David Copley - Sensor City and the Fourth Industrial Revolution


The April 2018 Codemill Digital skills meetup had David Copley introduce us to Sensor City and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.David Copley is the Industrial Systems Specialist at Sensor City supporting the LCR4.0 programme. He has a background in automotive electronics development for both Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs and is now working with SMEs in Liverpool City Region to adopt Industry 4 (4IR) technologies.

Sensor City is a Liverpool-based technical innovation centre and University Enterprise Zone. It's a joint venture between Liverpool University and Liverpool John Moores University. The idea behind the Sensor City is to create a community of collaboration and upskill the local community, it's a global hub for sensor technologies - the place for companies to come together and work on sensor related technologies and IoT.Some key points from the talk:

  • LCR4.0 - Liverpool City Region Industry 4.0 - fully funded by EU initiative to support SMEs within Liverpool City Region in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies for products and processes.

    • Vision: transform manufacturing in Liverpool City Region, give businesses access to the support, facilities and technology needed to make things happen, bring together world class practical support

    • Targets: deliver support to 300 SMEs in Liverpool City Region, support 70 new product development cases, create 60 new jobs in supported businesses

    • Initially they thought they will consult with already existing production lines, but due to the equipment they've got, they do a lot of product development from scratch - from concept to pre-production in one building.

  • Range of technical expertise:

    • Sensor systems

    • Electronic integration

    • Product design

    • 3D prototyping

    • Digital marketing

    • Project management

Some case studies mentioned:

  • CNC Robotics - provided them with monitoring technology

  • Gallagher Medical Devices (GDM) - supports the rapid prototyping of the housing, electronics and embedded software.

  • Feedwater - Sensor City built a peak detector circuit to analyse the signal from the sensor and will be designing a conductivity module

  • Real Space - benefited from design skills, academic/industrial collaboration and the latest technology - provided a number of CADs

  • Aqua Running - helped reduce valuable liaison and discussion time with suppliers

Amy Hearn - Microbits in Libraries - lending computers!


The February Codemill Digital skills meetup had Amy Hearn talk about how public libraries around the UK are now lending out BBC micro:bit computers and how and why the initiative was started.Amy Hearn is a development librarian, runs Hudderfield Girl Geeks meetup and is one of the people who started  #microbitsinlibraries, thus she was the perfect person to introduce us to the idea.

Some takeaways from the talk:

  • 90% of children said the micro:bit showed them anyone can code

    1. After trying micro:bit, 39% of girls said they would choose computing, compared to 23% before trying micro:bit

    2. Micro:bits are being lent in 1200 libraries in the UK and over the world.

    3. Micro:bit lending attracted new people to join the libraries - reached new audiences

    4. Coding for under 5's exists - you can teach functional skills that would make a better coder later. A few toy examples:


Lorraine Underwood - Using the BBC micro:bit in real life applications


The BBC micro:bit is a tiny computer designed for all kinds of cool creations from robots to musical instruments – the possibilities are endless! It can be coded from any web browser in Blocks, Javascript, Python, Scratch and more - no tricky coding required. The second CodeMill meetup had digital maker and Computing At School teacher Lorraine Underwood explaining what micro:bit actually is and how to use it in real life applications. She talked about her recent work and even brought some projects to demonstrate live.

We explored the possibilities and learned how easy it is to use by a person with no previous coding or engineering experience and how to make it fun to get children involved as well!Some projects mentioned by Lorraine were: cycling indicator jacket, micro:bit cross stitch, a Power Rangers sword, storm cloud, and temperature controlled stair lights.  You can find details of all these projects on Lorraine's blog here: highlight for me was a cycling safety direction indicator using LED strips controlled by a micro:bit - fun and useful!You can listen to the talk and see the slides here:

Using micro:bit with MS MakeCode


Here is the link to the very cool JavaScript Blocks Editor that Lorraine mentioned in her talk: The block-based editor makes it very simple to get started with coding the micro:bit.There is very little learning curve involved. I tried out the examples from Lorraine and made first micro:bit application in just 5 minutes! Here is my first try with the micro:bit - some scrolling text: this for yourself here:



Why we are supporting the awesome Wuthering Bytes festival of technology 2017

WutheringBytes_400x400Wuthering Bytes is "A Festival of Technology in the Heart of the Pennines". First held in 2013, this year's event takes place between 1st and 10th September 2017 in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Wuthering Bytes is a celebration of technology, hacking, particle accelerating, and computing - in many forms!The festival day on 1st September has a glittering line-up of technology stars speaking on all kinds of topics. Tickets are on sale - buy yours now!At CodeMill we're proud to be sponsoring Wuthering Bytes this year; the enthusiasm for digital skills at Wuthering Bytes is infectious and very much part of what we're trying to do a CodeMill. We want to encourage people from all backgrounds to become part of the digital connected future, and by sponsoring Wuthering Bytes we're enabling the organisers to keep the ticket prices accessible for everyone.See you there - 1st - 10th September!  

Leeds IoT meetup on 24 July 2017 - software updates with Canonical Snap

We're looking forward to attending the next Leeds IoT meetup on 24 July at FutureLabs. Alan Pope from Canonical (makers of Linux distro Ubuntu) will be speaking on how they deliver software at scale. This is relevant to IoT because the current methods of software updates for connected devices are not standardised and often poorly executed by manufacturers.T10fnMP9_400x400Thanks to Will Newton of IoT wizards for putting together the meetup!