How to pass data between fragments of an Activity in Android app

This blog demonstrates how to pass values of a variable between two fragments of a single activity. The blog will mainly include the demonstration of passing values between fragments while using BottomSheet Navigation as done in PSLab Android application.

This blog contains the work done by me in the Lux Meter instrument of the PSLab Android app of passing data from LuxMeterConfiguration fragment to LuxMeterData fragment as shown in the featured image to set the high limit for the pointer and to set the update period of the Lux Sensor. The blog will solve the difficult task of communication between two fragments of a single activity. For passing data between multiple fragments of different activities, refer to [1].

How to pass data between fragments?

In this blog, I will pass data from Fragment 2 to Fragment 1 only. But vice versa or passing data from both the fragments can also be made using the same given approach.

  • First, make a static method in Fragment 1 which can set the parameters i.e. the value of the variables as soon as the fragment is inflated as follow
public static void setParameters(int one, int two, int three) {
        Fragment1.firstValue = one;
        Fragment1.secondValue = two;
        Fragment1.thirdValue = three;
    }
  • Now, there is one point to mark that Fragment 1 will be inflated only when Fragment 2 gets destroyed. Else, other than default inflation of Fragment 1, there is no way Fragment 1 can be inflated after navigating to Fragment 2.
  • So, override the OnDestroy() method of Fragment 2 and use the setParameters() method to set the value of variables from Fragment 2 to be used in Fragment 1.
@Override
    public void onDestroyView() {
        super.onDestroyView();
        highValue = getValueFromText(highLimit, 0, highLimitMax);
        updatePeriodValue = getValueFromText(updatePeriod, updatePeriodMin, updatePeriodMax + 100);
        Fragment1.setParameters(selectedSensor, highValue, updatePeriodValue);
    }

Here, the highValue, updatePeriodValue and selectedSensor are the variables being used in the Lux Meter fragment in PSLab Android app. But they can be replaced by the necessary variables as per the app.

So, in this way, we can pass data between the fragments of the same Activity in an Android application. Above demonstration can be extended in passing values between multiple fragments of the same Activity by creating different methods in different fragments.

Resources

  1. Blog on how to pass data between fragments of different/same activities: https://www.journaldev.com/14207/android-passing-data-between-fragments

Prevent Android Activity from Operating while using Bottom Sheet in PSLab App

This blog demonstrates how to prevent the Android Activity in the background from operating while the Bottom Sheet is up in the foreground. The demonstration will be purely from the work I have done under PR #1355 in PSLab Android repository.

Why prevent the Activity from operating?

When using Bottom Sheet in Android, it is preferable to dim the screen behind the Bottom Sheet to provide a good user experience. But the dimming of the screen is itself an indication that the screen won’t work. Also, if the Bottom Sheet is open and while sliding it, if, by mistake, any button in the background of the bottom sheet gets pressed, then if the function related to that button starts executing then it can create a bad user experience.

For example, in PSLab Android app, in Accelerometer instrument, there are record/pause and delete buttons in the toolbar as shown in figure 1. Now, if the bottom sheet is opened and while closing it if the delete button is by mistake pressed by the user, then whole recorded data gets deleted. Thus, it’s a good practice to prevent the background Activity from operating while Bottom Sheet is opened.

Figure 1. Accelerometer Instrument in PSLab Android app

How to prevent the Activity from operating?

In this demonstration, I will use the method followed by PSLab Android app in creating a Bottom Sheet and making the background dim using a View widget. A step by step guide on how to make a Bottom Sheet as in PSLab Android app can be found in [1] and [2].

Strategy

The strategy used in solving this problem is setting an OnClickListener to the View that is used to dim the background and close the Bottom Sheet (if open) and hide the View as soon as the method is called. The View is again made visible when an upward slide gesture is made to open the Bottom Sheet.

Follow the below steps to get the desired results:

  • First, in OnCreate() method, set the OnTouchListener to the view.
view.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
@Override
public void onClick(View v) {
                              if(bottomSheetBehavior.getState()==BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_EXPANDED)
                    bottomSheetBehavior.setState(BottomSheetBehavior.STATE_HIDDEN);
tvShadow.setVisibility(View.GONE);
      }
});
  • Now, override the OnSlide() method of the GestureDetector class and add the following code to it.
@Override
public void onSlide(@NonNull View bottomSheet, float slideOffset) {
    Float value = (float) MathUtils.map((double) slideOffset, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 0.8);
    view.setVisibility(View.VISIBLE);
    view.setAlpha(value);
   }

So, now test the Bottom Sheet and you will find that the Bottom Sheet will get closed as soon as the click is made outside it if it is opened. The demonstration of the working of the above code is shown in figure 2.

Figure 2. Demonstration of preventing the background Activity from operating while Bottom Sheet is up

Resources

  1. http://thetechnocafe.com/make-bottom-sheet-android/: Blog on how to make a Bottom Sheet in Android

How to use Mobile Sensors as Instruments in PSLab Android App

This blog demonstrates how to use built-in mobile sensors in an Android application. This blog will mainly feature my work done in PSLab Android repository of making a Compass and Accelerometer instrument using built-in mobile sensors.

How to access built-in mobile sensors?

Android provides an abstract class called SensorManager which is able to communicate with the hardware i.e. here the sensors in the mobile. But the SensorManager can’t provide continuous data fetched by the sensor. For this, Android provides an interface known as SensorEventListener which receives notifications from SensorManager whenever there is a new sensor data.

How to implement the functionality of sensors in Android app?

Following is a step by step process on how to add support for different sensors in an Android app

  • First, make a new class which extends SensorEventListener and override the default methods.
public class SensorActivity extends Activity implements SensorEventListener {

     public SensorActivity() {
        // Default Constructor      
     }

     @Override
     public void onAccuracyChanged(Sensor sensor, int accuracy) {
     }

     @Override
     public void onSensorChanged(SensorEvent event) {
     }
 }

Here, the SensorActivity() is the default constructor of the class and the onAccuracyChanged() and onSensorChanged() methods will be explained soon.

  • Now declare the SensorManager and use the sensor needed in the app.
private final SensorManager mSensorManager;
private final Sensor mAccelerometer;

     public SensorActivity() {
         mSensorManager = (SensorManager)getSystemService(SENSOR_SERVICE);
         mAccelerometer =        mSensorManager.getDefaultSensor(Sensor.TYPE_ACCELEROMETER);
     }

Here, I have used Sensor.TYPE_ACCELEROMETER to use the built-in Accelerometer in the device. Some of the other options available are:

  1. TYPE_LIGHT – To measure ambient light
  2. TYPE_MAGNETOMETER – To measure magnetic field along different axis
  3. TYPE_GYROSCOPE – To measure movements (sudden changes) in any particular direction

The list of all available sensors in Android can be found in [1].

  • It is necessary to disable the sensors especially when the activity is paused. Failing to do so can drain the battery in just a few hours.

NOTE: The system will not disable sensors automatically when the screen turns off.

So, to save the battery and make the app efficient, we can use the registerListener method to notify the SensorManager to start fetching data from sensor and unregisterListener to notify it to stop.

@Override
protected void onResume() {
         super.onResume();
         mSensorManager.registerListener(this, mAccelerometer, SensorManager.SENSOR_DELAY_NORMAL);
     }

@Override
     protected void onPause() {
         super.onPause();
         mSensorManager.unregisterListener(this);
     }


The onResume() method activates when the app is resumed from a paused state and the onPause() method is called when the app is paused i.e. some other app draws over the current app.

  • Now coming back to onAccuracyChanged() and onSensorChanged() methods, the onAccuracyChanged() method is used to set the accuracy of a sensor. For example, while using GeoLocation sensor, sometimes the position of the mobile isn’t very accurate and so we can define the accuracy level in this method so that the fetched data is used for calculations only if it is in the provided range. And the onSensorChanged() method is the main method where all the data is processed as soon as the new data is notified.

To get the latest value from the sensor, we can use

@Override
public void onSensorChanged(SensorEvent event) {
   data = Float.valueOf(event.values[0]);
   unRegisterListener();
}

Here, the event is an instance of the SensorEvent class which provides the updated data fetched from the sensor. Event.values is used to get the values for any of the three axis including the bias in their values. Following is the list of the index for which we can get a necessary value

values[0] = x_uncalib without bias compensation
values[1] = y_uncalib without bias compensation
values[2] = z_uncalib without bias compensation
values[3] = estimated x_bias
values[4] = estimated y_bias 
values[5] = estimated z_bias

So, in this way, we can add support for any built-in mobile sensor in our Android application.

Resources

How to Add Icons or Menus into the PSLab Android App Toolbar

This blog demonstrates how to add different icons like help, play, pause, etc. and/or menu bar in the toolbar of an Android app along with setting their visibilities on the toolbar i.e. to display the icons only when space is available else to add them in the menu. The topic will be mainly explained by taking the example of menus and icons added to the PSLab app.

How to add a menu in a toolbar?

Following are the steps to add a menu or an icon in the toolbar widget of the Android app

  • First, add toolbar widget to the main layout file as follows
<android.support.v7.widget.Toolbar
   android:id="@+id/compass_toolbar"
   android:layout_width="match_parent"
   android:layout_height="?attr/actionBarSize"
   android:background="?attr/colorPrimary"
   app:popupTheme="@style/AppTheme.PopupOverlay"
   app:title="@string/compass" />

Here, popupTheme is the theme that activates when inflating the toolbar. Usually, it is kept similar to the default theme of the toolbar.

  • Now as the toolbar is ready, we can make the menu that needs to be inflated on the toolbar. For making a menu, make a folder named menu in the resources folder. Now, add a menu resource file in it by giving a proper name and then add the following code
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<menu xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
   xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto">
   <item
       android:id="@+id/compass_help_icon"
       android:icon="@drawable/compass_help_icon"
       android:title="@string/show_axis_help"
       app:showAsAction="always" />
</menu>

A detailed explanation of the above code is as follows:

  1. The <menu>…</menu> covers all the items in the menu. There can be sub-menu and also sub-sub-menu too. To make a sub-menu, use <menu>…</menu> inside the main menu.
  2. The <item> tag inside the menu defines a specific item to be included in the menu. The icon attribute of an item is used to show the icon on the toolbar. The title attribute of an item is used to show the text inside the menu if space isn’t available to show the icon on the toolbar. The showAsAction attribute is used to define the method of an item i.e. how the item should be visible to the user. Following are some of the values that showAsAction attribute can take:
    • always – It is used to show the icon of the item on the toolbar everytime
    • never – It is used to show the item as a text in the menu everytime the activity is opened
    • ifRoom – It is used to show the icon on the toolbar if there is enough space else the item is included in the menu

NOTE: Always give IDs to menu items as they are used to distinctly identify the item in the java code.

Figure 1. Example of menu and icons in toolbar in PSLab app

As shown in figure 1, the first two icons have always value in their showAsAction attribute whereas other items have never values in their showAsAction attribute.

  • Now the layout and the menu are ready to be inflated from the Java code. First, the toolbar needs to be set up from the Java code. So find the toolbar with its id and then write the following line in the code.
setSupportActionBar(mToolbar);
  • Now the toolbar is ready and so the menu can be inflated on it. So, override the following method to inflate the menu
@Override
public boolean onCreateOptionsMenu(Menu menu) {
   MenuInflater inflater = getMenuInflater();
   inflater.inflate(R.menu.activity_compass_help_menu, menu);
   return true;
}

Here, the getMenuInflater() method is used to inflate the menu on the toolbar.

  • Now override the onCreateOptionsMenu() method to do the predefined task of selecting the icon or the item from the menu.
@Override
public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
   switch (item.getItemId()) {
       case R.id.compass_help_icon:
           // Do something
           break;
       default:
           break;
   }
   return true;
}

So, in this way a menu can be made so that the number of items delivered to the user can be increased by using the minimum space possible.

Resources

  1. https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/menus – Android Developers guide on how to make a menu in Android

Working with Shared Preferences in PSLab App

This blog demonstrates how to work with Shared Preferences in an Android app. The blog includes a detailed explanation about what are the methods available to store data in Android and where to use Shared Preferences (a type of data storage method) to save extra memory usage and work efficiently. After the detailed explanation is a step by step guide on how to use Shared Preferences in any Android app by taking an example of one used in PSLab Android app under PR #1236

What are methods available in Android for data storage ?

Android provides a variety of methods to store data some of which are

  1. Shared Preferences
  2. Internal Storage
  3. External Storage
  4. SQLite Database

A very brief description of the above four data storage method would be

  • Shared Preference – Used to store key-data pair for a given app
  • Internal Storage – Used to store any type of data such as pictures, videos, etc. which can be used only within the app
  • External Storage – Used to store any type of data such as audio, video, etc. which can be shared between different apps or different systems
  • SQLite database – It is also a type of Internal Storage method but with a different programming language in use which is SQL

Where to use different data storage methods?

Following are some of the  distinct cases where the above-mentioned data storing methods can be differentiated

  • Shared Preference – Shared Preference should be used when a very small amount of data i.e. key-value pair data is to be stored. An example of it would be storing the state of a widget when an app is closed and restoring the state when the app is opened again.
  • Internal Storage – Internal storage should be used while storing data such as text files, audio, video, photographs, etc. but occupying a very less device memory space. So, internal storage should be used when a limited amount of data needs to be stored for app execution.
  • External Storage – External storage should be used when data to be stored is very large and as a result, Internal storage can’t be used. External Storage can also write data on external memories like SD Card, etc.

How to use Shared Preferences in an Android app?

Following is a step by step guide on how Shared Preferences were used in PSLab Android app

  • First, declare a variable using final and static keyword so as to make its value permanent because it will be used to differentiate current activity/fragment data from other activity/fragment data in a common folder of Shared Preference.
private static final String FRAG_CONFIG = "LuxMeterConfig";
  • Now, we can make Shared Preferences for current activity/fragment by using the code:

When in Activity:

final SharedPreferences settings = getSharedPreferences(FRAG_CONFIG, Context.MODE_PRIVATE);

When in fragment:

final SharedPreferences settings = getActivity().getSharedPreferences(FRAG_CONFIG, Context.MODE_PRIVATE);

Here Context.MODE_PRIVATE is a context through which we define our Shared Preference i.e. for the current context it means that the above made Shared Preference can only be used inside the current activity/fragment. A detailed description of other modes available can be found in [1].

  • Now, Shared Preference for current activity/fragment is ready for use and so now, we can add as many numbers of the key-value pair as we want by using the following code
settings.getInt("HighValue", 2000);

Here, “HighValue” is the key whereas 2000 is the value. The above method is used to give a default value when a pair is created.

  • Now to edit the value of any before-made pair, we can use the Editor method available in the Shared Preference class to edit the default value.
SharedPreferences.Editor editor = settings.edit();
editor.putInt("HighValue", 5000);
editor.apply();

Here, the editor is an instance of edit() method available in Shared Preference class. After changing the default value of the key, we can use apply() method to apply the changes to the default key-value pair.

Where to find the Shared Preference folder on the target device?

To find the Shared Preference folder for any Android application, do the following steps:

  • Connect the target device (device on which app is installed) to the system running Android Studio.
  • Now click on the “Device File Explorer” button in Android Studio as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. Device File Explorer button in Android Studio

  • Now after clicking the button, a list of folders would pop up as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2. Screenshot of Android Studio showing list of folders on the device

  • Now follow the given path, and you can see the desired folder
/data/data/YOUR_PACKAGE_NAME/shared_prefs/YOUR_PACKAGE_NAME_preferences.xml

So, in this way, the Shared Preferences can be used for data storage in any Android application.

Resources

  1. https://www.androidauthority.com/how-to-store-data-locally-in-android-app-717190/ – Documentation on different modes available to define the context of Shared Preference
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6146106/where-are-shared-preferences-stored – StackOverflow Q/A for where the Shared Preferences are stored on the target device

Implementing Rotary Knob in PSLab Android App

PSLab android application as we all know has got various instrument such as oscilloscope, logic analyzer, wave generator, etc.. . Although many of  these instrument require redesigning of it’s UI. One such instrument is the  Multimeter. The Multimeter UI required the implementation of the rotary knob as it is also present in an actual Multimeter.Thus this blog is solely on how to implement a Rotary Knob in an Android App.

Figure 1: Showing a basic knob

What is Rotary Knob ?

A Rotary knob is  a customizable selector that replicates the behaviour of a knob with discrete values.The knob is a powerful tool it has a lot of advantages over other radio-buttons, seek bars or other selectors.[1][2]

      • It has an immediate graphical indication of the current value, the number of choices and where the value is in the overall range.
      • Works fine also with few choices, as a multi-state toggle.
      • Swipe gestures allow to change values very quickly, using the entire screen for the gesture, but only a tiny zone of it for the graphics.

Implementation of Rotary Knob in your app[1]

In this blog the rotary knob is implemented using the BeppiMenozzi Knob library[1] as by doing this we don’t have to manually create the extra class for the knob and we don’t have to write the code from scratch.

This blog will give you step by step guide on how to implement this on your app.

        1. In your project level build.gradle file add the following lines of code.
          allprojects {
            repositories {
                   ….
                maven { url "https://jitpack.io" }
                ….
            }
          }
        2. In you app level build.gradle file add the following lines of codes in your dependencies.
          compile 'com.github.BeppiMenozzi:Knob:1.9.
        3. Minimal code :-
          This contains the minimum number of lines of code for knob

          xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
          ...
          <it.beppi.knoblibrary.Knob
                  android:layout_width="64dp"
                  android:layout_height="64dp"
                  android:id="@+id/knob"
                  app:kNumberOfStates="6"
           />

          Java listener-

          xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
          Knob knob = (Knob) findViewById(R.id.knob);
          knob.setState(firstState);
          knob.setOnStateChanged(new Knob.OnStateChanged() {
                  @Override
                  public void onState(int state) {
                  // do something
                  }
              });

          This java method gives the user the position of the tip of theknob.
          Also there are various other advantages of using this library.

              • The Knob is completely customizable. The many customizable attributes can all be set both via xml file, and programmatically.
              • This  page gives the list of all the methods for customizing a knob.

           

        4.  Implementing a simple knob app
          tv= (TextView)findViewById(R.id.tv);
          Knob knob = (Knob) findViewById(R.id.knob);
          knob.setState(0);
          knob.setOnStateChanged(new Knob.OnStateChanged() {
             @Override
             public void onState(int state) {
                 // do something
                 tv.setText(String.valueOf(state));
             }
          });

Now let us see the implementation of this simple app

Figure 2: showing basic knob implementation in android

So this is how we can implement a rotary knob in any Android Application.

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

Export Sensor Data from the PSLab Android App

The PSLab Android App allows users to log data from the sensors connected to the PSLab hardware device. Sensor Data is stored locally but can be exported in various formats. Currently the app supports exporting data in .txt and .csv (comma-separated values) format. Exported data can be used by other users or scientists to study or analyze the data. Data can also be used by other softwares like Python, GNU octave, Matlab to further process it or visualise it in 3D. In this post, we will discuss how to export the locally stored realm data in .txt or .csv format. We will take the data of MPU6050 sensor as an example for understanding how locally logged data is exported.

Query Local Realm Data

We have attached a long click listener to sensor list view that detects which list item is selected. Clicking any sensor from sensor list for slightly longer than usual would result in a dialog popping up with the option to

  • Export Data: Results in exporting data in a format which is selected in App settings
  • Share Data: Shares sensor data with other users or on social media (yet to be implemented)
Source: PSLab Android App

As soon as the Export Data option is selected from the dialog, sensor data of the corresponding sensor is queried. The data model of the sensor and how it’s saved in the local realm database is discussed in the post Sensor Data Logging in the PSLab Android App.

RealmResults<DataMPU6050> results = realm.where(DataMPU6050.class).findAll();

Once we get the required data, we need to write it in .txt or .csv format depending on what the user has selected as a preference in App Settings.

Getting User Preference from App Settings

The format in which the sensor data should be exported is presented to the user as a preference in App Settings. Currently the app supports two formats .txt and .csv.

Source: PSLab Android App
private String format;
SharedPreferences preferences = PreferenceManager.getDefaultSharedPreferences(this);
String formatValue = preferences.getString("export_data_format_list", "0");
if ("0".equals(formatValue))
   format = "txt";
else
   format = "csv";

Export Data in .txt Format

To export the sensor data in .txt format, we need to create a .txt file in the external storage. folder variable is a path to PSLab Android folder in the external storage. If the folder doesn’t exist, it will be created.

File folder = new File(Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory() + File.separator + "PSLab Android");

After getting reference of the app folder in the external storage, we would create a text file in the PSLab Android folder. As soon as the text file is created, we initialize the FileOutputStream object to write data into the text file. The sensor data that was queried in the previous section is written into the text file just created. Finally after the complete sensor data is written, the stream is closed by stream.close() method.

FileOutputStream stream = null;
File file = new File(folder, "sensorData.txt");
try {
   stream = new FileOutputStream(file);
   for (DataMPU6050 temp : results) {
       stream.write((String.valueOf(temp.getAx()) + " " + temp.getAy() + " " + temp.getAz() + " " +
               temp.getGx() + " " + temp.getGy() + " " + temp.getGz() + " " + temp.getTemperature() + "\n").getBytes());
   }
} catch (IOException e) {
   e.printStackTrace();
} finally {
   try {
       if (stream != null) {
           stream.close();
       }
   } catch (IOException e) {
       e.printStackTrace();
   }
}

Export Data in .csv Format

Writing data in .csv format is similar to that in .txt format. As CSV stands for Comma Separated Values, which means each data value is separated by “,” (comma). It is similar to an excel sheet. The first row consists of labels that denote the type of value in that particular column. The other rows consist of the sensor data, with each row corresponding to a sample of the sensor data.

File file = new File(folder, "sensorData.csv");
PrintWriter writer;
try {
   writer = new PrintWriter(file);
   StringBuilder stringBuilder = new StringBuilder();
   stringBuilder.append("Ax,Ay,Ax,Gx,Gy,Gz,Temperature\n");
   for (DataMPU6050 temp : results) {
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getAx()));
       stringBuilder.append(',');
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getAy()));
       stringBuilder.append(',');
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getAz()));
       stringBuilder.append(',');
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getGx()));
       stringBuilder.append(',');
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getGy()));
       stringBuilder.append(',');
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getGz()));
       stringBuilder.append(',');
       stringBuilder.append(String.valueOf(temp.getTemperature()));
       stringBuilder.append('\n');
   }
   writer.write(stringBuilder.toString());
   writer.close();
} catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
   e.printStackTrace();
}

Resources

Sensor Data Logging in the PSLab Android App

The PSLab Android App allows users to log data from sensors connected to the PSLab hardware device. The Connected sensors should support I2C, SPI communication protocols to communicate with the PSLab device successfully. The only prerequisite is the additional support for the particular sensor plugin in Android App. The user can log data from various sensors and measure parameters like temperature, humidity, acceleration, magnetic field, etc. These parameters are useful in predicting and monitoring the environment and in performing many experiments.

The support for the sensor plugins was added during the porting python communication library code to Java. In this post,  we will discuss how we logged real time sensor data from the PSLab Hardware Device. We used Realm database to store the sensor data locally. We have taken the MPU6050 sensor as an example to understand the complete process of logging sensor data.

Creating Realm Object for MPU6050 Sensor Data

The MPU6050 sensor gives the acceleration and gyroscope readings along the three axes X, Y and Z. So the data object storing the readings of the mpu sensor have variables to store the acceleration and gyroscope readings along all three axes.

public class DataMPU6050 extends RealmObject {

   private double ax, ay, az;
   private double gx, gy, gz;
   private double temperature;

   public DataMPU6050() {  }

   public DataMPU6050(double ax, double ay, double az, double gx, double gy, double gz, double temperature) {
       this.ax = ax;
       this.ay = ay;
       this.az = az;
       this.gx = gx;
       this.gy = gy;
       this.gz = gz;
       this.temperature = temperature;
   }

  // getter and setter for all variables
}

Creating Runnable to Start/Stop Data Logging

To sample the sensor data at 500ms interval, we created a runnable object and passed it to another thread which would prevent lagging of the UI thread. We can start/stop logging by changing the value of the boolean loggingThreadRunning on button click. TaskMPU6050 is an AsyncTask which reads each sample of sensor data from the PSLab device, it gets executed inside a while loop which is controlled by boolean loggingThreadRunning. Thread.sleep(500) pauses the thread for 500ms, this is also one of the reason to transfer the logging to another thread instead of logging the sensor data in UI thread. If such 500ms delays are incorporated in UI thread, app experience won’t be smooth for the users.

Runnable loggingRunnable = new Runnable() {
   @Override
   public void run() {
       try {
           MPU6050 sensorMPU6050 = new MPU6050(i2c);
           while (loggingThreadRunning) {
               TaskMPU6050 taskMPU6050 = new TaskMPU6050(sensorMPU6050);
               taskMPU6050.execute();
              // use lock object to synchronize threads
               Thread.sleep(500);
           }
       } catch (IOException   InterruptedException e) {
           e.printStackTrace();
       }
   }
};

Sampling of Sensor Data

We created an AsyncTask to read each sample of the sensor data from the PSLab device in the background thread. The getRaw() method read raw values from the sensor and returned an ArrayList containing the acceleration and gyro values. After the values were read successfully, they were updated in the data card in the foreground which was visible to the user. This data card acts as a real-time screen for the user. All the samples read are appended to ArrayList mpu6050DataList, when the user clicks on button Save Data, the collected samples are saved to the local realm database.

private ArrayList<DataMPU6050> mpu6050DataList = new ArrayList<>();

private class TaskMPU6050 extends AsyncTask<Void, Void, Void> {

   private MPU6050 sensorMPU6050;
   private ArrayList<Double> dataMPU6050 = new ArrayList<>();

   TaskMPU6050(MPU6050 mpu6050) {
       this.sensorMPU6050 = mpu6050;
   }

   @Override
   protected Void doInBackground(Void... params) {
       try {
           dataMPU6050 = sensorMPU6050.getRaw();
       } catch (IOException e) {
           e.printStackTrace();
       }
       return null;
   }

   @Override
   protected void onPostExecute(Void aVoid) {
       super.onPostExecute(aVoid);
       // update data card TextViews with data read.
       DataMPU6050 tempObject = new DataMPU6050(dataMPU6050.get(0), dataMPU6050.get(1), dataMPU6050.get(2),
               dataMPU6050.get(4), dataMPU6050.get(5), dataMPU6050.get(6), dataMPU6050.get(3));
       mpu6050DataList.add(tempObject);
       synchronized (lock) {
           lock.notify();
       }
   }
}
Source: PSLab Android App

There is an option for Start/Stop Logging, clicking on which will change the value of boolean loggingThreadRunning which stops starts/stops the logging thread.

When the Save Data button is clicked, all the samples of sensor data collected from the  PSLab device till that point are saved to the local realm database.

realm.beginTransaction();
for (DataMPU6050 tempObject : mpu6050DataList) {
   realm.copyToRealm(tempObject);
}
realm.commitTransaction();

Data can also be written asynchronously to the local realm database. For other methods to write to a real database refer write section of Realm docs.

Resources

Implement Wave Generation Functionality in The PSLab Android App

The PSLab Android App works as an Oscilloscope using the audio jack of Android device. The implementation for the scope using in-built mic is discussed in the post Using the Audio Jack to make an Oscilloscope in the PSLab Android App. Another application which can be implemented by hacking the audio jack is Wave Generation. We can generate different types of signals on the wires connected to the audio jack using the Android APIs that control the Audio Hardware. In this post, I will discuss about how we can generate wave by using the Android APIs for controlling the audio hardware.

Configuration of Audio Jack for Wave Generation

Simply cut open the wire of a cheap pair of earphones to gain control of its terminals and attach alligator pins by soldering or any other hack(jugaad) that you can think of. After you are done with the tinkering of the earphone jack, it should look something like shown in the image below.

Source: edn.com

If your earphones had mic, it would have an extra wire for mic input. In any general pair of earphones the wire configuration is almost the same as shown in the image below.

Source: flickr

Android APIs for Controlling Audio Hardware

AudioRecord and AudioTrack are the two classes in Android that manages recording and playback respectively. For Wave Generation application we only need AudioTrack class.

Creating an AudioTrack object: We need the following parameters to initialise an AudioTrack object.

STREAM TYPE: Type of stream like STREAM_SYSTEM, STREAM_MUSIC, STREAM_RING, etc. For wave generation purpose we are using stream music. Every stream has its own maximum and minimum volume level.

SAMPLING RATE: it is the rate at which source samples the audio signal.

BUFFER SIZE IN BYTES: total size in bytes of the internal buffer from where the audio data is read for playback.

MODES: There are two modes

  • MODE_STATIC: Audio data is transferred from Java to native layer only once before the audio starts playing.
  • MODE_STREAM: Audio data is streamed from Java to 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.

private int minTrackBufferSize;
private static final int SAMPLING_RATE = 44100;
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);

Function createBuffer() creates the audio buffer that is played using the audio track object i.e audio track object would write this buffer on playback stream. Function below fills random values in the buffer due to which a random signal is generated. If we want to generate some specific wave like Square Wave, Sine Wave, Triangular Wave, we have to fill the buffer accordingly.

public short[] createBuffer(int frequency) {
   // generating a random buffer for now
   short[] buffer = new short[minTrackBufferSize];
   for (int i = 0; i < minTrackBufferSize; i++) {
       buffer[i] = (short) (random.nextInt(32767) + (-32768));
   }
   return buffer;
}

We created a write() method and passed the audio buffer created in above step as an argument to the method. This method writes audio buffer into audio stream for playback.

public void write(short[] buffer) {
   /* write buffer to audioTrack */
   audioTrack.write(buffer, 0, buffer.length);
}

Amplitude of the signal can be controlled by changing the volume level of the stream on which the buffer is being played. As we are playing the audio in music stream, so STREAM_MUSIC is passed as a parameter to the setStreamVolume() method.

value: value is amplitude level of the stream. Every stream has its different amplitude levels. getStreamMaxVolume(STREAM_TYPE) method is used to find the maximum valid amplitude level of any stream.
flag: this stackoverflow post explain all the flags of the AudioManager class.

AudioManager audioManager = (AudioManager)getSystemService(Context.AUDIO_SERVICE); audioManager.setStreamVolume(AudioManager.STREAM_MUSIC, value, flag);

Roadmap

We are working on implementing methods to fill audio buffer with specific values such that waves like Sinusoidal wave, Square Wave, Sawtooth Wave can be generated during the playback of the buffer using the AudioTrack object.

Resources