Maker Faire UK 2016

April 29, 2016

Some 10,000 visitors and 300 stands, workshops and talks later Maker Faire UK 2016 is over for another year.

As usually it was great to meet up again with Aaron of Oomlout, Mike of Grumpy Mike fame, Mitch Altman, Dominic and Martin from Just Add Sharks, David from abx-labs and Simon from ClarksArcade. As well as the old faces I also got to meet the guys from Leed’s Hackspace and also the guys from York Hackspace for the first time.

I was on the Maker Space (Newcastle) stand again this year. Lots of cool members projects on display. Myself I had my Raspberry Pi based R-Kade Mini arcade and the R-Kade Zero. Both were received very positive comments from the people playing on them.

Takeoff-RC had their drones on display in the open air exhibitor space.

A special mention must go to Iain, Chris, Alistair and Tommy from Maker Space for their truly awesome Penguin Run project. It deservedly won the Maker Merit prize from the Maker Faire UK organisers.

Only 12-onths to the next one.

Edinburgh’s Mini Maker Faire 2016

April 21, 2016

A little bit late, but we went to Edinburgh’s Mini Maker Faire earlier in the month (10th April). It’s been running now for 4-years and I glad to say we’ve been to all four.

For the third year now, we were active participants and we had a Maker Space stand. Glen took his Egg-Bot and drones, whilst I had brought various R-Kade Zero prototypes and R-Kade Mini, my 7″ LCD mini bar arcade.

The faire was well attended both by exhibitors and visitors. With the drones, egg-bot and R-Kade’s being popular.

We meet up with the guys and gals from MakLab and Edinburgh’s HackLab again. We also met the makers from the Dundee Maker Space for the first time and I also met Laura from Raspberry Pi Foundation for the first time. She’s also wrote a nice blog on the faire and you can read it here. I actually get a mention:-).

Next one, is my local faire Maker Faire UK in Newcastle on 23/24 April.

New Raspberry Pi Zero add-on boards for sale

March 15, 2016

Following our earlier announcement we’re added the following Raspberry Pi Zero add-on boards to our Tindie store.


Available on Tindie here:



Available on Tindie here: R-Kade Zero

February 26, 2016

I forgot to mention, you can also find build details on

Kickstarter: R-Kade Zero

February 22, 2016

As many may already know I’ve built a number of Raspberry Pi based arcade systems over the last few years starting in 2012 with R-Kade, last year with R-Kade Mini and now my latest endeavour R-Kade Zero which fits into the palm of your hand.

So after receiving encouragement from a number of members at our local Maker Space I’ve took the plunge and started my first kickstarter for the R-Kade Zero mini arcade platform.

You can check it out at:


Four new Raspberry Pi Zero add-on boards

January 18, 2016

Another bunch of new PCB’s. This time for the Raspberry Pi Zero.


In no particular order, there’s a serial RS232 board, a GVS I/O board with ULN2803 for servo’s etc., a Breakout board (I2C, SPI, UART and GPIO) and another MIDI interface😉.

More details/info shortly.

As usually you’ll find them on our Tindie store.

Setting up RPi MIDI and Fluid Synth (SoftSynth)

December 13, 2015

The first part of this post are some instructions I wrote back in 2014 (more here)

NOTE: Setting the 31250 baud-rate this way only works for Raspbian kernel 3.18.11, the newer kernel Raspbian 4.xx has some issues.

Getting a MIDI 31250 Baud Rate on a Pi is not easy as it should be as 31250 is not a standard Pi baud-rate. But you can trick your Pi into it if you overclock (or rather underclock) the UART clock.

Start a terminal session and type:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Add these lines to the end of the file

# Change UART clock to 2441406 for MIDI 31250 baud rate

save and exit.

Once saved reboot your Pi.

Next we need to stop the serial UART being used by Raspbian for the shell console. Check my previous post “MiniPIiio RS232 set-up” on how to do this.

Finally we need to add the following to “cmdline.txt”



Once we’ve done this we can get on with installing the MIDI UART driver and the SoftSynth.

  1. Check audio ports & levels
  2. Install MIDI UART driver
  3. Install SoftSynth
  4. Get MIDI IN talking to SoftSynth

Open up a terminal window and first..


1. Check audio ports and levels

Use HDMI audio for sound

amixer cset numid=3 2

Check the volume if needed



2. Install MIDI UART Driver

sudo apt-get install libasound2-dev
tar -zxvf ttymidi.tar.gz
cd ttymidi/

We need to modify the make file for the Raspberry Pi, so lets

sudo nano Makefile

add -lpthread to line

gcc src/ttymidi.c -o ttymidi -lasound

so it looks like

gcc src/ttymidi.c -o ttymidi -lasound -lpthread

save file with “ctrl-x” and “Y”

Lets run the Make file and install binary


sudo make install


3. Install Fluidsynth

sudo apt-get install fluidsynth

err, that’s it just wait into it downloads and installs its self.


4. Get MIDI IN talking to SoftSynth

Start MIDI UART driver

ttymidi -s /dev/ttyAME0 -b 38400 &

Start the SoftSynth

fluidsynth --audio-driver=alsa /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2

Check what devices they are listed as

aconnect -io

With device numbers connect MIDI IN to SoftSynth using “aconnect xx:x yy:y” for example:

aconnect 128:0 129:0


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