I want to pass on my enthusiastic thanks for letting us provide
Technology Enrichment to NFES! Kayla and I thoroughly enjoyed the kids
and the class and look forward to providing more enrichment at NFES. In
fact, we have learned a lot after our first (and largest enrichment
class ever) session there. Thus, we are really excited to offer a
continuation of this course where we plan to have a lower
student-teacher ratio and will prioritize the hands-on projects over
the classroom lecture. So, please let us know if you (and your kids)
will be interested in a continuation session this winter. We would
have it at the same time on Thursdays and the winter session runs January 22 -
LED Pendant Information
Here is some more information about the LED pendants your kids coded
for our class. And, if your kid did not get to complete her/his code
on the last day, please send us an email so that we can setup some
time in the winter when we are back at NFES or a time you all can come
by our studio at Shady Grove and Nuckols to complete the coding.
The pendant consists of three main parts: the 8x8 LED matrix display;
a microcontroller (it's actually a "Gemma" microcontroller from
Adafruit); and the lithium polymar (lipo) rechargeable battery. There
is no "on/off" switch -- you simply plug the battery in to start the
display and unplug to stop. The battery plugs into the bottom of the
microcontroller in the off-white receptacle.
On the top of the microcontroller is a mini USB receptacle which is
used to transfer the code to the microcontroller (any USB connector
will work to connect a laptop/desktop to the
microcontroller). However, this plug does not charge the battery. See
the section below if you and your kid would like to get the software
necessary to refine their code or re-code their LED.
Your child should also have a very small charger for the battery. This
charger plugs into a USB port and will charge the lipo battery. There
is a red light when charging and a green light that indicates the
battery is fully charged.
LED Coding information
There are detailed tutorials available at adafruit if you would like
to know how we constructed the pendant and all the component
specifications. However, this is a quick overview to get your child
(re)coding the LED frame designs:
- Download the Arduino IDE v1.05 with Gemma software for your computer or laptop.
- Configure the Arduino IDE to use the Gemma 8MHz and tinyISP.
- Tools -> Board -> Adafruit Gemma 8MHz
- Tools -> Programmer -> USBtinyISP
- Download the required
unzip and put it in the Adafruit Arduino
- Put the TinyWireM directory in your Documents/Arduino/libraries directory.
- Login to our website and download your kid's code.
- Unzip your kid's code into a directory.
- Go into that directory and double-click on the file named for your
kid with a .ino suffix. This will launch Adafruit Arduino.
- The LED design is in the "bmo.h" file that will be automatically
loaded on the second tab when you launch Arduino (for those of you who
have programmed in C or C++ this is simply a header file). Your child
should know how to edit this file to enhance or change their design.
- Anywhere there is a "//" is a code comment and the text after it
is for explanation and not used in the design.
- Each "frame" of the design consists of 8 lines of 8 1's and 0's
preceded by a "B" and followed with a ",". Thus, the lines
correspond to the rows in the matrix and a 1 will light the led at
that position and a 0 will turn off the led at that position.
- Each frame concludes with a decimal number on the 9th line
followed by a comma. This decimal number represents the delay in
hundredths of a second for this frame. For example, if you want
the first frame to display for half a second, use 50. If you
want it to display for a whole second, use 100. This value can
only go up to 255 (a little over 2.5 seconds).
- The file has some statements at the beginning of the file that you
shouldn't change and the file must conclude with a "};" on the last line.
- Once you are happy with your design, you should compile it to make
sure there are no errors.
- After an error-free compile, plug in your microcontroller and you
have about 10 seconds to click on the "upload" icon (on the top left
of the IDE, there is a right arrow for upload) to transfer the
code to the microcontroller.
- Make sure you are happy with the design -- if you are, you may unplug
the USB and use the battery to power the microcontroller.
- If you want to change the design again, it is easiest to unplug the
usb until you have re-compiled the code and plug in when you are
ready to try again.
- Wait a few seconds for the code to transfer and the microcontroller
to reboot and display the frames in your design.
And, feel free to comment here or shoot us an email if you have ANY
questions or issues.