HSC2011/Project history

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< HSC2011


The idea was quite simple in the beginning but grew into something really impressive over the next 6 weeks.

Initially we thought of a device with some LEDs and buttons to enable students to participate in multiple choice quiz shows.

But as the ideas grew how such a quiz show could look like we found out that we need a more universal approach.

We wanted blinking LEDs, playing sounds, multiple buttons, personalisation, but also depersonalisation, and give some kind of feedback to the user that makes no sound but is visible

So we came up with a device that consists of

  • 4 5mm LEDs (blue, green, yellow, red)
  • 4 buttons
  • 1 piezo beeper
  • 1 RGB LED to change the color of the enclosure
  • 1 iButton reader for personalisation
  • 1 RF module (RFM12B)

On the software side we used a lot of hacking wizardry a total of 5 different programming languages including one designed exclusively for the virtual machine that grew out of this contest.

Each student and the teacher as well gets one of these devices (battery powered or in a future design accu powered).

The teachers device is connected to a computer over a FTDI cable. A really slow old PC will do as long as it can run a webbrowser :)

On the teachers computer we launch a small server that acts as the middleware connecting the serial line from the EduBuzzer to a webinterface thats available on the teachers computer.

The teacher then opens a webbrowser and navigates to this local webserver, there s|he picks one of the available applications and the students devices are initalized with the application logic over the radio link.

Handling all the communication in JavaScript is of course not the way to do things, so we implemented a RF protocol for the devices in hardware.

The session tracking and device management is handled by the middleware server written in Java.

Get all these different components to work on their own was a big thing to do, but getting all things work together in 6 weeks solely on time spent after our day jobs was .. a real challenge ;)