Ex-policeman and now a maker at Raspberry Pi, who is Toby Roberts?
Like many people with a Raspberry Pi, Toby Roberts’ entry into the world of our favourite microcomputer was via a media centre build. He’d been building and making as part of his job long before that though.
“I used to be a police officer tackling serious organised crime and terror threats across the east of the UK,” Toby tells us. “I was a Technical Surveillance Officer for 15 years, so I built stuff to hide video, audio, and other covert gear. You really don’t want your sensitive police equipment discovered, so I’d disguise it as something else. The variety of tools and equipment I used then really shaped what I do today.”
When did you learn about Raspberry Pi?
I started playing with Raspberry Pi hardware at home around the same time I started using Linux at work. I have used Raspberry Pi a lot in various police tactics over the years. They were dependable, low-cost, portable, and supported by such an awesome community. I tried almost every ‘fruit-based’ single-board computer out there, but I always came back to Raspberry Pi.
What’s it like working at Raspberry Pi?
While I enjoyed my time in the police, it was tough at times, so it’s really pleasant now to be in such a joyful environment. During all those years of working with Raspberry Pi, I never thought I’d end up working here; as I’ve always been a Raspberry Pi fan, I’m fascinated to see what takes place behind the scenes. I’m now a small part of its future, which is amazing!
What have been some of your favourite projects?
I really enjoyed designing and building my own 3D printer, which I named Krane. For my computer-aided design work, I used Fusion 360, which has a steep learning curve but is fantastic for 3D printing. The whole concept of using 3D printing to make other 3D printers is lots of fun. I added a Raspberry Pi with a screen so that OctoPrint could be run from it. Even though 3D printers are relatively inexpensive, making one from scratch is very rewarding. 3D printing is an excellent hobby that pairs perfectly with many Raspberry Pi projects.
What other hobbies do you have?
In the past, I flew drones for the police, and I still enjoy building and flying them. I love 3D printing and design. I have three FDM printers and one SLA printer. I also have a laser cutter and a CNC machine. They have all been put to practical use on Raspberry Pi projects like RP2040-based lightsabres, Raspberry Pi Pico Iron Man reactors, and even an automated swear box for the office – just for the giggles.