Flotilla hacking with a Mac

Inspired by http://www.sniff.org.uk/2015/12/hacking-pimoroni-flotillla.html I plugged Flotilla into my Mac. I browsed my /dev/ folder and took a guess that the Flotilla dock was ‘tty.usbmodem1421′ – which proved correct. Then I typed
screen /dev/tty.usbmodem1421 9600
at the Terminal prompt, and wiggled a few controls.

This is what I saw >

Straight away you can see values from named devices as I turned the dial and moved the slider. The 4 numbers on ‘touch’ seem to register 1 or 0 for each of the 4 buttons pressed, and the ‘colour’ values (judging from what I placed the colour sensor on) seem to be red, green, blue and overall brightness.

As per the Sniff article, I managed to get my LED strip to light red by typing
s 7 255,0,0
with the LEDs plugged into socket 1 on the dock – odd indeed that the port numbering is reversed.

Flotilla hacking

I also managed to list all the devices that came with my Large Starter Kit by typing ‘d’ for debug:

# Debug information:
#    Resources:
#       SRAM free: 1362 bytes
#    Load:
#       Main loop duration: 6ms (0us)
#       Main loop cycles per second (fps): 148
#    Channels:
#       0 - weather (0x77)
#       1 - motion (0x1d)
#       2 - slider (0x16)
#       3 - touch (0x2c)
#       4 - dial (0x15)
#       5 - matrix (0x60)
#       6 - colour (0x29)
#       7 - rainbow (0x54)
u 0/weather 1964,101878
u 0/weather 1964,101883
u 0/weather 1964,101877

You can see some weather data there too – I thought this was pressure then temperature, but reading the Sniff article again I suppose it’s more likely to be 19.65 degrees C and 1018 millibars of air pressure.

Next step is to play with some proper OS X terminal software rather than using screen, and try to work out what parameters need passing to the LED matrix display – but looks promising that Flotilla can be made to work with other operating systems and computers aside from the Raspberry Pi.

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4 Responses to Flotilla hacking with a Mac

  1. bytejunkie says:

    did you go any further with this? interested in doing the same thing, since i don’t seem to be able to get raspbian to boot reliably.

  2. Neil says:

    Phil Howard from Pimoroni (a.k.a. Gadgetoid) has documented the ‘raw’ flotilla protocol in a gitbook here:


    He missed the brightness parameters for the matrix and number modules, but that’s a minor problem, everything else is documented.

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