Key art for blog post "Arachnidlabs Minishift and Ubuntu / Pi "

Arachnidlabs Minishift and Ubuntu / Pi

I was mucking around with the the Arachnidlabs minishift and ran into a few things I wanted to note down for my own sanity.

udev Rules on Ubuntu

One thing I quickly hit was the inability to run any of the minishift python code on my machine without sudo, which originally freaked me and took a while to dig around with.

In the end I had to add a udev rule, which I did like so:

sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/10-local.rules

I added the following to the file:

# Arachnid Labs Minishift
ATTRS{idVendor}=="04d8", ATTRS{idProduct}=="f517", GROUP="<My USERNAME>"

For anyone curious, I got the idVendor and idProduct by running usb-devices and finding the following info:



T:  Bus=03 Lev=01 Prnt=01 Port=03 Cnt=03 Dev#= 13 Spd=12  MxCh= 0
D:  Ver= 2.00 Cls=00(>ifc ) Sub=00 Prot=00 MxPS= 8 #Cfgs=  1
P:  Vendor=04d8 ProdID=f517 Rev=00.02
S:  Manufacturer=Arachnid Labs Ltd
S:  Product=USB - SPI Interface 1.0
S:  SerialNumber=0000230218
C:  #Ifs= 1 Cfg#= 1 Atr=80 MxPwr=500mA
I:  If#= 0 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=03(HID  ) Sub=00 Prot=00 Driver=usbhid


Notice the bits on the third line of the output.

After this I had to restart udev which you can do with:

sudo /etc/init.d/udev restart

Finally unplug and re-plug in the minishift and you're good to go.

Mega Basic Python

I stole some of the code from the minishift library which starts a server to create a really simple python script to use the minishift.

import minishift
import time
import itertools
import sys

# width is 8 * Number of Minishifts
width = 72
vid, pid = 0x04d8, 0xf517
ms = None
    ms = minishift.Minishift(minishift.MCP2210Interface(vid, pid), width)
    print "Unable to find the minishift device"
    print "    - Please ensure it's connected"
    print "    - Please ensure you have the right permissions to access it"

def clear():
    ms.canvas.write_text(0, "")

def staticText( str ):
    ms.canvas.write_text(0, str)

def scrollingText(text, interval, times):
    canvas = minishift.Canvas()
    canvas.write_text(0, text)

    for i in range(times) if times else itertools.count():
        for col in canvas.scroll():

    # Scroll the text off the screen
    canvas = minishift.Canvas()
    canvas[width - 1] = 0
    for col in canvas.scroll():

#staticText("static test")
scrollingText("This is a message that's far too long for a display.", 0.05, 2)

Getting it to work with Pi

Next step was to get this working with the Raspberry Pi, which means installing all the relevant bits and adding the same udev rule.

sudo apt-get install -y python-pip python-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libudev-dev
sudo pip install cython
sudo pip install minishift-python