January is Superhero Month

Happy New Year to everyone!

After the success of the spy themed projects last month, we’re continuing along a similar theme with January being Superhero Month. Don’t forget to check this blog and our Facebook page regularly to see what projects we’ve been working on.

It’s an exciting time for First Coding as we launch our creative coding courses for children, be sure to check them out on the website: http://www.firstcoding.co.uk/courses

First Coding Salisbury - Superhero Month

The Caesar Cipher App

Spy Month has been a great deal of fun especially seeing as though it’s been First Coding’s first monthly theme. The projects have generated a great deal of interest and I hope they’ve encouraged people to expand on the ideas we’ve shared.

The spy theme concludes with a rewrite of the Caesar Cipher project from earlier on in the month but this time built for Android. There are a few added extras with this one, mainly in the form of a more difficult code to crack as well as the option to send your coded message via text to a friend. It will also automatically decode any incoming coded texts too. If you don’t feel like typing then you can even talk to it and it will write and encode whatever you say.

Keep your eyes out for up and coming Android app workshops where we’ll be teaching people how to build their our apps the fun and easy way.

First Coding - Spy Month. Caesar Cipher for Android

Click here to download it and install the contents of the zip file onto your Android device. If you’re having trouble installing it then just drop us an email and we can guide you through the process.

Keep a look out for up and coming Android app workshops where we’ll be teaching people how to build their our apps the fun and easy way.

You can still catch up with the previous spy related projects by clicking here.

Spy Month: Maze Game

We have a maze challenge for you this time. Controlling the red block using the arrow keys, can you navigate the maze to reach the gold coin whilst avoiding touching the walls or moving grey blocks?

This game incorporates randomness with the grey obstacles making a random decision as to what turn to take when they reach a wall. This means that every attempt of the game is different. You can also take a look at the blocks used to make this game, how can this game be improved?

Play the game here: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/192157756/

Did you know we cover game design in our Introductory course? Why not take a look: http://www.firstcoding.co.uk/the-introductory-course/

First Coding - Spy Month Maze Game

Spy Month: The Secret Code Machine

Spy Month continues with the Secret Code Machine, a great little Caesar Cipher built in Scratch to help keep your secret messages a secret. https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/185866145/

It was a little tricky at first to work out how it was to function but like I’ve always told my pupils, if they can explain a concept clearly in plain English then building a project is made a great deal easier.

Incoming message…

gsv ivw ulc uorvh zg nrwmrtsg

The nice thing about the Secret Code Machine is that you can cut and paste the encoded messages into emails etc to send to people. Works best on laptops or desktop machines.

First Coding Spy Month - The Secret Code Machine

Spy Month

We will shortly be posting theme related projects and ideas for people of all ages and abilities to get stuck in and have a go on our Facebook page. There should be something for everyone to enjoy so keep popping back to our page to see what December brings. Click here to be taken to our Facebook Page.

December’s theme is all about Spies and we’ve already put together some fun and creative projects to share with you. If you fancy setting us a challenge, then why not suggest a spy related idea for us to attempt.

First Coding Spy Month - December 2017

Salisbury’s Digital Drinks

Last week saw The Old Fire Station here in Salisbury host another Digital Drinks event. Here digital curious people of all ages, abilities and interests get to meet up and discuss ideas over drinks. This was also the perfect venue to showcase First Coding’s courses that start in January.

As a way to draw people in I brought along the arcade cabinet that I made (the build process being detailed here) and loved talking to visitors to my table about providing the younger generations with the building blocks to create their own ideas using Raspberry Pis.

First Coding at Salisbury's Digital Drinks

I was also fortunate enough to attend the talk given by Jeremy Heath-Smith, executive producer of the Tomb Raider games and found his account of his ups and downs in the gaming industry to be very honest and incredibly inspiring.

The Finished Cabinet

Here is the arcade cabinet, powered by a tiny Raspberry Pi Zero in its finished state and I really like the way it turned out. I’ve learnt a great deal during the build process and will be in a better position should I take on a similar build. Although the whole build came in at around £40 (not including the screen), I have learnt that it is worth investing in decent materials to finish off the look of the cabinet.

Raspberry Pi Arcade Cabinet

When trying to work out how to cover the frame cheaply, I actually put the question to a couple of online forums and a number of people suggested self adhesive car vinyl and so this is what I went with. It turned out to be a very wise choice as it’s durable, easy to apply without trapping any air bubbles and does a really good job of hiding any woodworking mistakes. The red edging is simply insulation tape but I think I can find a better alternative.

If you’re considering building your own cabinet but are put off by taking that initial step, I would definitely giving it a try. If I can do it then so can you. We sell raspberry Pi retro gaming kits in our shop here which will get you started.

A Working Cabinet

This was my favourite stage of the build as I now had a working model. It was nice to play the cabinet in its entirety as it highlighted a few faults, the main one being the width. Although the dimensions of the cabinet are all based around the screen I’m using, it all feels a little excessive for a single player set up. I’m now regretting not making the cabinet dual control – Next time!

Here is a short video of the cabinet in a working state.