A visit to the Pi Factory

So, I’ve been like a kid waiting for Christmas these last few days – I’m sure my wife will testify to that too. I was lucky enough to win a competition run by RS Components to win a tour of the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed. I felt like I won the golden ticket and was off to meet Willy Wonka himself!

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And yes, as predicted by Philip Colligan, they greeted us with tea & Welsh cakes….

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that this is the place where the Raspberry Pi is made – and in huge quantities. I was delighted to take the opportunity to peer behind the curtain to see the manufacturing process in action. It was simply amazing to see the process that each Pi goes through until it lands on your desktop.

Each one starts with the board and then the layers of components are built up, from the smallest to the largest.

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The bare boards are ready to start their journey….

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They then go through this amazing sequence of machines that picks and places the smaller components at an astonishing rate. (I promise it wasn’t me that set off the alarm!)

After that, your Pi is baked, quite literally. In one of these!….

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And here comes your freshly baked Pi….

After that, the larger components such as the USB connectors are added – by hand! If you own a Pi 3 – it was built by these amazing ladies (they were a bit shy and there were few of us watching them!)….

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After the Pi is complete, I was amazed to see that every single one is tested before it is sent off to the shops. This machine plugs in, boots up and tests 6 Pi every 30 seconds. Each one of the stacks contains 138 Pi ready for testing.

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They had some extremely cool stuff in the engineering section too. The chap on the left is teaching the chap on the right to build Raspberry Pi! Here, it is being taught to add the audio connectors.

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And finally, here are the gold and platinum Pi cases that were made to celebrate 1 million and 5 million Pi made at the Sony UK factory.

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The two awards are just 103 weeks apart – that’s a whole lot of Pi in just under two years.

In the afternoon we had a surprise – and a treat. Jessie and Faraz from Pi Top were there with the very first production batch of the new Pi Top Ceed, which is the desktop version of their Pi Top laptop – which costs an amazing £99.00 It’s available to pre-order now here:

https://www.pi-top.com/

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They have a whole new ecosystem built specifically for the Ceed version – we had a great time playing Ceed Universe and then Jessie ran a Minecraft coding competition and gave a Pi Top laptop to the lucky winner! (I came second and got the t-shirt!)

There was a brilliant atmosphere in the factory, many of the staff enthusiastically shared their part of the process with us. It was a fantastic day all round and so many thanks go to RS Components, DesignSpark, Sony UK, Pi Top and of course, Raspberry Pi.

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The lucky lucky few!

Until next time.

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