Customer Check-In 


 plant key:

genovese basil parsley sweet basil stevia stevia lettuce
genovese basil thyme sweet basil stevia stevia kale

Frustrated Sadly, the lettuce and kale got way to stringy with the previous light I used.  Lesson learned: don’t buy cheap LED desk lamps at Home Depot and use on seedlings.  A PAR ~ 70 is not enough.

I had a Mars Hydro I got awhile back that I’m not using.  


The PAR ranged from ~230 on the edges of the heat mat to ~290 at the center.  Now the seedlings should have enough (PAR) light.


I can’t believe I almost forgot about the PyCom WiPy 2.0 and the expansion board I got from Adafruit last week.  Time to give them a twirl.  The PyCom website is here.  I start with the Pycom documentation.  The first thing I need to do is put headers onto the PyCom so I can fit it in the expansion board.

My goal with paying top $$ for the PyCom through Adafruit included:

  • Supporting Adafruit.  I have received a lot of learning and support love.  From all I can tell, Adafruit treats their employees well – caring more about people than how much can be acquired before we die.
  • Evolving my understanding of micro python based ESP8266 environments on the best made and supported environment (both hardware, IDE, and support).


The PyCom hardware has made a great start at providing an excellent micro python experience.  Yet, there appears to be many areas that I would hope evolve.  I’ve been on projects at this state before and wonder if it is for the same reason: 1) a little bit of “throw something out there before it is polished” to better guide direction based on customer feedback 2) engineers dominate the user experience 3) list of features/testing is more demanding than scheduling truly allows for (taking in the number of folks working on it as well as the Mythical Man Month).  The one I had the hardest time with regards to customer experience was addressing #2.  My take on the reason is an engineer sees delight in figuring out details.  Others might not be as delighted by this but more delighted by saving time and getting to blinking a light or whatever.  Both are valid. This is another thing I love about Adafruit, their leadership executes within the latter camp.  There is empathy for non-engineers – folks like me – the liberal arts crowd…

Challenge with Firmware Upgrade

I went through the firmware upgrade steps and got this dialog:


Homer aargh Failure! is the message?  Yah – no sh*&*&*&*&t. :-).  I…but wait a minute, a little later the documentation states:


Pymakr IDE

Next I installed the Pymakr IDE as recommended by the Getting Started documentation.  Oh my.  Their own IDE?  And here I had a problem with their install experience while they have time to create their own IDE?  What about all the extensible IDEs – like Exclipse, Atom…  Do they really have time to accommodate all the different OSs (e.g.: Mac, Ubuntu, Windows) and the various releases?  All the hardware and software configurations??? WHOA…I was relieved to read in the PyCom forum they are moving away from providing an IDE and moving towards plug-ins.  I’m not knowledgable enough about what this means to my use of PyDev within Eclipse.  I’ll figure this out at some point.


After several reboots and deciding to use the USB over serial, I’m using Pymakr.  I’m able to get commands to execute at the >>> real prompt.

Strange though, for awhile I couldn’t find the board even though I was able to get a connection to Pymakr yesterday.  Of all the gobbly gook things I tried, rebooting (over and over) eventually seemed to work.  I’m currently using Pymakr over USB.

Sensor Puck Layout

On to the sensor puck layout….hold up…Hold up…I just found an offering from SparkX of a CCS811 BoB.  But…sadly, I will not be able to get any…I called Sparkfun support and was told they know of no plans for restocking…. however, the schematic and layout are open source (GitHub location).

I was going to stop working on the Sensor Puck and just use SparkX’s offering.  However, difficulty getting them made me reconsider.  I will evolve the schematic and layout to SparkX’s since Nate has a lot more experience than I do in building PCBs.

That’s it for today.