Getting Your Particle Photon Up and Running

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YOUR BRAND NEW PHOTON

Ok, so your shiny new Particle Photon just arrived in the mail, and now you’re wondering what to do next.  Well, this article walks you through the step-by-step process of connecting it to your network.

Particle Photon – An Arduino-compatible IoT device

POWERING IT UP

Two get started, you’ll need two things.  The first is a USB cable with a micro Type-B connector on one end and full-sized Type-A connector on the other.  The other is a power supply.  This can be your laptop, a USB wall adapter or a portable USB battery.  Now connect your Photon to your power source via the cable, and voila!  If things are working properly you’ll see a blue blinking light.  This means you’re ready to go to the next step of connecting it to your network.

USB Type-A connector

 

Micro USB Type-B connector

 

CONNECTING TO YOUR LOCAL WIFI NETWORK

Before you start, make sure you have your smart phone nearby.  Now here we go.

  1. Hold the SETUP button for about ten seconds, until the LED blinks blue rapidly. The SETUP button is the tiny button to the left of the USB cable. (See below).
  2. Go to your phone’s app store and install the Particle app from Particle Industries, Inc. This app will work on Android and iOS.
  3. If you don’t have a Particle account, select the “I don’t have an account” option and follow the directions. If this is for a project I’ve helped you set up, I’ve probably already created an account for you.
  4. Tap “+” in lower right-hand corner, then choose “Set up a Photon”.
  5. Tap “Ready”, then select whatever Photon you’re setting up. If this is your first, it’ll typically be named something like Photon-WXYZ, where the WXYZ are random characters.
  6. Once connected to your Photon, select your WiFi network. Then enter the password and tap “Connect”
  7. The app will go through a 6-step setup process, and allow you to rename your device. (You can keep the default or change it to whatever you like.
  8. The Photon’s LED should now be slowly fading in and out with a cyan “breathing” light.

 

 

 

 

LET’S GIVE IT A SPIN

Now that everything’s working, let’s take the next step and blink one of the Photon’s LEDs.  We’re going to do this by using a tool in the Particle app called Tinker. Tinker allows you to control your Photon (or Photons) directly from your phone.  And while this may sound really simple, you’re actually using a bona fide IoT device!  Let’s get started.

  1. Open your Particle app and login, if you’re not already.
  2. Tap on the Photon you just set up. This will bring up the Tinker option that shows your device’s pins (see below).  I’ll cover what all the device pins mean in a later article.  For now. all you need to know is that we’re going to be using pin D7 since it comes pre-wired to an LED.
  3. To activate the LED, tap on pin D7 and select “digitalWrite” from the pop up.
  4. Now tap on D7 again and the LED should go on and off.
  5. Feel good about yourself for having taken your first step into the IoT world using a Particle Photon!

 

Screenshot of the Tinker app

PARTING THOUGHTS

We’ve just touched on the basics of how to get your Photon up and running.  Our next step will be to start using it to its full potential.  You may be starting to ask questions like “what are all those other pins on the Photon, and what can you do with them?”  Well, I’ll cover that in an upcoming article.  In it we’ll talk about how to connect your device to other things.  This will open up a world of opportunities.

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