Serial Access via Clojure

28 Jan 2014

Having recently played around with Node.js and arduino (via Standard Firmata), I had a hankering to try it in my current favorite langauge, Clojure. I thought it be great to play with an arduino in a pure functional language, trading nodebots for clojurebots.

There's one library out there for connecting to Standard Firmata devices over a serial connection: Cloduino. After working with Johnny-Five on Node, though, I was missing some of the automatic detection, as well as the abstractions built on top. Additionally, Cloduino is built on top of the RXTX. RXTX involves a bit more installation work, and even took a bit of work to track down the source (I think the previous link is the most accuration).

Cloduino also has a lot of parts of the puzzle wired together into one library. The layers aren't exactly nicely separated out. The cloduino.firmata namespace couples both the firmata code and the serial communication in one place, for example.

I thought this would be a good time to build a new library for my purpose. Well, three libraries: one for serial communication, one for Firmata interaction, and finally one for arduino-related abstrations (leds, motors, and the like). This gives me the opportunity to understand both building and providing clojure libraries, as well as diving a bit more deeply into details of communicating with an arduino in this fashion.

The first part was easiest: clj-serial. It's mainly a fork of serial-port with the added bennefit of being a light-weight wrapper of PureJavaComm, instead of RXTX.

Next up: Firmata

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