CircuitPython: Python on hardware (or 'Why I stopped worrying and learned to love the snake')

by Dave Astels

iot open source low level microcontrollers

Python has made the jump to embedded software running on microcontroller hardware. This talk will introduce CircuitPython: a fork of MicroPython (a implementation of Python 3 designed to run on small hardware) that takes it to exciting new hardware and makes it very beginner/learner friendly.

Python has seen a great deal of use in the higher level application space: web, data analysis, desktop apps, etc.
Recently it's been moving in an exciting new direction: small hardware based around microcontrollers.
Where we used to be required to use C/C++ (commonly in the Arduino environment), we can now use Python.

MicroPython is a new, opensource implementation of Python3 for this type of environment, including the BBC Micro:bit.
CiruitPython is a fork of MicroPython that supports new hardware and provides a very beginner/learner friendly way to deploy code to the hardware: connect your board via USB and a drive appears, drop code onto the drive and it runs. Edit code directly on the drive. Save it and it runs. Connect to the board via a terminal emulator (e.g. screen) and you can drop into a Python REPL. A recent addition has been a compatibility layer for Raspberry Pi making CircuitPython code portable between the various microcontroller systems and the Pi.

The talk will introduce CircuitPython and various boards from Adafruit that support it as well as the Mu python programming environment that has support for CircuitPython and associated hardware.

There will be live demos.

About the Author

Dave has been working in the computing industry for 35 years. He started when 8-bit CPUS like the 6502 and Z80 ruled the land and he designed and built his own hardware and hand-crafted code from assembly language. Eventually he went off and got a Computer Science degree and focused exclusively on software for many years. Along the way he spoke at conferences and wrote books. One of his blog posts instigated the rSpec project which has been imitated in most programming languages. More recently he found himself working with hardware again. This time it’s different. Instead of using assembly language he is using Python. Dave spends his time these days hacking on projects and writing about them, teaching other people the joys of making things that do stuff in the physical world.

Dave grew up in Nova Scotia and spent more time there, Calgary, Boston, Washington DC, Silicon Valley, and Chicago before finding himself back in Canada; this time in SW Ontario.

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