RoadTest: PiFace Digital
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Documentation - tutorial
First of all: thanks for selecting me to test the PiFace Digital, there were many applicants and I was lucky to get approved!
The reason for the roadtest was that I am pleased by the way the PiFace integrates with my Raspberry Pi. I wanted to teach my 9 year old son programming with Scratch in combination with hardware. So we did an experiment with scratch and control motors etc.
My son is a newbe on electronics, and the way how you can connect motors etc. to the PiFace is much easier for him than a breadboard with jumperwires (like with the arduino I have).
Second reason was that I wanted to teach myself Python in combination with the GPIO functions, and with the PiFace it is very easy!
So, I received the package in May (unfortunately we were on a holiday - well that wasn't unfortunate but...). When I opened it, it was very straightforward:
Mounting the PiFace on the Raspberry Pi is very easy, making it a nice compact device:
There's even a nice piece of plastic/rubber to let the board rest on the hdmi connector preventing it to touch the components an cause a shortcircuit.
So I powered it up, installed the software and tested it with the emulator:
I like the emulator very much, an easy way to explain the PiFace and to test if it works!
So now we went to the programming part. We started with Scratch because my son likes it very much. But here we ran into some problems. This part is not documented very clearly, and we had to do some tricks to get PiFace to talk to Scratch (or the other way around). In order to do this you have to enable mesh, which is not that easy, and under some circumstances you cannot save your settings. There were moments that everything froze up and I had to disconnect power to start over again. This part should be improved! I'm not sure if this is something that PiFace should improve or Scratch. I'm told that there is a new version they are testing with which should perform better.
But, when you have it up and running, it works nice!
And it is fun to work with! I would have liked it if this was available when I was a kid!
So overall, I like it very much! PiFace Digital is very easy to use, very stable up to now (don't have it very long, but it works fine!) and I tried it with Python which works very good.
That's why I would say: Hardware is very good, software is ok (could be a bit better when using scratch) but the documentation is a bit poor. I would really like a good manual!
Once you have found the tips and tricks, just use google, then it is ok! This device is great for prototyping/experimenting but also for education. I would almost become a teacher to teach stuff with this to kids!
So, we (my son and I) started a project to control an elevator, with microswitches that detect if the cage is at the top or at the bottom:
If you want to read more of this, follow this link:
Thanks for reading, and don't hesitate to ask me questions if you have any...
Reinoud de Lange