Portable Raspberry Pi

Over the last week I have been working on a portable retro-gaming Raspberry Pi device. It all started when I bough the 2.8” touchscreen TFT from Adafruit. I have to admit that the self assembly soldering nearly gave me some sort of breakdown, but eventually it was up and running and attached to a new Pi bought especially for the job.

Initially I was very excited about the prospect of a portable battery powered Raspberry Pi (hence PortaPi). After the excitement had died down it was time to think about what it could be used for. After looking at the projects on Adafruit website I decided on a retro gaming device.

Portapi01 Portapi02Portapi06

After a bit of digging around I came across the Adafruit mini Raspberry Pi powered arcade cabinet (cupcade). Whilst I didn’t to go as far as building this project the ultra detailed instructions were really helpful in setting up the software. I decided at the start that I was going to use a USB game controller (e.g.. http://amzn.to/1qAS3gk) which was relatively inexpensive.

The SD card image installed easily and within a short period of time I was up and running. After a couple of google searches I found some MAME Roms to download and try.

The game emulation is carried out with AdvanceMAME which I initially had trouble setting up my gamepad until I spotted pressing the TAB key opened up a whole set of menus including custom configuration of keys.

Game selection is done through GAMERA (Game ROM aggregator) which isn’t very fancy but does do the job. At the point of writing this I am still using the USB wireless keyboard to operate GAMERA and the game controller for the game play. I have not yet found a way of controlling GAMERA with the game controller.

This is a fun little device to play with and being a child of the 1980s has brought back lots of great memories for me.


I am still trying to decide which case to build this around. I am currently thinking toward a retro Macintosh.

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Ryanteck budget Raspberry Pi powered robot kit

Want to get into Raspberry Pi based robotics?

If the answer is yes then can I recommend to you the Budget Raspberry Pi Robot kit from Ryanteck. This is a great little kit which is relatively easy to assemble and priced extremely competitively at just under £30.

The kit I was sent to review contained:

The motor control kit (RKT-000-001)
The budget robot kit (RTK-000-003)

You do need to supply your own Raspberry Pi and means of powering the Pi.
You will also need soldering skills and equipment.

I must admit that I cheated and a kind colleague soldered the motor control board for me, but in hindsight I could have done it myself!

The robot kit was extremely simple to build and made a nice morning project.

The instructions were very detailed and included good product photos showing each step. The Raspberry Pi instructions for setting up wifi connectivity were simple to follow and the example code on github made programming it very easy.

This is a great product and also having met Ryan from Ryanteck I would definitely encourage you to try this kit out. Ryan is an awesome young man who is destined to do really great things. Check out the links for Ryan at the official Raspberry Pi website http://www.raspberrypi.org/tag/ryan-walmsley/

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FUZE - A Raspberry Pi powered computer programming and electronics workstation

(PART 1)

I first saw the FUZE at the Education Innovation Conference in February of 2014 (In fact I am using their mouse mat at my desk right now!). At the time I was very impressed with the concept and fell in love with the design. The kit essentially does what it says on the box: “A Raspberry Pi powered computer programming and electronics workstation”

Before you go any further check out my YouTube unboxing and first look video:

Why did I fall instantly in love with it?

As a child of the 1980s I spent much of my time programming in BBC Basic on an Acorn Electron computer plugged into my parent's TV. Back in the day programs were saved onto C60 cassette tapes and I still remember with fondness the loading sound! The design is so reminiscent of this time that it brought back many happy memories.

The Acorn Electron first introduced in 1983

The idea of taking a Raspberry Pi and embedding it at the heart of a robust, school friendly computer works really well with the FUSE. As both a product reviewer and a teacher running a Raspberry Pi club I could easily see this being used in the classroom and during a club setting - but more about that later.

In the kit I was sent to review there was:

  • FUZE computer station
  • A mouse, power supply, SD card
  • A solder-less breadboard
  • User guide for FUSE BASIC
  • Electronics componets

In the electronics componet box there was:

  • Jumper cables
  • 7 segmented LED
  • Resistors
  • LDR
  • LEDs (Red, Yellow and Green)
  • Smaller jumper cables
  • Micro switches

FUZE unit

The FUZE is incredibly simple and quick to setup and within 5 minutes we were opening up FUZE Basic and writing our first program which obviously was “Hello World”. It was at this stage my 9 year old son who is very tech savvy and enjoys programming in Python wanted to get involved.

After a couple of hours of writing in Basic Philip was very excited about what he could do with the FUZE.

In summary:

  • If you are looking at introducing computer science / electronics into the curriculum and you lack specialist teachers and resources this would be an excellent place to start.

  • The workstations are extremely well constructed and I believe would survive well in a classroom / club situation. The all-in-one aspects would also make it an ideal candidate for clubs or groups where the Raspberry Pis have to be dismantled at the end of every session. I currently spend over an hour setting up and taking down every session.

  • FUZE basic clearly fits in well where students are now required to learn two programming languages (one textual). Whilst many people are dismissive of BASIC (after all it is basic!) it does offer students a good introduction into a textual language.

  • Incorporating electronics into the kit. This I feel was a moment of sheer brilliance. Including both the connectors and physical space for the breadboard at the top of the unit is excellent. It has been my experience that even the most careful of student, setting up their breadboard, connecting it to the Pi can easily find it all falling out and not working when the Pi is moved or touched.

  • The price point is very competitive for a school IT solution and I would love to buy one of these for home. Having been to many trade shows and educational events I often complain that a piece of technology is essentially a shiny box designed to help a school spend money, which then gathers dust on the shelf. Within a few minutes of unboxing the FUZE students can be engaged in programming and get the immediate rewards for their efforts. This is often impossible to do with school Mac or PC based solutions which will need much configuration before use on the network etc.

If you are looking and don’t know where to start down the journey of IT and CS in school - this is definitely a good starting point. I believe that this product has been developed with the end-user in mind. I know for one, that my son will be very sad when this has to go back to the PR company next week.

Part 2 will contain more information about using the breadboard and the electronics aspect of the kit.

UK TECH REVIEWS 5 Start rating for ease of use, value for money
and contribution to teaching and learning in the classroom

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1000 downloads of 10EPP

1000 downloads.001

We have just had 1000 downloads of 10 Engaging Python Projects. We are so proud that people have downloaded this little resource which supports simple Python programming with the CPC traffic light kit.

The CPC Traffic Light can be bought here.

Thank you to everyone who has downloaded this free resource from either iBook store or from our free PDF download.

10 engaging python projects


The CamJam EduKit

The CamJam EduKit - a must buy!


Want to start building simple input-output circuits for your Raspberry Pi but are not sure what components to buy?

This little starter kit contains:

a Breadboard
Red, Amber and Green LEDs
Switch (button)
Connector cables

The kit has to be assembled by the user (this is a good thing!) and will introduce you into the world of circuit building and programming with the Raspberry Pi.

Associated worksheets can be downloaded from

If you would like to buy one head over to the PiHut where they can be picked up for only a fiver (£5 including VAT).

If you need any other reasons to buy this great kit profits from this kit go to support CamJam with their educational and community out-reach work.

This comes very highly recommended by UK Tech Reviews and I will personally be using them next year when I deliver Raspberry Pi training.

Buy them here

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Raspberry Pi model B+

I was very excited to receive a package on Friday containing not 1 but 15 Raspberry Pi model B+. Over the summer holiday I will be upgrading my Raspberry Pi lab at school to use the new models.

I am not going to write a detailed blog post about all the differences between the B and B+ model as this has already been covered on other blogs and websites.

Key features of the new Pi (model B in brackets for comparison)

  • Broadcom BCM2835 SoC full HD multimedia applications processor (same for model B)
  • 512 MB SDRAM @ 400 MHz (same for model B)
  • MicroSD card for storage (SD card)
  • 4 USB ports (2 USB ports)
  • Power rating: 600mA up to 1.8A @ 5V (750mA up to 1.2A @ 5V for model B)
  • 40 GPIO pins (26 GPIO pins)

Some of the other key features include:

  • Composite RCA is now shared with audio
  • Smaller design
  • More GPIO pins

Check out our first look video below: