Running LEGO LDD on linux

I’m finally going to try the EV3DPrinter.

3D pen

Now that my 3D pen arrived from China I downloaded Marc-André Bazergui LDD file to understand how to assemble it and then it striked me… dang, need Windows to run LDD!

I still have the Windows VM I used to update the firmware of my EV3 but I don’t want to use it (yes, I’m stubborn) so I decided to try wine. I once had LDD working with wine but never really used it and now that I got a new laptop I didn’t even bothered to install wine again.

So after a few tweaks I got LDD running – it seems that running 32-bit MS Windows programs on wine on a 64-bit linux breaks some things but essentially one just needs to add some 32-bit gstreamer plugins to make LDD work fine.

To show the full process I created a 64-bit virtual machine (1 CPU, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB thin provisioned disk), installed Ubuntu 16.10 (64-bit) on it (default installation, just enabled the download of updates while installing and the installation of 3rd party software).

As I’m using VirtualBox I also installed the VirtualBox Guest Addictions, enabled bi-directional clipboard to allow copy&past of commands between the VM and my desktop and enabled a shared folder to exchange files (just the LDD 4.3.10 setup file and the EV3DPrinter .lxf file).

Then a full last update:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt dist-upgrade

followed by a reboot and a safety snapshot (“trust no one”).

So this is the full process:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386 
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:wine/wine-builds
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends winehq-devel

at this moment, I have wine 2.4 installed:

wine --version
wine-2.4

I could install LDD right now but it will not work because at first run it tries to play some music and or video and it fails. The trick is to install some plugins for gstreamer:

sudo apt install gstreamer1.0-plugins-good:i386 gstreamer1.0-fluendo-mp3:i386

So we install LDD by just double-clicking it. As it is the first time wine runs, it first asks to install two dependencies: mono and gecko (that assures some .Net Framework and Internet Explorer compatibility).

LDD setup asks for a language (“English”) then asks us to accept the License Agreement and suggests creating two shortcuts (“Desktop” and “Quick lauch”).

Then it asks to install Adobe Flash Player and to choose a destination folder (default is fine).

When completed, we may check the option to “Run LEGO Digital Designer” but it will not work, it just shows a black window that we need to force close.

But if we launch LDD again, it works now.

Just a last issue: when opening the EV3DPrinter .lxf file we get a request for a FLEXnet license file, it is located at the installation folder:

~/.wine32/drive_c/Program Files/LEGO Company/LEGO Digital Designer/RL278-1000.lic

Everything seems to work, even creating a Building Guide and the HTML Building Instructions.

I recorded everything in this video:

It’s a long (21 min) non edited video so you may want to skip most of it (the download and installation of wine components, the install of LDD and the creation of the Building Guide).

And by the way, this is nothing really new – Marc pointed me this video with LDD running on Ubuntu 7.10 (2007!)

Virtual Mindstorms – using LEGO EV3 software on Linux

Yesterday Marc-André Bazergui incentivized me to make a video showing how to use LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Software inside a virtual machine. It is a shame that a product running Linux inside can only be used on PC or Mac – and that’s one of the reasons I started using ev3dev as I only have linux systems (laptops, Raspberry Pi’s, old DIY desktops without a Windows license…).

I got my first EV3 exactly 3 years ago as a birthday gift from my wife. I don’t remember if I ever installed the Windows software on a VM before – I did installed one or twice in Ubuntu with Wine (not sure why) and I did installed a Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio in a VMware Workstation virtual machine and do remember having connected it to the the EV3 thorough a bluetooth USB dongle (most modern hypervisors have this nice feature to allow a local device on the host to be passed-through into the guest).

I no longer have VMware Workstation but I have used Innotek VirtualBox in the past and knew that Oracle somehow managed to keep it alive after buying it (Oracle has the morbid habit of poisoning every good thing it owns – Java, Solaris, OpenOffice, MySQL…).

So I installed Oracle VM VirtualBox 5.1.4 (there is even a x64 .deb package for Ubuntu 16.04 “Xenial”) and after that the VirtualBox 5.1.4 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack.

It was quite easy and also very fast. After that I got a licensed version of Microsoft Windows 8 Professional (x64 also) – this is my work laptop so people immediatlely started making fun of me – hey, he is installing Windows on his laptop, finally!

The rest of the process was also quite easy after all – like I thought, it is possible to use a Bluetooth USB dongle and also just the direct USB cable connection:

  • create a Virtual Machine
  • make sure “Enable USB Controller” is checked and USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller is selected – it might also work with USB 3.0
  • add an USB Device Filter for each USB device you want to passthrough into the VM (the EV3 itself and/or the Bluetooth dongle)
  • install Windows
  • present VirtualBox Guest Additions CD Image and install
  • define a Shared Folder so you can pass drivers and binaries into the VM
  • if the Bluetooth dongle is not automatic configured, install the proper drivers
  • pair the EV3 (or plug the USB cable)
  • install LEGO Mindstorms EV3 software and run it

I made a video showing every step (just skipped the LEGO Software as it’s pretty straightfoward):

Just one note: although USB cable connection seems to work fine, i tried to upgrade my EV3 firmware several times with no success – every single time it hangs at 0%. Perhaps it behaves better with another Windows version… who knows?

Edit: Laurens Valk and David Lechner know. So I made a second post showing how to upgrade the firmware.

LEGO laser harp – part II

Este artigo é a parte 2 de 2 da série  LEGO Laser Harp

About 10 years ago I offered my wife a M-Audio USB MIDI Keyboard and installed Ubuntu Studio on a computer so she could play some piano at home. She was so amazed with the possibility to generate music sheet while playing that almost accepted the idea of using Linux… almost 🙂

I remember that at that time I used timidity++ as a software MIDI synthesizer, tuned ALSA (one of the several Linux sound systems, perhaps the most generally used) and the preemptive kernel to work almost flawlessly with the Creative Labs sound card. My wife didn’t enjoy the KDE experience, Firefox was OK for her but OpenOffice were terribly with the spreadsheets she used and finally, when our first kid was born, she attended some English lessons at Wall Street Institute and we found out that the online lessons required an odd combination of an old version on Java, ActiveX and IE… so she returned to Windows XP and never looked back.

10 years is a LOT of time in computer systems but ALSA is still around, even on ev3dev. So I installed timidity++ and tried to play a MIDI file… to find that an ALSA module that is not currently available in ev3dev kernel is required just for MIDI.

I googled for alternatives and found fluidsynth with an unexpected bonus: there is a quite interesting python library, mingus, that works with fluidsynth. So I installed it in my Ubuntu laptop and in a few minutes I was playing harp – amazing!

sudo apt-get install fluidsynthsudo easy_install mingus
python
>>> from mingus.midi import fluidsynth
>>> from mingus.containers.note import Note
>>> fluidsynth.init("/usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2", "alsa")
>>> fluidsynth.set_instrument(1, 46)
>>> fluidsynth.play_Note(Note("C-3"))

In the previous example I just import the fluidsynth and Note parts of the library, initialize fluidsynth to work with ALSA loading the soundfount that cames with it, choose harp (instrument number 46) and play C3.

Well and polyphony? The correct way is to use a NoteContainer

from mingus.containers import NoteContainer
fluidsynth.play_NoteContainer(NoteContainer(["B-3", "C-3", "F-3"]))

but the lazy way is… just play several notes in a fast sequence.

So, let’s do it in the ev3dev!

Oops, fluidsynth also needs an ALSA module not available in current ev3dev kernel.

I’m not a linux music expert. Not even a linux expert! So after some more googling I gave up and asked for help in ev3dev’ GitHub project. And once again David accepted to include ALSA MIDI suport in future kernels, so I’ll just wait a bit.

Oh, but I can’t wait…

And if I read the color sensors in ev3dev and play the music in my laptop?

ALSA, once again, suports something like client/server MIDI communication with “aseqnet” and “aconnect” commands and some people are already using it with Raspberry Pi!

Yeah, I should have guessed… “aconnect” requires an ALSA MIDI module that is not available in current ev3dev kernel.

OK, let’s use MQTT: configure my EV3 as a publisher and my Ubuntu laptop as a subscriber and just send some notes as messages.

On the EV3:

sudo apt-get install mosquitto
sudo easy_install paho-mqtt

The publisher script is “harp-mqtt-pub.py”:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from ev3dev.auto import *
from time import sleep
import paho.mqtt.client as mqtt

DELAY = 0.01

# should have an auto-calibrate function
AMB_THRESHOLD = 9

sensor1 = ColorSensor('in1:i2c80:mux1')
sensor1.mode = 'COL-AMBIENT'
sensor2 = ColorSensor('in1:i2c81:mux2')
sensor2.mode = 'COL-AMBIENT'
sensor3 = ColorSensor('in1:i2c82:mux3')
sensor3.mode = 'COL-AMBIENT'
sensor4 = ColorSensor('in2')
sensor4.mode = 'COL-AMBIENT'
sensor5 = ColorSensor('in3')
sensor5.mode = 'COL-AMBIENT'
sensor6 = ColorSensor('in4')
sensor6.mode = 'COL-AMBIENT'

# there is no sensor7 yet, I need another MUX

s1 = 0
s2 = 0
s3 = 0
s4 = 0
s5 = 0
s6 = 0
s7 = 0

client = mqtt.Client()
client.connect("localhost",1883,60)

print 'Running...'

while True:
    key_touched = False
    s1 = sensor1.value(0)
    s2 = sensor2.value(0)
    s3 = sensor3.value(0)
    s4 = sensor4.value(0)
    s5 = sensor5.value(0)
    s6 = sensor6.value(0)
#    s7 = sensor7.value(0)

    if s1 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
        client.publish("topic/Harp", "C-3")
        key_touched=True
    if s2 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
        client.publish("topic/Harp", "D-3")
        key_touched=True
    if s3 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
        client.publish("topic/Harp", "E-3")
        key_touched=True
    if s4 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
        client.publish("topic/Harp", "F-3")
        key_touched=True
    if s5 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
        client.publish("topic/Harp", "G-3")
        key_touched=True
    if s6 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
        client.publish("topic/Harp", "A-3")
        key_touched=True
#    if s7 < AMB_THRESHOLD:
#        client.publish("topic/Harp", "B-3")
#        key_touched=True

    if key_touched == True:
        sleep(DELAY)

On the Ubuntu laptop side:

sudo easy_install paho-mqtt

The subscriber script is “harp-mqtt-sub.py”

#!/usr/bin/env python

import paho.mqtt.client as mqtt
from mingus.midi import fluidsynth
from mingus.containers.note import Note

EV3_IP = "192.168.43.35"

SOUNDFONT = 'Concert_Harp.sf2'
INSTRUMENT = 46 # Harp

NOTES = ['C-3','D-3','E-3','F-3','G-3','A-3','B-3']

def on_connect(client, userdata, flags, rc):
    print("Connected with result code "+str(rc))
    client.subscribe("topic/Harp")

def on_message(client, userdata, msg):
    global i
    if (msg.payload in NOTES):
        print msg.payload
        fluidsynth.play_Note(Note(msg.payload))
    
client = mqtt.Client()
client.connect(EV3_IP,1883,60)

client.on_connect = on_connect
client.on_message = on_message

fluidsynth.init(SOUNDFONT, "alsa")
fluidsynth.set_instrument(1, INSTRUMENT)

client.loop_forever()

And guess what? It works!!! I just love linux and open source!

I will keep waiting for David Lechner to include ALSA MIDI support in ev3dev’ kernel. I’m not so sure if there is enough horsepower in the EV3 to load a soundfont and play it with acceptable latency but if I can at least use the MIDI client/server functionality I can drop MQTT.

An interesting possibility that this client/server design allows is to scale my harp easily: with just a second EV3 (2 MUX each) I can make a 13-string harp with almost no modification on my code.

LEGO WeDo 2.0 – playing sound

Este artigo é a parte 4 de 6 da série  WeDo 2.0 - reverse engineering

Great news – LEGO Eduction released the WeDo 2.0 SDK today!

After digging into it, I found the information needed to control the Piezo: as expected, it’s controlled by the same handle that is used for controlling the motor and the RGB LED (0x003d). The “port” is “05” and the “command” to activate the Piezo is “02”, followed by a payload of “04” bytes containing:

  • the Frequency in Hz (2 bytes, reversed)
  • the duration in ms (2 bytes, reversed)

So to play a “C” (or “Do”, 261 Hz) during 1/8 of a second (125 ms) we use this command:

[A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57][LE]> char-write-cmd 003d 050204B801E803

So let’s hear the very first music played by a WeDo 2.0 from a linux shell script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# In Ubuntu run this script with sudo
# "Imperial March on a WeDo 2.0" was inspired by https://gist.github.com/tagliati/1804108

# command: gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204

# beep(a, 500) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(a, 500) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(a, 500) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(f, 350)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D015E01
sleep 0.35

# beep(cH, 150)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B029600
sleep 0.15

# beep(a, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(f, 350)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D015E01
sleep 0.35

# beep(cH, 150)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B029600
sleep 0.15

# beep(a, 1000)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801E803
sleep 1.0

# beep(eH, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049302F401
sleep 0.5
    
# beep(eH, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049302F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(eH, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049302F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(fH, 350) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204BA025E01
sleep 0.35

# beep(cH, 150)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B029600
sleep 0.15

# beep(gS, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049F01F401
sleep 0.5    

# beep(f, 350)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D015E01
sleep 0.35

# beep(cH, 150)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B029600
sleep 0.15

# beep(a, 1000)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801E803
sleep 1.0
 
# beep(aH, 500)   
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502047003F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(a, 350) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B8015E01
sleep 0.35

# beep(a, 150)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B8019600
sleep 0.15

# beep(aH, 500)   
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502047003F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(gSH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502043E03FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(gH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502041003FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(fSH, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204E4027D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(fH, 125) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204BA027D00
sleep 0.125  
   
# beep(fSH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204E402FA00
sleep 0.25

# delay(250)
sleep 0.25

# beep(aS, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204C701FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(dSH, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502046E02F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(dH, 250)  
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502044B02FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(cSH, 250)  
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502042A02FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(cH, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B027D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(b, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204D2017D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(cH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B02FA00
sleep 0.25
      
# delay(250)
sleep 0.25

# beep(f, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D017D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(gS, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049F01F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(f, 375) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D017701
sleep 0.375

# beep(a, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B8017D00
sleep 0.125
  
# beep(cH, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B02F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(a, 375)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B8017701
sleep 0.375

# beep(cH, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B027D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(eH, 1000)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049302E803
sleep 1.0

# beep(aH, 500)   
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502047003F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(a, 350) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B8015E01
sleep 0.35

# beep(a, 150)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B8019600
sleep 0.15

# beep(aH, 500)   
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502047003F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(gSH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502043E03FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(gH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502041003FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(fSH, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204E4027D00
sleep 0.125
    
# beep(fH, 125) 
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204BA027D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(fSH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204E402FA00
sleep 0.25

# delay(250)
sleep 0.25

# beep(aS, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204C701FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(dSH, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502046E02F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(dH, 250)  
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502044B02FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(cSH, 250)  
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502042A02FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(cH, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B027D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(b, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204D2017D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(cH, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B02FA00
sleep 0.25

# delay(250)
sleep 0.25

# beep(f, 250)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D01FA00
sleep 0.25

# beep(gS, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502049F01F401
sleep 0.5 
  
# beep(f, 375)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D017701
sleep 0.375

# beep(cH, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502040B027D00
sleep 0.125
           
# beep(a, 500)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801F401
sleep 0.5

# beep(f, 375)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 0502045D017701
sleep 0.375

# beep(c, 125)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 05020405017D00
sleep 0.125

# beep(a, 1000)
gatttool -i hci0 -b A0:E6:F8:1E:58:57 --char-write-req -a 0x003d -n 050204B801E803
sleep 1.0