To participate in the workshop, you will need the following:
A laptop with Linux, Mac OS or Windows and at least one free USB port.
- A USB Type A to Micro B cable is provided as part of the workshop kit, however if your laptop only has USB-C ports then bring along either a USB-C to Micro B cable or a USB-C to USB Type A socket dongle.
If it’s Windows or Mac OS, make sure to install drivers for the CH340 USB to Serial chip. MacOS El Capitan may require disabling “kext signing” to install it.
If your OS is Linux-based then, depending on the distribution, you may need to configure a user to have permission to access the serial port. This is usually performed by adding a user to a group that controls access to the serial ports; on many distributions this is the dialout group:sudo adduser [user] dialout
[user]with the name of the user that should have access to the serial port. It’s typically necessary to log out and then back in again.
Mu installed on your laptop. This will be used for writing code, transferring code to the device, and even running an interactive terminal directly on the microcontroller.
You will need to install the alpha of the next version of Mu (found in the box at the top of the download page) in order to work with the microcontroller we’re using in the workshop, so make sure you grab this one! Unfortunately they don’t provide prebuilt binaries of this for Linux distros, so if that’s your weapon of choice you will have to build from source - condensed set of instructions:git clone https://github.com/mu-editor/mu.git cd mu python -m venv env source env/bin/activate pip install -e ".[dev]" python run.py
- In addition, at the workshop, you will receive:
- “TTGO MINI 32” development board (with an ESP32 at the heart of it)
- RGB LED Shield
Other Shields will be available for use during the workshop (but at lower numbers, sharing is caring!).
The firmware that is flashed on the boards is also available at https://micropython.org/download#esp32
The board we are using is called a “TTGO MINI 32” which has an ESP32 module on it, which we will be programming. It comes with the latest version of MicroPython already setup on it, together with all the drivers we are going to use.
The numbers printed next to the pins on the bottom of the board are different from what we’re going to be using - this is because the shields we’re using have a different pin numbering scheme (which can be seen printed on the shields next to the pins). We’re going to use a module to map these, so we can just use the pin names the shields use.
On top it has a micro-USB socket, for connecting to the computer. On the side is a reset button. Then on each side of the board are two rows of pins - the inside row of which we will be connecting the shields to.
There are many symbols next to the pins on the underside of the board. The numbers are pin numbers we can use to control those particular pins. Some of the other important symbols are as follows:
3V3- this is a fancy way to write 3.3V, which is the voltage that the board runs on internally. You can think about this pin like the plus side of a battery. There are several pins like this, they are all connected inside.
GND- this is the ground. Think about it like the minus side of the battery. They are also all connected.
5V- this pin is connected with the 5V from your computer. You can also use it to power your board with a battery when it’s not connected to the computer. The voltage applied here will be internally converted to the 3.3V that the board needs.
TXD- these are connected to the UART port used for device communications. This UART port is the one also used by the USB to ommunicate with the device from your PC, so don’t connect anything to these pins or your USB communications might have problems!
RST- this is a reset pin (connected to the corresponding RESET button).
The board you got should already have MicroPython with all the needed libraries flashed on it - so let’s get started, and open up Mu (which hopefully you already have installed from the Prerequisites section, if not, get it now!). The first thing that should appear is a window asking what type of code or device we’re using - select the ESP MicroPython option. If you can’t find this option, you may not have the alpha version necessary! Make sure the top bar of the window shows the version as Mu 1.1.0.alpha (or later). If you’ve selected another option (or used Mu for something else previously) then press the Mode button to bring the selection menu up again.
Now plug your TTGO MINI 32 into your laptop via the Micro USB cable, and you should see a “Detected new ESP MicroPython device” message in the bottom left and corner of the Mu window (note: this could take a couple of minutes if it is the first time you’re plugging the device in, especially if you’re on Windows). Once you see the message, press the REPL button at the top of the Mu window - a terminal should appear at the bottom of the Mu window with a messsage about MicroPython.
If you instead get “Could not find an attached device.” message box, review your connections and make sure you’ve got the driver installed before finally unplugging and replugging the device. Hopefully one of these things identify the issue at hand!
Once you have your terminal to your microcontroller, click in the terminal and press “enter” and you should see the MicroPython interactive terminal (or REPL) prompt, that looks like this:
It’s traditional to start with a “Hello world!” program, so type this and press “enter”:
If you see “Hello world!” displayed in the next line, then congratulations! You got it working.
The MicroPython REPL is very powerful for running specific commands, but for
repeatedly running commands it can get pretty messy. Mu makes life easy in this
regard, by providing the ability to write scripts directly in the editor, and
then simply press a button to run the script on the device. If you instead
print("Hello Mu!") under the
# Write your code here :-) message
in the editor, then you can simply press the Run button to run the code on the
device - you should see Hello Mu! appear in the terminal from your script
If a script is to be run whenever the device is powered however, it likely
makes more sense to put the script into a file on the MicroPython internal
file system. On startup, A MicroPython device will search for a file named
boot.py and run it if it is found. Following this, the same will be done
main.py. Upon completion of both of these files (successfully or
otherwise), the REPL will begin.
In order for the device to run your script on startup, or to enable importing of modules into the MicroPython workspace, you will need to put the appropriate files on the device.
In order to access the file browser in Mu, click the REPL button to close it. This enables the Files button - if you now press that you will see the files on the device, and the files in the Mu folder on your computer (likely empty). You can’t edit files directly on the device, but if you drag a file from the device box to your computer box it will copy if from the device to your computer, and then you can right click on it and “Open in Mu” to edit it.
Note that you can either see the REPL or the File browser, not both at the same time - if the button for what you want is disabled, something is probably already open and taking up the real estate.
For an example of file browser utility, if you retrieve and open the
d1_mini.py file that we’re going to use during the workshop for shield
interaction, you will see that there is no magic there, just mapping numbers to
more human-comprehensible names.
We can use this process to go the other way - if you create a new file in
Mu, add the line
print("MicroPython is pretty neat") to it, save it as
main.py and then drag it from your computer onto your device, then
every time the device resets, it will now print your message on startup.
Official Documentation and Support¶
The official documentation for this port of MicroPython is available at http://docs.micropython.org/en/latest/esp32/quickref.html.
There is a also a forum on which you can ask questions and get help, located at http://forum.micropython.org/.
Finally, there is a MicroPython Slack channel that you can join at https://slack-micropython.herokuapp.com/, where people chat in real time.