School Sets and LED Torch

Hi All,

This one is especially for the teachers. I have been trying to set the website up to make purchasing for schools a little bit easier. I understand it is difficult to purchase class materials via PayPal so I have added the option for bank transfer via purchase order. Now when you go to the checkout you do not have to make payment to complete your order. You will receive an email that you can forward to your accounts department and I will post your kits once I have verified your school.

I have currently got 5 class sets available:

  1. Class Introductory Pack
    Includes the PPMotherboard, ProtoPLATFORM, and StarterPLATFORM
  2. PCB Torch Class Set
    Includes 20 lots of the PCB Torch. Available either individually kitted or as bulk components.
  3. Romeo Class Set
    Includes 10 Romeo kits (not quite available).
  4. PLATFORM Class Sets
    Allows you to choose any assorted PCBs in lots of 10 or 50 at bulk prices.
  5. Workshop (2 hours)
    This is a service rather than product.

I had to order 300pcs of the PCB Torch to be able to get the price down low enough that it is affordable for school so to get some school purchases started and more some of my stock on I am offering a 15% discount on top of the bulk price of the PCB Torch bringing cost down to $3 each. This discount is only available for the PCB Torch Class Set and only is limited to the first three schools that complete the transaction. Use the following coupon when completing transaction $3TORCH.

LED Torch Bulk

Email Subscriptions

Hi All,

Whilst doing some website maintenance I noticed that my blog updates where not being emailed directly to subscribers of my website. People that had clicked the “Follow” link in some of the early blog posts where on a separate list to the majority of users that have signed up for this site.

I have found a plugin called Subsribe2 that I have setup to automatically send updates on my blog to my members. If you are not a member and would like to sign up please visit the Register page and you will be added to the email subscription list unless you select otherwise.

You are able to modify your email subscription easily via the Dashboard so that you only receive certain updates based on there category. You can also choose if you would like to receive updates as HTML or Text.

I am currently working hard on Romeo the Robot and will post about a special deal for schools wanting to trial Romeo with a class or students in the next few weeks. I am also working on a surface mount version of the PPMotherBoard called the PPMotherboardPRO. I will post an update when I have this working but here is a sneak peak:

PPMotherBoardProSMD2

 

Regards,

Joel Phillips

Adelaide Mini Maker Faire Workshop

Hi All,

I am pleased to announce that I will be offering introductory soldering workshops and a few introduction to microcontroller course at the Adelaide Mini Maker Faire. If you are in Adelaide and would like to learn to solder of have a look at the range of kits please come and visit. I am not sure where my location will be at this point in time but it will likely be up stairs in one of the labs or the Adelalaide College of the Arts building on Light Square.

This is a link to the Adelaide Mini Maker Faire http://www.makerfaireadelaide.com/. It is from 10am to 6pm on the 6th of April.

Here is a video of a larger Maker Faire in the USA.

I hope you are all well and I apologise for the lack of post on this blog. I will hopefully find some time to finish of Romeo and offer some specials for school in the holiday break.

Enjoy your Easter,

Joel

Romeo Preview

Hi All,

This is a really quick preview from my phone. The manufactured Romeo the Robot PBCs came in last Wednesday after some delays in china. I have had just enough time to assemble it and program with some fairly basic code. My testing has not been extensive but so far I am really happy with this version V1.0.

The video bellow uses the JoystickPLATFORM and WirelessTx/RxPLATFORM pair to move around remotely. The code is currently fairly basic and currently only has four directions to test the board. In future it could have varying speeds in all directions.

Thanks,

Joel

More sensors and demo video

Hi All,

Just a quick update to say I have started uploading some videos to the demo videos page. They are fairly raw but editing is time consuming and not worth the time for the purpose of these short clips. Here is a sample of the weather station:

I have also sent off a few more sensor to work with romeo. One is a smart sensor that has a PICAXE 08M2 and a prototyping area for you to create your own “SmartSensor”. The second is a full prototyping area to develop any type of sensor using the Gnd, two IO pins, and +V. There are two sensors on the same boards with a line of holes between to save money prototyping the sensors. The plan is to include 4 sensors onto the surrounds of Romeo the RoboPLATFORM that can be snapped apart before soldering.

Thanks to those of you who have recently made purchases. Let me know if I can support you in any way. Enjoy one more term of school before the next break!

Cheers,

Joel

Romeo the Robot

As you would have seen in my previous post, the RoboPLATFORM has been designed and I now tested a DIY etched PCB. I initially had some issues with the motor driver and missed a power connection but have resolved these problems and it seems to be working as expected. I will upload a video in the next few days to show the robot following a line.

I have sent off a small batch of RoboPLATFORM’s for some further testing and will put up some photos once they come in. Now that the robot is working and on its way I have spent some time developing some sensors for it to see the world. I started with a line sensor using just a LDR and white LED and was surprised at how well it worked. I have also designed some bump sensors PCB’s that will be able to nicely attach some 37mm lever micro-switches so that it can make decisions when it collides with objects.

Romeo has three sockets across the front of the PCB that each have, GND, +5V and two IO pins. This was initially designed around the ultrasonic range sensor but I decided this pin out would work really well with all sorts of sensors. I tested the ultrasonic range sensor at was impressed at how it worked. I was beginning to think about some other possible sensors and thought colour would be good unfortunately the PICAXE colour sensor is discontinued and cost too much ($50). So I began thinking about an alternative, remembering everything I learn in physics about light;

My simplistic understanding is that our eyes can see colour because white light contains all the colours in the rainbow, the reason we see different colour is because all the colours are absorbed except the colour of the object that is reflected.

My understanding could be completely wrong but… if you shine a RGB light one at a time at a surface and read the reflected light on an LDR? Well it worked! So I made a small prototype (out of 1/4 of the ProtoPLATFORM) put an PICAXE 08M2, RGB LED, and a LDR on it with a few resistors and then it can talk to the main PICAXE on the RoboPLATFORM via two way serial communication.

There will be some videos up on my YouTube channel later this week.

RoboPLATFORM

Hi All,

Today I spend the day designing the long awaited RoboPLATFORM. I am shopping around for some cheap options for prototyping the PCBs as the price is much higher for this board as it is 9 x larger than the rest of the family and unfortunately the price seems to go up close to 9 times. I will update you all as soon as I get the boards but I think I will try one prototype with enchant first. Here is a sample picture.

I have also been working on an ultrasonic sensor mount and I am really happy with the results. Here is sample picture:

HC SR04 Mount

And a quick look at the PCB: (let me know if you can see any mistakes)

Thanks,

Joel

Bluetooth

Hi All,

I recently purchased a cheep serial Bluetooth device (JY-MCU from Ebay) and got a bit of time to play with it this morning. When I first got it I was hoping to use my iPhone to be able to control things like robots and home automation but unfortunately apple don’t give you access to the bluetooth module for these sort of applications. So today I found a small USB Bluetooth dongle in my drawer, plugged it in and installed drivers and then searched for Bluetooth devices and paired the JY-MCU and it came up as a serial port. I started by simply sending “Hello World” from the ProtoPLATFORM through the JY-MCU to the computer then swapped the serial port in the Picaxe Programming Editor to the Bluetooth serial com port and could see the “Hello World” streaming in. Success!

This morning I decide I would start work on a design that has been bouncing around in my head that is a robot that accepts all of the PLATFORM and has a build in Motherboard and Motor Driver circuit. Using this RoboPLATFORM (name to be decided) you can have any number of different combinations of PLATFORM on top to change the robot from things like, a IR Robot, Wireless 433Mhz Robot, Autonomous Line Following Robot, Autonomous Ultrasonic Robot (UltrasonicPLATFORM coming soon) to name a few… So even though I am not able to use my iPhone to control a Bluetooth Robot I thought using a laptop would still be pretty cool.

So to begin testing the idea I downloaded a serial terminal called PuTTY and started by asking the microcontroller to wait until it received a “start” command via serin before it began sending out “Hello World”. It worked, and this opened a world of possibilities but I started doing some more testing by connecting the LCD-PLATFORM and the Bluetooth JY-MCU to the ProtoPlatform. I programmed the microcontroller to listen for incoming data using serin and then send what ever character was received to both the LCD and back to the PuTTY Terminal via Bluetooth with the serout command. It worked really well with no visible delay. This tested the theory and once I have the robot working you can imagine the sort of data that could be transferred between the robot and computer. Here is a video:

I will update you one the progress of the robot soon.

New Website

Hi All,

Due to some minor issues with Rev-Ed I have had to change my website and will also be re-branding my product (likely ProtoPlatform). I have chosen a new website domain www.teaching-innovation.com and have just finished after about 5 hours transferring all of the old content to the new domain. There are likely to be some issues with this site for the first few weeks so please let me know if you find any glitches. I will be getting rid of the @picaxeprotoplatform email address and changing to help@teaching-innovation.com and  sales@teaching-innovation.com.

I do apologize in advance if any of the content does not work as well as it did prior to the move. However, my optimistic side sees this as a new opportunity and rather than only supporting the ProtoPlatform project I will also endeavor to put up some material on the Intro to UAV project I worked on and also any future entrepreneurial ventures.

I will be putting a big order of all of the PLATFORMS in sometime next week so if you are considering using any of the products in your classes could you please let me know so that I can add it to the same order.

Thanks,

Joel

SerialStick success and sample code page

Hi All,

Sorry it has been some time since my last post. It has been a busy last few days of school but fortunately today was the last day and I have been able to get back to the PicaxePlatformPlatform project. I have a few quick updates bellow:

1. Serial Stick
I had a bit of trouble getting the USB SerialStick working last night and with some late night problem solving, I identified that I had missed the VCC and VCCIO when I designed the board. With some crafty / messy soldering I managed to put some wire jumpers across the board and resolved the issue. I have fixed up the artwork and am ready to send off V1.2 that has revised component sizes (all slightly bigger) and a jumper to select 3.3V or 5V for VCCIO (I believe either will work with PICAXE but maybe some other uses for the same board). Check out the photo bellow but don’t be too critical as I would have liked to have a smaller soldering iron tip.

Version one of the USB programming cable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. StarterPlatform Documentation
Although I am still working on the StarterPLATFORM datasheet for assembly, I have created a little tutorial booklet for students to work through with some examples and challenges. There are three examples and three challenges, and they can be modified to whatever context you would like to use them for. Note that it is in draft form as I wrote it for my year 8s to work through while I was out on camp with one days notice! If you find any mistakes or have some other suggestions let me know. http://www.teaching-innovation.com/14m2code/

3. New PLATFORMS
I only have one new board for the family this update. The JoyStickPLATFORM has the layout of a Play Station 2 Style thumb joystick, simply using two ReadADC the picaxe will read the Pots connected to the joystick and return a number in either a byte or word variable. As you can start to imagine this has many possibilities… driving remote control vehicles is the first that comes to my mind. Since the last update I have made revisions to all of the boards I tested, and tested a second version of the LCD-PLATFORM. I am happy to report they are all ready for a production run as soon as I have some other orders to send off.

4. For those of you outside Adelaide (I think every school in Adelaide got an invite via email) I am holding an introductory session to the PicaxeProtoPlatform at Rostrevor College. I have about 20 Teachers attending and we will be building the Motherboard, StarterPLATFORM, and ProtoPLATFORM from scratch and working through some programming so that some more teachers start to understand what PICAXE chips and the PicaxeProtoPlatform are capable of. This may not mean much to you if you are outside Adelaide but the more people who know about the project, and the more Teachers purchasing class sets, the more motivation I have to continue to develop more documentation, videos and new PLATFORMS to add to the family.

Happy Holidays!!