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    Should 12Blocks support programming the Raspberry Pi?



    From what I understand, the RPi is a full-blown computer capable of Linux with HD video, and composite video capabilities. If 12Blocks could be cable of generating usable binaries or usable Python scripts, I think that potentially it would be very desirable for the target audience of the Pi. Young, new programmers could be almost instantly be capable of building viable, useful programs. A couple of things which would be very useful. You would need to have a way to leverage at least some of the hardware on the Pi, such as the HD output, the networking capability, and the GPIO. Secondly, a mechanism which would allow for a novice programmer to utilize multiple threads or programs. If that is not possible, a mechanism to allow multiple process threads to communicate with each other may work almost as well. For myself, I was always impressed with the Prop-12blocks programming able to keep adding new "start" blocks, until you were quickly utilizing all the available cores. Although multi-core programming is easily accomplished in the Proptool using COGNEW, I’ve always felt 12blocks’ method was much more intuitive to grasp, especially for younger programmers. If you could achieve a comparable mechanism with 12blocks and the RPi, you would have an incredibly useful tool. Something so useful, would need a better method of building really large programs, since in the limited window currently in 12blocks, you would quickly run out of room with a large project. Maybe some way to have nested 12blocks programs, that could call other 12block programs/libraries. A useful method I’ve seen for accomodating multiple programs is the method currently being used in high-end industrial PLC systems. In most of these PLC enviroments, particularly those based on IEC-6-1131 languages, a "tree" hierarchy is used to bundle multiple programs (called POUs in PLC speak). Something similar might be neceassry on hardware as powerful as the RPi. It would allow for large projects with potentially hundreds of small 12blocks program modules, that could all be tied to the global target hardware. I’ve been using recent PLC systems which even allow for multiple targets in a single project – i.e. multiple RPis potentially.

    Just my opinion, of course. My ultimate goal, eventually, is to develop systems utilizing RPis networked together, possibly utilizing Prop I or Prop 2′s as smart IO controllers. I think the possibilities could be pretty impressive, especially if you had your vision capabilities, like OpenCV libraries integrated in as well, such as using a USB camera, and later the CS port when it opens up. I’m all for it! I’d even be willing to pay again for a version of 12blocks on that.



    Hi Max,
    Thanks for the detailed response! Yes, 12B would output python code that would take full advantage of Pi’s impressive hardware. For simple programs you could use the same .12b file- just like you can target Propeller/Picaxe with 12B currently. To support larger files, 12B currently allows you to "import" objects. For an example, check out: "examples>inheritance>bottom"



    Sounds good!


    "Hanno":di8v53i7 wrote:
    Hi Max,
    Thanks for the detailed response! Yes, 12B would output python code that would take full advantage of Pi’s impressive hardware. For simple programs you could use the same .12b file- just like you can target Propeller/Picaxe with 12B currently. To support larger files, 12B currently allows you to "import" objects. For an example, check out: "examples>inheritance>bottom"

    Doh! I had forgotten that inheritance ability… Thanks for reminding me of that :)



    Should 12Blocks support programming the Raspberry Pi?

    Yes , please!!

    I have reached out to the Myro Users Group at Bryn Mawr University
    Their response:
    [Follow-ups at myro-users. -Doug]
    Interesting question:

    Is it possible to replace the IPRE Fluke with the Raspberry pi?
    If so it would help reduce the hardware costs to schools and perhaps more schools could implement computer training using robots?

    It should be possible (as you can use the Scribbler directly connected to a serial cable, although that use might not be completely tested).
    But don’t forget about Fluke’s camera, one of the best parts.
    Although, it may be cheaper to bundle a Raspberry Pi with a webcam, and perhaps even some kind of wireless connection. Interesting idea.

    If someone makes a do-it-yourself Fluke-like thing, please let us know!

    My reply email:
    A camera is in the works:
    Camera add-on board we’re developing for release later in the year, which will plug into those CSI pins we expose in the middle of the Raspberry Pi.
    Best regards,


    "Hanno":3kdrlqtn wrote:
    Should 12Blocks support programming the Raspberry Pi?[/quote:3kdrlqtn]

    Yes ,please see this post … =47&t=6875 (this is not my post)

    We are working on rebuilding our computer science program in our middle & high school (Westchester, NY). There will be a robotics component and we think that science research and data collection/analysis will be important components, as well as possibly some FabLab machines, equipment & projects.
    My son, Andrew (age 13) loves programming & ways of making computers accessible to all learners.He wants our schools to be among the first to feature Raspberry Pi’s!! So he is writing a persuasive essay on this topic – he has ordered a RasPi and we hope to get it very soon. The Raspberry Pi can be used for programming projects and to hook up to keyboards and monitors for working in a cloud environment. We welcome suggestions for the interesting ways Raspberry Pi’s can be used in school settings – in whatever subject area discipline or manner that replaces the need for a tablet or laptop.

    In addition, Andrew developed a list of questions – see below please. Thanks for any help!!


    "Hanno":305htkxx wrote:
    Should 12Blocks support programming the Raspberry Pi?[/quote:305htkxx]

    Yes, please A discussion regarding how to develop and market Educational software … 6&start=25

    You do Scratch with Year 7 and I have seen it in year 5 or below.I like the idea of a linking element that is common to all levels from KS1 to KS4. That linking element could be a hardware "thing" (and I have a sexy thing in mind – prototype PCBs arriving this week – I am a great believer in control being a fun introduction to programming – must be the child in me!) or it could be a software system that provides a common core used in different ways and exposed at different levels or both (preferred!)

    Personally I would like to see the Python equivalent of a Scratch script visible on demand. That way the system can quickly adjust to the abilities of different pupils in the class. Some will stick to Scratch-type stuff longer and others will immediately leap to the Python code. Even then, the level of Python exposed will vary depending on level – some it can get very scary, very fast and it is not as intuitive as Pythonites would have us believe.

    It is this structured and pupil-controlled exposure of programming functions that I want to do. Something that allows pupils to seamlessly move upwards without losing the stuff done before – in whatever language

    Also : However, there is a need for something which provides a seamless and structured path from things like Scratch up to full blown Python. At the moment the path is very peacemeal and anarchic. Nothing wrong with a bit of anarchy, but I am old fashioned enough to believe that structure and a clear development path are important in education – must be because I was a teacher in the days before mountains of paperwork, SATs and all the other stuff got in the way of the real job



    Yes, I would love to see a Raspberry Pi version of 12Blocks. I just ordered one… and it should arrive sometime this year! :)



    Thanks Stateside and Brian for the feedback.
    I’m making lots of progress on many fronts that should help make 12Blocks become a very strong educational platform for popular platforms including the Raspberry Pi. My goal remains to get students started with an intuitive yet powerful "scratch-like" visual programming language and then to support them with powerful debugging tools. This week I’ve been working to support the Scribbler 2 and NXT. I agree, would be nice to replace the Fluke…

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