Can I buy more than one Pi Zero?
Would almost make the trip to Cambridge worthwhile!
The first Pi shop has opened its doors in Cambridge and, if the first weekend of trading is anything to go by, has done rather well. Raspberry Pi Foundation supremo Eben Upton told The Register that the location had been selected because the slinger of diminutive computers reckoned the area has the right demographics of …
It'd be fantastic if they allow an area in the shop to be used like a hacker-space. Maybe a couple of monitors, mice and keyboards and an assortment of Pi. Let the kids try before you buy, or even set up the Pi in the shop and hit the ground running.
Have nothing but good will for the Pi Foundation, I'm a frequent customer of their's and if you ever open a location in Australia I'll be the first in line!
I used to have a novel trick for the ZX81s that used to be on display in WH Smiths.
I typed in a REM at line 10 that contained some code that changed the value of the Z80's I register, and then called the address (in the way that you could embed machine code in the first line of the program, which was always at a fixed address).
The effect of this was scrambling the text on the screen, as the I register contained the top byte of the address of the character table used to generate the screen. It did not matter whether you cleared the screen, any new text on the screen was garbled.
You could get some really bizarre effects, like offsetting the characters almost like rot-13, and unless you knew what had been done, it looked like the computer had crashed.
(Incidentally, using this trick, if you put some static RAM on the ULA side of the bus isolating resistors, addressed to one of the gaps in the address map, and pointing the I register at it, you could actually have a programmable character set. On a ZX81!)
Unfortunately, it did not survive pulling the power cord out and plugging it back in again, and I must confess that this was not a childhood prank, as I was 22 at the time!
I always thought this was were Maplin should have gone instead of folding - if they'd hired a few CS students, did demos of some of their kits (and updated them to use modern technology, like transistors) they could have turned themselves into a sort of maker-space lite.
Then I read this and realised they had already been dead for several years.
I cannot agree with you more wholeheartedly! There were two assistants in my local Maplin that actually took an interest in what they were selling and I asked them why they didn't do 'demonstration days' to get people in and involved and therefore buying.
They both said the same, manglement were not interested in the slightest, all they were interested in were sales, there was no opportunity or encouragement to help drive anything by the staff.
As has been already said, if they have regular coding clubs or sessions for various age groups in store I think they could achieve so much.
10 print "<obscenity>"; 20 goto 10'
You've just described pretty much every Saturday afternoon from when I was at school.
IIRC, one of my gang discovered a poke which could be used to stop the 'break' key from working on one type of computer. The only thing more fun than a stream of obscenities scrolling over the screen was an uninterruptable stream of obscenities scrolling over the screen. Of course, in those days it was quite safe for the staff to simply switch the machine off and on again...none of that orderly shutdown nonsense back then.
10 PRINT "PLEASE WAIT WHILE DEMO OF WHATEVER OVERHYPED GAME IT IS THIS MONTH LOADS"
20 RANDOMIZE USR 1234 *
Or similar always got a queue of people in Smiths.
* Or whatever the address was to drop you into the tape save routine, which made it look like it was loading something.
hacker-space, or "maker space" (either one).
They should make this a periodic event, a "mini maker fair" using RPi, to promote the platform, AND the store. Include some educational stuff, 3D printers, some robotics thingies, and sensors - loads of sensors - and who knows what creative minds could accomplish...
Brick and mortar stores aren't dead by default. They're only dead if they offer no advantage (or even active detriment) compared to ordering stuff online. When it comes to this Pi-store, I'm not entirely sure what the "selling point" of it's physical location is. We'll have to wait and see. As long as the Pi foundation doesn't go all "we must have a Pi-Store in every mall" apeshit, having one store is just fine. You can shut that down again easily if it turns out to be too much of a loss maker. I don't think they're expecting much of a profit from the store anyway, which helps in viability.
I hope that this store provides two benefits. The first is almost certainly present, and that is that you don't have to pay for shipping. Usually, ordering parts to go along with the pi does not come with free shipping unless you are buying a bunch of things, and the shipping prices can be ridiculously high.
I also hope that this shop sells components to connect to the pi at less of a markup than online retailers tend to do. This is one of the major problems with the pi; the board itself is wonderfully priced, but all the things you connect to it are at significant markups. Components like tiny screens, communications chips, or even LEDs and buttons, jump an order of magnitude when someone has rearranged it to play well with the pi. This makes it difficult to justify a pi project with a medium amount of added hardware because it usually costs a lot more than an analogous hardware device.* Of course, sometimes I find a pi accessory that has not been hideously overpriced (at those times, I feel a strong urge to buy it whether I need it or not because I'm so glad to see that it exists). Hopefully, the shop will find some less costly components and sell them without too much of a markup.
*Take, for example, a pi project that uses a small touchscreen for display and control and also uses GPS. These functions could be accommodated by running the code on a cheap smartphone, which would probably cost $40-50 US. The pi costs $35, a touchscreen could run from $30-$50, and a GPS receiver is probably in the $40 range. I still favor the pi solution if you can do it, but I can't explain why it justifies the 2.5x price difference, especially as the phone has a better screen, battery, and a number of other hardware capabilities that haven't been added to this.
"This makes it difficult to justify a pi project with a medium amount of added hardware because it usually costs a lot more than an analogous hardware device.*"
Maybe using something like a recycled smartphone makes some sense, in some circustances, especiall if it's a short life one off project with no educational content. So do it. E.g. I'm curremtly looking at using an old Android phone with a USB powerbank as a timelapse camera connected via WiFi for a one off pilot. I've got all the bits (except a waterproof enclosure - I may repurpose a bird box).
Now try to do the same thing again on a larger or longer scale. E.g. ten off, to be built in ten different places, with identical components and software (and documentation), ideally with CE-marked or equivalently certfied stuff, ideally reproducible compatibly over (say) a three year period, where the target market isn't the stereotype electronics/IT geek.
Good luck to anyone who tries to do that.
> Now try to do the same thing again on a larger or longer scale. E.g. ten off, to be built in ten different places, with identical components and software (and documentation), ideally with CE-marked or equivalently certfied stuff, ideally reproducible compatibly over (say) a three year period, where the target market isn't the stereotype electronics/IT geek.
There's something to this, not least because you're likely to get at least some economies of scale if bulk-buying components.
OTOH, things have moved on quite a lot since the Pi was launched in 2012 and it's hard to compete with the economies of scale (and hardware integration) which have been applied to mobile phone manufacturing.
Even low-end Android mobile handsets have pretty impressive feature set - the lowest-spec handset currently being flogged by Carphone Warehouse has 512mb ram, 4GB storage, a 1.3ghz quadcore processor, a 2MP camera, wifi, gyros, GPS, bluetooth, etc.
For £50, sim-free. Admittedly, the handset in question has been savaged in the reviews and I haven't checked to see if it's boot-locked, but it's cheap, pre-assembled (so both tested and environmentally sealed to at least some degree) and relatively easy/cheap to develop for. And I'm assuming that anything CW sells will have at least some certification.
There's always going to be cases where you need to build some specifically tailored hardware, or where you want more flexibility and/or more security than can be offered via a standard handset.
And the Pi and it's ilk are very strong when it comes to dealing with sensor readings and control of external machinery - 3D printers, garage doors, hunter-killer robots, etc.
Plus, from an enthusiast's perspective, building something with a Pi is just more fun ;)
But for a lot of things these days, there's an app for that. And even if there isn't, it's generally cheaper and easier to write software than build hardware!
Pis are brilliant for tasks where they run headless, performing network tasks, serving as simple servers, and the like. They also do a wonderful job when running complex equipment (driving motors, wired into automation setups, etc.). They do an OK job as desktops. It's the remaining category where it can be hard to justify. I prefer to use them when I have the parts lying around, mostly because I can use all the tools Linux has to offer, write a program or an OS image as suits the project, and expand things whenever necessary by attaching other hardware or creating new interfaces.
However, if I was making a time lapse camera that uplinks via WiFi and I wanted multiples of them, I'd have to use phones for that. The first problem is price. A raspberry pi 0W costs $10, and the camera for it costs $20. This makes it look like the cost will be only $30, but this brings me to the second reason to choose phones. Raspberry pis don't work well with batteries. They just don't last long enough for something this large. With a phone, I could use the same power bank to keep the phone charged, and when the bank died the phone could continue its job for hours on its battery while sending me a message to swap out the batteries. The pi would only run on the battery unless you also purchase a secondary UPS board for it, $15-25. Even then, the board is more power hungry under many circumstances because it doesn't have the type of power-saving stuff in software that phones do.
Business wise, it doesn't make much sense. The store is probably just a focal point for publicity, and might work in that capacity, particularly if it continues to generate stories like this. Hopefully it will keep the Pi buzz going. Maybe they could do some live streaming from the store or summat.
Upton't already said there will be nothing this 14th March, but he would say that, wouldn't he?
10k revenue from 3 days trading ....... from which you need to take away the cost of the goods (a Pi doesn't have Apple scale margins). Next take away the staff costs, shop rental, the rates (bricks and mortar shops pay a lot), electricity and heating, some contribution to the costs of fitting out the shop, VAT ....... and probably lots more costs. That's why brick and mortar shops are "almost" dead.
Grand Arcade is an intriguing choice of location. I've no idea what its retail rents are like, but if the price of car parking* is any indication they must be among the highest in the city. And although the shoppers there are as badly-dressed as everyone in Cambridge**, it's not exactly a geek vibe.
*It famously used to be the case that it could be cheaper to get a parking ticket than to pay for some periods in Grand Arcade. Not any more. Cambridge council fixed that by increasing the parking fines.
**For an awe-inspiring display of sartorial infelicity, try mingling with the glittering crowd in the foyer of West Road Concert Hall.
In a 1970 survey, The New York Times suggested a consensus definition of a minicomputer as a machine costing less than US$25,000 (equivalent to $161,000 in 2018), with an input-output device such as a teleprinter and at least four thousand words of memory, that is capable of running programs in a higher level language, such as Fortran or BASIC. I think the Pi comfortably meets that definition.
The PDP-8 managed a stonking 0.25 Mflops , to a pi 3's 2400 Mflops . So I think it's reasonable to call it a mini computer. If it makes you feel better you could always buy an old teletype case, rip the innards out and stuff the pi inside.
If it makes you feel better you could always buy an old teletype case, rip the innards out and stuff the pi inside.
There is enough room in an old teletype for a Pi, a 20mA driver board, and a suitable PSU.
Unless support for upper-case-only terminals has been removed from the driver it should work quite well...
Instead of using an old teletype, I'd suggest a modified VT100 terminal instead. Or something that looks like it, maybe?
in theory you could just hide the USB and video cables, and put appropriate hardware into appropriate places within a look-alike case...
teletypes are so 1960's, really. By the mid 1970s it was DECwriters and ASCII serial terminals, basically the standard for the PDP11 era.
I'm further imagining their smug turned to horror once they get their new purchase home and realize that they have to assemble it on their own (what's a heat sink?)... and load the OS (what's a RetroArch?)... and that it doesn't come with Siri, Bixby, Cortana, or HeySpyggle.
Inexpensive, yes, but not exactly a toaster.
It's not that hard to set it up, especially if you buy one of their pre-burned SD cards as well, which will walk you through the setup. You don't have to be super technical to do that. Once it is installed, they start it up by default with a full GUI which is like other computers enough that you don't really have to know that much to use it. I don't think a suitably inclined person would have any problem setting it up even if they don't have much computing experience.
That said, I agree with your major point because there are so many users that won't bother going to the tiny effort involved, even though they'd learn some things and wind up with a useful system.
If you could also get a decent coffee and a quick lube for your bike they'd be onto a surefire winner.
There's at least one bike repair stall in Market Square nearby, and more coffee shops than you can shake a stick(*) at in the area.
(*) Anyone know where this stick shaking idiom comes from?
I wish them well on this venture. Now that Maplin has gone and Pi has hit the ground running I'm sure we can all look forward to a more ethically retail environment. Now please extend the range to tools, components comfortable to sip tea an chew the fat better than Maplin or Radio shack every did.
And while you're at it, forget about York too - Leeds would be a far better bet (and likely cheaper, too).
The main reason there are so many empty retail premises in town, and some of them have been empty for several years now[*], are to do with the ludicrous rent/lease costs.
[*] - eg. the old Ryman store on Coppergate
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow have local techie activity and science festivals (I was about to make a slightly snarky comment about Glasgow (sadly) not having one, before discovering that it does actually have a rather johnny-come-lately one as well, which I was completely unaware of). The two cities complement each other to some extent (although they rarely actually compliment each other) and are only an hour or less apart by train, so either or both would be good.
And if there haven't already been numerous Edinburgh festivals shows using Raspberry Pi's to help with SFX in some way, there's certainly no shortage of potential for them to do so!
A roll out to Oxford eh?
Not only do we not have an Apple store, we don't even have a 24 hour McDonalds! Even the larger Tesco is in Abingdon. If those guys can't make it work I'm not sure a smaller outlet's going to have much of a chance, unless they brand them as tourist trinkets. :-(
In Oz we have a couple of electronics speciality stores that sell the Raspberry Pi in their retail outlets. Altronics and Jaycar both stock Raspberry Pi (neither stock the Pi Zero unfortunately). If you can't wait for the delivery from RS or Core Electronics and are prepared to pay the extra then the retail outlets are an option. (I ordered a Raspberry Pi from RS at 6:00pm one day and it was on my desk at 11:00am the next day so to me the delivery times are not an issue.)
This is awesome news. I've been a big RPi fan from day #1. It's doesn't take too many brain cells to wonder if the RPi store could evolve over time to become how Maplin used to be... an emporium selling electronic parts for makers with enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff... complete with product demos and coding workshops.
I hope this store is a huge success for them.
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