Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Pi4 Update

I still have a couple of Raspberry Pi 3B+ boards left that have been used on demo AMOS boats, but I picked up a used Raspberry Pi 4B board recently from eBay to see what would be involved in updating the main AMOS CPU. Unfortunately it is not really possible for individuals or small businesses to purchase new boards at a reasonable price. The worldwide chip shortage has meant that most new units getting produced are being sold in large batches to large customers.

The Pi board I got from eBay came with this nifty little case though:

Although it won't be possible to use the case with the AMOSWirelessHAT board attached, I have been using it while setting up the various drivers, libraries, and other software that are required to help AMOS run. I chose the latest Buster operating system for the board, which has required various library updates, and a few code changes to support those newer libraries. In all software projects, this seems to occupy a significant, and somewhat annoying chunk of time. To me at least, it seems that the amount of work required to support more recent libraries and operating systems often outweighs any advantages the more recent stuff might have to offer. Or maybe I'm just becoming an old curmudgeon. 

To help speed these tasks, I started using ChatGPT for the first time. It's refreshing to get answers to questions that are in well-written English, although I'm not sure that the accuracy of the ChatGPT answers is much better than what you could do with a regular Google search. For one thing, the information / database that ChatGPT uses to generate its answers, at the time of this writing uses information up to September 2021, which meant that the answers it gave to some of my questions about recent Raspberry Pi libraries were a bit dated, and in some cases incorrect. 

A few days ago I tried out the latest revision of the AMOSWirelessHat board, but found that the position of the board's camera-cable slot was too close to the edge of the board, so that the camera-cable would have to be twisted and strained a bit too much. So a revised board was made and ordered, and should hopefully be here in about a week or so. 

The pepper plants that were described in the previous blog post are all doing well. There are even a few new peppers (filius blue) that were given to me to try out, from a co-worker at Measurand: 

All of the various types of peppers have sprouted; the big ones in the above picture are the jalapeƱos. I'm going to have to move them down to a lower level soon, before they get too close to the grow light (maybe add a second grow light!). I added a second relay to control the heating lamp independently from the grow light, so now the daytime temperature is always between 25 and 28 degrees C. With all of the plants and soil in there, I've noticed that there is a lot more humidity in the small greenhouse. At night, when the light gets turned off, I have been undoing the zippers in the plastic cover to avoid getting condensation all over everything.