Kushal Das

FOSS and life. Kushal Das talks here.


Python 101 session this Sunday

This Sunday I took a Python 101 session in the reserved-bit, the local hackerspace in Pune. I was hoping that jetlag (from the PyCon trip) would be over, but it was not the case :( But, starting at 11 AM helped.

There were around 10 participants, and all of them wrote code before in various languages. A few had previous experiences with Python. Because of different Operating Systems, and also not being able to install things on a corporate laptop, my idea of using Microsoft Azure notebook service in this session helped. This also made sure that all of us were using the same version of Python (3.6) and the same environment.

Because of the nature of the participants, I decided to skip various basic examples, and tried to more longer code just after the lunch break. During our reading a file example we figured out that the notebooks are running in Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) from the /etc/os-release file.

As a whole this was fun, debugging was easy on the notebooks. At the end when people asked what IDE to try, my default answer PyCharm came up :) Btw, in the image below, on the left-hand side, you can see a function call we wrote in the session to get the latest cricket match score using requests module :)

Building IoT enabled power-strip with MicroPython and NodeMCU

This was on my TODO list for a long time. But, never managed to time to start working on it, I was also kind of scared of doing the AC wiring without adult supervision :).

Items used

  • Power-strip
  • USB power plug (any standard mobile phone charger)
  • wires
  • NodeMCU Amica
  • Relay board
  • MicroPython
  • Mosquitto server on my home network

I ordered double relay boards (this one was marked for Arduino) from Amazon, and they were laying in the boxes in the Pune Hackerspace for a long time.

Yesterday, we had a Raspberry Pi workshop in the hackerspace as part of the Python Pune monthly meetup. Nikhil was present in the meetup, and I asked for help from him as he is a real hardware expert.

We took one of the existing power-strip from the hackerspace, and also a mobile phone charger. After taking out 2 of the power sockets we had enough space to plug-in the rest of the system inside of it. Of course, Nikhil did all the hard work of soldering the wires in the proper manner.

The relay board is connected to a NodeMCU Amica running MicroPython. It has a code like the following example:

import time
from machine import Pin
from umqtt.simple import MQTTClient

# Received messages from subscriptions will be delivered to this callback
def sub_cb(topic, msg):
    led1 = Pin(14,Pin.OUT)
    if msg == b"on_msg":
    elif msg == b"off_msg":

def main(server="SERVER_IP"):
    c = MQTTClient("umqtt_client", server)
    while True:

if __name__ == "__main__":

I will have to cover up the holes with something, and also push the code to a proper repository. Meanwhile this was the first usable thing I made with help from friends in the Hackerspace Pune. Come and join us to have more fun and build new things.

Btw, remember to have a password protected mosquitto server :)

Hackerspace in Pune

More than 10 years back, I met some genius minds from CCC Berlin at foss.in, Harald Welte, Milosch Meriac and Tim Pritlove. I was in complete awe mode by seeing the knowledge they have, by looking at how helpful they are. Milosch became my mentor, and I learned a lot of things from him, starting from the first steps of soldering to how to compile firmware on my laptop.

In 2007, I visited Berlin for LinuxTag. I was staying with Milosch & Brita. I managed to spend 2 days in the CCC Berlin and that was an unbelievable experience for me. All of the knowledge on display and all of the approachable people there made me ask Milosch about how can we have something similar? The answer was simple, if there is no such club/organization, then create one with friends. That stayed in my mind forever.

In 2014, I gave a presentation in Hackerspace Santa Barbara, thanks to Gholms. I also visited Hackerspace SG during FOSSASIA 2015 and made many few friends. I went back to the Hackerspace SG again in 2016 after dropping our bags at the hotel, I just fall in love with the people and the place there.

Meanwhile, over the years, we tried to have a small setup downstairs in the flat where Sayan and Chandan used to live. We had our regular Fedora meetups there, and some coding sessions for new projects. But it was not a full-time place for everyone to meet and have fun by building things. We could not afford to rent out space anywhere nearby, even with 4-5 friends joining in together. I discussed the dream of having a local hackerspace with our friends, Siddhesh and Nisha Poyarekar, and that made a difference.

Birth of Hackerspace Pune

Nisha went ahead with the idea and founded https://reserved-bit.com, a hackerspace/makerspace in Pune. Last month I had to visit Kolkata urgently, it also means that I missed the initial days of setting up space. But as soon as we came back to Pune, I visited the space.

It is located at 337, the Amanora Chambers, just on top of the East Block at Amanora Mall. The location is great for another reason - if you are tired of hacking on things, you can go down and roam around in the mall. That also means we have Starbucks, KFC, and other food places just downstairs :)

There are lockers available for annual members. There is no place for cooking, but there is a microwave. You can find many other details on the website. For now, I am working from there in the afternoons and evenings. So, if you have free time, drop by to this new space, and say hi :)

Note1: Today we are meeting there at 3pm for the PyCon Pune volunteers meet.