Hi again everybody.
Over the last couple of Saturdays the bodgers group have been preparing to build our own circuits. Two weeks ago we looked at some of the theory behind electronics, how the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi work, how to use GPIO Zero the main Python module we will use and we watched some videos which explained how some of the components we will be using work together. Last Saturday we built some simple circuits.
The first circuit shown above uses GPIO pin 17 to light a LED and the second uses GPIO 2 to read from push button switch. Here are my slides from both sessions back-to-basics.
As we have only a short session next week and the Christmas party is the following week we will return to building circuits after the Christmas break.
Next week I will demonstrate some of the tools I use to set up the Raspberry Pi, this will include tools to format and write to SD cards and tools for finding the IP address of your Raspberry Pi. I will also do a very basic overview of the Arduino. So if you have or are hoping to get some hardware to experiment with at home this session shouldn’t be missed.
I will also talk about what looks like a cool new challenge from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
See you all next week.
Hi everybody, this week we changed from preprogrammed automated robots to remote-controlled robots. We converted our simple Pygame script from last week which controlled a small rectangle on our screens so it could control our robots.
As Pygame needs a screen to operate we had to get VNC going before we could start, I think we had it working for most people by the time the session ended. VNC will be a hugh advantage to us as we start to write more code as we can use a mouse and copy and paste with a GUI text editor instead of Nano on Putty.
We also added a webcam to our robots which worked well, we would probably need to work on mounting them properly if we wanted to use them for real life applications.
Here is a video of them in action.
I will go over the code again next week, if you want to take a look at the code check out pygame_robot.py and robot_cam.py here.
We will leave robots for a while and go back to basic electronics for the next few weeks.
Sorry for the delay in posting, I’ve been very busy this week. Last Saturday we started the session by testing our robots on an obstacle course. Here is a video of them in action.
Then we had a quick look at Pygame which we will use to control our robots this week. If you missed last week don’t worry as I will do a recap tomorrow. Meanwhile here is a very good Pygame tutorial. Here are my slides from last week pygame-101.
This week we worked on the function calls for our robot, however as most of the robots were low on battery power we didn’t get a chance to test them properly. I will have new batteries when we return on November 5th and we’ll spend a while running through the obstacle course. You can find code with the finished function calls on Dropbox.
We also talked about The Future Maker Awards which is a competition being run by CoderDojo and Liberty Global. I mentioned that you can use video as part of your entry this is an example of a video from Google Science Fair.
Here are my notes from last week obstacle-course.
See you all after the break. Happy Halloween.
This week we created our own folders on our Raspberry Pi3s, this will allow us to each find our own code and keep working on it.
We finished off the code for our own robot functions which we will use to navigate an obstacle course next week. The finished code is available on Dropbox here. These are my slides from Saturday finished-functions.
After we are finished with the obstacle course we will look at controlling our robot from our keyboard. I will use Pygame to do this and as Pygame is used for Graphical applications such as games and GUIs we will have to use VNC to connect to our Pi3s. Pygame will also allow us to use a webcam to capture video so if you have an old USB webcam please bring it in.
CoderDojo and Liberty Global are due to launch the Future Maker Awards this week FAQ here and more information here scroll down to see how one of our Bodgers uses his super power. I’ll have more information next Saturday after the launch.
See you then.
Our WiFi set up worked much better this week with an issue with only one of our routers which decided to give up half way through the session.
We started to write our own functions today, functions are very important in programming as they allow us to run the same code multiple times without rewriting the code several times. Instead, you can put that code inside a function and call the function several times. This has the added benefit that if the function’s code has a mistake, you only have one place in the program to fix it.
If we use names that relate to our function’s operation it will make our code much easier to understand.
Functions make designing and testing bigger programs much easier as we can break the project down to manageable chunks and we can write and test these functions individually.
As we saw last week the GPIO Zero library contains robot functions which turn our robot’s wheels forwards or backwards or in opposite directions to go left or right until we call the robot.stop() function. We are going to take these functions and the sleep() function and put them in functions that will make our robot go forward or backwards by a specified amount of Centimetres or will turn it left or right by an amount of degrees. This week we wrote a function that makes our robot go forward. See code here. Here are this weeks slides writing-functions . Next week we will write the rest of our functions.
Some Bodgers and their parents have been asking about buying Raspberry Pis but I would advise holding off until we decide on our projects as some people may end up using Arduinos or Raspberry Pi Zeros depending on their project.
However if you want to get one to experiment at home with I would recommend the following sites. https://shop.pimoroni.com/ and https://thepihut.com/ for Raspberry Pi and accessories. If you are buying a case for your Pi I would recommend Pibow Coupé from Pimoroni as the GPIO pins are numbered and easy to get at. For electronic components such as sensors etc. http://www.bitsbox.co.uk/ are very good, they also do cheap Arduino clones. Avoid starter kits as you should be able to get your hands on stuff like keyboards if you ask friends and relations for them, do get SD cards as you can have different set ups on different cards e.g. Retropi, Kodi.
See you all next week.
We are still having network difficulties with WiFi on our Raspberry Pi3s but I will work on finding a solution or a work around during the week.
We managed to connect to two of our robots and we wrote a simple hello world script and a script to control our robots. When we use Python and the Gpio Zero module all it takes to control a wheeled robot like ours is 9 different lines of code these are:
- from time import sleep – this will allow us to call the sleep function later in the code.
- from gpiozero import Robot – this will allow us to call all the robot functions from Gpio Zero.
- robot = Robot(left=(22,23),right=(24,25)) – this is the most complicated line in our code, all it does is assign which gpio pins will be used to control our robot. This will become much clearer when we start to build simpler circuits later in the year.
- robot.forward() – this function drives all our motors forward.
- robot.backward() – this function drives all our motors backward.
- robot.left() – this function drives the motors on the right forward and the motors on the left backward.
- robot.right() – this function drives the motors on the left forward and the motors on the right backward.
- sleep() – this function pauses the program.
- robot.stop() – this function stops the motors.
If we want to drive our robot forward for five seconds we would use the following code
- from time import sleep
- from gpiozero import Robot
- robot = Robot(left=(22,23),right=(24,25))
We had a brainstorming session about what we might do for our projects and we came up with some great ideas which we talk more about on Saturday. My slides from Saturday are here robot-intro.
Last week we used GPIO Zero’s inbuilt functions to control our robots. These functions allowed us to move or turn our robot using time to control the amount of movement, this week we made our own functions which allow us to control our robot using distance and degrees. A version of the code we used is available here and check out my slides here Robot Functions.