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PyCon Rehearsals 3: Helicopters and Open edX

Join us for three PyCon rehearsals, sponsored by Wayfair and AppNeta:

Cheap Helicopters In My Living Room — Ned Jackson Lovely (30 min)

Using Python and a minimal amount of hardware hacking, it's possible to build computer controlled helicopters you can fly around your living room for surprisingly small amounts of money. This talk will describe the steps you'll need to take to start the ball rolling towards Skynet using a $20 helicopter and an Arduino.

Thumbdrive destroyer — John Jarvis (5 min)

This talk shows off a tiny hack to turn a Raspberry Pi into a thumbdrive destroying appliance.

Teaching a billion students with Python — Ned Batchelder (40 min)

Open edX is the online learning platform that powers  It's built with Python and Django, and runs dozens of other online learning sites.

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  • Ned Jackson L.

    Hey everybody, thank you for your interest! I've put links to buy the helicopters and to sample code on

    I'd love to hear from anybody who gives this a shot!

    April 2, 2014

  • James M.

    These were great talks! I'm really excited to try out making a helicopter of my own :)

    As always, thanks to the folks who came out afterwards for drinks - plenty of great discussions to be had. I ran out of business cards, so if anyone wanted to get in touch with me, feel free to drop a line at [masked].

    April 2, 2014

  • Mike C.

    I brought some high school students, and a couple were only a little bit interested in Python. The whole experience changed that and **really** fired them up. Helicopters and Python? It was right on in terms of complexity and enthusiasm. The lightning talk was good too, because the small project (and enthusiasm) made the whole thing very welcoming.

    I wish more kids could see that as soon as you escape HS you can find peers who will celebrate doing cool things.

    Nate's talk on edX was fascinating. It sounded like it would be interesting to participate, and the tools might make it approachable, but I was hard for me to make his goals mine.

    Some feedback for the PyCon rehearsal of Helicopters:
    * The intro (and whole thing) rocked
    * Take a moment to tell what Flask and openCSV are
    * From the back of the room, red and highlighted text were difficult to read
    * Do you have to build a serial port?
    * It would help to title the Arduino code pages

    April 1, 2014

  • Keith Xavier M.

    Also, you had mentioned something about a specific Syma Helicopter model? Could you also please mention that here.

    April 1, 2014

  • Ramon V.

    Very good, a nice twist on Python coding

    April 1, 2014

  • Keith Xavier M.

    Brilliant presentations from both Neds. Also the Lightning talk was a lot of fun.

    @NedJacksonLovely, could you please post links to the arduino/python code you used?

    April 1, 2014

  • Lauren M.

    Very interested in online learning process edX

    March 31, 2014

Our Sponsors

  • FormLabs

    FormLabs is sponsoring the July 19th presentation night

  • Twilio

    Twilio is buying pizza at the July 6 project night.

  • Toast

    Toast is sponsoring the 5/25 presentation night

  • Better Outcomes

    Better Outcomes is sponsoring the 5/5 presentation night.

  • MassMutual

    MassMutual is sponsoring the 4/26 presentation night

  • American Well

    American Well is sponsoring the May 9th PyCon rehearsals

  • Akamai

    Akamai is hosting and sponsoring the April project night

  • Klaviyo

    Klaviyo is sponsoring three events in February and March.

  • is buying drinks after the March meetup


    MIT Office of Digital Learning is sponsoring the February project night

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