So what do you do with a Raspberry Pi once you’ve had a go at building a webcam, a robot and a weather station? Well how about a Space Station Flyover Indicator?

Whilst watching a recent Web Show on TWiT.TV I caught the interview with Liam Kennedy, the inventor of ISS-Above who programmed a Raspberry Pi to light up whenever the International Space Station is nearby. Armed with online astronomy data he calculated the position of the ISS and then created a programme in python to flag when the ISS was within viewing range (assuming it was at night of course).

ISS-Above-Logo-smHaving a keen interest in all things space and owning a Raspberry Pi which was gathering dust in a drawer, I backed his Kickstarter, ordering an SD card with the scripts pre-loaded. Within ten minutes of sending the payment I received a nice e-mail back from Liam thanking me for backing his project and promising the card would be sent to me in early May.

And yesterday the package arrived.

Liam had included instructions on getting started and soon my station was set up awaiting the next pass over. Unfortunately the ISS wasn’t due to cross over the UK until 4am this morning so I missed the message (Rio would have seen it as it was set up in my study but I don’t suppose he was too interested in the space station flyover at that time in the morning).

Also included in the setup is a dedicated page showing the upcoming passes, with details on it’s brightness, altitude angle and whether is will be visible or not, as well as a script that sends a tweet to the ISS from my station (ISSAbove-KS-280) saying hello to the astronauts. I’ve checked the next lot of passes (it circles the Earth every 90 minutes) but at present it is only above during the early mornings at present. Later in the month it does start to arrive earlier in the evenings, through to midnight so I am looking forward to getting the ISS-Above message then going outside to see it fly over.

I am also trying to learn python coding (hence watching the TWiT.TV Coding 101 show) so had a quick peak at Kevin’s scripts but soon realised I have quite a way to go before being able to write anything myself!

Review of the Year – 2013

2013_notWell the time is upon us to reflect on past things as the year draws to a close and look forward to what’s in store over the next twelve months.

So what happened in 2013?

Firstly I will apologise to my regular visitors for the lack of posts since August; I sort of lost interest a bit! But I will add a few lines later detailing what I’ve been up to since then.

Earlier in the year I managed to keep up a steady stream of blog posts, with the main site traffic drawn towards the February blogathon. Amazingly I managed to post twenty eight days worth and, whilst it was tough, I enjoyed posting them even though my creative side was stretched to the maximum. I vowed I wouldn’t do it again but there’s still time to reconsider…

I managed to write a couple of blogs on Rio, our Golden Retriever, who continued to be as challenging as when we got him over two years ago. I will admit he’s getting better though…slightly!

There was also a holiday diary from our trip to Gran Canaria, Abby’s wedding and the sad passing of Tina’s dad, who died in August.

And since August?

We Matt announced he was getting engaged in September and popped the question to Chloe soon after. Luckily she accepted! Also in September we had our second foreign holiday of the year, returning to Turkey for the second time in twelve months. Tina and I had a wonderful time, it’s certainly a country we would return to, although we did say we would probably leave it for a few years until we go back.

I bought a Raspberry Pi in October and is probably one of the reasons for the lack of posts; this tiny commuter computer [thanks Masher] has kept me busy and has rekindled my interest in electronics. I have been trying to learn Python and Linux as well as build basic electronic projects, all controlled by the small credit-card sized computer. At Christmas I got a robotic arm from Maplins and am enjoying programming it using commands written in Python. I might even have a go at building a robot at some point.

The other major event was the booking of our holiday next year…to Australia! With money left by Jack, Tina agreed to use it to pay for a holiday of a lifetime and something we can remember him for. After some extensive research I contacted an Aussie holiday specialist company and booked our  three weeks trip for next November. More of our itinerary in a later post.

2014_newAnd so to 2014…

Well next year will bring a couple of milestones, namely Tina and I are both fifty. Whilst I wasn’t too fussed when I turned forty, for some reason reaching the half century makes us both feel old and to think that in fifteen years I could be retiring really does make you think.

As for my New Years resolutions I have two that I will be setting myself; one is to lose a couple of stones in weight in preparation for the Australian holiday and the other is to write regular blogs again. Somehow I think both are going to be harder than I think!

Happy New Year!