A few years back Sauce Labs co-founder Jason Huggins (@hugs) was giving a talk at js.chi(), showing us how to use an Arduino to change the color of an LED based on an input. During the talk Jason suggested those interested in microcontrollers check out Pumping Station: One up on Clybourn. So I got some friends together and we went to PS1, and learned the basics of programming an Arduino. The event was a fun experience and, later that night, netted me a working Larson Scanner. Since then I’ve procured a Raspberry PI, and started tinkering with Google Coder. And now it’s time for Tessel.
This following instructions assumes both Node and NPM installed on the system.
Scaffolding a new Coffee Module with Yeoman
Looking for a quick way to start scaffolding for Tessel took no longer than 10 minutes thanks to Yeoman Generators. A quick search for coffee on the Yeoman site turned up a number of generators, and the best-looking one given we’re starting small was coffee-module, which provides a short list of dependencies as provides simple access to CoffeeScript transpiles using the
gulp command. Yeoman and the generator can be installed like so:
$ npm install -g yo $ npm install -g generator-coffee-module
Once Yeoman and the generator are installed, creating a new CoffeeScript module is as simple as changing directories and running:
$ yo coffee-module $ npm install # if necessary
Once created, run
INFO Deploying bundle (30.88 MB)... ERR! Bundle size is 30.88 MB and is above max limit of 30.00 MB
Wait, the script we ran was tiny. Why is the bundle so large? The answer is becase the new NPM module created came along with some baggage useful for transpiling CoffeeScript, but it seems even
devDependencies are getting bundled with everything else unexpectedly. The easy solution here is to
rm -rf node_modules and then do a
npm install --production so unnecessary dependencies aren’t installed. Another option would be to fiddle with the Gulpfile, creating new tasks to handle doing that work automatically as part of the build.
Another thing worth noting, is that while bundling Tessel runs some logic on
package.json and omits directories specified under a
hardware property. The Tessel Machine Style Guide shows an example of how to structure this property in the JSON file. (Note: Don’t exclude the
node_modules directory here if you plan on running your Tessel app with any NPM dependencies, required to use some of the Tessel add-on modules).
Now let’s try it all out.
Transpile from CoffeeScript and Run Output JS on Tessel
For this section you’ll need to have the Tessel Accelerometer module plugged into Port A on the Tessel. Then do the following steps to tie everyting together.
Brew Some Coffee
- Create a new file called
- Copy the following accelerometer example I converted to CoffeeScript from JS into the new file:
# Any copyright is dedicated to the Public Domain. # http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ ### Demonstrates axes by turning on a different LED per axis (x, y, z) only when that axis has positive acceleration. Also prints +/- per axis to the console. ### tessel = require('tessel') accel = require('accel-mma84').use(tessel.port['A']) # Define vars led1 = tessel.led.output() led2 = tessel.led.output() led3 = tessel.led.output() textOut = '' accel.on 'ready', -> accel.on 'data', (xyz) -> # Refresh variables x = xyz y = xyz z = xyz textOut = '' # Print which axes are positive and turn on corresponding LEDs if(x > 0) led1.high() textOut += 'x: + | ' else led1.low() textOut += 'x: - | ' if(y > 0) led2.high() textOut += 'y: + | ' else led2.low() textOut += 'y: - | ' if(z > 0) led3.high() textOut += 'z: +' else led3.low() textOut += 'z: -' console.log(textOut) accel.on 'error', (err) -> console.log('Error:', err)
Once copied, save the file and run
gulp from the project directory to lint and transpile the code. (Note: If
gulp is not in
$PATH, you can
npm install -g gulp point to the bin file in the project’s
The result of the above should be a new file called
show-axes.js in the
Tip: As you start working with CoffeeScript be sure to install EditorConfig for your editor to take advantage of the
.editorconfig dot file produced by the Yeoman generator to help normalize coding style.
Running the Transpiled Script on Tessel
Once the JS file is created by Gulp, and assuming the
devDependencies are excluded from the bundler as described above, the transpiled CoffeeScript can be run on the Tessel:
$ tessel run lib/show-axes.js
If run before the accelerometer drivers are installed (
npm install --save accel-mma84) it’ll blow up, so don’t forget to pull down the drivers for a successful test.