Prepping the Micro-Electronics Kit for Production

This is Alexander. I apologize for the massive lull in my postings. I have no excuse other than my inability to form good blogging habits, which is more of a self indictment than an excuse. Anyways, I will be blogging on here weekly from now on, every saturday night.

Production design for the Micro-Electronics Prototyping Kit is coming to a close now, so I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the lifecycle of a product at Prometheus Education. There are some basic steps to creating a product:

Quick Update on Prototype Run for SENAET

Eagerly awaiting their finishing touches...

Evenin' Readers,

I have just sat through a 6 hour gauntlet of programming, soldering, and packaging to get ready for the prototype shipment of the Micro-Electronics Prototyping and Software (MEPS) kits for the *SENAET Project.

In total, I spent about 3 hours soldering, 1 hour flashing the bootloader onto the chips, and the rest of the time on prep work. Flashing the bootloader prepares the chips to be programmed without an AVRISP mkii programmer. A total of 20 chips are shipping out. See the attached picture for the outcome of my soldering spree!

Microcontrollers in the Classroom and SENAET

Good evening Promethians!

I have decided to make it a weekly habit of mine to write on this blog. The work in Prometheus Education has been humming along nicely, but I think some of my friends, family, and well wishers would like to see more of what I do on a day to day basis.

The Bootloader is working!

There will be more information to come, but suffice to say that the bootloader is now working in a basic form. I will be tweaking it for the next month or so in my spare time, as I think it is very close to the way I want it already.

With the bootloader in hand, it looks like Prometheus Education may indeed have a place in the world of technology education!

I'll post more information later today on this.

Bootloaders lower costs

Right now, I have to use an AVRISP mkII, or some other In System Programmer (ISP) to program an AVR microcontroller. However, the ATMEGA micro-controllers I use have a feature called self programmable memory. All of the programming of an AVR lives in the FLASH memory, and self programmable memory means that the microcontroller CPU can manipulate its own memory space. This opens the door for something called a bootloader.

Gaming and Learning

To Game is to Learn, to Learn is to Game.

Learning and fun are so tightly coupled, they are basically the same. Sure, there is idle fun, but the agile mind will get horribly bored unless they are learning something new. However, in classrooms all around the world students are not having fun and they are not hardly learning. To have gain knowledge by rote memorization is not, at its core, real learning in a philosophical sense. If there is no love, no passion, and no fun in your learning then it will not become a true part of you.

Why not Arduino?

Most of the time, whenever I mention that I am working on microcontroller kits for students to use, someone insists that I should use Arduino. There are a few reasons why I do think Arduino is good, and a few reasons why I don't think Arduino is any good for my purposes.

Plans for the Future

As of October 6, 2012, the plan is as follows:

November 2012, finish Arundel High School's 3D printer training and information and finish lesson plans for basic microcontroller education.

December 2012, file the articles of incorporation in Maryland for the Non-Profit, Prometheus Education.

January 2012, finish the ProEd Basic Microcontroller Guide and finish designs and cost estimates for EdBot (the educational robot).

Possibilities?

I often get back home from work and wonder not what is next, but what is after that, for Prometheus Education. Right now I am working with a local high school to get Microcontrollers into the classroom. The reasons are very clear why AVR microcontrollers are the way to go for high schoolers. The upsides are that they are cheap, versatile and easily replaceable. The downside is that the programming for them is very difficult since it is all in C and down to the port level.

I am bypassing this downside by creating libraries that will simplify the code. For example this:

Welcome to Prometheus Education

Greetings! This is a auspicious moment, as this is the first website presence that Prometheus Education has ever had!

Before now, we've only done minor projects in the Daytona Beach area of Florida, but that was cut short while major life events transpired (I got a job!).

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