The community surrounding the Raspberry Pi is vast and awesome! Nothing really embodies how awesome it is more than the Raspberry Jam. These events found all over the world allowing geeks and geekettes to meetup and share and learn. They are opportunities to network and find new friends and help for projects. You can also sometimes buy accessories for your Pi.

I really wanted to attend one of these events but I live in Berlin Germany, and while Berlin has an impressive list of events from Javascript workshops to Hackathons, I found that we were lacking on a regular meetup group for the Raspberry Pi. Berlin had no finger in any Raspberry Jam’s.

After pushing some ideas around and contacting some other group organizers I got to the point that I knew I would have to take the bull by the horns at get on with setting up the a Jam on my own. Red flags started to wave soon after.

  • Where do I have the Raspberry Jam?
  • What do I talk about?
  • Will anyone come?
  • What about food and drink?
  • Will there be screens?
  • Will there be a network?

These are only a few of the questions that popped into my head when starting this.

Its important to note if you’re organizing an event like this to keep yourself focused on what you need to do and be clear what you want for the people attending the event! Lists are of the utmost importance. I carry a A4 ring bound book with me marking down everything I need to do!

While finding help from twitter followers, I found a coworking office that would let me use their space. I decided on what I would talk about. I contacted companies that are related to the Raspberry Pi and asked them to help by sponsoring the Jam. I was overwhelmed by the response from everyone helping. While I might not have had someone next to me taking tasks and making notes. I never really felt alone doing this!

Since this was the first Raspberry Jam event in Berlin I thought I would simply introduce the Raspberry Pi, the foundations mission and also a short getting started guide to the Raspberry Pi. This paid off as I could see several people in the group wide eyed and their newly purchased Pi in their laps!

During the setup I did hit a few road blocks! I found out a few weeks before that the venue did not have a wired network! I did not have any compatible wifi devices to take with me. In fact only a month before I threw out an old router that could have been an access point, for sure an ‘I knew I would need that’ moment! I simply setup the a copy of raspbain on my home network and cloned the network cards. I then figured out that the monitors while having USB ports would not power the pi’s! This was the moment that could have ruined the whole Jam but thankfully I remembered to take all the USB chargers I had in the house and also my only Powered USB hub. Finally I wanted to use the camera board to make a small stop motion animation booth and let people have a play. After they took their shots the animation would complied and emailed to tumblr… But because of the Internet issues that did not happen!

Lessons learned… Always check everything before you go! Have backups if something does not work. We might all hate Murphy but his law is sound: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Thankfully I don’t think anyone noticed the issues and still enjoyed their time at the Jam.

After the talks (and yeah I did have the feeling I went on a bit), We had some cake pops my wife made and I let everyone have a go at a row of Raspberry Pi’s (donated by a sponsor) setup at the back of the room. I had laid out a selection of add-on boards and motors, minecraft and Sonic Pi all out and installed ready to use.

What I found important at this point was to capture the interest of the people attending. If I simply laid some nameless board with no instructions would they bother to even look at them. So a week or so before the Jam I made ‘Activity Cards’ which are printed and laminated A5 sheets containing instructions on how to install the add-on board or program and one simple example on how to use it.

Activity Cards

I measure the success of these activity cards by having a friend of mine that does not have a Raspberry Pi, take a card for the program ‘Sonic Pi’ and 5 minutes later I could hear ‘Stay alive’ from the game Portal fill the room!

My sponsors where a fantastic help. In fact without them I don’t think the Jam could not have happened in the form it did!

If you would like to be a sponsor or want to send the Raspberry Jam Berlin some demo boards feel free to email: raspberryjamberlin@gmail.com

I had loads of fun organizing the event, met some really cool people, helped some people with issues there were having with their Pi, helped some get setup with their Pi for the first time and most of all I got to attend a Raspberry Jam… Finally!

You can find some photos for the Raspberry Jam Berlin on Flickr and also the next event will be on the 2nd of August! More information here: raspberryjamberlin.bytingidea.com