Before the lock-down, I had three monthly meet-ups that helped feed my greedy maker bug; the Stafford PiJam, Stafford Web Meetup and Birmingham Maker Monday. My physical attendance at these events may have been curtailed but the virtual opportunities have in many ways compensated.
On March 30th Maker Monday (@Maker_Monday) replaced their monthly pub gathering with a zoom webinar: the first virtual meeting featuring contemporary classical composer Liz Johnson (@lizjohnsoncomp). We experimented with some communal noise making, which was fun but tended to emphasise the medium’s latency. The musical delays however were easily compensated by the saving in travel time since the journey to my laptop was far quicker than cycling to the station, catching the train and then walking twenty minutes to the pub.
So for my next meet-up I decided to use this time saving feature and go to London to sit in on a meeting of RaspberryPint (@RaspberryPint) to listen to Ben Clifford describing his experiments with the Arduino ATTiny, and Richard Kirby using the Raspberry Pi to monitor his water softener. Time out for a coffee break between the thirty minute presentation slots made this a relaxed experience. Their next meeting had a feature by Drew Fustini (@pdp7) on Risc-V open hardware, so I wasn’t surprised to see our own Tom Williamson (@tomW_Ident) asking some pertinent questions at the end.
I have also virtually bumped into Cerys (@RPi_Stuff) at the Preston Raspberry Jam (@PrestonRJam). They held an evening of ten minute slots for presentations on wearable tech: a great itinerary for disseminating the broad range of ideas, attitudes, strategies, and technologies in this trending field.
Virtual meetings do lack the facility to easily engage in personal discussion of projects but it has been a useful experience to be able to visit other groups, meet other practitioneers and compare video conferencing tools. Twitter posts have proved a great way for me to find events and, once attended, they tend to keep you informed of their next meeting via email. If you know of other maker tech groups who are offering virtual meetings then add a comment below: I fancy a bit of international travel.