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UCLan lends support to UK’s First Raspberry Pi Hack Day

13 December 2012

Press Office

University teams up with electronics distribution company

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with electronics distribution company CPC to show support for the exciting new Raspberry Pi micro-computer.

The Preston based company ran a 24 hour Raspberry Pi Hack event with support from UCLan.  It was the first 24 hour event in the UK that focused on programming solely using the Raspberry Pi, a credit card-sized computer that’s become a global sensation.  The Raspberry Pi has been designed at a low cost with a fully-fledged Linux computer system to engage young people in programming and computer systems.

Over 50 hackers created novel new hardware and software hacks for the Raspberry Pi with 12 teams presenting their submissions just 24 hours after they started.  They showed their work to a prestigious panel of technology experts including the Associate Head of UCLan’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences Barbara McManus.

She commented: “I was delighted to represent UCLan at the first ever 24 hour Raspberry PI Hack event. The quality of the hacks, both hardware and software, were impressive. The Raspberry Pi encourages youngsters to begin coding early allowing innovative systems to be developed at any age. At UCLan we aim to provide computing and engineering students with access to latest technologies such as this.”

"The Raspberry Pi encourages youngsters to begin coding early allowing innovative systems to be developed at any age. At UCLan we aim to provide computing and engineering students with access to latest technologies such as this.”

The winning team, Spooks, developed a board game offering customisation abilities which encourages players to experiment with programming – making it ideal for educational use within schools. 

The software was designed by husband and wife team Shi and Kriss Blanks alongside Chris Armitage and Rebecca Brannum and included original artwork and musical composition.  In true hack spirit, the team came together for the first time at the event and have been rewarded with a money can’t buy tour of the Raspberry Pi factory.

The judging panel – consisting of Gareth Halfacree, co-author of Raspberry Pi User Guide, Alex Hudson, BBC Click Interactive Producer, Dr Simon Monk, author of Programming the Raspberry Pi, Barbara MacManus, Associate Head of UCLan’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Dominic Hodgson, founder of LeedsHack and David Deventer, Head of Marketing at CPC – awarded a total of six category prize winners:

● Best Overall Hack: Virtual computerized games master (Spooks aka Shi Blanks, Kriss Blanks, Chris Armitage and Rebecca Brannum)

● Best Hardware Hack:  Semaphore to twitter converter (Martyn Raynard, Paul Brook and Neil Pilgrim, all from Leeds Hack Space)

● Best Software Hack:  Web-enabled grab machine (Jon Davies and Chris Dick from Maker Space, Newcastle)

● Best Game: Custom built game in Java (Under 18 team - Luke Horwell, Billy Beacroft and Harry Merckel)

● Best Team:  Spooks - Shi Blanks, Kriss Blanks, Chris Armitage and Rebecca Brannum)

● Best Individual:  Wi-Fi remote controlled car with webcam (Lee Barker)


Phil Holifield, UCLan Innovation and Enterprise Project Manager, also gave a demonstration of how to build a WiFi controlled Raspberry Pi vehicle to entertain visitors to the event. 

David Deventer, Head of Marketing at CPC comments, “To have 12 successful hacks produced within 24 hours is testament to the spirit of UK technology skills. We’re especially pleased that all the members of three teams competing at this event were under 18, demonstrating that the Raspberry Pi truly has a place in the secondary school curriculum.”

UCLan’s involvement with CPC and the Raspberry PI began earlier this year when the University asked computing students to pitch their own ideas to representatives from CPC on how the device can be used in an innovative way. 

The teams of students will develop their ideas and make them a reality at a UCLan Hackathon event in 2013.  They will spend an intensive day building their designs which includes an improved traffic light system, an innovative baby monitor and a portable forensic computer system.