Everybody needs a hobby(ist)

By Lucy Hattersley. Posted

One of the big talking points at the moment is Raspberry Pi for hobbyists and Raspberry Pi for industrial experts.

Of course, these two things are rarely separate. My father-in-law, Richard, is a practical sort that likes to have all kinds of projects around the house. Sure, they may not be all finished yet, but they are interesting.

He’s built an incredible garage with a dual-action sliding door, and renovated an old wooden canoe with his daughter Rosie, who is insistent we will eventually bring it down to our terraced house in London. There’s no space; unless we put it on the roof!

He has a stone dragon gargoyle on his roof and a train layout, for which he built several landmark buildings from scratch.

In his younger days, he inspected and reported on nuclear power stations and MOD nuclear installations, a very important job that required extreme focus to keep his nation safe. These power stations are handy, and I suspect we could use a few more of those at the moment.

He is also one of the few people I know who will listen to me when I start talking about NAND gates and Z80 and ARM Assembly and Raspberry Pi. He hasn’t the faintest idea what I’m talking about. Which often makes two of us. But he appreciates a detailed-orientated chat, especially if I include some historical connection to the pre-digital era that he can more easily connect with.

I suspect a few years younger and he’d have been into computing and Raspberry Pi. As it stands, his hobby is steam trains. So much so, he rescued a long-disused Belgian Cockerill Steam Tram with a fellow rail enthusiast, and brought it over to the UK by sea and road on the back of a lorry for renovation.

It’s currently powering up and down the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway teaching a younger generation about the steam age. We showed Richard a recent YouTube video of it in action on Easter Weekend.

Practical people do practical things.

Full steam ahead

Somebody who is wholly into a hobby watches the business side of things. Steam train fans are railway fans, and the industrial and consumer network is something they know an awful lot about. I chat chips; he chats coal.

The big tech-chat at the moment is the supply chain. Last issue we mentioned a website called RPI Locator that provides alerts for when stores have Raspberry Pi in stock. We’re happy to see it joined by Hardware Locator.

It’s something of a relief to note that Raspberry Pi isn’t the only company with more customers than it can supply. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to hear of our readers’ struggle to pick up, for example, Coral USB Accelerator kits to go with their new Raspberry Pi computers.

I hope this situation picks up soon. In the meantime, you can get a Raspberry Pi by signing up with RPI Locator for an alert. Or, of course, by subscribing to The MagPi magazine.

We will continue to make the finest magazine for the best hobbyist computer around. The hobbyists make Raspberry Pi what it is. More than just a useful tool, but a loved computer. Long may they tinker.

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