Microsoft Is Creating a Free, Online Raspberry Pi Simulator

Good news for the Maker community. Microsoft has released a free online tool for prototyping Raspberry Pi projects. And the whole thing is open source.

So you don't own a Raspberry Pi  but are curious to try one out? Maybe you have an idea for a project but aren't ready to commit to the process of physically putting it together. Microsoft has released an early version of a free, open-source Raspberry Pi simulator that can be accessed right through a web browser. Using Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform the simulator allows users to code an emulated Raspberry Pi using Javascript.

Microsoft's Raspberry Pi simulator is completely open source, allowing users to create their own sensors and functions for the board. (Image source: Microsoft) 

The simulator has three areas, an assembly area that displays the emulated project board, a coding area, and an integrated console window that displays the output of the code. Right now the simulator is rather basic and features a simulated board (similar to a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3) connected to a BME280 temperature, humidity, and pressure sensor and an LED. Microsoft has said it has plans to add additional sensors, inputs, and outputs to the simulator in the future. Eventually users will be able to build Pi projects using a drag-and-drop interface to connect components to the board in a way that will work with a physical Pi.

However the big draw for this simulator will be that Microsoft has made it completely open source. The source code is already available through GitHub so it may only be matter of time before the open source community starts adding its own sensors, components, and other functions to the project ahead of Microsoft.

Users will need a Microsoft Azure account to take full advantage of the simulator. Right now the setup process is far from straightforward but Microsoft has provided an online guide to help with the process. There is also a demo of the simulator available.

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Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.


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