PyLadies Berlin Blog

  • Jessica Greene
  • 29 Mar

Internet of Things with MicroPython & PyLadies Berlin

This month saw our first #IoT workshop, and already we can say it will not be our last. After meeting Christine from MicroPython at PyConDE last year in Karlsruhe and having a chance to see how the technology works we were keen to have her join us to run a workshop in Berlin. With the number of IoT units raising rapidly, and the projected amount to be above 30 Billion in 2020 it is a hot topic and one many of us were keen to know more about. As interest for the workshop was so high we decided to open it up not only to our members but also to the broader Berlin based Python community. As with all our workshops we strive to create a safe and friendly environment for all therefore participants were asked to apply in advance so we could ensure a diverse attendance.

Thanks to generous donations from our sponsors we were able to host the workshop on 17 March at Thoughtworks office in Berlin and provide each participant with a LCD touch screen, Humidity & Temperature Sensor as well as Hobby Servo Motors and LEDs to start their IoT journey with. After an introduction to the Hardware and Software by Christine participants began to program by themselves. Working through tutorials to get started they were then challenged to build a Humidity & Temperature reader unit. All 37 participants got through the majority of the tutorials and some were able to expand on what they had learnt and build their own programmes including an adaption of Conway's Game of Life and a multi-colored drawing programme that could be controlled by touch and change colour through tilting of the controller.

Kits given out to participants participants working on the tutorials

One of the Sponsors was the Amazon Development Center Germany Gmbh. Their Research and Development Center is mainly developing the Cloud-Business of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and it’’s the Headquarter of the European Machine Learning Team.As part of the workshop Kellen Sunderland, a Software Development Engineer at Amazon gave a presentation on how IoT is being integrated in the companies Fulfillment Centers and new flag ship Amazon Go store. The later using computer vision to charge customers for the goods they pick up after walking out of the store, avoiding checkout queues.

MicroPython is a lean and efficient re-implementation of the Python 3.x programming language that is optimised to run on a microcontroller or constrained systems. MicroPython was successfully funded via a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 by Damien George. The MicroPython board is a small electronic circuit board, also created by Damien that runs MicroPython on the “bare metal”. This means a system without a (full-fledged) Operating System (OS). When running on a bare metal system, MicroPython effectively becomes its user-facing OS with a command interpreter (REPL) and gives you a low-level Python operating system that can be used to control all kinds of electronic projects.

The software is developed in the open and everybody is welcome to contribute: https://github.com/micropython It’s available to the public under the MIT open source license and can be used and adapted for personal use, education, or in commercial products.

Participants shared with us how they planned to continue using their MicroPython Board at home with almost all saying they wanted to experiment further. Suggested future projects ranged from home alarms systems, graphic programming, lighting display and grow houses for plants.

Alongside MicroPython and Amazon sponsorship was given from Active Group, a service provider for software solutions for communication who also co-organise the BOB conference. The Python Software Verband eV, who support the Python community and projects in Germany, Austria and Switzerland through newsletters, online forums, workshops and conferences . And our hosts Thoughtworks, a community of passionate individuals whose purpose is to revolutionize software design, creation and delivery, while advocating for positive social change.

A huge thanks to all our sponsors who made this possible, all our organisers, Nina from Thoughtworks for her on the day support at location, Christine for generously giving her own time to come run the workshop and all those that attended, we wish you much success with your future IoT projects, and watch this space for future workshops.

The humidity reader that participants made participants working on the tutorials

PyLadies is an international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community. Our mission is to promote, educate and advance a diverse Python community through outreach, education, conferences, events and social gatherings.

PyLadies also aims to provide a friendly support network for women and a bridge to the larger Python world. Anyone with an interest in Python is encouraged to participate! The Berlin chapter was founded in 2013 and is now over 850 members strong. Monthly meetings are organised through https://www.meetup.com/PyLadies-Berlin/ and include workshops, study sessions and networking events.

If you are interested in partnering with us for a future workshop you can contact us at berlinpyladies@gmail.com

Equipment used for the Workshop and online tutorials:

We also welcome you to join the Python Berlin slack https://pythonberlin.slack.com/ in iot-workshop channel. Receive an invitation to this slack.

Join the official PyLadies Berlin Slack here: https://pyladies-berlin.slack.com/. Receive an invitation to this slack.

Photo credits: @AnaPaulaGomess , @ellen_koenig , @sleepypioneer