I came across this article from Aubrey Kagan, and while the title didn’t jump out at me — Design Defensively with Displays — I’m glad I clicked through. The article mainly discusses HD44780 displays, which I haven’t used in ages, but the author makes a lot of good points about the questions we should be asknig integrating any HW or device into an embedded system. I’m as guilty as anyone about not being proactive enough about checking for errors and gracefully handling them. I’ll usually check something once on init, but then just assume everything is OK from then on in and get lazy with the error checking even if the underlying code includes the means to always check if an I2C transaction succeeded or not, etc. This article was a timely reminder that a lot more things can go wrong than we take into consideration, but if the goal is to design reliable systems (which is should be), we need to be a lot more proactive about failing gracefully.
I’m currently an undergrad Computer Engineering student, but my interests are shifting to High School education after mentoring some amazing students, teaching workshops, and not quiet enjoying CE internships I had. So this could be long winded, but:
What advice do you have for someone looking to go into STEM education?
Excellent question and I am glad to hear you have had such success with your students! There are a couple of ways you can make the switch from CE to a degree that will get you teaching in a STEM field. This clearly depends on how far along you are in your undergrad program and you ABSOLUTELY need to speak with your adviser about your options. The first way would require you to complete your four degree in CE, decide which state you want to teach in and in what grade level, then follow that state’s guidelines for licensure. The second is to switch your major into one that offers both a education degree in addition to a teaching license. This happens to be the path I chose after my adviser introduced me VT’s education department. I was able to make the switch my Sophomore year and graduate with a BS and a teaching license.
As I said earlier, each state has different requirements. If you look at say, Virginia’s “Routes to Licensure in Virginia” document, it states that:
The Virginia licensure regulations stipulate multiple routes for individuals to become licensed in Virginia:
I. Approved Program – a Virginia state-approved teacher preparation program or an alternative state approved program. For more information relative to this method of licensure, please contact the college or university where you wish to enroll.
II. Reciprocity – Conditions for licensure for out-of-state candidates by reciprocity.
III. Alternative Licensure – an alternative route to licensure is available through the recommendation of the individual’s employing Virginia school division or nonpublic school. A three-year nonrenewable license can be issued through satisfying endorsement course work, experiential learning, or by meeting the provisional-special education requirements.
The following requirements must be satisfied in order to become eligible for the five-year renewable license:
1. Any remaining endorsement deficiencies in the specific content or endorsement area.
2. Professional Teacher’s Assessment
3. Professional Studies Requirements: Professional studies course work specified below from a regionally accredited four-year institution or an alternative program for licensure may be submitted by the employing educational agency for review and approval by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia Department of Education.
IV. Alternative Route for Career Professions – an alternative route is available to career switchers who seek teaching endorsements PreK through grade 12 with the exception of special education.
An application to an approved Career Switcher Program.
A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
The completion of requirements for an endorsement in a teaching area or the equivalent through verifiable experience or academic study.
At least five years of full-time work experience or its equivalent; and Virginia qualifying scores on the professional teacher’s assessments as prescribed by the Board of Education.
A person interested in teaching mathematics at the high school or middle school level should major in mathematics with a concentration in Secondary Education. This degree and concentration leads to state licensure to teach in Virginia upon completion of the degree.
The student must apply to the Teacher Preparation Program during the second semester of the sophomore year or during the semester in which 60 credit hours will be completed. The student must submit an application form to his or her academic major advisor with the attachments listed below. All criteria for admissions must be met.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recognizes the critical shortage of classroom teachers, particularly in mathematics and the sciences. As well, VDOE realizes the potential of career changers and what they can bring to the classroom. VDOE has approved an alternative route to teaching via a Career Switcher licensure program. Mason’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) is qualified to deliver this approved Career Switcher program in the secondary content areas of: math, earth science, chemistry, physics, biology, social studies/history, and English.
Like I said at the beginning, you want to speak with your adviser about making the switch. In my opinion, becoming a teacher was the best educational decision I have made. I get to teach future engineers, play with some really neat equipment, and have a blast doing it.
So, best of luck with whichever route you choose and keep having fun with your students!
Don’t forget, everyone is invited to ask a question!
The idea behind this survey, is to collect user feedback on what features they would like to see implemented in future releases of EAGLE. This will help guide the development team to implement the most demanded features first. Thank you in advance for your participation.
Tutorial: i2c/SPI LCD Backpack @ The Adafruit Learning System. LCDs are a fun and easy way to have your microcontroller project talk back to you. Character LCDs are common, and easy to get, available in tons of colors and sizes. We’ve written tutorials on using character LCDs with an Arduino (or similar microcontroller) but find that the number of pins necessary to control the LCD can be restrictive, especially with ambitious projects. We wanted to make a ‘backpack’ (add-on circuit) that would reduce the number of pins without a lot of expense.
By using simple i2c and SPI input/output expanders we have reduced the number of pins (only 2 pins are needed for i2c) while still making it easy to interface with the LCD. For Arduino users, we provide a easy-to-use library that is backwards compatible with projects using the ’6 pin’ wiring.
Whether you are a teacher, student, or just someone who wants to teach yourself electronics at home, there are a ton of great books to get you started. Here is a small list of our favorite electronics books which we would recommend for your library.
The Art of Electronics is hands down, my favorite electronics book. This book is not only filled with everything you need to know to get into electronics (and add to your electronics mind bank), it is also extremely easy to follow. Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill have put together a textbook that flows like a novel. Highly recommended for anyone reading this blog.
Building Wireless Sensor Networks by Rob Faludi will have you creating distributed sensor systems and intelligent interactive devices using the ZigBee wireless networking protocol and Series 2 XBee radios. By the time you’re halfway through this fast-paced, hands-on guide, you’ll have built a series of useful projects, including a complete ZigBee wireless network that delivers remotely sensed data.
NEW PRODUCT – VESA mount for Raspberry Pi. This basic VESA mount allows you to attach a Raspberry Pi computer to the back of most HDMI monitors. It is cut out of clear 3mm acrylic so you can see the LEDs, and has a cut out for the GPIO pins in case you want to connect a GPIO cable or Cobbler to it. The Pi is held in place with nylon PCB edge grips for a solid connection.
NEW PRODUCT – TIP120 Power Darlington Transistors – 3 pack. Transistors are powerful little electronic switches, and when our little NPN transistors aren’t power enough for your project, we have been known to use these beefy TIP120 Darlington transistors. Great for whenever you need to control medium to high-power electronics such as motors, solenoids, or 1W+ LEDs. We find them so handy, they come in a pack of 3!
Each transistor is a general purpose amplifier, model TIP120 and has a CBE pinout. They can switch up to 60V at peak currents of 8A (not continuously, just peak!) and continuous current of 5A, with a DC gain of about 1000. For more details, check the datasheet.
NEW PRODUCT – TO-220 Clip-On Heatsink. Get the most out of your regulators, transistors and other TO-220 packaged chips by clipping on a heat-sink. Your transistor or regulator may advertise it can handle high currents but when multiplied by the drop voltage, the Wattage may be too high for the bare chip! Most TO-220′s can disipate about 2W’s worth without a sink.
We carry a few different GPS modules here in the Adafruit shop, but none that satisfied our every desire – that’s why we designed this little GPS breakout board. We believe this is the Ultimate GPS module, so we named it that.
It’s got everything you want and more:
-165 dBm sensitivity, 10 Hz updates, 66 channels
5V friendly design and only 20mA current draw
Breadboard friendly + two mounting holes
PPS output on fix
Internal patch antenna + u.FL connector for external active antenna
Fix status LED
…all for under $40!
The breakout is built around the MTK3339 chipset, a no-nonsense, high-quality GPS module that can track up to 22 satellites on 66 channels, has an excellent high-sensitivity receiver (-165 dB tracking!), and a built in antenna. It can do up to 10 location updates a second for high speed, high sensitivity logging or tracking. Power usage is incredibly low, only 20 mA during navigation.
Best of all, we added all the extra goodies you could ever want: a ultra-low dropout 3.3V regulator so you can power it with 3.3-5VDC in, 5V level safe inputs, ENABLE pin so you can turn off the module using any microcontroller pin or switch, a footprint for optional CR1220 coin cell to keep the RTC running and allow warm starts and a tiny bright red LED. The LED blinks at about 1Hz while it’s searching for satellites and blinks once every 15 seconds when a fix is found to conserve power. If you want to have an LED on all the time, we also provide the FIX signal out on a pin so you can put an external LED on.
Two features that really stand out about version 3 MTK3339-based module is the external antenna functionality and the the built in data-logging capability. The module has a standard ceramic patch antenna that gives it -165 dB sensitivity, but when you want to have a bigger antenna, you can snap on any 3V active GPS antenna via the uFL connector. The module will automatically detect the active antenna and switch over! Most GPS antennas use SMA connectors so you may want to pick up one of our uFL to SMA adapters.
The other cool feature of the new MTK3339-based module (which we have tested with great success) is the built in datalogging ability. Since there is a microcontroller inside the module, with some empty FLASH memory, the newest firmware now allows sending commands to do internal logging to that FLASH. The only thing is that you do need to have a microcontroller send the “Start Logging” command. However, after that message is sent, the microcontroller can go to sleep and does not need to wake up to talk to the GPS anymore to reduce power consumption. The time, date, longitude, latitude, and height is logged every 15 seconds and only when there is a fix. The internal FLASH can store about 16 hours of data, it will automatically append data so you don’t have to worry about accidentally losing data if power is lost. It is not possible to change what is logged and how often, as its hardcoded into the module but we found that this arrangement covers many of the most common GPS datalogging requirements.
We’ve tested this version of the Ultimate GPS in a high-altitude balloon, and it kept fix up to 27km!
Hi Adafruit, just wanted to say thanks for the USB microscope! It has proved useful in inspecting SMD soldering, capturing video for blog posts, and seeing all kinds of things I could never dream of seeing without it. This is a link to a Flickr Photo set (1X, 20X and 200X) of an “LED indicator” on a Apple Magic Trackpad. There are 37 holes laser cut into the aluminum that let light from an LED, mounted behind the aluminum, shine through, while remaining virtually invisible while off. Genius.
USB Microscope – 5.0 Megapixel / 220x magnification / 8 LEDs. As electronics get smaller and smaller, you’ll need a hand examining PCBs and this little USB microscope is the perfect tool. Its smaller and lighter than a large optical microscope but packs quite a bit of power in its little body. There’s a 5.0 megapixel sensor inside and an optical magnifier that can adjust from 20x (for basic PCB inspection) to 220x (for detailed inspection). Eight white LEDs are angled right onto whatever you’re examining so you get enough lighting to see, and are smoothly adjustable via a dial on the side.
New! We’ve upgraded from the previous model we stocked, this is a microscope to 5.0 Megapixel (from 2.0M) and this one comes with two removable plastic caps to get close ups for a wider focusing range.
If you plug this into any computer, it just shows up as a standard USB camera (we used this for our weekly Ask an Engineer show) and the Windows/Mac software lets you take snapshots using the button on the side of the microscope or direct from the software (so you don’t move the camera).
We tried a bunch of different USB microscopes and found this one to be the best combination of optical clarity, usability, and price. It’s perfect for electronics hacking, rework, SMT (de)soldering, inspection, and soon you’ll find yourself pulling it out to look and photograph all sort of cool small stuff around your lab and home.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the distinguished winners of its 2012 Pioneer Awards: hardware hacker Andrew (bunnie) Huang.
Andrew (bunnie) Huang is an activist who takes a push-and-pull approach to open hardware: he contributes original open designs and also liberates closed designs. Huang’s book on reverse engineering, “Hacking the Xbox,” is a widely respected tool for hardware hackers. Huang has also released an open implementation of a man-in-the-middle attack on HDCP – enabling overlays on encrypted video without circumventing access controls. As part of his long-term advocacy for users’ rights, Huang worked with EFF to help encourage more than 25,000 people to ask the Copyright Office for the right to install the software of their choice on their smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles. Huang serves as a Research Affiliate for the MIT Media Lab and a technical advisor for several hardware startups and MAKE magazine, and he shares his experiences manufacturing hardware in China through his blog.
…Awarded every year since 1992, EFF’s Pioneer Awards recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Previous honorees include Tim Berners-Lee, Senator Ron Wyden, Limor “Ladyada” Fried, Linus Torvalds, and Tunisian blogging collective Nawaat, among many others. Sponsors of this year’s Pioneer Awards include JibJab, JunkEmailFilter.com, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
Bunnie is a hero to everyone who makes, creates and shares. Bunnie is one of the most generous, caring, thoughtful engineers in the world. Congrats bunnie!
One of Adafruit’s favorite makers, Kristopher, has another absolutely amazing project to share with us.
RiderCool has many purposes:
1. Provide a technology platform for managing the pool with native XBee Network Protocol (XNP) support for sending data back for logging and to receive commands from a control router.
2. To measure how full our pool is, and report that data back to my computer using my XBee Network Protocol (XNP) for logging and tracking (http://sojournstudio.org/xnp/)
3. To activate a solenoid/valve that is connected to a garden hose, which will fill the pool with water.
4. To monitor, track and report-back the flow-rate of water going into the pool using an Adafruit flow-meter sensor (https://www.adafruit.com/products/828).
5. To monitor the temperature of the pool water, the ambient air, as well as ther CPU temp (https://www.adafruit.com/products/339), (https://www.adafruit.com/products/372)
6. To monitor a backup water-level sensor to ensure that the pool never over-flows.
7. To drive/control 4 RGB LED Strip controllers by Jeremy Saglimbeni; I have 40 meters of LED RGB Strip ringing-the pool. (http://thecustomgeek.com/2012/03/23/rgb … r-ver-2-2/)
8. To displays the output of these sensors, LED status, etc on an Adafruit 1.8′ TFT display for swimmers in the pool to see. (https://www.adafruit.com/products/358)
9. To provide button control resetting the system and controlling the RGB LED Strips using LED water-proof lights by Adafruit. (https://www.adafruit.com/products/482)
10. To teach me 3D printing – as this is my first 3D printing project with my MakerBot Replicator! (http://store.makerbot.com/replicator.html).
RiderCool was only possible because of the excellent products, tutorials and service that +Limor Fried and her company Adafruit Industries provides to its customers, and I have become a dedicated fan over the 1.5 years I’ve been making. With this project I got to learn 3D printing and got some real use out of my years in Blender training. I also got to combine different products in a completely water-proof system. Now that it’s done, of course, the summer is over and its nearly time to close the pool down. But building this helped me through alot of dark days this summer.