Key Art for "Arachnidlabs Minishift and Ubuntu / Pi " by Matthew Gaunt

Arachnidlabs Minishift and Ubuntu / Pi

I was mucking around with the the Arachnidlabs minishift and ran into a few things I wanted to note down for my own sanity.

udev Rules on Ubuntu

One thing I quickly hit was the inability to run any of the minishift python code on my machine without sudo, which originally freaked me and took a while to dig around with.

In the end I had to add a udev rule, which I did like so:

sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/10-local.rules

I added the following to the file:

# Arachnid Labs Minishift
ATTRS{idVendor}=="04d8", ATTRS{idProduct}=="f517", GROUP="<My USERNAME>"

For anyone curious, I got the idVendor and idProduct by running usb-devices and finding the following info:

$ usb-devices


T:  Bus=03 Lev=01 Prnt=01 Port=03 Cnt=03 Dev#= 13 Spd=12  MxCh= 0
D:  Ver= 2.00 Cls=00(>ifc ) Sub=00 Prot=00 MxPS= 8 #Cfgs=  1
P:  Vendor=04d8 ProdID=f517 Rev=00.02
S:  Manufacturer=Arachnid Labs Ltd
S:  Product=USB - SPI Interface 1.0
S:  SerialNumber=0000230218
C:  #Ifs= 1 Cfg#= 1 Atr=80 MxPwr=500mA
I:  If#= 0 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=03(HID  ) Sub=00 Prot=00 Driver=usbhid


Notice the bits on the third line of the output.

After this I had to restart udev which you can do with:

sudo /etc/init.d/udev restart 

Finally unplug and re-plug in the minishift and you're good to go.

Mega Basic Python

I stole some of the code from the minishift library which starts a server to create a really simple python script to use the minishift.

import minishift
import time
import itertools
import sys

# width is 8 * Number of Minishifts
width = 72
vid, pid = 0x04d8, 0xf517
ms = None
    ms = minishift.Minishift(minishift.MCP2210Interface(vid, pid), width)
    print "Unable to find the minishift device"
    print "    - Please ensure it's connected"
    print "    - Please ensure you have the right permissions to access it"

def clear():
    ms.canvas.write_text(0, "")

def staticText( str ):
    ms.canvas.write_text(0, str)

def scrollingText(text, interval, times):
    canvas = minishift.Canvas()
    canvas.write_text(0, text)

    for i in range(times) if times else itertools.count():
        for col in canvas.scroll():

    # Scroll the text off the screen
    canvas = minishift.Canvas()
    canvas[width - 1] = 0
    for col in canvas.scroll():

#staticText("static test")
scrollingText("This is a message that's far too long for a display.", 0.05, 2)

Getting it to work with Pi

Next step was to get this working with the Raspberry Pi, which means installing all the relevant bits and adding the same udev rule.

$ sudo apt-get install -y python-pip python-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libudev-dev
$ sudo pip install cython
$ sudo pip install minishift-python
Profile photo
Matt Gaunt
Staff Developer Programs Engineer at Google