back to article Raspberry Pi production back in Blighty

The Raspberry Pi is to be manufactured in the UK - possibly the first time a microcomputer has been produced here, as opposed to simply being assembled, for a number of decades. Production has begun in Sony's Pencoed, South Wales plant on behalf of the Raspberry Pi's sales partner, Element14/Premier Farnell. The initial …

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  1. FartingHippo

    Yay!

    Not since the ZX Spectrum :)

    *waves union jack*

    1. Arnold Lieberman
      Coat

      Re: Yay!

      Speaking of such... guess where I'm off to this Saturday:

      http://www.spectrum30.org.uk/

      Mine's the anorak with a copy of the The Complete Spectrum ROM Disassembly by Dr Ian Logan in the pocket.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yay!

      Union Flag, unless you're currently standing on a ship ;o)

      1. Tumnus
        Coat

        Re: Yay!

        Not necessarily so - see http://www.flaginstitute.org/index.php?location=7.2

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Made in Britain

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqQ6Z-HmAqY

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Made in Britain

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IZJjLpNEbE

      Goes back a long way...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Made in Britain

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFPWNJAgmYE#t=0h0m42s

        Spitting Image classic...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets hope they are built better than Rover cars were.

    Friday afternoon PCB anyone?

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Get over it

      My Rover 400 (bubble) did not rust significantly in it's 15 years of use (I pranged it on ice), and my Dad's 75 still looked pristine after 8 years when he sold it. It's the BL years that were the worst, and I am quite surprised to see anything on the roads from that era nowadays.

      1. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Re: Get over it

        Erm K series engine? really stupidly designed head gasket that failed really quickly, why on earth did they not just use a normal gasket, tried and tested instead of a metal one with some sort of rubber inserts that detached.

        Luckily Lotus designed a replacement that worked when they used the K series in the Elise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          K series head gasket

          I owned a Rover 100 and two 25s. All of them excellent cars.

          Had the land rover gasket fitted which was virtually indestructible, good fix and the job wasn't too expensive.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Get over it

          The problem was not the engine design itself, it was the accountants who dictated a change from the spec'd metal locating pins to plastic. These didn't do the job!

          Quick change to reinforced head gasket and better pins and you have a decent light engine with a good power output for it's size, hence the use of the engine by Land Rover, Caterham, Lotus et al.

        3. Cyberspice
          Unhappy

          Re: Get over it

          Which version of the K series? Which gasket?

          There have been at least three different generations of K series. For example in the 1400 there was the Metro version (which was bomb proof), the 'improved' rover 200/400 one which wasn't so, and the rover 25/45/MG one which was good again. It depended upon which cylinder liners you had in the block and what your stroke was. Admittedly the VVC has always been a little fragile.

          The other issue was that because they were higher states of tune (for example a 2001 MG ZR 1400 produced 20 bhp more than similar capacity engines of its competitor) they needed more TLC. Most gasket failure was subsequent to overheating. When the engine cooks the head shifts due to expansion and the gasket is then weakened and will start to fail. So basically you should check your water levels regularly.

          Unfortunately modern drivers just want a consumer product that can start and stop and ignore between 12000 mile services. Rover engines don't like that kind of neglect.

  4. Dave Bell

    Good news, but why does it have to be Sony? What happened to all the British manufacturers?

    I expect somebody will blame the workers, if they ever notice this. Funny how well British manufacturing industry does when the people at the top of the corporation aren't British.

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      FAIL

      RE: but why does it have to be Sony?

      To which I might add:

      includes undocumented root kit at no extra cost

      Sorry, but I couldn't resist. I HATE that company for the damage one of those fucking root kits did.

      1. toadwarrior

        Re: RE: but why does it have to be Sony?

        The angry sony hating basement dweller meme has been done to death. Try something else if you want an upvote instead of a down vote.

    2. toadwarrior

      British workers aren't the problem. It's british managers. It's not smart to put the british in charge of something. Just look at all the colonial african countries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Zimbabwe?

        I'm sure the average Zimbabwean is thrilled with the way things have worked out.

    3. Old Handle
      Facepalm

      Sony does seem like an amazingly bad fit for something sold pretty much exclusively on geek-appeal.

  5. Fuzz

    tax?

    My understanding was that one of the problems with building the pi here was that the components were subject to import duties whereas the finished unit was not.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: tax?

      Manufacture cost in UK is now low enough to cope with that sort of thing, previously it wasn't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: tax?

      I was told by a friend with a small electronics manufacturing company that that claim was complete bollocks. On the whole, I trust him.

  6. Daniel Palmer

    Only really the board though surely?

    >possibly the first time a microcomputer has been produced here, as opposed to simply being assembled,

    How much of a step up is this really? The SoC, RAM, connectors etc are all going to be produced where they are now.. they might fab the PCB in the UK and do the assembly but isn't that really just "finishing" work.

    Also .. if small runs are acceptable I know of at least two micro computers that have been developed and "manufactured" in the UK by hand in the last couple years.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Only really the board though surely?

      That is the case, but if you cannot even buy UK manufactured chips that do the job, what option do you have? Just on the upbeat, the SoC contains an Arm , which was designed in Cambridge, and a GPU which was also designed in Cambridge.

      1. Daniel Palmer

        Re: Only really the board though surely?

        >That is the case, but if you cannot even buy UK manufactured

        Doesn't change where they were manufactured..

        >Just on the upbeat, the SoC contains an Arm , which was designed in Cambridge

        >,and a GPU which was also designed in Cambridge.

        That's lovely and all.. but this article is about the Pi being manufactured in the UK.. which most of it isn't. I don't actually see what the advantage of this anyhow... I take it pick and place machines run the same pretty much anywhere.

    2. ArmanX
      Trollface

      Re: Only really the board though surely?

      And even if they DID get all the components made in the UK, I'm betting they'll have to mine the materials elsewhere! And would you believe it - the oil used to produce the plastics in it was pumped out of FOREIGN SOIL! Made in the UK, indeed! Ha!

      1. Daniel Palmer

        Re: Only really the board though surely?

        Mining raw materials != Manufacture.

  7. Sporkinum

    Lucas.....

    http://jalopnik.com/5521107/xkcd-tackles-lucas-electrics

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lucas.....

      Would that be the same Lucas whose Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine was saying back in the 1970s that the company should be looking at something called a "hybrid power pack"?

      Whatever did happen to Lucas anyway.

      Good job a company like that doesn't do anything important like aircraft engine controls.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lucas.....

        Lucas Automotive was swallowed up by TRW Automotive towards the end of the 90's. I'm not sure if they bought/acquired Lucas Aerospace at the same time. I was working for them at the time of the 'merger', doing proper manual work instead of all the computery nonsense that I do these days! ;Dx

      2. James Anderson

        Re: Lucas.....

        Joseh Lucas , prince of darkness.

  8. Grikath Silver badge
    Happy

    only the board?

    Show me a modern device with more than 5 parts which is produced *entirely* in a single western country nowadays..

    It's more a matter of pride than anything else that the sweet little thing is produced in the UK, but hey..

    *cracks whip* put yer backs to it, je lazy gits!! There's peeps all over the world who want to play with the thing you're making.. Get crackin' !!

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Re: only the board?

      Actually I would think its more a matter of 30 new jobs that would not be in the UK otherwise. That could be 30 people off the dole (that's paid for by tax payers) and 30 people that might then pay those taxes instead. That's worth a lot more than jingoistic 'pride'.

  9. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Can't bloody wait for mine....

    It's gonna sit under the sofah as "oululife.com". Xampp, Joomla and whatever else I can stuff on it. (4G SDD card upgraded to 32G for a few quid, natch)

    Freaky, innit!

    Hope mine's Welsh, not Chinese...Quoted 15 weeks' delivery from RS, so maybe....

    1. Chris Rowland

      Re: Can't bloody wait for mine....

      My reading of the article is that Farnell are going to be manufacturing in the UK but that RS are not.

      So if you are waiting on RS it will be coming from China.

    2. Anomalous Cowturd
      Stop

      Re: Can't bloody wait for mine....

      Andus, I've just had another Pi delivered by Farnell.

      Took two weeks from order to doorstep...

      You might want to cancel the RS order. ;o)

      HTH

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Can't bloody wait for mine....

        Bah. I ordered mine months ago and it has shown no sign of materializing. As far as I can tell they are making the damn things on Europa.

        8o(

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can't bloody wait for mine....

          Bought two yesterday from Farnell (Ireland) and they arrived today. RS had a long leadtime so chose Farnell. Up and running already.

          1. pPPPP

            Re: Can't bloody wait for mine....

            I bought one on Saturday at Farnell. It's been shipped so hopefully will get here tomorrow.

            Will be good to have a computer I can leave on all day and night without having to worry about the leccy bill or the noise.

    3. toadwarrior
      Meh

      Re: Can't bloody wait for mine....

      You obviously didn't read the article. Yours will be chinese.

  10. pctechxp
    Thumb Up

    Great news

    I'll wait for them to exhaust the chinese stock then I'll buy one.

    Mine's the coat with the Union Jack on the back.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wondering...

    Will this lead to a small surge in cancellations, thereby reducing waiting times for those who aren't fussed about country of origin?

  12. Derk
    Flame

    Myths

    I work in the sub-contract electronics industry. If the board has been designed correctly for automatic component placement.insertion, then the machine costs are similar to that of the UK. If there is a fair bit of manual insertion/placement, China can be up to 40% cheaper. We design these days to eliminate as much human input as possible. In that way we can compete with China. The Philippines has an equally low labour as China, and many Japanese companies assembly there. Here is an example of labour costs taken as an assessment for the building of new plant to build mechanical items (High labour content)

    US $12/Hr. UK $7.50Hr. Caribbean Area $1/day. China? Pay the factory owner a fixed monthly fee, regardless of the amount produced. These figures are for yr2000. I can't give todays figures, I'd get sacked. So in effect the China labour costs did not enter into the products P&L sheet. Just material, small overhead and logistics.

    The comments on duties for components is rubbish. Customs and excise operate a system that assigns a code to an item that is to be imported, whether it is shoes, electronics components or paper, then there is a customs duty code assigned to it. Components such as resistors, capacitors, and IC's do not attract duty. Set top boxes for example, finished products do have an import duty of 4%, last time I looked. Each item is different. I have spent many a happy hour leafing through the codes, and later CD's issued by HMRC to try and justify a lower tariff in order to save money.

    The big players in the UK assembly business such as Race have gone, not through being inefficient, but in a lack of vision regarding the supply chain. The remaining surviving UK Electronic Manufacturers, have plants in both the UK and China, best of both worlds. To make a go of it in todays market you need to be big and have direct accounts with your suppliers, which means >$1M dollar accounts usually. I'm surprised that these people are using Farnell for component supply, as Farnell are a distributor, and there is a mark up involved. There are plenty of UK subcontractors around who can push out 30Ku a month no bother, and who would be happy to manage the supply chain too. They will learn.....eventually.

    1. Refugee from Windows

      Re: Myths

      Farnell and RS are distributing the final product, and have largely been responsible for bankrolling the first production. It's their retail side that doesn't make much, if any, money on it. As for suppliers, well when you're dealing with the production quantities of parts, having a foot in the supplier's pen does help.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that right?

    An electronic gadget being manufactured in the UK?

  14. Christian Berger Silver badge

    As someone who works at a company actually making things in Germany...

    I have to say this. The Raspberry Pi seems to be fairly simple. The only packages the company I work at is not familiar with are the BGA parts. Virtually any SMT mounter can mount BGA parts, but few small companies work with it, as they are harder to hand solder in case they need to be replaced.

    Other than that, since there are parts on the lower side, you cannot wave solder the through hole parts. However I, as an end customer would prefer to mount those parts myself.

  15. Chika
    Pint

    Even a blind pig...

    Good to see that Element14 (formerly part of Acorn Computer) are finally returning to their roots. Mind you, the delays in getting finished products from RS brings back memories of some of the problems in getting new machines from Acorn. If the UK setup for manufacture resolves this in any way, I'll be happier.

    I DEMAND an Acorn user button, dammit!

    1. esharpmajor

      Re: Even a blind pig...

      Not really, this is Element14 (formerly known as Farnell), not Element14 (formerly known as Acorn, now part of Broadcom). I think Farnell waited until Broadcom had relinquished claim on the e14 name before grabbing it.

      1. Chika
        Happy

        Re: Even a blind pig...

        Didn't know that. Ah well...

        Still want my Acorn button though!

  16. MrXavia
    Thumb Up

    Brilliant!

    Very fitting I learned to code on a UK made spectrum, and now my son will be able to learn on another UK made hobbyist computer!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Pretty sad that the British are getting excited over making an underpowered computer on their soil. Rule Britannia!... not.

    1. Matt Bradley
      Flame

      Re: Meh

      Ok. I'm biting.

      The fact that it is a small (undepowered?) cheap computer is precisely WHY it is notable for being built in the UK. UK plants can do big, powerful and expensive no problem at all (ask Roll Royce Aerospace or MacLaren) - they haven't been able to do small and cheap for some time.

    2. John Robson Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Meh

      Underpowered?

      Really - you're describing a machine capable of Full HD decoding as "underpowered"?

      You're describing a full PC that sells for £30 (add £4 for storage if you don't already have an SD card). A PC with 24Gflop (which is the RPi GPU alone) Core 2 Duo P8700 is only 16 GFlop.

  18. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Linux

    Well that's a turn-up for the book

    The US has black president and white rappers and now Sony seems (if I'm not dreaming) to be actually supporting Linux.

  19. Rubbernuke

    I for one am pleased with my first revision Pi built by skilled Chinese workers.I would not trust any UK technician to make them as caucasians are just to damn tall.

    In seriousness though, its cool having the Pi built here too. I hope its the start of something good in these Dark Times of Dave.

  20. Daniel Owen

    Produced or Assembled

    Probably just incorrect use of English, but the assembly has moved to the UK not the production.

    Hopefully they will be able to keep up with demand although I have been able to pick 2 pi's up next day delivery of late (albeit at the slightly inflated price of £30).

  21. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    assembly vs. production?

    Sorry don't get the difference.

    Explain to us lesser mortals, if you would. Ta muchly.

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