Robotics, Sensing and Imaging: Intro to the Raspberry Pi JUN 2017

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Artisan's Asylum, Inc.

10 Tyler Street

Somerville, MA 02143

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Class Schedule:

Session 1: Thursday, 6/8/17, 7:00-9:30pm

Session 2: Thursday, 6/15/17, 7:00-9:30pm

Session 3: Thursday, 6/22/17, 7:00-9:30pm

Raspberry Pi

Course Description:

This course will cover the use of the Raspberry Pi (Pi) to demonstrate the fundamentals of robotics with special emphasis on nearby object detection, rapid motion control and the techniques of real-time image acquisition and interpretation. The Pi family of boards (the Pi B2, Pi 3 and Pi Zero) allow a host of new and innovative sensing and embedded imaging applications to be carried out at low cost. Board selection is a tradeoff between functionality, speed, system cost and the overall power constraints placed upon the system. The topics covered in this class, while taught from the standpoint of robotics, are useable in a host of other applications where object-detection, motion-control or imaging is required.

Students will build their own Pi test system made up of components provided for the duration of the class. The systems will be capable of interrogating sensors, controlling both stepping and servo motors and acquiring and manipulating images captured on the RaPi camera in real-time. Various Pi Hats (interface boards) will be reviewed. The class will utilize a recently released Raspian Linux operating system image and a Python 3 toolchain for software development and all necessary software drivers will be provided for sensors, motors and cameras. Interfacing to the Pi through the SPI and I2C interfaces will be discussed. Python is a very simple language to learn, and all aspects of the language that are required for the class, will be covered in details - no prior knowledge of Python is assumed. Emphasis will be placed on working examples and in teaching the students how to bring together code for the various components to make more sophisticated measurement systems

Image acquisition utilizing both CSI and USB port cameras will be demonstrated. A variant of the OpenCV software library running under Python will be made available for the class which will allow sophisticated detection algorithms to be used for image interrogation and interpretation of acquired images. Output data methods will be discussed including streaming sensing data and images through WiFi using a Flask server from within the Python acquisition program.

Consideration will be given to the power management challenges necessary to configure embedded image streaming systems. The class will end with a review of battery and solar powered operation and true headless operation of the Pi will be demonstrated with the full automation of the system and the removal of the keyboard, mouse, display or X11 windowing in order to conserve power.

Note that two teachers will be present throughout the classes allowing for both class presentation time and hands-on laboratory time to be carried out seamlessly.

Class Goals:

Students will learn the following:

Session 1:

  • Raspberry Pi hardware overview (The Pi A+, Pi 2B, Pi 3 and Pi Zero )
  • Hardware test system setup (including peripherals)
  • The Pi-Jessie+ Linux operating system; Bootup and system operation
  • System settings and setting up Wifi
  • Advanced Linux (Advanced setup options, installing programs, shell scripts, superuser permissions)
  • The geography of the Linux file system
  • Program management and apt-get
  • Programming Tools and learning to program in Python
  • Writing simple Python programs
  • Peripherals and add-on sensors

Session 2:

  • Hardware interfacing challenges
  • The DGIO interface and how to access
  • Overview of Python modules (advanced)
  • DGIO interrupts
  • Interfacing components to the SPI interface
  • Interfacing components to the I2C interface
  • CSI and USB interfaced cameras
  • Acquiring images off cameras through Python
  • Overview of OpenCV
  • OpenCV and Python

Session 3:

  • X11 windowing and headless operation
  • Writing advanced data acquisition algorithms
  • The Flask server
  • Image storage and streaming through WiFi
  • Advanced OpenCV and Python
  • Controlling it all together
  • Power requirements; battery and solar operation
  • Discussion of packaging for external operation


Students must be at least 18 years of age, have a working familiarity with at least one computer flavor (Mac, Windows or Linux), and know how to install programs and device drivers.

This class is suitable for beginners with no working knowledge of the Raspberry Pi. All aspects of the Linux operating system (Jessie) and the Python development system will be covered in detail.


All materials necessary for operation of the systems will be made available for the duration of the class:

  • Raspberry Pi, keyboard, mouse, power supply & display
  • uSD card with custom Pi-Jessie+ (the plus denoting the addition of the software toolchain and OpenCV)
  • Pi camera (CSI interface) and USB camera
  • Pi Hat, motors and sensors

You may bring your laptop and a Raspberry Pi if you have one, but otherwise, all necessary hardware will be provided.

If you'd like to Bring Your Own Raspberry Pi: we recommend the Pi 3 which you can get on-line from places like Amazon or from MicroCenter in Cambridge.

(use this link to purchase and support A2!) http://amzn.to/2oJ4o7X

We will be using 5MP cameras like this one from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2r0SsQK

If you can't BYOPi, you may borrow one of ours (but you will not be able to keep it after class).

At the completion of the three sessions, students will be allowed to keep the uSD card with Pi-Jessie+ installed.

Class Minimum: This class will not run with fewer than 6 students.

Instructor Biographies:

Richard Driver is a physicist with an interest in the optical sciences and imaging spectroscopy. During his career he has managed engineering departments at a number of small high-tech startups in the Boston area and has established his own company UV2IR to develop low-cost spectral and spectral imaging systems. He has pursued research projects at Harvard and MIT and has taught course in Optical Sciences and Fourier-Optics in the graduate program at Northeastern University. He enjoys the challenge of putting together interdisciplinary education courses bringing together some of his technical skills.

Mike Beach is an Electrical Engineer with many years of experience with the design and debug of electro-optical and high speed analog systems. Some of this work can be seen at www.actinica.com. He has held classes in low-noise analog design for IEEE, has co-taught robotic design courses based on the Raspberry Pi nd the Arduino platforms at the Artisans Asylum. He is an active participant and mentor at the Circuit Hacking night held at the Asylum every Wednesday.


After you buy your ticket here on Eventbrite, please register in Artisan's Asylum's system: https://artisansasylum.com/membership/registration/
Purchase of a ticket expresses acceptance of A2's Refunds and Cancellation policies found here: https://artisansasylum.com/classpolicies/

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Artisan's Asylum, Inc.

10 Tyler Street

Somerville, MA 02143

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