Bake your Pi and eat it too!

“Boy, was Ken Olsen wrong or what!”–Himanshu Tiwari, Content Guy at MakersBox, 2016  

Back in 1977, Ken Olson then the President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation said “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home!”, and at that time you could have agreed with him. The 35$ Raspberry Pi today can not only outrun and outperform the ENIAC (world’s first computer weighed in at 50 tonnes, and occupied 1800 square foot of space, it also used vaccum tubes to run and cost about US$ 500,000) and is every bit as powerful as the next machine, but if you were to think about this back in 1940’s that you will be able to do all this with a computer that fit in your pocket – they’d have declared you insane.

When I joined MakersBox a few weeks back, I had no clue what a Raspberry Pi was let alone to program one, all I could think of was a sweet Pie every time someone here said they were going to build something with a Pi. I also assumed that in my role as a content guy, I would simply understand what things are, do some necessary research and write about it – but no sir, the Do It Yourself culture at MakersBox meant that I had to work on projects, learn how to use the Pi, and even learn Python – the language you write code in on the Pi. Today I can say I have (and gladly) worked on a couple of projects all by myself, with help only being offered when I  would have exhausted all my efforts.  I must admit, writing about something after working on it by myself is a far more rewarding experience than mere fact collecting and documenting.

My curiosity took me to Instructables and soon I was reading about projects, from a Twitter Bot  that let’s you retweet automatically based on the preferences you provide, to an Raspberry Pi Interface that let’s you build an interactive terminal powered by Alexa, very similar to the Amazon Echo, and all this was much easier than baking a pie!

Did I say Easier than baking a pie? Well I don’t know how to bake a pie

While most of the stuff is out there, and you can read and try to copy everything, but it takes more than that to get a project to work. Understanding how the Internet in the office is made available, to where the Interface Pins are, to customising the code but once you get it working – the world just opens up, now you can tweak the settings and get these bots to work the way you want them, even do a rewrite to only do something that you like. While doing all this I got better at Python (well atleast my basics), I learnt how a few more linux commands, and I also discovered an online community  around Pi, that is putting in commendable efforts to make things easy for a beginner like me.

As I discovered the world of the Raspberry Pi, I came across more and more content across the Internet, from a guy with his Magic Mirror – that I so want to build for myself , to even the Dashboard display that we built for SproutBox there is just so much you can do with it and the journey is just about getting started for me.

All in all, when I completed my TwitterBot and Alexa powered speaker, I was pretty pleased at what I had accomplished. Asking Alexa questions and letting my bot loose on Twitter were the result of many hours spent at patiently trying,  gloriously failing,  endlessly hoping and eventually finding fixes for problems.

They say that Travel is about the Journey and not the destination, and I get it. Making something of my own with the Pi has taught me many a valuable lessons, and I invite you to come make something on your own, to tinker and learn.

It’s time for me now, maybe to learn how to bake a Raspberry Pie! So long, happy Making!

If you are interested in making, come join our Maker Space at New Delhi, or join one of the Maker Spaces in your city. In case there is a project you need help with, do shoot us an email.

MakersBox also has a number of Events it conducts around Open Source Electronics, 3D Printing etc. Do check out our Facebook Page to keep updated on our events.

“Do It, Just Do It” — Shia LaBeouf


Title Picture: Pete Lomas: founder, trustee and hardware designer of the first-gen Raspberry Pi: Source: Norcott