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Thread: PICAXEd "Electronic Brain Box"!

  1. #1
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    Default PICAXEd "Electronic Brain Box"!

    I rustled this up ~early 2007 & had then put aside, but a local NZ school has just fired on the idea. Predictably they now want a set ASAP & don't have a technician...

    Us old hands maybe forget how hard intro. electronics can be for clunky handed kids, with even breadboards initially beyond most. And don't get me started on the MONTHS it takes to become a competent hand solderer... Naturally harassed teachers,some of whom have been "persuaded" to take on electronics (instead of detention duties &/or bus queues etc!),may also find fiddly electronics resources a classroom management nightmare. "OK-who put the 555 pin side up on Jimmy's chair for him to sit on" etc. Even at tertiary level perfectly good & "precious" components are often just discarded by students- I well recall ~2001 rescuing near invisible white LEDs (then ~US$5 each) from under lab. benches & rubbish bins...

    Anyway -these "80 in 1" Electronic Brain Box kits sell for as low as US$15,with the large & colourful parts an educators (& bored students) dream. No tools or specialised facilities are needed, as each part is designed for easy and quick assembly (& DISASSEMBLY!),with the colourful components connecting together with reliable press-studs. The manual is particularly lucid as well.

    However there's really only an hour of flashing lights, whirling propellers & "machine gun/police sirens" before maxing out the smallest kit's possibilities. Voila - hence the PICAXEd version, still allowing electrotech. basics but now enhanced for intro. microcontrollers! Only PINs 1,2 & 4 are readily available, but PIN 3 is limited anyway. Of course SERTXD can still allow editing PC "F8" data viewing via the normal Rev.Ed programming cable.

    I may write this up as an Instructable/SiChip article,detailing the fiddly COB (Chip On Board) => 08M hack, but can folks in UK/Oz etc first please let me know the availability & prices of these EBB kits locally. Dick Smith Electronics (DSE) still handle them here in NZ (as kit K 9150), although DSE Oz. doesn't seem to. I believe the CSIRO shop in NSW stocks a larger version however => http://www.csiroshop.com/search?text=brain+box . TIA - Stan
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    Last edited by manuka; 24-09-2008 at 01:24.

  2. #2

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    That is so cool, I'd of loved one of them as a kid
    ________
    Mercedes-Benz OM612 engine history
    Last edited by ciseco; 31-01-2011 at 00:17.

  3. #3
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    What an absolutely brilliant concept. I wish I'd had one of these when I was a kid. It bridges the divide between 'toy' electronic kits and serious electronics.

    That red picaxe box could be potted if you want it robust, though I'm not sure how the potting mix would go with the socket.

    At the very least, one could imagine a similar little box with a L293 in it.

    The screw is hopefully not the final design! Are there dummy AA batteries available (I'm sure I saw them once, for use in CB radios where you put in 10 nicads, or 8 alkalines and two dummy batteries).

    Definitely worth an instructable. Instructables work well with lots of bright shiny pictures and not too many words, and this would fit the bill perfectly. This one http://www.instructables.com/id/Cont...-with-your-PC/ is up to 41,000 views but it was never the perfect design. Fiddly. Not mechanically robust. Not suitable for kids really.

    Your kit is perfect though - pls write it up!

  4. #4
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    Looks like I've found next year's birthday gift for my then-to-be 8 years old granddaughter. She's always had an "engineer's point of view" - looking for the how and why of things. I can't imagine where she got it - both parents have engineering degrees from Georgia Tech ;-)

    John
    Last edited by papaof2; 24-09-2008 at 01:14. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
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    Thanks- that eye catching screw of course needs changing! I've made dummy cells before with a (trimmed) 100mm nail pushed inside a thin bamboo off cut-the end result appeals to my whole earth instincts!
    Last edited by manuka; 24-09-2008 at 01:25.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by manuka View Post
    can folks in UK/Oz etc first please let me know the availability & prices of these EBB kits locally.
    Here's what we have in the US.

    From Frys :
    http://shop2.frys.com/product/444077...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG
    Elenco SC-100 Snap Circuits, Jr $24.99

    http://shop2.frys.com/product/444076...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG
    Elenco Pro 500 Snap Circuit Kit $69.99

    From Radio Shack:
    http://www.radioshack.com
    Electronics 202 Snap-Kit Model: 28-287 Catalog #: 28-287 $60.49

    The Radio Shack item is near identical to Fry's SnapCircuit Jr, but at a MUCH higher price tag. As far as the Picaxe module, very smart addition!

  7. #7
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    I quite like "the screw", a good example of engineering done with the resources at hand.

    I won't mention my cutting a six inch nail down to an inch and a quarter, about the same length as a mains fuse.

  8. #8
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    That is a fuse! Ok, a 1000A one, but still a fuse LOL.

  9. #9
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    I have used the brain boxes with primary kids (year 2/3) this year after seeing the idea on stans website. We 'played' with them in the original condition and I then converted a number over to include the picaxe. Some more work is needed to be done, this to create the extra resistor tiles needed for push puttons and ldrs but the idea works a treat. the flow chart is great for this age.

    Stan you have some great ideas - where can I buy a bottle?

    I hope to gradually over the next few years add some higher order electroinics (black boxed or red or blue as the case maybe) but easy to connect and program.

    Go my tech teacher onto looking into building the appropriate sized units that clip onto the base bored.

    NZ Dick smith was really easy to order from but I have brought a couple units from travelling book sellers.

    thanks
    tiny

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Acula View Post
    That is a fuse! Ok, a 1000A one, but still a fuse LOL.
    And I thought it was 500 Amps slow-blow




    20 years ago I had a diagram entitled
    " The Fool's Guide to Fuse Replacement".
    It went along these lines:

    Al-foil around a 3AG glass fuse = 27 Amps
    2 inch nail = 60 Amps
    4 inch nail = 125 Amps
    inch bolt = 1250 Amp slow-blow
    Last edited by westaust55; 24-09-2008 at 05:25.
    westaust55

    Hey Hamlet, 2B OR NOT 2B = $FF

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