Willie Strydom has won the prize for the most innovative build at the first ever Raspberry Pi Jam to be hosted in South Africa with a project 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.
Strydom’s effort was selected as the winning entry based on its relevance, usefulness, and future potential. He won a “Limited Edition” Raspberry Pi, only 1000 have been produced globally and a voucher to spend at RS Components for his next project.
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-size 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 Raspberry Pi Jam is an organised community event where people get together and share knowledge, learn new things and meet other Raspberry Pi enthusiasts. 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, 40 people attended, with nine Pi projects being presented and which kicked off with a keynote address by Eben Upton, the illustrious inventor of the Raspberry Pi.
Upton’s address, provided the guests with an insight into the initial concept of the Pi and the start-up phase of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. 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 1000 Raspberry Pi boards, but demand peaked quite rapidly to 10 000 boards and 5 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. 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 Pis.
Third place went to Schalk van Heerden with 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 Raspberry Jam in South Africa, Brian Andrew, GM of RS Components South Africa, says: “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, GM at Entelect Software, agrees: “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.”