Sunday, 26 March 2017

An excellent TeachMeet in Manchester

Fake news?

TeachMeet in Manchester

I went up to Manchester on Thursday to join a TeachMeet organised by Alan O'Donohoe and friends. Several of us presented free resources for teachers to share: you can see the full list, and find links to resources here.

It was a lively session and as usual the teachers made me feel very welcome. (Many also downloaded the free micro:bit MicroPython workbook, which was very gratifying).

Each time I meet UK teachers of Computer Science and Design Technology I am amazed at how much new syllabus content they have been asked to take on board and how little resource they have been given to meet the challenge.

If you are based in the UK and have a background in Computing, there are many ways in which you can help. Here are a few:

  1. Join a local Code Club as a volunteer
  2. Become a STEM ambassador for STEMnet
  3. Join the Computing at School community and create Open Source resources which teachers can use.
You'll be making a real difference to an education system that is vital but desperately stretched.


Then the Cold bug struck!

I headed back to my hotel on Thursday night feeling tired but happy. The next day did not go so well. I woke up with a bad cold and snuffled my way to the station to catch my train home.

I had to wait on a cold platform at Rugby for a couple of hours because the lines north of Watford Junction were closed due to a tragic accident.

I spent that evening and the next couple of days recovering from the cold. I fear that I'm running late and the Physical Computing Newsletter may not go out until Tuesday.

I'm on the mend, though, and am looking forward to some fun events later this week.

Forthcoming meetings

On Tuesday evening I will be giving a short talk at the Raspberry Pint meet-up on linking the Raspberry Pi and the micro:bit.

On Wednesday evening I'm re-running my micro:bit MicroPython workshop at the London Arduino Meetup. The session is fully booked, but there is a wait-list.

Sadly I won't be able to attend London Arduino Day on Saturday 1st April, but perhaps you can.

If you have a project you'd like to share (not necessarily Arduino based) contact the organisers. If not, just book a place and go along.

Physical Computing Newsletter

I mentioned that the newsletter will be a day or two late. One of the articles will be about Object-Oriented code in MicroPython, and there will be two new product reviews. Click here to get the free newsletter in your in-box every fortnight.

Monday, 13 March 2017

More Quick2Wire progress

Quick2Wire logo
If you've some Quick2wire hardware and you want up-to-date instructions for using it, you won't have long to wait.

Qucik2Wire made and marketed some add-on boards for the Raspberry Pi. It ceased trading in 2012 but there are still a lot of boards out in the wild, and you can still buy kits from S K Pang.

Sadly the website that told you how to use them is very out-of-date, as are the code repositories on GitHub.

I'm doing my best to fix the problem.

Quick2Wire boards

Quick2Wire interface board
The Quick2Wire product range included three hardware kits. All are still usable, and the software to use them now needs to be much simpler to use and install.

I'll post information here as I update the relevant parts of the website and GitHub repositories.

GPIO Pins and the downverter cable

There's also one hardware problem but it's easy to fix.

downverter cable
The Quick2Wire boards were designed back in the days when every Raspberry Pi had 26 GPIO pins. The interface board was connected to the Pi by a 26-way connector cable.

Recent models (including the Pi 3, Pi zero and zero w) have 40 GPIO pins. Fortunately it's easy to connect them to the Interface board, and SK Pang stock a suitable downverter cable.


The Quick2Wire domain has transferred faster than expected. I'll put up a holding page later today. Resotring the current contents will take a while, but you should see some content soon.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Marr's theory of cerebellar cortex

I finally got around to publishing my MSc project report from 1974. It's based on a simulation of the late David Marr's theory of cerebellar cortex.

1974 seems a long while ago, but Marr's work is still relevant and I am actively pursuing this line of research using a more appropriate language and a rather more powerful computer.

At some point I will post more details of my current work but for now you can get a copy of the report from Leanpub. It's free.