NASA & LITTLEBITS INTRODUCE

THE SPACE KIT

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littleBits http://wp.littlebits.cc <em>littleBits</em> is an opensource library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets for <em>prototyping</em>, <em>learning</em> and <em>fun</em>. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 21:02:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 Space Kit Landing: Events on your Radar /space-kit-landing-events-on-your-radar /space-kit-landing-events-on-your-radar#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:59:34 +0000 /?p=19011 Mark your calendars, the littleBits team is hitting the road for some awesome demos, workshops, conferences and festivals featuring our newest addition to the family, the Space Kit. We hope to see you all soon for some out of this world fun and exploration!

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Look for our 7 foot space ship at booth 1252 and join us in officially unveiling the littleBits Space Kit. See the Mars Rover, satellite dish and educational demos in action. Experiment and invent with wireless modules, remote triggers, light sensors, servo motors, sound triggers, buzzers and more! We’re also giving away a Space Kit each day, custom stickers and t-shirts. Space Kits will also be available for purchase. To continue the fun, be sure to stop by the NASA Pavilion in Hall E for hands-on experiments using littleBits modules!

 

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In search of an engaging and educational weekend activity? Find us at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA on May 3rd to explore the Space Kit modules through interactive demos and workshops. Build a satellite dish or a grappler and learn to think like NASA scientists and engineers. Activities will run in Cahner’s Computer Place starting at 10 am.

 

Maker Faire Bay Area

 

Calling all Makers!  We’re headed back to San Mateo, CA this year for another action-packed Maker Faire weekend. Stop by our booth for demos, new products and hands on activities.

 

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It’s littleBits first time exhibiting at the premier educational technology ISTE Conference in Atlanta, GA. We running a booth and leading a Space Kit themed workshop, Exploring Earth and Space Science: Hands-on littleBits STEAM activities (WBM417). Educators will work in small groups to complete simple, classroom-accessible earth and space science activities that explore kinetic, potential and electromagnetic energy. Teams will then create a space-themed project combining electronics with craft materials. The workshop will be facilitated by a NASA Educator who has developed littleBits lessons and activities for STEM applications. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity; sign up now.

 

If you’d like to run Space Kit events at your local school, makerspace, Maker Faire, library, museum or conference- let us know! We’d love to help you make your event a success.

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Introducing the Space Kit! /introducing-the-space-kit /introducing-the-space-kit#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:54:50 +0000 /?p=19009 From the era of private spaceflight, to the recent evidence of the Big Bang, to armchair exploration via Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new “Cosmos” documentary, space is once again central to the cultural conversation. With that, we are excited to launch the littleBits Space Kit!

Developed in collaboration with NASA, the littleBits Space Kit takes on one of the most universal and timeless fields of all time – space – and demystifies it for everyone to understand, learn and most importantly, participate.

We started littleBits with one mission: to put the power of electronics into the hands of everyone . Our open source library of powerful electronic modules allows novices and experts alike to make complex circuits — no soldering, wiring, or programming required.

We are taking on one field at a time where technology is prevalent, breaking it down, and making it accessible to everyone. We did this first with electronics, then with music (the Synth Kit empowers anyone to build their own instruments). Now we’re taking on space. Space is too important to be intimidating, and who better to partner with but NASA. 

The goal (and challenge) in this project was to create highly respectful, scientifically accurate projects and experiments that replicate NASA’s groundbreaking work, while also making them  modern, engaging and fun for non-scientists.

And now, we go under the hood!

 

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The littleBits Space Kit includes an assortment of 12 electronic modules, coupled with projects and activities designed by NASA scientists and engineers, so that anyone can discover the power of earth and space science in the classroom or at home. The Space Kit is $189 dollars and can be purchased here.

The kit includes a 30+ page booklet with information about every module in the kit as well as step-by-step instructions of how to make 10 space related projects. Some of the projects include a model Mars Rover, Satellite Dish, International Space Station and ability to observe and measure our universe. The booklet also features educational information to teach the basics of energy and the electromagnetic spectrum.

Not only does the kit offer the ability to create (and re-create) NASA-designed projects, but we’ve partnered with them to develop educational lesson plans focused on STEAM. We’ve created these interactive activities for students and teachers to gain hands-on experience. There are 100’s of activities can be found online and downloadable for free.

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here is Paul Rothman, Product Development, and Krystal Persaud, Product Designer, visiting NASA Goddard Flight Space Center to prototype experiments with NASA engineers

 

In 2012, NASA approached us with a big challenge that they were facing, “How can we make space education more interesting and engaging?” We then worked very closely with NASA scientists and engineers for 18 months to bring the Space Kit to life. We took several trips to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to meet with NASA engineers and prototype and develop the kit contents, experiments, and projects. It was surreal to see our modules on the lab tables of NASA scientists using them to conduct meaningful experiments.

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here is a pic of the modules being used at NASA in an experiment to create a DIY spectrometer

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is near DC and home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists and engineers that build spacecraft, instruments and technology to study the Earth, our solar system, and the universe. We worked very closely with Ginger Butcher, who is NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Education & Outreach Specialist. It was truly an incredible experience to team up with Ginger and her team, the Kit couldn’t have been made without her! Check out this Pizza Box Phonograph that she made using littleBits.

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Here is Ginger Butcher from NASA working with Krystal Persaud and Emily Tuteur, product and content designers at littleBits.

New modules!

There are new modules in the Space Kit that we are excited to add to our growing littleBits library.

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The remote trigger lets you use a common remote control with your modules. You can make a littleBits circuit and point your household remote control at the remote trigger’s sensor. Then, press any button on your remote control to activate your circuit from across the room! Use it in the Mars Rover project to drive your rover on foreign planets.

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The IR LED (or infrared light-emitting diode) module sends out light with longer wavelengths than visible light, similar to the light in your remote control. It is invisible to the eye, but good at transmitting data long distances. Use it in the “Data Communication” project to transmit music wirelessly!

 Number_2LR (1)

The number module gives you a look into how your modules work: it displays information about the signal it’s receiving from your other modules. It has two modes: in “value” mode, it displays a number from 0 to 99 based on the input. In “volts” mode, it displays the actual voltage it is receiving, from 0.0 to 5.0 volts. Use it to measure atmospheric conditions in the “Energy Meter” project.

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here is an early breadboard prototype of the number module

NASA Inspired Projects

Using the littleBits library, anyone can build and remotely control a Mars Rover, wirelessly send music to their own International Space Station, and observe and measure our universe – just like NASA scientists. Check out some of the projects you can make with the Space Kit next to their NASA counterparts!

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This Mars rover, based off NASA’s Opportunity, gathers and displays light information from the environment as it drives. Control it wirelessly using the remote trigger and a household remote control!

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Make your very own International Space Station and learn how to send data wirelessly through space.

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This project teaches you how to build your own satellite dish. Unique curved surfaces, such as parabolas, have a point called the focus, where all of the energy entering the shape is ‘reflected’ from the parabolic curve and intersects at the focus. In your satellite dish model, the light sensor is your focus that receives energy from the bright LED and measures it in the number module.

If you want to dig deeper into these projects, check out some of the Space Lessons that were designed by NASA scientists.

 Space Lesson: Satellite Dish 

Learn how to calculate the focus of your satellite’s parabolic dish.

 Space Lesson: Star Chart 

Learn how to calculate how the distance of stars.

You can see all of the Space Lessons here.

 

There you go! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these insights on how the Space Kit came about and are inspired to make something out of this world!

Get making!

- Krystal Persaud, Product Designer

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Tips & Tricks: Remote Trigger /tips-tricks-remote-trigger /tips-tricks-remote-trigger#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:54:33 +0000 /?p=19187 RemoteTrigger_2HR

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The Remote Trigger is similar to the Light Trigger module, except that it works with infrared light instead of visible light. When it senses infrared light, it sends a short ON signal though the circuit.

 

Using the Remote Trigger with a remote control:

Most remote controls send signals using infrared light. When you press a button on the remote, it sends a pulse of infrared light to a sensor on your TV or Stereo that tells it what to do. The Remote Trigger module is also activated by infrared light, which means you can use a regular household remote to send signals to your littleBits circuits.

In the video below, we have a very simple circuit: Power → Remote Trigger → LED. When is Remote Trigger is activated, it will send an ON signal to the LED and light it up. You’ll notice that when we press a button on the remote control, the LED lights up, and when we let go of the button, the LED turns off.

Remote controls can send their signals a pretty long distance—so using them with the Remote Trigger is great when you need to activate a project that is far away or high up in the air. We were able to control a circuit from from over 75 feet away!

The Mars Rover project used a Remote Trigger and a TV Remote to turn on the motors that drove the rover.

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Using the Remote Trigger with the IR LED:

You can still use the Remote Trigger even if you don’t have a remote control handy. The IR LED module also sends out infrared light. However, it works a little differently than a remote control. Let’s take a look at a few circuits to help us understand how the IR LED works with the Remote Trigger.

In the video below we have two circuits. The first is the same circuit we had in the video above: Power → Remote Trigger → LED. Our second circuit is our homemade remote control: Power → Button → IR LED. When we press the button on our remote, the IR LED sends out infrared light. When the Remote trigger senses the infrared light, it lights up the LED, but only for a moment. Even when we keep our finger on the remote button, the light turns off. To light up the LED again, we need to let go of the button and then push it again. What’s happening? Why doesn’t our remote work like the TV Remote?

Let’s build a new remote circuit by adding a pulse module: Power → Button → Pulse → IR LED. When building this circuit make sure you set the pulse to the highest speed. In the video below you’ll notice that when we press our remote button this time, the LED stays lit up, and when we let go of the button, the LED turns of. It’s just like the TV remote!

 

When the Remote Trigger senses infrared light, it sends a quick ON signal through the circuit, but it doesn’t stay ON like the other Trigger Modules. If you want the Remote Trigger to keep sending the ON signal, you need to keep turning your infrared light source ON and OFF. If you switch between ON and OFF fast enough, the bursts of ON signals will overlap, keeping the circuit ON all the time. TV Remotes send infrared light in rapid ON and OFF pulses. The different frequencies of the ONs and OFFs are a special code that tells your TV which button was pressed. That’s why the TV remote kept the LED light on in our first example.

Listening to Remote Controls:

If you want to play a little more with pulsing infrared signals try “listening” to your remote controls. To do this, replace the Remote Trigger with a Light Sensor and attach a Speaker after the Light Sensor. In the video below we gathered together a bunch of different remotes to see if they made different sounds:

Because the light sensor transmits a variable signal, the sound can change with the intensity of the infrared light. Try moving your remote around to change to intensity of the pulses:

 

Bouncing Signals With Mirrors:

We might not be able to see infrared light, but it still behaves like visible light. This means that we can use mirrors to send our infrared signals in different directions.

 

Modifying the Morning Sunshine Project:

You might remember the Morning Sunshine project we did last April.

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This was an alarm clock you could place on your windowsill. When the sun rose the Light Trigger would signal the Buzzer to wake you up with the sun. Because the Light Trigger responds to both daylight and artificial light, the alarm could be triggered by the lights in your room. However, the Remote Trigger only responds to infrared light. Regular light bulbs don’t give off enough infrared light to set off the Trigger (unless the trigger is very, very close to them), but the sun gives off lots of strong infrared light. If you replace the Light Trigger with the Remote Trigger, you can modify the Morning Sunshine project to ignore artificial light and only respond to the sun.

Explore More:

Curious about what infrared light is? Check out NASA’s Mission Science to learn more: (http://missionscience.nasa.gov/ems/07_infraredwaves.html

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Tips & Tricks: IR LED /tips-tricks-ir-led /tips-tricks-ir-led#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:24:12 +0000 /?p=19042 IR_LED_1LR

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The IR LED (or infrared light-emitting diode) module sends out light with longer wavelengths than visible light, similar to the light in your remote control. It’s invisible to the eye, but many digital cameras can see it! Try using it to activate the light sensor or remote trigger.

The Remote Trigger is a light sensitive trigger module that sends a brief ON signal when it senses infrared light. This makes it a perfect bit to pair with your IR LED if you want to send simple ON and OFF signals through a circuit. Below are two different ways you can use the IR LED with the Remote Trigger. One will just send a brief ON signal, while the other will keep sending the ON signal for as long as the IR LED is shining on the Remote Trigger.

Using the IR LED with the Remote Trigger

In the video below we have two simple circuits. The first one powers our IR LED whenever we press a button: Power → Button → IR LED. The second circuit uses the Remote Trigger to turn on an LED whenever it detects infrared light: Power → Remote Trigger → LED. When we press the button on our remote, the IR LED sends out infrared light. When the Remote trigger senses the infrared light, it lights up the LED, but only for a moment. Even when we keep our finger on the remote button, the light turns off. To light up the LED again, we need to let go of the button and then push it again. This is because when the Remote Trigger senses infrared light, it sends a quick ON signal through the circuit, but it doesn’t stay ON like the other Trigger Modules.

If you want the Remote Trigger to keep sending the ON signal, you need to keep turning your infrared light source ON and OFF. If you switch between ON and OFF fast enough, the bursts of ON signals will overlap, keeping the circuit ON all the time. To do this, you can add a Pulse Module to your IR LED like this: Power → Button → Pulse → IR LED. When building this circuit make sure you set the pulse to the highest speed. In the video below you’ll notice that when we press our remote button this time, the LED stays lit up, and when we let go of the button, the LED turns of.

 

Using The IR LED with the Light Sensor and an infrared filter

The Light Sensor also responds to infrared light, and unlike the Remote Trigger it sends more than an ON signal. The Light Sensor works more like a dimmer—the brighter the light, the stronger the signal it sends through the circuit (or the darker the light if you’re using it in dark mode). The Light Sensor can read both visible and infrared light, so the IR LED will work best with the Light Sensor if you can find some way to block out visible light that also triggers the sensor. You can either use your sensor in the dark or you can use an infrared filter. Infrared filters only let infrared light through, so by placing it over the Light Sensor, you’ll only let infrared light pass through to activate the sensor.

In the video below, we are using the IR LED to beam a music signal to a Light Sensor attached to a Speaker. At first the signal is very weak because the visible light is drowning out the infrared signal. When we turn on a nearby lamp, the infrared signal becomes totally drowned out and the music stops. However, when we put an infrared filter over the Light Sensor, the music comes back louder than ever.

 

Our Satellite Data Communication project used an infrared filter. An IR LED on the satellite beamed information down to the satellite dish. A filter on the dish covered the light sensor and ensured that data from the satellite came in loud and clear.

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You can use an infrared filter from a camera lens, but if have some old floppy discs lying around, the thin magnetic film from the disk works pretty well. We built the filter we used in the video above from one of these disks and a small cardboard tube.

 IR Filter from Disk 2

DIY IR Filter

Night Vision! Using the IR LED with a digital camera:

 Some cameras respond to infrared light, which means that with the IR LED you can take some cool night vision photographs. The first thing you will want to do is test to see if your camera can “see” infrared light. Connect your IR LED to a Power module and head into a dark room (the darker the better). Hold the LED close to and directly pointing at the camera, then take a picture. Most cameras see infrared as purple light, so if you see a very faint purple dot you know your camera can take pictures with the IR LED. Now it’s time to start taking your night vision photos. Because the infrared light is very faint, long exposures work best. Below are some night vision shots we took in a closet in our office.

We tried a couple of different setups and found that you could take great shots with only one IR LED but you would need a tripod to hold the camera steady for the long exposure. We also put together an array of eight IR LEDs so we could shorten the exposure time:

 Night Vision Setup

Once we had everything set up, we turned of the lights. This is what our eyes saw:

Night Vision Total Black

But this is what our camera saw:

Reindeer

 This was taken using one IR LED with a 30 second exposure time.

Using the IR LED with the Motion Trigger

 Our Motion Trigger module works by detecting slight changes in infrared light. Anything that moves within the vision of the module will change the light hitting the sensor and trigger it. If you want to trigger the sensor without using movement, you can also use the IR LED. In the example below we placed the Motion Trigger in the bottom of a cardboard tube and the IR LED in the top of the tube. Whenever we press the button, the IR LED turns on and triggers the Motion Trigger. We put the modules inside the tube because the Motion Trigger is very sensitive and just the movement of pressing the button would set it off. If you want to try this experiment without the tube, you could try using a wireless module.

 

Explore More:

Curious about what infrared light is? Check out NASA’s Mission Science to learn more: (http://missionscience.nasa.gov/ems/07_infraredwaves.html)

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Tips & Tricks: Speaker /tips-tricks-speaker /tips-tricks-speaker#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:14:32 +0000 /?p=19048 Speaker_1LR

The Speaker module is kind of like a translator for your littleBits circuits. It takes electrical signals from the modules (or from the input jack) and translates those signals into vibrations (sound).

Inputs and Outputs:

In addition to the standard littleBits magnetic connections, you can also connect to your Speaker module through the two 3.5 mm audio jacks. One jack is an input that lets you connect things like mp3 players so they play through the speakers. The other jack is an output, which lets you connect things like headphones or other speakers. If you want to listen to your circuit privately, just plug in some headphones, and if you want to get really loud, you can go from the output jack into a stereo or amplifier.

 

Combine the Microphone with the Speaker

What happens when you combine a motorcycle helmet with the littleBits Space Kit? A space helmet with communication equipment! Combine the microphone and speaker to amplify your voice. Place the microphone close to your mouth to make cool distorted “Houston…we have a problem” sound. This project was designed by our community PRO, Tmax.

SpaceHelmet_PRO

 

Speaker Light Show:

You can create a laser light show using the vibrating diaphragm of your speaker. We placed a small mirror on top of the speaker diaphragm (the shiny round part that vibrates to make noise) and bounced the laser from a laser pointer off of it. The result: a laser light show on the wall.

Here is our setup:

Dancing Light Setup

And here’s the show:

We had about 20 ft. between the mirror and the wall with the dancing laser on it. Try to get as much distance as you can between the two. Long distances will do the best job of amplifying tiny vibrations on the mirror.

Speaker Blower

As the speaker diaphragm vibrates back and forth, it pushes air in and out of the speaker chamber. Playing loud music can create a pretty strong burst of air. Check out our speaker blower experiment below:

You can also visualize sound waves from the speaker with liquid. Try this wave generator experiment.

Stick it anywhere with Dual Lock:

The speaker is held onto the circuit board with two strips of 3M™ Dual Lock™. If you want to stick your speaker on something else, just use another strip of Dual Lock™ and you’ll have another removable speaker mount.

Dual Lock Apply

Dual Lock

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The microphone module is kind of like a translator for your littleBits circuits. It takes vibrations (like sound) and translates them into electrical signals that the modules can read.

Sound Mode and Other Mode:

Below we have a simple example circuit setup: Power → Microphone → Bargraph → Speaker. In this example, we’ve plugged a phone in through the 3.5mm input jack so we can play music through our circuit. The microphone module can operate in two different modes, sound and other. In this video, we’ll show you the difference between the two.

At first the microphone is in other mode. Do you notice how the bargraph moves along with the music, but the Speaker doesn’t sound very good? When we switch the mode to sound, the Speaker sounds great, but the Bargraph stays on and hardly flickers. Speakers work best with a slightly different signal than other littleBits, so sound mode switches the Microphone to use this kind of signal. Other mode is best for communicating with all the other bits.

What’s the difference between the two signals? In sound mode, the microphone transmits a steady voltage of 2.5v when silent and slightly varies the signal up and down to generate sound. This is why the bargraph was always lit up in sound mode. In other mode, the microphone doesn’t transmit any energy when silent and raises the voltage to transmit a signal.

Dancing Servo:

You can control all sorts of modules with the microphone. Below, we attached a servo to our circuit so we could make our little man dance with the music:

 

Combine the Microphone with the Speaker

What happens when you combine a motorcycle helmet with the littleBits Space Kit? A space helmet with communication equipment! Combine the microphone and speaker to amplify your voice. Place the microphone close to your mouth to make cool distorted “Houston…we have a problem” sound.

SpaceHelmet_PRO

 

Microphone with MP3 Player

Plug your MP3 player into the microphone’s input jack to play music (via the speaker) or translate the song’s sound waves into electrical signals for a musical light show (just add LEDs). Check out this Light Up Party Jacket – Lightwires, bright LEDs, long LEDS, and RGD LEDs pulse to the song on your mp3 player through the microphone module.

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Now for something really fun… Learn how to wirelessly transmit music using a digital signalIn this circuit, your digitized music is fed through the microphone and converted into a series of light wave pulses. The pulses are decoded by the light sensor and converted into sound waves by the speaker. You can even make a model ISS and wirelessly transmit music from Earth.

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For tips & tricks about using the microphone with the Synth Kit and other instruments, click here.

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Tips & Tricks: Number /tips-tricks-number-module /tips-tricks-number-module#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 23:10:06 +0000 /?p=19044 Number_1LR

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1.Basics

The number module is a small display which shows the strength of a signal in forms of numbers. Before this module, we could visualize the strength of a signal with the strength of bright LED, loudness of a buzzer, or number of LEDs lit up on a bargraph. Now using a number module, you can tell exactly how strong the signal flowing through your circuit is.

2. Two Modes

There are two modes on a number module. One is called ‘values mode’ the other is ‘volts’. In volts mode, the numbers display the actual voltage flowing in the circuit. littleBits (and many other electric devices) are designed to work on 5V systems, which means there suppose to be 5V of electric current flowing when the signal is ‘high’. It becomes 0V when the signal is ‘low’.  Make a very simple circuit with a button and a number in volts mode to see the number go between zero and five.

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Replace the button with a slide dimmer and see it display 2.5 (volts) when you set the slide to the exact center.

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In values mode, voltage is translated into numbers between zero to 99 proportionally. So, 5V in volts mode is same as 99 in values mode, 2.5V is same as 50 in values mode, 4V to 80 and so on… We may simply say it shows the percentage of current signal compared to its possible full potential.

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3. Gain Insight to your Circuit

See what is going on inside of a circuit your circuit when you get stuck, especially when working on an ambitious project with a sophisticated circuit. The number module is a very useful debugging tool that shows what is happening inside of a module.

For example, we were curious what the difference between sound mode and other mode in the microphone module. The number shows us the answer… even though both pictures were taken when it was totally silent.

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The microphone in sound mode displays 2.5v.

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The microphone in other mode displays 0v.

>> See if the random module really generate a random signal.

>> Calibrate your light sensors.

4. Remember Exact Settings

Often building a project is a process of long iteration. When you find a perfect setting at the end of many tests, record the setting on the number bit and then you don’t have to repeat the whole painful process again.

 

5. Dress up your Number Module

The dimensions of the digit element is 18.5mm x 13mm. Make a window of this size and embed the number module inside of your invention.

 

Even further, you can cover the number module with a sheet of office paper. This will make the digits appear to float!

You can use the number display to signify something. For example, our Community PRO, Brianna designed a hat for her 5th grade graduation. She set the number module to 5V to represent her grade level.

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6. Do simple math

Calculate the tip and split the check easily at your next group dinner. With this tip calculator, you can simply turn dials to set the price and tip percentage. If you want to be more accurate, you can recalibrate by setting the price to 99.

 

7. Combine with Sensors to Measure and Gather Data

Make an energy meter with the light sensor and the number module. Walk around and find different sources of energy. For example: Hold your circuit to the sun or light bulbs or in the dark. Record your findings in table. If you have trouble seeing the numbers change, adjust sensitivity with screwdriver.

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This Mars rover, based off NASA’s Opportunity, gathers and displays light information from the environment as it drives. Again, we are using the light sensor and the number module.

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Community Spotlight: Max Noble /community-spotlight-max-noble /community-spotlight-max-noble#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:00:13 +0000 /?p=18970 Max-Tia

Meet Max Noble – his students call him T. Max. He is a STEAM educator who runs an experimental creativity center for kids and ‘big kids’ in Taiwan. He is also the mastermind behind some of our favorite littleBits projects like Shakey, the 3d-printed robotic arm and the Crayon LatheNot only is Max a gifted maker, he is an inspiration to the maker community. As an educator, he works with students to turn their ideas into realities. See Max’s littleBits profile here.

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We asked Max to answer a few questions about his work and some of his favorite projects.
What is you background as a maker?
I just love making things that don’t exist yet. I’ve been doing it ever since I was a kid.
How did you hear about littleBits?
I watch TED religiously. And when I saw the talk I thought, “Here we go another electronics teaching kit that very few people will use”.  I’ve used many modular electronic kits and they all fall along the wayside. But Ayah’s vision and what she has created so far is different. It’s not only inspiring but it has motivated me to help. There is something special going on here.
Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:
Future Innovator Blocks
What is the inspiration behind your littleBits projects?
Many different sources. Sometimes it’s the challenge of trying to recreate something using bits. The automatic paper towel dispenser is a good example. Bits may not be the optimal way to do it, but the limitations strengthen our ability to innovate. On the other extreme, it’s just easier and quicker to use bits to accomplish a task. I’ve incorporated bits into larger circuits during prototyping just because its fast (circuits in seconds!)
What advice can you give people who are creating with littleBits? 
Remember…everything was considered impossible…until someone did it.

Can you give us a list of 4 of your favorite littleBits projects (2 of yours and 2 community) and tell us why you like them? 

  • I like the Future Baby Stroller because the kids collaborated together on one project as opposed to always competing with each other in school. Very few people can collaborate effectively. It’s hard work because we have had competition bred into us all our lives. Its good to see kids getting the chance to practice doing it. Because, in the in the future the people who can collaborate will have the most rewarding jobs.

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  • The Sound Machine Ver3 is really interesting. I like seeing innovative approaches to tasks that we “think” we have already found the most efficient way to do it. It’s the “Rube Goldberg” effect that makes us expand our possibilities.

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  • I must mention Quinn’s Conveyor Belt too. Because I love seeing the projects of talented kids…it’s like magic for me.

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  • My project Shakey is a concept. Bits are great because it allows kids to create things with ordinary materials they can find around them. As 3D printing technology continues to develop more and more kids will have access to them. 3D design software is also opening up to everybody now with advances like Autodesk’s 123 system. Kids will soon be able to print their own toys. Shaky is an example of an Open Source Toy. Anyone in the world can download the model, mod it and print it. Then install the littleBits electronics. Now they have a toy comparable to something store bought. That’s got nothing but potential, it’s going to be bigger than LEGO.

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Let’s Get Logical /lets-get-logical /lets-get-logical#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:49:09 +0000 /?p=18858 unnamed

With littleBits logic modules, you can program in block form. The logic modules create rules for your circuit to follow, giving you more ability to create interesting and complex interactions. With the launch of three new logic modules (NAND, NOR, and XOR) in addition to the double AND, double OR, latch, and inverter, we have rounded out our logic collection. In this post, we are excited to share new projects and lessons that cover all things logic! New to logic, fear not! Once you learn a few basic rules, a whole new world of circuits opens up. Learn how to make a Jeopardy-style lockout buzzer, an electronic combination lock, a 21st century fortune-telling device, and more!

For a full introductory lesson about logic, check out our lessons page, or download this PDF.

Taking the fast track or want to skip to a specific module? Check out the links below:

DOUBLE AND

The double AND module is a good option for projects in which you want two actions to trigger another.

double AND project page

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Projects that use the double AND module:

Morning Sunshine: a conditional alarm that requires both sun AND your head on a pillow.

World Lift: a collaborative game that uses a double AND, two pressure sensors, and a fan.

Smart Paper Towel Dispenser: hack a paper towel dispenser to feed you a towel as you finish washing your hands.

Great Uncle Edward: create a creepy interactive portrait with eyes that follow you around the room.

 

DOUBLE OR

The double OR module is a good option for projects where you want to detect two inputs but don’t care which input is activated.

double OR project page

Double Or.Still002_v2

Projects that use the double OR module:

Magic 8 Machine: a 21st century fortune telling device based on luck and logic.

littleBits Lucky Slot Machine: a working slot machine that uses logic to start and stop spinning icons.

 

NAND

The NAND works well in projects that need an output to go OFF when both inputs are triggered.

NAND project page

 Nand.Still002_v2

Projects that use the NAND module:

Lockout Buzzer: a gameshow style buzzer that locks out the other player.

 

NOR

The NOR gate is good for projects in which you want the output to be ON unless one or both of its inputs are triggered.

NOR project page

 Nor.Still002_v2

Projects that use the NOR module:

Magic 8 Machine: a 21st century fortune telling device based on luck and logic.

XOR

The XOR is great for projects in which the activation requires input alternation.

XOR project page

 Xor.Still003_v2

Projects that use the XOR module:

Programmable Safe: create a personalized electronic combination lock box.

Ring Modulation: boost your synth circuit with an XOR to create wobbly and metallic video game sounds.

INVERTER (NOT)

Inverters can be used in combination with logic gates to change how the logic works. If you place the inverter after the output of a gate, it will change the logic completely. If you place the inverter before one input, it changes the logic going into the gate from that input.

inverter .Still003_v2

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Educator Spotlight: Marcus Duvoisin, Digital Media Academy /educator-spotlight-marcus-duvoisin-digital-media-academy /educator-spotlight-marcus-duvoisin-digital-media-academy#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:50:34 +0000 /?p=18860 marcus
Our educator spotlight this week shines on Marcus Duvoisin, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Digital Media Academy. The Digital Media Academy (DMA) is a world class tech camp that gives its students the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of digital media topics. From photography to filmmaking, programming to robotics, DMA’s #1 priority is the growth of the student as a maker, creator, innovator, and person who is fully equipped to handle any challenge that may come as our world adapts and changes to new technology. Read more about Marcus’s passion for education and new found love for littleBits below.

Tell us about your current teaching experience.

I’ve taught courses at DMA’s Stanford University location for the last six camp seasons, and can proudly say that, “Summer camp is my middle name.” I have a genuine passion for the education and character development of children. As Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I make sure that DMA’s Adventures program courses are staffed with remarkable teachers and designed to have a positive impact on our students. I also helped develop the Engineering and Rocket Science course which features littleBits projects!

How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?

We were looking for a fun way to introduce electrical engineering to kids, and littleBits knocked it out of the park!

How do you use littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool?

Letting them to get their hands dirty first by building, and then pulling the curtain back and showing them the logic behind how the circuits work.

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What is your favorite littleBits project?

The World Lift Game, which uses 2 pressure sensors to stabilize a ball between two height constraints, is a great project because the end result has kids interacting with what they just built.

Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:

Unleashing Engineering Freedom!

If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?

Their own inventors workshop/classroom.

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What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?

Make sure to reveal the why! Build, build, build! And then take it apart and understand why it functions.

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How can we find out more about the Digital Media Academy and the Adventures in Engineering and Rocket Science Camp Program?

Visit DMA to find out the latest information on our course offerings and locations.
The Adventures in Engineering and Rocket Science camp is a 1 week program for campers ages 8-12. It is hosted throughout the summer at 10 college campuses including Harvard, Stanford, UMichigan and McGill. Using both computer programs and hands-on experiments, children learn about a wide range of STEM subjects, including electrical engineering, structural design and space flight. You can see the full course overview here. At the end of each day, students reflect on what they know and what they would like to learn as a way to close out the day and look forward to tomorrow. By Thursday, campers build a challenge to address the engineering topics they have covered. At the end of the course, campers can chose a focal subject to complete a “super challenge” and present their work. It’s a fun week filled with lots of learning!
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Thanks Marcus for sharing, we can’t wait to see how the summer adventure program goes!  Signs up are still available, but filling up fast. Visit DMA to register now.

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