Phidgets Lesson 1: Installing Phidgets Drivers

Phidgets Lesson 1   Phidgets are easy to use sensors and controllers for programmers. After just a bit of coding, you'll have your computer connected to the real world via an assortment of sensors as well as motors, relays, remote control, RFID, LEDs and more! But first, you'll need to get the drivers installed, and luckily, it will take less than 5 minutes.
  1. Download the appropriate Phidgets driver for your operating system from
    • If you're on Windows or Mac, open the installer you just downloaded. A wizard will guide you through the installation.
    • If you're using Linux, use apt-get to install libusb-1.0-0-dev, if you don’t have it already. (Note that libusb-1.0 may be on your system already, but the development libraries probably aren't.) Navigate to the directory where you unpacked the Phidget libraries. From the main unpacked library directory first run ./configure, then make and finally sudo make install.
  2. Now that the Phidgets drivers are installed, let's do some quick tests to make sure the installation worked. First plug in one of your USB devices (like an interface kit, which is what we'll use in this example).
    • On Windows, go to the Windows Device Manager, then to Devices and Printers (this is for Windows 7 and exact naming may be different on your computer). A list of all the connected devices should appear, and if you scroll down, any connected Phidgets should be listed under the section titled “unspecified”.
    • On Mac, go to “About This Mac” and click on more info, then system report. Under hardware, click on USB and there you can see that a Phidget device is connected.
    • On Linux, you can use the kernal log reader dmesg. Pipe the output of the dmesg into the utility tail to read the last ten lines of the log: $> dmesg | tail ....(9 lines).... [24344.013638] usb 2-1.2: new low speed USB device number 5 using ehci_hcd The number between the square brackets is the system time in seconds since the last boot up, so you can tell whether the event was recent or not.
    If the Phidget device is not showing up, then check these general troubleshooting tips, or these specific ones for Linux.
  3. If you've got it working, it's time to try out the software. The Windows and Mac installation come with a Control Panel app that offers a quick check that your devices are connected. For Linux, we'll use the examples to check that everything is working fine, which will be covered in the next lesson.
    • On Windows, you should see the Ph.jpg icon in the taskbar. Double click on it to bring up the Phidget Control Panel. If the icon does not appear, just find and open the Phidget Control Panel from the start menu.
    • On a Mac, open up your System Preferences. You should see a Phidgets icon in the “Other” section at the bottom.  Clicking on it will open the Phidgets Control Panel.
      OSX System Preferences with Phidgets Installed
  4.  If you have devices connected, they’ll show up in the Control Panel. As you can see in the General tab, we’re working with an RFID 2-output and Phidget InterfaceKit 8/8/8.
    Windows Control PanelOSX Phidgets Preference Pane
  5. Double click on the Phidget device you want to play with. The software will be able to control outputs (like LEDs) and respond to inputs (like sensors or RFID chips). If the Phidget device is not showing up or working properly, then check these troubleshooting tips.
    Windows RFID Control Panel OSX RFID Control Panel
That was easy! You've already got to see your Phidgets interacting with the real world, but there's more we can do. Let's check out the examples in Lesson 2.
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