Lost Weekend Hackathon

The weekend of 6th – 8th of October saw a brand new festival in Exeter called the Lost Weekend. It was billed as ‘A 3-day festival for Exeter of music, art, ideas and technology. To showcase what is new and exciting, to imagine the future and to enjoy being creative.’

As part of the festival we ran a Young Person’s Hackathon at Exeter Phoenix on Sunday 8th October. We brought along some Raspberry Pis, Arduinos and assorted electronics as well as a few bags of scrap from Exeter Scrapstore. We also had access to the laser cutter in Exeter Library’s FabLab.

Here are some pictures from the day that show some of the preparation, planning and building:

Zoe and Ian both looking doubtful that anything is going to work!



Building work coming along:

And two finished pieces:


Lost Weekend, Hackathon, Raspberry Jam and Bellhouse

This coming weekend (6th and 8th October) sees the launch of a new festival in Exeter called the Lost Weekend it is ‘A 3-day festival for Exeter of music, art, ideas and technology. To showcase what is new and exciting, to imagine the future and to enjoy being creative.’

We are very excited to be a part of that and have been working with Rupert Johnstone and Kaleider on the Bellhouse Project to help get that set up and ready for its installation in Exeter Library.

As part of Lost Weekend we are including the Raspberry Jam on Saturday morning as well as running a young persons’ Hackathon in Exeter Phoenix on Sunday. We are combining with FabLab Devon to provide participants with access to the Fablab’s equipment. We will have Raspberry Pis and Arduinos as well as lots of bits of pieces (some provided by Exeter Scrapstore) to use.

‘Open to all abilities, this day of making is driven by you. The aim is to produce a piece of art that once started is constantly changing. The most important thing is to meet, inspire and create. Materials will be provided and FabLab Devon will be open for access to a wide range of digital making equipment.

Enthusiasm and imagination are more important than ability and experience. There’ll be introductory sessions to get you started as well as a range of experts on hand to help with the Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, other electronic equipment and art supplies you can use.  You can register as a team or book as an individual and join a team on the day.’

See here for more information and tickets.

Robot Building Days


Over the past couple of weeks we have run two robot building sessions. The first was at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury:

The Red Brick Building Ltd is an innovative community-owned social enterprise based in the former Morlands Factory situated between Glastonbury and Street in Somerset.

In the last six years we have raised close to £1 million locally and through grants and have transformed two of the three derelict buildings into a vibrant community space for all ages.

The second session was at Exeter Phoenix, the outline for the day long course is for the participants to build from scratch a two wheeled object avoiding robot.

From this:

to this:

We set a number of challenges along the way, the first is to get the robot to go forward in a straight line. We then set the challenge of designing and building (out of card, tape and white tack) a ball pushing device to fit the front of the robot. We are always surprised by the inventiveness and variety of designs that come out of these sessions (some more practical than others).

The challenge is then to push a ball in a (relatively) straight line for a certain distance:

Finally we add an ultrasonic sensor so that the robot can avoid bumping into objects – if time we also add leds and buzzers:

Participants often choose to decorate and embellish their robots:



Some of the feedback we’ve received:

Thank you for organising the robot day yesterday. My son really enjoyed it and said that it was “fun”. It is always difficult to find something that appeals to young teens around this area so I was really happy to discover that this was going on at the Red Brick Building. I really hope that you visit this area again.

A*** and his friend J**** really enjoyed the day – in fact J****’s now planning a career in robotics!

I thought the day was really well organised and it looked like they all had a great time.

Exeter Raspberry Jam 5th August 2017

The August Raspberry Jam took place at Exeter Library as usual and we were unexpectedly busy. We had thought that as it was the summer holidays that we would be fairly quiet but it turned out to be one of the busiest jams for a while. It was good to see some familiar faces as well as a lot of new ones. We had some robots, one using a pi zero and blue dot – here are some pictures:

Taunton Music Hack 20th May

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded an Arts Council England grant to run a series of three music hack events in 2017. The first session was at the Glass Box Taunton on Saturday 20 May

‘These sessions will run on one day and we will create our own text score that we can perform by the end of the day. We will look at existing text scores, specifically at ones form the English Experimental composers of the 1960s, and see how we can develop our own. We will be using only electronic devices that have been built on the day or existing ones that have been hacked by us on the day plus Raspberry Pi computers to program and create sounds through hardware and software.

Please note that we do not expect participants to have coding, electronic or music skills; this is very much for people who want to try something different and exploration and inquisitiveness are far more important. You do not have to have musical skill and experience to take part and the same philosophy will apply to coding. A willingness to explore and experiment is far more important than programming knowledge.’

We had a good turn out at the Glass Box and lots of willing participants happy to build and create using a variety of devices. Looking forward to the next one at Soundart Radio in Totnes. More details here:


Build a robot at Exeter Phoenix 26/10/16

On Wednesday 26th October we ran our first workshop with Exeter Phoenix. The day was a chance for children to put together a kit of parts including motors, wheels and electronics and build a two wheeled robot. Once built we programmed the robots to move forwards and backwards in a straight line before adding a distance sensor then writing the code to stop the robot from bumping into things.

We had a fully attended day with a variety of ages and skills and all managed to have a working robot by the end of the day when we had a knockout race to see whose could travel the furthest without hitting something.

Some pictures from the day:





Some video of a robot travelling in a straight(ish) line:

Some feedback from twitter:


Robot Day at Horrabridge Primary School 5/10/16

On Wednesday 5th October we visited Horrabridge primary school where we delivered a couple of sessions to year 5 and 6 about robots and building robots.

We set a challenge for the children who worked in groups of two or three to build a robot that could push a ball in a straight line across their hall floor.

We had part built the robot kits but there was still some work to be done on them and they had to design a device that sat on the front of the robot to keep the ball in place.



It was great fun and really good to see how engaged all the children were. We look forward to doing much more of this.

Exeter Phoenix Creative Hub Social 28/9/16

On 28th September we attended the Exeter Phoenix Creative Hub Social evening and took along some of the projects that we have been working on to show people and to give them an idea of some of the things they may be able to do with their own creative work.

Here are some of the items we had on display:


We showed mainly music based work and featured Music Machines 2, 35 and 39; Music Machine 2 uses an arduino and an ultrasonic distance sensor to generate a melody by measuring distance, Music Machine 35 uses a rfid card reader to play a simple melody based on the card itself and Music Machine 39 uses a Wii nunchuck as a musical instrument controller.

We also had our 3d printer and tweeting dinosaur / Obi Wan Kenobi with us.


A very busy evening, really good to meet and talk to lots of new people and hopefully encourage some of them to use digital technology in their work.


Staff Training in the GlassBox Taunton 14th June

Had a great day doing some staff training with Somerset Library staff in preparation for the opening of the GlassBox project. This looks like a really exciting project and congratulations to Somerset Library for achieving this in the current financial climate.

Our sessions focused on showing staff some of the things they may encounter, we did introductions to the makeymakey, littlebits, 3d printing and the Raspberry Pi.







Tweet from one of the attendees:

Build a Robot

February 15th saw our first Build a Robot workshop at FabLab Devon. We used a basic chassis with an Arduino Uno, motor driver and ultrasonic distance sensor. All participants successfully built their robots and had them working by the end of the day.