All I want for Christmas is a Raspberry Pi Zero

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It’s the perfect present for any budding coder and thanks to the bi-monthly Manchester Raspberry Jam at Digital Innovation’s The Shed there’s a great opportunity to try before you buy this Christmas.

Since it was launched in 2012, the little computer with big possibilities has sold over six million units and become the fastest selling British-made PC. It was even recently launched into space.

“I think the big appeal of the Pi lies in its accessibility, both in terms of the price of entry, as well as the low cost of replacement,” says Jam organiser Jack Kelly. “Having a capable computer at £30 is great but more importantly, not having to be afraid of breaking it allows people to be really creative and adventurous in their projects.”

For the latest Jam in the series the creativity will be appropriately festive, with Kelly running a special workshop making animations on Sense HAT LED boards. This add-on board for the Pi was made especially for the Astro Pi mission, and on 6 December two augmented Raspberry Pi computers were launched into space. Their destination was the International Space Station, where British astronaut Tim Peake will be using them as part of his mission.

Another special Christmas treat at Saturday’s Jam comes courtesy of Piface creator Andrew Robinson. He’ll be running a session using his award-winning creation, CodeBug, the wearable, programmable device that features a 25 LED display and can be powered by a watch battery.

While the CodeBug is small and compact just like the Raspberry Pi, the latest innovation from the Pi team has seen the already mini computer get even smaller. At less than half the size of the original Model A+ Pi (that’s smaller than a credit card), the Raspberry Pi Zero retails in the UK at just £4. Or at least it did – it’s currently sold out everywhere after less than two weeks on the market.

Says Kelly: “The Pi Zero is lowering the price of entry to such a point where we can start expecting it to appeal to a much broader group, regardless of experience or prior interest.”

The last Manchester Raspberry Jam of the year takes place on Saturday 12 December and runs from 10.30am to 5pm. Kids are free, adults cost £4, and all equipment will be provided. And for those in need of festive sustenance, Kelly promises it won’t be all about computing. “There will be mince pies too, of course.”

Manchester Raspberry Jam, Saturday 12 December 2015, The Shed, Chester Street, Manchester. Book your ticket on Eventbrite. The first Jam of 2016 will take place Saturday 13 February.