Author Topic: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects  (Read 16966 times)

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Online EEVblog

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EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« on: August 20, 2012, 12:13:20 pm »


Dave.
 

Offline EEMarc

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 12:23:19 pm »
That is really cool electronics education setup that they have going. I would have absolutely loved to have that kind of thing available when I was in high school. I had to learn all of that kind of stuff on my own. The good old fashioned way.
 

Offline Zad

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 01:27:21 pm »
Absolutely. I guess it helps being a private school, but it is great to see it being done. Here in the UK even the expensive schools are happy to go with the "easy" well-trodden qualifications for guaranteed high pass marks now. When I was at school (I'm a similar age to Dave) here in the UK, I wanted to do electronics, as they actually taught it back then (this was 14-16 age group). They said no, as I was in the higher-achieving set of pupils, so had to do geography. Argh!

Even if only 1 of those lads goes on to do an electronics related Degree, then it has been worthwhile. Far too much schooling prepares kids for lives behind a desk now.

Offline Things

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 01:40:16 pm »
I also wish I had the opportunity to do this kind of stuff in school. My electronics classes basically spanned connecting lightbulbs to batteries, everything else has been self taught.

Unfortunately this also makes it difficult, as when learning on your own, you tend to skimp over a heap of the theory and just get really good at the practical side.

I am hoping to do electrical engineering, however my maths and electronics theory sucks, but ask me to design a PCB and build/troubleshoot it and I'll do it any day.

Luckily there are bridging courses for people like me who have missed out on the maths, which is what I'm intending on doing next year (Finished Year 12 last year)
 

Offline ThievingSix

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 03:39:17 pm »
Awesome stuff to see these guys and their projects.

Unfortunately electronics is not supported at all in my school so i take Design and Technology.

For my HSC project this year i built a very basic 8-bit arithmetic logic unit using discrete components. Its yet to be marked but its looking really good and does exactly what i want. It was an entirely original design, from logic diagrams to the final model. Albeit processors have been done to death, its supposed to form part of an open hardware processor such as http://www.opensparc.net/

My only worry is that the HSC markers i'm getting won't understand the project or its implications or the concept of open hardware(which is a huge focus point) and i'll perform poorly as a result. It feels like my teacher is asking me to put way more work into my folio to explain basic concepts while others don't require this and he's constantly telling me to dumb things down, which i think is rather counter intuitive when trying to explain the basics of how something works(to the point where "a transistor controls the flow of current through the circuit" is too complex). In my opinion it should be the board of studies responsibility to send markers that are knowledgeable about all aspects of Design and Technology not just wood work. But enough of that rant!

When i joined the school 6 years ago, there was a dedicated electronics teacher(of which i was lucky to be in their class), however now that I'm in yr 12, they found it unnecessary to have one and as a result i ended up with a wood work teacher supervising my project. It really highlights the death of electronics as a subject being offered to high school students when it has been extremely popular in the past.

Regardless, its great watching your videos and with all your great tear downs and reviews and some of MakeMagazines content its almost better than having an electronics class.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 03:53:42 pm by ThievingSix »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 04:22:08 pm »
Nothing like this existed when I went to HS, but would have loved if something like this was offered.
 

Online Rerouter

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 07:59:38 pm »
i was lucky enough to get something like this for years 9 and 10, but my school canned it for years 11-12 because they prefered to host information processes and technology, which translates out to pretty much how to use microsoft office and the logical operators in excel :(

though i suppose missing out on it got me into instrumentation which commonly features it, though i still feel a little cheated that i missed out on the chance

still curious why almost all of them are the assembly of kits though i suppose with that much documentation desigining your own product would be many times more involved :/
 

Offline hans

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 11:00:53 pm »
In Netherlands I was at secondary school like 4-5 years ago (similary aged students, 16-17 years).

We had a simple ' electricity' chapter at Physics. Nothing more than a resistor, voltage dividers etc. That's it.
We then had a 'systeembord' , which is a simple board like this. Not many understood how it really worked. We also had binary calculations, but didn't go further than binary to decimal and back. Unfortunately our teacher was crap and more like a 'coach'. In the end I had to explain the class how simple it is to do.. (the teacher could only tell 'read the book', where the book was not written in a clear way)

Other than that we didn't have any electronics classses :( . We did had an assignment where you can answer a main question for any class you have (sounds very similar to HSC). I did some software that hooked up to a car simulator and simulated cruise control and shifting. It worked fine and was a systems control exercise. .
Some other guy made a line following robot. It were some IR LED's and photo diode's with a PIC16F628 microcontroller. I think that was about it in terms of 'electronics' or software related works..
At IT class we had Lego mindstorms. But almost no one did anything with it.

It's really sad not many students get into electronics or engineering. Of like 90 people only 3-4 went for engineering? A lot of classes are for 'art' (the easy route, it doesn't even teach them maths these days) or economics. When I left high school, they actually thought there was too much maths classes, and they scrapped even more material. Aargh :-X

These students did some really cool things with their HSC. Building 3D printers and class A/AB amplifiers is cool. And of course it doesn't work first time, so troubleshooting helps a lot :)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 11:05:03 pm by hans »
 

Offline Ketturi

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 01:53:39 am »
That's really great, hope other schools and countries follow . Electronics should be optional subject in every school, because I think basic knowledge of electronics and robotics are pretty important at today's labor market. At our school (OK, we have only 20 students at third class in lukio(comparable to highschool)) I am probably only one who are interested in electronics. Only education about electronics were some physics chapters,  just basic things

Documenting projects,  it's thing that everybody should learn regardless career.
Ketturi electronics: http://ketturi.kapsi.fi
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 03:59:58 am »
I was fortunate that my school ran an Electronic Systems A-level which I was able to do. It wasn't popular, though - only 6 students started the course, and two dropped out quite early on. I've no idea whether they still do it or not, though... I'd like to hope so.

I don't remember it being anything like the course these kids are doing now, though. We didn't build stuff from kits at all, and there was little or no soldering involved. We spent quite a lot of time experimenting with the behaviour of individual components, and making up simple circuits on a breadboard. I remember covering topics like feedback, how to use an op-amp, Kirchhoff's laws, non-ideal characteristics of components... all a good, solid foundation, if not as immediately exciting as getting to build something that works from a kit of parts.

In the second year we did a major project, which had to be our own design from start to finish, built, tested and documented. This counted for about 50% of the course credit, and I remember it well - I built a digital sound effects processor, with a 6502 CPU, separate ROM and RAM, ADC, DAC, display and keypad, all from individual parts and all wired together across half a dozen breadboards. With hindsight it was a stupidly over-ambitious project to have attempted, and could have been a spectacular failure.

Good excuse to listen to CDs in class under the guise of "testing", though...  ;)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 04:02:33 am by AndyC_772 »
 

Offline tom66

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 04:11:07 am »
I was lucky enough to have both Electronics GCSE and Electronics A-Level, which have now lead me on to take Electronics Engineering (MEng) at a good university. My GCSE and A-Level teachers knew their stuff but their knowledge was limited outside of the specification. A great deal of the work was paperwork though!
 

Offline steve30

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 06:10:35 am »
Good to see there is electronics being done in schools. I'm surprised they have all the money for that kit though :o.

I'm surprised that so many people haven't been able to do electronics. When I was at secondary school, we did a little electronics alongside woodwork (soldering a 555 kit), then I took the Electronic Products GCSE. This was mostly practical and involved building a project (so, research, breadboard stuff, PCB design and build, laser cut / vacuum form cases etc). I think the GCSE comprised of 40% finished product, 20% written work, and 40% exam. This was a very good course and the teachers were decent. The technician was also very good, but I saw him in the JobCentre a couple of years ago so no idea what happened there. :-\.

I'm not sure what A levels are like here. There are A levels in Electronics, and Systems and Control but I'm not sure what they consist of. After my GCSEs I went to the local technical college to do a National Certificate in Electronics.
 


Offline steve30

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 10:31:46 am »
 

Offline A-n-d-y

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 10:53:31 am »
When I did electronics at school (GCSE) 18 odd years ago the projects were from scratch? as in think up an idea, design the circuit and build it. OK they were a little simpler (in some cases) projects but these all appear to be "just" assembling kits?
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay
 

Offline amspire

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 11:27:04 am »
Ah! Exam questions. You got to love them.

I had a quick look at one of the papers (AQA-ELE1-W-QP-JUN08.PDF).

In question 2 (b) (iii), a 470uF cap charged to 9V has a 10K resistor across it.  The question is essentially - "Calculate the approximate time for the capacitor voltage to reach 0V".

I simplified it a bit - the initial voltage source is from a rectified transformer secondary, and you are calculating the time to 0V after the transformer is switched off.

Is the correct answer "No, I can't" or "Any time you feel like over 30 seconds" or what? Perhaps you calculate the thermal noise of the 10K resistor, and calculate the time for the capacitor voltage to drop below the thermal noise level?

Richard.
 

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 12:31:51 pm »
the answer would be 5 time constants :) had to face the same question in certificate 2 electrotechnology
 

Offline Zad

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2012, 12:52:04 pm »
I think the voltage decay on a capacitor is one of those situations where it is a matter of not learning the subject but learning how to pass the exam. I seem to remember that somewhere in the subject specs, it is looking for a rule-of-thumb estimate of 5RC.

A badly worded question. It does make me wonder how come we have so many students with A* grades when questions are as badly designed at that one.

I have just looked up the report on the examination here: http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/pdf/AQA-ELE1-WRE-JUN08.PDF

It comments:
Quote
(b) The time constant section also met with a good response; it is again pointed out that
exponential mathematics is not required here (although the occasional correct attempt
was seen). Knowledge of the “landmarks” on the charge/discharge graph is enough to
give the answer to this type of problem at this level, and 5RC is generally well known for
complete charge/discharge. In the final part there was some confusion evident in which
parameters to use.

Hmm.

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2012, 04:20:20 pm »
Yuck. Why 5x RC? Why not 4? Or 9? It depends on how close to "fully" charged the application requires.

I remember a similar question from one of my own exams; it was asking for the rise time of a signal when viewed on a scope with limited bandwidth. I spent ages on it, but apparently the examiner was looking for some rough approximation which wasn't in the course notes.

Is it really so hard to remember Vc=V0(1-e^-t/RC) and solve for Vc?
 

Offline steve_w

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2012, 09:00:43 pm »
why did the school want the videos pulled?

regards

SW
So long and thanks for all the fish
 

Online Rerouter

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2012, 09:04:51 pm »
"Against education policy to show until everyone is marked. As the video shows names & project numbers. Will be back up soon. "

courtesy of his twitter feed,
 

Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2012, 09:19:22 pm »
I was a little bit lucky too back in school. In physics we learned about the very basics and even done some simple circuits with transistors and tubes. And each year just before the summer holidays the whole school had a project week. Teachers and older students (under supervision :-) offered all kind of projects the students could choose to join. Once two teachers (as a team) done a "basics of electronics". Later I offered an electronics project myself, building small circuits from an electronics magazine and also DIYing the PCBs (etch-resistent pen). What did amaze me back in those days is that the school even had a small etching machine while being orientated more to languages than to science.

Another nice feature was computer science. In the later classes students had a compulsory optional subject like a third foreign language or CS. And CS was not about using a computer and a wordprocessing program, it was about programming in BASIC and some PASCAL-alike languages.
 

Offline daniel19210

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2012, 12:13:55 am »
I always wanted to know if there is any electronics in HS in other countries. I'm not sure if it's good translation but here in Poland we have schools for technicians.

You are learning one year longer than in HS but you are learning standard HS material + extended math and physics + LOTS of electronics. First year students have at least 8 hours a week in fully equipped laboratories. Every lab has couple stations. Every station has an analog scope, soldering station, function generator, and power supply. Moreover there are few 4 channel digital scopes, four AM/FM radio testing devices/generators, 3GHz spectrum analyzer, two Wavetek's stabilocks 4032 for fixing ham radios and many many more sitting on shelves (at least in the lab where I'm learning). Adjoining lab has digital rigol scope and PLC on every single bench! If you ask nicely you can use all of that testgear for your own personal projects.

You have lessons with real engineers. My class was divided in two groups. After learning about fundamental laws of electronics, first group moved on analog electronics, second on digital. One theoretical lesson, one practical, quick test, repeat. You are learning every part of electronics with different teacher. At the end of the year we even wrote some PLC programs (note I was a first year student).

For three years you are learning general electronics, on fourth your specialization. Mine is aircraft electronics (not sure about translation again). If everything goes well this is what I'll be doing in three years.

Students on this video build couple kits to test their skills. We took schematics from datasheet and we had to design a PCB in eagle, print it, etch it, solder it and test under the scope couple months after beginning of the year.

At the end you have to pass two exams. Theoretical (much longer and more difficult than those from UK posted before) AND practical in electronics. If you don't fail you become a technician. You can work in industry or even start your own business. There is plenty of work for technicians. Second exam is standard MATURA exam approached by any HS student. This one allows you to go on college.

I was very lucky to be born here. :)

P.S. Sorry for poor English.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 12:25:51 am by daniel19210 »
 

Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2012, 01:41:00 am »
I always wanted to know if there is any electronics in HS in other countries. I'm not sure if it's good translation but here in Poland we have schools for technicians.

That's great! There are technician schools over here too but they're for people who already got a job qualification. After school you can choose to be a trainee (3 years / 3-4 days a week at work and the remaining days at school / exam at the end) or to study if you passed the "matura". After passing the trainees exam and working for one year one may join a technician school. If you pass the technician exam you'll be a state certified engineer, but you may call yourself just technician since engineer is already an academic title (Diplom Ingenieur, or short Dipl.-Ing.). A German engineer got a degree at the university. Until around 1970 it was possible to join an engineering school and pass as engineer (Ingenieur). That concept of technician and engineer might be a little bit confusing :-)
 

Offline KedasProbe

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2012, 04:48:29 am »
"Approximately how long will it take for the output voltage to reach 9 V?"
I wonder if the answer +infinite would be accepted as correct (since it's the correct answers)

If they would ask
"(Approximately) how long will it take for the output voltage to reach approximately 9 V?"
That is a different question.

And yes just let them understand the correct math/formula that explains it.
Let me quote Einstein
Quote
Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.
5RC is too simple!
Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.
[W. Bruce Cameron]
 

Offline tom66

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2012, 05:00:36 am »
I have had poorly thought-out questions before. Like this feedback loop for an SMPS which would never be able to start.
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2012, 05:57:07 am »
OK, so the output of the power supply gets up to 12V, and the inputs to the op-amp become equal - then what? There's no way to tell from that circuit what the operating point of the opto-isolator should be.
 

Offline tom66

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2012, 06:49:06 am »
OK, so the output of the power supply gets up to 12V, and the inputs to the op-amp become equal - then what? There's no way to tell from that circuit what the operating point of the opto-isolator should be.

The problem is the opto should be HIGH to turn the converter on. But if the output is zero, the opto can never be high (no power!), so the converter can never start. (The exam question cheats because the comparator/opto is powered by a magical second supply.) Alas, the lack of compensation will also make a hideously bad converter, but let's not get into that. Now, this circuit would be perfectly fine if the comparator were reversed so LOW means switch on, HIGH means off.

The specification also had the teachers telling us a voltage regulator (i.e. 7805) used "on-off" control - and this was why you needed a cap on the output, to smooth the pulses. I WISH! Otherwise building an efficient switching converter would be too easy.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 06:51:01 am by tom66 »
 

Offline Wilkins

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2012, 07:45:24 pm »
If anyone is interested, here are some example UK exam papers

GCSE (usually 14-16 year olds)
http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcse/pdf/AQA-44301-W-QP-JUN11.PDF
http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcse/pdf/AQA-44301-W-SQP.PDF

GCE (usually 16-18)
http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gceasa/qp-ms/AQA-ELE1-W-QP-JUN08.PDF
http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gceasa/qp-ms/AQA-ELE2-W-QP-JUN08.PDF
http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gceasa/qp-ms/AQA-ELE4-W-QP-JUN08.PDF
http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gceasa/qp-ms/AQA-ELE5-W-QP-JUN08.PDF

Those exams are well written and appropriate for the level of understanding you could attain within a high school subject.

If only we were offered subjects that better reflected actual career choices in our high schools.
 

Offline russdx

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2012, 05:42:17 am »
says video is private :(
 

Offline Zad

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2012, 11:30:12 am »
It has been moved to private until all the HSC exam evaluations etc have been done.

Offline k2teknik

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Re: EEVblog #337 - HSC School Electronics Projects
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2012, 01:38:51 am »
Hi Dave.
At 07:12 you tell that you will check something about the Velleman DSO, had you done so?
Was it like "DSO MK3"?
And what was the DSO MK3 ?
 


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