SLRJam Review of Robot Hack


What an amazing week! Thanks to everyone who have read my blog as this week we reached 377 visitors from 50 countries and my Pi Wars review was featured on the official Raspberry Pi Blog! Link here. Thanks to Liz Upton, who writes the RPi blog, and for the awesome books you sent to me. I’ve started on  The Sparkfun Guide to Processing by Derek Runberg.

A short video of some of the robots we made:

On Saturday we had our second SLR Jam at Bellingham Gateway community centre! It was awesome. We had over 20 kids, eight of us with  Autism or Tourette’s Syndrome.  We did Sonic Pi  and live coding with Derek Shaw(@techsysuk), Soldering with my Dad and Joel Newman, Minecraft  -Me and Mark Welton(@mpwelton),  building circuits with Play Dough  – thank you Nico’s dad,  Hour of Code and Video Game making with Scratch  with our very own ‘Code Club’ Marc   Grossman'(@ukgrossman).


IMG_0587Our main attraction was the robots – overseen by Thomas and his dad Frank along with Andy Meyers(@Southendtech) & Jim Darby(@HackerJimbo). The Robot hack was something new, where  everyone worked in small groups, starting with the CamJam EduKit #3 Robot and a batch of worksheets – building up to the point where each group could control their robot untethered using the Kano wireless keyboards. Mum gave my Robot, which I’d started Earlier in the week, to Thomas so he and his dad could take it further – they got to the line detector stage successfully. They also copied the code to others who needed extra support. They were fantastic – I have to admit, cos I was working on the Minecraft session, I do feel I missed out a bit on the Robots but that’s what taking responsibility is about. Mum said I can finish off my CamJam Robot later in the week. I’d better get cracking cos PiBorg are going to send me a mega robot kit soon!

Everyone got their robots running untethered and we all celebrated the fact that so many young participants got an amazing and successful experience in Robotics.  Thank you to Tourette’s Action for paying for the Robot Kits, Pi Hut for delivering them so quickly and to Ryanteck for giving us the chargers to power the Raspberry Pis.


One of the other main things was  the soldering workshop where there was a choice of 3 different kits; a multi coloured light kit, a christmas tree kit and a santa kit. My Dad, Chris, and Joel   did the soldering. Thanks to Pimoroni for loaning us the soldering equipment, PocketMoneyTronics for giving us the Christmas Tree kits, Ragworm for the Santa and Flashing light kits and Rapidonline for working out the right components for battery holders and then sending them to us for free.


All in all it was a smaller, more community-focussed South London Raspberry Jam that focussed on  the ‘making’ side rather than just coding. Judging by the requests for another Jam and very happy young participants and their parents – at the end of the day – I can safely say it was a brilliant Jam and Robot Hack. Thank you to everyone who gave advice and encouragement, like Mike (@recantha) , Les (@Biglesp) and Phil (@Gadgetoid).

One last word. It’s a sad farewell to our SLRJam Code club that we ran for six weeks after our first Raspberry Jam.  A big thank you to Catford Library staff (Nick & crew) for setting up every week and putting up with our loud laughter and chatting – and to Marc for introducing us to Hour of Code and Video game making in Scratch.  We had some really great times and although we having a break – we’re be back in Spring where we can continue our adventures with robotics!!!


Next Sunday – I’m going to start my Product Reviews – honestly!




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