Monday, November 28, 2011

Workshop 2 - Analog Components and Digital I/O

Hey folks,

Tomorrow's workshop will be in Clark A 202 at 7pm.  Make sure to bring your kits.  I will try to get either a quick document or video put together to go over the basics of the circuit theory so that everyone is on the same page and the workshop will go more smoothly.  While the circuit theory is pretty simple, the applications might be a little bit alien to some of the electrical engineers, so I recommend reading/watching whatever I post (if just for the review).


My Aunt from Boston flew in and no one told me, so I wasn't able to take the time to make the video or the cheat sheet.  What you need to know boils down to this:

The super basic circuit theory stuff:  Ohm's law, resistors in series and in parallel.

The equation/setup for a voltage divider:
You will need this concept for many sensor circuits to work. This is because the resistance of many sensors changes as what ever they are measuring changes.  Photoresistors, for example, will have a much lower resistance in bright light than in the dark.  By using a voltage divider correctly, you can measure the voltage across it and figure out just how bright a light is (or how hot, how loud, how wet, how fast, ect).

Grounding a digital input pin (scroll down to the inputs section):  This is VERY important, so look this one over.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nunchuck/Webcam kit signup form

Hey folks!

If you are interested in purchasing a nunchuck/webcam combo for $6 for more advanced workshops in the spring, please fill out the form here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kits, Nunchucks And Webcams

Thanks to all who attended our first workshop. For those who could not make it this time, we still have 5 more kits that we will make available at the future workshops.

For the spring workshops, we are thinking about showing how to hook up WII nunchucks and USB webcams. The problem is we are already overbudget with all the stuff in the existing kit. We have a supplier for the nunchuck and webcam at $3 each so it would cost an extra $6 if we want to do a "SPRING KIT EXTRA++" Please comment if you are FOR or AGAINST this extra $6 expense. If people are more against, then we will do something else.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

First Workshop This Tuesday

Hello folks!

We will be kicking off the design competition this upcoming Tuesday with the first workshop in one of the Clark A rooms at 7pm (I will post the room Monday). If 7pm doesn't work for you, please send me an email and let me know. If more than two or three teams need to start at 8pm instead, we'll shift the time. The workshop should be 1.5 to 2 hours long.

For the first workshop you need to bring:
A charged laptop (any OS) with the software (found here) already installed. While your computer should not have any problems with the drivers for the software, I would recommend installing them anyways (found here). If you do not have a laptop, you can check one out from the library.

Money for your kit. Everyone asked for the full kit which is $35. You can either bring cash or a check written to Darrell Taylor who fronted the money to buy the kits.

Agenda for the first workshop:
- Design competition information (rules, structure, workshops, ect)
- Voting on budget and rules
- Get the kits handed out and put together
- An introduction to the the Arduino programming environment
- How to access and use libraries
- A basic calculator programming example using the LED "tube"
- A basic game (if we have time) using the LED "tube"

IMPORTANT: You, and your teammates, need to check this site frequently for event information and such as we won't be sending out emails for everything. There is an email subscription feature that you can use, but it doesn't always work, so don't rely on it.

Monday, November 7, 2011


There is no real registration deadline.  We will accept registrations up until April when the actual judging event takes place.  Note, though, that you can't do the workshops until you've registered, and workshops start the 15th.

If you find something about a registration deadline on this site, it was from last year and should be ignored.

The registration information can be found here:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

First Workshop and Some General Information:

Hello folks!  The first workshop will be Tuesday the 15th around 7pm (this might change as folks see fit). This will also be the day that you need to pick up your kit.  Currently, we can accept cash or a check for $35 written to All Things Geek.  You will also need to bring a laptop or borrow one from the library. We will announce a time and a room sometime in the next week or so, so please check back often.  If you aren't able to come due to a test or other obligation, please send me an email, it is listed at the end of this post.

YOU NEED TO INSTALL THE ARDUINO SOFTWARE BEFORE YOU COME TO THE WORKSHOP. You can find the software here:  This will make everything run much more smoothly if you do.

The first workshop will focus on getting you up and running with your Arduino and get you guys an introduction to programming.  The plan at the moment is to get you guys programming a basic calculator, and if we have time, we might make a quick electronic game (think Chuck-E-Cheese-esk arcade game).  You will learn the fundamentals of programming, using libraries, and several of the important programming features and nuances of the Arduino microcontroller platform.  All of the information that we talk about in the workshop will also be put on along with any code we use and some cheat sheets.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Let's make a calculator!

Here is the agenda for the first workshop:

  • Get Arduino software installed on any laptops.
  • Inventory the kits and glue them down to the plexiglass sheets.
  • Connect the display module wires.
  • We go over how the calculator program works. It already includes add and subtract.
  • You will then figure out how to add multiply and divide to complete your calculator.
  • If we have time, make a quick game.