Posts with «programming» label

The Ifs: Coding for kids, reading skills not required

Learning about how computers work and coding skills will be important for future generations, and if you’d like to get your kids started on this task—potentially before they can even read—the Ifs present an exciting new option. 

The Ifs are a series of four character blocks each with their own abilities, such as reproducing sound, movement, or sensitivity to light and darkness.

Children can program the blocks to accomplish tasks based on instructions that snap onto the top of each using magnets, and the whole “family” can communicate and work together to accomplish more advanced actions as a team. 

As outlined in more detail on this project page, the devices were developed using Arduino technology, and you can sign up here to be notified when they’re ready for crowdfunding.

The Ifs are full of sensors and actuators but they need some instructions in order to function. 

Programming is as simple as placing physical blocks in their heads with the help of magnets. No screens are involved. Each block has a different image serving as an intuitive symbol to represent an instruction. This makes the game suitable for children from the age of three, even before learning to read or write.

We only need different color pieces that are placed on their heads. The different color pieces are instructions that are combined as if it were a code, from being able to light them when it’s dark to making them communicate with each other. This allows kids to play with loops, statements, algorithms while also inventing their own stories. Their imagination is the only limit.

Flowboard provides visual learning environment for coding

Embedded programming using the Arduino IDE has become an important part of STEM education, and while more accessible than ever before, getting started still requires some coding and basic electronics skills. To explore a different paradigm for starting out on this journey, researchers have developed Flowboard to facilitate visual flow-based programming.

This device consists of an iPad Pro and a set of breadboards on either side. Users can arrange electrical components on these breadboards, changing the flow-based program on the screen as needed to perform the desired actions. Custom ‘switchboard’ hardware, along with an Arduino Uno running a modified version of Firmata, communicate with the iPad editor via Bluetooth.

With maker-friendly environments like the Arduino IDE, embedded programming has become an important part of STEM education. But learning embedded programming is still hard, requiring both coding and basic electronics skills. To understand if a different programming paradigm can help, we developed Flowboard, which uses Flow-Based Programming (FBP) rather than the usual imperative programming paradigm. Instead of command sequences, learners assemble processing nodes into a graph through which signals and data flow. Flowboard consists of a visual flow-based editor on an iPad, a hardware frame integrating the iPad, an Arduino board and two breadboards next to the iPad, letting learners connect their visual graphs seamlessly to the input and output electronics. Graph edits take effect immediately, making Flowboard a live coding environment.

Want to learn more? Check out the team’s research paper here

Play Tetris on a Transistor Tester, Because Why Not?

[Robson] had been using the same multimeter since he was 15. It wasn’t a typical multimeter, either. He had programmed it to also play the Google Chrome jumping dinosaur game, and also used it as a badge at various conferences. But with all that abuse, the ribbon cable broke and he set about on other projects. Like this transistor tester that was just asking to have Tetris programmed onto its tiny screen.

The transistor tester is a GM328A made for various transistor testing applications, but is also an LCR meter. [Robson]’s old meter didn’t even test for capacitance but he was able to get many years of use out of that one, so this device should serve him even better. Once it was delivered he set about adding more features, namely Tetris. It’s based on an ATmega chip, which quite easy to work with (it’s the same chip as you’ll find in the Arduino Uno but [Robson’s] gone the Makefile route instead of spinning up that IDE). Not only did he add more features, but he also found a mistake in the frequency counter circuitry that he fixed on his own through the course of the project.

If you’ve always thought that the lack of games on your multimeter was a total deal breaker, this project is worth a read. Even if you just have a random device lying around that happens to be based on an ATmega chip of some sort, this is a good primer of getting that device to do other things as well. This situation is a fairly common one to be in, too.

Machine Learning on Tiny Platforms Like Raspberry Pi and Arduino

Machine learning is starting to come online in all kinds of arenas lately, and the trend is likely to continue for the forseeable future. What was once only available for operators of supercomputers has found use among anyone with a reasonably powerful desktop computer. The downsizing isn’t stopping there, though, as Microsoft is pushing development of machine learning for embedded systems now.

The Embedded Learning Library (ELL) is a set of tools for allowing Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and the like to take advantage of machine learning algorithms despite their small size and reduced capability. Microsoft intended this library to be useful for anyone, and has examples available for things like computer vision, audio keyword recognition, and a small handful of other implementations. The library should be expandable to any application where machine learning would be beneficial for a small embedded system, though, so it’s not limited to these example applications.

There is one small speed bump to running a machine learning algorithm on your Raspberry Pi, though. The high processor load tends to cause small SoCs to overheat. But adding a heatsink and fan is something we’ve certainly seen before. Don’t let your lack of a supercomputer keep you from exploring machine learning if you see a benefit to it, and if you need more power than just one Raspberry Pi you can always build a cluster to get your task done just a little bit faster, too.

Thanks to [Baldpower] for the tip!

Educational Robot for Under $100

While schools have been using robots to educate students in the art of science and engineering for decades now, not every school or teacher can afford to put one of these robots in the hands of their students. For that reason, it’s important to not only improve the robots themselves, but to help drive the costs down to make them more accessible. The CodiBot does this well, and comes in with a price tag well under $100.

The robot itself comes pre-assembled, and while it might seem like students would miss out on actually building the robot, the goal of the robot is to teach coding skills primarily. Some things do need to be connected though, such as the Arduino and other wires, but from there its easy to program the robot to do any number of tasks such as obstacle avoidance and maze navigation. The robot can be programmed using drag-and-drop block programming (similar to Scratch) but can also be programmed the same way any other Arduino can be.

With such a high feature count and low price tag, this might be the key to getting more students exposed to programming in a more exciting and accessible way than is currently available. Of course, if you have a little bit more cash lying around your school, there are some other options available to you as well.


Filed under: robots hacks

WALTER - The Arduino Photovore Insect Robot

Primary image

What does it do?

Navigate around and seeking light

[Please excuse my English]

Cost to build

Embedded video

Finished project

Complete

Number

Time to build

Type

URL to more information

Weight

read more

WALTER - The Arduino Photovore Insect Robot

Primary image

What does it do?

Navigate around and seeking light

[Please excuse my English]

Cost to build

Embedded video

Finished project

Complete

Number

Time to build

Type

URL to more information

Weight

read more

WALTER - The Arduino Photovore Insect Robot

Primary image

What does it do?

Navigate around and seeking light

[Please excuse my English]

Cost to build

Embedded video

Finished project

Complete

Number

Time to build

Type

URL to more information

Weight

read more

WALTER - The Arduino Photovore Insect Robot

Primary image

What does it do?

Navigate around and seeking light

[Please excuse my English]

Cost to build

Embedded video

Finished project

Complete

Number

Time to build

Type

URL to more information

Weight

read more

QP-Nano QM State Machine Programming?

Hello,

Has anyone worked with qp / qm state machine programing?

http://www.state-machine.com/

I am looking into this for controlling robots.  Has anyone here used it or has any opinion about it for programming Arduino ?

Thanks