A RESTful API server and a web server to control the PiGlow Raspberry Pi Addon Board
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Piglow Server

This project has two parts:

  1. A RESTful API server running on a RPi thas has a PiGlow board attached. This server will provide an interface for controlling the PiGlow remotely.

  2. An example web server with a simple browser interface. You can run this on the same RPi, or on a completely different computer. It will control the PiGlow via the RESTful API server above.

By providing a web based API on the RPi to the PiGlow, we can move the application code to a different platform. For example your web store can use the API to send store product levels to the RPi via the web.

Technical Details

This project also serves as an example for:

API Usage

Here are some example in using the API with curl.

    # set arm 3 to brightness 50
    curl -X PUT -d brightness=50 http://localhost:5000/arms/3

    # switch on and off LED 7
    curl -X PUT -d brightness=100 http://localhost:5000/leds/7
    curl -X PUT -d brightness=0 http://localhost:5000/leds/7

    # switch on led 3 and 5 with brightness 10 and 200
    curl -X PUT -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
        -d '[{"led_id":3, "brightness": 10}, {"led_id":5, "brightness":200 }]' \

    # excute a starburst pattern
    curl -X PUT -d brightness=100 http://localhost:5000/patterns/starburst

    # turn everything off
    curl -X PUT http://localhost:5000/patterns/clear

You can also see the test.py test suite to see how it uses the Python requests library to talk to the API. The pg_control web server also uses the requests library to talk to the API.


This project uses the PyGlow library from https://github.com/benleb/PyGlow to talk to the PiGlow board. Note that there are several different python libraries that support the PyGlow board. This one is more pythonic.

Because the web server part of this project can run on a different server from a RPi, this project does not automatically install the PyGlow library. You have to follow their instruction to get the PiGlow board working and install the PyGlow library separately. This project ships with an emulator, so you can actually try out the entire project either on a RPi or on a different server (I do most of the development on my Mac.)

This project does automatically install other python packages, flask and flask-restful required for the servers to work. You can see the list of packages in the requirements file.


You can install piglowserver inside a virtualenv or sysetm wide. I always prefer to install python software inside a virtualenv to keep libraries separate. If you have virtualenv available, the piglowserver is virtualenv friendly.

Option 1: Installation inside a virtualenv

Because the hardware interface libraries require root access to compile, it is best to link them them globally. So create your virtualenv with the --system-site-package argument.

Once your virtualenv is created, simply use the local pip command to install piglowserver locally

pip install git+https://github.com/pkshiu/piglowserver.git

The files will go into you virtualenv's lib directory at:

(your virtualenv project)lib/python2.7/site-packages/piglowserver

Option 2: Intallation system wide

If you simply use pip to install piglowserver, you can install it into the system wide location using:

pip install git+https://github.com/pkshiu/piglowserver.git

This will typically result in the files going to:


Because piglowserver requires flask etc, those will also be installed globally.

Optoin 3: Install as source

If you want to play with the source files, you will want to checkout the source from github directly. If you run from source, make sure the project root directory (src) is in your python path:

export PYTHONPATH={my_virtual_env}/src

Getting Hardware Permission

Because accessing the PiGlow board requires access to the i2c bus and library, your normal "pi" user account cannot do that. Do not run as root or use sudo. Instead, simple add the user to the i2c user group:

sudo adduser pi i2c

Using PiGlowServer

After installation, depending on where you installed the package, e.g. /usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/piglowserver or {my_virtual_env}/lib/python2.7/site-packages/piglowserver

# start up the API server:
python /usrlocal/lib/python2.7/site-packages/piglowserver/pg_rest_server.py

# run the tests and watch the LED comes on and off (this takes a long time)
# feel free to control-c out of it after awhile:
python /usrlocal/lib/python2.7/site-packages/piglowserver/tests.py

# start up the web server in a separate window:
python /usrlocal/lib/python2.7/site-packages/piglowserver/pg_control.py

# now point your browser to your RPi on port 8000 and try the web interface

If you get an error about not finding the config module ImportError: No module named config when running from source you need to add the src directory to PYTHONPATH:

export PYTHONPATH={my_virtual_env}/src

Additional Settings

The piglowserver runs as installed without any need for additional configuration. However you can change the servers behavior with some additional configuration:

API Server Location

By default the #web server# looks for the #API Server# at http://localhost:5000 . This is useful if you are running both the web server and the API server on the same RPi. If you are running the web server on a different computer, you can setup the address by using a local configuration file:

  1. Create a local_config.py file
  2. set the optional environment variable #PGS_SETTINGS# to point to that file:
    export PGS_SETTINGS=local_config.py

Running the Server at Boot Time

If you want to run the servers at boot time on the RPi, the easy way is to launch them from rc.local . For example, I put these two lines in my /etc/rc.local file to start both the API and the web server installed in my virtualenv directory (lines wrapped for display only):

/home/pi/.virtualenvs/piglowserver/bin/python \
    /home/pi/webapps/piglowserver/src/piglowserver/pg_rest_server.py &
/home/pi/.virtualenvs/piglowserver/bin/python \
    /home/pi/webapps/piglowserver/src/piglowserver/pg_control.py &


This diagram shows how you can use varies pieces of piglowserver

Usage Examples

API Reference

Individual LED

        Set the brightness of a LED

        PUT /leds/:led_id

        URL Parameters:
        led_id=[integer 1-18]

        brightness=[integer 0-255]

        Data Parameters (optional):
            "brightness": [integer 0-255]

        CURL example:
        curl -X PUT localhost:5000/leds/10?brightness=100

LED "Arms"

        Set the brightness of one of the three spiral arms.

        PUT /arms/:arm_id

        URL Parameters:
        arm_id=[integer 1-3]

        brightness=[integer 0-255]

        Data Parameters (optional):
            "brightness": [integer 0-255]

        CURL example:
        curl -X PUT localhost:5000/arms/2?brightness=100

LED by colors (rings)

        Set the brightness of one of the six color "rings" on the spiral

        PUT /colors/:color_id

        URL Parameters:
        color_id=[integer 1-6]

        brightness=[integer 0-255]

        Data Parameters (optional):
            "brightness": [integer 0-255]

        CURL example:
        curl -X PUT localhost:5000/colors/6?brightness=100

Multiple LEDs

        Set the brightness of one or more LEDs

        PUT /leds

        URL Parameters:

        Data Parameters (required), list of one or more dictionaries:
                "led_id": [integer 1-18],
                "brightness": [integer 0-255]

                "led_id": [integer 1-18],
                "brightness": [integer 0-255]

        curl example

        curl -X PUT -H 'Content-Type: application/json' 
            -d '[{"led_id":1,\"brightness":100}, {"led_id":2, "brightness":100} ]' localhost:5000/leds


This project is licensed under the MIT license.