8 Bits and a Byte interview

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

You can find a huge variety of Raspberry Pi projects online. A lot of them are useful and cool, some of them great for beginners, and others are just extremely wacky. Dane and Nicole from 8 Bits and a Byte are on the wacky side.

“We build all kinds of stuff, including internet-controlled robots, wearables, talking appliances, data visualisations, and self-driving cows,” they tell us. “On our YouTube channel we post montages of how we built it and a demonstration of the projects, whereas we share a step-by-step guide and the code on websites like Instructables and Hackster.”

The name comes from a bit of a pun on bits and bytes, and they like to think of each other as both four bits half a byte. You can probably do the maths yourself on that.

How did the channel start?

The idea of the channel started when Dane finished his first Raspberry Pi hobby project. He loved the project, but he also wanted to take it apart to be able build something else: his next project. We thought it would be a shame to just take it apart and be done with it. Around the same time, Nicole had just finished a video editing course. We were able to borrow a camera and we thought we’d try to document the project, but at this point it was just for ourselves. The video wasn’t too bad and we also realised we would be making more of these projects in the future. That’s when we had the idea that it could be fun to share them with others.

A classic Monty Python sketch made into a robot face that argues with you. Poorly.

From thereon it grew; we indeed built more things, although very infrequently at first. Eventually we got our own camera, so we could also document the building process and not just film the finished result. We also started writing tutorials and sharing the code, which is not only nice for others but it has actually been really beneficial for us too. When you’re working on something, it makes it very easy to track back and find how you did this same thing before. It feels a bit like cheating off your own previous work, but it’s very helpful and we do it all the time.

When did you learn about Raspberry Pi?

Oh that’s a tough question, we’re not sure when we first heard about them. Dane came into contact with Raspberry Pi for the first time during his internship about four years ago, where he used one to build a prototype. Nicole heard about Raspberry Pi from Dane, who couldn’t stop talking about them.

This painting is both interactive and has space monsters, so it’s definitely the greatest.

What was your first Raspberry Pi project?

For both of us, the first Raspberry Pi projects were work-related prototypes. Whilst working with them, we realised Raspberry Pi [computers] were a lot of fun and that there was so much more that you could do with them. It didn’t take long before we bought one to mess around with at home.

Dane’s first hobby project with a Raspberry Pi was Tata, a cute and fluffy remote-controlled pet that could drive around and make all kinds of monster noises. Nicole’s first Raspberry Pi-powered hobby project was a device that tracked how far our hamster Harold ran in his wheel.


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