Getting Started with TJBot


TJBot is a kit developed at IBM to help people get started with their Watson AI service. It comes with a friendly little robot that you build yourself, a Raspberry Pi 3, and all the parts you need to make your robot wave, blink, talk, and listen.

IBM TJBot, a Watson Maker Kit

Required Setup Tools

As a desktop, these devices are required:

  • USB Mouse
  • USB Keyboard
  • HDMI monitor/TV/adapted VGA
  • 5V Power Supply

Getting Started

Before you do anything else, we recommend setting up your Raspberry Pi, connecting it to the Internet, and updating the OS. Here we’ll help you out with that.

Setting up the Pi

Connect up your monitor, keyboard, and mouse as you would with any computer. Insert the microSD card that came with the TJBot kit and then plug in the power supply. There’s only one place that the power supply can physically be plugged in: the micro-B USB connector labeled “PWR IN”. Again, we recommend our 5.1V Micro USB power supply to power your TJBot.

After powering up and letting the Pi boot, you should have an image on the screen that looks something like this:



Users in the United States may want to change the keyboard layout from UK to US, as the UK layout has some keys in places that you wouldn’t expect. To do that, open the Raspberry menu, select “Preferences”, then “Mouse and Keyboard Settings”.



Under the “Keyboard” tab, you’ll find a button called “Keyboard Layout…”. Find your preferred keyboard layout in the window that pops up when you click that button.

Install TJBot

Installing TJBot is done with one script which can be run with one command. The command is:
curl -sL | sudo sh –

Copy that line and paste it into a terminal window. Open a terminal window by clicking on the button in the bar at the top of the screen highlighted in the image below.



Once you have pasted this line of code into the terminal window, hit the Enter key on the keyboard. That will pull the latest version of the TJBot Bootstrap script from the Internet. You’ll get a window that looks something like this:



Presumably, you’re running on the Raspberry Pi you want TJBot installed on, so type ‘y’, then hit Enter.

You’ll be prompted to enter a name for your TJBot. Feel free to name the TJBot anything you wish, or just hit Enterto leave it unchanged. It really doesn’t matter, I promise.

You’ll then be asked if you wish to disable ipV6. Again, type ‘y’ and hit Enter.

The next question is whether to use Google’s nameservers to speed up DNS queries. Again, hit ‘y’ and then Enter.

Then, the script will ask you if you wish to “force locale to US English (en-US).” You may answer yes or no to this question as you will, but if you’re a user in the US, it makes sense to answer yes.

Upgrade the OS on the Raspberry Pi

You should now have a prompt that looks like this:



The script is asking a somewhat scary sounding question about upgrading your Raspberry Pi’s operating system. It warns that this could take an hour or longer (GULP)! Don’t worry, in our experience it takes about ten minutes or less depending on the speed of your Internet connection. In any case, you’ll want to type ‘y’ again, then hit Enter to begin the update process. Keep an eye on the screen as the upgrade process runs, but you don’t need to monitor it closely as the entire upgrade process is automatic. Screen after screen of text will scroll past during this process, and you don’t need to worry about any of it.

Install Node.js

After the upgrade process is complete, you’ll have this prompt, asking you about installing a newer version of Node.js.



Again, answer yes to this question. Immediately after answering yes, you’ll be asked which version of Node.js to install (6 or 7). Type ‘7’, then hit Enter. You’ll get another few screens of text as the script downloads and installs Node.js version 7 to your Raspberry Pi.

After Node.js is installed, the script will ask if you have a camera installed. If you didn’t purchase a camera, answer no, as a camera doesn’t come with the TJBot kit.

The next question is regarding “cloning” the TJBot project, and where that should be cloned to. Cloning in this case really just means downloading. The default location for downloading is to the desktop, which is as good a place as any and better than many. So just hit the Enter key to download the TJBot project to the desktop.

You’ll now have a screen that looks as below.



The script is asking “Disable sound kernel modules?” As the TJBot kit from SparkFun uses the audio jack for sound output instead of the HDMI or USB output options, you’ll want to hit ‘n’ here. If you answer ‘yes’ to this question, audio won’t work on later TJBot projects and you’ll be sad.



Finish up!

You’ll now be treated to an ASCII art rendering of TJBot’s face, a message saying that setup is complete, and an invitation to hit Enter to continue. Go ahead and hit Enter.

You’ll now get a screenful of text about signing up for a free IBM Bluemix account, how to log in, create instances of services, get credentials, and other things as well! We are just going to ignore it for now, because we’re going to walk you through all the steps in that window on the next pages.

Finally, you’ll be asked if you want to run hardware tests. I suggest answering ‘no’ as some of the changes we made during the install process may cause these tests to fail even though nothing is wrong.

The last question is: “Do you want to reboot now?” You can answer ‘yes’ for an immediate reboot, or ‘no’ and reboot later. I recommend just going ahead and answering ‘yes’.

IBM Cloud

TJBot’s magical powers come from Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence service. In order to use Watson, you’ll need to create a free IBM Cloud account.

We’ll now walk you through signing up for a IBM Cloud account.

Sign Up for an IBM Account

You’ll need to go to this website to sign up for an IBM account. You’ll then be able to use the IBMid you create to log into the IBM Cloud website.



Fill in the blanks to create an account, then check your email. You should have a new message from IBM with a 7-digit confirmation code. Enter the code in the field as shown below.



Once you’ve entered your confirmation code, you’ll be taken to your IBM account dashboard. The only thing to do here is to log out using the menu in the upper right, as shown below.



Log In to IBM Cloud

Now you can log into the IBM Cloud website. Follow this link to the IBM Cloud registration page.

Heads up! For the rest of this tutorial, you may see the term “Bluemix” in some images. This is the older name for the IBM Cloud. Everything else should be the same, just mentally substitute “IBM Cloud” for “Bluemix”, okay?


Put in the email address that you used for your IBMid and hit Enter. You’ll be asked to provide a phone number.



After you click “Create Account”, you’ll be asked to complete an anti-spambot captcha, and then you’ll be taken to this page:



You’ll get an e-mail shortly with an account confirmation link, as pictured below.



Click on the “Confirm Account” button to let IBM’s Cloud team know you’re a real person. That will open this page:



Click the blue “Login” button to be automatically logged into IBM Cloud.

Set Up IBM Cloud

You’ll now be asked to “Name your organization”. This doesn’t really matter and feel free to call it whatever you like, but it’s a good idea to keep it short and easily typable for later usage.



Once you’ve created your organization, you’ll need to create a space. Again, the name doesn’t really matter. I went with “test”.



You’ll now be notified that your account is “Good To Go!” and be given a summary of the organization and space names you just created.



Click on the “I’m Ready” button.

The IBM Cloud Dashboard

Once the IBM Cloud is setup, you will be greeted with the IBM Cloud Dashboard after logging in as shown in the image below.



This is where you’ll start out when you log in to your IBM Cloud account from now on. The last step we need to complete is to set up the payment information so we can access the paid services we need to make TJBot come alive.

Start by selecting the “Billing” option under the “Manage” menu in the upper right corner of the dashboard, as seen below.



That will bring up this page. Click the “Add Credit Card” button in the middle of the page.



You’ll be presented with this fairly standard billing information form. Fill it out and submit it.



You should now be the proud owner of an upgraded IBM Cloud account. You are now ready to complete the next steps of the tutorial. Now, let’s have some fun with TJBot!

Voice Control an LED

Our first project is to set up TJBot to voice control an addressable LED. To begin, we need to hook up the LED to TJBot.

LED Hookup

Start by finding one of the LEDs included in the TJBot kit. It should look like the picture below and be about the size of a pencil eraser.


Diagram courtesy Maryam @ IBM

You now need to connect this LED to the Raspberry Pi. Find the F/F jumper wires that were included in your kit, and follow the diagram below to hook up the LED.


Diagram courtesy Maryam @ IBM

USB Microphone Hookup

Now is the time to plug the USB microphone into one of the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi. It doesn’t matter which port you plug it into, just plug it in.

Set up a Speech-to-Text Instance on IBM Cloud

Go back to the IBM Cloud dashboard and click on the hamburger menu (Did you know this is called a hamburger menu? You learn something new every day!) in the upper left corner.



Read More Info….

Getting Started with TJBot

About The Author

Muhammad Bilal

I am highly skilled and motivated individual with a Master's degree in Computer Science. I have extensive experience in technical writing and a deep understanding of SEO practices.

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