Last night we ran our Arduino Workshop for the first time in a while, and it was a huge amount of fun. We had 2 software developers (plus a very supportive partner!) which made for a unique workshop experience. Rather than focusing on programming basics and syntax, we took a deep dive into how microcontrollers operate at a bare metal level using hardware registers, system resources, and program optimisation.
There was a shared interest in finding out about how the familiar lines of code could be compiled to interact with the Arduino hardware in the way we know and love. The biggest 'aha' moment was just for the simplicity of Arduino as a platform; the fact that in a few hours you could develop a project that could control power devices with a simple hardware and software setup.
Finishing off with our signature data monitoring challenge using the serial port, we went an extra step and added conditions for it to only update when the incoming data changed, adding a layer of button control, and sending serial data from the computer back to the Arduino.
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- By Sam
On Saturday Morning, Graham and Myself headed down to Double Bay, Sydney to attend the Woollahra Library Maker Expo and share the passion for making and DIY electronics with the parents, educators and students from around the community.
Our eye-catching setup for the expo consisted of a wide range of educational tools & projects from some of our favourite innovators and makers around the world, not to mention our 2 most recent projects: The Infinity Mirror Table and the Huge LED Matrix Display.
We even took the opportunity to run a condensed version of our RoboShop for Young Engineers workshop during the day, walking a handful of young learners through the basics of coding taught with one of our favourite little robots, the Ozobot Bit. From following a simple black line to speeding up/slowing down the Ozobot right through to making timed tracks with directional control, we covered the lot. RoboShop always proves to be an engaging experience for students.
3D Printing, Ozobots, the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit, with the Infinity Mirror Table and LED Display in the background.
Graham sharing the 3D Printing love and giving this young learner his first ever Rocktopus, fresh off the print bed!
What a fantastic day it was! Our thanks go out to the organisers from the Woollahra Library and all the other people that got together to make the day happen.Read more / Comment
- By Aidan
We had another cracking Raspberry Pi workshop last night! Over the course of 2.5 hours we covered enough material to help beginners get familiar with using a Raspberry Pi - a giant leap towards getting their projects done. If you're interested in attending one of these events, you can check out our workshops page to check availability.
Once you've got the LED blinking you're already half-way to the moon.
This week's hot tip:
ctrl + z will pause a command, and fg will resume it
An example: Ever been editing a text file in the shell and needed to quickly duck out of it to refer to some filename/path or other information? Rather than open another terminal session, you could pause nano with ctrl+Z. This puts nano in the background, and you're free to execute other commands in the shell. To bring nano back to the foreground, use the fg command. Give it a try!
If you live too far away to attend one of our in-house workshops, we've got you covered with our free online courses!Read more / Comment
- By Michael
Last night we had a completely full house with a record workshop participation. It seems that everyone was keen to get some Arduino experience under their belt with educators, library staff, hobbyists, and students rounding out our crew for the night.
It was a fantastic workshop, with plenty of light bulb moments as people discovered how the simple projects and tasks they were making could be scaled into larger, more amazing creations!
We covered all of our regular content in the Arduino Workshop, with some extra interest in the hardware differences between input and output pins, as well as talking about how our potentiometer, button, and led circuit could be expanded upon with some more advanced code to add even more functionality.Read more / Comment
- By Sam
Our laser cutter has arrived: time for some next-level projects!
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- By Graham
Today marks such an important personal milestone for me since leaving the Royal Australian Air Force to become a full time maker; We have finished the final steps for our Laser Cutter acquisition in two weeks' time. We partnered with the glorious team at Trotec whom are supplying a Speedy400 (a work area of 1000 x 610mm).
We're going to put this device through its paces with our own projects and will hold regular local workshops for laser cutting, right here in Newcastle, so that anyone can use the equipment on our Maker Open Days. Our journey into light manufacturing also begins for a range of products we've been eager to start. Exciting!
So from me (Graham Mitchell) and the whole team at Core Electronics, thank you for your support and being a part of this moment with us. It's truly humbling to have your support and we'll continue to do the best we can for makers around Australia.Read more / Comment
- By Graham
Last week I held another Raspberry Pi workshop for beginners. These workshops are a fantastic way to jump-start your journey with a Raspberry Pi. We covered the first-bootup experience, dabbled with some shell-scripting black-magic, and got some hardware connected.
From this week we've decided to try something new: Reserving your seat in the workshop will cost $10, but if you show up on the night we'll give you a $15 store credit!
A question that pops up almost every workshop is:
What's the difference between a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino?
The short answer is, come along to a workshop and find out! Arduinos are really great for low-power embedded projects that you might want to install in a small enclosure or that performs a simple task. Raspberry Pis are an amazing tool for more sophisticated, web-connected projects like web-controlled displays. We've built a few of our own Raspberry Pi projects like automation tools, cameras and even DIY Gameboys. An Arduino is what drives the interactive hipster coaster that we take to conventions and maker faires. If you're still scratching your head about the whole Arduino vs. RasPi issue, check out Sam's tutorial, or even think about booking a spot at both workshops and collect some more store cred while you're at it!Read more / Comment
- By Michael
The micro:bit by BBC has arrived! This is a big deal for schools and educators because the micro:bit is specifically designed for the classroom.
The micro:bit is a microcontroller board designed to help teach students programming in a friendly and interactive way. Aside from the usual offerings like input-buttons and LEDs, the micro:bit sports modern peripherals like a 3-axis accelerometer and compass (magnetometer) and low-energy Bluetooth; Interfaces guaranteed to please the next generation of maker. There's also connections for the usual alligator-clips and banana plugs you'd expect to see in a school science lab.
micro:bit have really gone to town on their educational content - there are complete lesson plans and projects available, and there's no need for a software rollout in schools because code development happens completely within the web-browser. I admire the approach taken for these lessons - focus is on programming as a problem solving philosophy rather than just memorising syntax.
There's probably an entire generation of UK-based programmers and scientists that can remember their first brush with computing using the BBC Micro back in the 80's, so it's really exciting to see the BBC pick up the torch again.
I've been given a couple of micro:bits to have a play with, so expect to see some reviews coming soon!Read more / Comment
- By Michael
Last week, it was that time again, where we ran our in-house Arduino Workshop, and it was something special. We had a Java programmer, and a year 8 high school student mixed in which made it a truly unique workshop for people with all kinds of backgrounds and experience levels.
We spent a bit more time on the electronics crash course intro, diving into some interest questions from participants, as well as learning a bit more about how the Arduino board sets up inputs and outputs and the electrical differences between them.
Whilst we didn't have the time to explore much further content than the standard workshop, it was definitely a case of depth over width, with everyone taking a really close look at what we covered.Read more / Comment
- By Sam
Last night we ran another Arduino Beginners Workshop, and it was simply fantastic! We had 5 participants who were eager and ready to dive into Arduino ranging from some previous experience with Arduino and programming, to complete rookies, which is exactly what the workshop is for.
We got way past the standard workshop content and had the time to look into some more advanced challenges using logic statements to control the flow of code, and create a simple user interface with a toggle push button (complete with debouncing), and an LED controlled with a potentiometer.
It was a great learning experience, and due to some unforeseen circumstances, one of our workshop participants worked on a Raspberry Pi setup with a pre-installed version of the Arduino IDE (available for Linux). From past science teachers, to current high school students, everyone took some 'aha' moments away with them.Read more / Comment
- By Sam
Last night we held another packed-out Raspberry Pi workshop. We covered everything from boot-up, connecting our Pi to the outside world, and even looked at automating our Pi's behaviour. These free workshops are perfect for those who are looking to get their first-touch with a Raspberry Pi, or just looking to brush up on embedded computing and electronics in general.
This week the common interest amongst participants was retro-games emulation: Where you set up a Raspberry Pi to behave like a retro games console. With the skills gained in this workshop, participants are certainly well on their way to setting up that sweet Atari or Super Nintendo cabinet.
If you can't make it to one of our in-house workshops, don't fret. We've been working hard on a free online workshop as well!Read more / Comment
- By Michael
We're happy to announce the first run of our weekend Raspberry Pi Beginners Workshop!
This time around we had a father-sons trio. There's definitely an interest trend amongst our workshop participants - in every workshop there's always been at least one person with plans to put together a car-computer for telemetry and entertainment.
There was a good mixed-bag of experience in the room, with a couple arduino veterans and a shared interest in computer science. Thanks to the smaller number of participants and the flexibility afforded by the weekend pace, we were able to cover a bit more than is typical for our regular week-night workshops.
This time around we were able to delve deeper into Python and BASH scripting, and we mixed things up a bit - we smashed out the structured content for the workshop so we had time for some more programming demos and even got into workflow and debugging.Read more / Comment
- By Michael
On Tuesday the 28th of March we ran another 3D printing workshop down at Core Electronics and it was a resounding success! We had 2 people attend Gary and Tony, both keen to learn more about the process behind 3D printing and boy did we get right into it. Gary was interested in getting into 3D printing as a hobby, fascinated by the idea of being able to create things from scratch, whereas Tony had a keen interest in 3D printed prosthetics and the directions that 3D printing is moved in.
In either case, attending our workshops seemed to be the best way to get the ball rolling, you've got to start somewhere!
Kicking off with some video's explaining the differences in existing 3D printing technologies, we dived right into Slicing software and how exactly we 'slice' 3D models to be able to print. All the basics were covered and it was time to print! What better model to get some newbies printing than the Rocktopus from Lulzbot?!
My favourite part of the entire workshop was undoubtedly the AHA moment from Gary, when it became apparent that if you have a 3D model of absolutely anything, you will be able to slice it and print it up. And that, is absolutely the best part of what we do here at Core.
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- By Aidan
3D printing is cool. It's fantastic, and I love it. But what's not so great about it are the dimension constraints of most printers. Whilst the Taz 6 and 5 which reside in our printing room have a decent sized bed for a desktop FDM printer, if you're printing something big, chances are you'll need to slice it up into different parts. So Torbjørn Ludvigsen turned his spare room into a print bed for a delta style printer which he built for roughly $250! Check it out:
It's super exciting to see that kind of ingenuity from the community. Projects like this is what the maker community is all about; people building cool stuff, and then showing other people how to do it.Read more / Comment
- By Sam
So today, as I was sitting at my desk, I came across this rather fantastic, but simple build by the circuit.io team. It's an air gate sensor which you can use for drone races, or any form of object detection really. It uses an ultrasonic sensor and some simple logic to determine whether or not an object has passed close to it. If so, then it gives feedback via an RGB LED, informing the pilot that they successfully passed the air gate.
After checking it out, I loved the simplicity of the project, but my mind immediately jumped to the possibility of adding RFID readers to it, and tiny RFID tags to the drones, which would allow the gates to tag the exact drone that passed by it, giving the user all kinds of data such as time between gates, proximity to other drones, and more advanced tracking abilities.Read more / Comment