Saturday, 20 December 2014

The PiTrol

Nevil Hunt from Innovations in Education has come up with a Raspberry Pi add-on called “The PiTrol” designed to encourage children to write their own computer games in Python.  The PiTrol is a Pi-shaped games controller that plugs into the GPIO connector of the Raspberry Pi allowing computer games to be controlled with a 5-way joystick and 5 push-buttons.
Nevil was looking for beta testers so I volunteered, my kit arrived this week.  
The PiTrol kit contents, oh so many parts.
The PiTrol fully assembled

Assembly of the kit took about 45 minutes though less experienced constructors may take longer, the assembly instructions are very thorough and easy to follow.   The kit uses all ‘through-hole’ parts so none of that tiny SMD stuff which can easily be lost if you sneeze.   I did use IC sockets for the integrated circuits as I'm not a fan of soldering IC's directly to the PCB.
I downloaded and ran the Python test program from Nevil’s PiTrol webpage, the program tests that the PiTrol is working correctly.  The test Python program is well commented which makes it easy to understand.
Once I had made sure everything worked correctly, I started on the seven steps to PiTrol wormy which takes the pre-written Python wormy game and shows you how to modify it step by step so that it works with the PiTrol rather than using your keyboard.  I have successfully completed step 1 so only 6 more steps to go until I have fully working PiTrol controlled wormy game.
In summary I think that Nevil has come up with another great Raspberry Pi add-on board, it covers all your project and learning needs.
If you would like your own, then head over to ThePiTrol website for more information.