Saturday, 18 March 2017

Raspberry Pi User Group Meeting, March 12, 2017
Location: New Glasgow Library, Nova Scotia

Great news! We keep getting requests for both streaming our meetings as well as people wanting to take part in person. There is not a strict criteria for taking part in our group. It helps to have an interest in technology, but if you just want to see what it is that we are using Raspberry Pi's are that are not produced in the kitchen, come join us.

We post our meetings on Kijiji.ca under the Nova Scotia > New Glasgow > community > activities, groups. That chain of selections should bring you to the section where we post our monthly ad.

This should also work:
http://www.kijiji.ca/b-activities-groups/new-glasgow-ns/c7l1700258
If the above link does not work, again just follow the chain provided above.


We had three main focal points on March 12th:

1) Setting up a local network so we could play a Minecraft game at the library without getting permission for their network at the library. They keep it locked down so that you cannot SSH into your Raspberry Pi like you can at home. Many people have an old wireless router at home as an extra device that might not be used anymore. Techies tend to keep this stuff around or pick them up at yard sales or the flea market. It makes it really easy to run your RPi headless as well.

Google the topic if you want to know more. By the way, this is a very easy way to run your RPi headless. Simply connect your RPi to the wireless router, connect your laptop to the router (both using the device connections, not the Internet connection), find the RPi's IP address on the new network, and you can use Putty or some other program to SSH (simply ssh in Linux) into your RPi. Sometime soon we will have a look at running VNC to connect to the RPi so we can use the other PC to get the RPi full desktop's GUI.

2) Servo motors! We ran a regular standard servo motor using a recipe from the Raspberry Pi Cookbook, 1st ed. However, the cookbook recipe uses Tkinter to make a simple GUI. Great if you know Python already but I am just not there yet. I need to learn some more Python before I get into using one of the different modules that can be implemented to make GUI's. So, in the end , I went to the Adafruit site to check out one of their tutorials on servo motors.

Adafruit:
www.adafruit.com
I have no affiliation with Adafruit. They are just a great resource and sell some really cool stuff. I purchased one of the POV devices a few years back and like it.

By the way, to avoid problems running servo motors when you follow the Adafruit tutorial on setting up a single servo, make sure to follow the instructions on this link:
https://pypi.python.org/pypi/wiringpi

Adafruit likely already has lead you through this material if you follow their tutorials on the RPi from lesson 1. Many an RPi user has not, so this is good information to have. If you do follow the Adafruit tutorial on the single servo motor, make sure to follow the WiringPi page on the Python site given above, before you get to the Software section.

The idea of having control over the servo and knowing what all parts of the program are doing, at least within reasonable knowledge, is appealing to me. I do not claim to know what all modules (libraries) have in their code. Have a look through some modules and you will get an idea of how much things are really simplified for the new programmer as well as the seasoned one.

3) We had a question about an RPi replacing a regular desktop computer. It is possible but even with the RPi3, I would not recommend it. The RPi3 is a huge improvement over previous versions but it is not on the same level as most of the regular PC's available today. You can watch YouTube without many pauses for buffering or doing many other tasks.

It is a good idea to try things out for yourself on your RPi to see just what it can do - a lot. It does play Minecraft Pi very well, even a networked game. By the way, using Minecraft Pi is a great way to learn Python. There are books out there on the topic - both paid and free resources. I keep telling people that The MagPi offers lots of material for free. Be sure to check out the links on the RPi site:

http://www.raspberrypi.org

Up for the next meeting on April 30th: motorized robots!