First Pi Jam comes to South Africa

Willie Strydom was awarded the prize for the most innovative build at the first ever Pi Jam to be hosted in South Africa.     

Willie’s project in home automation is designed to consolidate various home automation applications into a single user interface that can be accessed from an app on your iPhone or Apple watch.

It was selected as the winning entry based on its relevance, usefulness and future potential.

Willie won a ‘Limited Edition’ Raspberry Pi – only 1,000 have been produced globally – and a voucher to spend at RS Components for his next project.

(left)Brian Andrew, General Manager for RS South Africa; (centre) Winner of Pi Jam Joburg, Willie Strydom; (right) Mark Beets, General Manager of Entelect
(left)Brian Andrew, General Manager for RS South Africa; (centre) Winner of Pi Jam Joburg, Willie Strydom; (right) Mark Beets, General Manager of Entelect

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-sized computer board that can run the same basic functions as a PC but costs a fraction of the price.

The device has been used in numerous applications, from setting up computer labs to home automation, and from atmospheric monitoring to robot cars.

A Pi Jam is an organised community event where people get together and share knowledge, learn new things and meet other Raspberry Pi enthusiasts.

Pi Jam hosts (left) Brian Andrew, General Manager of RS South Africa and (left)Mark Beets, General Manger for Entelect
Pi Jam hosts (left) Brian Andrew, General Manager of RS South Africa and (left)Mark Beets, General Manger for Entelect

This particular event was structured as a show-and-tell, meaning that participants were given the opportunity to demonstrate their Pi projects and discuss them with other like-minded Pi enthusiasts.

Jointly hosted by RS Components and Entelect Software on Saturday, 16 September, 40 people attended, with nine Pi projects being presented.

The event kicked off with a keynote address by Eben Upton, the illustrious inventor of the Raspberry Pi.

Upton’s address provided guests with insight into the initial concept of the Pi and the start-up phase of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Eben Upton Founder of the Raspberry Pi Skyping in from the UK
Eben Upton Founder of the Raspberry Pi Skyping in from the UK

He explained that the idea of the Raspberry Pi came about in trying to solve a particular problem, which was to boost an interest in computer programming and STEM learning in young learners.

The concept was to create an affordable computer at $35, which needed to be both functional and simple enough for a child to learn coding.

The team initially envisioned selling 1,000 Raspberry Pi boards, but demand peaked rapidly to 10,000 boards and, five years later, they have sold over 15 million units around the world.

During the event, RS Components and Entelect Software representatives shared their expert knowledge with the participants to provide some insight on where to next with each of the projects presented.

Attendees learning more about a project
Attendees learning more about a project

Projects were judged by a panel according to predetermined criteria, such as novelty, creativity, technology choices, user experience, simplicity and future potential. 

Second place went to Gareth Stephenson, who presented his ‘Pi Cluster’ project, which tested the concept of cluster computing using Raspberry Pi’s.

Third place went to Schalk van Heerden for his ‘Cherry Pi Brewery’ project, which is a prototype concept for a fully automated micro-brewery.

Other notable projects were:

  • A self-driving car, developed by Philip Booysen.
  • An offline library developed for underprivileged students, designed by Yoshiaki Nagasawa, a Japanese student, currently living in Cape Town.

Explaining where the idea came from to host the first Pi Jam in South Africa, Brian Andrew, General Manager, RS Components South Africa, said:

“Since the day the Raspberry Pi was launched in South Africa in 2012, it was an instant hit with design engineers, makers and anyone who loves tech gadgets because of its cost and the fact that it functions as a mini computer. Although it was initially designed to promote STEM learning and coding, it has successfully been used in both business and home applications. We realised that as a global distributor of the Pi computer board, we needed to initiate a platform in South Africa for Pi fanatics to get together and share their knowledge and ideas.”

Mark Beets, General Manager at Entelect Software, agreed:

“We’re passionate about the future of technology and, for us, this means doing whatever we can to help the tech community grow, and creating environments where people can share their innovations with like-minded people. The Raspberry Pi is an awesome tool that enables tech enthusiasts to create some really cool innovations, which is exactly what we saw today.”    

Although the date for the next Pi Jam hasn’t been set yet, there are plans in the pipeline.

Both Andrew and Beets agree that these community platforms are where some of the best innovations happen, so watch this space.

If you would like to be informed about future Pi Jams, please register on the following link: http://bit.ly/RPiJamSA.

Attendees at the first Raspberry Pi Jam in SA
Attendees at the first Raspberry Pi Jam in SA
Raspberry Pi Range of Products
Raspberry Pi Range of Products
PiTop Laptop powered by RaspberryPi
PiTop Laptop powered by RaspberryPi

 

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First Pi Jam comes to South Africa