expEYES and Raspberry Pi – an open experimentation platform from India

Liz: Alex Bradbury, one of our volunteers at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory (he posts on our forums as ASB), has been talking to other universities about their plans for the Raspberry Pi. I asked him to write a bit for us about one project he’d been telling me about in particular: a hardware/software framework for young hackers and experimenters being developed in India. Over to Alex – and thank you to him and to Dr Ajith Kumar.

Dr. Ajith Kumar of the Inter-University Accelerator Centre, New Delhi recently got in touch with us to share his progress on interfacing the next revision of the expEYES device with the Raspberry Pi. The expEYES (“experiments for Young Engineers and Scientists”) aims to provide a low cost platform for experimentation and education in electronics and physics. The device has 12 bit analog Input/Output, Digital I/O, time interval measurements having microsecond resolution, and several other features accessible from Python. It is packaged with a number of accessories which, with the expEYES software can be used to perform a large number of experiments. For example, the device can be used to study electromagnetic induction, the conductivity of water, to measure gravity by time of flight, alongside many other applications. It aims to enable anybody with elementary Python skills to develop new experiments in addition to the ones already documented.

Ajith and his colleagues at the PHOENIX project have been working on low cost hardware designs to be used in education over a number of years, and all their projects have open, royalty-free designs. The pictures in this post show a new version of expEYES currently under development, aiming for an even lower price point than the original price of $25, or even less under volume production. Their team has been looking for lower-cost alternatives to netbooks for use in conjunction with expEYES, and settled on the Raspberry Pi as a solution. It connects via USB, and Ajith has also designed a version which interfaces through a serial interface using the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins.

Much more information about expEYES is available on the project’s website. In
particular, see here for a more in-depth description of the new device and
here for more pictures of the expEYES with the Raspberry Pi. The PHOENIX team
are now working on producing a larger test batch, doing further development on the micro-controller code and then continuing to seek out a path to mass production and global distribution.

 

Ajith is keen to hear your comments and questions, and will be monitoring and responding to the comments of this post.