OPINION: Bringing it together

By Lucy Hattersley. Posted

I've spent the last few days working with the new Raspberry Pi Build HAT and some bumper
packs of bricks kindly supplied. Like most makers, I loved LEGO® as a kid. Either when following instructions to build Technic trucks or working free-form to build planes, houses, or ‘abstract sculptures’.

LEGO hadn’t quite become the modern iteration: with its movie tie-ins and themed sets. And it’s been interesting to pick up LEGO again at a later age, and discover just how much of it has changed. Mostly for the better.

One thing I love about Build HAT is that it bridges the gap between Raspberry Pi the computer, and learning to code with Raspberry Pi. This is the intersection where The MagPi sits. 

Many people don’t know that Raspberry Pi is two different organisations. There’s Raspberry Pi Trading, which designs and makes the computers, and components like the Build HAT. And there’s the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the charity that works to put physical computing in the hands of people all over the world. It runs the network of clubs and events and provides computer science courses and curriculum materials to students and teachers, and the Isaac Computer Science platform (funded by the DfE’s National Centre for Computing Education programme.) It also makes a huge range of educational projects, which you will occasionally find in The MagPi.

The Build HAT is one of those fantastic products with a foot in both camps. Raspberry Pi Trading can be rightly proud of developing such a fantastic product, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation is using Build HAT to create incredible learning experiences for children (of all ages). Adding the computing power of Raspberry Pi to control LEGO with Python is sublime. I keep thinking ‘Twelve-year-old me would have loved this.’

Still, you don’t have to be twelve years old to love LEGO. Frankly, you can improve your coding skills at any age, so why not have fun with bricks while you’re at it?

Engineering success

There’s another intersection at work in The MagPi. On the one side of a Venn diagram are the learners, the makers, and hobbyists; and on the other the engineers, developers, and professional ‘doers’.

The MagPi magazine has always tried to sit in the middle of this tribe. And I’m not wholly convinced they are that separate. After all, today’s hobbyist maker is tomorrow’s professional developer. And most people who work with computers enjoy computers on the side. You never stop learning.

The engineering side of Raspberry Pi is growing, and we are increasingly coming across projects with a professional bent. I looked at the Midas display screen this month and realised just how often I see screens in stores, transport hubs, and on the streets. A huge number of them moving forward are going to be powered by Raspberry Pi. Modern manufacturing facilities, storage areas, and delivery trucks are packed with sensors feeding back data on heat, movement, and location. The low-cost, low-energy requirements, and stable Linux support of Raspberry Pi make it perfect for these uses. 

Wherever you are in your Raspberry Pi journey, you can be sure The MagPi magazine will make every effort to be there with you.

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