Minishift from Arachnid Labs

While at this year’s Maker Faire UK I picked up a Minishift kit from Arachnid Labs. I had previously bought their circuit pattern cards which I make use of when teaching the Intro to Arduino workshop. I soldered up the kit in the evening I got back from Newcastle using the instructional videos (a few non-intuitive elements such as orientation of the LED array and remembering to put the screws in before the LED array). I struck an obstacle when I tried to install and use Arachnid Labs’ Python example and not having much experience with Python I’m clutching at straws trying to get it working.


Falling at the first hurdle. On Windows 7 I tried using pip found in the Scripts folder within my Python 2.7.3 installation to install minishift-python but it spat back ImportError: No module named resource.

In hunting for a solution I found that I hadn’t added C:\Python27\ to the Windows Environment Variable %PATH% and while I was correcting that I added %PYTHONPATH%. states that the resource library is for UNIX platforms. I got this far and having seen this on a few google results decided that perhaps this isn’t Windows compatible.



Moving to Ubuntu on my old laptop I followed the Arachnid Labs instructions but couldn’t get the daemon running nor could I use the python example program to directly write text to the display.

ImportError: No module named hidUbuntu Screenshot

I had a go at installing cython in order to install hidapi (can’t find the link that inspired me to try that route) but my abilities with linux are rather limited and I hit some roadblocks I couldn’t get past.

Trying python -m minishift.minishiftd -d 32 appeared to pass (no feedback to the contrary) but when I use curl -G http://localhost:8000/set –data-urlencode “text=Test” it responded with curl: (7) couldn’t connect to host.


I was able to test that the minishift itself works by connecting it to an Arduino (without the USB to SPI adapter) and running the test code provided by Gregory Fenton on his blog With this success I went on to reuse portions of Arduino code I’d used with a MAX7219 LED array to scroll some text (only to find that Gregory had gone on to do something similar and post it on his blog).

4 thoughts on “Minishift from Arachnid Labs

  1. Greg

    I am glad my code helped you :)
    Funnily enough, I saw that you had posted to @arachnidlabs on twitter and followed your profile to find this site a few days ago :)

    Best regards

  2. Greg

    Just a heads up, I am helping out @arachnidlabs with their minishift-arduino library, it is on github at

    The library is currently incomplete (he doesn’t have a minishift to hand) but it works with a couple of minor fixes that I have passed along to them.

    On a side note, I am working on SPI code for the minishift, I had it working last night somewhere :p

    Have a great day


  3. Joe

    Hi Mark. The test code that you mentioned on 4th May where you got the Minishift working with an Arduino seems to be missing. Is that code available anywhere else? I’m keen to get the Minishift working with an Arduino Uno.



    1. markcra Post author

      I didn’t post my code as the links already hosted better/tidier code. I don’t know why the links no longer work but you can see the pages referenced using the Wayback Machine: link 1, link 2, and link 3. However this is probably overshadowed by the minishift library Greg linked in his comment here.


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