Have you heard of Raspberry Pi yet ? I’m sure many of our readers in the UK are familiar with it, but those in the rest of the world may not be. Raspberry Pi is an exciting project started in the UK with the idea of getting children interested in programming. It is a credit-card sized computer that you can use with your TV and a keyboard. It is also designed to allow you easily add other components via USB. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity and so aims to make them very affordable, there are 2 models available costing only $25 and $35.
There is a lot of buzz about the Raspberry Pi in the UK at the moment and a whole community of creative people around the world using them to create all kinds of different devices. One of these is self- confessed Astronomy-geek Liam Kennedy, who created the ISS Above, using a Raspberry Pi model B. Originally from the UK but now living in Southern California, Liam is an is an avid amateur Astronomer, a past Griffith Observatory Planetarium Lecturer, NASA Solar System Ambassador and past president of the Orange County Astronomers. He also created the web site LookUpTonight.com to inform southern California residents of cool spacey things to do and see simply by going outside and looking up!
Liam created the ISS-Above because of his own interest in The International Space Station, and as a gift for his grandkids in the UK. He also installed one in his local coffee shop in Pasadena, California where it has been creating a lot of interest. After seeing all the interest in his project Liam decided to launch it as a Kickstarter where it has already surpassed its $5,000 goal in the first week. The ISS-Above lights up when the ISS is nearby, but that’s not all. It can also TWEET a message to the Space Station and it has its own built-in web server to give you a ton of information about current and future passes.
Describing why he created the ISS-Above Liam says “The International Space Station passes overhead most of the populated areas of the world more frequently than you would imagine. If only you knew it was there.” He adds “It’s both an awareness thing, so more people get to know the Space Station is in their sky, and it’s also to let those who are “up there” know that we know and appreciate what they are doing!”
The Kickstarter has a variety of options available including 2 different complete ISS-Above’s with different displays for those who want a ready made solution, to options for those who want to use Liam’s programming with their own Raspberry Pi or want to build their own device with a different display.
The ISS-Above is creating a lot of interest – Liam has even been contacted by NASA offering their support for the project. I, for one, think it is cool that devices like The ISS-Above can get a whole new generation interested in Space, and that the Raspberry Pi can inspire both children and adults to get creative with computer programming and ask “what can I create?”