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Maker Faire UK 2015

For the past couple of years, members of the DriveWorks team have been attending Maker Faire UK.

Maker Faire is a ‘festival of hackers, crafters, coders, DIYers and garden shed inventors’ showcasing innovative creations and exploring technology. As a team of people with a passion for making and discovering cool stuff ourselves, we’ve always been intrigued and excited by the projects on display.

This year though, DriveWorks Tech Team Manager, Phil Gilbanks was at Maker Faire for a different reason.

Phil and a group of 4 friends were at Maker Faire showcasing an exciting project they have been working on.

The group, known as NORD collective, is made up of three product designers, a computer scientist and a developer. Phil, Ben, Ken, Duncan and Joe are all connected through various avenues, but have come together to work on this and a number of other projects.

So, what were they showcasing at Maker Faire?

The answer, is a product called Tingbot.

An idea that was imagined off the back of another NORD project called Ting.It.

Ting.It is a social interactive website where you can post and send animated gifs to friends via twitter.

The group then came up with the idea of having something on your bedside table/desk/coffee table that would display these messages, and so, Tingbot was born.

Gather round gadget lovers, here’s Phil to tell us more…

“Tingbot has been created as a kit product to work with any Raspberry Pi B model, it is a self-assembly kit that includes a screen module (designed and made by us), a button board, a case and memory card containing Tingbot OS.”

“The screen module itself is a push fit screen that works using the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi to display the apps that you have on your OS memory card.”

“When initially creating Tingbot we tried to use a screen module that we purchased from a 3rd party but we quickly found that the quality and build of the module was not good enough for what we were aiming for, which forced us to go back to the drawing board and create our own module.”

“In the end, the module that was designed and created is (we believe) better than any other screen on the market made for the Raspberry Pi. The screen itself is a 3.2 screen running a resolution of 320×240 and runs at 25fps. In our tests, the other screens we tried averaged 15 fps, meaning that trying to do any sort of video output was very jumpy and was not suitable for our needs.”

“With our new module we have then been able to build other applications that show off the screen to its full potential, including connections to IP camera feeds and even a Nintendo64 Mario Kart emulator.”

“On top of all of this though our main goal of Tingbot was to get people using their Raspberry Pi for everyday applications, rather than taking it out of a drawer once a week for 2-3 hours.”

We wanted to get people incorporating Raspberry Pis into their daily routines (checking the weather, checking when their next bus is etc etc). To make this possible we have tried to make creating applications for Tingbot as simple as possible.”

“To this we created Tide. Tide is an IDE for use with Tingbot. Tide takes away the difficult part of learning to code with python by giving the user a library of modular code that they can use to get up and running really quickly.”

Phil will be keeping us all updated about the Tingbot project and you can follow the progress on the Tingbot website. You can also find out more about Phil himself in the new series of DriveWorks Meet The Team blogs.

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