Tuesday was a very special day for a few very good reasons – as the title indicates it involved a small loop back to good things past. Sheffield has a great heritage in industry, engineering and technology – which is why I did my Teacher Training at Sheffield Hallam University many years ago. Anyway enough ‘sentimental journey’  the technology heritage is kept alive and well by a host of innovative business’s – none more so than Pimoroni Ltd. So when an invitation came from co-founder Paul Beech to come and  visit the ‘Pirate’s Den’ it was a only a matter of saddling up and head up to the ‘Technology Crucible’ that is Sheffield. PiMoroni specializes in anything RaspberryPi from breakout boards, LED’s and components to more advanced diagnostic tools such as the BitScope USB oscilloscope. They’re also known for the rather fetching PiBow – not to forget the 1st UK Kickstarter : Picade (Retro Game PiConsole) at an impressive 220% above funding goal.

One could possibly be forgiven for thinking – well these guys sell stuff online , so what ??  What’s the big deal ??  Let me try to fill you in folks – my mind was ever so slightly ‘blown’ today having witnessed a great business ethos and some of PiMoroni’s latest R&D going on in-between settling in to their new workspace.

I couldn’t think of a nicer office view than 5 industrial strength lazer cutters creating the key components for the PiBow’s etc. I’ve been told there is a cure . . .

Geek Kingdom - officially known as Production Floor.

Geek Kingdom – officially known as Production Floor. 5  sizable Lazer cutters in right hand corner churning out PiBow’s and other essential components for assembly.

Paul was kind enough to give me a guided tour of the shop floor; the array of lazer cutters where particularly impressive – but then I’m easily pleased 😛

Paul checking quality and accuracy of cutting - QC is done with visual inspection.

Paul checking quality and accuracy of cutting – QC is done with visual inspection.

The ethos of the business and attitude to production methods were really quite impressive, materials sourced locally where possible – and certainly a strong will to support manufacture within the UK, very commendable. This is not just about keeping production in the UK, but a great reduction in waste, low transport costs and a high ‘green credential’ – and yes all cut off / waste acrylic goes to reuse and recycling.

Random samples taken for inspection reduses returns and unessecary waste.

Random samples taken for inspection before packing and shipping reduces returns and unnecessary waste.

The main reason for my visit was to get some insight into production methods, use of materials and professional advice for an up and coming project which i hope will materialize in the near future. So having torn myself away from the ambiance of cut acrylic and the hum of 5 lazer cutters i made it up to Jon, Paul and Phil’s offices, I knew I was at the right place as everyone in the office was equipped with at least 1 PiBow Coupe each. That is other than the familiar face of Gordon Henderson who obviously had 2 !!  There was also an array of exquisite and unfamiliar looking components crowding Gordon’s desk – which I have been told is the best kept ‘open-source’ secret in history of R&D !! Until Today !! But I’ve been sworn to ‘open-source’ secrecy so I can’t tell . . .

Why is Gordon looking so pleased with himself ?!? Is it the 2 PiBow Coupe's ??

Why is Gordon looking so pleased with himself ?!?
Is it the 2 PiBow Coupe’s ??

So after a brief chat with Paul and Gordon about my project – it was inevitable that conversation veered on to the ‘secret project’ that we are not at all allowed to talk about – ever !!  I personally think it was a Pirate Plot to distract me – and dazzle me with bright LED’s, we’ll never know.

I don't know what Gordon is trying to tell us here - lot's of secret measurin g going on

I don’t know what Gordon is trying to tell us here – lot’s of secret measuring going on . . . .

OK – I’m being somewhat mischievous but I am genuinely excited about what is being developed by Jon, Paul, Phil and Gordon here and we will hopefully see the fruits of their labor very soon.  The success of good development very often hinges  on being a bit daring and taking a few risks –  I believe this team will produce something very exciting and successful.

Jon Williamson working on the most 'open-source' secret code ever . . .

Co-Founder Jon Williamson working on the most ‘open-source’ secret code ever . . .

So a great day out was had – catching up on some great news and hacks, thanks to everybody for their hospitality 😛

Nice PiBow Gordon - Model B you say !!  But what's with the rather 'alien looking' PCBits ??!?   . . . ohh that's secret too . . .

Nice PiBow Gordon – Model B you say !!
But what’s with the rather ‘alien looking’ PCBits ??!?
. . . ohh that’s secret too . . .

Ohh did I mention that no one leaves the Pirate Den empty handed  . . .


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4 responses »

    • jarjartee says:

      I feel very privileged , I’m on R&R in Derbyshire so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity – my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw Gordon sitting there with a big cheesy grin on his face :p

  1. Nice blog Jar…so…what did you take home? Is it the Model C that only selected shops get to hear about pre-release? *ahem*

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