A RISC-V CPU For Eight Dollars


The big deal here is the Sipeed MAix-I module with WiFi, sold out because it costs nine bucks. Inside this module is a Kendryte K210 RISC-V CPU with 8MB of on-chip SRAM and a 400MHz clock. This chip is also loaded up with a Neural Network Processor, an Audio Processor with support for eight microphones, and a ‘Field Programmable IO array’, which sounds like it’s a crossbar on the 48 GPIOs on the chip. Details and documentation are obviously lacking.

Do It Yourself Open Source Hardware and Software Hacker friendly Modular Laptop

Update for 2018:-


TERES-A64-BLACK - Open Source Hardware Board TERES-A64-BLACK - Open Source Hardware Board TERES-A64-BLACK - Open Source Hardware Board TERES-A64-BLACK - Open Source Hardware Board TERES-A64-BLACK - Open Source Hardware Board TERES-A64-BLACK - Open Source Hardware Board

Do It Yourself Open Source Hardware and Software Hacker friendly Modular Laptop

Price 225.00 EUR


Build instructions.


Focus on Ultimaker 3D printers

In 2015, Ultimaker loaned Blackpool Makerspace a 3D printer to use during the Craft Council sponsored  Make:Shift:Do event.



In 2016, Ultimaker again loaned Blackpool Makerspace a 3D printer. This time, it was an Ultimaker 2. The Ultimaker 2 was used at the 2016 Make:Shift:Do event to make parts for a CNC router the Makerspace is building. Here is a picture of the Ultimaker 2 in action, with a completed part in the foreground.



Pictures from the Make:Shift:Do event, and more parts being printed here:-https://blackpoolmakerspace.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/make-shift-do-2016/

Ultimaker is a Dutch based 3D printer company founded in 2011 by Martijn Elserman, Erik de Bruijn, and Siert Wijnia.

The company’s founders started as a participants of the open-source RepRap project. Here is a picture from the FabLab ProtoSpace hosted RepRap 3D printer workshop.


Ultimaker started selling products in 2011. The first 3d printer developed by Ultimaker was the protobox Ultimaker. After several months of development, Ultimaker released a new model as a kit, (now known as the Ultimaker Original) under a Creative Commons BY-NC license.

In 2013, Ultimaker original won an award for most accurate and fastest3D printer from MAKE magazine.

Ultimaker used the knowledge and experience gained from development of the Ultimaker Original, and in September 2013 released the Ultimaker 2. In 2014, Ultimaker officially launched products in North America.

In 2015, Ultimaker 2 Go and Ultimaker 2 extended were released at CES, a global consumer electronics and consumer technology trade show.


In 2016, Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker 3 extended were revealed at a New York City keynote.


This is a link to a Lancashire Telegraph article from 2014, about the Chorley based Ultimaker(UK) who were kind enough to loan Blackpool Makerspace the two printers mentioned earlier: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/business/11049446.East_Lancashire_3D_printing_business_set_for_expansion/

Contact details for Ultimaker in the UK.

Railway House, Railway Rd, Chorley, Lancashire PR6 0HW.  T:01257 276116 http://ultimaker.com

Link to Ultimaker ‘about’ page: https://ultimaker.com/en/about-ultimaker


Accessing the Pi GUI using SSH and X11 forwarding

A Raspberry Pi desktop running in a window

I am building a Pi based robot, the Pi will sit in the robot and I have been looking at various ways to interact with the Pi whilst it is attached to the robot.  In simple terms the goal is to have the Raspberry Pi desktop displaying in a window on my PC or laptop and use the keyboard and mouse I already have to access the Pi as shown in the image above.  In the image you can see I have made the Pi desktop display in a tall window which is useful for coding.

Usually I avoid carrying around a monitor, keyboard and mouse when I visit the makerspace with my Pi. Even though we have a few spare monitors it has always seemed easier to access the Pi using my laptop using a combination of SSH and VNC.  This process is well described here.


It works fine but VNC requires the VNC server to be installed and running before you can connect to it using the VNC viewer. When connecting in via WiFi I have found VNC to be a little slow and laggy to use, especially when  you are running a larger resolution desktop.

An alternative that I have been using is X11 forwarding.  The key advantages are a faster response and no need to install and run any additional software on the Pi.


The instructions I followed to get this working are here.

The parameters mentioned to reduce the desktop size didn’t work for me, these are the parameters I use:

“C:\Program Files (x86)\Xming\Xming.exe” :0 -clipboard -screen 0 1024×1600+100+100@1

These give a large 1024 x 1600 pixel desktop for the Pi which is ideal for programming, alter these numbers to suit your monitor size.






ESP8266 Pirates vs Ninjas Voting Dashboard – Quick Make

My first BarCamp!

I am going to my first BarCamp this weekend: Manchester Girl Geeks BarCamp.

I have never attended an ‘unconference’ before and I have been wondering whether I should have a go at speaking and if I did what I’d actually talk about. 

Well I decided I don’t want to speak at my first BarCamp, I want to see as many talks as I can and get the idea of what goes on. This event is well organised, people have gone to a lot of effort, so I feel like I should do something to contribute to the event. 

I’ve decided to do a make to display, something that is of the moment and I can set up and leave, with the Blackpool Makerspace name on and advertise our group a little bit. If I write the make up here before hand I can direct anyone interested to this blog post.  

Seems like the plan… However I decided this on the Monday evening (whilst I was decorating and missing eating my Kong burger with @blackpoolgeekup). So it will have to be a very quick make. I have 2 free evenings to get this done before Saturday…  Challenge accepted!

What to make?

A simple ESP8266 project that people could interact with using their phone seemed to be the right direction.  

I started with the idea of the Reddit Button it’s an interesting thing and there are a few articles about this April Fools phenomenon like this one.  It seems such a simple idea and if I could demonstrate something similar on the ESP8266 it might be good fun and a social game.  I had a think on how I’d implement it on the ESP8266 and it became clear I didn’t really have enough time to solve the issues before the event.

So I decided to stick to what I know… Servos… I know about them, hmmmm…

Interactive voting dashboard

The idea I settled on is an interactive voting dashboard.  People browse the ESP8266 on their wi-fi device and get a website with buttons to choose their answer to this or that or would you rather style questions.  Their responses are logged by the server and a servo moves a pointer in response towards the this or that they choose.

I haven’t worked out a simple way to restrict each person (device) to one vote only so it will be open to the abuse of people voting multiple times for their choice, maybe that will turn out to be fun. 

This idea could be extended to present a number of questions but I’ve decided I’m just going to do the one: Pirate vs Ninja?

The ESP8266 ESP-12

The Version of ESP8266 I will be using is the ESP-12. A write up on the various flavours of ESP8266 is here: http://l0l.org.uk/2014/12/esp8266-modules-hardware-guide-gotta-catch-em-all/

Getting started on the code…

If you are used to the Arduino environment the easiest way to program an ESP8266 is to use the ESP8266 for Arduino IDE bundle. 

This can be installed by following the instructions here: https://github.com/esp8266/Arduino

Since v1.6.4 (the current version when this post was written) the Arduino IDE has a boards manager and this makes it much easier to add boards. This is a great feature and it’s worth a side trip to learn what this really means on the Adafruit site:  https://learn.adafruit.com/add-boards-arduino-v164 

The ESP8266 Community module installed in the Arduino Boards Manager


Windows 10 IOT core, who/what is it for?

Windows 10 IOT core (internet of things), who/what is it for?

I bought the latest Raspberry Pi to try Windows 10 IOT core, and wrote about it here:-
I was disappointed to say the least.

The following post on Hackaday concludes that Windows 10 IOT is not for makers/hackers.

While Windows 10 IoT Core is great for any company that has a lot of Visual Basic and other engineering debt, it’s not meant for hackers, makers, or anyone building something new”

Windows 10 IoT Core is a beginning, and should be viewed as such. It’s there for those who want it, but for everyone else any one of a dozen Linux distributions will be better.

ESP8266 WIFI Serial Dev Kit Development Board

These development boards sidestep some of the problems encountered when using a bare esp8266.
Battery powered with an onboard voltage regulator, just put batteries in the holder and you are ready to start programming it.
Add the esp8266 development board to the Arduino IDE using the board manager, and you can then use an Arduino to program the blink sketch into the esp8266 board.
If you hit this problem with the firmware updating software
  • The firmware updating software only works on COM ports 1-6. If your USBSerial device enumerates to a higher port number than that, you will have to change it via Device Manager in Windows.
  • You can download all the required files in this ZIP file esp_flasher.zip
Guide with firmware bundle, flasher didn’t work for me as I was on com 8
download and used this Flash tool instead

adding esp8266 board to arduino

Get it here

using the Arduino to blink esp8266 LED

looks familiar,
void setup() {   // initialization
pinMode(16, OUTPUT); // set the io pin 16 to output
void loop() { // loop
digitalWrite(16, HIGH); // GPIO16 high TTL, LED on
delay(1000); // delay 1s
digitalWrite(16, LOW); // GPIO16 low TTL, LED off
delay(1000); // delay 1s

A temperature monitoring project with the esp8266:-


May 10th LUG & Makerspace Meeting

We had a somewhat quieter more chilled LUG after last week, present Mike (off course), Les, Tony, Arran, Elizabeth, her friend Susan, Keiron and me (Olly).

Tony took Elizabeth through a step by step tutorial for downloading and installing Linux Mint on a laptop she had rescued, they experienced a few difficulties with the machine as it had come to Elizabeth in quite a poor condition.  Tony showed her how to download the “iso” image from Linux Mint’s website and how to “burn” or extract the image onto a USB stick so they could boot and install from it.  They had to do this twice as there was some confusion as to whether the laptop was 64 or 32 Bit architecture.

Mike showed Susan around the Makerspace and explain how his PC recycling business works and explained the Linux operating system and demonstrated various bits of hardware inside a laptop and desktop computer.

Arran and I had ago hacking various Cisco network appliances which Mike had accumulated to understand what routing and switching features each appliance was capable of.  Both Arran and I have an interest in network infrastructure but duo to the cost of Cisco appliances don’t often get access to them to interrogate them in this way.  One of the switches we found had a serial connection as opposed to the console or USB connections most Cisco Appliances come with as standard to administer them through.  So we spent the early part of the LUG working out how we could connect our laptops to it using some of the port converters Mike had in his collection.

Les and Keiron spent the majority of the session building a Pimoroni Robot kit and programming it using Python GPIO libraries.  Kerion also helped Elizabeth and Tony with the trouble shooting the doner laptop towards the end of the session.

Olly, Les, Tony and Mike reflected on the day and how they could further expand meetings and engage more people at the Makerspace.

May 3rd LUG & Makerspace Meeting

So we had a bit of a discussion on the Mailing List following on from our debate on the way we should take the LUG/Makerspace forward, about what we should do at the May 3rd Meet at Ripon Road.  Since we had been talking about Ubuntu 14.04 LTS pretty much since it’s release, that Les came up with the idea of testing it on several different types/ages of hardware. Using the Recommended Minimum Specification as a starting point and then selecting various bits of hardware from Mike’s stores to trial. 

Olly, Les and Tony also decided to record an episode of the Full Circle Podcast which Blackpool LUG had assumed the stewardship of 2 years ago, in the Makerspace Office.  Those present for this rather busy meet were Mike (off course), his son Joe, Les, Tony and me (Olly).

So when we arrived at Ripon Road, Les was presented with an “emachines” Intel Celeron 700, a 10 base T NIC PCI Card, IDE DVD ROM, 512Mb RAM and a screw driver!! 😉 So he got to work installing the additional hardware needed to make the minimum spec as quoted by Canonical 

The sight that greeted Les

I got off some what lightly as the Intel Pentium 4 1.6 Ghz Compaq desktop PC which was former Blackpool Borough Council stock had already been installed with Ubuntu 14.04 by Mike earlier that week who had wanted to test if he could recycle this and other machines he’d received as a batch donation with 14.04 installed on them. So all I had to do was sit down boot up the machine and drink some coffee!! I had plenty of time to drink coffee, it took over ten minutes to get to the login prompt, another 5 before the dash appeared!! It didn’t end there either, typing in the search bar of the dash was so slow you could actually watch the characters appear in the input box one by one!! It took 2 minutes for Firefox to load and also another three and a half minutes for Software Centre to load.

Meanwhile after Les had performed the necessary hardware upgrade to the Celeron machine he then booted the DVD of 14.04 which Mike had burnt for him, to save time Les selected and OEM install from the boot options this gives a default configuration rather than walking through the installer. 20 minutes later and Les was still waiting for the installer to start!!

James then joined us and we had a discussion about Ruby, in which James recommended Programming Ruby 1.9 & 2.0 A Pragmatic Programmers’ Guide as great no experience required to get you into programming with Ruby. Les observed the similarities in syntax and variable with Python.

Meanwhile sometime later (nearly an hour infact) back at the Celeron Ubuntu installation, the installation had made no discernible progress what so ever so an executive decision was taken to kill the machine and have another go, this time using the more lightweight Lbuntu. Once again Les elected to undertake an OEM install he managed to get the installer to start and managed to get through to the “Tell Us Were You Are” screen before the installer stopped responding.

At this point we were running out of time and it has to be said patience to continue to mess about with the e-machine and called the experiment off. It would appear that certainly from our point of view, Canonical may wish to consider reviewing it’s minimum hardware requirements as it was obvious to us that the machine just wasn’t good enough to run 14.04.

For our third and final testbed Tony was using an ThinkPad X220 Intel Core 2 Duo with 4Gb RAM, it did the full install in around 20 minutes again utilising the Local Area Network to download packages over, however we do have one little gripe with the installation, despite checking the install updates and codecs options Ubuntu still failed to do this during installation, it still required updating post install and the restricted extras repositories adding to get the codecs ;-(. Other than that we had no further issues with the install, Ubuntu ran very well on this machines without any noticeable reduction in performance.

Les, Olly and Tony then went into the office to record another episode of the Full Circle Podcast which Blackpool LUG has been curating for over two years now. The boys had been suffering with problems trying to get various VOIP solutions working over the past couple of weeks and had decided to give it a go recording together in a fixed geographical location. The new setup worked well for them, recording in just over an hour which is quick for them. Alot of things were made much easier by being the same room together, such as queuing in and out the various presenters during the recording, adjusting the sound levels while recording. All of which makes the post editing experience much pleasanter than for previous shows, and hopefully less of a challenge. You can listen to the recording here