adventures with microcomputers prototyping with raspberry pi

1. Tools and Workflow


parallel development environments

In this class we will work across two environments to complete prototypes:

  1. a laptop: your primary work space, you should always start exploring/testing your idea by writing code on your laptop to confirm general functionality
  2. a Raspberry Pi: move your generally functional code to your Raspberry Pi for platform-specific tests and, eventually, deployment.

In other words, I recommend doing most of your programming on your laptop and moving to the pi only after you have confirmed basic functionality.


Xcode / The Command Line Tools

Do you have Xcode? To check go to the terminal and execute xcode-select -p.

  • If /Applications/ (or something similar) appears as a response proceed to the next step.
  • If anything else happens download and install Xcode from here before moving on.

Enter xcode-select --install into the terminal, which should result in something like this:

Click Install to download and install the Xcode Command Line Tools (it takes a while so maybe go make some food or get a cup of coffee or something).

Text Editor

You will test and confirm functionality in an interactive developer environment (IDE, more below) and use a Text Editor to write and save files filled with working/tested code (in fact you will often have them both up side-by-side). I recommend Atom or Sublime Text (and actually use Atom). Download and install one of them.


Copy and paste this code into the terminal and press enter to install homebrew: /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

If prompted, agree to the Xcode license

by executing sudo xcodebuild -license in the terminal.

Search to see if something is available on homebrew with search. For example: brew search python3


To install Python 3 (not Python 2) execute brew install python3 in the terminal.


PyPi is frequently referred to as pip. It is used to manage Python library installations and ships with Python3 when installed via Homebrew. The command to use it is pip3, not pip.

Search for something on pip with the search command. For example: pip3 search ipython


Install iPython via pip: pip3 install ipython

executing ipython3 in the terminal starts the IDE.