WUELUG10 was our 10th meeting overall, the 2nd online meeting and the very first international meeting. Our main topic this time around was open-source development, leading to the first WUELUG OS project!
Mission of WUELUG10
With WUELUG we strive to avoid the cliché of just boring presentation after presentation. Our main focus has always been establishing an actual community between our #LabVIEWfriends. In the past we have visited many interesting workplaces and laboratories together, such as the Nano-Optics department at the University of Würzburg.
This WUELUG, we wanted to actually create a tangible something together. Julian, from Siemens had the perfect idea, a LabVIEW API for Neopixels. On its own, it’s already exciting, who doesn’t enjoy twinkling LEDS, hacking together various electronic components and LabVIEW integration? But to really bring the community closer, this project simply had to be open source. Actually working together and directly helping each other would be the epitome of what WUELUG stands for.
In the past few months, we have seen a very positive development in the LabVIEW ecosystem: More and more drivers, helpers and also larger libraries are published as open-source packages and made available to the community. NI supports this trend with the LabVIEW Community Edition, which can be used free of charge for non-commercial projects and which, with the updated LINX toolkit, is aimed strongly at the maker scene.
The main goal is to integrate LabVIEW, Arduino and Neopixels. Neopixels are a recent development, they consist of small, individually addressable LEDs. This way, you don’t have to worry about multiplexing or any other sort of witchcraft.
In our use-case, the LEDs act as a status indicator and also just general eye candy for server racks. The LEDs are controlled by an Arduino, connected to the network via an Ethernet shield. We made a LabVIEW client, entirely in Community Edition. This client serves as the front-end, where the user can set the desired colours and behaviour. The LabVIEW front-end then sends the commands over to the Pi, using UDP. This way we can avoid even the digital handshakes during the pandemic.
Continuing on this open source theme, we invited Derrick Bommarito to present his robotics project, involving all open source elements.
The rover is a two-wheeled robot controlled by the combo of a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. Both of them easily-accessible, open source platforms. The rover has several sensors, such as an IMU, a GPS module and a camera for live streaming. Naturally, this all runs with LabVIEW. With the help of LINX, it is possible to load a LabVIEW runtime system onto the Pi.
Once the software is up and running, one can even control Derrick’s rover from anywhere on the globe.
A pragmatical introduction to an open-source development workflow
Next up was Jörg, he introduced the world of open and inner source LabVIEW development, explaining the workflows behind that collaboration model. Entering the open-source ecosystem may seem to present many challenges, but in fact, all these challenges lead to benefits.
Jörg and Thomas from Siemens did a fast, hands-on example on how to contribute the project. This involved selecting an issue, forking the entire repository and then making the necessary changes to your own repo. Once you are down, commit, push and make a merge request to the original upstream repo.
Everything you wanted to know about licenses, but were too afraid to ask
Continuing the general theme, was Oli Wachno. He presented the unglamorous, but perhaps most important part of the OS world, the legal stuff. Licenses, EULAs, copyright/copyleft etc., all seem quite esoteric, but they do in fact play a huge role in your software. Oli explained how this works in Europe and what different kinds exist. One very important lesson was, that the choice of a license massively impacts your entire business model and developmental workflow of an open source project.
Takeaways from WUELUG10
This WUELUG was definitely a huge help and insight into actual open source projects and how one can get started. If you want to watch the recording of the meeting (it’s worth it!), check it out here. And if your interest has been piqued, you can jump right into our Neopixel API project here.
If you sad you can’t speak German, but still want to understand what Open Source hast to offer, fret not! We are considering organising an English version of WUELUG10. Feel free to contact us, if you’re interested!