What you can see there is a bunch of Pilot Iroshizuku, lots of Diamine (including several from the Music and Flower sets), Private Reserve, a couple of Noodlers, some J Herbin, several Sailor inks, a lonely bottle of Waterman and a bottle of Pelikan Edelstein.

I also have about the same amount at home…

Derick avatar

I admit to a slight case of jealousy! Okay, delete ‘slight’ and substitute ‘serious’. At least I’ve heard or read about all of the brands! Despite working with and around computers for over 40 years, I still have a great fondness for the fountain pen. Current favourites – TWSBI 530 (about three years old) and Parker 51 (about 50 years old), both with fine nibs. There’s something sensuous about a fountain pen used with a nice paper. I have to admit, though, I doodle code fragments in pencil! We only have five computers at home (with a Pi 2 on its way) but I must have about sixty fountain pens. Pen nerd indeed.

Liz Upton avatar

I’ve around the same number – most of mine are vintage pens which I’ve restored. (I still have a goodly number of new ones, though…)

I *massively* prefer old, flexible nibs (although I’ve got a nice new Pilot Namiki with the Falcon flexi nib, which sees a lot of use). Interesting nibs are almost always more exciting for me than pretty pens – which is not to say that I don’t have several really beautiful Japanese urushi pens and some really lovely vintage filigree Watermans and Mabie Todds. (Sorry everybody else – this is massively OT!)

Derick avatar

You’re right, we’re way OT. Feel free to contact me direct if you want to talk pens without boring everyone else! My writing style suits a stiffer nib, but I do have an old Parker Slimfold with a flexible left-oblique nib (I’m left-handed) which is a delight to use, but it’s too small in my hand for sustained writing so I don’t use it often. My goddaughter is a secondary school deputy head, and I gave her a dozen or so old pens for her students. Apparently they went down well. I hasten to add that none had flexible nibs! We’ve probably bored everyone else enough by now, I feel, so thanks for your replies, and keep the faith!

HBE avatar

What a brilliant piece of LEGO art!!! I wish I could do presentations in LEGO instead of Powerpoint and PDF.


Carrie Anne Philbin avatar

I’m pretty sure I recognise that pith helmet!

Liz Upton avatar

It did seem…familiar.

Max Bolton avatar

who ever built this should send it to lego and see if they can get it ‘published’ (in the lego world) because its really cool.also you could hook a raspberry pi up to it with flashing leds in it.

AndrewS avatar

Are we any nearer to working out what the hotdog guy is about?

Liz Upton avatar

Nobody in the office had a clue.

Pete Lomas avatar

As one of the Mad Scientists I don’t post often but this was a must! – They got the lab coat and my hair almost spot on – it’s not quite all grey yet and more gel required (on the real hair) I think.

This is Lego (an Raspberry Pi) being used for it’s original purpose – being creative in whatever form that takes – absolutely love it. Made me smile for hours…

MalMan35 avatar

That is cool! I did something a little differnt, I used my raspberry pi to create a website for my stop-motion animated films (it’s my other hobby) http://www.mem3500films.minksfamily.com

Reynaldo avatar

Very interesting job!

Tom avatar

Maybe the HotDog guy has some HD-business (Video, Photos, …)

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