Paignton Library STEM Group

STEM Group update 2

So, to update from the previous post on this. It looks like due to

  • Budget cuts
  • Lack of staff at the library to supervise
  • Requirement for two adults to be present if children are in the room
  • Lack of numbers
  • Lack of interest

Paignton library is going to have to close the event down for now. Something may start up to replace this in the future, my involvement will be determined at the time it is started up by the library.

If you are a young person, then I would suggest the closest event is Exeter Pi Jam. Some of the adult attendees from the STEM event are starting up an adult only Tinkerers group so we can keep meeting up going forward. The website for this is work in progress.

I am not sure what else is in Torbay. I have reached out to Imagine this to try and see if there is anything out there.

It is a shame we can't carry on, I suspect we can still meet up on May 11th, then not after that. There needs to be more groups like this to support people, and the venues need proper funding to support such events.


PC Fixing update

A few months ago, I took my viglen PC to the STEM group with the view of eventually getting it working. Our initial attempts at the time failed. Yesterday 4/5/2024. We spent some time getting it back up and running.

  • Turns out one issue was that the power switch connector on the inside was loose, hence the switch was not functioning properly
  • There is also a table on the motherboard to indicate where the power LED, Power Switch, reset and HDD LED are connected.
  • We did have an issue with the heat sink / fan assembly but this has also been resolved.

A few photos







STEM Group, 11th May 2024

The next Stem group event will take place on : Date: Saturday, May 11th 2024 Time: 10:30am to 15:00 Location: Paignton Library and Information Centre Room: 12 & IT Learning Centre

What is planned?

  • Lego WeDo with the families who dropped in on the 27th April
  • IT learning centre will still be open IF there is a DBS checked adult in the room.
  • Try and test Raspberry PI DHCP server
  • Try and set up software on Mini ITX PC


STEM Group, 27th April 2024 Write Up

The session today was fairly busy, we had a problem with the projector so we were unable to do one of the presentations, so we started to run through Helen's presentation.

We then had Everton arrive and Helen started to discuss Computer aided design, with FreeCAD then Vance joined us and went into a little more detail. We have now all swapped contact details in order to keep in touch with Everyone and assist further. This was a productive discussion.

Vance also demonstrated his mini robot.


Elsewhere, I tried to demonstrate my minetest server but was unable to obtain an IP address from the 3com switch unit we have, so that was abandoned. Works fine from home.


This also runs the following script at start up, which among other things tells me the IP address.

clear # clear screen
#display tux welcome message
display some useful information
echo "To run configuration enter: sudo raspi-config"
echo "Default text editor nano"
echo "edit .bashrc to edit startup software"
echo "Use sudo apt install <package> to add software or search to search"
echo "use minetest --server to start minetest server"
echo "computer ip address":
hostname -I # displays ip4 and ip6 ip address

This is called up via .bashrc, (just add to the end of the .bashrc content so that it runs on login, it can also be run with the command:-

source .bashrc

You do need to make it executable with

chmod +x

We even tried a wifi extender


Part the issue here is to use the wifi we need a browser to go via a captive portal, this is not possible on a computer without a GUI and a browser, neither of which are needed for a headless minetest server (or servery in general); I don't have the networking skills to set things up or diagnose the issue.

I know it is possible to set up a pi as a hotspot, but I think this also needs a wired connection, so the Wi-Fi can relay the signal. As the network sockets are locked down, we are limited as to what we are able to do, so just try and do what we can.

We have also set up a Pi to auto login,(which the above server also does) had a look at another pi running Kano OS.


Android which was also downloaded, and we tried to make a boot image for but that didn't work, so will probably try again later.

Markus has a blue case for one of the pi's along with a pi screen.


We hopefully have some potential new attendees staring next time, we had confirmation from the library we can still run the STEM group, but we do need to have a structured element to the sessions. Hopefully the STEM ambassadors, the library has contacted, will get back.

The next Stem group event will take place on :

Date: Saturday, May 11th 2024 Time: 10:30am to 15:00 Location: Paignton Library and Information Centre Room: 13 & IT Learning Centre

What is planned?


STEM Group update

I had an e-mail from the library a while back to say they wanted to stop the stem group due to low numbers and then restart it after the IT room had been upgraded. I fully understand that the low numbers make the group not worth running as the library can hire the rooms out.

After chatting to the library on the 27th April, we can carry on, but as the SOLE ADULT running this, I am going to have to make changes.

I will post details in due course.


STEM Group, 27th April 2024

The next Stem group event will take place on :

Date: Saturday, April 27th 2024 Time: 10:30am to 15:00 Location: Paignton Library and Information Centre Room: 13 & IT Learning Centre

What is planned?

  • Run through of Lego Robot presentation
  • Run through of model car presentation
    • This is so that we can ensure when we do the actual presentations we are able to.
  • Visitor needs help with FreeCAD and advice on 3d printing if possible


wpa_cli utility

One of the projects I have built is Minetest server. As I didn't need a graphical user interface for this, I just used the lite version of the Raspbian operating system.

As a result, there is no nice graphical help to help users connect to Wi-Fi or other networks

The wpa_cli command utility helps to connect to a wifi network from the command line, taking information such as SSID and passphrase and connecting to the required network.

Once installed you can run wpa_cli and it will go through the connection process.

There are some instructions here that should work, but it depends on your individual usage needs.

At the library, there is a need to connect via a captive portal, so this method may not be suitable, but for other networks it should be fine, one of the reasons I want to get something up that can provide a local network for playing games, where an internet connection isn't required.



In an attempt to harden the security on my Pi, I have installed fail2ban. The instructions can be found here

Fail2ban allows a remote computer to be blocked from connecting if a threshold of failed login attempts is made.

I am currently investigating why I am getting an error with this

sudo systemctl status fail2ban.service
× fail2ban.service - Fail2Ban Service
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/fail2ban.service; enabled; preset: enabled)
     Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Sat 2024-04-20 19:10:27 BST; 3min 4s ago
   Duration: 696ms
       Docs: man:fail2ban(1)
    Process: 1226 ExecStart=/usr/bin/fail2ban-server -xf start (code=exited, status=255/EXCEPTION)
   Main PID: 1226 (code=exited, status=255/EXCEPTION)
        CPU: 695ms

Apr 20 19:10:26 raspberrypi systemd[1]: Started fail2ban.service - Fail2Ban Service.
Apr 20 19:10:26 raspberrypi fail2ban-server[1226]: 2024-04-20 19:10:26,805 fail2ban.configreader  >
Apr 20 19:10:26 raspberrypi fail2ban-server[1226]: 2024-04-20 19:10:26,877 fail2ban               >
Apr 20 19:10:26 raspberrypi fail2ban-server[1226]: 2024-04-20 19:10:26,879 fail2ban               >
Apr 20 19:10:27 raspberrypi systemd[1]: fail2ban.service: Main process exited, code=exited, status>
Apr 20 19:10:27 raspberrypi systemd[1]: fail2ban.service: Failed with result 'exit-code'.



I have now set up a Minetest server on a Raspberry Pi. This works and I am able to ssh in to the Pi and start remotely.


I have also set up a 3.5” Pi screen, set the pi to auto login and display the IP address(s) of the Pi. I followed some of the instructions at [2],[3] to set up the screen but didn't need the sections for setting up the gui.

The next step is to set up a router so try and provide an internal network at the library for playing minetest. I followed so

  1. Minetest
  2. 3.5 Inch RPi Display Touch – XPT2046 (480x320) Guide – Raspberry Pi Forums part 1
  3. pi 3 – What have you done to make generic TFT touchscreen display work? – Raspberry Pi Stack Exchange part 2

Should be able to bring some of this to the STEM Group on Saturday and probably need help setting up the router to provide a simple LAN.




Happy Hardware freedom day 2024

HFD is a global celebration of Free and Open Source Hardware (FOSH). Our mission for this celebration is to enlighten the public worldwide about the advantages of using high-quality FOSH in education, government, at home and in business — essentially, for all conceivable applications! The non-profit group Hardware Freedom International spearheads HFD on an international scale, offering resources, giveaways and a platform for collaboration. However, it's the volunteer teams across the globe that tailor the local HFD events to make a lasting impact within their communities.

This year, hardware freedom day takes place on April 20, 2024

A few related links