3 Years Old! What next?!

It was a cold, crisp British evening for a (then) 13 year old Matthew. His hand hovered over the computer mouse as he pressed create on something that he expected to be a minor side project in his life. The same minor side project that has now blossomed into a 2.7 million view YouTube channel. That night, the 1st of September 2012, a video was uploaded on the subject of flashing an operating system to an SD card for a strangle little computer called a “Raspberry Pi”. As he was sleeping it was watched 50 times:

That was my hook into the world of being a YouTuber.

Almost exactly 3 years on and those 50 views have scaled up by a factor of 54,000. The 2 subscribers I received that night has turned in to almost 41,000.

As The Raspberry Pi Guy turns 3 years old I thought that I would do a blog post to reflect upon these facts and share a little bit about what is next for both me and the channel.

The last 3 years have been a rollercoaster of video production and content manufacture. As more and more people get their hands on Raspberry Pis (well over 5 million boards are out there!) the demand for the educational materials that will empower them to do things with it does not stop increasing. It has been a privilege to watch the little British computer that could flourish into a world-wide phenomenon and for the surrounding community to flourish in even more exciting ways. The Raspberry Pi Guy has always been there for people wanting to learn through the medium of video, and has helped hundreds of thousands find their feet in topics ranging from flashing an LED, to making full featured robots. My reviews and videos of new Raspberry Pi products have also proved very popular – with views from countries ranging from Tajikistan to Kiribati!

What’s next for The Raspberry Pi Guy? Well… The Raspberry Pi shows no sign of stagnation and for as long as that continues neither do I; people always want to learn more. In the near future? I have some very exciting videos lined up – you’ll hear more about those in the upcoming days, weeks and months – I hope that you will not be disappointed! Stay tuned!

What about me? Well… Some of you will know that the last 2 years of my life has been dominated by GCSEs: coursework, deadlines and over the last year especially, exams. In May and June of this year I did a total of 23 examinations, concluding the GCSE period of my life. I recently received my results and am delighted; revision pays off in the long term (so does getting up at 4:30 to continue said revision!). This has meant that I was able to enrol in my first choice sixth form college: Hills Road in Cambridge, UK. I’ll be starting there in a few weeks studying A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Computer Science and Electronics. New and exciting times.

Suffice to say: The Raspberry Pi Guy has had an awesome 3 years and I hope that it continues to thrive in the future. However, its success is due to one reason and one reason only: your viewership and for that I can not thank you enough. Your views, subscriptions, likes and emails keep new videos coming – I could not ask for a more amiable group of people. Thank you!

Anyways… A video is calling out to be edited. Thanks for reading!

Posted in GCSEs, pi, raspberry, thanks, videos, youtube

My 3D Printing Experience – Ultimaker 2

Unless you have been in a cave for the last decade you will have heard of the mystical technology that is 3D printing. A whole decade did you hear me say? Well actually, according to Wikipedia, 3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing, has been around since the 1980s. So really there is no excuse to not have heard of it. In a nutshell 3D printing is the process of making three dimensional objects from a digital file – with conventional printers this is done by extruding plastic layer by layer in order to build up an object/s. When you see the kind of stuff you can make with it (pretty much anything!) you’ll quickly be blown away and wonder no more why I have always had an interest in it!

Therefore I had no hesitation at all in saying yes when Ultimaker, a popular Dutch 3D printing company, approached me and asked whether or not I would be interested in receiving a loan of an Ultimaker 2. Considering the fact that Ultimaker are widely regarded as the consumer-market 3D printing leaders I thought that I would share with you my one-month-long experience with their latest model (the Ultimaker 2 family retails from £919.20 excl. VAT). This is from a novice perspective – I have only used 3D printers once or twice before!

main

Does it live up to the hype?

The Basics…

So! Let’s start with the facts. In the Ultimaker 2 range there are three models: the Ultimaker 2 Go, the Ultimaker 2 and the Ultimaker 2 Extended. These come with a variety of build sizes however the basic technology behind them is the same (ie: the print nozzle etc.) Over the last month I have had the Ultimaker 2. This is a printer with a build volume of 223 x 223 x 205mm (that is huge) that can print at a resolution of up to 20 micron with speeds between 30 mm/s and 300 mm/s. The nozzle can be set to anything up to 260 degrees celsius and the Ultimaker 2 features a glass heated bed that can reach 100 degrees celsius. These are all impressive specifications for a high end consumer level 3D printer. Also note that wattage-wise it consumes up to 221 watts and, according to Ultimaker, has an “average operational noise” of 49 dBA. From my experience the Ultimaker is fairly loud, but not so loud that I couldn’t bear having it in my room – in no way was it as loud as a conventional inkjet paper printer say.

As I have said, the Ultimaker 2 range are high-end consumer 3D printers and Ultimaker aims to create devices which print high-quality items easily and reliably more than the RepRap motto of creating “general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machines”. The fancy specifications and high-end stepper motors, belts and other components used in the Ultimaker 2 does mean that the price is not one to be taken lightly: £1414 excl. VAT in the UK. Whilst this is expensive compared to some of the lower-end RepRap ones, the price of the Ultimaker puts it into the same kind of category as other market-leaders, such as MakerBot.

The Design…

One of the first things you notice about the Ultimaker 2 is the aesthetics: it is a nicely designed piece of kit. The matted plastic and bright LEDs project a modern and premium feel. The electronics and stepper motors are concealed in the corners and on the bottom of the unit. Users interface with the printer using the scroll wheel on the front. Ultimaker have a simple menu system where you can do basic tasks such as change the material and align the bed. More complex tasks, such as messing around with the actual 3D print settings are configured in Cura, Ultimaker’s slicing software – this is where you convert your 3D model (designed in SketchUp etc.) into the G-code that the printer reads.

If you turn the Ultimaker 2 around you will see the feeding mechanism and space for two reels of material, in my case silver and red PLA. The Ultimaker can print both PLA and ABS however one at a time. Changing materials is a relatively painless process and the plastic lasts for ages – depending on where you buy from a reel of PLA will set you back up to £30. The feeding mechanism is what grips the plastic and propels it through the 3D printer. For the most part this is a great little mechanism however it can become problematic. On several occasions I have heard the familiar “clicking” of when the plastic has become jammed and the feeding wheel has worked itself into the plastic. This normally takes about 5-10 minutes to fix and again this is relatively painless – Ultimaker have fantastic support both on their website and through their custom support email system.

design

The Printing Process and Quality…

The end-to-end printing process with the Ultimaker 2 is incredibly slick. 1) Design a model on the 3D modelling software of your choice. Over the years I have had a lot of experience with Google SketchUp and so this is what I have been messing around with. After you have finalised your design (use a pair of digital calipers for measuring real world items – priceless bit of kit!) simply export in the .stl format. But what if 3D modelling isn’t your cup of tea? Well the internet is your friend! Simply hop on a website like Thingiverse and download anything that takes your fancy! What’s the next step?

2) Import the .stl file into Cura. This is Ultimaker’s slicing software and it allows you to fiddle around with the settings for your print. The program is fast, easy to use and, as it was produced by the company that makes the actual hardware, it compliments the Ultimaker 2 perfectly.

cura

Using Cura’s various tools you can scale, mirror and manipulate your model to exactly how you want it. The slider in the top right is then available for user adjustment – it edits the quality of the model. Simply slide to the right for maximum quality, and slide to the left for the lowest quality. Maximum will of course slow everything down, make the layers smaller and enhance the precision of the 3D print – at what cost? Time. Depending on the quality you set it, Cura calculates (very accurately!) how long the thing will take to print – if you have a large model you may see the print time increase to tens of hours! For the most part however 3D printing on the Ultimaker 2 is the fastest you can get in the consumer market at the moment.

3) With your settings down, simply save your G-code to an SD card and insert into the Ultimaker – the menu system will then guide you through setting things up. For PLA the bed will warm to 60 degrees and the nozzle to 210. Cover the bed in a thin layer of PVA glue and voila! Your Ultimaker should just start to print! From my experience I would say that this happens around 3/4 of the time. The other 1/4 for me didn’t start for a variety of reasons but mostly this is due to the print head being jammed – this, however, is fixed within the space of 10 minutes with a quick atomic clean.

4) Let the printer do its magic! I have found them to be oddly mesmerising so try to prise your eyes off of it and get on with doing something else!

The Prints…

You have waited amount of hours and finally the Ultimaker 2 has finished. But what does your print look like? Well take a look at the quality of both this cable wrap and HDMIPUCK (designed by Tim Richardson) that I made earlier:

prints

This is just an example of what I have printed and as you can see the overall quality is very good indeed – the letters and numbers on the HDMIPUCK are defined and the different parts of the gear wrap have come out accurately and well. These were printed on around half quality, and for example the HDMIPUCK took around 5 hours to print (5cm radius). Originally I had a few problems with the overhangs – parts of the print which are not being built directly on top of the bed or other layers – but with a bit of tinkering and some Googling these were problems were quickly reduced and eventually eliminated.

Conclusion…

Overall I have had a great time using the Ultimaker 2 and would thoroughly recommend it as a 3D printer. Due to the fact that it is a high-end product I believe that the Ultimaker range is more angled towards establishments such as schools and Makespaces – my previous school took on another loan one for a month and have had a positive experience with it. But what about 3D printing for personal use? Is it ready yet? Whilst I do think that the Ultimaker 2 is the closest that the market has come to a proper consumer version, 3D printing is still a time-consuming hobby. Going through the different iterations of design can ramp up to many hours spent printing and for some this will not be enjoyable. If you have fun tinkering, designing and making then I have no doubt that the world of 3D printers will be for you – the Ultimaker 2 family is by no means cheap but I think that you get what you pay for. If you would like to know more information I would recommend this Tested In-Depth review of the Ultimaker 2 3D Printer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQmeub_LIsE

You can learn more about the Ultimaker 2 here: https://ultimaker.com/en/products/ultimaker-2-family/ultimaker-2

Posted in 3D, new, printer, printing, website

Call for questions! Interview with Eben Upton

With my GCSEs now feeling several parsecs away (results soon!) I have seized the opportunity to visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge on Tuesday the 18th of August to interview the CEO himself: Jason Statham Eben Upton. As some of you may be aware I have done a smattering of interviews with various key (and in some cases nefarious) Raspberry Pi employees over the years and this one will be no different. On the 18th I shall rock up and grill Mr Upton with your community questions. That’s right: want to know something about the Pi or its uses? Or want to hear some top secret information? All you have to do is ask and I will enquire for you!

raspberry-pi-founder-eben-upton-1

Here is what Liz Upton, Head of Communications at the Foundation, said in her call for questions in this recent Raspberry Pi blog post:

Before we get down to it today, a quick notice: Matt Timmons-Brown, freshly released from GCSE exam hell, will be dropping in to do some video interviews for his Raspberry Pi Guy YouTube channel next week. Do you have any questions you’d like him to put to Eben? Let us know in the comments.

So get down to it! Feel free to ask questions in the comments here, on the Raspberry Pi main website or send them to me directly through the contact form in the menu bar. The interview will be up on The Raspberry Pi Guy YouTube channel and available shortly after.

Posted in community, eben, interview, pi, raspberry, upton, videos, youtube

I’m back!

Since the start of the year many of you have noticed that The Raspberry Pi Guy has not been as active as usual. Videos, tutorials, blog posts and everything else were put on a momentary hold for a very important part of my life: my GCSEs.

Me just one month ago!

For the last several months especially, my life has been dominated by the menace that is revision. Revision for Biology. Revision for English. Revision for History. Revision for all 23 of my exams. Yes… It was exam season for me, as well as for the many other students up and down the country. A period of time known for pain and anguish.

But! That period of my life has now passed! No longer will I be bogged down in school work (well until September anyway) and this means that I have much more time to dedicate to my computer related endeavours than I did just a little while ago: Liz announced my return in style on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website:

So what does the summer holiday have in store? Currently I am interning at ARM in Cambridge, UK but I am also working on a diverse range of videos: from something to do with moonlight to a partnership with Ultimaker?! Tutorials, videos, reviews and more will be coming thick and fast back on my YouTube channel so make sure you stay tuned and subscribe!

It is good to be back and thanks for y’all sticking around!

Posted in 3D, finally, finished, GCSEs, pi, printer, raspberry, robots, thanks, tutorials, videos, youtube

Interview in Stuff – Full circle!

In 2011 I was an avid reader of Stuff magazine. This was before I even *knew* about computer science; back then I was only interested in consumer electronics. Things like iPads, mobile phones etc. I had no interest in programming, electronics or anything computing-y at this moment in time, and I don’t think that I ever would if it wasn’t for a tiny article I glanced one day. In one edition of Stuff I saw a small picture, accompanied with two sentences, that talked about a new little PC that was going to be cheap and change the world. This strange little thing was called “Raspberry Pi”. Quickly I began to learn about this credit-card sized device and the rest is history… I now love computer science. And have over 10 Raspberry Pis.

It was a delightful surprise therefore when I received an email from Fraser Macdonald, consulting editor at Stuff, asking to interview me about my YouTube channel and also my thoughts on the new Raspberry Pi 2. Everything has gone full circle! I first heard about the Pi in Stuff, now I am in Stuff! Take a look at my section below. This is for the April 2015 issue, available to buy for £4.60 – I recommend it highly (and not just because I am in it!)

Article

Page 15! My thoughts on Pi 2, YouTube and what the Pi is doing…

cover

Front cover of the April 2015 issue of Stuff

Posted in GCSEs, interview, pi, stuff, youtube

Questions: Ask Eben and Gordon

Do you have a pressing question that you would like answered about the Raspberry Pi? Possibly about the recent release of Raspberry Pi 2? Or anything related to everyone’s favourite credit-card sized computer? Now is your chance!

On Monday (16th) I will be at Pi Towers interviewing the glamorous Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading, and Gordon Hollingworth, director of software engineering. The format will be the same as in the past with my Gordon Hollingworth interviews (inset). Simply put: you guys and gals comment on this post below, or send me an email with your questions, and I’ll ask them to the big brains behind the hardware of Raspberry Pi. You’re not going to get a better answer than that!

So get asking those burning questions! The more questions we get the more interesting they will be. You’ll hear from me with the answers soon!

UPDATE! I went to the Foundation, as promised, and asked all of your questions! Find the interview here: http://www.raspberrypi.org/the-raspberry-pi-guy-interviews-eben-and-gordon/

Posted in eben, interview, james, pi, raspberry, videos, youtube Tagged with: , , , ,

‘Short Crust +’ Raspberry Pi Case Giveaway!

Oi Oi! It’s giveaway time!

Today I have two lovely products to giveaway to two of you fabulous people: Short Crust Plus Raspberry Pi B+ Cases! These captivating, prepossessing, handsome houses for your mini computer have kindly been supplied to me from the great guys over at Pi Supply and I thought that I would seize this opportunity in order to give something back to my loyal viewer/readership… That’s you lot!

First off: what do I actually have on offer here? Some of you may remember the original Short Crust case for the first generation of Raspberry Pi. They were incredibly snazzy tinted cases that soon became renowned for being some of the best Pi cases available to buy. With the launch of the B+, the folks over at Short Crust have decided to revamp the old design for the latest iteration of Raspberry Pi with an up-to-date version:

Shortcrust3

Snazzy tint-y-ness…

The clever design of the Short Crust Plus includes a snap-in system for the Pi which means no rattling! The tinted top makes an excellent diffuser for a unicorn hat and the entire design of the case gives a real premium feel. Great work!

I have two cases to give away – complete with bases, spacers and smoke covers. One is the new black and the other is the classic white colour. I am giving both away to two of you lucky people!

How do you win one of these then? All you have to do is subscribe to this blog using your email address. Simples! You can find a link to the right (that way –>) of this blog post in the menu bar. On the 30th January 2015 I shall select two email addresses at random and inform the new owners of their good fortune. I will also tweet the news and edit this blog post to announce the winners.

Best of luck! If you fancy getting yourself a Short Crust Plus hop on down to Pi Supply’s website here: https://www.pi-supply.com/

Posted in competition, new, new product, PiSupply, raspberry pi goodies, winner

Adventures in new peripherals!

I use my computer a lot. Every day in fact. And whilst my computer is quite old and riddled with issues, I think that the way you interface with said computer is quite important. That’s why I have two HD monitors that provide a very open workspace with plenty of room for various windows etc. The one part of my setup recently that has been lacking has been my computer’s peripherals: the mouse and keyboard. In the past I have made do with a membrane Logitech K310 and some cheap mouse from Dell. After Christmas I needed to do a considerable amount of typing over a long period of time and I just could not bear it any longer – the keyboard was incredibly uncomfortable – the main reason being that the keys were too far apart. Using some of my Christmas money I decided to put an end to this!

I did a bit of research and asked around… It would appear that if you want a keyboard you can go two ways: membrane or mechanical. The difference between the two is explained here. Essentially mechanical keyboards are one of the ‘traditional’ styles of computer interfacing. In each key of a mechanical keyboard you have a mechanism, rather than in a membrane keyboard all of the keys are connected to a mushy membrane that makes typing feel rather strange. It is explained here:

Most keyboards are composed of a set of three plastic membranes, with rubber dome-shaped switches underneath each key. Press a key, and the rubber switch pushes through a hole in the middle membrane to connect the top and bottom membranes, which creates an electrical circuit that causes the keyboard to send the input to your PC. This keyboard design is inexpensive and spill-resistant, but it doesn’t give you as much tactile or audible feedback when you press a key, which can change the way you type.

A mechanical keyboard uses actual, physical switches underneath the keys to determine when the user has pushed a key. Press a key, and you press its switch down. Press the switch down, and the keyboard sends a signal to the PC telling it that you pressed that key.

So I set out to buy myself a mechanical keyboard and boy are they expensive! You can easily spend £100+ on one! I didn’t have that sort of budget and so I settled for one of these: a Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition. Around £60 off of Amazon. It is one heavy chunk of keyboard and I could now not live without it.

414BB9KGO1L

The difference is remarkable. Your hands wizz over the keyboard and your words-per-minute rate soars! The experience is far more enjoyable than with my old membrane keyboard! I wrote a review of it here. You simply do not go back from a mechanical as soon as you have got one!

That’s the keyboard, what about my mouse? Now I was prepared to shell out a fair amount for a mouse – in the end I spent £10 on this absolutely excellent Anker Vertical.

71Tyol7nTEL._SL1500_

Again, the experience with this piece of kit has been nothing short of extraordinary! The mouse is incredibly comfortable and allows for great control of your pointer. It is ergonomically designed and the idea is that you free yourself up from any kind of repetitive strain injury. I didn’t purchase it for that reason but I still have not a single regret. The mouse was a great affordable purchase that I would highly recommend!

In short… I have had an interesting adventure with new computer peripherals. It is safe to say that I will not be going back to the land of cheap keyboards and normal mice!

Posted in amazon, christmas, new, peripherals

New Year. More Pi?


2014 has been a jam packed year. The Ice Bucket Challenge, sending a fridge-sized lander 6.4 billion kilometres to land on a comet, a new series of Doctor Who, ebola, Sochi 2014, real hoverboards, selfies and that dancing old guy. It has had its fair share of the amazing and the terrible too. Google have summed it up brilliantly in their ‘Year in Search’ video here. I thought that New Year’s Eve would be a good time to do some reflection on both The Raspberry Pi Guy’s 2014 and my 2014.

HT_mars_rover_curiousity_selfie_jef_140624_16x9_992

One of my favourite pictures from 2014: Curiosity selfie 😉

I think that a good way to go through this is to have a look at some of my YouTube statistics for 2014. As some of you may know I am currently on the cusp of the 2 million view mark; one that I never dreamed of achieving and I am incredibly thankful for. In 2014 The Raspberry Pi Guy celebrated its second year of operation… With over 4.5 million minutes of my voice played across the globe, it has been a very successful period of time. Over 1.25 million views and nearly 16,000 subscribers just in 2014 alone. I released many new videos, from OLED tutorials to viral product launches, my videos this year have been varied and, I hope, enjoyable. The Raspberry Pi Guy has had an outstanding year in terms of outreach also. Thousands of new views have been from territories previously untouched; Pi is spreading! My channel has been in the spotlight many times, with ITV interviews, Wired magazine references and newspaper reports. The many avenues of my educational mission have expanded greatly as well. I set out to create a YouTube channel with a few simple videos on it… 2014 has seen me do keynote speeches, workshops and all manner of things. It has also been a year when I have met many of you, my loyal viewership (that sounded very possessive, apologies) ;-). Much Jam has been spread in 2014! Cambridge and Manchester have been the two that I have attended in this year, where have you been? 2014 was also the year that I managed to infiltrate visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation for spying work experience, I worked with Andrew Mulholland as an educational resource engineer under the expert care of Rachel Rayns. I also managed to bring you a few interviews from the glamourous Clive Beale and infamous Gordon Hollingworth… Ah, good times! 2014 also saw many popular Raspberry Pi Guy videos arise. My favourite of which is of course my anniversary video, Two years of Pi! It made Eben and Liz Upton cry and that, I am pleased to say, is something I shall remain immensely proud of. Hmmm… That was a year ago now. The Pi is going to be 3 soon. Maybe I’ll work on something… Got some good music in mind 😉 hopefully some with less licensing issues!

That’s just some of the stuff that The Raspberry Pi Guy has seen in 2014, there’s plenty more but one would not want to bore you! 2014 has been a stressful year for me with regards to my school work. I am in Year 11 now and that means I have significantly less spare time than when I started my channel in Year 9. This year has seen me battle a tide of controlled assessments and mocks. Both of which are not fun at all. I’ve got a French controlled assessment to revise for as soon as I have made this blog post live ;-). But if I thought the first year of my GCSEs was stressful I am sure that 2015 is going to be even more interesting. It is of course my final year and that means exams… Exams… Exams… Some more exams and exams. A lot of revision will be needed and you can expect me to go very quiet around summer. I know that many of you like a schedule to YouTube videos and I would love to stick to one however you will just have to bear with me as I go through this exam period. Afterwards I’ve got a long summer holidays and then I’ll be starting at a sixth form college: let’s hope that all goes to plan.

Looking towards the future I do not want to spoil any Raspberry Pi Guy surprises for you (there are many)! Rest assured that I will be staying on top of all of the latest Raspberry Pi happenings and will continue providing tutorials, videos and all sorts of other goodies. I’ll be continuing videos like my brand new ‘Raspberry Pi Robots‘ series. The best way you to make sure you do not miss anything is by subscribing to my channel and blog, so make sure you do that.

I’ve got a good feeling that 2015 is going to be a very exciting year for the Little British Computer That Could. I hope that you’ll join in with the Raspberry Pi Revolution!

Happy New Year!

Posted in finished, GCSEs, mocks, new year, pi, raspberry, tutorials, youtube

Raspberry Robots – a very minor delay!

EDIT: My Mocks are now over and I am pleased to say that they all went well. I have done more work on the series and have released the first episode! They can all be found in this YouTube playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hDy9WY5UM0&list=PLit2e-Vwcp2oHi_Y6ogfzgaQUHbUU6tCj

As most of you will know, I have recently publicized the fact that I am going to be dedicating an entire series of videos to showing you guys and gals how to make robots. If you were unaware of this you can catch my introductory video below. I explain everything in detail there:

This new series will be awesome for two reasons: 1) it involves robots 2) it involves teaching you guys and gals how to use robots. It looks set to be some of my best videos yet!

I wanted to get these videos out as soon as possible however that might be a little later than I first thought:

What is that monstrosity of a timetable, I hear you shout?! That is my revision timetable for my supposed ‘holiday’. Why am I forcing myself through this torture? The reason for that lies in the fact that, from November 17th, I am doing some very important GCSE mocks that will affect my future education prospects.

What does that mean for the eager ones amongst you who want to learn about robots? It means that you’re going to have to hang on in there for another couple of weeks at least. My revision is incredibly time consuming and, regrettably, my studies have to come before anything and everything.

You can expect a sporadic internet presence from me in the near future. I will try my hardest to keep making tutorials and videos around my evil timetable of doom.

Thanks for bearing with me!

Posted in GCSEs, mocks, pi, robots, sorry, tutorials

Subscribe to hear the latest!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and hear all the latest news!

Follow me on Twitter!

Archives