Questions about using GoPiGo with Python on a MacBook Pro

I have some general questions about using GoPiGo3 with Python on a MacBook Pro.

My son (11 years old) is primarily interested in programming and he is already very familiar with Python. He is thinking about getting a GoPiGo3 because he is interested in using Python to program the robot. He is open to learning and using other languages, but he’s only interested in text-based programming languages (for example, not Bloxster or Scratch or anything similar).

  1. The “Python in theGoPiGo3” webpage on this website lists Windows 10 but my son has an Apple MacBook Pro, is that a problem or is Windows 10 required? It looks to me from other parts of the website that both DexterOS and Rasbian for Robots are compatible with MacOS, but I just want to make sure.

  2. Is Python programming with DexterOS the full programming experience, or is it simplified/shortened? The reason why I ask is because as I said above my son is primarily interested in the GoPiGo3 from a programmer’s perspective and he wouldn’t want a reduced experience as compared to Raspbian for Robots for example.

  3. Does Raspbian for Robots require a direct ethernet connection (or swapping a USB-A key) between my son’s computer and the GoPiGo3 robot? I am asking because his MacBook Pro only has two physical ports, both are Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C). There is neither a USB-A port nor an Ethernet port. I do also own an iMac, so we could use the USB-A port or Ethernet port on that computer on occasion (for example to update software), but he would like to primarily use his MacBook Pro with the GoPiGo3 and NOT regularly use the iMac. Is that possible? If it’s not possible, are there any other accessories we may need to purchase to make it possible for him to use the MacBook Pro with the GoPiGo3?

  4. Which GoPiGo3 would be most suitable for his needs, the “Beginner Starter Kit” or the “Advanced Starter Kit”? I notice that the Advanced kit comes with an Ethernet cable instead of a blank USB drive (which is almost a moot point because as discussed above his MacBook has neither an ethernet port nor a USB-A port) but are there any other differences?


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  1. Windows 10 is not required - MacOS (or Linux) work fine.

  2. If your son isn’t interested in Bloxter, he’ll probably want to use Raspbian for Robots.

  3. Raspbian for Robots does not require an ethernet cable or thumb drive (USB-A key). You can connect to the GoPiGo3 using your home WiFi network. Configuration directions here: will let you connect to the GoPiGo3 over WiFi using ssh. Then you can enable vnc by following directions here: (Go to the section titled ‘Enabling VNC Server at the command line’. You can transfer files to/from the GoPiGo3 with any sftp client software.

  4. No differences other than what you’ve noted.

You will need a SD card adapter to load Raspbian for Robots on your SD card and to follow the configuration steps I mentioned in #3 above

The GoPiGo3 goes through batteries pretty quick. You might want to consider buying the Rechargeable Battery Pack & Smart Charger that Dexter sells - it doesn’t take long to be money ahead compared to buying alkaline batteries.



@kev.r is right on in all the answers.
Additionally, your son can use Apple Remote Desktop to use the Raspian 4 Robots desktop over WiFi.

Most of my programming with my GoPiGo3 bot, Carl, is from a terminal window on my Mac using ssh, but I use the Apple Remote Desktop when I need to run vision programs using OpenCV and the picamera.

Here is a video that shows the robot (python3) program displaying on my Mac screen with Remote Desktop over my WiFi.

I also recommend using nimh rechargeable AA batteries (8) if you already have, or getting the DI 2000mAh battery and their charger. With a Pi3 he will get about 5 hours of programming time or 2-3 hours of driving time on that.

I like to have two identical micro sd cards, 1 in use and one as backup. You can get a USB-C to USB-A adapter and Micro-sd card adapter so not to be dependent on your computer’s port, but not a must have.

The beginner kit with the usb drive would be best for your situation. The usb drive goes into the Raspberry Pi USB port to write logs to and can be used as a disk to backup programs to (not a system backup).

(BTW, I recently purchased a USB-A to microSD card adapter for $8 which I plug directly into the RPi and create the system backup using rsync, rather than copying the disk using my Mac when the system robot is shutdown. - I am trying to do everything in my power to keep the power on to my bot 24/7.)

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Thank you for your reply, Kevin! Those links you gave will prove very helpful. I had not thought about battery life, so that’s also a great tip about the rechargeable battery pack.

Thank you to you as well, cyclicalobsessive.

That’s a good tip about using Apple Remote Desktop, and the microSD cards.

I just looked quickly into the battery issue and it seems that the Canadian distributor of Dexter products doesn’t carry the battery pack, so I think I will get some rechargeable batteries instead. Based on what both of you have said, it will be worthwhile investment.

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If you do not already have a tiny audio speaker, the DI audio speaker is not a “need” but it is a great deal at $8, and a wonderful way to up the excitement!

Every Robot Needs A Voice!

@cleoqc, is that right? A fellow maple-leafer needs you.

The site I’m primarily looking at is Robotshop. I am also aware of buyapi, but their selection is very limited.

I posted on their forum to see what they suggest.

The GoPiGo3 takes 8 AA cells, and most folks’ recharger only do four at a time, which gets real old quick. The solution for me was to use an RC hobby smart charger (tenergy 1025) and solder up a barrel jack adapter so I could leave the batteries (EBL 2300mAh AA-cells or EBL 2800mAh cells work well, btw) in the GoPiGo3 holder.

Shipping batteries is a special problem these days.

Robotshop responded with a link to a special order (I didn’t pursue the cost):

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Thank you for that, that was really above and beyond :slight_smile:! I can guess approximately what it will probably cost based on the USD price on the Dexter website.

EDIT: I definitely won’t be soldering anything myself, so I think getting a separate charger like the tenergy one you mentioned wouldn’t work in my case.

Another option is simply 8 AA rechargeable batteries and a charger that can do 8 batteries at a time (I did find one on Amazon Canada as well).

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