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Getting started with Eduponics Mini

Before we'll get started - we need to get our programming environment ready this includes installing some tools and drivers. It won't take long, just follow along the guide and you should be ready in no time!

Connecting the kit to the power

The Eduponics Mini board includes 2 power interfaces.

  1. DC 12V Power interface
  2. USB Type-C 5V Power interface

It's possible to power the board only by 5V USB Type C through one of the USB ports available on your computer or through an external USB hub.

The USB Type-C should be used only for programming and not to be used for constant operation as the voltage is not enough to power some of the development board functionalities such as the 12V pump.

Once you've finished programming, use the 12V power adapter to power your project, some modules and sensors such as the water pump and the relay require 12V, the inability to provide 12V input, and trying to use those sensors might cause instability and unexpected results.

Powering the board by 12V and 5V power at the same time is completely safe and won't cause any damage to the board.

Only use Eduponics mini supplied DC Power adapter

Our Eduponics Mini 12V2A power adapter is RoHs, CE and FCC certified.

The power adapter passed the most critical tests to ensure your and your project safety, using any other unofficial power adapter might result in damage to you or your project and is beyond our responsibility.

Installing USB TTL Drivers

The USB TTL Serial cables are a range of USB to serial converter cables which provide connectivity between USB and serial UART interfaces,

In our kit, we include a USB Type-C cable that can communicate with the Eduponics Mini board to upload or download code into and from the ESP32 microcontroller that we use in our Eduponics mini kit.

The Eduponics mini UART (serial communication) port is based on the CH340C driver which is the USB to TTL chip we are using. to make sure your computer can read and write to and from the Eduponics mini ESP32 kit we need to make sure we have the appropriate drivers installed

some computers might have it but some don't, if it doesn't work for you right away you might need to follow the instructions to install the driver.

Windows and OSX drivers automatically installed

If you have Windows or Mac system, The latest version of the Universal Driver should be automatically installed from Windows Update or included with the OSX System pre-installed, on other systems you might need to download and install manually.

SparkFun Electronics created a fabulous video that explains step by step how to get the driver installed on your machine. Follow the video below if you're having difficulties with your drivers and learn how to install the driver on your Windows, Mac, or Linux machine:

The link to the tutorial can be found here: SparkFun how to install CH340C driver

System reboot might be required

When the installation is finished, a restart (reboot) to your system might be required in order for the driver to function properly.

IDE or Code Editor

The term “IDE” stands for "Integrated Development Environment". It is intended as a set of tools that all work together: text editor, compiler, build or make integration, debugging, etc. Virtually all IDEs are tied specifically to a language or framework or tightly collected set of languages or frameworks. Some examples: Visual Studio for .NET and other Microsoft languages, RubyMine for Ruby, IntelliJ for Java, XCode for Apple technologies.

An editor is simply that, a tool that is designed to edit text. Typically they are optimized for programming languages though many programmer’s text editors are branching out and adding features for non-programming text like Markdown 108 or Org Mode 88. The key here is that text editors are designed to work with whatever language or framework you choose.

There are many available IDEs and code editors that support MicroPython, In STEMinds we prefer to use Thonny IDE for the purpose of this kit if you are a beginner and we'll explain why:

Inside Thonny IDE, which is available both for Mac OSX, Windows and Linux; We can configure our Eduponics Mini to work right out of the box. The IDE offers us to communicate through UART directly, upload code, run code, and manage existing files on the Eduponics Mini.

With Thonny IDE you can run, manage and execute files directly in easy, convenient and fast way.

You can download Thonny IDE from here: Thonny IDE official website

Configuring Eduponics mini with Thonny IDE

The first thing you should to do is to connect the Eduponics Mini to your PC/Mac using the USB Type-C cable.

Remember, the USB Type-C cable is the data cable we will use to write/read data from the Eduponics Mini kit while the DC power adapter is used to power the board, particularly the 12V pump.

Once we've connected the Eduponics Mini board - drivers should be installed automatically, if you have an old operation system you can install them manually using the instructions we've mentioned earlier.

Under Thonny -> Preferences you will find a tab called interpreter like this:

In the interpreter make sure to choose MicroPython (ESP32) because that's the one we are using and in the port you should see USB Serial port, choose the one that is suitable to the Eduponics Mini device and not any other device that is connected to your system.

Press OK to save the settings.

Hello world

Now when everything is ready - it's time to run our first command to make sure everything is working.

In Python, we use the "print" command to print something into the terminal (or console if you are on windows) to run the hello world command - type the following into the putty window or your terminal after connecting to the USB UART using the "screen" command:

print("hello world")

if you are using Thonny IDE, on the bottom of the IDE, once you've connected your ESP32 Eduponics kit successfully, you should notice something similar to:

"MicroPython v1.13 on 2020-09-02; ESP32 module with ESP32".

Now every line of code you'll write will directly execute it on the Eduponics mini ESP32 microcontroller.

Once you've typed the command and pressed "Enter" you should see "Hello world" on your screen! well done!

Command is executed on the ESP32 not on your machine

Once the "hello world" printing command successfully executed, note that it's executing on the ESP32 Eduponics Mini board directly! Your machine might or might not have Python3 installed but the code through Thonny is running on the development board directly which means we can continue to code more exciting things and explore all the feature the Eduponics Mini prepared for us!