[chbot] Meeting Report - Andrew from Brightsparks

Richard Jones rjtp at ihug.co.nz
Sun Jan 10 20:44:09 GMT 2010

It is hard to do justice to Andrews presentation in just a few lines of
text, but for those who were unable to come here goes...

Andrew Hornblower from Brightsparks explained how they support school age
students and their teachers with the social networking site
brightsparks.org.nz and how mentors may be teamed up with schools or
individual projects. Brightsparks provide teacher training sessions and are
active in promoting practical, hands on unit standards. They also provide
free components and run competitions for students.

Andrew went on to show prototyping panels and kiwi patch pcbs hooking them
up with Picaxe microcontrollers using simple layouts that double as
effective schematic diagrams. Andrew showed a huge range of snappy demos
combining a progression of input and output devices with picaxe software to
produce a magnificent range of simple and extensible applications built
from remarkably few components. Here are just a few examples of what we
12 LEDs or switches driven from four port pins using Charlieplex
LEDs as photodectectors
LDRs for measuring light or darkness
Thermisters measuring temperature
Single Sounder or LED yielding multiple digit measurements of light or
Serial LCD giving easier on the brain digital displays at higher price
Piezo transducer used as an accelerometer to weigh grains of rice, sparrows
or penguins
Piezo transducer lighting an LED when struck
Servo motor with a pointer attached to give a huge analogue display
H bridge motor drivers
Single and dual pixel camera for sensing movement and direction
One wire devices, busses and simple networks
picaxe wired to the internet

Andrew left a resource CD with us. Well worth a look for anyone who is an
educator or still learning (or both!). I have a copy of the CD on my laptop
and we hope to post it on kiwibots.org

Here are links to places that were mentioned during the evening:

http://brightsparks.org.nz social networking site for students and mentors
http://mailtronics.co.nz Educational component supplies
http://electroflash.co.nz Les Black from Brightsparks educational component
supplies site
http://picasaweb.google.com/picaxe Andrews photo galeries
https://www.open-mesh.com/store Wireless mesh router from $29US
http://kiwibots.org - image of Andrews resource CD.
picaxe at clear.net.nz Andrews email address

Eight people attended with a gold coin collection of $9.45 for Science
Alive which will be much appreciated. Hopefully Andrew can visit again,
with a little more notice and during term time our numbers could be larger.
Many thanks to Andrew for volunteering to come, and for the kiwipatch pcbs
that he gave away.

Richard Jones

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