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creativewidgetworks | July 12, 2020

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The Take-Home project

I've attended many presentations where I walked out wanting to know more and to dive deeper into the topic. This is an experiment (some say insanity) that is intended to allow interested attendees of a presentation to continue learning and experimentation after they leave the meeting.  I hope that 1) it is successful, 2) that it can serve as a model for other presenters in the future, and 3) perhaps spawn a MCWA Builders/Makers Special Interest Group (SIG).

My talk is going to be an introduction to the Arduino and ESP-8266 families of micro-controllers. There is going to be slides and demos including one that shows how these wildly useful devices are programmed and used.  But for those interested in digging deeper, there will be take-home kits that contain all the parts to build a number of useful projects.

The grand experiment will include

  • The take-home kit
  • All the software needed for the projects, configured and all ready to go, that will be downloaded from this site.
  • A number of group calls via Zoom where we will walk through the project and answer any questions.
  • Short tutorials that walk the experimenter thorough the projects.
  • Potential for meeting face-to-face from time to time to discuss our projects.

I admit that this is a tall order and I might be biting off more than I can chew. However, unless we try it, we won't know if this is a viable model for others to follow.

Now that the scope of the projects has been identified, the bill of materials established, and the slide deck for the presentation nearly completed, I can turn my attention to the software and other documentation.

** The survey indicated the most use Windows machines (Win 7/10), a few Linux, and one MacOS user. I have Windows covered and I think I can create the Linux build, but I will need the assistance of the MacOS user to help me configure the build environment. Hopefully, that won't be difficult and I will be able to have an environment that functions under MacOS.

I will need to get these boards on order soon. I'll double check delivery times, but I think that we will need to place an order early next week to ensure that the parts will arrive in time for the October 1 presentation. Before the survey closes, I will announce that an order is going to be placed as well as the final cost of the parts based on total quantity ordered.

Some of these boards are available on eBay or Amazon at slightly higher prices, but some are not available yet (e.g., the RGB LED board).

Thank you to everyone who filled out the Bill-of-Materials Survey for the Take-Home kit.  Confirmation emails have been send and all the parts have been ordered and should arrive around the middle of September.  Because of the number of items that were ordered, there was savings in the shipping charges for many of the items.

I've added one level converter board to each kit for an additional cost of $1.00. As you experiment with the controller, you most likely encounter the need to interface five volt devices with the three volt D1 Mini ESP-8266 board.

 

 

Hey Ralph - Thanks for your presentation at the MCWA meeting. I enjoyed it very much. I'm setting up the development environment on a laptop so I can bring it to meetings or working sessions. I also added item #371 to my things to do list which involves seeing if programming in Python is an option. I'm OK with C+ too.

Fascinating bag of parts - lots of possibilities  🙂

That's great. I am preparing a portable IDE distro with the libraries, but it is no different than you setting up your own. Be sure to add the board module for the ESP-8266.  Here is a page (using an order IDE version, but still relevant) that describes how to do this:

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-huzzah-esp8266-breakout/using-arduino-ide

I will also collect the list of libraries and sample code to get started. I have all of this ready to go and will be uploading in the next couple of days.

Glad you enjoyed the presentation. I'm looking forward to getting together with others and see what we can learn from each other and create.