Monday, November 30, 2015

Troubleshooting NeoPixel Problems

The NeoPixel packs a lot into a tiny package, millions of intense colors! As I developed the 24 NeoPixel ring Arduino shield I encountered a couple problems and had to learn more about the NeoPixel to solve them. I found the ring needs a very stable power supply and any jostling of the pins connecting it to the Arduino or the pins connecting to the ring were likely to reset the Arduino or cause the ring to do weird things, like become dim, flash suddenly, etc. So a couple modifications I

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gif Loop Coder Is An Animation Microworld

There's a new JavaScript programming tool called Gif Loop Coder that is providing me with endless fun. GLC provides a bunch of shape objects and an environment to play with their attributes and then run the resulting image as a tweened animation. Giving an object a single attribute, such as a fill color, will give it a static

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Developing A Light Logo NeoPixel 24 Curriculum

Light Logo, created by Brian Silverman, is a version of the Logo language that is used to program a few versions of the NeoPixels, from rings to strips, through an Arduino. See Josh Burker's post for how to get started, and see my Instructable for how to get a 24 NeoPixel ring more-or-less classroom ready. I'm developing a curriculum for it with 8th grade students as my guinea pigs and here are some thoughts that have come up as I use Light Logo in the classroom.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Daisy Chained MAX7219 Led Drivers

This project builds off of some work I did earlier with the MAX7219 led driver running a single 8X8 led matrix. Now I'm getting two of them daisy chained and driving 2 matrices. I'm moving the project off the breadboard and onto a perfboard, as well. This post has great instructions for wiring one driver and led matrix, which I've gone back to again and again.
One MAX7219 soldered and connected, running a random worm program. The second driver out in front isn't connected yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Arduino Lilypad Protosnap Test Program

Today at work I got a bunch, well 6 (more are back-ordered) Protosnap Lilypad Development Boards and I wanted to test them out before I put them away to get to other stuff. They recommend that you do so before you break them apart. The Sparkfun website just points you to a bunch of

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stepper Motor Player

I took some stepper motors out of some old printers to play with. Newer printers seem to use DC motors, but I love finding steppers because they make such nice sounds. I spent a while on this project just figuring out how to get the steppers to work and some different options for

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Animate Stories With Neopixel Ring and LightLogo

I've been trying out the Neopixel Ring-24, a ring of 24 RGB LEDs easy to plug in to an Arduino. Instead of using the Adafruit neopixel Arduino library I'm beta-testing LightLogo, a new IDE for the Neopixel and Arduino to write programs in Logo. This can make a really beautiful device with its rich colors more accessible to younger

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wall Follower Robot

Version 1
Version 2
I decided to make a robot that follows a wall on its right side. I have an NXShield-Dx, a shield that sits on the Arduino Uno and connects it to the motors and sensors of the Mindstorms NXT. The NXT motors are great, and I used one NXT ultrasonic sensor. With the Arduino I could also use an Arduino compatible distance sensor so I got a range sensor at Radio Schack (on sale for $15!). In both designs I put the NXT sensor facing forward to detect obstacles directly in front that the side detector can't see, and the Radio Shack sensor directed to the right side to detect the wall. For power I

Monday, August 03, 2015

Teaching HTML Coding with Chromebooks and Drive

Making web pages with HTML and a little JavaScript is a great way to introduce middle schoolers to text coding. Over the years I've introduced 6th graders to web coding using syntax coloring programs like Notepad++ and Text Wrangler, plaintext editors like Text Edit, and visual editor Dreamweaver. But this past year our school moved to Chromebooks and I had to find a cloud-based solution for HTML editing.
After trying several Chrome apps I settled on HTML Editey. Chrome Dev Editor seemed like the

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How To Get From Blocks to Text With Robotics Coding

So many rich block-based programming environments have become available during the last several years. The release of Scratch into the world by MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group catalyzed the invention of similar block-based environments for all sorts of purposes and a revolution in novice learners' ability to use the building blocks of computer science to imagine and make things. Block-based environments provide the important affordance of building programs without making