In a kind of reverse twist on the doorbell, [TheStaticTurtle] whipped up a system to mute his computer’s microphone whenever someone opens the door to his room. He lives in France, where the government announced a strict lockdown last Friday. Like many university students around the world these days, he is now forced to take online classes. Even though he has his own room, occasionally someone will barge in and announce something, often to [TheStaticTurtle]’s embarrassment. When his classmates suddenly heard “Do you want some pie?” the other day, it was the last straw.
His first decision was to sense the door opening with a magnet and sensor, which he stuck to the door and frame with hot glue. He then ran a long cable to his desk, where it connected to an ATTiny 85 with a DigiSpark boot-loader. He wrote firmware to simulate special key combinations, which were then registered with his audio routing software Voicemeeter Potato. We presume he isn’t using an external mic, in which case muting might have been easier to accomplish with a hardware switch. All in all, this is a pretty clever and timely hack. Should you be in a similar predicament and want to try this out, he’s published the source code on GitHub.
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Augmented reality (AR) in the classroom has garnered a bit of interest over the years, but given the increased need for remote and virtual learning these days, it might be worth taking a closer look at what AR can offer. Purdue University’s C Design Lab thinks they’ve found a solution in their Meta-AR platform. The program allows an instructor to monitor each student’s work in real-time without being in the same classroom as the student. Not only that, but the platform allows students to collaborate in real-time with each other giving each other tips and feedback while also being able to interact with each other’s work, no matter where they may be physically located.
What we find really cool is the real-time feedback the software provides to the students. The system can sense what the students are touching and can help students in their given task, providing real-time feedback on what they are doing, how things should fit together, and what type of outcomes the students can expect given their trajectory. It also appears the system isn’t limited to AR markers but provides a very expansive toolbox for instructors and students to build on. C Design Lab is doing quite a bit of user feedback studies, continually incorporating input from students to further the platform. That’s definitely critical to ensuring the system is user-friendly.
We can easily see how something like this might scale to an industrial setting for training people how to use complex machinery, to a medical school to help prepare students to do surgery or to help develop molecular diagnostics tools. Check out the other learning tools C Design Lab is developing.
Over on the University of Reddit there’s a course for learning all about FPGAs and CPLDs. It’s just an introduction to digital logic, but with a teacher capable of building a CPLD motor control board and a video card out of logic chips, you’re bound to learn something.
The development board being used for this online course is an Altera EMP3032 CPLD conveniently included in the Introduction to FPGA and CPLD kit used in this course. It’s not a powerful device by any measure; it only has 32 macrocells and about 600 usable gates. You won’t be designing CPUs with this thing, but you will be able to grasp the concept of designing logic with code.
Future lessons include building binary counters, PWM-controlled LEDs, and a handheld LED POV device. In any event, it’s a great way to learn about how programmable logic actually works, and a fairly cheap way to get into the world of FPGAs and CPLDs. Introductory video below.
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