Meet Raspberry Pi’s Maker in Residence – Toby Roberts

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.

toby roberts with a multi coloured light saber he made
These amazing custom lightsabres can be seen at events Raspberry Pi visits

“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.”

Toby’s custom 3D printer has been used for many amazing projects in the office, and was used for our Poltergust G-00 tutorials
Toby’s custom 3D printer has been used for many amazing projects in the office, and was used for our Poltergust G-00 tutorials

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!

An infinity mirror arc reactor, which you can recreate from his tutorial earlier in the issue
An infinity mirror arc reactor, which you can recreate from his tutorial earlier in the issue

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.

pico chocolate
Toby created silicon moulds so he could make Pico W-shaped chocolates

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.

Toby prefers to laser cut his pumpkins at Halloween

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AndrewS avatar

Hey Toby! *waves*

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Vic avatar

Very good very inspiring

Reply to Vic

Charlie Brown avatar

Welcome Toby! very cool projects, I might have to build one of those swear jars for our office :P

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Robert avatar

How on Earth do you get a pumpkin to fit in a laser cutter?

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Armand avatar

I’m sure he’ll make an excellent addition to the crew, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge.

Congratulations and welcome, Toby.

Reply to Armand

Brian avatar

Welcome! Awesome that you used your skills to catch criminals,and cool that you’re applying them now in the maker space!

Reply to Brian

Marc avatar

My support to Toby and the Raspi team. :waves:

Reply to Marc

Andrew avatar

Looking forward to some great builds Toby and thanks for your many years of service helping to keep us all safe.

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Fred avatar

Hello Toby, lovely to meet you and welcome to the Raspberry Pi tribe!
I am looking forward to reading more about your creations and also any ideas you share with us :-)
I bet you also have loads of interesting stories to share over a pint or two, what an interesting career you’ve had!
Also, thank you for your service :-)
All the best!

Reply to Fred

John Guild avatar

Hi Toby, I am sure your perspective and experience will add a lot of value to your position at Raspberry PI. And, thanks for doing your part to keep us safe.

Reply to John Guild

Nick avatar

Not just a policeman, but a geeky policeman. :D It’s great when you can to cool stuff at your workplace not by using computers, but building stuff with them, and around them. :)

Nice addition to the team. Congrats, Toby! :D

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