Raspberry PI controlling an Arduino via the pyfirmata protocol

The Raspberry PI is good for a lot of things from computer clusters to home automation but its missing a few things such as a real time clock, terminal/barrel power connector, or  Analog pins.  The Arduino has analog pins that can be read by the USB virtual serial port from the Raspberry PI.

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In MagPI issue 7, has a great article on using the firmata protocol to communicate between   Arduino and the Raspberry PI.


Install and setup 

  1. Enable SSH on the Raspberry PI
  2. Install Adafruit Learning System Raspberry Pi WebIDE
  3. Get the required packages:
    sudo apt-get install python-serial mercurial
  4. Install pyFirmata
    sudo apt-get install python-serial mercurial
    hg clone https://bitbucket.org/tino/pyfirmata
    cd pyfirmata
    sudo python setup.py install
    cd .. ; sudo rm -r pyfirmata

Source code 

Read analog pin 1

import pyfirmata

# Create a new board, specifying serial port
board = pyfirmata.Arduino('/dev/ttyACM0')

# start an iterator thread so that serial buffer doesn't overflow
it = pyfirmata.util.Iterator(board)

# set up pins
pin0=board.get_pin('a:0:i')             # A0 Input      (LM35)
pin3=board.get_pin('d:3:p')             # D3 PWM Output (LED)

# IMPORTANT! discard first reads until A0 gets something valid
while pin0.read() is None:

while True : 
  print "PWM: " + str( pin0.read() ) 
	board.pass_time(1)                  # pause 1 second


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