X Windows from Raspberry Pi to Android

So you’ve done a cool graphic app on your Raspberry Pi wouldn’t it be nice to see it on your Android phone ? Well luckily there are a couple of X Server apps that you can run on your Android phone that allows you to see your Pi graphic apps.

X Server Apps for Android

When you do a search for “x servers” on Android Play Store, you will get a few results.

apps_xservers

X Server XSDL from pelya, has good reviews and I found it to be fairly robust. My only comment was I wasn’t sure how to clear the background help statements, and it made the screen look a little messy.

X server from Darkside is a beta release. I preferred the background and SSH integration over XSDL, however this app did not always close the window when the code requested it.

Both options are free and open source.

Getting Started with X Windows

There are two main ways for X Windows to be run on a remote system. The first method is that the Window is sent from the Pi (or any Linux/X Windows system) to the Android phone. The second method is what you typically do on a Windows PC using an SSH terminal program like  Putty; you SSH (Secure Shell) in to the Rasp Pi and then when you run an app it open on your remote node.

xwindow_overview

Calling windows from a PC is pretty easy but calling windows from an Android phone is challenging and slow because of the keyboard. The two X Servers apps do not have SSH components built-in but there are some Android SSH client apps that can be run independently or integrated with the Darkside X app.

Sending an X Window from a Raspberry Pi or Linux node is rather straightforward. The sending location of an X window is defined by the DISPLAY session variable. To check its value enter:

~$ echo $DISPLAY
localhost:10.0

A typical results will be something like: localhost:10.0 .

To change the DISPLAY variable enter the ipaddress:window_number.  In my case the phone’s IP is 192.168.0.102, and the window number is 0, so in a terminal on the PI the command is:

export DISPLAY=192.168.0.102:0

This will now direct all X Windows in my terminal session to my phone. To test things we can send the Python IDE to the phone by:

$ idle

x_idle

Unfortunately the Android X Server app does not support moving or resizing of X Windows, so the app is pinned to the top left. Luckily if we are writing Python apps we can set the sizing and positioning when the app starts up.

Python Tkinter

The tkinter graphic library allows you to create a simple graphic front end to your Python projects.

The following code will update a label with the time every second. The geometry setting is used to move the window (300 left, and 100 down).

# test1.py - Show the time every second
#
import tkinter as tk
from datetime import datetime

root = tk.Tk()
root.geometry("+300+100")

def Updatetime():
label['text'] = datetime.now().strftime("%H:%M:%S")
root.after(1000,Updatetime)

def CallBack():
root.destroy()

label = tk.Label( root, text='', font = "Aria 72 bold" )
label.pack()

B = tk.Button(root, text ="Quit", font = "Aria 72 bold", command = CallBack)

B.pack()

root.after(1000,Updatetime)
root.mainloop()

To set the X window to my phone and run this Python application enter:

~$ export DISPLAY=192.168.0.102:0
~$ python test1.py

test1

Final Comment

I found that Python 3 was much more solid than Python 2. For example a Pi real time bars example worked perfectly on Python3, but on Python2 the bar wouldn’t update at all.

x_bars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Android Python App Talking to a Raspberry Pi

If you’d like to use some of your Python experience on Android, then the QPython Android IDE may surprise you with what it has to offer.

Out of the box QPython includes some excellent libraries, especially if you’re interested in doing some data mining or modeling.

libraries

In this blog I’d like to look at an example of building an Android QPython GUI app that controls some lights on a Raspberry Pi.

A Button Interface

Luckily you can do all your development on a Windows/Linux/MacOS/Raspberry Pi before you need to move the application to Android.

QPython comes with a number of pre-installed libraries such as: a standalone Web Server, a low level Android interface, sockets, and the QPython supports the Pygame library.

I used a simple 4 button application, but there are lots of other graphic features that are possible in Pygame. The only real difference with a pygame QPython app is that a #qpy:pygame reference is required at the top of the file. This reference is overlooking in Window/Linux/MacOS.

#qpy:pygame

import pygame
import socket

pygame.init()

def draw_button(button, screen):
    #Draw the button rect and the text surface
    pygame.draw.rect(screen, button['color'], button['rect'])
    screen.blit(button['text'], button['text rect'])

def create_button(x, y, w, h, bg, text, callback):
    # Create a buttondictionary of the rect, text,
    # text rect, color and the callback function.
    FONT = pygame.font.Font(None, 50)
    text_surf = FONT.render(text, True, pygame.Color('black'))
    button_rect = pygame.Rect(x, y, w, h)
    text_rect = text_surf.get_rect(center=button_rect.center)
    button = {
        'rect': button_rect,
        'text': text_surf,
        'text rect': text_rect,
        'color': pygame.Color(bg),
        'callback': callback,
        }
    return button

def main():
    screen = pygame.display.set_mode((640, 480))
    pygame.display.set_caption("Rasp Pi Interface: ")
    clock = pygame.time.Clock()    

    def bt_func(input):  # A callback function for the button.
        pygame.display.set_caption("Rasp Pi Interface: Send - " + input)
        print(input)

    button1 = create_button(100, 50, 250, 80,'blue','BLUE LED',lambda: bt_func('blue'))
    button2 = create_button(100, 150, 250, 80,'yellow', 'YELOW LED',lambda:bt_func('yellow'))
    button3 = create_button(100, 250, 250, 80,'red', 'RED LED', lambda: bt_func('red') )
    button4 = create_button(100, 350, 250, 80,'green', 'GREEN LED',lambda: bt_func('green'))
    
    # A list that contains all buttons.
    button_list = [button1, button2,button3, button4]

    while True:
        for event in pygame.event.get():
            if event.type == pygame.QUIT:
                pygame.quit()
            # This block is executed once for each MOUSEBUTTONDOWN event.
            elif event.type == pygame.MOUSEBUTTONDOWN:
                # 1 is the left mouse button, 2 is middle, 3 is right.
                if event.button == 1:
                    for button in button_list:
                        # `event.pos` is the mouse position.
                        if button['rect'].collidepoint(event.pos):
                            # Increment the number by calling the callback
                            # function in the button list.
                            button['callback']()


        screen.fill(pygame.Color('white'))
        for button in button_list:
            draw_button(button, screen)
        pygame.display.update()
        clock.tick(30)

main()
pygame.quit()

When the Pygame application is running the buttons will send toggle the display caption and write a print() message.

rasp_app_linux

Socket Communications

Sockets are a simple way to have multiple devices communicate together. For this example the Raspberry Pi will be a Socket Server and a PC, Linux node or an Android phone could be socket clients.

# Simple Python Socket Server
#
import socketserver

class Handler_TCPServer(socketserver.BaseRequestHandler):
    # Handler to manage incoming requests
    def handle(self):
        # self.request - TCP socket connected to the client
        self.data = self.request.recv(1024).strip()
        # self.data - is the incoming message
        print("{} sent:".format(self.client_address[0]))
        print(self.data)
        # if required a request could be send back
        #self.request.sendall("ACK from TCP Server".encode())

if __name__ == "__main__":
    # Define the host and port to use
    HOST, PORT = "192.168.0.133", 9999

    # Init the TCP server object, bind it to the localhost on 9999 port
    tcp_server = socketserver.TCPServer((HOST, PORT), Handler_TCPServer)
    print("Socket Server Started on : " + HOST + " port: " + str(PORT))
    # Activate the TCP server.

    tcp_server.serve_forever()

A simple Python TCP socket client would be:

import socket

host_ip, server_port = "192.168.0.133", 9999
data = " Hello how are you?\n"

# Initialize a TCP client socket using SOCK_STREAM
tcp_client = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)

try:
    # Establish connection to TCP server and exchange data
    tcp_client.connect((host_ip, server_port))
    tcp_client.sendall(data.encode())

    # Read data from the TCP server and close the connection
    received = tcp_client.recv(1024)
finally:
    tcp_client.close()

print ("Bytes Sent:     {}".format(data))
print ("Bytes Received: {}".format(received.decode()))

Put It Together

Once the socket communications and the Pygame interface is working, the full program can be completed. The first step is to define some output LED pins on the Raspberry Pi. For my project I used a Pimoroni Explorer Hat Pro. This Pi top had some built in colored LED pins.

# Pi Socket Server to toggle 4 color LEDs
import socketserver

class Handler_TCPServer(socketserver.BaseRequestHandler):
    # Handler to manage incoming message requests

    def handle(self):
        # self.request - TCP socket connected to the client
        self.data = self.request.recv(1024).strip()
        print("{} sent:".format(self.client_address[0]))
        print(self.data)
        if self.data == "red":
            GPIO.output(redpin, not GPIO.input(redpin))
        if self.data == "yellow":
            GPIO.output(yellowpin,not GPIO.input(yellowpin))  
        if self.data == "blue":
            GPIO.output(bluepin,not GPIO.input(bluepin))
        if self.data == "green":
            GPIO.output(greenpin,not GPIO.input(greenpin))            
        # just send back ACK for data arrival confirmation
        #self.request.sendall("ACK from TCP Server".encode())

if __name__ == "__main__":
    # Define 4 LED pins as outputs
    import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
    GPIO.setwarnings(False)
    GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)
    yellowpin = 17
    bluepin = 4
    redpin = 27
    greenpin = 5
    GPIO.setup(redpin,GPIO.OUT)
    GPIO.setup(yellowpin,GPIO.OUT)
    GPIO.setup(bluepin,GPIO.OUT)
    GPIO.setup(greenpin,GPIO.OUT)
     
    HOST, PORT = "192.168.0.133", 9999

    # Init the TCP server object, bind it to the localhost on 9999 port
    tcp_server = socketserver.TCPServer((HOST, PORT), Handler_TCPServer)
    print("Socket Server Started on : " + HOST + " port: " + str(PORT))
    # Activate the TCP server.
    # To abort the TCP server, press Ctrl-C.
    tcp_server.serve_forever()

Next our Pygame interface needs to include  some TCP socket client code that sends the color message.

#qpy:pygame

import pygame
import socket

pygame.init()

def draw_button(button, screen):
    #Draw the button rect and the text surface
    pygame.draw.rect(screen, button['color'], button['rect'])
    screen.blit(button['text'], button['text rect'])

def create_button(x, y, w, h, bg, text, callback):
    # Create a buttondictionary of the rect, text,
    # text rect, color and the callback function.
    FONT = pygame.font.Font(None, 50)
    text_surf = FONT.render(text, True, pygame.Color('black'))
    button_rect = pygame.Rect(x, y, w, h)
    text_rect = text_surf.get_rect(center=button_rect.center)
    button = {
        'rect': button_rect,
        'text': text_surf,
        'text rect': text_rect,
        'color': pygame.Color(bg),
        'callback': callback,
        }
    return button

def main():
    screen = pygame.display.set_mode((640, 480))
    pygame.display.set_caption("Rasp Pi Interface: ")
    clock = pygame.time.Clock()    

    def bt_func(input):  # A callback function for the button.
        pygame.display.set_caption("Rasp Pi Interface: Send - " + input)
        print(input)
        host_ip, server_port = "192.168.0.133", 9999
        tcp_client = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
        try:
        # Establish connection to TCP server and exchange data
            tcp_client.connect((host_ip, server_port))
            tcp_client.sendall(input.encode())
        finally:
            tcp_client.close()

    button1 = create_button(100, 50, 250, 80,'blue','BLUE LED',lambda: bt_func('blue'))
    button2 = create_button(100, 150, 250, 80,'yellow', 'YELOW LED',lambda: bt_func('yellow'))
    button3 = create_button(100, 250, 250, 80,'red', 'RED LED', lambda: bt_func('red'))
    button4 = create_button(100, 350, 250, 80,'green', 'GREEN LED',lambda: bt_func('green'))
    
    # A list that contains all buttons.
    button_list = [button1, button2,button3, button4]

    while True:
        for event in pygame.event.get():
            if event.type == pygame.QUIT:
                pygame.quit()
            # This block is executed once for each MOUSEBUTTONDOWN event.
            elif event.type == pygame.MOUSEBUTTONDOWN:
                # 1 is the left mouse button, 2 is middle, 3 is right.
                if event.button == 1:
                    for button in button_list:
                        # `event.pos` is the mouse position.
                        if button['rect'].collidepoint(event.pos):
                            # Increment the number by calling the callback
                            # function in the button list.
                            button['callback']()


        screen.fill(pygame.Color('white'))
        for button in button_list:
            draw_button(button, screen)
        pygame.display.update()
        clock.tick(30)

main()
pygame.quit()

Loading the Application on Android

To load the application on my phone, I connected my phone to a PC and I move the file to the phone’s /Download directory. QPython files can be created/edited and run using the Editor button. New Python applications can be created using the PygameApp menu option.

It’s important to note that if you are using print() functions in your application then a log directory file location prompt will come up the first time that your app is run.

QPython applications can be made into a desktop short cut.

Once everything is configured, you should be able to click on the desktop QPython icon and start controlling the Raspberry Pi.

android2pi

 

 

 

Android Wearable

You can create some simple wearable projects with just your Android phone, an arm band and a set of headphones with a microphone. A wearable solution like this could be used by anyone that has their hands busy, for example recipes for chefs, instruction manuals for mechanics or  directions for a cyclist.

In this article we will look at creating an Android application that does speech recognition of a keyword. The keyword will be searched in a simple CSV file and text-to-speech will be used for the result.  We will create the Android app using MIT’s AppInventor package. AppInventor is a free Web based Android app development tool, that allows you to create applications in a graphical environment.

AppInventor

To get started with AppInventor, you will need a Google user account and a PC, Mac or Linux computer. AppInventor is a Web based Android app creation tool  (http://appinventor.mit.edu), that uses a graphical programming environment.

AppInventor has two main screens. The Designer screen is used for the layout of the Android app and the Blocks screen is used to build the logic.

app_2buttons

On the Designer screen, an app is created by dragging a component from the Palette window onto the Viewer window.

For the visuals on this application we will a Button, a Label and a ListView from the User Interface Palette window. The button will be used to initiate the speech recognition. The label will show the result from the speech recognition, and the listview component will show the CSV file data.

Also some non-visual components will as be used. In the Media section of the Palette window, select the SpeechRecognizer and TextToSpeech components and drag them into the Viewer window. As well select add the File component from the Storage heading .

app_layoutcomponents

The Components window is used to rename or delete components.  When a component is selected the Properties window is used to change its editable features. In this example we renamed the button to BT_Speak, and we changed the backgroundColor, FontSize, Width and Text.

app_prop

The Logic

Once the layout design is complete, logic can be added by clicking on the Designer  button (on the top menu bar).

Logic is built by selecting an object in the Blocks window, and then click on the specific block that you would like to use.

add_block

The entire program only requires 1 variable and 4 when blocks.

file_logic

The first step is to load the text file when Screen1.Initialize block is called. The when File1.GotText block loads the text file data into the global variable, (THELIST), and it populates the ListView component.

The when BT_Speak.Click block is activated on a button push and it starts the speech recognition block.

The final block, when SpeechRecognizer1.AfterGettingText, shows the result of the speech in a label and it checks if the result is in the global variable. If the result is found a text-to-speech message is generated with the full line of text.

The Data File

For our test file we placed the key words at the starting of each line.

"Hope Bay has a sandy beach with good hiking and..."
"The Glen is a horseshoe shaped valley with ..."
"Isaac Lake is a bird sanctuary with ..." 
"Oliphant is a great for kite surfing..."
...

Our data file used some local landmarks, but there are lots of other choices like: friends addresses, recipes ingredients or favorite restaurants.

The file was saved as places.txt in the phones download directory, this should match up with the File1.ReadFrom block definition (/Download/places.txt).

Compiling and Running the App

After the screen layout and logic is complete, the menu item Build will compile the app. The app can be made available as an APK downloadable file or as a QR code link.

app_build

Once the app is install in the phone, pushing the “Talk” button will open the Google speech recognition dialog.  If you’ve spoken a valid keyword then you should hear the line from the data file. The data file can be updated without any changes to the app.

app_arm

Final Thoughts

This example used a simple text file, but it could be enhanced to support multi-field CSV files, Cloud Services, HTTP requests or Google Maps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Android Language Translator

Using MIT’s free AppInventor package you can create your own custom language translation app.

AppInventor

To get started with AppInventor, you will need a Google user account and a PC, Mac or Linux computer. Next log into the Web site, http://appinventor.mit.edu. AppInventor is Web based Android app creation tool, that uses a graphical programming structure so no coding is required.

AppInventor has 2 main screens. The Design screen is used to layout the presentation or look-and-feel of the Android app and the Blocks screen is used to build the app logic.

appinv_menu1

On the Design screen, an app is created by dragging a component from the Palette window onto the Viewer window.

For visuals on this application we are using 2 buttons, a text box and a label.

talk_setup1

This application also requires some non-visual components. In the Media section of the Palette window, the SpeechRecognizer, TextToSpeech and YandexTranslate components are added by dragging and dropping them on to the Viewer window.

The Components window is used to rename or delete components. When a component is selected the Properties window is used to change visual features such as its sizing, color,  font size etc.

app_inv_prop

After the layout design is complete, click on the Blocks menu button to start building logic.

Translation Logic

The logic is built by selecting an object in the Blocks window, and then select the specific block that you would like to use.

talk_logic_drop

For the translation app we use a  when Screen1.Initialize block to define the language to translate to. For this example “ESP” and “es” are used for Spanish. Other language such as French (“FRA”, “fr”), Germany (“DEU”,”de”), or Italian (“ITA”,”it”)  could also be used.

On our app we will use the top button to start the speech recognition. This is done by inserting a when BT_Speak.click block and put a call SpeechRecognizer1.GetText block inside.

A when SpeechRecognizer1.AfterGettingText block will return our spoken text. This result is shown in a textbox and passed to the YendexTranslation1.RequestTranslation block.

Next a when YandexTranslate1.GotTranslation block is used to show and speak the translated text.

A second button click is included so that you can repeat the translation.

The full logic is shown below.

talk_logic

Compiling and Transferring the App

After the screen layout and logic is complete, the menu item Build will compile the app. The app can be made available as an APK downloadable file or a QR link can be used.

app_build

Final Thoughts

This translator app is pretty basic but it has a lot of potential for enhancements. Some useful features could include adding multiple languages and 2 way translations.

Control with Texts (Node-Red on Android)

In places where Internet connections are not possible or too expensive,  SMS text messaging can be a simple approach for monitoring and controlling your remote systems. Many of the mobile providers offer IoT packages for low data throughput, where you’d be looking at spending $1 to $5  per month for 1-5 MB of data.  From the hardware standpoint there are many options such digital modem modules that come in either a Raspberry Pi top or a USB form factor.

If you are looking at doing some prototyping, using an Arduino phone and Node-Red is a great way to get jump started.

Node-Red on Android

Node-Red is a graphical programming system that is used for Internet of Things (IoT) projects. Node-Red is installed in the base Raspberry Pi images, but it can also be loaded on Linux, Windows, MacOS and Android systems.

To load Node-Red on Arduino, you will first need to load Termux,  an Android Terminal Emulator app, that is available at Google Play. After Termux is loaded, enter the following commands to install  and run Node-Red:

apt update
apt upgrade
apt install coreutils nano nodejs
npm i -g --unsafe-perm node-red
node-red

Node-Red will start a Web graphical interface that is accessed by:  http://the_ip_address:1880.

nodered_pc

Extra features can be added and removed from Node-Red by selecting the “Manage Palette” menu option. For this project I needed terminux-api for the texting support, and bigtimer to scanning the text message buffer.

manage_palette

A Test Setup

For a basic setup I used:

  • 1 Android phone with Termux and Node-Red
  • 1 Raspberry Pi with Node-Red
  • 1 Powerswitch Tail II connected to a light
  • 1 Android phone for texting in

sms_pi_setup

Scanning for Text Messages

To create a simple text message application on the Android Note-Red system, the following components are used:

  • A Big Timer node is used to define how often the SMS inbox is scanned. Without doing any configuration, the second output will offer a 1/minute cycle time.
  • An SMS Inbox node will read in a defined number of text messages. To get the last message select the buffer limit to be 1.
  • A function node is used with some JavaScript to check for valid text messages
  • A TCP out node will send a message to another Node-Red system.

A basic logic setup will be as follows:

sms_in_logic

The function node needs some logic to interpret the latest text message and send out the required logic to the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins. The example logic uses a text message of  “LIGHTS ON” or “LIGHTS OFF” to control the output on GPIO pin 12.


// look for new action texts
smslast = context.get('smslast')|| 0;

// Do an action if there is a new SMS message
if ( msg.payload[0].received != smslast) {
    context.set('smslast', msg.payload[0].received )
    smsbody = msg.payload[0].body;
    if (smsbody.toUpperCase().trim() == "LIGHTS ON") {
        msg.payload = 1;  // this is sent to the Pi via TCP
        return msg;
    }
    if (smsbody.toUpperCase().trim() == "LIGHTS OFF") {
        msg.payload = 0;  // this is sent to the Pi via TCP
        return msg;
    }
}

The first time that the code runs you will be prompted on the phone to “Allow Termux:API to send and view SMS messages?”. After you acknowledge this message your Node-Red logic will run cleanly.

Reading TCP Inputs

Android phones can not be directly connected I/O devices, so TCP connections can used to pass commands to Raspberry Pi’s which have the I/O support. Node-Red is pre-installed on most Raspberry Pi images so no added installation is required.

On the Raspberry Pi Node-Red side only a couple of nodes are required:

  • A TCP in node is used to read the incoming communications. For the configuration of this node it is important to have the port (8888 in this case) match the TCP out node’s port. Also the output should be set as: single, and string.
  • An RPI GPIO out node is used set Raspberry Pi General Purpose (GPIO) pins.

sms_tcpin

Texting Out from Android

If your text scheme is simple, for example one light that is turned on and off, then you could manually just output an “ON” or “OFF” message. However if you are controlling multiple lights, heaters and other devices then manually typing the text messages gets awkward.

To manage multiple commands, I wrote a simple Android app in MIT’s App Inventor. App Inventor is a free online Android development environment, that only requires a Google login for access. In about 10 minutes I was able to get a prototype going with multiple inputs. The first step is to drag and drop some buttons from the User Interface Palette onto the viewer pane. Then drag and drop a Texting component from the Social Palette onto the view. Note, the Texting component will appear as a non-visible item.

text2red_gui

After you have a basic layout, select the Blocks button on the menu bar, and this will open a logic page. Logic is created by clicking on the objects in the Block panel, and then dragging and dropping the block onto the Viewer panel.

To have a button sent a text message the following pieces are required:

  • “when Button.Click”  will be called when the users touches the button object
  • “set Texting1.PhoneNumber”  defines the remote phone number
  • “set Texting1.Message” defines the text message
  • “call Texting.SendMessage”  will send the message

text2red_blocks

To build the application use the Build menu item on the menu bar.

app2qr

For my test project I configured four devices and eight commands.text2sms_app

Final Comments

I found that using Node-Red on Android to be a lot faster than I expected, however I noticed that some of the added features (like Bluetooth support) only worked on the Raspberry Pi/Linux version of the Node-Red.

For a final solution I would definitely move to dedicated SMS hardware, but I found it nice to be able to do proof of concept testing with just some basic Android phones. Also don’t forget to setup Node-Red for automatic startup on a power up.

Android Step Counter/Pedometer

You can make a super simple Android step counter or pedometer application using App Inventor. App Inventor is a free Web based Android programming environment.

In the Designer screen we used the User Interface palette to layout 4 labels and 2 buttons. To help with the layout a TableArrangement component can be used.

Most of today’s smart phones have a built pedometer. In the Sensor palette the non-visible pedometer component is the software piece that connects to the phone’s pedometer hardware.

AI2_Step_Setup

The next step is to use the Blocks page to add the required logic. The smart phones pedometer hardware is running in the background, so we added 2 buttons. One button to reset the pedometer count and the second button to pause and resume the pedometer counter.

The pedometer component has a WalkStep event, this event is used to update the distance and steps labels. Below is the full logic for our application.

AI2_Step_blocks

The final application should look something like the screenshot below. With our basic step counter logic we thought that some future features could include:

  • Daily summaries
  • GPS and Map data
  • Hiking information

Set_Screenshot

Tow Truck

The goal for our tow truck was to have a 4-axis crane and a movable vehicle that we could remotely control with an Android smart phone.

tow_truck2

The parts we used for this project were:

Hardware Setup

The tow truck project used a camera mount for up/down/left/right crane motion and an Arduino car chassis for mobility. The controls were done using Bluetooth.

Meccano was used to build a box for the main structure. Wire was used to secure everything together. We laid a folded piece of paper under the Arduino Mega to ensure that none of the Arduino solder connections shorted on the metal Meccano base.

tow_truck_inside

The motor and servo shield that we used did not expose any of the extra Arduino pins, so we needed to use the Mega board. We then wired the Bluetooth module to the exposed pins on the end of the Mega.

tow_truck_circuit

Arduino Code

The Arduino code will vary a little based on the motor/servo shield that is used. Our shield was an older version 1 (V1) board that used direct pin connections (no I2C or SDA/SCL connections).

Also because Tx/Rx (Tx0/Rx)) were not available once our motor/servo shield was installed we used Tx1/Rx1 and so our Bluetooth connection was on Serial1 and not Serial.

For the Bluetooth communications we used the following command letters:

  • R = drive right
  • L = drive left
  • f = drive forwards
  • b = drive backwards
  • s = stop driving
  • r = move crane right
  • l = move crane left
  • u= move crane up
  • d = move crane down

Our Arduino code is below:

#include <Servo.h> 

Servo servo1;
Servo servo2;

char thecmd;
int xpos = 90;
int ypos = 90;

AF_DCMotor motor1(1); 
AF_DCMotor motor2(2);

void setup() {
  pinMode( 19, INPUT_PULLUP );
  Serial1.begin(9600);
  Serial1.println("Crane Controls");
  Serial1.println("r = right, l = left, u= up, d = down");
  Serial1.println("Driving Controls");
  Serial1.println("R = right, L = left, f = forwards, b = backwards, s = stop");
  servo1.attach(9); // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object 
  servo2.attach(10); // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object 
  
  servo1.write(xpos);
  servo2.write(ypos);

  motor1.setSpeed(255);
  motor2.setSpeed(255);

}
void loop() {
  
  if (Serial1.available() > 0) {
        // read the incoming byte: 
       thecmd = Serial1.read();
       Serial1.println(thecmd);
       if (thecmd =='l') { move_crane(servo1, 5); }
       if (thecmd =='r') { move_crane(servo1, -5); }
       if (thecmd =='d') { move_crane(servo2, 5); }
       if (thecmd =='u') { move_crane(servo2, -5); }
       if (thecmd =='f') { 
            motor1.run(FORWARD); 
            motor2.run(FORWARD); 
       }
        if (thecmd =='b') { 
            motor1.run(BACKWARD); 
            motor2.run(BACKWARD); 
       }
       if (thecmd =='L') { 
           motor1.run(BACKWARD); 
           motor2.run(FORWARD); 
       }
       if (thecmd =='R') { 
            motor1.run(FORWARD); 
            motor2.run(BACKWARD); 
       }
       if (thecmd =='s') { 
           motor1.run(RELEASE); 
           motor2.run(RELEASE); 
       }
  }
}

void move_crane(Servo theservo, int direction) {
  int minpos = 50;
  int maxpos = 220;
  if (direction < 0) {
    if (ypos > minpos) {
      ypos = ypos + direction;
      theservo.write(ypos);
    }
  }
  else {
    if (ypos < maxpos) {
      ypos = ypos + direction;
      theservo.write(ypos); 
    }   
  }
}

Android Program

To communication to an Android smart phone we used MIT’s App inventor. This is a free Web based Android development tool.

There are many ways to layout a control screen, for us we used a 10×3 table and then populated it with buttons. Our layout is shown below:

ai_layout

The button logic will pass the required letter command to the Bluetooth component:

ai_logic

Our final running App looked like:

Screenshot_tow_truck