Back from SWAMP Fest

Had an absolutely great time at SWAMP Fest in Swansea. I think the count was over a hundred through the door plus lots of exhibitors, speakers, and even a Steam Punk Nerf gun seller (awesome).

I was there running The MagPi stand, fielding questions all day on the magazine and technical aspects of the Raspberry Pi. GPIO connection issues with the new Raspberry Pi B+ were a common theme. I had HDMIPi playing a loop of Big Buck Bunny to show the excellent screen quality, a Saleae logic analyser up and running showing what happens if you don’t pull up / push down the resistors for those pesky GPIO pins, and various other hardware and software demos. And yes, that is my new Steam Punk Nerf gun you can see in the background :)


I also got to meet the designers of Matboard, which was originally funded successfully through Kickstarter. They’re really enthusiastic about technology and their product, and rightly so as it fantastic. Here’s a link to Amazon where it is now available:

The event showcased a mix of Raspberry Pi, Arduino and 3D printing projects. There was also a workshop on making chainmail, which sadly I missed (my other hobby is medieval re-enactment). Robots naturally featured in abundance too.

Talking of robots, I particularly liked a tracked rover that was being demonstrated. It had been hooked up wirelessly to a laptop via XBee for control. You can make out both ends of the XBee in the photo below (the top USB cable plugs into the laptop). The track mechanism seems really stable, especially on rotation, with no hint of the tracks coming loose. Mental note: must buy tracked rover and must investigate XBee.


Swansea Hackspace had a superb 3D printing demonstration, along with lots of cool “here’s one I made earlier” objects. I’ve not had a chance to look much into 3D printing yet, so this was a great opportunity for me to ask questions and learn a bit about something new. Alongside they also had a cool plotter / laser etcher running (another technology I know little about, so was great to see).



Carmarthen Coder Dojo were running lots of programming workshops which proved popular. Their stand had a little bit of MagPi flavouring too. I’d not seen the HapPi Robot Kit before and was impressed. Bear in mind that that is a cardboard body for the robot, yet it seemed pretty sturdy.


There were also talks a-plenty throughout the day on a variety of topics. I talked about how we produce each issue of the magazine: our workflow, tools we use, how people can get involved (if you’re interested in helping with the magazine email the editor: Others talked about their projects and various aspects of hardware and software development. Douglas Gore from PiCymru introduced PiFun (name intentionally chosen to cause mischief), an easy to build accessory for the Raspberry Pi that turns everyday objects into touch inputs that can be incorporated into programs. Think banana piano and you’re along the right track. It’s cool to see the Raspberry Pi doing this without the need for a Makey Makey.

One thing I love about Swansea Hackspace is that they never miss an opportunity to share information. Not even when you’re sitting on the toilet. Genius!


I also spent an enjoyable evening in the company of the members of Swansea Hackspace, which started with me attempting to take a selfie via their webcam. They’re a great group of people. If you’ve never been to a Hackspace before and are looking for a friendly, productive atmosphere in which to tinker you should definitely get in touch.


It was a fantastic, enjoyable day. If you’re reading this and wondering about whether to go along to similar events in the future then I can highly recommend them. They’re a place to learn, have fun and see things that make you smile and say “that’s cool” a lot.

SWAMP Fest time

Off to SWAMP Fest in a few minutes. Nope, nothing to do with marshy terrain, but everything to do with technology. If you’re going, I’ll see you in Swansea in a few hours.