Kosovo’s First Pi Wars

British engineer Andy Moxon recently contacted us to highlight a Pi Wars event he was organising in Kosovo.

I write to inform you about an event I am running akin to Pi Wars, here in the newly independent country of Kosovo, South-East Europe.

I am a British engineer and have been living in Kosovo as a volunteer for the last two and a half years.  For the past eight months I have been working with two groups of twelve- to fifteen-year-old students in a club we have called ‘Young Innovators’.  It is an after-school club centred around the Raspberry Pi.  We have mainly focused on physical computing, with the aim of building Raspberry Pi-powered robots, similar to those that compete in Pi Wars.

Eager to see the outcome of the event, Liz asked if he would write a blog post for us and, being the lovely chap he is, Andy agreed. We think Mike and Tim, creators of the original Pi Wars, will be thrilled to see this.

Here’s his rundown of the successful event:

Many people are confused about the country of Kosovo, and there’s much that could be written here to rectify this; perhaps most important to us is the fact that it declared independence from Serbia just eight years ago. However, even more importantly (for this blog at least!), the country is not without Python coding, physical computing, robots, and a good number of Raspberry Pis.

Since the start of 2016, I’ve been running an after-school club called ‘Young Innovators’, diving into the world of the Raspberry Pi, to prepare for our (much smaller) version of Pi Wars, happening this December. Based in the small town of Shtime, the club aims to bring to life maths and physics, while also teaching the students programming and robotics.

Kosovo Pi Wars

In one sense, our robots are pretty standard. A single Raspberry Pi Zero is powered by a thin mobile phone power bank, and four AA batteries power two motors via a L293D motor-controller chip. At the front, we have a HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor and two infrared line sensors underneath. Additionally, we use two additional infrared sensors to count wheel revolutions, having painted white stripes on our wheels using nail polish! This opens the robots up to some interesting autonomous challenges, such as the three-point turn, which was included in the last Pi Wars competition.

Kosovo Pi Wars

An area which has caused a lot of excitement in the club has been the recent introduction of an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer.  Using FreeCAD (available for the Pi2 and above) we have designed the chassis of the robots from scratch. This has been a tough but worthwhile exercise, demonstrating the wonders of 3D prototyping.

Kosovo Pi Wars

At the time of writing, the robots have been screwed together and the electronics connected. We’re now in the thick of programming using Pygame (now integral to Python), preparing our eight robots for the battle.

Kosovo Pi Wars

Big thanks must go to the Raspberry Pi blogging community.  I first used a Raspberry Pi just a year ago and, without the dedication of excellent bloggers, we would never have been able to reach this stage.

You can follow our progress on our blog: www.younginnovators-ks.com

See? Told you he was a lovely chap!

13 comments

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Absolutely brilliant.
This is exactly the sort of thing that makes the Raspberry Pi community so great and it is excellent to see ideas like Pi Wars spread out across the world.

It continually amazes me how much volunteers are doing to create and enhance these events and opportunities – long may it continue.

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Have to agree with Andy. I got the Pi BUG a year ago and always love to read about volunteers, and how the Raspberry Pi is bring used, be it education or ‘life’ stuff.

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What wonderful news – it’s great to hear that the idea of Pi Wars is reaching that far! Be great to hear even more about it as you progress! :-)

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cool i l ilove it

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Andy Moxon is a legend

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i find the use of the term “war” a bit inconsiderate. especially in a country like kosovo. :) couldn’t it be named differently?

Alex Bate

Hi Hoarce. Similar concerns were addressed when the original Pi Wars was announced. You can see the conversation on this subject in the comments section of https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-wars-annual-public-robot-olympics/. The Kosovo Pi Wars event was put together by a volunteer living in Kosovo, who has named it after this original Cambridge-based contest. Those involved had no issue with naming it as such – I’m sure Andy would have changed the challenge name if it had.

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Hi, Thanks for all your support and also for the thoughts about using ‘war’ in the title here in Kosovo. You’re certainly right about a recent turbulent past here. It’s interesting how emotive your own language is and how removed you can be from a foreign language, no matter how well you speak it. If I were using an Albanian translation of PiWars, this might raise eyebrows. However, this (slightly strange!) English phrase hasn’t ruffled any feathers here. It is a good reminder though of being careful with the language we use in cross-cultural setting. Thanks.

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Mike here from Cambridge Pi Wars :-)
As much as we would love to have called it the Pi Olympics, we didn’t want to face the wrath of lawyers. So we named it Pi Wars after the BBC television series Robot Wars.
As it turns out, War has nothing to do with it… it’s much more competitive than that ;-)

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Nice efforts, I plan to do the same in Egypt & KSA
Good job Engineer Andy

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Wow! Thank you! So with FreeCad I can design complex 3D objects that can be printed on 3D printers – a very good alternative to Catia expensive licensing. I deeply hate paying for any software license. On PC and Pi I have Ubuntu Mate. PC games in Wine, with the free Direct X from June 2010 installed with winetricks. Windows 10 – when updating automatically slows a PC down, no control for that. And Windows 7 has ended support…

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Long live Linux! My Windblows bugbears are ineffective NTP at bootup (leaving system clock at UTC here in NZ) and ‘go have a cuppa’ bootup and shutdown, along with that auto-updating. My Kubuntu workhorse and Pi (24/7 Ham APRS) are far more “omologato”.

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Excellent effort! The Pi extends knowledge in all sorts of fields, including Societal. Tech goes everywhere :)

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