Circuit Playground Express

 Gepubliceerd door om 07:25  Algemeen
mei 282017
 

Before the Circuit Playground Express, there was the Circuit Playground Developer Edition (now: “Classic). They look almost the same, but there are some small, yet important, differences between the two iterations (see the table with the overview). One is very important: the processor is different and the Express has got 2 MB of flash memory.

Because of this difference, the Circuit Playground Express, unlike the Classic can be programmed using this online programmer. It uses a Blockly like language, in an environment very similar to what you can use for the Micro:bit. This of course makes it more suitable for use in schools and with younger students with less experience in programming. With the Classic you had to use the Arduino environment to program it.

Another difference between the two versions is the infrared receiver and transmitter, allowing for data transmission using infrared light, similar to what the Puck.js does. It also can be used as a proximity/distance sensor. You can hear lady Ada explain how that works here.

 

Now, just as with the Classic, for me the use-cases for the Express are a bit harder to find. I can understand that it is a cool device to get children programming. And of course, a lot of the use-cases of the Micro:bit, where you attach peripherals using alligator clips and do cool stuff based on values that you measure with either the build in sensors or other external sensors. The Express then allows you to have a nice mix of programming languages: either the Blockly variant with the one-on-one switch to JavaScript in the editor and CircuitPython, the microPython fork that Adafruit is developing (see this video where Tony demos CircuitPython on the Express).

Resources for the Express are still somewhat limited, the board is still very limited in availability which was one of the reasons why I was very glad that after it actually was in stock for a couple of hours last week, it was sent and transferred from the US to Europe in exactly 7 days. Not bad. It is a bit more expensive than a Micro:bit, which you currently can buy direct in the Netherlands. We’ll see how this develops. If you’ve got any questions related to stuff that I could test with the Circuit Playground Express, let me know.

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LoRaWAN with LoPy and KPN + Loggly

 Gepubliceerd door om 15:49  Hardware, LoRaWAN
mei 202017
 

In the Netherlands, KPN was the first to offer nationwide coverage of a IoT network based on LoRaWAN. You can read about my first tests using their Network in combination with the Marvin node in this post. Unlike with the IoT network that for example is currently being rolled out by T-Mobile, which uses NB-IoT and different hardware than The Things Network (TTN), switching a device from the TTN network to the KPN network is simple: just change the DEV_ADDR, NWK_SWKEY, APP_SWKEY values in the config.py of you Pycom LoPy to the values that are provided in the management environment of KPN (see image left). No changes in the microPython code needed. You could even have a device connect to both networks and switch between them (although you probably don’t want to do that when you’ve got a battery powered node).

KPN offers a free test period where you can test your nodes on their infrastructure without having to pay. It is what I used for my train trip last month where I used both the Marvin node (connected to KPN) and the LoPy (connected to TTN) as a way to get a feel for coverage while moving in the Netherlands.

Besides the fact that KPN offers a commercial solution, the free test version (don’t know about the paid version) has a number of differences: unlike TTN where they provide a number of integration options (Cayenne, Data Storage provided by TTN, HTTP integration, IFTTT Maker), KPN only offers HTTP integration. This means you have to provide a destination URL for an HTTPS endpoint where the data is stored. In the Marvin workshop they use Hookbin.com as a free and easy to setup endpoint. But endpoints created there only store data for a limited time. That is why I now use the free version of Loggly.com to collect the data. But of course, the data is only useful if I manage to get it from Loggly to my own local system.

A second difference is a bit of a mystery. If I used the Marvin to send data over the KPN network, the data gets encrypted by the Marvin, but automatically is being decrypted again on the KPN server. But if I use the LoPy to send data over the KPN network, the data shown in the debug console at KPN and the data received by Loggly is still encrypted.

I managed to get both challenges resolved and in this post I’ll do a write-up not of the (lengthy) process of getting to the working code, but of the end result. All code is available on Github.

Lees verder….

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mei 192017
 

Ik ga hem niet in de categorie “onderzoek” labelen, want daar is de steekproef van vier zinnen en acht proefpersonen me net wat klein voor, hij krijgt daarom eerder het label “grappig” en het is wel een heel relevante vergelijking: hoe doen Google Home, Siri van Apple en Alexa van Amazon het op het gebied van het herkennen van vragen die in het Engels gesteld worden als je een accent hebt. Bijvoorbeeld omdat je Brit, Schot, Ier, Amerikaan, Aussie, Duitser, Italiaan of Japanner bent.

Je kunt het resultaat in het filmpje zien of hier nalezen.

Spoiler: Benedict Cumberbatch wint! 🙂

 

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Het ABC van het Maken

 Gepubliceerd door om 06:45  maker education
mei 192017
 

Als het goed is dan denk je inmiddels “ja, die ken ik al lang”, maar ik wilde hem voor mijn eigen archief ook even vastleggen: het ABC van het Maken. Het is namelijk een leuke site om zelf in te grasduinen, maar ook om anderen naar toe door te verwijzen als ze meer willen weten over wat dat maakonderwijs nou precies is.

Je kunt er ‘gewoon’ doorheen bladeren en kijken wat je tegen komt, of via het menu rechtsonder in beeld (ik kan er niet naar linken) een lijst bekijken met alle begrippen en dan doorklikken. Kijk zeker ook even op de “over” pagina omdat daar een heel lange lijst met partners staan (al zijn de links niet direct altijd naar plekken die met maakonderwijs te maken hebben, bij de HAN zit er o.a. een link naar http://han.nl/ achter) en een link naar de agenda met bij de initiatiefnemers van de site bekende evenementen op het gebied van maakonderwijs.

Klein kritiekpuntje dan toch nog: ik heb nu geen enkele mogelijkheid om te ontdekken of er wijzigingen in de site plaats vinden. Wellicht gebeurt dat ook niet?

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mei 182017
 

Als je ook maar enigszins iets te maken hebt met kunstmatige intelligentie, ontwikkelingen op het gebied van ict, ethiek en technologie, dan kan je Peter-Paul Verbeek, hoogleraar Wijsbegeerte aan de Universiteit Twente. Het eerste boek dat ik van hem las was De grens van de mens.

Op 29 mei start een gratis MOOC getiteld “Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies” bij FutureLearn onder leiding van Peter-Paul Verbeek en Roos de Jong.

De MOOC is maar 3 weken lang (kort), dus ik verwacht geen enorme diepgang ten opzichte van bv zijn boeken, de beschrijving geeft aan dat er aandacht zijn voor de volgende onderwerpen:

  • Evaluate some classical thinkers in philosophy of technology.
  • Reflect on the power of technology: are humans still in control?
  • Explore the contemporary philosophical approach of technological mediation.
  • Engage in case studies to get insights in the impact of technology on society and human life.
  • Debate the ethical dimension of technology and apply this to design.
  • Discuss the ethical limits of designing technologies that influence our behaviour.

Doelgroep: “This course has been created for anyone interested in the relations between technology and society, and in particular for people working or studying in philosophy, engineering, design, social science and policy. The course might be specifically relevant to those interested in what philosophical analysis can contribute to the practice of design, engineering, and policy-making.”

p.s. de MOOC is gratis te volgen, maar dan raak je 14 dagen na afloop de toegang kwijt, voor €64,- kun je er voor zorgen dat je onbeperkt toegang blijft houden. Dat betekent dus dat als je de gratis variant wilt volgen, je de activiteiten het beste ook tijdens de daadwerkelijke looptijd kunt plannen.

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mei 142017
 

At AliExpress they sell a number of cheap GPS modules that you can use for Arduino. I ordered one (this one) GY-NEO6MV2 for €6,82 incl. free shipping (the seller doesn’t offer free shipping anymore so you might want to shop around a bit) and wanted to try it out on the LoPy. Now, I wanted to say that using it is really easy, it is, but then again there were more than enough bumps in the road to get it to work the way I wanted it. But hey, what is life without some challenges?

First things first: the GPS module is easy to use. It use UART to connect to it. As soon as you have got something that is willing to listen to it, power it (it worked using 3.3V), it start sending you GPS data that you only need to interpret. I soldered 4 header pins to the module, connected the VCC to the 3.3V, GND to GND on the Pyboard, the TX line to “P11” and the RX line to “P12”.

As soon as you connect power to the LoPy, the GPS unit is powered. The red light blinking means that the unit is working and sending data. You just need to listen to it.  The code to do that is available here on GitHub.

To start listening:  com = UART(1,pins=(config.TX, config.RX), baudrate=9600)

To interpret the data coming from the module, I use the MicropyGPS module. It is initialized using my_gps = MicropyGPS().

After that it is a matter of checking if there is any data available, and then feed it character by character to the module:

if com.any():
    my_sentence = com.readline()
    for x in my_sentence:
        my_gps.update(chr(x))

 

Lees verder….

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