GraspIO Cloudio + Raspberry Pi 3 - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: GraspIO Cloudio + Raspberry Pi 3

Author: vlaine

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

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?: I did not find other hat with all the features of this board. It has built in sensors (light, temperature, infrared), digital switch, buzzer, RGB LED, OLED display, 3 additional easy plugin sensor ports, an easy plugin motor / servo port, and an easy plugin IO port. GraspIO Cloudio does not require any knowledge of programming thanks to the Grasp Sudio Mobile app with drag and drop controls. That said, you could consider the following boards to be kinda comparable if you don't need all the GraspIO features: Enviro pHAT, Sense Hat or Matrix Creator.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: 1. I have not been able to use Hotspot Twinkle to add the GraspIO board to GraspIO Studio. I always ended with a Handshake error. However, USB Twinkle worked perfectly so I decided to use this option instead. 2. IFTTT Trigger did not work for me. IFTTT logged this trigger failure error message "There was an error with GraspIO service". I reported this error to the GraspIO support team yesterday and am waiting for their reply, but it's a Holiday so I won't have the answer right away. Update: GraspIO support replied quickly. This is a know bug that will soon be fixed. The error displayed in IFTTT means nothing and the applet will run anyway. Don't worry. I tried it and it works.

Detailed Review:

Unboxing

 

GraspIO comes in a neat black box with instructions.  Note that the Raspberry Pi boards displayed in the pictures are not included.

 

Compatibility

GraspIO is compatible with any raspberry :Raspberry Pi 1/2/3/ even the Zero and the Zero W.

From their site, compatibility for the latest Raspgerry Pi 3 Model B+ will be rolled out shortly.

 

GraspIO on a Raspberry Pi 3

 

GraspIO on a Raspberry Pi Zero W

 

Getting Started

Useful links

 

Requirements

  • GraspIO Board
  • Rasbperry Pi
  • Micro SD Card
  • Android or Apple phone or tablet

 

Setup

  • Format your micro SD card
  • Write the GraspIO OS to your micro SD card using your preferred software (Etcher, Win32DiskImager or any other tool)
  • Connect GraspIO board to your raspberry pi GPIO port
  • Plug your Raspberry PI

At this point.  Be patient.  The GraspIO board will be updated and the process can take a few minutes.

Do not attempt to unplug your raspberry Pi or the GraspIO board until GraspIO says Welcome.

Here's what you will see while the board is being updated :

    • First, the RGB LED will turn green and start blinking.  This is the longest step. 
      It's a good time to install the mobile app if you haven't yet.
    • Then you will see this arrow
    • Followed by this check mark
    • Update successful.  But wait for the Welcome message
    • Here's the Welcome message.  You are ready to go
  • Long press the GIO orange button to display the menu.
    When working with the GIO menu, long press to select an item and short press to move to the next item
  • Hotspot Twinkle did not work for me and god I tried so I highly suggest to follow the USB Twinkle guide instead.
    Here's the link: https://guide.grasp.io/adding-a-new-board#usb-twinkle

 

How to program

 

Programming with GraspIO Studio is a breeze.  You don't need  to learn how to program.  Just drag and drop the blocks.

Here's a quick reference guide to help you map the blocks with the GraspIO board.

* The motor block is not ready to use yet.  It should be available in a near future.

  • On your mobile device, Open GraspIO Studio
  • From My Projects, select Create New
  • When starting a new project, you need to drop an Control block.

    If you don't know where to start, drop Loop.  By default it's an infinite loop that will execute the code inside indefinitely
    So drop the Loop and press the Done button
  • Here are 2 fun projects that you can do very quicly
    • This program displays the infrared level for 1 sec, then the temperature for 1 sec, then the light level
    • This program introduces a condition. 
      If the switch is press you will see a smiley face, else you see a sleeping emoji

IFTTT and Google Home Integration

You can use Google Home or Alexa to start a program on your GraspIO board.

Here's an example using Google Home

 

  • On GraspIO Studio, create and deploy a tiny "smile" project like this one
  • Write a very simple project that contains only one IFTTT advanced block, configured as Action
  • Open the IFTTT mobile app and create a new applet
  • Choose Google Assistant (or Alexa if you prefer)
  • Choose "Say a simple phrase"
  • Enter the phrase "Smile" and respond with "Ok I'm smiling"
  • Then select GraspIO
  • Select "Run a project"
  • Select your board and the "smile" project
  • Click Next then Finish.  You are now ready to test. 
    Say "OK Google, Smile", 
    You will hear "Ok I'm smiling" and the smile emoji will appear on your GraspIO board.

 

IFTTT as a trigger

I tested IFTTT using Grasp.IO board as a trigger. 
My goal was to open my smart light when motion is detected.

  • First, create a Grasp.IO project using the IFTTT advanced block as a trigger.
    Drop the motion sensor block in the trigger section.
    Save and deploy it to Grasp.IO board
  • In IFTTT app, create a new Grasp.IO applet
    Select Trigger when Analog Sensor fires (motion sensor is analog.  Digital switch would be Digital)
  • Then select what you want to do.  I decided to turn on my Lutron smart light. 
    You can do something else if you prefer.
  • It was time to test my application. 
    I moved near my Grasp.IO board and as expected, my light turned on.
    Wow.  It's so easy I think I dropped a tear.  Seriously, it's only 2018 and I feel like 2049.

 

 

Motor

The board is able to control a servo (and soon a motor) directly.  No need for an additional motor driver.

This is a substantial economy and a nice addition for this tiny board.

 

 

What's the catch ?

A 6 year old child can develop an impressive application in only a few minutes.

I have never seen a development board so easy to use, so powerful, so motivating for somebody looking to learn how to develop.

So of course I asked myself, where's the catch?

I found 2, let's call it, drawbacks :

  • Temperature sensor that is not accurate
  • Cloud calls fees

 

Temperature sensor is not accurate

The sensor itself IS accurate.

What makes it inaccurate is it's location.  It is directly on the board and the board generates heat.

Therefore, the sensor will not display the room temperature, but the temperature on the board.

If you want to know if your board is overheating, it's perfect.  If you want the room temperature, you will have to connect your own temperature sensor.

This cheap TMP36 did an excellent job and is a good alternative.

 

Cloud calls fees

Ok so this board is awesome, powerful, easy to use.  There must be a catch.  Where's the catch.

It's not exactly a catch because it is well document on the GraspIO website, but it's something you have to consider before to purchase the board.

GraspIO comes with 50 000 free cloud calls.  After those free calls, you are allowed 100 free calls per day.  If you need more, you have to purchase a subscription.

Some actions cost more calls than others.

 

Also note that calls are linked to the board, not to the account. 
If you purchase a used board, the cloud calls are not reset.

 

It's the only reason why I gave 7/10 for the price to performance ratio.

 

Cloud Calls

Here's a link where you can find more details

https://guide.grasp.io/terms-of-service#section-7-io-t-cloud-metering

 

Here's a quick summary

 

For a project the number of calls incurred will be sum of the three calls explained below.

  • Deployment call – Call(s) made when the project is deployed. This refers to 1 call per instance of deployment.
  • Execution call - Call(s) made as part of the project execution. Corresponding call rates will be levied each time the feature is executed.
  • Special call - Call(s) made by a special block(s) which either uses the Internet or includes blocks with unique capabilities within the project.

 

Each time a project is deployed, 1 deployment call is made. In addition, the Cloud calls corresponding to individual functions or blocks within the project are deducted from your account.

The calls corresponding to each block/function are summarized below.

* 1 Call per value per mobile device.

** Call deductions will begin once the project is uploaded to the board irrespective of the applet creation on IFTTT. So, if the board is configured to work as a Trigger for IFTTT, call deductions will be made when the triggers are fired on the device even if the applet is not created or enabled for the board.

 

As you can see, IFTTT is really fun, but it cost a lot of cloud calls.  If your project rely on IFTTT, be prepared to purchase a plan.

 

Email limitation

  • Email notifications are limited to 1 email every 15 minutes, even if the trigger (like a motion sensor) is firing every minute.
    Knowing that limitation, it would be a good idea to send a short video instead of a picture.  You will have more chance to spot the action.
  • A total of 20 email blocks (or a maximum of 40 emails, 2 emails per block) can be used in a day.

 

Conclusion

This board is really awesome.

  • You can create an entire application using in only a few minutes
  • You do not need to be a software programmer
  • You do not need any development knowledge
  • You do not need any soldering knowledge
  • It comes with built in sensors and an OLED screen
  • It can control motors directly.  No need for an additional motor driver
  • It's cheap
  • Subscription is not mandatory and the 100 free calls per day can be enough for you

 

Would I recommend it to my friends

Definitely YES

It's the first board you should purchase for your Raspberry Pi

It's fun both for people with no development knowledge and for experienced software developer like me

I was like a child when playing with it

Anonymous