Fun Friday: Christmas Edition! 3D LED Christmas Tree

Tracy Connery Photography - MIDAS Fab Lab - LED Christmas Tree

Get into the Holiday spirit with this cool, DIY LED Christmas Tree!

When it comes to mad maker skills, soldering is among the most important and most versatile a young do-it-yourselfer can have.

If you or your budding maker aren’t familiar, there are great guides to getting started with a soldering iron though, there’s nothing that quite beats hands-on practice on a small project.

These festively themed kits combine two Christmas tree shaped PCBs along with all of the components needed to create a cool, futuristic sparkling Holiday decoration. The kits are available for as little as $3.50 and come with all the components required to get started.

DIY soldered Christmas Tree

Step 1: Schematic and Theory of Operation

PCB Christmas tree kit!

Each of the 10K resistors and 47uF capacitors form an RC oscillator that periodically pushes the associated transistor on. The three sets of RC oscillators are transistors are connected in a loop to keep them cycling out of phase which makes the blinking appear random around the tree. When the transistor is “on” current passes through a bank of 6 LEDs and their 1K current limiting resistor causing that bank to blink on.

If you’re looking for an adventure, trying adjusting the value of one (or more) of the 10K resistors a bit to change the blink rate of the LEDs.

Step 2: Populating the Resistors

3D LED Christmas Tree

Begin soldering by stuffing the resistors. Resistors are not polarized in any way, which means that you can insert them in either direction.

Use a resistor colour code chart or app to identify the different resistor values and make sure to insert them into the correct holes.

In some of 3D Christmas Tree kits, a couple of the 1K resistors are replaced with 330-ohm resistors. When available, the 330-ohm resistors should be used for R2 instead of the specified 1K resistor. According to the numbering system that we have used, R2 is the current limiting resistor for the green LED bank (D1-D6). Using this lower resistance allows the green LEDs to glow a tiny bit brighter, which can mitigate the fact that green LEDs often appear a little dimmer than the red and yellow LEDs.

In the end, the value of the current limiting resistors (R2, R4, R6, and R7) is somewhat forgiving and can anywhere around 300 ohms to 3K.

The value for R7 is specified on the higher end (at 2K) because R7 is the current limiting resistor for the red LED D19 at the top of the tree. Since D19 does not blink, it may appear much brighter, so the higher 2K resistance balances the brightness a bit with respect to the other LEDs.

Step 3: Transistors

3D LED Christmas Tree transistors

When soldering in the transistors, be sure to align the flat side of the transistor to the flat side of the white outline on the printed circuit board (PCB). This ensures that the transistor is wired in the correct direction.

Step 4: Capacitors

3D LED Christmas Tree capacitors

Solder in the electrolytic capacitors. These are definitely polarized. There is usually a “-” marking along one side of the can and also the longer lead is positive while the shorter lead is negative. Be certain that the positive and negative terminals are matched to the indications on the PCB silk screen printing. As a double check, the solder pad for the positive pin is often square, while the negative pad is round. The square pad is sometimes called the “pin one indicator” and this applies to multi-lead packages like DIP integrated circuits as well. Leave enough slack in the leads to be able to bend the capacitor over onto its side once it is soldered into place.

Step 5: LEDs

3D LED Christmas Tree LEDs

Diodes (including LEDs) are also polarized. Be certain to observe that the long lead is positive and the short is negative. Again observe the silk screen printing on the PCB or that the positive solder pad is square. When soldering the LEDs, be sure they keep the same colours grouped together with a common resistor and transistor as shown in the schematic and parts list. If you attempt to drive mixed colour LEDs with the same current limiting resistor and switching transistor, you will likely find that one colour glows brighter and the other colour doesn’t light up at all or only very dimly.

When soldering the LEDs into place, leave slack in the leads so that the LED can be bent off to the side once it is attached. Note that we have not yet soldered in the D19 LED at the very tip of the tree.

Step 6: Test each PCB

3D LED Christmas Tree - test each PCBOnce each of the Tree PCBs is fully populated (except for the D19 LED at the tip), they can be tested by placing about 5VDC onto the “+” and “-” pads at the very bottom of the tree.

For example, you can place some AA batteries into the battery housing and touch the wires to the correct pads on the PCB.

The LEDs should blink and cycle with colourful holiday goodness. If they do not, check the polarities (directions) of the power wires, the LEDs, the caps, and the transistors. If you were careful with all of the polarities while soldering, there should be no problems.

Step 7: Base PCB

DIY 3D LED Christmas Tree base PCBDIY 3D LED Christmas Tree base PCB

Solder the power button and the power terminal onto the Base PCB. When inserting the power button, the notched side of the button should face the nearest edge of the PCB as shown. A piece of resistor lead that was trimmed off earlier may be wrapped around the power terminal and soldered to the PCB as a stain relief to make the connector more robust while inserting the power plug.

The battery pack can be bolted into the base PCB as shown. The wires from the battery pack can be fed up into the PCB trimmed and soldered to the power pads.

Step 8: Final Assembly

DIY 3D LED Christmas Tree project final assembly

Slide the two tree halves into one another being careful to bend any of the components (such as the transistors) our of the way if they catch onto one another. Once the sides are aligned, solder the pads together where the halves touch.

DIY 3D LED Christmas tree

Now the top LED (D19) can be attached and trimmed.

DIY maker 3D LED Christmas Tree assembly

Lastly, insert the tree into the base PCB being careful to observe the “+” and “-” designations on all three PCBs. Solder the tree to the base PCB.

Your 3D LED Tree can be powered from the battery pack OR the power terminal USB adapter. When the power terminal is inserted, the batteries are out of the circuit, so it is fine to leave the batteries installed while using the USB power adapter.

 

Fun Friday! Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames 2019

RoboGames GLOWS Selkirk College 2018

It is NEVER too early to start planning your project and strategy for RoboGames!

This is a robot competition like no other. It’s also a tremendous opportunity for learning and exploring technology – electronics and robotics.

Through experimentation and mentoring, West Kootenay/Boundary youth will learn how to design, build and program robots that they will enter into RoboGames, a fun and free-spirited event full of prizes.

Everyone is welcome to attend! RoboGames will take place Saturday, April 27th at the Tenth Street Campus in the Mary Hall Building.

Imagination meets Technology

Open to all West Kootenay/Boundary youth ages 6 to 18, RoboGames requires only imagination, creativity, and a sense of exploration and fun – no experience necessary!

Youth in teams of one to two people will be supported with six to eight weeks of robotics programming and circuit training culminating with a competition.

For more information head over to Selkirk College GLOWS!

For a little inspiration, here’s what went down at last year’s competition:

Fun Friday! Halloween Maker Edition

MIDAS fab lab Fun Friday Halloween Edition

Halloween is only a couple of weeks away, plenty of time to create some pretty nifty, interactive, and spooky decorations that will have your friends and family jumping!

Of all the holidays, Halloween is perhaps the most fun for makers – a true makers holiday, really! So, to inspire the spooky, creepy maker in you take a look at the following fun ideas, making creative and scary use of Arduino and Raspberry PI to get the juices flowing:

Raspberry Pi and projectors make this house sing the Monster Mash

Raspberry Pi Monster Mash Halloween House

This is something of the ultimate in Halloween decorating – bringing the entire house to life to sing a fun, Halloween classic.

Through the use of Raspberry Pi and a few projectors, Twitter user @Firr was able to create this fun and impressive Halloween project using two Raspberry Pis, three projectors, some speakers, and “a mess of HDMI cables”.

One Pi handles the eyes using an HDMI splitter to project the same video of moving eyes onto a pair of windows.

The second Pi does the mouth which is a custom animation created in After Effects. This also handles the audio which is output to some party speakers playing the classic song:

For the mouth the video looper project from Adafruit was used as a base. The eyes were also adapted from an Adafruit guide, this time written by Phillip Burgess.

We’ve actually featured Burgess recently for another Halloween decoration with projected eyes, this time using spherical projectors.

While the eyes can move on their own, a joystick can be added for direct control. Firr created a switch that goes between autonomous animation and direct control.

via Gfycat

Haunted Jack-in-the-Box – Raspberry Pi

This project uses a Raspberry Pi and face detection using the Pi camera to determine when someone is looking at it. This look like a great way to scare your friends! You can make your own – learn more about it HERE.

Magic Scare Mirror

Another great project to scare the pants of your visitors. It wouldn’t be Halloween without the evil spirits – make your own!

via Gfycat

Talking Skull – Arduino

This is a classic, and another great one for eliciting jump scares! Perfect for setting the perfect Halloween ambiance to your home. Make it yourself!

Maker Movement Inspiring Young Innovators With EdTech Toys

Maker movement inspiring young innovators with EdTech Toys

Constructible rides by Infento offer a new twist on toys.

In this era of intense technology consumption, particularly among young people, there’s all manner of conversation going on – at home, in schools, at the workplace – about how to manage it in the name of establishing healthy balance.

Forward-thinking companies are seeing ways to address the issues surrounding young people and technology and seeing another avenue that doesn’t so much limit technology as leverage it, in the form of EdTech toys, that serve to bring the maker spirit and innovation to how young people engage with tech.  End game: inspiring a new generation of makers and innovators, where toys teach the skill sets needed to create rather than simply consume modern technology.

EdTech Toys Engage Children, Inspire Maker Spirit: Innovation, Imagination, Creativity

Makers are teachers, entrepreneurs, professionals, students, DIY hobbyists or simply tinkerers in their own garage.  What unites all of these individuals is the maker spirit – a fascination with creating, often utilizing various means of technology.

The Maker Movement maintains that we are all makers.  Particularly given that today, almost half of all Canadians identify as being part of the maker community, regardless age or gender.

When you consider the focus that STEM/STEAM education has recently taken this number should come as no surprise.  Schools are looking to the maker community, which successfully incorporates inquiry-based and active learning (learning-by-doing) as part of the maker philosophy, to inform their classrooms and teaching techniques, particularly when it comes to attracting students who have become disengaged by formal educational settings.

More and more schools and community centres are beginning to convert spaces into active maker spaces to encourage exploration and experimentation with technology. Makerspaces and Maker Faires are cropping up in communities from coast-to-coast and across the globe, promoting a DIY mentality and innovative, maker spirit.

At the heart of the maker movement is an ideology that innovation should be collaborative, fun and based on exploration. In this vein, new opportunities are being explored by forward-thinking companies, launching EdTech oriented activities and toys geared specifically to teach these skill sets to inspire a new generation of innovators.

For example, one company called Infento has developed the world’s first kit for families that lets them build real constructible rides together using simple modular parts. The building process is designed like a game, with the first task being the construction of a simple toolbox made out of cardboard that teaches children all of the different pieces. From there, a family would decide which ride they want to create and use online instructions to start building.

The name Infento is a combination of two Latin words: “infinitus” (infinite) and “planto” (to make). When pronounced, the name sounds like “invent,” which is exactly what Infento hopes families will be inspired to do with this collaborative experience.

Infento’s newest Kickstarter campaign enables families to use only one kit and one hex key to create a huge range of rides, from walkers and scooters for toddlers all the way up to go-karts, skibocks and sledges for teens.

Similarly, Nintendo released a modular kit called the Nintendo Labo that enables young people to create interactive gaming elements for the Switch out of cardboard. Options include a miniature piano, a fishing pole, a robot and even a motorbike. However, the best part of these accessories is that they help children to understand how these elements function.

Makey MakeyA third toy that is finding itself more and more often listed alongside Raspberry Pi and Arduino is the Makey Makey.  This handy gadget can turn everyday objects into computer input touchpads, so, for instance, a banana becomes the space bar.the

It’s a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.  This is a kit that teaches young people how to use alligator clips to add connectivity and conductivity to everyday objects like bananas and donuts to create music, touchpads, interactive maps and more.

Makey Makey inspires children to come up with their own designs, all while teaching them basic principles of electrical engineering and coding.

The advancement of toys such as these are indicative of an important shift in thinking for the younger generations. Rather than being passive consumers of technology, young people turn into active creators, developing creativity and skills in true maker fashion.

Organizations like the XPRIZE Foundation recognize the value of this out-of-the-box thinking and have even begun incentivizing young people to put their innovation skills to the test. Most recently, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE announced a challenge for students between the ages of 12 and 18 to “Design a Deep-Sea Treasure” that could be placed on the ocean floor to help map the final frontier on the earth. Winners can earn up to $2,000 cash and another $5,000 for their supporting school or organization.

Innovative Maker Companies Returning Childhood to Its Hands-on Roots

While there are still many valid reasons to be concerned, as parents, about our kids’ experience with technology, it’s reassuring to see companies leveraging it to encourage active rather than passive engagement.

Looking to employ the maker spirit in their toys and games, innovative companies are incorporating technology while actually drawing on old school roots encouraging exploration, discovery, creativity, and collaborative play.

Reigniting a joy of learning, building skills, inspiring ideas and collaboration; empowering kids to dive in and get their hands dirty, have fun, developing the skills they need to make technology work for them, not the other way around.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

 

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Fun Friday! Call for Makers: World Maker Faire 2018!

If you have any familiarity with the Maker Culture or the Maker Movement, you are probably familiar with Make: magazine and their incredibly successful and ever-expanding events, the Maker Faire.

Call for Makers Maker Faire

Maker Faire:  full STEAM ahead!

The Maker Faire is the coming together of fascinating, curious, eager do-it-yourselfers who embrace and pursue the creative, the inventive, the innovative, as well as sharing their enthusiasm for making and what they create.  A festival of STEAM!  From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these “makers” to show off their hobbies, experiments, projects, passions.

The folks behind these innovative gatherings refer to Maker Faire as the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness.

The first event, initiated to “celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset” was 12 years ago in San Mateo, California, organized by the editors of Make: magazine.  It was a hit right off the bat with over 500 booths and approximately 65,000 people through the doors.  This first Faire included a human-sized Mouse Trap board game, kinetic squid sculpture, 55′ wingspan kinetic steel butterfly, bicycle-powered music stage, and a solar-powered chariot pulled by an Arnold Schwarzenegger robot.  From this single venue back in 2006, there are now over 225 Maker Faires in 38 countries around the world, reaching over 1.5 million people first-hand!

If you’re interested in participating in the big leagues, the 9th Annual World Maker Faire in New York has put out their call for Makers and Do-It-Yourselfers!  The perfect opportunity to present your amazing, creative and/or innovative DIY efforts, regardless your age, to an appreciative audience.

Can’t make it to New York City?  No worries!  If you’d like to experience the Maker Faire closer to home, check out the 4th Annual Mini Maker Faire this fall in Prince George.

Taking place Saturday, September 22nd, this is a day of Show and Tell that combines elements of science fair, craft fair and inventions!  If you’re interested in participating, the CALL FOR MAKERS is now on!

If you’d simply like to see and enjoy local creativity, invention, and innovation, admission is free to see the many local Makers showcasing a range of tech projects, artwork, soap making, textile and fibre work, Lego construction, woodworking and more.

Wondering how to bring a Maker Faire to your community?  While they can be quite grand, despite the size of these larger MF events, they are possible at almost any scale.  The Mini Maker Faire program provides tools and resources to help produce an exceptional event that reflects the creativity, spirit and ingenuity of your community. The K-12 School program provides a similar experience scaled for a school community.

In its simplest form, Maker Faire creates opportunities for conversations with Makers. Tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and entrepreneurs all come together to show their projects and to talk about what they have learned. It is a community-based learning event that inspires everyone to become a maker, and connect with people and projects in their local community.

It is a special experience, but the fundamental design of the event is one that can be reproduced almost anywhere. Mini Maker Faires are independently produced celebrations of local maker culture and the licensing program is available to interested organizations and individuals after successfully satisfying the application process.

Mini Maker Faires are independently produced celebrations of local maker culture. Our city-facing Mini Maker Faire program provides tools and resources to help others to make a Maker Faire event that reflects the creativity, spirit and ingenuity of their community. There is also the K-12 School Maker Faire program providing a similar experience scaled for a school community.

#LearnCreateLaunch #madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

 

 

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Fun Friday: DIY 3D Printed Fidget Spinner

DIY 3D printed fidget spinner

Despite being on trend for the past several years, Fidget Spinners are everywhere!  This little gadget of mindless distraction is likely the single most 3D printed item, and very simple in design, so it’s understandable why makers, young and old, are eager to design their own version.

This is a great 3D printing project because it will provide you all there is to know about the mechanics of fidget spinners and how to create your 3D printable file.

DIY 3D printed Fidget Spinner

The Fidget Spinner is a simple project that uses three 3D-printed parts and a bearing from McMaster-Carr. Learn how to use the McMaster-Carr part browser, basic 3D modeling, and how to make mechanical joints.

Modelling demo and files:  If you’re unfamiliar with Fusion 360, here’s a handy 3D Printing Class to get crash course in using the program.  The application is free to students and hobbyists, so there’s plenty to be had for educational support as you get to know it.

This is a fun and pretty easy project, and if you follow the complete instructions, which includes instructional webinars and video, totally do-able for the beginner maker.

3D design and printing truly allows just about anyone access to fabrication and prototyping with relative ease.  If you’re interested in learning the basics in design, 3D printing and fabrication, be sure to check out all of the cool courses we have on offer.

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Fun Friday! Easy & Fun Beginner Maker Ed Projects

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projects

Maker Ed, or Maker Education, is a new school of educational thought that focuses on delivering constructivist, project-based learning curriculum and instruction to students. As the Maker Movement begins to make inroads into conventional education, maker education spaces are geared to facilitating hands-on learning experiences that incorporate both low and high tech, and can be as large as full high school workshops with high-tech tools, or as small and low-tech as one corner of an elementary classroom.

Maker Ed is particularly effective when leveraging the balance between exploration and execution. Small projects lend themselves to indefinite tinkering and fiddling, while larger projects need complex, coordinated planning. Often, small projects can organically grow into larger and larger projects. This deliberate process strengthens and enriches a learner’s executive functioning skills.

Effective Maker Ed isn’t just about the tools and technology.  Communication and collaboration are two of Maker Ed’s fundamental values. Making allows learners to practice their social communication skills in a variety of ways:  Affinity-based, where students organize themselves in real world and/or Internet (or virtual) to learn something connected to a shared endeavor, interest, or passion; role-specific, where the learning is customized dependent upon the specific tasks and function of the project and the training is presented in the context of a specific role ands what it takes to perform that role; or, teacher-assigned, where the educator facilitates more directly assigning each student to a particular task in the project.  It’s important for all different groups to be present in student learning spaces so that all students can practice their social skills in multiple settings.

Additionally, making offers unique opportunities to generate flow learning, an optimal psychological state that students experience when engaged in an activity that is appropriately challenging to their individual skill levels while encouraging immersion and concentrated focus on a task. Flow learning allows for deeper learning experiences as well as higher levels of personal and work satisfaction where the teacher is better able to leverage high-interest projects and activities and turn them into learning objectives within a curriculum.

Ultimately, we are talking about collaboration and learning through doing.  Maker education provides the space for real-life collaboration, integration across multiple disciplines, and iteration—the opportunity to fail, rework a project and find success.

We at MIDAS are fully committed to supporting the efforts of educators and makers looking to promote a cooperative learning environment where collaboration and education work hand-in-hand encouraging innovation in the most fun and organic ways possible.

New to the Maker Culture and education?  Here are a few fun and easy suggestions to get things going with the young – or old – aspiring makers in your life:

Smaller Scale Maker Ed Projects

Do you want to get into Making and Maker Ed but don’t know where to start? No problem! Here are nine class-tested, teacher-approved ideas, which can be built using a few tools for K–8 students.

tower of power beginner maker projectTowers of Power

Materials:  Paper, Scotch tape.

Tools: Scissors.

A great starting point for a beginning Maker teacher, this “Towers of Power” activity allows students to build towers out of paper and Scotch tape.

Students can build the tallest tower with an unlimited amount of materials, constrain themselves to limited materials or introduce new materials, such as straws and paper clips.

Once it’s complete, have fun crushing the tower with textbooks! Find out which tower holds up the most weight.

This group activity can help students with teamwork, leadership and planning skills. Best of all, variations on this theme are endless — and the materials can be found in any home or office.

simple catapult beginner maker projectCatapults

Materials:  Mouse traps, wood stirring sticks, erasers, wood blocks, ping-pong balls. hot glue.

Tools: a hot glue gun.

 

Introducing elements of STEM, this catapult activity is a favourite project to introduce engineering principles, motion and fun. The catapult allows students to chase down the best launching angle and the ratio between power and arm length, as well as discuss projectile motion, gravity, physics laws and a whole host of other things.

Plus, every student likes trying to smash something apart with a teacher’s permission.

Little hands might pinch themselves handling the strong lever, so it’s good practice to disengage the spring for students while they make their catapults.

Design Challenge Projects

Terrific exercises in STEAM!  And a great way to get into making is to give you and your students a few hours to explore the Making design process. Design challenges are a great way to get this done.

Set a hard time limit, test the devices, take time to evaluate and reflect.

Bridge to Nowhere beginner maker projectBridge to Nowhere

Materials:  Wood craft sticks, hot glue, 5-gallon bucket with weights.

Tools:  Hot glue gun,  diagonal cutters.

Design a bridge to span a foot-long gap and hold as much weight as possible.

An extension could be to build a cantilever — a bridge with only one footing.

Use a set amount of craft sticks or materials in order to encourage creativity in solutions.

Float the Boat

 beginner maker projectFloat the Boat

Materials:  Tinfoil, craft sticks, bamboo skewers, paper, hot glue, clay, wood scraps, pens and markers.

Tools:  Scissors, hot glue guns, craft sticks.

Design a boat that can hold the most cargo, move through the water the fastest, or has the most efficient weight to cargo ratio.

Find the best shape for sails, design the fastest hull and find the balance point.

Egg Drop beginner maker STEM projectEgg Drop

Materials:  Cardboard boxes, packing tape, junk and stuff (the weirder, the better). Think packing materials, fabric scraps, string, rope, plastic bags, etc.

Tools:  Scissors.

Some serious STEM fun!

Throwing eggs off something high always gets kids motivated.

It’s a great way to discuss momentum and illustrate why you should always wear your seat belt!

Beginner Maker projects DIY musical instrumentsInstruments


Materials:  Wood scraps, strings, dried rice, beans, sandpaper, cardboard, cardboard boxes, paper rolls, hot glue, tape, small sections of pipe, etc.

Tools:  Hot glue gun, scissors, hole punch, awl.

If a teacher offers a student the opportunity to make something joyfully noisy, they usually take it.

Homemade, DIY, maker instruments come in all different sizes and types — from wood drums to coffee can shakers, to wind chimes to xylophones, it just takes a bit of a Google search to find great ideas.

Electricity

Once you—parent, teacher, facilitator —get your “legs” for developing and encouraging Maker projects, why not expand your skills?

By now you’ve seen what you and what your kids can do. You’ve probably worked out how to efficiently manage the classroom and supplies, and document learning. Kick it up a level consider some more advanced projects incorporating electricity.

Electromagnetic beginner maker STEM projectElectromagnets



Materials:  Metal bolts, nails, copper wire, batteries.Tools:  Pliers, scissors or wire snips.

Electromagnets illustrate the connection between electricity and magnetism.

In real life, electromagnets are the cornerstone of many common electrical devices, such as door bells, burglar alarms, car doors and electric motors. Students can fiddle with them to create small toys that can pick up ferrous objects.

Squishy Circuits DIY beginner maker projectsSquishy Circuits

Materials:  Battery holder – 4XAA Batteries w/ Switch, (4) AA Batteries, LED – 5mm or 10mm Jumbo, Conductive Dough, Insulating Dough.

Tools:  Hot plate, or stove, and pots, wire snips or scissors.

Squishy circuits are a fun way to learn and explore the basics of electricity and electrical circuits and they solve one of the biggest conundrums with younger Makers: how to build with real electronic components when the young hands have yet to develop the fine motor skills to connect relatively small parts together via grown up tools?

Play dough! Take a piece of flour and a small collection of electronic parts (which you can find online at a low cost.)

You can get all the deets for this project HERE.

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projectsArduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey Controller Boards

Materials:

Anything you can get your hands on:   Tinfoil, wires

Tools:  Pliers, scissors, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey

Once the students have made a few electronic circuits, they might ask for something a bit more complicated.

Give them a programmable microcontroller board, which they can use to play a banana piano, design a custom video game controller or create a dance floor that can play different songs with each tile.

Check out these great microcontroller projects HERE!

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Selkirk College RoboGames: The Best in Youth Innovation Fun!

Selkirk College RoboGames and MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

There was much fun and some serious gladiator-ship to be had this past weekend at the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames on Saturday, April 28 at the Castlegar Campus.

Technology-fueled fun and free-spirited youth innovation was the name of the game.  With a simple robot kit and some big imagination, 55 participants in 39 teams designed and built competitors for events such as Obstacle Course, Robot Soccer and Balloon Popping.  It was a day full of excitement and camaraderie.

Selkirk College GLOWS 2018 Robogames

As the doors opened upon RoboGames 2018, youth from around the region brought their robotics A-game having prepped for weeks, building and training their various creations.

Brian Malito, a Grade 12 student from J L Crowe Secondary School in Trail, has competed in four RoboGames including the first one held in Nelson in 2010.

“I got interested in robotics because of the idea that people could make non-living objects move,” Malito says, looking back to his early days of robotics. “I found it so fascinating and I also had an interest in programming and wanted to know more.”

Selkirk College GLOWS 2018 Robogames with MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

Brad Pommen, MIDAS Fab Lab Director and Nelson Tech Club founder who enthusiastically brought RoboGames to the Kootenay-Boundary region directed events.  As in years past, he offered support and guidance in preparation for the games, providing online sessions kids were able to follow at their own pace.

“RoboGames is designed to promote science and technology learning among our young community members by making science and technology fun, accessible and non-intimidating,” Pommen says. “It’s been incredibly fun for me as well. Seeing youth enthusiasm for robotics, something I’ve been interested in for so long, grow is completely rewarding. I also love seeing new ideas come forward every year.”

RoboGames is designed to promote science and technology learning among youth by making it accessible and fun, using robotics to help to minimize the intimidation factor.

“Technology surrounds us every day, and understanding how it works—that it is not simply magic—can be very empowering and influence everyone, but most especially youth, in amazing ways.” states Pommen.  “When you make technology fun, accessible and non-intimidating, we are enhancing community vitality and sustainability to everyone with a curiosity and presenting it in a way that traditional educational models cannot address. ”

This was the sixth annual event. Learn more at selkirk.ca/robogames

Photos courtesy Selkirk College GLOWS.

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Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames 2018 – Cheer On Your Favourite Robot!

RoboGames GLOWS Selkirk College 2018

 Imagination meets technology at the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames!

Prepare to enjoy a robot competition like no other!  Everyone is welcome to attend this Saturday, April 28th at the Castlegar Campus Gymnasium, the 2018 RoboGames, where Kootenay – Boundary youth aged 6 to 18 bring their robotics a-game to compete in this fun and exciting competition in local innovation.

Get there early as the games begin at 10am!

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames

RoboGames is a unique opportunity where, experimentation and mentoring, youth from throughout the region learn how to design, build and program robots that they will enter into RoboGames, a fun and free-spirited event full of prizes.

Look forward to teams competing their robot in up to two specialty events.  Each event is approximately 45 minutes and the schedule of events is as follows:

  • Line following – This event utilizes the obstacle course, except the robots must follow the line from end to end. There may be crossed or intersected lines, as well as obstacles to create havoc. Speed and accuracy will be highly praised. The line will be about the thickness of electrical tape.
  • Obstacle course – Robots maneuver the obstacle course as quickly and carefully as possible. Navigate walls and obstacles to reach the end of maze.
  • Robot battles – Robot gladiators in the ultimate destruction event!
  • Robot soccer: One on one, head-to-head, mano-a-mano! Robots grab the most robot soccer balls to their side in two minutes.
  • Special tricks – The crazier the better! Dance, tell a joke, fetch an object… it could be anything! A creative and fun event challenging the kids’ innovation.
  • Balloon popping – Which robot will pop the balloon first?! Robots enter the ring prepared to burst the balloon before their competitor.

Judges will be looking for design and assembly; programming and logic; the robot’s ability to problem solve as well as its ability to adapt to challenging situations.

Awards will take place between 3-3:30pm.

Find out more HERE!

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Fun Friday: DIY Life-sized Phone Controlled BB8 Droid

DIY phone controlled BB8 Droid

We’re on the fast approach to the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames and with robotics on the brain, this little (complicated?!) project caught our eye!

Angelo, an incredibly innovative and talented young man, and the brains behind the YouTube channel, TechBuilder, has incorporated the magic of various technologies, including a smartphone and an Arduino micro-controller to bring what has become an iconic character from a favourite movie franchise: a life-sized BB8!

Limited to only the materials he had on hand such as the balls from roll-on deodorant, beach balls & paper mache, canvas, and Christmas balls, he brought this lovable little droid to life in the most simple yet innovative ways!

making a DIY BB8 Droid

While the construction is pretty old school, the robotics end of the project are totally 21st Century.  A phone app sends characters via Bluetooth with every press of a button. The Bluetooth module receives the data while the Arduino interprets and processes these data. The Arduino sends signals to the Motor Driver shield to give a go signal for the switching of the motors.  And, voila!

No, not really!

There’s a lot more to it!  So, if you’d like to see ALL that’s gone into making this, the ultimate DIY droid, come to life check it out HERE!  For inspiration, check out the video below.

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