While the kits are great, he says that the range of experiments they provide can be a bit limited, so he decided to swap out the kit’s sound module for something far more useful – a PICAXE-08M. The space left by removing the sound module was pretty small, but [Stan] got everything to fit without too much hassle. His modification allows his students to program the PICAXE, as well as utilize four of the uC’s output pins.
Needless to say, the addition of the PICAXE module was a huge hit with his students, allowing them to create far more exciting circuits. [Stan] has been revising his system over the years, adding extra output pins, enabling lamp and motor control, as well as tweaking his setup to respond to IR commands.
We think [Stan’s] work is pretty awesome, and we’re still wondering how this flew under our radar for so long. He says that his students vary from preschool kids to centenarians, so if you’ve got someone that you would like to introduce to the fun world of electronics, we suggest picking up one of these kits and getting to work.
Many of you may have seen these fun little toys in museums or possibly even in school. Instructibles user [brazilero2008] takes us through the process of constructing one on our own.
Most of this toy are constructed from fairly household materials like foil, paper, straws etc. The fun part comes when you find the power supply. [brazilero2008] is using an air ionizer that he found at a rummage sale, though any high voltage DC source should work. He shares some tips on how to save time and effort creating the balls on the end by telling us how he did it the difficult way.
We admit this isn’t the most attention grabbing project, but we think it would be a fun educational weekend project.
She wanted to keep things safe and simple due to the class size, so she didn’t want to rely on using soldering irons for the demonstration. Instead, she showed the children how batteries function by building simple voltaic cells with paper flowers, salt water, and LEDs. The paper flowers’ absorbency was used to act as a salt bridge between the wire pairs that adorned each petal. After salt water was applied to each of the flower’s petals, the center-mounted LED came to life, much to the amazement of her class.
We realize that not everyone out there holds a degree in electrical engineering or has the ability to tell NPN transistors apart from PNP transistors by taste alone, so we occasionally like to mention things that appeal to the beginners in the crowd. While there is a clear division between Arduino supporters and detractors, it is hard to deny that the devices have their place, and can be quite useful when exploring certain electronics concepts.
He is not satisfied with simply introducing a concept and handing out a sketch that does the work. He takes the time to expand on the concepts, giving the reader enough detail to use their new-found knowledge in later projects. If you were to follow his tutorials from beginning to end, you would be exposed to LCD screen control, shift registers, real-time clocks, I2C bus communications, and more. These skills and concepts can be carried on to future projects as well as other micro controllers, making his tutorials a very valuable learning tool worth checking out.
[Andrew] is an electrical engineering student at UIC, and decided that he would build a MIDI guitar for his senior design project. After tinkering for awhile, things were not looking good, and the MIDI guitar idea was scrapped. With his deadline creeping up, he came up with a new idea, the Guitarduino. His new project is a guitar that teaches you how to play chords and scales by showing you the proper notes to play via LEDs embedded in the guitar’s neck.
He removed the neck, and carefully drilled the holes that would eventually house his 130+ LEDs. The LEDs were wired to his Arduino via some multiplexing circuitry that resides on the back of the guitar’s body. The Arduino was mounted on the front of the guitar along with a shield used for communicating with his LED array. He built another shield that serves as the LCD display as well as the input board for his guitar.
The final result of all his work is fantastic. The user simply needs to dial in the chord or scale that he wants to learn, and the guitar lights up, showing the proper finger positions on the fretboard. We could see this coming in quite handy for anyone just starting to learn how to play.
Check out the video below to see a demonstration and walkthrough [Andrew] put together highlighting his guitar’s features.
We feel the need to apologize immediately for the use of Yakkity Sax in the preceding video and recommend you watch the longer, yak free, video below. It shows researchers at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory teaching a robot how to make a ham and cheese omelet. Each working area and food item is labeled with a machine recognizable tag. The researcher demonstrates the task by guiding the robot’s hand. The robot combines multiple demonstrations to generalize the skill. It can then adapt the learned skill to the specific task. You can see this in the video when the robot adjusts to the location of the bowl and cutting board when they’re moved around. Teaching through demonstration would make the use of robotics much easier for the general population.