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Java + Electronics

Book review: Getting Started with Java on the Raspberry Pi

Tam Hanna
© Shutterstock / baibaz

Java and electronics, together at last? The publishing house Elektor released a book that illustrates how to work with Java in the electronics field using the Raspberry Pi. This review takes a look at what you’ll learn in Getting Started with Java on the Raspberry Pi.

Until a few years ago, the compatibility of Java and electronics was comparable to cats and dogs. In recent months, Oracle’s programming language became attractive to electronics engineers as well – probably due to its ever-increasing computing power. The publishing house Elektor released a book that illustrates how to work with Java in the electronics field using the Raspberry Pi.

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The author explicitly addresses people who are not yet familiar with Java. The first chapter explains the positioning of Java software in the entire value system, and the second chapter introduces Ohm’s law and commissioning of the Raspberry Pi using an RGB LED. The third chapter introduces some Java IDEs and begins to scatter in some worthwhile interviews with prominent, interesting people who provide valuable practical knowledge.

The third chapter is followed by a short introduction to the basics of Java, which of course cannot replace an introduction to the syntax, as the book is only 329 pages long. This also applies to the following chapter, which introduces the basics of the Raspberry Pi’s electrics – think of GPIOs, bus systems, and similar “small problems” of electronics.

Next, we turn to the use of the Maven package management. This approach, which seems out of place at first glance, makes sense since a good portion of Java libraries for hardware control aren’t available as ordinary .jar files. If a beginner learns to use automatic management systems early on, they will have fewer problems with MicroEJ and similar products during initialization.

The seventh chapter gets “closer” to the hardware, by implementing a small user interface under Java FX, in order to use it – in addition to the diagram display – to control primitive digital hardware (a light-emitting diode and key). The following experiments with a 7-segment display are interesting because the author considers uses them as an opportunity to introduce the basics of bit manipulation. These functions are not very familiar to your average developer, because you don’t need them on the desktop or Android.

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Since manual interaction with hardware is complicated, the ninth chapter introduces working with PI4J. The hardware used here is interesting – you use an LED matrix with an integrated framebuffer, which yields attractive results. Communication with the Arduino via a UART also comes up, allowing an analog light sensor to be read. This focus on combinatorial process computing systems is commendable because even years after the Arduino Yun was first introduced, they remain the most efficient way to solve many problems. The next two chapters on working with Spring and message queues deepen this topic.

Those who grew up with Java and electronics will not find much new here. But the book is worth reading for those who do not know much about electronics yet. Of course, I would have liked to see a bit more “physics” in some places, but this is not surprising due to his background in electronics. The bottom line is that I can recommend this book without hesitation.

Frank Delporte

Getting Started with Java on the Raspberry Pi

328 pages, 34.95 Euro

Elektor International Media, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-907920-91-2

Author
Tam Hanna
Tam Hanna concerns himself with programming and usage of mobile Computers since the times of Palm IIIc. He developed Programms for various Platforms, operates topic-related Online-News-Services and is contactable for Questions, Trainings and Lectures via [email protected]

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