Over the last year, we’ve learned a lot about how to make the GoPiGo, BrickPi and GrovePi more classroom friendly.
One great improvement we have made is with our software. Now you can sign in to your robot to program and control it through a web browser rather than downloading a separate piece of software (realVNC) to get connected. Learn more about how to connect in this easier way here. If you are using software from before 2015.11.09, then just be sure to run the “DI Update” and follow these steps!
This software upgrade makes it really easy to get started quickly, and solves a lot of the firewall issues we were facing when people were trying to download software from the internet and open it on their school lab computers.
All of our robots use the Dexter Industries custom software called Rasbian for Robots. It comes on a microSD card, and after you build the GoPiGo, BrickPi or GrovePi, this new improvement makes it easier to connect to the robot. You use your computer to connect to the robot, but you do that by connecting the robot to the same wifi network as your computer. Then, it is through that network that you can access the robot to program and control it!
If you have multiple robots all on the same network, it is hard to know which robot is which! Every one of our SD cards is made the same way, which means that it has the same “hostname”. This hostname is used when connecting to the robot, so if you have multiple robots on the same system, how do you know which one is which?
Right now, if you just connect all of the robots to the same wifi, you won’t be able to tell which robot is which! So, we devised a simple way for you to change the hostname on your robot so everyone in your classroom can connect to the proper robot! You do this by changing the hostname.
The hostname that comes installed on the software is “dex”. When you go to login to the robot, you will go to a web browser and type in “http://dex.local”. But, every SD card that we make has this pre-programmed as “dex”, so every robot will have this hostname. You will need to follow the instructions here to change it for each robot you want to have a unique hostname, so you can tell them apart on your network. We recommend changing them to another name, or to a number, like dex1, dex2, dex3, etc. That way each group can remember their hostname so when they login, they connect only to their robot!
So far this has worked quite well in a number of settings that we have tested. Last weekend I was at a CoderDojo in DC and they programmed 4 different GoPiGo’s on the same network.
Here’s a simple solution – use a separate router that is not connected to the internet.
At the CoderDojoDC we did encounter one problem — the wifi network was setup so that devices on the same network could not communicate and connect to each other. This is a safety protocol used by those that run that space. So, to solve this problem, the organizer brought his own router. We just plugged the router into power, and broadcasted a new wifi signal. This router was not hooked up to the internet, so it would not allow any robot or computer to communicate with the internet, but they could connect to one another. All we had to do was have every computer we were using to program the GoPiGo robots connected to that router, and then we set each GoPiGo’s wifi to connect to that router too. After that we had no problem!
1. Give each robot a unique hostname (here are the instructions)
2. Use a router that is not connected to the internet, and just connect all the computers and the robots to this wifi network in order to avoid any internet network problems at your school.