Pi PHP Controls

I’ve been trying to teach my kids PHP,  below are some notes on how to get a PHP page to control Pi GPIO outputs. For motor controls we use the Pimoroni ExplorerHat Pro and it is possible to address the ExplorerHat pins directly with gpio calls. However other shields or tops like PiFace Digital could also be used.

Loading PHP

On the Raspberry Pi you will need to load both a web server and PHP. There are a number of good web servers to load. We picked Apache because it is well documented and more mainstream.

There are some good installation procedure for installing Apache and PHP on the Raspberry Pi. A minimalist installation would be:

sudo apt-get install apache2 -y
sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 -y</pre>
<div class="highlight highlight-source-shell">

If everything is installed correctly the Apache home directory should be: /var/www/html.

To test that your installation is working open a browser on the Pi and go to: http://localhost. If the default (index.html) page comes up then you’ve install Apache correctly.

ExplorerHat Pro GPIO Pinouts

Typically we use the Python interface to talk to the ExplorerHat Pro. If you use PHP you will need to address the ExplorerHat Pro GPIO pins directly.

ExplorerHat  BCM wPi
Motor 1 Forward 19 24
Motor 1 Backward 20 28
Motor 2 Forward 21 29
Motor 2 Backward 26 25
LED 1 4 7
LED 2 17 0
LED 3 27 2
LED 4 5 21
Output 1 22 31
Output 2 26 32
Output 3 23 33
Output 4 27 36

PHP Interfacing to Pi GPIO

There are a few ways to access the GPIO pins in PHP:
1. use a PHP library
2. shell to the gpio command

Using a PHP library allows for a standard PHP interface, with an object model.

From testing I found that the PHP libraries were not as flexible as the standard gpio command. For example you could not access extended GPIO pin numbers (i.e. 200).

GPIO Command Line Utility

PHP can shell out to the gpio command line utility. I liked this approach because I could test the actions manually before putting them into a PHP web page.

A simple gpio read example would be:

<html lang="en">
<?php $ret = shell_exec('gpio read 7'); echo "Pin 7 status = " . $ret; ?>

A simple gpio write example would be:

<?php exec("gpio write 7 1"); $ret = shell_exec('gpio read 7'); echo "Pin 7 status = " . $ret; ?>

PHP Forms

For many Pi projects button interfaces are all that is required. In the Web design this is not typical so it is important to determine which button is pushed. One approach to this problem is to give all the buttons the same name:

<form action="" method="post">
  <input type="submit" name="submit" value="go">
  <input type="submit" name="submit" value="left">
  <input type="submit" name="submit" value="right">
  <input type="submit" name="submit" value="stop">

Then in the PHP code look for a value for this form variable:

<?php // define the GPIO pins for the motor ouptput (Note: PiFace pins start at 200) 
$leftpin = 24; 
$rightpin = 29; 
if (isset($_POST['submit'])) {
 	switch ($_POST['submit']) {
 		case "go": 
                     exec("gpio write " . $leftpin . " 1");
 	             exec("gpio write " . $rightpin . " 1"); 
                case "stop":
 		     exec("gpio write " . $leftpin . " 0");
 		     exec("gpio write " . $rightpin . " 0"); 
                case "left": 
		     exec("gpio write " . $leftpin . " 1"); 
		     exec("gpio write " . $rightpin . " 0"); 
                case "right": 
		     exec("gpio write " . $leftpin . " 0"); 
		     exec("gpio write " . $rightpin . " 1");

Some of the key items are:

  • Add references in to the bootstrap ccs and js files
  • Add tags with the required class definitions:
    • the btn-lg class will make a large button, instead of standard sized btn 
    • different button colours are possible using btn-info, btn-success. btn-danger
    • Button width is defined with style=”width: xx%” . For multiple buttons the sum of the width needs to <100%

Further Examples

Below are some pictures of a mobile rocket launcher project.  The Web page had two sections. The top section controlled bi-directional motors that were connected to a Explorer HAT Pro shield. The bottom section controlled the rocket launcher turret. The missile launcher was connected via a USB cable to the Pi. For the missile launcher program we created a Python app with command line options to set the action.



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