Blink: A Hello World for Embedded Software

23 Apr 2014

The blink example is the tried and true "Hello World" of the embedded micro-controller/computer world. This simple example is great not only for verifying that one knows how to wire up a simple LED, but also for demonstrating to the user how to control said LED in software. I've put together an example using the Firmata protocol, but let's take a look at how to do it on the Raspberry PI. Thanks to the great work already done on the PI4J library, this is a relatively painless task.

We start by just grabbing a few dependencies:

[com.pi4j/pi4j-core "0.0.5"]

Now, we can import a few classes from PI4J:

(import '[com.pi4j.io.gpio GpioController GpioFactory GpioPin GpioPinDigitalOutput PinState RaspiPin]))

Seems like quite a few classes, but they provide a pretty concise way to communicate with digital pins. Let's grab pin 1:

(def gpio (GpioFactory/getInstance))
(def pin (.provisionDigitalOutputPin gpio RaspiPin/GPIO_01 "MyLed" PinState/LOW))

We can loop and blink the light:

(dotimes [n 100]
    (.toggle pin)
    (Thread/sleep 1000))

Once we're finished, we want to be sure we release all our resources - PI4J's GpoiController ensures that a PIN can only be accessed one at a time - and shut everything down.

(.low pin)
(.unprovisionPin gpio (into-array GpioPin [pin]))
(.shutdown gpio)

And that's it - it's really that simple.

A complete example can be found here, which includes a stop and startable blinker.

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