Wednesday, December 3, 2014

TeirmiLab - Raspberry Pi prototype

This article describes the building of a TeirmiLab prototype based on a Raspberry Pi B board.
The goal using a Raspberry Pi is to have a machine that can be expanded later.

Shopping list

The idea is to use a traditional LCD display instead a more sophisticate touch screen display.
Mainly the reasons :
  • is not expensive
  • doesn't require to develop a graphic interface for it
  • allows to focus on the purpose - to show a temperature
  • can be easily placed inside a protective container (no touch capabilities)


Here a initial schematic for the TeirmiLab-Pi.

The RTC clock module is actually necessary only for the enhanced version, for the data-log feature, however it will be tested also on the base version.
The idea is to use as much as possible "ready to use" modules, like the RGB display, the GPIO I2C expander and so on, in order to use already made code (see the Software section).

The encoder will be connected directly to the Raspberry GPIO as well as the interrupt signal from the MCP23017 (optional for now), in order to be able to detect faster changes from the keyboard.
The internal pullup resistors for the encoder will be enabled.

First tests on a breadboard
The second prototype on perforated board

The second prototype on perforated board
The second prototype with the keyboard and RPOf cable connected
The keyboard is working fine, however it would be better to have an easiest way to select an alarm or set up the offset.
A new version of the hardware will include a digital encoder to be used instead the keyboard (see below).

The prototype installed on a wooden platform for a more mechanical stability.
A monochromatic LCD is used instead an RGB one

The prototype installed on a wooden platform for a more mechanical stability.
The round PCB is hosting the RPOf to be piggy-bagged on a MSP430 Launchpad
The used board for the prototype is a Raspberry Pi B, however the final installation will use a Raspberry Pi A+ because the reduced dimensions and power usage.
A new interface board is under development.


Here a table for the GPIO use :

Raspberry GPIO MCP GPIO Direction Description

GPA0 Output LCD

GPA1 Output LCD

GPA2 Output LCD

GPA3 Output LCD

GPA4 Output LCD

GPA5 Output LCD

GPA6 Output LCD

GPA7 Output LCD

GPB0 Output LCD




GPB4 Input Keyboard 1

GPB5 Input Keyboard 2

GPB6 Input Keyboard 3

GPB7 Input Keyboard 4

Input/Output 1Wire protocol
Input Shutdown input
Output Shutdown feedback
Output Buzzer
Input Encoder A
Input Encoder B
Input Encoder switch


With the sensor used (DS18B20) the TeirmiLab has these basic characteristics:

  • Range -55 to 125°C (-67°F to +257°F)
  • ±0.5°C Accuracy from -10°C to +85°C


The TeirmiLab-Pi needs to have at least 3 push buttons in order to do some settings.
  • a Mode button
    Allows to select different modes, like "display temperature" or "Set alarm" or "Set offset"
  • two + and - buttons
    Allows to increase or decrease a value, like the alarm temperature or the offset


Instead of the keyboard, it is more easy to use a mechanical digital encoder with an embedded pushbutton for the selection.
The pushbutton acts as Mode button and rotating the encoder cause the values to change.

The video is showing the encoder operations

Power Supply

The instrument must be powered.
An USB wall wart, with at least 1 A, will be the power source for the Teirmilab.

A main switch will be necessary in order to correctly power up and power down  the instrument (see RPOf project)


All the electronic will be placed in a transparent plastic box.
This will allow to reduce the drilling to the minimum, basically for the main power switch and eventually for some push buttons if not other means are used.
The display will remain totally protected but visible behind the clear plastic.


  1. Hi Steve, why use a so complex interface when a simple 2" SPI RGB TFT seem to cost less than an 16x2 and expander???

    1. Simply because:
      a) the most precious thing I have, is TIME. Developing a graphic interface for the TFT would require me a lot of time I don't have
      b) I don't have to display anyway tons of information, a classic LCD is more than enough
      c) is a base design for many other things
      d) can be easily adapted to other boards
      f) I like it

      Enough ? :)

  2. Graphic interface is ready to use, just require grasp how to use, also LCD driver is ready to use and still a simple MSP you plan to use just power on/off RasPIan was more than enough to solve this.. All key can be read from same interface of LCD so no more than few pin are required, ADC is not required due to Digital sensor so a 14 pin can do all... And if you require USB or other still can be done by two spare I/O pin on 1.1 speed (overkill too on temperature reading)
    Point F is unquestionable and get my point to useless ;)
    See you RR.