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Redhill technology events: Red Sprite

Since March, Neil (of Terzo Digital) and I have been running a relaxed and free technology evening each month.

We created Red Sprite as a way to give back to the local community while also having fun. The events are intended to educate as well as entertain; with a variety of formats and topics being covered.

Having passed our six month milestone in August I thought I'd look back at what we've managed to cover. Along the way we've even had a little coverage from local press.

March 2019

Our first event kicked off with a group discussion with topics being suggested and voted upon by everyone, each topic then had up to ten minutes of discussion. This worked really well to keep the discussion moving and interesting.

For the second part of the evening we set a couple of algorithmic puzzles to be solved in pairs. Neil and I hadn't attempted to solve the problems in advance either so we also got to join in. Both problems were solved by at least one pair within the time limit.

This first event was kindly sponsored by the Reigate and Banstead Business Team.

April 2019

April was all about Battleship Bots! We didn't declare the details in advance so everyone was starting from scratch on the evening. The group divided into two teams - each tasked with making a Bot that could win Battleships against the other. Despite being in competition the groups also had to work together to decide how the bots would communicate.

This was a busy and exciting evening that just about got some code running and looking a bit like battleships, although unfortunately not a live battle.

This event was sponsored by Kevin Golding.

May 2019

The intention for our May event was to choose two project ideas, taken from the group, that we could pursue in future months. I was extremely impressed by the variety of ideas that people brought along on the night - the initial presentations took a while longer than planned!

Each idea was presented and questioned followed by a vote to select those to take forwards. Once two were selected, we then spent about half an hour discussing each of those in more depth. The scopes were narrowed down a bit and we made decisions on how to approach them.

May's event was sponsored by Ultimate Database.

June 2019

Ding Dong! The first of the group chosen projects was a mobile app to enable quick, pre-set messages to be sent easily to frequent contacts. Eg "I'm outside" to a son or daughter when you're collecting them.

Two mobile developers within the group kindly offered to guide us all through the process of getting started with a React Native app. Once started there was a mix of individual experimentation and group feedback to version being live-coded on the projector. By the end of the evening most people had a mobile app with at least some functionality (if not quite everything we planned).

June's pizza was kindly provided by CoTribe.

July 2019

Air Quality Monitoring (and LoRaWAN). The technical details were left a little vaguer for this project with both Raspberry Pi and ESP32 based solutions having been proposed. On the night we had a lot of different boards, sensors and networking options available. With support from CoTribe we were even able to have a soldering station available.

People in the group have a wide range of experience and interests so it wasn't surprising that we split up to focus on several different activities. Activities included: soldering sensors, getting ESP32 IDEs working, reading temperature and particulate sensor data, creating a web API to store sensor data, LoRaWAN transmission/reception, creating a visualisation of sensor data.

By the end of the evening, utilising efforts across several teams there was data being read from a particulate sensor, transmitted, stored, re-read and visualised.

July was sponsored by Terzo Digital.

August 2019

With three great projects started in previous months, but none entirely finished, August was a "continuation" evening. Each person chose the project they'd like to continue with and we all got started! More progress was made on the Battleships Bots and Air Quality Monitors, although no one decided to continue with Ding Dong on this occasion.

I'm not sure the results from the evening would really be considered "complete" but a lot of progress was certainly made and I think everyone had fun making it.

Loopspeed kindly sponsored our August event.

The Future

Switching to look at the future, the September event is sponsored by PaTMa and will be (mostly) about Machine Learning. Starting with an introductory presentation with a group discussion afterwards. If you're reading this before the event takes place (17th September 2019) please do check the details on Meetup and RSVP if you want to come along.

All of these events have been hosted and supported by CoTribe - an excellent hotdesk and office provider in Redhill and Horley.

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