Episode 5: Pandas and Breadboards

Pandas and Breadboards


Welcome to The Bootloader, a bi-weekly podcast bringing you news, project updates, and product talk from the tech and maker scenes. Paul and Tod will bring you three interesting things and chat about them for a few minutes each.

Full transcript available here.

# Show Notes

Episode Intro


Micropython by Arduino Labs (Tod #1)

  • It works well! Simple and clean, with what you need: code editor + terminal window
  • Works with any MicroPython device with USB serial, from my limited testing
  • No serial plotter, no library manager, no board manager. This is a first step
  • However, it is yet-another-Electron app, so it’s fairly pudgy memory-wise
  • Alternatives:
    • Thonny – beloved by many. I do not like it, find it unattractive and confusing
    • Mu – cleaner and has a nice serial plotter like Arduino IDE
    • Any text editor + picotool – my preferred choice
    • What I do not recommend: any “micropython extension” for VS Code/Atom/etc. The ones I’ve tried are flaky and presume too much, taking over other Python projects

Home Assistant and the State of the Open Home (Paul #1)

  • Home automation platform focused on local control and privacy
    • No vendor log-in
    • Your smart home shouldn’t require the cloud
  • State of the Open Home is an annual look at the smart home ecosystem and Home Assistant
    • Livestreamed Nov 13, 2022
    • #2 open source project on Github by contributor contributions
    • Home Assistant Cloud from Nabu Casa processed 50,000 webhooks per second
    • 190,000 instances of HA opted in to reporting
      • Estimated 500,000 - 600,000 installations of HA
    • 2023: Year of Voice
      • Rhasspy voice assistant: by Michael Hansen
        • Can function completely disconnected from the Internet
        • Are entirely free/open source with a permissive license (MIT)
        • Works well with freely available home automation software
        • Optimized for working with MQTT, HTTP and Websockets with Home Assistant having built in support
        • Support for over 25 different languages
      • Hired by Nabu Casa to work on and integrate Rhasspy full-time
      • Summary video – 3d breadboard simulation in the browser (Tod #2)

GitHub in the news (Paul #2)

  • Follow-up: the investigation has spawned a GitHub Copilot lawsuit
  • Hey Github
    • Imagine being able to code hands free
    • This could be big for accessibility
    • Use natural speech, for example: Saying “Import pandas” results in import pandas as pd
    • In the features, Github shares:
      • Write / edit code (using GitHub Copilot)
      • Go to the next method with code navigation (“Hey GitHub go to line 34 or method X)
      • Run the program and control your IDE using any VS Code command
      • Code Summarization: Ask “Hey GitHub!” to explain lines 3-10 and get a summary of what the code does

RNBO “rainbow” – Turn Max patches into VST plugins (Tod #3)

  • Ever wonder how people make virtual synths / audio effects, or even real synths & effects?
  • Max is a way to create custom virtual instruments or effects, and custom UI. Make it look like a real thing if you want
  • Max is often a good solution to mocking up ideas for these, kinda like CircuitPython and Arduino is for microcontroller projects
    • Max is a stand-alone application or part of Ableton Live
    • It’s what’s called a “patching environment”, a “nodes & flows” graphical programming tool
    • The “flows” are audio & MIDI, kinda like modular synths cabling stuff together
    • I’ve used in on-n-off (mostly off) since the 90s (could never quite get into it)
    • But Max patches have to live inside Max (or inside Max in Live)
  • RNBO let’s you create a “compilable” versions of Max patch
    • It is inclucded with Max or $299 for permanent license or $10/month subscription
    • RNBO is actually a parallel thing to Max, but implements most all of Max
    • But does Turns any Max patch into a C++-based stand-alone VST
    • Can even target Raspberry Pi, so you can make custom Pi-based synths & pedals
    • Or can export to Web Audio, with Javascript control!
  • good CDM article about RNBO
  • good synthanatomy article too about why this is cool
  • Online (paid) class for how to use it by Music Hackspace Here’s a preview on youtube
  • Open source alternative to Max is PureData (aka ‘Pd’)
    • Pd & Max have common roots, Pd is a bit rougher looking than Max, but very capable
    • And it runs on a Raspberry Pi
    • And there’s a huge community of existing Pd patches.
    • And there’s the free online Heavy compiler for Pd patches

Mastodon (Paul #3)

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