Friday grab bag

Adafruit Web IDE

First up, Adafruit’s Raspberry Pi Web IDE is now in Alpha, and they’ve made some improvements which I think you’ll find very helpful. The package now includes:

  • Python step debugger
  • Node.js update to 0.8 from 0.6 for faster navigation, and page loads.
  • Package node binaries with the WebIDE for faster, and easier installs

You’ll need to reinstall to take advantage of the new features.

Web IDE debugger in action – click to visit Adafruit


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Mark Baldridge is taking a year out between high school and university, and he’s spending that year on hobby projects. This is one of them: a home-made pinball machine with a Raspberry Pi for brains.

Click to visit TechFruits for a tour of the system, and some video

We thought this was a brilliant project. Eben and I have always fantasised about having the time to refurbish an old pinball machine, but we’d never thought of building one from scratch – we’re in awe. Mark is also blogging his progress on his own website – check it out!

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

O’Reilly have just published a new Raspberry Pi book under the Make banner. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually got my hands on a copy of Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi yet, so I can’t review it here. But I do know Matt Richardson from Make, who wrote it; and I know that he’s a great teacher and demonstrator, and a very engaging writer, so I feel pretty confident in telling you to go and check it out. When I last spoke to Matt, he mentioned that the book would contain a chapter on using the Pi with Arduino, which was something we didn’t include in Eben and Gareth’s The Raspberry Pi User Guide (the two books should complement each other nicely, if you have room on your sheves) – Matt’s book also contains a chapter on working with webcams. Click the image to visit the Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Amazon page.

Raspberry Jam

Alan O’Donohoe led another London Raspberry Jam last week. We’re really excited to see that his message is getting out: every one of these events seems to be larger and more diverse than the last. (Alan has started holding the events at weekends, which makes them much more accessible for kids.)

Around 70 children, parents and teachers came to learn what they could do with a Raspberry Pi at a number of workshops – we sent Rob Bishop, our roving engineer, to join in. Alan has a short post about the event, and a photo album you can have a flick through. He’s looking for sponsorship so he can make the jams even bigger and better – if you can help, please email me at, and I’ll pass your message along.

Train times

Finally, here’s a project from Gareth James, a man who lives five minutes from the train station but always seems to get there just as the train is leaving. He’s made a very handsome picture frame which displays train times, powered, of course, by a Raspberry Pi. You can find out how he did it on his website.


Bob Cochran avatar

I do have Matt’s and Shawn’s book. I’m still going through it. One thing is clear to me — I’m definitely buying more things from Adafruit because of it. I’ve actually taken the train to and from Brighton, and I’ve walked on Brighton Pier, as I believe it is called. Speaking as an American I feel quite impressed with British trains. They seem so much better than our Amtrak, which to be fair really needs additional funding.

otakucode avatar

I remember being a very young teenager and going to a local BBS meetup and being endlessly happy to find so many other people with interests the same as mine (and aside from the daughter of one of the sysops, I was by far the youngest one in attendance, most were much, much older). Having events like this likely gives the kids more of a boost than you could ever imagine. Technology is a great tool for levelling the playing field, and being treated as an equal by adults is something that most kids NEVER get to experience! Think about it, no matter what they do most kids only interact with adults when the adults have a position of authority over them. That seriously hinders their ability to form relationships with people unlike themselves!

I had a great late childhood and adolescence and now have a great adulthood thanks to computers. What you guys are doing for these kids is beyond cool and will benefit them for the rest of their lives!

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