The Lotter brothers reach Cairo, first ARM/Raspberry Pi workshop in Africa a success!

The Lotter brothers have reached Cairo on their epic overland trip to South Africa. (N.B. That’s ‘epic’ as in Odyssean, not as in finishing a really hard boss level or the pizza shop forgetting to charge you for the stuffed crust option.) Fred and Ernest tell their story so far:

In July this year my brother and I departed from England in a Land Rover Defender. Our mission was to drive back to our home country, South Africa. We selected a route which will take us through Europe, Russia, some Middle Eastern countries, and then down the east coast of the African continent.

We are big fans of ARM technology and specifically the Raspberry Pi. Our car is fitted with networked Raspberry Pi’s which control internal lights and external spotlights. We are both electronic engineers (I had the privilege to work at ARM Ltd. for the last 8 years) so we decided to offer some technical workshops to schools, universities, technology hubs and technical business incubators on the way down, with our focus on Africa.

We created a two day workshop which gives attendees the opportunity to learn how to build a complete Raspberry Pi based Embedded Linux system to control external electronics. The workshop consists of technical training and hands-on practical sessions covering a wide range of  topics such as building a custom Linux kernel and root filesystem, GPIO access, networking, multi-threading and Python programming.

 

Due to the current situation in Egypt, it took us almost two months (and two freight ships) to finally get the car and ourselves from Turkey to Cairo.

On the 25th of October we had our first full workshop in Cairo, Egypt. The workshop was hosted by The District and ICE Cairo, both business incubator hubs helping new start-up companies to get on their feet. We ran the workshop for a group of about 20 people all with slightly different technical backgrounds (we had 10 Raspberry Pi kits available for the event).

We start the day by looking at the company ARM Ltd and discuss topics such as the ARM business model, the ARM ecosystem and typical design cycle of an ARM based System-On-Chip (SOC). We then introduce the ARM based Raspberry Pi and discuss the capabilities of the board, and look at the available peripherals.

Demoing the Raspberry Pi at the Cairo workshop

One focus area of this course is Embedded Linux so we then dive straight into Linux application development and we explain how the GPIO, networking and threading API works under Linux. The practical sessions take them from setting up the SD card to completing their first Python program by which they use the GPIO ports to access a simple electronic circuit which they have built on a breadboard using discrete components.

Learning the basics of GPIO

The second half of the course focuses on the Linux kernel and root filesystem. We discuss some of the Linux kernel default configurations for the Raspberry Pi and then look at the Buildroot environment for compiling a custom minimal embedded root filesystem. Finally, we discuss some of the popular filesystem types and consider the problem of corruption on power cuts. The practical sessions gives each person a chance to build a complete kernel and root filesystem from source and set up the SD card from scratch.

We had a fantastic time in Cairo and are looking forward to our next stop in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia where we will meet up with people form ICE Addis. Raspberry Pi is sponsoring the practical kits for the workshops we are running – thank you guys!

If anyone is interested in attending or hosting an ARM/Raspberry Pi workshop in Africa in the future, please send us an email or visit our Facebook page.

You can track our current location here.

16 comments

IL avatar

What you do, sharing your knowledge with people, is the most wonderful thing! How I wish I attend your workshop! Btw, have you already crossed Aswan Dam, have you seen it? :)

David avatar

Awesome people, as well as epic.

AndrewS avatar

Wow, they certainly managed to pack a lot into a two day workshop!

According to the tracker-map they’re stuck in the middle of a lake?? Hopefully that’s just a GPS error!

clive avatar

Either that or their Landy has a very long snorkel.

Matt avatar

Great story from some great people! I hope they have a great time on the rest of their trip.

Side note, the link to their facebook page was appended to the end of this website. Here’s the correct link:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/raspberrypiafrica

clive avatar

Fixed, thanks.

Alfon avatar

It would be great to package this stuff and have it offered as a MOOC.

Alan Bell avatar

great stuff, really exciting project. Are you doing anything to encourage the places you are visiting to get more women involved? I see lots of keen young chaps in the pictures and one woman with some cool electronics she has assembled.

Jim Manley avatar

It’s Fred and Ernest Raspberryseed! They’re the African equivalent to Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), who gave out seeds for growing apple trees as he criss-crossed Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This is such a phenomenally scathingly brilliant idea that we need to figure out how to get a lot more such knowledgeable folks out of their armchairs and on the road doing this sort of thing. It’s challenging to get Mohammed (students) to come to the mountain (school), but when the school comes visiting them in the form of a traveling side show from a distant land, well, it’s just too hard to resist.

As we say via Navy flaghoist signals, Bravo Zulu, Fred and Ernest Lotter!

ahmed galal avatar

proud that i attended that session :)

sure gained a lot

Hazem avatar

this Workshop is very interesting, and hope you repeat it again in Cairo Egypt

A. Kartturi avatar

Now the tracker claims that you are already in Kenya. Did you stop at Addis Ababa at all?

BTW, here’s one interesting application for using a 3G-dongle together with Raspberry PI:
http://dtuunicef.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/using-the-raspberry-pi-as-a-sms-gateway-by-a-huawei-hilink-3g-dongle/

Hazem avatar

Dear Sirs, can you send me the training manual note you made in cairo?,so i can study it?, i couldnt attend the event, but may be i can read the note, is that possible? thank you for help

Kyle avatar

What a great event! If you were ever to publish this little intro course online (as others have mentioned), I would love to have a look at it myself!!

Hazem avatar

the locator showes that you are in Tanzania, and wish you luck dears, and god bless you…

Simon Goddard avatar

Please let me know when you will be in Cape Town.

Thanks

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