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Sense installation

1 Watch the video

Watch the video below, which will introduce you to Sense and the SenseBoard.

Note: please do not worry if your SenseBoard has fewer input or output sockets than the one illustrated here.

Download this video clip.Video player: tu100_sense_installation_vid001.mp4
Skip transcript


Welcome. If you are watching this video, you’ve probably just received your SenseBoard box.

As you learn, you will be experimenting with all the items in the box, but for now we are going to familiarise you with the SenseBoard itself.

If you haven’t touched a circuit board before, don’t worry, you won’t damage it – get it out of the box and take a look.

The SenseBoard works with all types of computers, and with Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems.

On it you will see various ports, switches and levers, which you will use as the module progresses for things like motion, temperature and gaming experiments.

This video will show you how to install the Sense software that runs your SenseBoard – but there are more instructions after this video, so don’t try to remember every single step now.

All you need to get started is a free USB port, like the one you plug your printer into, and the installation software. For that, you’ll just click the web link and then follow the simple instructions.

Once the Sense software is installed you’ll plug in the board, open up the software program and you’ll be ready to go.

Through your SenseBoard, you’ll be experimenting with its temperature, motion and light sensors. You’ll use basic programming as you learn how to make the SenseBoard interact with the software onscreen.

We hope you enjoy using and learning with your SenseBoard – it’s designed to be a fun introduction to computing and basic programming skills. To get started, click on the link at the bottom of the web page.

End transcript
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Now you will install the Sense software, so move on to Step 2.

2 Install your Sense software

Note: you should do this before you connect your SenseBoard to your computer.


For a Windows machine there are two stages to installing the software: the first installs the Sense programming environment, while the second installs the driver software that allows the Sense environment to communicate with the hardware board.

Stage 1

Download the Sense software to your computer by clicking on the link below.

  • If you are using Internet Explorer, you may be asked whether to Run or Save the download – click on Run. You may see an ‘unknown publisher’ warning that asks if you are sure you want to run the software – click on Run (or Yes) again.
  • If you are using Mozilla Firefox, you may be asked whether to Save File or Cancel. Choose Save File and a Downloads window will appear. Locate TU100_Sense_installer in this window and double-click on it. You may be asked if you are sure you want to open the file – click on OK.

The software installation should now start. Click on Next at the first screen and you will see the Copyright notice, which you should accept. You may then see a series of dialogue boxes, which you should click through accepting the default options. Click on Finish at the final screen and the first stage of your installation will be complete.

Download Sense for Windows  Build 140, released September 2012

Stage 2

You now need to install the drivers that will allow your SenseBoard to communicate with Sense. Download the driver installer by clicking on the link below, using the method that is appropriate to your browser (see above). When you start the installation, a window will pop up and then vanish again as the installer checks the drivers on your computer and installs new ones if necessary.

Download driver installer for Windows

Sense should now be installed and you should see a shortcut to it on your desktop (don’t open this yet).

Note that the Sense installation includes some project files, including one you will need for testing the installation in step 5. Depending on the setup of your machine, the installer may not have been able to put these files in the right place to be picked up by Sense. Go to your Documents area and look in TU100 > Sense. If you can’t see a file called ‘TU100_SenseInstall_TestYourSetup’ in a folder called ‘Projects’ then please download this zip file and unzip the contents to the Sense folder:



If you are a Mac user then everything you need to install Sense is provided in a single file. Download and save this to your computer, then double-click on it to run it. You will see three icons showing the three components you need to install. Double-click on each of these in turn and follow the on-screen instructions.

Download full Sense installer for Mac (Build 140, released September 2012)

Once you have done that, download the zip file from the link below and unzip the contents to /Users/<user_name>/Documents/TU100/Sense/Projects. This will provide you with some Sense project files that will allow you to start using Sense before the module starts, if you wish (explained in step 6).

Download zip file for Mac (Build 140, released S 2012)


If you are an Ubuntu user then everything you need to install Sense is provided in a single file. These instructions work for Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) and probably work for other Debian-based distributions. If you don’t have Ubuntu, or the package doesn’t work for you, you can follow the instructions for a manual installation.

Depending on whether your computer is running 32-bit architecture or 64-bit architecture, click on the appropriate link below to download the installer you need.

Download full Sense installer for Linux (32-bit) (Build 140, released October 2012)

Download full Sense installer for Linux (64-bit) (Build 140, released October 2012)

For the 32-bit option, once downloaded, extract the contents of the zip file. You will see two folders: ‘Multiarch (Ubuntu 11.04 and on)’ and ‘Pre-multiarch (before Ubuntu 11.04)’. Select the folder for the version of Ubuntu you are running and double-click on the file name (which begins with ‘sense_1.3.1.140-1…’). The package installer will launch and go through the installation process. This should take no more than two minutes at most.

For the 64-bit option, click the file name and the package installer will launch and go through the installation process. This should take no more than two minutes at most.

Sense can be launched by selecting ‘Applications/Programming/TU100 Sense’ from the top toolbar in Ubuntu, but don’t do this until after you have connected your SenseBoard (step 3).

You will have to manually create a shortcut to Sense. Create the file /usr/share/applications/sense.desktop:

[Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Name=Sense Comment=Run Open University Sense Software Exec=sh /usr/bin/ Icon=sense Terminal=false Type=Application StartupNotify=true Categories=Development

You will also need to download the Sense icon and install it into /usr/share/pixmaps/.


If you had any difficulty with the installation then click on Help. Otherwise you are ready to connect your SenseBoard, so move on to Step 3.

Raspian on Raspberry Pi

If you are using Raspian on the Raspberry Pi, then everything you need to install Sense is provided in a single file. Please note this is a development version and has only been tested on Raspian.

Download full Sense installation for Raspian

This file contains the latest Sense and a modified Squeak VM to run it.

Once downloaded copy it into /opt on a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian and extract the contents. You should end up with directories /opt/sense and /opt/squeak-3.11.3/

Use run /opt/sense/usr/bin/ to start Sense

The program (included from the Open menu) cycles through the LEDs on the SenseBoard if you have one.

You may need to manually set the USB port before it will recognise the SenseBoard. To do this right-click on the watcher displayed on the stage when you load the program, click on 'select serial/USB port' and enter the port. That's probably:


or simply:


3 Connect your SenseBoard

Once you have installed the Sense software, connect your SenseBoard to your PC using the USB cable supplied (you will find this in the Cables box within your SenseBoard package). Make sure you push the connector all the way into the SenseBoard. A red light will come on beside the USB socket on the SenseBoard when it is connected correctly.

Plugging the USB cable into your computer (left) and your SenseBoard (right)

If the red light doesn’t come on then click on Help. Otherwise you are ready to test your SenseBoard, so move on to Step 4.

Note: you may see a pop-up box saying that new hardware has been detected and drivers are being installed. This is normal – just wait for it to complete and click on Close before moving on.

4 Test your setup

Sense has been installed on your computer complete with a test file that will check whether it is communicating properly with the SenseBoard. Double-click on the Sense icon on your desktop (shown below) to open Sense.

Then click on the Open button at the top of the window (circled in the figure below). You should see an Open Project window displaying a single file called TU100_SenseInstall_TestYourSetup. Make sure this is selected and click on OK to open it in Sense.

The picture of the board shown in the test file will mirror what you do to the real SenseBoard, to demonstrate that the communication between board and software is working. Click on the Green Flag button (also circled in the figure) to start the test, then follow the instructions on screen.

Note that there may be an initial delay while Sense and the SenseBoard start communicating with each other.

If you get stuck at any point while testing your setup then click on Help.

Once you have finished your test, click on the red Stop button (to the right of the Green Flag button). Then close the Sense window and say ‘No’ when asked if you want to save the current project. It is safe to unplug your SenseBoard from your computer. You have now completed your installation.