back to article Move over Raspberry Pi, give kids a Radio Ham Pi - minister

Schoolchildren should be given simple radio kits to build so they can learn basic electronics, communications minister Ed Vaizey said yesterday. "It would be great to get amateur radio kits in schools like we have with the Raspberry Pi," he added, referring to the cheap PC that's sneaking into classrooms to promote computer …


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  1. Code Monkey


    While we're scraping the barrel of old technology, why not Telegraph Pi?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Radio?

      Well I'm sure I could cobble together a morse code transcriptor using a RaspberryPi and a shortwave radio...

    2. Terry Barnes
      Thumb Down

      Re: Radio?

      Yeah, and that electricity stuff is pretty old hat these days too isn't it?

      Radio is a fundamental technology used ubiquitously.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yeah - screw that bluetooth and wifi stuff.


    4. Nick Pettefar

      Re: Radio?

      Some twat in Maplin said the same thing. I gently reminded him that his shop was full of radio gear, from WLAN to RC gear.



    5. Maxson

      Re: Radio?

      Radio doesn't just mean AM/FM

      And this isn't a suggestion to learn "how radio works" (not compeltely anyway) It's to learn about electrical engineering, something that's fucking hard (a lot harder than general computing for most people).

      There's a massive lack of actual hard skills taught at school level in this country which means kids don't start learning the basics of stuff until later life unless they're hobbyists.

      I really wish I'd been taught more about electrical engineering as a kid, instead we got a PCB and got told to solder some bits onto it, this didn't really teach me much outside of "You are bad at soldering".

      1. Chris Parsons

        Re: Radio?

        Spot on! I was really lucky, my pa was a radio ham and inspired a life-long interest in electronics in me. It is so important that we know how stuff works.

    6. Jim 59

      Re: Radio?

      Right on. It's not as if radio plays any part in mobile phones, wireless, satnav, TV or, er, radio.

    7. Martin Yirrell

      Re: Radio?

      "While we're scraping the barrel of old technology, why not Telegraph Pi?"

      I wonder what you think the digital signals are most like.

  2. Garry Perez

    Excellent Idea

    Building my own crystal set got me into electronics and never looked back!

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Excellent Idea

      I had one two on a little breadboard. Then we built an electric shock machine instead but it was too painful with a single AA battery so I got scared!

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Re: Excellent Idea

        Chiz, chiz. U dont use it on u!

        Any fule kno that u tape it under beaks chair wyrd to 2 drawing pins and hiz ars mak the serkit!

        Is v. funy.......

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But radio is what allows their phone, Playstation and DVD player to work"

    Phone, ok, PS, well, the controlers are wireless, but DVD? Sorry, no wireless communnication that uses radio-waves on mine, just IR.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Well if you mean generic wireless communication it counts.

    2. wowfood

      more than likely something in the underlying technology works based on the principles of radio transmission. My best guess would be how the laser reads a disk. Although the mediums are different, the underlying concept is similar... at a stretch.

      DVD = radio waves ( since this is what's being read)

      Laser = antenna (used to read the data)

      Processor = the stuff I dont know the name of ( translates the data from unreadable waves, to a readable / listenable / visible format)

      1. Suricou Raven

        The CVBS video signal used by most DVD players to send the picture to the TV is based upon radio modulation technology. It's the only way to cram three color channels into one signal. Once you move from DVD to blu-ray, HDMI takes its place and the radio legacy is gone.

    3. Terry Barnes

      The modulation of the output signal is a radio technology. Radio doesn't always mean wireless.

    4. Fr Barry
      Thumb Down

      "Phone, ok, PS, well, the controlers are wireless, but DVD? Sorry, no wireless communnication that uses radio-waves on mine, just IR."

      IR is electromagnetic radiation just the same as Radio 4, just a much higher frequency. It is also modulated, like "radio" to convey your instructions.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a change, actually a good idea - but make sure the litle "angels" have passed the relevant tests before being allowed to broadcast... including an understanding of Morse of course :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Wouldn't they have to change the interbational regulations for the compulsory inclusion of morse?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ac@15.14

        No, because the international regs requiring Morse are long dead.

        1. TheRealRoland
          Thumb Up

          Re: ac@15.14

          But, after seeing Independence Day again, it's always a useful skill to have :-)

    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge


      If only there was a way to limit Morse transmissions to 140 characters, then it would really be popular!

  5. LinkOfHyrule

    Aint guna fly in the inner cities, not cool enough

    ...Make your own Pirate radio FM Transmiter with RDS functionality on the other hand - they'll be giving their science teacher bigups on air in no time!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aint guna fly in the inner cities, not cool enough

      Yes, slight conflict in Government thinking here. The Home Office seems to take a somewhat dimmer view of young people getting interested in amateur radio transmitting equipment. Is it cynical to wonder if the drive to DAB is also aimed at cutting off the pirates?

      Be a pity if it happens - there are some wonderfully laid back reggae stations in London that aim to ease you gently into a Sunday morning!

      1. PowerSurge

        Re: Aint guna fly in the inner cities, not cool enough

        Is it cynical to wonder if the drive to DAB is also aimed at cutting off the pirates?

        I think it is. No one in gov is that switched on!

        DAB was actually conceived as a method to circumvent the problem of multipath interferance especially in cars (and not as a means of high quality transmission). Perversely it was adopted by the hi-fi fraternity first and didn't appear in mobile form for many years after.

        That goes a long way to explain why it is so inadequate.

    2. chazChance

      Re: Aint guna fly in the inner cities, not cool enough

      Hook up a Rasp Pi with the right codecs between the decks and the transmitter and you have a Pirate DAB station!

      Now that's cool and tech all in one!

  6. keithpeter

    Internet over power line?

    What will the tykes and tykettes be able to listen to on their transistor radio when we close down FM / AM and have internet over power lines popping square waves all over?

    1. Fibbles

      Obvious innit?


      1. KjetilS

        Re: Obvious innit?

        ... dubstep?

  7. a well wisher

    but if you can read the Bluetooth signal coming off it .....

    I'd be quite surprised, i thought it hopped about all over the place

    stick with the morse code I say

  8. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    Wireless DVD player???


    Seriously? Radio makes my DVD player work? Light is, I suppose, electromagnetic radiation, but it really is straining credulity to call it radio.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Wireless DVD player???

      radio != wireless.

      The computer you typed that comment on was designed using radio technology, since even the layout of the traces on the motherboard has to follow radio design rules to ensure that it works properly.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: Wireless DVD player???

      As Suricou Raven noted above, Composite Video or CVBS is a radio technology

    3. Aaron Em

      Re: Wireless DVD player???

      Stephen Fry once said rockets work on aerodynamic lift. It could also be, perhaps, that Tories tend to be a) a bit arrogant, and b) quite blessedly unburdened of knowledge in regard to technical things. I don't know if you're a Pratchett reader, but his phrase for it is lovely: "He wasn't interested in machinery; he thought of a spanner as something which had another person holding it."

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Wireless DVD player???

        ".....he thought of a spanner as something which had another person holding it."

        Well, these days I tend to think of a spanner as something with Agatha Heterodyne holding it. Does that count?

        NB: This also applies to screwdrivers, drills, hammers, ludicrously powerful death rays and other stuff like that.

  9. Jon Massey
    Thumb Up



    1. melt

      Re: Pieminister?

      Surprisingly difficult to receive outside of the South :(

      1. Oor Nonny-Muss

        Re: Pieminister?

        And surprisingly underwhelming anyway.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Pieminister?

          They do have an outlet in Derby.

      2. Fuzz

        Re: Pieminister?

        really? In Manchester they sell them in the coop and Sainsbury's.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes / No

    I'm all for them pushing to get these topics into eduction,t hey're kinda glossed over a lot or completely ignored. But for god sake don't cram any more in until you clear out some of the crap we don't need.

    Or at the very least have a bigger choice of elective classes earlier. I and a lot of people I know, had decided we had absolutely no interest in geography, history and RE, but I still had to suffer 3 more years of it before I could drop them. That's three years I could have been focused on topics I actually enjoyed, rather than killing my urge to learn with stuff I found boring as hell.

    Yes these topics are interesting and some kids will love them, but at the same time for a lot of students it's another load of work they won't want to do and it'll only water them down when they reach what they want.

    I repeat once more, get rid of, or at the least strip down the courses we don't require. So while we'd keep English, PE and Maths all year round, perhaps only give them two terms on history / geography etc so we can fit in more choice early on in school and let kids learn a wide variety to find out what they actually enjoy.

    Then the moment they hit senior school, let them select what classes they enjoyed. Don't waste their last 5 years of eduction with pointless rubbish they have no care for. Hell that way we might actually want to learn.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Yes / No

      I would imagine that a radio network engineer would require at least a good basic grounding in geography. It's not implausible that teenage pupils will find something boring, only to develop an interest in later on. If the subjects I had studied had been completely up to me, I wouldn't have the skills I do today (even though I have forgotten many of them)

      Regarding history, it has been the trend to use it as a course in critical examination of sources and documents (arguably a 'transferable skill') centred on disconnected periods, such as Henry VIII and Adolf.. rather than actually teaching them a rough overview of how we came to be where we are, from the dawn of Mankind to the 20th Century.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Yes / No

      Over here in Brittany, my (retired) mother taught French to some ex-pats via a voluntary scheme. They couldn't point to themselves on a map. They didn't know what direction to take for Paris, only the road that goes to the ferry. And best of all they couldn't stand up and point the direction to the UK (from Brittany, it's like a 50-50). Ignore geography at your peril. Perhaps better to drop the requirement for lessons that don't build your knowledge. R.E. for example...

      1. Nick Pettefar

        Re: Yes / No

        In case you haven't looked at a news source for the last 6 days/months/years/decades/centuries, there's an awful lot of stuff to do with R.E happening around and amongsty us that a modern citizen should have at least a basic knowledge of.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Yes / No

          Hmm. There's an awful lot do do with "R" happening, but exceptionally little "E."

  11. GettinSadda

    Not as good idea as it sounds...

    At 8 or 10 you may be able to follow a simple radio circuit and get it to work, but there is no way any but the most gifted is going to be able to design one - it's just join-the-dots-with-a-soldering-iron!

    I would expect that an intelligent 8 or 10 year old could grasp the basics of programming in many of the simpler systems and write their own code from scratch.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Not as good idea as it sounds...

      No, it's poke-your-friend-with-the-soldering-iron. I actually teach a group of children electronics once a week, in an after-school club, and I have two observations:

      - They are all thick as two short planks.

      - They have the combined attention span of a goldfish.

      1. chazChance

        Re: Not as good idea as it sounds... Hey teacher!

        Maybe their attention span reflects your teaching ability.

        I went to school. I remember that some teachers would hold the class attention for the most boring of subjects, and some couldn't for the most interesting.

        Some kids (not many in my experience) may be unable to hold their attention on something for long and some may take a little longer to pick things up, but the clue is that you said "they are all", which makes the teacher the only common denominator.

        Finally, HOW DARE YOU call any child "thick"!


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