A robot rover using a PiZero – Part 1

PiWars is an event like Robot Wars, which you may have seen on TV, but without the destruction.  If you think that sounds boring you need to find out about the great courses the PiWars team put the robots through.  I particularly enjoyed the ‘balloon popping’ one.


After visiting PiWars, I decided I had to have a go at making a robot rover myself.  Not being that clever and allergic to soldering, I decided to buy a kit.  (Well not literally allergic but absolutely useless at it!)

Here are my costings:

This assumes you’ve got some sort of Raspberry Pi already. So you’ve got a power supply, keyboard, mouse, screen and powered USB hub – all with cables.

What you need                                               £

Pi Zero                                                                4.80

SD card with NOOBS                                       6.50

Adapter Kit                                                        4.20                     (Can be used for other projects)

This is:   {HDMI -> mini HDMI adapter

               {Female USB A -> micro-B USB cable

Hammer heading kit with Male Header     6.00    (Can be used again, new male header £2)

Robot CamJam EduKit #3                              18.00

Old Tupperware box                                        0.00                     (or the CamJam box or similar)

Total                   £40.30

I am pleased to say that the wheels turned when I tried it, so I must have done all the electronics correctly, and Michael & Tim’s instructions are excellent!  It’s the first time I’ve understood everything in a project’s materials.


The only bit I was stuck on was finding instructions to start the code working automatically, once I’d separated the PiZero from it’s cables and switched on the battery box.  I expect you have to use some sudo commands in the LX Terminal.  Apparently I need to use this post: Raspberry Pi’s Linux Documentation which explains the correct commands to start up the PiZero and run my python code automatically.

Well, I feel I’ve made great progress today – so separating PiZero from it’s cables, and getting it to start the code (which moves the wheels) automatically, will be in Part 2.

Happy R Pi tinkering!


York Raspberry Jam – our 2nd

York W Raspberry Jam No. 2 will be held on Monday 24th April from 5.15 to 7.15 pm.


The session will be suitable for complete beginners but I’ll be providing new materials for those who’ve been before.

I’m thinking that some attendees might like to look at ‘Lists’. These are a way, in Scratch, of making a very basic database, e.g. of your CD/music download collection.

I’ll bring some BBC micro:bits too – and we can have a try at coding them. We’ll use a form of the Python programming language called Micro Python or Mu Python.

Look forward to seeing you there!


York W Raspberry Jam

The aim of this first Raspberry Jam was to get beginners coding.


These two were animating a cat and dog and learnt how to resize and move their cat and dog sprites- getting their sprites to turn around at the edge of the screen. They also worked out the basic control blocks you need to make your code work.

Some attendees had some prior learning so borrowed MagPi’s ‘Learn to code with Scratch’ book: https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/issues/essentials-scratch-v1/


and used it to go further into Scratch.  A variation of the Boat Race game, which is explained in the book, resulted in a maze game that we enjoyed.

Boat Race game


Next time we need to get involved in physical computing, perhaps, using BBC micro:bits or the Pibrella. However I’m looking forward to seeing some more complete beginners because the more adults and children who know what coding is all about, the better!

SPI – Learnt a new term today

I was asking a question about screen brightness today and it was stated ‘… make sure SPI is enabled’.


I didn’t know what SPI was. It appears to stand for Serial Peripheral Interface. It looks as if it needs to be enabled to send data in both directions, e.g., from the R Pi to the screen and from the screen to the R Pi. I would have thought this was a vital job of an OS so I am not sure why it wouldn’t be enabled already.

Anyone any more light on the subject!

Raspberry Jam – our first!

Our first Raspberry Jam in West York will be taking place soon.


It’s being held in the fabulous Acomb Explore Library (YO24 3BZ), in it’s best room, right at the front so everyone can come and have a look what we’re doing.

We will have 6 Pi-Top CEEDS and my kit plus any that people can bring. (I do have one spare monitor.)

I’m really looking forward to getting started and hope we can attract some beginner families as well as enthusiasts.

An HDMIPi for Geek Gran

Am rather pleased about this!  For the first time in my life I’ve assembled something more complex than Lego City (5-12 years). The instructions at Cyntech assembly guide were excellent and I only got stuck when you had to attach the ribbon cable to the driver board.

You needed to insert the ribbon cable underneath the black tab. I thought it might go between the tab and the white plastic of the connector, but no, it went underneath.


I tested HDMIPi with a games console and it worked but can’t test it with the Raspberry Pi as I need another power supply. I thought my R Pi would work with the power from my USB hub but alas the R Pi seems to need something attached into its micro USB power socket to function.

Anyway, when I get to Leeds Raspberry Jam tomorrow night I’m sure someone will be able to lend me a power supply and then I’ll send for one straight away.

This little 22.5 cm (9″) screen is going to be so useful when I take the R Pi2 to Code Club . And when I finally get York Pibrary going, which will be one of Leeds Raspberry Jam’s little sisters, I’ll now have my large HDMI monitor available as a spare!


In use at Leeds Raspberry Jam :


Happy Raspberry Pi tinkering!