Tips for CoderDojo Athenry Online Sessions

Using Teams

We are using Microsoft Teams. Each week, we will post links on the CoderDojo Athenry website and Facebook. Here is are the links for 21 November: Information and Links for week 2 | CoderDojo Athenry

When you are using Teams, please keep your microphone off unless you need to ask a question. You can have your webcam on or off, whichever you prefer.

Here are the main buttons you might need:

Two Screens

It is much easier to follow the session if you have two screens, one for the Teams window and one for your own code. Here are two ways to do this:

  1. If your laptop has a HDMI port, you could connect it to a TV with a HDMI cable, or you could connect a spare computer monitor if you have one. Then press Windows and P, and select Extend. Then you can have different windows in each screen.
  2. You could use your laptop for your own code, and connect to the Teams session with a separate phone or tablet.

Asking Questions

As well as the main mentor leading the Teams session, we have other mentors who can answer your questions at any time.

Either: press the Chat button and type your question

Or: press the Raise Hand button and wait for the mentor

If Chat Does Not Work

If you get an error when you try to press the Chat button, it might be because you are logged into a work or school Teams account that has chat restrictions. If so, here is a solution:

  • Press Leave to leave the CoderDojo session
  • Sign out of Teams – click on your picture in the top right corner to open a menu, and Sign Out is at the bottom of the menu
  • Click on the link to join the CoderDojo session again, and this time join as a guest without logging into your school/work account.

CoderDojo Athenry Information Session 07-Nov-2020

Hello again everyone.

It was great to speak to you all last Saturday.

Here are some notes with information all about CoderDojo Athenry in PDF form.

Here’s a quick recap of everyone’s notes;

Martha told us all about the Explorers group, you can contact Martha at Martha@coderdojoathenry.onmicrosoft.com and you can find her slides here.

Oliver spoke about the Advancers group and you can contact Oliver at Oliver@coderdojoathenry.onmicrosoft.com

I talked about the Bodgers group, you contact me at Declan@coderdojoathenry.onmicrosoft.com and you can read all about the Bodgers group here.

Kieran then spoke about the Modellers group. Here is his presentation.

Kieran can be contacted at Kieran@coderdojoathenry.onmicrosoft.com.

Finally Michael spoke about the Hacker Group which will be starting in the new year. Here are his slides

Mike’s email is, yes you guessed it is, Mike@coderdojoathenry.onmicrosoft.com

We will be posting information for our first session next Saturday in the next day or two, so keep an eye out for that.

Looking forward to seeing you all again next Saturday.

Declan and the CoderDojo Athenry Mentors

Mario – Scrolling Backgrounds

Hi everyone

Hope you are keeping safe and healthy. Its lovely weather at the moment so I guess you are outside as much as you can. So when the rain appears again ,maybe you can take a look at this video.

Sorry it took me so long to get another one done, but its up now. Video

Martha

 

COVID19 (coronavirus) Update

Hi All

As you all know Clarin College is closed until at least 29-Mar-2020, as a result we will not be able to run CoderDojo Athenry until the school reopens.

The CoderDojo Foundation have also announced that the Coolest Projects Showcase that was scheduled to take place on 06-Jun-2020 in the RDS has been cancelled. 

We will keep you updated by email, on Facebook, Twitter and here if the situation changes.

Enjoy St.Patrick’s weekend.

Declan

Advancers – Piano

We started with a basic plan:

  • 1 Piano Sprite
  • 3 Button Sprites
    • Record
    • Stop
    • Play
  • A list to store all the possible Piano notes.
  • A list to store the tune being played.

Luckily Scratch comes with a Piano Sprite, which we used and expanded it to fill the width of the screen.

PianoSprite

Next step was to create the list of all the notes, there are 14 keys on the Piano so we need at least 14 notes in our list.

We found out what notes are possible by using one of the Sound blocks and looking at what was possible

PossibleNotes

This gave us our list of possible notes:

NotesList

Now on to the code…

We needed to work out what key on the Piano had been clicked, and convert it to a number between 1 and 14 so we could play the correct note from the list.

This required some tricky calculations, to convert the Mouses “X” position to a positive integer between 1 and 14.

  • First we added a number to make X always positive
  • Second we divided that by the size of a note.
  • And finally we rounded it up, using the ceiling function.

This ended up with the following code and a couple of Variables to store the “Extra” number to make X positive and the size of a note:

NoteClickedBasic

Once we had the positive integer we could use it to select the correct note to play from the list:

NoteClickedMedium

We did start some of the Buttons, and we will complete them next week. Notes for the buttons will be included then.

Buttons

In order to make the Piano a bit more usable we added 3 Buttons:

  1. Record
  2. Stop
  3. Play

All three Buttons had two costumes, we used the second costume to change the colour of the Button, this made it easy to see if you had clicked the button or not.

The Record button, simply set a Data Flag to indicate to the Piano code that it should “record” the notes being played in a List variable.

It also flashed while recording was “on”, this is the code for the Record Button:

RecordButtonCode

We also had to add some additional code to the Piano to make sure the notes were recorded:

RecordPianoCode

The Stop button was quite simple, we just set the Data Flag back to 0, and changed the costume for a short while to make it clear that the button had been pressed.

StopButtonCode

The Play button was a little more complex as it need to read all the items in the List and play the correct notes. It also flashed while playing. This is the code from the Play button:

PlayButtonCode

The Final project looked something like this, you can get a copy from the Scratch Web Site, see the Notes below.

PianoStage

Notes:

Note: My version of the project has been uploaded to https://scratch.mit.edu you can Sign in using the following details:

  • Username : cdadvancers1819
  • Password : advancers
  • Project Name is : Class-Piano

Hackers – Components of a Desktop PC and a Raspberry Pi

pc+pi

At CoderDojo Athenry, the Hackers spent some time examining the components of a desktop PC and a Raspberry Pi 3+ and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

Even though the Pis are much smaller than a desktop PC, they are functionally equivalent – as we saw, you can plug the Pi into the keyboard, mouse and screen of the desktop PC and use it like one.

We identified the major components of a desktop PC, and saw where each of them appear on the Raspberry Pi also:

  • CPU – the central processing unit that does all calculations and processing. All data in a PC gets represented as numbers, so all data processing ends up as calculations.
  • GPU – a dedicated processing unit just for graphics, that specialises in multiplying and adding matrices (pixels on a screen are represented as a matrix). Not all PCs have one, but they are important for high-performance graphics.
  • RAM – the short-term memory of the computer, used by the CPU to store data.
  • Hard Drive – this might be a hard disk drive or a solid-state drive. This is for long-term storage. It holds much more than RAM and the data remains when the PC is powered off, but it is much slower for the CPU to get data from the hard drive than from RAM.
  • DVD Drive – not all PCs have this. DVDs or CDs allow permanent storage that can be removed. Some are read-only and some allow reading and writing.
  • Motherboard – the circuit board on which everything else is mounted.
  • Power Supply – this is built into a desktop PC. For a Pi, this is a 5-volt supply such as a phone charger.
  • Networking – ethernet for wired networks and/or wifi for wireless networks.
  • Controller chips and connection ports (such USB and HDMI) for peripherals.
  • Case – Pis don’t always have these.

We noted that the Pi has a single chip that has its CPU, a basic GPU and up to 1GB of RAM all stacked in layers on top of each other. While its CPU is lower power than a standard PC CPU, it benefits from having a really short distance that data has to travel from RAM to CPU. CPUs run so fast that having electrons travel a few centimetres is a significant delay!

PCs and the Pi also have connections for peripherals, which is anything that can be connected to it, using USB, Bluetooth, HDMI, or other connection types:

  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Screen

The Raspberry Pi Zero has micro-USB and micro-HDMI connectors to keep everything as small as possible, and it has wifi only, no ethernet port (though it is possible to get a micro-USB to ethernet adapter).

A couple of members of the group have built their own desktop PCs, which is an impressive feat!

Hackers – Getting started with Python programming on Arduino

circuit2

In the past two weeks in the Hackers group at CoderDojo Athenry, we have started Python programming on the Raspberry Pi.

The Pi is about the same size as the Arduino that we used earlier, and the Pi Zero is about the size of the Arduino Nano, and both Pi and Arduino have input/output pins for physical computing. However, they have significant differences.

Unlike the Arduino which is a microcontroller (which means it is designed to run a single program that was uploaded onto it), the Raspberry Pi has a full computer operating system, so it is more like a PC to use. It can be programmed in many languages, but Python is a popular choice as it is clear to read and there are lots of libraries to make tasks easier. Because it’s a full computer, you can write and run your programs all on the Pi, without connecting it to a laptop.

The first step in programming is to figure out how to do loops, variables and decisions, as these are fundamental. Here is our first Python program to try out these:

# Python comments start with #

age = 14 # a variable holding an int
name = "Michael" # variable holding a string

# Output
print ("My name is", name, "and my age is ", age)

# Loop
for x in range (1, 5):
    print ("This is line ", x)

# Decision
if (age  17):
    print("Adult")
else:
    print("Teenager")

Next we moved on to using the GPIOZero libraries for controlling lights and buttons. We will continue to explore this in the coming weeks.

The documentation is here: https://gpiozero.readthedocs.io/en/stable/

 

Hackers – Basic Arduino inputs and outputs

Rheostat_bb

This week in the Hackers group at CoderDojo Athenry, we built on last week’s work on blinky lights, in which we made a simple circuit involving LEDs and resistors connected to an Arduino, and wrote code to get the LEDs to blink.

An LED is an example of an output from our microcontroller. We would also like to have inputs. Examples of circuit inputs are:

  • Switches
  • Dials
  • Sensors that measure something

We focused on dials, specifically a variable resistor or rheostat. This is the kind of knob or dial you find on dimmer switches, volume controls on old radios, electric guitars, and many others.

A variable resistor has 3 connectors: the two outer ones connect across a voltage source (e.g. 5V and ground pins on the Ardiuno) and the voltage at the middle pin can be adjusted from 0 to 5V by turning the knob.

We connected the middle pin of the variable resistor to Analog input 2 of the Arduino. The connections are shown above.

Then, the code to read its value is:

potValue = analogRead(potPin);

where potValue and potPin are ints that were defined already.

The value that you get is in the range 0-1024, and changes as you turn the dial.

Here is a full Arduino program to read a value and display it on the Serial Monitor window if you have a computer connected to your Arduino:

int potPin = 2;    // select the input pin for the potentiometer
int potValue = 0;  // value to read from potentiometer

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(9600);  // need for print commands later
}

void loop() {
  potValue = analogRead(potPin);    // read the value from the sensor
  Serial.println(potValue);
}

In the group, we used this as the basis to improve last week’s program. This time, the speed at which the LED blinks is controlled by turning the potentiometer dial.

The previous code to control how long the LED blinks for was:

delay(one_second);

We changed this to:

delay(potValue);

Of course, we also had to add the code to read the potentiometer value at the top of the loop() function.

Explorers Week 05 – How fast can you type?

Great to see you all on Saturday.

Last week I showed you how to control and move a Sprite, this week we didn’t use any Sprites, everything happened on the Background, but we were still able to create movement.

We created a Timer, this is a piece of code that can be added to any game and is a great one to know.

Every time a the correct key was pressed, the next Background would appear.

For the first time this year we did a Broadcast. This is useful when you want one part of the code to communicate with another part of the code. We used this so that when the last letter was typed, a message was broadcast to stop the timer and display it.

This coming week is the last one before our midterm break. I am going to show you a couple of techniques for showing movement. We will use costumes for the Sprites and it will be Halloween based.

Then everyone is going to work on their own game, based on the Boo Challenge. You do not have to enter the competition if you do not want, but you will use it as your idea for you game.

Here are the notes from last week in PDF CDA-S8-Week 5-How fast can you Type.pdf

Martha

Julie, Iseult, Ruaidhrí and Eoin