Yes! Ipswich Makerspace is back again! This time with a tweaked team and a tweaked robot.
This years Pi Wars joins NASA in marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program that landed American astronauts on the moon between July 1969 and December 1972.
The 2019 competitors will navigate “The Canyons of Mars”, autonomously visit the 4 coloured corners of the “Hubble Telescope Nebula Challenge” and Blast Off in a “Straight-ish” Line Speed Test among others.
Come and meet the 2019 team!
So who are the Ipswich Makerspace team – 2019?
Currently the team is made up by last years team Phil, Jon, Mal and Matt. This year Mal will be taking care of our blogging!
Jon started out with computers when a family friend gave him an old MS-DOS machine in the early nineties. From there a string of different types of hardware, including many home built machines, quickly showed that Jon was destined for a career in computing.
In 2004 Jon started a course studying Computer science at the University of Southampton. This introduced him to a whole host of new technology included object oriented development, linux and c/c++.
In 2008 Jon moved to Ipswich and started a job at BT in Ipswich as a software engineer working at the one small part of BT that actually works on the phone network. Currently he works developing SIP soft switches for large corporate customers.
Despite his day to day focus on software Jon has continued his interest in hardware and electronics. Home automation is a particular focus of his spare time but also robotics, 3D printing and multi rotor aircraft.
Jon is the Ipswich Makerspace webmaster, has been involved in organising the first Ipswich Raspberry Jam and gives talks at several local tech groups.
Joining the tractor bot team for this year Jon is focusing on adding additional sensors to further tune to robots performance in the various challenges.
Phil started getting interested in computers at age 7, when his Dad took him to work at Essex County hospital where the Pathology department had a PDP 11 running BASIC. It ran several games including lunar lander and golf…….. all on paper via state of the art Teletype 33.
Later at secondary school, he started programming in BASIC and Forth, using a shared acoustic coupler terminal connected to a huge black and white TV and the county main frame. This experience was only for the chosen few and amounted to only a few minutes of computer time a week.
By now hooked, a series of computers came into his life, Acorn System 1, ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum and QL as well as those at Hatfield Poly where he got a degree in Electronics and Computing, learning PASCAL, C m16e, z80 and 6502 assembler.
After Poly came work at a local computer supplier writing printer drivers for a word processor running on the Commodore PET. Then on to building clone PC’s and writing some of the first PoS(Point of Sale)/PoI(Point of Information) systems using Amiga 2000’s.
In the early 90’s Phil started working for QTMS, a company specialising in monitoring printing presses and other ancillary equipment and somehow is still doing it after two buy-outs and going from a company of 6, to one of 3000.
Currently, Phil leads a team of 4 programmers spread throughout the UK and the USA.
Mal grew up in Ipswich in a household of video gamers. With 2 older brothers there was not a room in the house that didn’t at one point see a ZX Spectrum 128K, Super Nintendo, Sega Megadrive or a Amiga 500. Even Mum had a Gamecube and The Legend of Zelda. By high school age Mal could leave Workbench and Deluxe paint IV behind and bought his first PC, a Intel Pentium 133MHz. With this PC he displayed a flare for computer networking by using the 2 household phone lines to play networked games of Red Alert with his older brother Martin in the next room. After numerous phone bills hitting the mat he upgraded to a 10base-2 LAN, mostly so he could “rage quit” the game by removing the 50Ω terminator.
Just as quickly as the dial-up internet days came and went, so did A levels and in 2000 Mal started an Apprenticeship at BT labs Martlesham testing Broadband IP ADSL services. This progressed into a role in the trial and design of Fibre Internet services / TV CDN delivery services which is when Mal completed his MSc in Telecommunications Engineering. Currently Mal leads design of the BT Home/Business Smart Hub CPE – BTs award winning Broadband Gateway product.
The love of gaming has persisted over the years. Starting with Sixth form friends and now with a regular group of people consisting of (coincidentally) mainly BT employees, Mal is still an avid gamer and PC builder.
In recent years Mal has been deep in self study / online learning in a variety of areas – Photography, Electronics & PCB design, Unity (C#), 3D CAD, Hobby Microcontrollers (Arduino et al), Piano and Finnish Language. Bringing these skills together he is currently building an arcade machine to run his own game – building, soldering, coding, designing and composing.
Despite being the quiet and more reclusive member of the makerspace, in this 2019 Pi Wars team Mal is writing these blog posts!, designing any PCBs required and providing any other general support. (Tea and sympathy)