Tag Archives: Arduino

M2M Community at EclipseCon

Day 2 of EclipseCon 2013 and we’ve already been seeing some strong interest in the M2M community and the kinds of projects we have been working on!

The story so far

There were two  M2M events on day one. The first was the M2M tutorial featuring some real hardware (Raspberry Pi and Arduino), using the Koneki Lua Development Tooling to deploy scripts to the embedded Mihini runtime on the Pi to drive and take input from sensors over Modbus. I cheated a little and mixed in a bit of MQTT using the Paho Lua client, to have my kit publishing temperature and light data to a broker instead 🙂 It is early days for Eclipse Mihini, but it was a really slick demo and tutorial, and I’m looking forward to playing with this a lot more.

The evening Birds of a Feather session gave a group of us a couple of open hours to hack around with our Pi and Arduino kits. My own efforts were slightly thwarted by a European soldering iron and a 110V power supply, so I wasn’t able to assemble the add-on board I wanted for my Raspberry Pi, but I’ll get back to that in the future. For those looking to explore their new Raspberry Pis and hardware / GPIO interaction from Java, take a look at the pi4j project.

Building a community

One useful “war story” that was told today was in Benjamin Cabé’s Building the M2M Community talk. The slides will follow, but it was good to hear about the progress of the community and projects involved (yes, ok, I’m a Committer on one of them…) and also to hear about his “Community Manager Toolbox” for tracking and responding to community discussions. I use a very similar set of tools when I engage with the Cloud Foundry and MQTT communities (and others that I’m involved with).

Here’s a summary:

  • Slideshare – monitor who favourites and downloads slides related to your project
  • Twitter – monitor hashtags, engage complainers
  • YouTube – screencasts, demos, build channel to aggregate content
  • StackOverflow – answer questionss (even old ones), find answers that need to be complemented)
  • Github – monitor forks, stars, look for people using your tech (include Gists)
  • Google Alerts
  • IFTTT – e.g. if Eclipse wiki changes get Gtalk notification recipe
  • Google Analytics for your site
  • LinkedIn – monitor groups, post news and relay blog posts

In short: Engage the community. Be very public about what you are working on and where the roadmap is going. Get management buy-in for your projects to persuade them of the value of opening them to the community (use metrics to demonstrate take-up).

Working on standards

The other thing that has been going on today “behind the scenes” at EclipseCon has been the first meeting of the OASIS MQTT Technical Committee. It is exciting to see that Richard Coppen and Raphael Cohn have been elected as co chairs of the group, with seven sponsoring organisations from across the technology and messaging market and 35 publically-visible members – lots of interest in MQTT!

 

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M2M, IoT and MQTT at EclipseCon 2013

EclipseCon 2013 is here, and I’m in Boston with the great folks from around the community this week.

Koneki, Paho, Mihini

There’s a LOT of content around the machine-to-machine space this year, and growing interest in how to use instrumented devices with an embedded runtime with lightweight messaging. If you’ve not been following the progress of the M2M community at Eclipse, we now have an M2M portal, along with nice pages for each of the three associated projects Koneki, Mihini, and Paho.

M2M hardware kits

Almost the first thing I saw when I walked in yesterday was my buddy Benjamin Cabé assembling a bunch of electronics kits (Raspberry Pis and Arduino Unos) for today’s M2M tutorial which will use Eclipse Koneki and Mihini. This will be the first opportunity for many folks to play with the new Mihini runtime. Later this evening, we’ll have the chance to run a hackathon with things like Raspberry Pi and Orion and others parts as an extended Birds of a Feather.

What are some of the other M2M sessions to look out for?

There’s also the first meeting of the OASIS TC for MQTT due this week, and a meeting of the Eclipse M2M Industry Working Group scheduled as well. Exciting times!

The corridor conversations and late night beer sessions are as always invaluable, and myself and many of the other project folks will be around – I’m always happy to talk about Paho in particular. At Paho we now have updated Java and C MQTT clients in Git (NB check the ‘develop’ branch for the latest Java updates), along with the Lua client, and proposed contributions of Objective-C, Javascript and Python clients are at various stages of review looking to join the project.

Oh, and if you are interested in MQTT, come and find me for some MQTT Inside stickers that you can use with your own hardware projects 🙂

Geekery in 8-bits and more

In which I get misty-eyed and nostalgic, geek out over electronics, and think about mobile and the cloud.

Then

On Saturday I went along to the Horizons 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum event, organised by Paul Squires and Leila Johnston and held at the BFI in London. The event ran on both days but I wasn’t able to stay on the Sunday, so I missed at least half of the fun!

Steven Goodwin reads Sinclair User

Although I’m full of nostalgia for the 8-bit era, I have to confess I never actually owned a Speccy or any Sinclair hardware. My friends did, but I was primarily an Acorn enthusiast and our first home computer was an Electron (although the first computer I used at primary school was a Commodore PET).

I fondly remember some of the hacks I did on/with/to the Electron, including soldering a pair of headphones into the motherboard to avoid annoying my parents with the music from various Superior Software titles 🙂

Regardless of “allegiance”, Horizons was a really great day. Highlights for me included a fantastic history of computing by PJ Evans from The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park (if you haven’t been there yet, you should visit!); Spectranet, an Ethernet adapter for the Spectrum which had me wanting one for no good excuse that I can come up with; and the mind-blowing live composition of a chip tune by Matt Westcott which I saw, but I struggled to comprehend. Matt’s ability to reverse engineer a tune in his head was remarkable.

Oh, and if you haven’t downloaded or bought MJ Hibbett‘s Hey Hey 16k yet, or at least streamed it, you really should.

aside: since Horizons was part of SciFi London, I tried to get Micro Men director Saul Metzstein to drop some hints about his upcoming S7 Dr Who episodes. All he would say was that the western episodes were filmed in Spain (knew that), and that the script for the Christmas episode hasn’t been written yet (didn’t know that).

Now

Components

After the event on Saturday evening, I found it a real struggle to avoid crazy, nostalgia-fuelled eBay purchases, but I did manage to resist! Instead, I resolved to finally get around to building the Fignition I’d picked up at the Hack to the Future event a couple of months ago.

For those who are not familiar with it, the Fignition is a credit card sized build-it-yourself 8-bit computer based around the ATMega chip (the same one used in the Arduino and Nanode Open Source hardware boards). It’s really a remarkable little device – I guess it took me about an hour to assemble and solder, although your mileage may vary. The build guide is excellent and very clear. After performing a couple of power on tests with and without the ICs inserted, it was time to connect up to the TV – and it worked first time. It boots into a simplified Forth environment, which was reminiscent of that BBC BASIC> prompt I am so familiar with from my childhood. The only real downside is that the keyboard – built from 8 clicker buttons – is a bit fiddly to get to grips with, but hey – I just assembled a complete 8-bit computer including video out and keyboard! It’s hard not to be excited.

The board I built was a RevD – the new RevE board has onboard audio in/out (get ready for some fun loading stuff from audio cassettes, again!), and is also slightly modified so that in principle, it is possible to add Arduino-footprint shields. That’s kind of cool, as it means that it might be possible to add a PS/2 keyboard or a network interface.

Ready to test!

What’s “the point” of something so simple, by today’s standards? Well, actually – the simplicity. I went from a bag of components, to a fully working computer in the palm of my hand – no surface-mount components – to a programmable device. It’s “primitive” by the standards of today’s machines, but it’s not that hard to understand how an 8-bit “brain” works, in comparison to the 32 or 64-bit mulitcore CPUs and GPUs in modern laptops and mobile phones. In my opinion, the Fignition, Arduino and Nanode fulfil an important role in helping youngsters to understand the basic principles of electronics and computing.

Next

Last night I headed along to the fantastic Mozilla offices in London.

Mozilla Space, London

The main LJC event was Simon Maple from IBM showing off the new WebSphere 8.5 Liberty Profile running on a Raspberry Pi. I’d hooked Simon up with Sukkin Pang recently so that he could get one of the smart enclosures he provides for the Pi. It was pretty cool to see a full Java app server running on such a small computer – actually almost exactly the same size as the Fignition, only considerably more powerful of course.

The whole talk was live streamed on Mozilla Air – but if you missed it, there’s a video available (complete with semi-professional heckling from yours truly!)

Boot 2 Gecko

What stole the evening for me, though, was two other glimpses of what lies ahead. First, Tom Banks from IBM Hursley came on stage after Simon and showed off the Liberty profile running on a mobile phone. Let me clarify – he was running Android 2.3 on a Nexus One (an “old” phone), running Ubuntu Linux as a virtual image inside of that, and WebSphere inside of that. Kind of mind-blowing! A proof-of-concept and arguably not very useful… not sure when I would want to put a full JEE app server in a phone… but extremely cool. Finally, @cyberdees let Tom and I have a play with Boot to Gecko – Mozilla’s new mobile play. B2G was something I’d heard about, but not touched. I have to say that even in an early form, it’s looking very slick, boots extremely fast – much more quickly than any Android or iOS device I’ve seen – and the device integration (GPS, camera, access to hardware settings, etc) was impressive.

With the Open Web as the platform, ubiquitous mobile devices, and increasingly sophisticated cloud-based backends to interact with, the future is looking pretty cool.

Makers are cool

Today was (hopefully the first) Brighton Mini Maker Faire.

Now, I may have aspirations to creativity myself, but the truth is that the artists and inventors who took (and deserved) an exhibition space at the Faire were all truly amazing people.

From Brighton Mini Maker Faire 2011

It was my intent to record a travelogue/podcast for Hacker Public Radio at the event, but as it happened, the background noise was not in my favour. I’ve shared a bunch of photos on Picasa[1] instead. They were all taken with a phone (albeit one with a pretty decent camera) so I’m sure better images and videos will emerge around the interwebs.

Aside: it must be about 10 years since I’ve been to Brighton, and although it was a fantastic day to be by the coast, as a driver I found the city to be maddening… although part of that definitely comes down to the accuracy of TomTom and other maps in navigating the one-way systems.

So… a Maker Faire. What’s one of those? well, basically, the concept is that of an event showcasing the creative talents of “Makers” – inventors and craftspeople, innovators:

Started in San Mateo, California in 2006, and now expanding to Detroit and New York, Maker Faire is the premier event for grassroots innovation. Held annually in each of these locations, the event may expand elsewhere in the future. Maker Faire is supported by MAKE Magazine and O’Reilly Media.

There was a big Maker Faire in Newcastle last year, but the Brighton “mini” event was certainly easier for me to get to!

Hopefully the photo gallery tells more of a story than I’m able to do justice to here, but I’ll summarise. It was a really fantastic day, and I’m glad I went. Some of my highlights and comments, in no order whatsoever:

Thanks to everyone involved in making the Brighton Mini Maker Faire happen (and apologies that I didn’t discover it in time to volunteer to help) – the sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, and staff at the Brighton Dome. I had a great time.

Final note: if you were there and you’ve posted coverage of the event, don’t forget to add a link to the Lanyrd page – it is open to anyone (well, those with Twitter accounts) and it helps to link all the content together 🙂

[1] Why Picasa all of a sudden, not Flickr? well, it is primarily down to the fact that I took all of the photos on my HTC Sensation today, and the Google+ app uploaded them automatically… making it fairly simple to create and share an album in Picasa. I’ve not posted about G+ here so far, but you may have noticed the link to my profile in the blog sidebar. I still far prefer Flickr, with all of the features and superior usability it offers, but in this case Google Photos/Picasa/Plus/Whatever just made it simpler.

Lightweight Messaging and Linux #lca2011

I’ve just delivered my talk at LinuxConf Australia 2011Lightweight Messaging for a Connected Planet. Unlike any of the other “spins” of the MQTT overview talk I’ve delivered before, this one really talks in more detail about the coding side, with shout outs to many of the members of the MQTT community and their projects. Special mentions here to Roger Light and the mosquitto project, and Nick O’Leary and the Arduino client. There has been a huge amount of discussion of Arduino and home automation (and sending Tux to the edge of space with an Arduino on a balloon… unrelated to MQTT but awesome) at LCA 2011 so these aspects turned out to fit really well.

Do let me know if you start to play around with MQTT as I believe there are some really funky things happening (some of which are highlighted in the slides). I’ve had some particularly great conversations with Andy Gelme who helped to run the Arduino Miniconf at LCA2011 and I hope to see things moving forward on his open hardware router project, too.