Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Programming Circuit Sticker and ATtiny85 Microcontrollers

Recently, I started playing around with a programmable micro-controller sticker, available from Chibitronics. Using the resources at Chibitronics.com, I was able to use my Arduino Uno as a programmer to change the code on the sticker!  It was almost as fun as programming a LilyPad Arduino in an e-textile, only this time I got to use my favorite medium, paper!  I'm still just playing around at this point, but I am eager to learn more.

I was also able to use my Arduino to program an ATtiny85 microcontroller (which costs significantly less than the micro-controller sticker) to make an LED blink and fade.

I used the resources at Nexmap.org and Highlowtech.org to pull this off.  It took me a few tries (and some cable wiggling), but it finally works!

They suggest using an AVR Tiny Programmer to make the programming easier.  One of the benefits of using the tiny programmer is that you can put an adapter on it (provided with the Circuit Sticker sensor pack), allowing you to quickly go between programming the sticker or an ATtiny85 without much fiddling.

I am excited about the possibilities for using these both in a bookbinding project or an illuminated writing activity!

In the photo to the left, I haven't soldered yet.

Stay tuned to see where this latest diversion takes me, or visit my other blog, Bling the Book.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Reflection on Dynamic Landscapes 2015

At the beginning of the year, I listed some goals for myself.  One was to actively practice stepping outside of my comfort zone by teaching workshops for adults, with the ultimate goal of presenting at a conference.  I am happy to report that I achieved this goal over the past two days at Dynamic Landscapes!

While this is something that I'd been wanting to do for some time, I'd been reluctant about presenting to an audience of colleagues. The thought that teachers can be some of the toughest critics was not helping; I was terrified to make myself the center of attention for an adult audience.  With the support and encouragement of other educators, I was able to overcome my fears; I am grateful to Joanne Finnegan and Doug Dunbebin for helping me make the leap.  Thanks to you both for taking this journey with me.

Although I wish that I hadn't been clutching my notes so tightly during my introduction,  my first presentation, "Radical Remixing with Creative Commons," went better than I had hoped.

I was lucky to have a supportive, curious audience of about 15 people. If I'd had more time, I would have shown more examples of places to find Creative Commons licensed media.  My presentation highlighted Flickr as a go-to resource, but there are many other resources for remixing that educators can explore.   Perhaps, I will design and share another presentation that focuses more broadly on Creative Commons resources across the web.

My second presentation, "Delving into DoInk:  Adding Animation to Green Screen Videos to Tell Your Story," was for a slightly larger audience (22 people).  Although the space was not quite large enough to accommodate that many people, all trying to record video and audio at the same time (it was quite loud), I enjoyed this workshop even more.  Unlike the first presentation, which was less interactive, this one was a two-hour hands-on session, allowing me to circulate and talk to people as they practiced and played on their own.  I prefer this type of teaching to the "stand up and yammer" model.  Teaching other teachers in this type of setting is not much different from the way I teach kids, so I felt comfortable.

As a result of this experience, and my desire to continually improve my practice, I am going to be submitting another proposal for VT Fest, coming up in November.  I am grateful to Vita Learn for their support of educators' professional growth.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fun With Neopixels!

I've been playing around with paint and a Gemma microcontroller (to learn how to program individually addressable neopixel LEDs).

Gemma would be incredibly valuable for teaching students about eTextiles, because they are less expensive than LilyPad Arduino boards, as well as being smaller, and quite easy to program!

For this purse, I used a Gemma, a LilyPad push button, three sewable snaps, conductive thread, and 2 coin cell batteries (in a holder) to power up nine neopixels.

From start to finish the process took three days.   This was largely due to the fact that I had to strip the leather and hand punch all of the holes that I sewed conductive thread through.

Using the Adafruit Neopixel library, and the button cycler code, I was able to customize the colors to match my bag.

Here are some pictures of the purse that I just finished transforming!  (In the event that you are wondering about the process or supplies that I used to paint and seal the leather, you may want to check out Sassyfeet.com.)  If you'd like to know where I got my inspiration for creating an "electronic handbag" check out:  http://www.electronicfashion.co.uk/

Black leather purse
Random Rainbow Pattern
I used Lumiere leather paint to make my design!

Sewable Snaps Inside Purse Create a Switch
Sewable Snaps on Back of Pocket

Complete Circuit: Attach Pocket Using Snaps

Gemma Sewn to Inside of a Pocket