Piper Quick Guides

PiperCode
Introduction

PiperCode includes a series of projects that apply computer engineering learning into basic micro-controlling (i.e. using code to control electronic components from a microcontroller such as Raspberry Pi). Descriptions of each project are included in the Project Guides.

PiperCode Software Overview
  • PiperCode Projects are scaffolded such that students can build on coding concepts with each projects. All of the projects are initially locked except for the first project, Blink. If you want to unlock the other projects without completing each one, see How to Reset PiperCode Projects.

  • Click the green START block in the top left of your screen to run your code.  You can use the Raspberry Pi diagram in the tutorial window to check that your code sends current to the correct pins.

  • The tutorials in the PROJECTS tab shows step-by-step instructions for writing code and building the electronic circuit, with diagrams and gifs.

  • If you right click on your programming canvas, you will see some handy actions:

    • Undo/Redo actions

    • When the Code Canvas gets crowded, tuck away blocks (Clean up, Collapse/ Expand)

    • Duplicate a single or group of blocks as a sort of copy and paste of your code

  • The tutorial diagrams, images and gifs can be zoomed in order to view them full screen

    • To do this select the:              in the top right corner of the image

  • If you right click on a code block, you will see these shortcuts:

    • Duplicate - make an exact copy of the selected block or group of blocks

    • Add Comment - type a note to explain what the block is doing.

    • External Inputs - changes how the block is arranged so an external device could be used to modify the value of the variable. (not used in Piper)

    • Collapse/Expand Block - collapse makes the block smaller (when you have a lot of blocks and you want to see more of them on the screen at one time) until it is expanded.

    • Disable/Enable Block - disable turns the block white and it is ignored when the code is run until it is enabled. Great for troubleshooting.

    • Delete Block - will remove the block and put it in the trash can.

  • The code blocks only become available during the tutorial steps, forcing students to go through the steps one at a time. This encourages targeted troubleshooting and keeps student confidence high.

  • Stop running the code when you’re adjusting blocks or variables! If you adjust the variables of the code blocks while its running, you have to start/stop to make sure you communicate the new code to the board.

  • Once students are ready to create their own devices without tutorials, click on the COMPONENT LIBRARY tab in the Project Panel to explore the electrical components to help spark creative ideas. Students may want to create physical diagrams in a journal to label Raspberry Pi pins and sketch circuit ideas.

  • If your code blocks string gets long:

    • Click on the white of the Code Canvas and drag up to move the whole canvas.

    • Use the mouse center scroll wheel to zoom in and out of the code.

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Troubleshooting
  • A quick refresher and energizer is to have a speed contest of who can setup and power-up the basic components of the Piper kit, and also add a breadboard.

  • You might have to coach some students on how to use a scroll-wheel mouse (as opposed to the trackpad or touch screen they are used to), including how to left click to select and right click to see an extra menu, and that you can both push and click the scroll bar.

  • If the LEDs aren’t lighting up, make sure the left negative leg matches the negative lead off the GPIO board. (i.e. try taking the LED out and turn it around).

  • The colors of the wires don’t matter to function but for later projects with more buttons and lights, it’s much better to set the habit of using consistent colors to keep track of where jumper wires are going.