Back when I got my first computers a common programming language for beginner's was BASIC. And I wrote a lot of programs in that language, even some professionally, but that was about as far as I ever got with programming. I've had a few brushes with it over the years since but I usually find that anything i need, software wise, has already been written. Or, close enough that I can adapt.
The language has evolved over the years, even crossing the line to a graphical user interface (Windows) in the form of Visual Basic. So I was very interested when I read in a recent copy of the MagPi Magazine that BASIC was alive and kicking for the Raspberry Pi. A new project started in the UK has developed a version of BASIC which works on top of Raspbian Linux and has its own hardware kit to go with it.
Reading some of the code I found it familiar, some syntax changes but close enough that I've been able to jump right in. And what's really interesting is that they have built commands into the language which are able to imput/output to the GPIO pins. I was easily able to test this with a breadboard, some LEDs and a few resistors. I was able to write a program to control the LEDs in different ways.
I have now built 3 different frames similar to the earlier project. The hardware is fairly easy to put together from old LCD panels or monitors. However, there is very little out there in the way of software to run them. The best has been the mpanel project (read about this is an earlier post). Simple slideshows are easy, using OpenElec but I really like having a lot more than just pictures on the frames; time, weather forecast etc. Mpanel does this but it appears that that it is no longer being developed. And it has a major drawback in that it has to be constantly downloading images from flickr and it all relies on that single website which they could take down at any time.
I have been unable to find anything else close to what I want, programming it myself would normally be out of my league but now there's this BASIC for the Raspberry Pi.
So this is the new project, write a program in BASIC which can slideshow images along with displaying the current time, date and weather information. I have a prototype up and running now, once it is complete I'll be doing a write-up and post some pics.