Getting Involved in DIY Tech Communities

Author: Darhan Saami

It is always fun to connect with people that share a similar mindset, whether that may be with studying, playing sports, or sharing other hobbies. The DIY tech project hobby is also something that can only be strengthened if shared by a group of people. Joining or making a tech community would be beneficial for all the participants since it encourages a learning environment that eventually improves everyone’s personal projects. Being a part of some tech communities would not only increase your interest in your projects but could become a safe place to fully express yourself to like-minded individuals.

Do not worry if you think it is going to be difficult to find such communities as we have got your back! Some of the leading companies and institutions that encourage DIY learning and creating have already set up frameworks for individuals to create their own communities worldwide. They have given their consumers the power to use their platform to create DIY tech communities in their neighborhoods. Some of the leading ideas in this field are explored in the following post. The companies involved are Raspberry Pi, Arduino, CoderDojo, etc.

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam is one of the many ways to get involved in the DIY Tech community.

Raspberry Jams are meetups organized by users and fans of the famous one-board computers called Raspberry Pi – you can learn about some of the different models here. They can be organized by anyone as long as they follow the guidelines set out by the company itself. The company (as explained before) gives the power to the individuals to organize these events; therefore, the format of these events also varies from place to place. Some events have formats that allow children to learn some programming languages and interact with the Pi computers, while other formats include having traditional tech user meetups. Some formats involve talks, while others are more practical. These different formats mean that the Raspberry Jams can include all sorts of age groups depending on the event type.

People from all walks of life can host raspberry Jams; however, they are mostly held in the United States and the United Kingdom. Other countries are yet to overly familiarize themselves with the concept of Raspberry Jams. The first thing to check before going ahead with your own Raspberry Jam is to find out if there is one near you. Check for events all over the world from the Raspberry Pi website under the option of “Jam Map.” If you find a Jam, then it is better to join rather than go through with your own Jam in the same area. Sign up for that event by following the on-screen instructions. However, if you do not find one near you, then check out “past events.” You may find a past event near you, and then you can contact the organizers for more vents in the future. This step is crucial as you can get information about organizing your own Jam from past Jam organizers. You can even ask for help on the day itself from these past organizers. The website and the “Jam Map” option are great features to get involved in DIY communities. However, if you cannot find a Jam near you and are looking to create a community from scratch, follow the steps below to learn about organizing a Jam.

The first thing is organizing the venues and other logistical stuff for the event, and then comes the marketing step. You would need to look for a venue like a community center or a university’s library. Universities and community centers are a good option since their management is likely to have experience in holding tech meetups and would be able to help you on the event day itself. It is also likely that these venues may be cost-effective or free too! That way, you could host a free event or have a nominal entry fee. Schools, libraries, and community centers would also likely lend you projectors, tables, and other accessories required for the activities of the day.

As discussed before, your Jam can be anything you want it to be. You can even bring about new activities that can inspire future Jams all around the world. If you want it to be interactive, then you can have games revolving around the projects that different members bring (more of a show and tell activity). If you want an interactive session with kids and newcomers, you can have a beginner’s coding session. The possibilities with planning activities are endless, just like they were with the Raspberry computers!

Advanced activities are also encouraged if the event is not for children or families. Advanced coders can come together to work on a community project or compete for a prize that can be bought from the price of the tickets. These are just ideas, and you can come up with more of them for your event!

The second and last step of this process is promoting your event. You can have a Facebook (and other social media pages) page to market and ticket the event. You can also use other websites for ticketing your event. Get inspired by how other Jams market themselves and how successful they were. Ticketing your event has a lot of benefits. It can tell you how many people will show up, and the revenue can help cover up the costs for the events. Therefore, even a nominal fee is encouraged if you want the event to go efficiently. Once all of this is planned, you can officially submit the date and venue to the Raspberry Pi website to be included on their calendar and on the “Jam Map.”

A great way to get started with Raspberry Pi is with this kit that includes everything you neede to get started. You can even head to the projects section of this site for some ideas.

CoderDojo

Coder Dojo helps kids and newcomers learn programming languages.

CoderDojo is a global network of programming communities that helps kids and newcomers in learning programming languages. It comprises free and informal tech clubs that get children involved in the future of the world: Coding. More than ninety countries have a dojo, and more than fifty thousand people attend one. There are almost twenty-four hundred dojos all over the world. However, the institution is working to have a dojo in every community of the world.

You can either register as a “champion” and create your own dojo or see if you can join one near you. Both tasks can be done through the “CoderDojo” website. They have all the guidelines to help you choose either one of those options. Once you register as a champion, the company will support your initiative and guide you along with all the other steps. Everything logistical about this event is the same as the Jam event. However, you can only carry out activities regarding coding and learning it.

Another option to get involved in this community is to volunteer for one of the dojos near you. It is a huge task to carry out such an event so you can register as a volunteer on their website and learn some stuff about managing tech events. This act does not require any technical knowledge as you would be helping the “champion” carry out his/her event.

You can learn how you can get started learning Python with a Raspberry Pi here.

Arduino Day 

The official artwork of last year’s Arduino Day.

The world celebrates March 27th as Arduino Day. It is organized by the Arduino community to celebrate Arduino’s birthday. Unlike the previous two events on this list, this one can also be conducted online and can be attended remotely. The company suggests that it can be celebrated by anyone who wants to celebrate the amazing things they have achieved with Arduino. In 2020 it was celebrated by DIY communities in more than 90 countries, and in 2021 they are pushing for an even bigger record.

Attending or organizing this event is similar to the Raspberry Jam event. You have to plan all your activities and submit a form on Arduino’s website to get yourself registered. Be sure to mark your event as an “online” or an “offline” event when submitting the form on their website. March 14th is the deadline day for submissions of your events, after which all the organizers will start getting approval emails from the company. Along with the approval emails, the organizers will also be getting a digital tool kit that has instructions on how to carry out the event and how to utilize the kit’s contents. You will also be eligible to get a certificate from Arduino after you have organized the event.

A great way to get started with Arduinos is with the Arduino Student Kit which you can learn more about here.

Conclusion

There are a couple of other events hosted all around the world that have not been specified on the list. Some are country-specific, so it always pays to keep yourself updated on all the community events that are taking place in your area. Going to events is a good way to remain social and keep your hobbies up to date. The tech communities are similar as they, too, will nurture your skills and make you a better programmer and creator. Volunteering is also going to help keep your social skills in shape.

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