Auto Updating SUSI Android APK and App Preview on appetize.io

This blog will cover the way in which the SUSI Android APK is build automatically after each commit and pushed to “apk” branch in the github repo. Other thing which will be covered is that how the app preview on appetize.io can be updated after each commit. This is basically for the testers who wish to test the SUSI Android App. There are four ways to test the SUSI Android App. One is to simply download the alpha version of the app from the Google PlayStore. Here is the link to the app. Join the alpha testing and report bugs on the github issue tracker of the repo. Other way is to build the app from Android Studio but you may need to set the complete project. If you are looking to contribute in the project, this is the advised way to test the app. The other two ways are explained below.

Auto Building of APK and pushing to “apk” branch

We have written a script which does following steps whenever a PR is merged:

  1. Checks if the commit is of a PR or a commit to repo
  2. If not of PR, configures a user whose github account will be used to push the APKs.
  3. Clones the repo, generates the debug and release APK.
  4. Deletes everything in the apk branch.
  5. Commits and Pushes new changes to apk branch.

This script is written for people or testers who do not have android studio installed in their computer and want to test the app. So, they can directly download the apk from the apk branch and install it in their phone. The APK is always updated after each commit. So, whenever a tester downloads the APK from apk branch, he will always get the latest app.

if [[ $CIRCLE_BRANCH != pull* ]]
then
    git config --global user.name "USERNAME"
    git config --global user.email "EMAIL"

    git clone --quiet --branch=apk https://USERNAME:[email protected]/fossasia/susi_android apk > /dev/null
    ls
    cp -r ${HOME}/${CIRCLE_PROJECT_REPONAME}/app/build/outputs/apk/app-debug.apk apk/susi-debug.apk
    cp -r ${HOME}/${CIRCLE_PROJECT_REPONAME}/app/build/outputs/apk/app-release-unsigned.apk apk/susi-release.apk
    cd apk

    git checkout --orphan workaround
    git add -A

    git commit -am "[Circle CI] Update Susi Apk"

    git branch -D apk
    git branch -m apk

    git push origin apk --force --quiet > /dev/null
fi

Auto Updating of App Preview on appetize.io

The APKs generated in the above step can now be used to set up the preview of the app on the appetize.io. Appetize.io is an online simulator to run mobile apps ( IOS and Android). Appetize.io provides a nice virtual mobile frame to run native apps with various options like screen size, mobile, OS version, etc. Appetize.io provides some API to update/publish the app. In SUSI, we once uploaded the app on appetize.io and now we are using the API provided by them to update the APK everytime a commit is pushed in the repository.

API information (Derived from official docs of appetize.io):

You may upload a new version of an existing app, or update app settings.

Send an HTTP POST request to

https://[email protected]/v1/apps/PUBLICKEY

Replace APITOKEN with your API token and PUBLICKEY with the public key of the app you’re updating. Your API token must be permissioned to the same account as was used to upload the app. The POST body must be a JSON object. To delete a previously set field, use a value of null.

Optional Fields

  1. url: (string) a publicly accessible link to your .zip, .tar.gz, or .apk file, used to upload a new version of your app.
  2. note: (string) a note for your own purposes, will appear on your management dashboard.

For the url parameter, we have used https://github.com/fossasia/susi_android/raw/apk/susi-debug.apk and note can be anything. We have used Update SUSI Preview.

curl https://[email protected]/v1/apps/mbpprq4xj92c119j7nxdhttjm0 -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{"url":"https://github.com/fossasia/susi_android/raw/apk/susi-debug.apk", "note": "Update SUSI Preview"}'

Summary

This blog covered about how to implement an automatic structure to generate APKs for testing and using that APK to build a preview on websites like appetize.io and then using the APIs provided by them to update the APK after each PR merge in the repo. Check out the resources below to learn more about the topic. So, if you are thinking of contributing to SUSI Android App, this may help you a little in testing the app. But if not, then you can also use the similar technique for your android app as well and ease the life of testers.

Resources

  1. Docs of appetize.io to learn more about the API https://appetize.io/docs
  2. Tutorial on using curl to make API requests https://curl.haxx.se/docs/httpscripting.html
  3. Tutorial on writing basic shell scripts https://ryanstutorials.net/bash-scripting-tutorial/

Controlling Motors using PSLab Device

PSLab device is capable of building up a complete science lab almost anywhere. While the privilege is mostly taken by high school students and teachers to perform scientific experiments, electronic hobbyists can greatly be influenced from the device. One of the usages is to test and debug sensors and other electronic components before actually using them in their projects. In this blog it will be explained how hobbyist motors are made functional with the use of the PSLab device.

There are four types of motors generally used by hobbyists in their DIY(Do-It-Yourself) projects. They are;

  • DC Gear Motor
  • DC Brushless Motor
  • Servo Motor
  • Stepper Motor

DC motors do not require much of a control as their internal structure is simply a magnet and a shaft which was made rotatable around the magnetic field. The following image from slideshare illustrates the cross section of a motor. These motors require high currents and PSLab device as it is powered from a USB port from a PC or a mobile phone, cannot provide such high current. Hence these type of motors are not recommended to use with the device as there is a very high probability it might burn something.

In the current context, we are concerned about stepper motors and servo motors. They cannot be powered up using direct currents to them. Inside these motors, the structure is different and they require a set of controlled signals to function. The following diagram from electronics-tutorials illustrates the feedback loop inside a servo motor. A servo motor is functional using a PWM wave. Depending on the duty cycle, the rotational angle will be determined. PSLab device is capable of generating four different square waves at any duty cycle varying from 0% to 100%. This gives us freedom to acquire any angle we desire from a servo motor. The experiment “Servo Motors” implement the following method where it accepts four angles.

public void servo4(double angle1, double angle2, double angle3, double angle4)

The experiment supports control of four different servo motors at independant angles. Most of the servos available in the market support only 180 degree rotation where some servos can rotate indefinitely. In such a case, the servo will rotate one cycle and reach its initial position.

The last type of motor is stepper motor. As the name says it, this motor can produce steps. Inside of the motor, there are four coils and and five wires coming out of the motor body connecting these coils. The illustration from Wikipedia shows how four steps are acquired by powering up the respective coil in order. This powering up process needs to be controlled and hard to do manually. Using PSLab device experiment “Stepper Motor”, a user can acquire any number of steps just by entering the step value in the text box. The implementation consists of a set of method calls;

scienceLab.stepForward(steps, 100);

scienceLab.stepBackward(steps, 100);

A delay of 100 milliseconds is provided so that there is enough time to produce a step. Otherwise the shaft will not experience enough resultant force to move and will remain in the same position.

These two experiments are possible with PSLab because the amount of current drawn is quite small which can be delivered through a general USB port. It is worth mentioning that as industry grade servo and stepper motors may draw high current as they were built to interact with heavy loads, they are not suitable for this type of experiments.

Resources:

Performing Multivibrator Experiments in PSLab Android App

A Multivibrator is an Oscillator that produces non-sinusoidal signals like Square Wave. Multivibrators are considered to be the building blocks of almost every electronic device.

Multivibrators are the level changing circuit. Every circuit works on two level, “high” and “low”. Multivibrators changes between these two level to produce a particular voltage form.

PSLab Android App helps us to observe the input and the output signals captured from these circuits. This enables student or researchers to study the input and output waveforms. Let’s discuss various Multivibrator Experiments that can be conducted using PSLab and how they are implemented.

 

There are three types of multivibrator:

  1. Astable multivibrator
  2. Bistable multivibrator
  3. Monostable multivibrator

Astable Multivibrator

 

An astable-multivibrator circuit’s output oscillates continuously between its two unstable states. It is a cross-coupled transistor switching circuit. They are also known as Free Multivibrator as any additional inputs or external assistance to oscillate are not required by them. Astable oscillators produce a continuous square wave from its output

Astable are used as clocks and timers, bistable as flip flops, the memory, registers and counters, Schmitt triggers as memory, switches, wave shapers.

The following is the circuit diagram.

In order to observe the behaviour of Astable Multivibrator, LED’s can be also used.

We get the following waveform when captured using the PSLab device.

Monostable Multivibrator

Monostable is also known as one shot multivibrator. In monostable multivibrator, there is one stable state and one astable state. A trigger pulse is required to enter into the astable state or get back to the stable state. The monostable multivibrator is mainly used as a timer.

The following is the schematics of Monostable Multivibrator

Image link – https://circuitdigest.com/electronic-circuits/555-timer-monostable-circuit-diagram

Following signals are captured by the device while conducting the experiment.

Adding Multivibrator Experiment support in PSLab Android

This was simply achieved by reusing Oscilloscope Activity. Oscilloscope Activity is informed about the experiment by using putExtra() and getExtra() methods and Oscilloscope simply aligns its layout according to it.

Analysing Frequencies

In order to analyse the frequencies of the waves captured, we used sine fitting. Sine fitting function simply takes the data points and returns the amplitude, frequency, offset and phase shift of the wave.

Resources

Filling Audio Buffer to Generate Waves in the PSLab Android App

The PSLab Android App works as an oscilloscope and a wave generator using the audio jack of the Android device. The implementation of the oscilloscope in the Android device using the in-built mic has been discussed in the blog post “Using the Audio Jack to make an Oscilloscope in the PSLab Android App” and the same has been discussed in the context of wave generator in the blog post “Implement Wave Generation Functionality in the PSLab Android App”. This post is a continuation of the post related to the implementation of wave generation functionality in the PSLab Android App. In this post, the subject matter of discussion is the way to fill the audio buffer so that the resulting wave generated is either a Sine Wave, a Square Wave or a Sawtooth Wave. The resultant audio buffer would be played using the AudioTrack API of Android to generate the corresponding wave. The waves we are trying to generate are periodic waves.

Periodic Wave: A wave whose displacement has a periodic variation with respect to time or distance, or both.

Thus, the problem reduces to generating a pulse which will constitute a single time period of the wave. Suppose we want to generate a sine wave; if we generate a continuous stream of pulses as illustrated in the image below, we would get a continuous sine wave. This is the main concept that we shall try to implement using code.

Initialise AudioTrack Object

AudioTrack object is initialised using the following parameters:

  • STREAM TYPE: Type of stream like STREAM_SYSTEM, STREAM_MUSIC, STREAM_RING, etc. For wave generation purposes we are using stream music. Every stream has its own maximum and minimum volume level.  
  • SAMPLING RATE: It is the rate at which the source samples the audio signal.
  • BUFFER SIZE IN BYTES: Total size of the internal buffer in bytes from where the audio data is read for playback.
  • MODES: There are two modes-
    • MODE_STATIC: Audio data is transferred from Java to the native layer only once before the audio starts playing.
    • MODE_STREAM: Audio data is streamed from Java to the native layer as audio is being played.

getMinBufferSize() returns the estimated minimum buffer size required for an AudioTrack object to be created in the MODE_STREAM mode.

minTrackBufferSize = AudioTrack.getMinBufferSize(SAMPLING_RATE, AudioFormat.CHANNEL_OUT_MONO, AudioFormat.ENCODING_PCM_16BIT);
audioTrack = new AudioTrack(
       AudioManager.STREAM_MUSIC,
       SAMPLING_RATE,
       AudioFormat.CHANNEL_OUT_MONO,
       AudioFormat.ENCODING_PCM_16BIT,
       minTrackBufferSize,
       AudioTrack.MODE_STREAM);

Fill Audio Buffer to Generate Sine Wave

Depending on the values in the audio buffer, the wave is generated by the AudioTrack object. Therefore, to generate a specific kind of wave, we need to fill the audio buffer with some specific values. The values are governed by the wave equation of the signal that we want to generate.

public short[] createBuffer(int frequency) {
   short[] buffer = new short[minTrackBufferSize];
   double f = frequency;
   double q = 0;
   double level = 16384;
   final double K = 2.0 * Math.PI / SAMPLING_RATE;

   for (int i = 0; i < minTrackBufferSize; i++) {
         f += (frequency - f) / 4096.0;
         q += (q < Math.PI) ? f * K : (f * K) - (2.0 * Math.PI);
         buffer[i] = (short) Math.round(Math.sin(q));
   }
   return buffer;
}

Fill Audio Buffer to Generate Square Wave

To generate a square wave, let’s assume the time period to be t units. So, we need the amplitude to be equal to A for t/2 units and -A for the next t/2 units. Repeating this pulse continuously, we will get a square wave.

buffer[i] = (short) ((q > 0.0) ? 1 : -1);

Fill Audio Buffer to Generate Sawtooth Wave

Ramp signals increases linearly with time. A Ramp pulse has been illustrated in the image below:

We need repeated ramp pulses to generate a continuous sawtooth wave.

buffer[i] = (short) Math.round((q / Math.PI));

Finally, when the audio buffer is generated, write it to the audio sink for playback using write() method exposed by the AudioTrack object.

audioTrack.write(buffer, 0, buffer.length);

Resources

Performing Oscillator Experiments with PSLab

Using PSLab we can read the waveform generated by different Oscillators. First, let’s discuss what’s an Oscillator? An Oscillator is an electronic circuit that converts unidirectional current flow from a DC source into an alternating waveform. Oscillators can produce a sine wave, triangular wave or square wave. Oscillators are used in computers, clocks, watches, radios, and metal detectors. In this post, we are going to discuss 3 different types of Oscillators.

  • Colpitts Oscillator
  • Phase Shift Oscillator
  • Wien Bridge Oscillator

Colpitts Oscillator

The Colpitts oscillator produces sinusoidal oscillations. The Colpitts oscillator has a tank circuit which consists of two capacitors in series and an inductor connected in parallel to the serial combination. The two capacitors in series produce a 180o phase shift which is inverted by another 180o to produce the required positive feedback. The frequency of the oscillations is determined by the value of the capacitors and inductor in the tank circuit.

Image source

Image source

Phase Shift Oscillator

A phase-shift oscillator produces a sine wave output using regenerative feedback obtained from the combination of resistor and capacitor. This regenerative feedback from the RC network is due to the ability of the capacitor to store an electric charge.

Image source

Wien bridge oscillator

A Wien bridge oscillator generates sine waves. It can generate a large range of frequencies and is based on a bridge circuit. It employs two transistors, each producing a phase shift of 180°, and thus producing a total phase-shift of 360° or 0°. It is simple in design, compact in size, and stable in its frequency output.

 

Image source

Mapping output waves from the Oscillator Circuits in PSLab Android app

To make PSLab Android app to support experiments related to read the waveforms received from the Oscillator we reused Oscilloscope Activity. In order to analyze the frequencies of the waves captured, we used sine fitting. Sine fitting function simply takes the data points and returns the amplitude, frequency, offset and phase shift of the wave.

The following is a glimpse of output signals from the Oscillators being captured by PSLab Android.

Resources

Read more on Oscillator from the following links

Implementing Skill Detail Section in SUSI Android App

SUSI Skills are rules that are defined in SUSI Skill Data repo which are basically the responses SUSI gives to the user queries. When a user queries something from the SUSI Android app, a query to SUSI Server is made which further fetches response from SUSI Skill Data and gives the response to the app. Similarly, when we need to list all skills, an API call is made to server to list all skills. The server then checks the SUSI Skill Data repo for the skills and then return all the required information to the app. Then the app displays all the information about the skill to user. User then can view details of each skill and then interact on the chat interface to use that skill. This process is similar to what SUSI Skill CMS does. The CMS is a skill wiki like interface to view all skills and then edit them. Though the app can not be currently used to edit the skills but it can be used to view them and try them on the chat interface.

API Information

For listing SUSI Skill groups, we have to call on /cms/getGroups.json

This will give you all groups in SUSI model in which skills are present. Current response:

{
  "session": {"identity": {
    "type": "host",
    "name": "14.139.194.24",
    "anonymous": true
  }},
  "accepted": true,
  "groups": [
    "Small Talk",
    "Entertainment",
    "Problem Solving",
    "Knowledge",
    "Assistants",
    "Shopping"
  ],
  "message": "Success: Fetched group list"
}

So, the groups object gives all the groups in which SUSI Skills are located.

Next comes, fetching of skills. For that the endpoint is /cms/getGroups.json?group=GROUP_NAME

Since we want all skills to be fetched, we call this api for every group. So, for example we will be calling http://api.susi.ai/cms/getSkillList.json?group=Entertainment for getting all skills in group “Entertainment”. Similarly for other groups as well.

Sample response of skill:

{
  "accepted": true,
  "model": "general",
  "group": "Shopping",
  "language": "en",
  "skills": {"amazon_shopping": {
    "image": "images/amazon_shopping.png",
    "author_url": "https://github.com/meriki",
    "examples": ["Buy a dress"],
    "developer_privacy_policy": null,
    "author": "Y S Ramya",
    "skill_name": "Shop At Amazon",
    "dynamic_content": true,
    "terms_of_use": null,
    "descriptions": "Searches items on Amazon.com for shopping",
    "skill_rating": null
  }},
  "message": "Success: Fetched skill list",
  "session": {"identity": {
    "type": "host",
    "name": "14.139.194.24",
    "anonymous": true
  }}
}

It gives all details about skills:

  1. image
  2. author_url
  3. examples
  4. developer_privacy_policy
  5. author
  6. skill_name
  7. dynamic_content
  8. terms_of_use
  9. descriptions
  10. skill_rating

Implementation in SUSI Android App

Skill Detail Section UI of Google Assistant

Skill Detail Section UI of SUSI SKill CMS

Skill Detail Section UI of SUSI Android App

The UI of skill detail section in SUSI Android App is the mixture of UI of Skill detail section in Google Assistant ap and SUSI Skill CMS. It displays details of skills in a beautiful manner with horizontal recyclerview used to display the examples.

So, we have to display following details about the skill in Skill Detail Section:

  1. Skill Name
  2. Author Name
  3. Skill Image
  4. Try it Button
  5. Description
  6. Examples
  7. Rating
  8. Content type (Dynamic/Static)
  9. Terms of Use
  10. Developer’s Privacy policy

Let’s see the implementation.

1. Whenever a skill Card View is clicked, showSkillDetailFragment() is called and it opens a new instance of a fragment named SkillDetailsFragment which shows details of the skill. We have to provide necessary information while starting the fragment. This information is passed as a Serializable.

fun showSkillDetailFragment(skillData: SkillData, skillGroup: String) {
   val skillDetailsFragment = SkillDetailsFragment.newInstance(skillData,skillGroup)
   (context as SkillsActivity).fragmentManager.beginTransaction()
           .replace(R.id.fragment_container, skillDetailsFragment)
           .commit()
}

2.  The data which was passed as a Serializeable object is now casted back to the required form and a method to set up the UI is called.

companion object {
   val SKILL_KEY = "skill_key"
   val SKILL_GROUP = "skill_group"
   fun newInstance(skillData: SkillData, skillGroup: String): SkillDetailsFragment {
       val fragment = SkillDetailsFragment()
       val bundle = Bundle()
       bundle.putSerializable(SKILL_KEY, skillData as Serializable)
       bundle.putString(SKILL_GROUP, skillGroup)
       fragment.arguments = bundle

       return fragment
   }
}

override fun onCreateView(inflater: LayoutInflater, container: ViewGroup?, savedInstanceState: Bundle?): View {
   skillData = arguments.getSerializable(
           SKILL_KEY) as SkillData
   skillGroup = arguments.getString(SKILL_GROUP)
   return inflater.inflate(R.layout.fragment_skill_details, container, false)
}

override fun onViewCreated(view: View?, savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
   setupUI()
   super.onViewCreated(view, savedInstanceState)
}

3. The setupUI() method then calls separate method for setting every part of the UI like image, name etc.

fun setupUI() {
   setImage()
   setName()
   setAuthor()
   setTryButton()
   setDescription()
   setExamples()
   setRating()
   setDynamicContent()
   setPolicy()
   setTerms()
}

4. One example of setting a part of the UI is setting Author name. It checks if AuthorName is null or not. After that it anchors author’s github account link with his/her name.

fun setAuthor() {
   skill_detail_author.text = "Author : ${activity.getString(R.string.no_skill_author)}"
   if(skillData.author != null && !skillData.author.isEmpty()){
       if(skillData.authorUrl == null || skillData.authorUrl.isEmpty())
           skill_detail_author.text = "Author : ${skillData.skillName}"
       else {
           skill_detail_author.linksClickable = true
           skill_detail_author.movementMethod = LinkMovementMethod.getInstance()
           if (android.os.Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= Build.VERSION_CODES.N) {
               skill_detail_author.text = Html.fromHtml("Author : <a href=\"${skillData.authorUrl}\">${skillData.author}</a>", Html.FROM_HTML_MODE_COMPACT)
           } else {
               skill_detail_author.text = Html.fromHtml("Author : <a href=\"${skillData.authorUrl}\">${skillData.author}</a>")
           }
       }
   }
}

Summary

So, this blog talked about how the Skill detail section in SUSI Android App is implemented. This included how a network call is made, logic for making different network calls, making a horizontal recyclerview for displaying examples. So, If you are looking forward to contribute to SUSI Android App, this can help you a little. But if not so, this may also help you in understanding and how you can implement horizontal recyclerview similar to Google Play Store.

References

  1. To know about servlets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Java_servlet
  2. To see how to implement one https://www.javatpoint.com/servlet-tutorial
  3. To see how to make network calls in android using Retrofit https://guides.codepath.com/android/Consuming-APIs-with-Retrofit
  4. To see how to implement custom RecyclerView Adapter https://www.survivingwithandroid.com/2016/09/android-recyclerview-tutorial.html

Performing Custom Experiments with PSLab

PSLab has the capability to perform a variety of experiments. The PSLab Android App and the PSLab Desktop App have built-in support for about 70 experiments. The experiments range from variety of trivial ones which are for school level to complicated ones which are meant for college students. However, it is nearly impossible to support a vast variety of experiments that can be performed using simple electronic circuits.

So, the blog intends to show how PSLab can be efficiently used for performing experiments which are otherwise not a part of the built-in experiments of PSLab. PSLab might have some limitations on its hardware, however in almost all types of experiments, it proves to be good enough.

  • Identifying the requirements for experiments

    • The user needs to identify the tools which are necessary for analysing the circuit in a given experiment. Oscilloscope would be essential for most experiments. The voltage & current sources might be useful if the circuit requires DC sources and similarly, the waveform generator would be essential if AC sources are needed. If the circuit involves the use and analysis of data of sensor, the sensor analysis tools might prove to be essential.
    • The circuit diagram of any given experiment gives a good idea of the requirements. In case, if the requirements are not satisfied due to the limitations of PSLab, then the user can try out alternate external features.
  • Using the features of PSLab

  • Using the oscilloscope
    • Oscilloscope can be used to visualise the voltage. The PSLab board has 3 channels marked CH1, CH2 and CH3. When connected to any point in the circuit, the voltages are displayed in the oscilloscope with respect to the corresponding channels.
    • The MIC channel can be if the input is taken from a microphone. It is necessary to connect the GND of the channels to the common ground of the circuit otherwise some unnecessary voltage might be added to the channels.

  • Using the voltage/current source
    • The voltage and current sources on board can be used for requirements within the range of +5V. The sources are named PV1, PV2, PV3 and PCS with V1, V2 and V3 standing for voltage sources and CS for current source. Each of the sources have their own dedicated ranges.
    • While using the sources, keep in mind that the power drawn from the PSLab board should be quite less than the power drawn by the board from the USB bus.
      • USB 3.0 – 4.5W roughly
      • USB 2.0 – 2.5W roughly
      • Micro USB (in phones) – 2W roughly
    • PSLab board draws a current of 140 mA when no other components are connected. So, it is advisable to limit the current drawn to less than 200 mA to ensure the safety of the device.
    • It is better to do a rough calculation of the power requirements in mind before utilising the sources otherwise attempting to draw excess power will damage the device.

  • Using the Waveform Generator
    • The waveform generator in PSLab is limited to 5 – 5000 Hz. This range is usually sufficient for most experiments. If the requirements are beyond this range, it is better to use an external function generator.
    • Both sine and square waves can be produced using the device. In addition, there is a feature to set the duty cycle in case of square waves.
  • Sensor Quick View and Sensor Data Logger
    • PSLab comes with the built in support for several plug and play sensors. The support for more sensors will be added in the future. If an experiment requires real time visualisation of sensor data, the Sensor Quick View option can be used whereas for recording the data for sensors for a period of time, the Sensor Data Logger can be used.
  • Analysing the Experiment

    • The oscilloscope is the most common tool for circuit analysis. The oscilloscope can sample data at very high frequencies (~250 kHz). The waveform at any point can be observed by connecting the channels of the oscilloscope in the manner mentioned above.
    • The oscilloscope has some features which will be essential like Trigger to stabilise the waveforms, XY Plot to plot characteristics graph of some devices, Fourier Transform of the Waveforms etc. The tools mentioned here are simple but highly useful.
    • For analysing the sensor data, the Sensor Quick View can be paused at any instant to get the data at any instant. Also, the logged data in Sensor Data Logger can be exported as a TXT/CSV file to keep a record of the data.
  • Additional Insight

    • The PSLab desktop app comes with the built-in support for the ipython console.
    • The desired quantities like voltages, currents, resistance, capacitance etc. can also be measured by using simple python commands through the ipython console.
    • A simple python script can be written to satisfy all the data requirements for the experiment. An example for the same is shown below.

This is script to produce two sine waves of 1 kHz and capturing & plotting the data.

from pylab import *
from PSL import sciencelab
I=sciencelab.connect()
I.set_gain('CH1', 2) # set input CH1 to +/-4V range
I.set_gain('CH2', 3) # set input CH2 to +/-4V range
I.set_sine1(1000) # generate 1kHz sine wave on output W1
I.set_sine2(1000) # generate 1kHz sine wave on output W2
#Connect W1 to CH1, and W2 to CH2. W1 can be attenuated using the manual amplitude knob on the PSlab
x,y1,y2 = I.capture2(1600,1.75,'CH1') 
plot(x,y1) #Plot of analog input CH1
plot(x,y2) #plot of analog input CH2
show()

 

References

Using Android Palette with Glide in Open Event Organizer Android App

Open Event Organizer is an Android Application for the Event Organizers and Entry Managers. The core feature of the App is to scan a QR code from the ticket to validate an attendee’s check in. Other features of the App are to display an overview of sales, ticket management and basic editing in the Event Details. Open Event API Server acts as a backend for this App. The App uses Navigation Drawer for navigation in the App. The side drawer contains menus, event name, event start date and event image in the header. Event name and date is shown just below the event image in a palette. For a better visibility Android Palette is used which extracts prominent colors from images. The App uses Glide to handle image loading hence GlidePalette library is used for palette generation which integrates Android Palette with Glide. I will be talking about the implementation of GlidePalette in the App in this blog.

The App uses Data Binding so the image URLs are directly passed to the XML views in the layouts and the image loading logic is implemented in the BindingAdapter class. The image loading code looks like:

GlideApp
   .with(imageView.getContext())
   .load(Uri.parse(url))
   ...
   .into(imageView);

 

So as to implement palette generation for event detail label, it has to be implemented with the event image loading. GlideApp takes request listener which implements methods on success and failure where palette can be generated using the bitmap loaded. With GlidePalette most of this part is covered in the library itself. It provides GlidePalette class which is a sub class of GlideApp request listener which is passed to the GlideApp using the method listener. In the App, BindingAdapter has a method named bindImageWithPalette which takes a view container, image url, a placeholder drawable and the ids of imageview and palette. The relevant code is:

@BindingAdapter(value = {"paletteImageUrl", "placeholder", "imageId", "paletteId"}, requireAll = false)
public static void bindImageWithPalette(View container, String url, Drawable drawable, int imageId, int paletteId) {
   ImageView imageView = (ImageView) container.findViewById(imageId);
   ViewGroup palette = (ViewGroup) container.findViewById(paletteId);

   if (TextUtils.isEmpty(url)) {
       if (drawable != null)
           imageView.setImageDrawable(drawable);
       palette.setBackgroundColor(container.getResources().getColor(R.color.grey_600));
       for (int i = 0; i < palette.getChildCount(); i++) {
           View child = palette.getChildAt(i);
           if (child instanceof TextView)
               ((TextView) child).setTextColor(Color.WHITE);
       }
       return;
   }
   GlidePalette<Drawable> glidePalette = GlidePalette.with(url)
       .use(GlidePalette.Profile.MUTED)
       .intoBackground(palette)
       .crossfade(true);

   for (int i = 0; i < palette.getChildCount(); i++) {
       View child = palette.getChildAt(i);
       if (child instanceof TextView)
           glidePalette
               .intoTextColor((TextView) child, GlidePalette.Swatch.TITLE_TEXT_COLOR);
   }
   setGlideImage(imageView, url, drawable, null, glidePalette);
}

 

The code is pretty obvious. The method checks passed URL for nullability. If null, it sets the placeholder drawable to the image view and default colors to the text views and the palette. The GlidePalette object is generated using the initializer method with which takes the image URL. The request is passed to the method setGlideImage which loads the image and passes the GlidePalette to the GlideApp as a listener. Accordingly, the palette is generated and the colors are set to the label and text views accordingly. The container view in the XML layout looks like:

<LinearLayout
   android:layout_width="match_parent"
   android:layout_height="wrap_content"
   android:orientation="vertical"
   app:paletteImageUrl="@{ event.largeImageUrl }"
   app:placeholder="@{ @drawable/header }"
   app:imageId="@{ R.id.image }"
   app:paletteId="@{ R.id.eventDetailPalette }">

 

Links:
1. Documentation for Glide Image Loading Library
2. GlidePalette Github Repository
3. Android Palette Official Documentation

Making App Name Configurable for Open Event Organizer App

Open Event Organizer is a client side android application of Open Event API server created for event organizers and entry managers. The application provides a way to configure the app name via environment variable app_name. This allows the user to change the app name just by setting the environment variable app_name to the new name. I will be talking about its implementation in the application in this blog.

Generally, in an android application, the app name is stored as a static string resource and set in the manifest file by referencing to it. In the Organizer application, the app name variable is defined in the app’s gradle file. It is assigned to the value of environment variable app_name and the default value is assigned if the variable is null. The relevant code in the manifest file is:

def app_name = System.getenv('app_name') ?: "eventyay organizer"

app/build.gradle

The default value of app_name is kept, eventyay organizer. This is the app name when the user doesn’t set environment variable app_name. To reference the variable from the gradle file into the manifest, manifestPlaceholders are defined in the gradle’s defaultConfig. It is a map of key value pairs. The relevant code is:

defaultConfig {
   ...
   ...
   manifestPlaceholders = [appName: app_name]
}

app/build.gradle

This makes appName available for use in the app manifest. In the manifest file, app name is assigned to the appName set in the gradle.

<application
   ...
   ...
   android:label="${appName}"

app/src/main/AndroidManifest.xml

By this, the application name is made configurable from the environment variable.

Links:
1. ManifestPlaceholders documentation
2. Stackoverflow answer about getting environment variable in gradle

Adding Number of Sessions Label in Open Event Android App

The Open Event Android project has a fragment for showing tracks of the event. The Tracks Fragment shows the list of all the Tracks with title and TextDrawable. But currently it is not showing how many sessions particular track has. Adding TextView with rounded corner and colored background showing number of sessions for track gives great UI. In this post I explain how to add TextView with rounded corner and how to use Plurals in Android.

1. Create Drawable for background

Firstly create track_rounded_corner.xml Shape Drawable which will be used as a background of the TextView. The <shape> element must be the root element of Shape drawable. The android:shape attribute defines the type of the shape. It can be rectangle, ring, oval, line. In our case we will use rectangle.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<shape xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:shape="rectangle">

    <corners android:radius="360dp" />

    <padding
        android:bottom="2dp"
        android:left="8dp"
        android:right="8dp"
        android:top="2dp" />
</shape>

 

Here the <corners> element creates rounded corners for the shape with the specified value of radius attribute. This tag is only applied when the shape is a rectangle. The <padding> element adds padding to the containing view. You can modify the value of the padding as per your need. You can feel shape with appropriate color using <solid> as we are setting color dynamically we will not set color here.

2. Add TextView and set Drawable

Now add TextView in the track list item which will contain number of sessions text. Set  track_rounded_corner.xml drawable we created before as background of this TextView using background attribute.

<TextView
        android:id="@+id/no_of_sessions"
        android:layout_width="wrap_content"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:background="@drawable/track_rounded_corner"
        android:textColor="@color/white"
        android:textSize="@dimen/text_size_small"/>

 

Set color and text size according to your need. Here don’t add padding in the TextView because we have already added padding in the Drawable. Adding padding in the TextView will override the value specified in the drawable.

3.  Create TextView object in ViewHolder

Now create TextView object noOfSessions and bind it with R.id.no_of_sessions using ButterKnife.bind() method.

public class TrackViewHolder extends RecyclerView.ViewHolder {
    ...

    @BindView(R.id.no_of_sessions)
    TextView noOfSessions;

    private Track track;

    public TrackViewHolder(View itemView, Context context) {
        super(itemView);
        ButterKnife.bind(this, itemView);

    public void bindTrack(Track track) {
        this.track = track;
        ...
    }   
}

 

Here TrackViewHolder is a RecycleriewHolder for the TracksListAdapter. The bindTrack() method of this view holder is used to bind Track with ViewHolder.

4.  Add Quantity Strings (Plurals) for Sessions

Now we want to set the value of TextView. Here if the number of sessions of the track is zero or more than one then we need to set text  “0 sessions” or “2 sessions”. If the track has only one session than we need to set text “1 session” to make text meaningful. In android we have Quantity Strings which can be used to make this task easy.

<resources>
    <!--Quantity Strings(Plurals) for sessions-->
    <plurals name="sessions">
        <item quantity="zero">No sessions</item>
        <item quantity="one">1 session</item>
        <item quantity="other">%d sessions</item>
    </plurals>
</resources>

 

Using this plurals resource we can get appropriate string for specified quantity like “zero”, “one” and  “other” will return “No sessions”, “1 session”, and “2 sessions”. accordingly. 2 can be any value other than 0 and 1.

Now let’s set background color and test for the text view.

int trackColor = Color.parseColor(track.getColor());
int sessions = track.getSessions().size();

noOfSessions.getBackground().setColorFilter(trackColor, PorterDuff.Mode.SRC_ATOP);
noOfSessions.setText(context.getResources().getQuantityString(R.plurals.sessions,
                sessions, sessions));

 

Here we are setting background color of textview using getbackground().setColorFilter() method. To set appropriate text we are using getQuantityString() method which takes plural resource and quantity(in our case no of sessions) as parameters.

Now we are all set. Run the app it will look like this.

Conclusion

Adding TextView with rounded corner and colored background in the App gives great UI and UX. To know more about Rounded corner TextView and Quantity Strings follow the links given below.