Many embedded devices that require a setup menu will use a USB serial port which you connect to your favorite terminal emulator. But we recently encountered a generic USB knob that did setup using a text editor, like Notepad or even Vim (although that was a bit ugly). A company called iWit makes several kinds of USB knobs which end up in many such products.
These generic USB knobs are normally just plug-and-play, and are used to control your PC’s volume and muting. Some models, like the iWit, the user can configure the mapping within the device. For example, knob rotation can be set to generate up and down arrow keys, and knob press could be ENTER. One could do this kind of mapping on the PC, but many of these USB knobs can do it for you. The crux of the setup is this menu (which you can see in action in the first 30 seconds of the video below).
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It seems as though more and more of the simple command-line tools and small scripts that used to be bash or small c programs are slowly turning into python programs. Of course, we will just have to wait and see if this ultimately turns out to be a good idea. But in the meantime, next time you’re revamping or writing a new tool, why not spice it up with Rich?
Rich is a python library written by [Will McGugan] that offers text formatting, colors, graphs, progress bars, markdown, syntax highlighting, charts, and more through the power of ANSI codes. The best part is that it works with macOS, Windows, and Linux. In addition, it offers logging solutions that work out of the box. One of the best features of Rich is the inspect functionality. You can pass in an object, and it will use reflection to print a beautiful chart detailing what exactly the object is, helpful in debugging. The other feature is the traceback, which shows a formatted and annotated snapshot of relevant code on the stack during exceptions.
The source itself is well-written python with comments and typing information. There’s a good chance you’ll pick up a trick or two reading through it. Rich is used to build Textual (also by [Will]), which aims to be a GUI API that runs in the terminal. It served as an excellent example of what Rich is capable of. It is incredible how long these protocols have been around. [Will] even ran Rich on a Teletype Model 33. If you’re working with a bit more of a constrained environment, why not bring some color to your Arduino serial terminal?