Category Archives: Arduino with Python

Python with Arduino LESSON 17: Sending and Receiving Data Over Ethernet

Arduino Ethernet
This circuit contains an Arduino Nano and Pressure Sensor Communicating over Ethernet

In LESSON 16 we showed a simple Client Server model that allows us to send strings between Python running on a PC and the arduino over Ethernet. That lesson simply passed strings back and forth to show a very basic Server on Arduino, and Python acting as the Client. In this lesson we show a more practical example, with the Arduino connected to an Adafruit BMP180 Pressure Sensor. In order to complete this lesson, you will need an Arduino, an Ethernet Shield, and the Pressure Sensor. If you do not have this particular pressure sensor, you can probably follow along in the lesson using whatever sensor you have that is of interest. The video will take you through the tutorial step-by-step, and then the code we developed is shown below.

The key issue in getting this project to work is to get your mac address and IP address from your router or network. If you are at school, simply speak to your network administrator, and he will help you get an IP address for your arduino. If you are at home, you will need to connect to your router from a browser, and configure it to assign an IP address and agree on a mac address for your arduino. Some arduino Ethernet shields have a sticker with a mac address. If your Ethernet shield has a sticker with mac address, use that one. If it does not, you will need to come up with a unique mac address. There are thousands of possible routers and networks out there, so I can not help you with that part. But if you look in the router documentation, you should be able to get the IP address and mac address worked out. The arduino itself does not have a hard wired mac address, but you set the mac address in the arduino software, and the IP address as well. The key thing is that the mac address is unique on your network, and the router and arduino agree on the IP address and mac address. If you have a clearer way to explain this, please leave a comment below.

This is the server side software to run on the arduino. Again, you should use a suitable IP address and mac address for your network. Do not think you can just copy the ones I use in the code below.

Once you have this on your arduino, and the arduino connected to the internet via an Ethernet cable, you can test by opening a command line in Windows. Then ping the address you have assigned to the Arduino. If it pings correctly and you get a reply, you are ready to develop the Python code. The Python will be the client. It will send the requests to the Arduino, and the Arduino will respond with data. Since our circuit can measure pressure or temperature, you can request either of those. When the arduino receives a request for temperature, it will go out, make the temperature measurement and then return the data to Python. Similarly, if you request Pressure the arduino will read the request, will make the Pressure measurement, and then return pressure reading to the client (Python).

 This python code will request Temperature, will then read the response, and then will print the data. It then requests Pressure, reads the response, and then prints it. If you look at our earlier lessons you can see graphical techniques to visually present the data. The hard part is getting the data passed back and forth, which we show how to do in this lesson.

Python with Arduino LESSON 16: Simple Client Server Configuration over Ethernet

Arduino and Ethernet Shield
Ethernet Shields are available which allow the arduino to act as a server

In the previous lessons we have seen that powerful analytic and graphic programs can be written that allow data taken from the arduino to be displayed on a PC via Python. We have shown how the arduino can be connected to a PC by either a serial cable or Xbee radios. To fully unleash the power of the arduino, it can be set up as a server, and connected to a network via Ethernet. In this lesson, we will show how to set the arduino up as a server which is controlled and queried by clients on PC’s on the same network. In order to complete this tutorial, you will need an Arduino Uno and an Ethernet shield. The Ethernet Shield is a relatively expensive component, but I suggest getting an authentic arduino made shield, as I have had poor results from the cheap knock offs. Understand that this lesson is intended for High School students to show them a simple technique for connecting the arduino to a network. It is not an exhaustive treatise on Ethernet communication. The goal is to provide a simple protocol which should allow you to get your arduino talking over Ethernet. It requires that you already know, or can figure out how to assign a mac address and IP address in your router. Some arduino Ethernet shields have a sticker with a mac address. If your Ethernet shield has a sticker with mac address, use that one. If it does not, you will need to come up with a unique mac address. If you are at school, the network administrator can help you get the router configured. I can not provide support in getting this to work on your network, as there are many variables. The techniques provided in this tutorial should work for most networks. This tutorial does not present the most efficient or elegant solution, but the goal is a simple protocol for people just getting started. The video below gives a step-by-step demonstration of setting up the arduino as a server, and Python on a PC as the client. It uses UDP protocol to transfer data packets.

In order to get the arduino to work over Ethernet, you must first assign an IP address to the arduino in your router.  If you just plug the arduino with shield into the network, your router might assign an IP and report a mac address. If this is the case, you need to have the router assign those addresses permanently to the arduino. The bottom line is that the IP address and mac address you identify in the arduino code must match the IP address and mac address assigned in the router. I can not provide any additional help on that issue as there are so many different possible networks. You have to figure out how to do that.

Once you have the IP address and mac address sorted out, you will need to set up the arduino as a server. The video above explains how to do this, and results in this code. Note that your IP address and mac address must be set to a suitable configuration for your router and network. The numbers I use in this code would not work for your network.

This is the code developed in the video to set the arduino up:

Once you have this code in your arduino, ping the IP address of the arduino from your PC cmd line. Make sure your PC can talk to the arduino by successfully pinging it. If you get an error while you are trying to ping the arduino, you will have to stop and get figured out what is wrong. There is no reason to proceed with the lesson until you can successfully ping the arduino.

Once you can ping the arduino, you are ready to set up a client in Python. The code below is what we developed in the video. You will need to watch the video in order to understand the code. Also note, that the IP address in the code below is the IP address of the Arduino, NOT the PC. You should set this to whatever IP address is of YOUR arduino.

 Again, this is a bit of a tricky thing to set up, but if you get the PC successfully pinging the arduino, everything else should be straightforward.

Python with Arduino LESSON 15: Configuring and Using the Xbee Radios

This lesson describes how to program the Xbee Series 1 radios. It will work with either the standard Series 1 (S1) or the Series 1 Pro models. The Pro radios are higher power and will give greater range, but they cost more. The radios are configured using X-CTU software, which can be downloaded here.  The video gives step by step instructions on how to configure and use the radios to communicate wirelessly over the serial port. Lesson 14 gives information on the hardware needed. Lessons 1-13 sill show you how to communicate between Python and Arduino if you need to get caught up on basic serial communication and interfacing arduino and python. The techniques provided in the video above, however, should work for just about any arduino project where you want to communicate between two arduinos, an arduino and PC, or between two PCs.

Python with Arduino Lesson 14: Introduction to Xbee Radios and Wireless Communication

In the video lesson above, we introduce our next series of lessons, which will step you through using Xbee radios to allow your arduino projects to wirelessly communicate with your PC. The good news is that you already know how to communicate between your Arduino and the PC over the serial cable based on our previous lessons. Using Xbee radios is very similar, you just remove the cable. You are still communicating over the serial ports, so the coding remains virtually unchanged . . . you just have to configure and connect the radios. In order to do these lessons, you will need a pair of Series 1 (S1) Xbee Radios (you will need two). If you want longer range, and are willing to pay more, you can get the Seris 1 (S1) Xbee Pro Radios.

To program the radios, you will need a SparkFun USB Explorer.

The final equipment you need will be an Xbee Shield. The shield allows you to plug the Xbee radio into the Arduino.

Python with Arduino LESSON 13: Calculating Height from Pressure measurements from BMP180 Pressure Sensor.

It is time to bring together a lot of things we have learned in our earlier lessons to create a Height-O-Meter, which will plot how high our BMP180 pressure sensor is above the floor. For this lesson we make simplifying assumption of constant temperature. When we use the sensor for our space probe or other high altitude experiments we will need to derive the equation again to take into account changing temperature. We went through the math of calculating height from changing pressure in LESSON 12.

In this lesson, we start with the software we developed in LESSON 11 for measuring, streaming, and plotting pressure and temperature data from the BMP180 sensor.

Remember, we connect the sensor to the Arduino as follows:

Connecting Up the BMP180 Pressure and Temperature Sensor
BMP180 Pin Arduino Pin
Vin 5V


The software we are using on the arduino side is shown below, from LESSON 11.

We modify the Python code from LESSON 11 as explained in the video above to get this code for the Python side.

 Please go through video for complete description of this software. Remember this is only valid for small changes in height over which temperature is constant.

Python with Arduino LESSON 12: Approximating Changes in Height from Changes in Pressure

In LESSON 9 we learned how to hook up a BMP180 Pressure Sensor and make pressure and temperature readings. Then in LESSON 11 we learned how to stream that data to Matplotlib and create live graphs and charts of our data that update in real time. We could see that as we moved the pressure sensor up and down, we could see the pressure change, as the pressure decreases with increasing elevation.

This leads to the interesting question of whether we can use our circuit developed in LESSON 9 to create a Height-O-Meter . . . a simple device that will measure the height above the floor.

The math to calculate altitude vs. pressure turns out to be very complex. Particularly, if we wanted something for our high altitude balloon flights, or for model rocketry. It turns out that for the case of measuring height inside and for relatively small changes in height we can make simplifying assumptions that make things much easier. The assumption we will make is that temperature does not change much over the range of our experiment. With this assumption, we can create our own Height-O-Meter. To do this though, we do need to to through some math. I show my math below, and go through it step-by-step in the video. Remember, this simplified approach is only valid for playing around with small changes in height. We will have to do the more complicated math when we make our high altitude balloon probe. For now though, this math will work pretty well.

Height and Pressure
Calculate Changes in Height from Changes in Pressure

We can rearrange the equation to solve for height as a function of pressure.

Height Pressure
Calculating Height from Pressure Changes