Through this link you can download my course for Arduino beginners. This course is one of the many I use to entertain kids during our coding-dojos sessions. Yesterday it was the first time in Brussels we gave an Arduino session. We got kids going from 10 to 14 years. The session was a success. Despite the fact that none of them had any electronic or c-like programming background most of them managed to build one or several projects and present it to their colleagues.
Each project is intended to be built in two steps. First the students can simply follow the schematic and can copy/paste the code they’ll find by following the provided link. Then they need to complete a simple assignment consisting in extending what they build in the first step. To complete the second step they need to make simple changes on the board and in the code. Hints are provided to help them, so no real coding or electronic know-how is required.
The first project is simply making a led blink, the students should all start with this one. Once the first assignment done they can choose between three different projects: a love-o-meter, music instrument and a lazer-tag.
In this post I’ll create a continuous integration build with Visual Studio Online that deploys a Web App on an Azure Website.
Inside your VSO project click on the Build menu.
Click on plus sign and choose Visual Studio.
Here we’ll configure our build to produce and save the Web Deploy Package package file inside the staging directory. This package will be used to deploy our Web App inside an Azure WebSite.
Copy paste the following MSBuild arguments into the MSBuild Arguments: /p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:WebPublishMethod=Package /p:PackageAsSingleFile=true /p:SkipInvalidConfigurations=true /p:PackageLocation=”$(build.stagingDirectory)”
Now we’ll add a “Azure Web App Deployment” step. Click “Add, build step” and choose in the category “Deploy” => “Azure Web Site Deployment”, click “Add”
If you don’t have a Subscription configured click on: manage
Click on: Configure service endpoint
Choose certificate and click on publishsettings xml file
Once your settings downloaded, open the file with notepad and copy the: Subscription id, Subscription name and certificate.
Go back to the Azure build and click on refresh.
Provide the “Web App Name” of your Azure Web App.
Choose your region.
Under “Web Deploy Package” you need to provide the path of your Web Deploy Package .This relates to the package location provided as an MSBuild argument in your build step (see here above). As we published the package under the staging directory and because the package is a zip file, the following search path will do the work: $(build.stagingDirectory)\**\*.zip
Click on Save and provide a name for your new build.
You can now test your build by right-clicking on it and choose “queue build”.
If you want your build to become a continuous deployment build (runs at every check-in or after some time after the check-in): Edit you build definition and look for Triggers:
The new “2015: State of DEV/OPS report” is published. In my opinion IT managers should take 10 minutes of their time to read this report. It’s based on a large scale survey and distils most of the modern practices improving the performance of the IT organization.
In this post I demonstrate how you can create and update your Azure infrastructure as part of a build in Visual Studio Online (VSO). This enable to deliver and test your code and your infrastructure continuously.
Under your VSO project, choose build, and right click your build and choose “edit”, add an Azure Resource Group Deployment.
To be able to provision the infrastructure from your VSO build your Resource Group Deployment need to have the permission to add or modify resources in your Azure subscription. Therefore you can use a Service Principal that has the proper access rights in your subscription. This msdn article details how you can create a service principal and use it during your deployment.
Watch out: if you’ve several subscriptions, chances are that you run under the wrong subscription, this will result in the following error: “The provided information does not map to an AD object id”. You’ll need to select the proper subscription, just after the step: “Add Azure Account” use the following command:
Select-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionId <subscription-id>
The remaining steps are obvious:
Select your Azure Subscription, provide a name to your resource group, select the ARM template inside your VS solution and the parameter file you want to use for this deployment.
Now you can include this step inside your continuous integration build or create a specific build for your infrastructure setup that you can trigger at will.
Here we want to create our Azure Web App from within visual studio. The goal is to be able to recreate the infrastructure at will and host a web app on it. We do this by including an Azure Resource Group project inside our solution. This bundle the code of our website with the definition of the infrastructure that is needed to host the website. The Azure Resource Group project contains the description of your infrastructure inside an ARM(Azure Resource Manager) template and one or many parameter files. With this project you make sure that your configurations can be consistently repeated, tested, shared and promoted across different environments. This concept is called “infrastructure as code”.
1) Define the infrastructure
First we need to add an Azure Resource Group project to our visual studio solution.
Right-click Add, new project.
If you didn’t have downloaded the Azure SDK, you first need to install it. Choose “Get Microsoft Azure SDK for .Net” from the Cloud category and complete the installation steps.
Once the Azure SDK installed, reload your solution, right click on your solution, add, new project and select Cloud, “Azure Resource Group”, provide a name to your project and click OK.
Here we’ll setup a simple website.
Then we’ll need to fill in the parameters. You can do this via the deploy wizard or directly inside the “Website.param.dev.json” file. The file is located under your ARM project in the folder Templates.
The siteName and hostingPlanName are up to you, you can fill in what you like or provide the name of an existing one. For siteLocation you’ve to choose between one of the Azure datacenter regions, you find the list under: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/regions/
Just copy the name of the region that is appropriate to you.
2) Deploy your infrastructure
Right click your ARM project and choose Deploy, New Deployment.
Click on Deploy.
Once completed you should see your Azure website listed in the portal.
3) Publish your app to your website
Now you can publish your web app through Visual Studio to the Web App you created in Step1.
Right Click your web project, choose publish and select “Microsoft Azure Web App”.
Select your web app.
Click, “OK” and then “Publish”.
Once completed you should see your browser should open showing your freshly published website.
In this post I explain step by step how I build an Arduino based Robot. This can be a handy if you want to build your own. I explain which design choices I made, which frameworks and technologies I used and how I program and configured the robot. Here you can find a video of the end result.
What is needed?
The robot is based on a RoverV2 + Bluetooth Arduino robotic kit sold by Robotshop. This kit contains:
A compatible Arduino board including:
Dual H-bridge and onboard voltage regulator
An onboard charger
A Bluetooth module
An aluminum frame
Tamiya Twin-Motor Gear Box
Tamiya Track and Wheel Set
Lithium Polymer Battery Cell – 3.7V 1000mAh
The kit is complete and well documented but if you want to go hard core and start with a classic Arduino board, you can obtain the same result with following components:
An Arduino compatible board
An Arduino motor shield
A pair of two 5v motors and 4 Wheels & frame
A Bluetooth module
4xAA battery & holder
The goal of this article is to set the basic building blocks to build a robotic platform that you can extend to finally build an autonomous robot. Therefore, to enable the robot to sense his environment we extend the base platform with:
3 x ultrasonic sensors HC-SR04
1x Accelerometer MMA7361.
1x Compass HMC5883L
You can find all these components, including the wheels & frames in shops selling Arduino compatible boards online like SainSmart or Robotshop.
For the design I choosed to remotely control the robot from a server (a laptop or pc). This design overcomes the limited processing & storage of the Arduino board but it comes at the expense of autonomy. My robot will not be able to evolve without be connected by Bluetooth to his server. This is a concession I’ve to make but it provides me quasi infinitely processing power and makes my robot accessible through the internet.
The Arduino board plays the role of central nervous system and the PC is the brain. Another advantage that offers this design is that the robot can be controlled from anywhere in the world as it is exposed through http by a node.js application.
To enable real time communication in both directions between the server and the robot I’ve used socket.io.
Assemble and configure your robot.
To assemble the DFRobotshop RoverV2 you can follow this video. As I’m a Lego fan and that with two little boys in house I’ve a lot of little bricks, I’d no difficulties to find all pieces I needed to build a Lego frame where I could mount the ultrasonic sensors, the accelerometer and the compass on it. Here you can find a picture of the end result.
It’s up to you to decide to copy the design or make your own as long as you use the same core components and follow the schematics provided here beneath the code will be compatible with your robot.
Here you can find the schematics for your robot:
As the accelerometer MMA7361 can vary slightly between manufacturers and models I provide an alternative schematic only for the accelerometer:
Configure your Robot
Before you start make sure you’ve setup the following tools on your box:
You could receive some warnings here, don’t panic it should still be working fine.
Flashing your Arduino board
Because the onboard bluetooth ship is limited to 9600 baud I’hd to patch the firmate protocol. This patched version can be found on the root folder.
Open the Arduino IDE
Connect your Robot to your PC through the usb cable and temporarly remove the bluetooth module from your Arduino board
In the IDE select the correct com port
Choose, File, open and select the “firmate_pulse_9600B_patch.ino” file located under: ..\johnny5\firmate_pulse_9600B_patch
Push the upload button
Reconnect your bluetooth module
Connect to your Arduino board through Bluetooth
You should go to your Bluetooth settings and associate your Bluetooth with a COM port. On resent versions of windows you should click on the Bluetooth icon, choose “Add Bluetooth devices”. You should see “Bluetooth_Bee_V3” click on it and enter the secret code: 1234.
You need to know which COM port windows as configured to your outgoing connections to you robot. Therefore open the Bluetooth settings, select the COM ports tab and note which COM port is associated with your Bluetooth_Bee_V3 outgoing connection.
Configure and start the server
With your preferred IDE modify the variable “comport” in the “app.js” file with the COM port you connected the Arduino with.
On the Johnny5 folder, start the program => “node app.js”
Start your preferred browser on http://localhost:3000 , you should now be able to control your robot through the interface:
Here is a little coding exercise inspired from one of the codeingame puzzels. It was ported based on the Mars Lander-2 game made by mrswanson. This game is primarily targeted as a coding exercise for kids/students to learn programming.
Your mission: reprogram the mars lander.
In fact the problems concerns the landing phase for “Mars Lander”, the landing ship which contains the Opportunity rover. Mars Lander is guided by a program, and right now the failure rate for landing on the NASA simulator is unacceptable.
Built as a game, the simulator puts Mars Lander on a limited zone of Mars sky. The zone is 138m wide, the center of his position is at position “LanderX”. The ship can get into the zone at a variable location but may not crash on the mountains.
Your mission is to write a new artificial intelligence program that will enable Mars Lander to land safely on Mars without crashing. The program will have to go through a series of increasingly complex simulator tests.
Wouldn’t it be great if I ‘had a central place where I could keep and work on all my little nuggets of utility code I’ve written over the years. Also be able to download them from nuget would be very convenient. This is why I’ve decided to setup a new project on Github. There I just posted the first library of my personal Swiss army knife framework.
These libraries where primarily designed to build loosely-coupled applications where you can swap out particular components without affecting the rest of the application. Most of my libraries are just small layers above existing frameworks providing a common API that simplify their usage (for me at least). The libraries ease the use of these frameworks by providing standard configurations and exposing only the functionalities I found useful for me through what I saw as a “common API”.
The first library I uploaded is: Go.Simple.Logging
GoSimple.Logging is a small and simple library that provides a common interface for logging. It comes together with an implementation for Log4Net: GoSimple.Logging.Log4Net.
It provides a simple logging interface (Logger.Debug(..), Logger.info(..), Logger.warn(…), Logger.Error(…),….). I use this nuget package in all my projects to easily integrate with Log4Netwithout having to remember how to configuer & setup Log4Net.
The library comes with an appender to send the logs through syslog to a Splunk server. The TcpSyslogAppender you’ll find in the Log4Net implementation was extensively tested and fine-tuned on many large scale applications running in production.
You can download it through nugget by using the nugget console:
The most valuable extensions you’ll find in this project are:
Syslog Appender: used to send your logs over TCP or UDP to a syslog server like Splunk, Logstach or Kiwi.
Rolling File Appender: when GoSimple rolls a log file, it saves and closes the old file and starts a new file.
GoSimple.Logging comes with a sample project, you’ll find it on the github project home. It provides an example of how to configure your application for GoSimple.Logging in just one line of code. You’ll also find a sample Log4Net config file with example config sections for each appender.
To enable it on your project you need to :
1) Review the Log4Net.config file on the application root.
2) In VS set the property “Copy to output directory” of the Log4Net.config file to “Copy always”
3) In your application entry point (bootstrapper/main) initialize the Logger: Logger.Initialize(new Log4NetLogger());
Voilà that’s all you need to configure to enable logging in your application.