Tuesday nights at ThinqTanq is EpicMakeTime, a regular coding and tech event hosted by MESH. MESH stands for “Make, Engineer, Socialise, Hack”. I have been to EpicMakeTime twice so far. It is a fun and creative space where people can come together and tinker around with cool stuff. The people there are friendly and helpful and my brother and me have had support there from Marcus, Rob, Garry, and Matt from the Code Club.
The first week me and my brother brought and built our Shrimps from the Shrimping.It kits. A Shrimp is a buildable device which can be substituted for an Arduino Uno. We brought all the components we needed for the first project, “Blink“, and put them together. I enjoyed putting the components together and learning how it will work and what everything does from the project pages. We also saw some of the other projects people were working on at MESH, including Steven, the little remote-controlled tank/crawler made by Rob (see him in the video below!) and a remote-controlled drone which flew my little sister’s toys across the room, held onto the bottom with sellotape!
The second week we went we brought our Shrimping.it kits again to program the “Blink” project onto them. First I had to set up my mum’s laptop with the Arduino IDE, the drivers for the CP2102 UART and the Shrimping.it sketches. I compiled and uploaded the “Blink” code onto the Shrimp and the LED started blinking! I took a good look at the code and I edited it to make the blinking light faster and slower, then I experimented and programmed the Shrimp to transmit the S.O.S signal in Morse Code!
I was then given some advice by Marcus on how to make an LED fade. The LED is set to flash so quickly humans can’t see it flickering, so it just looks like the LED has been dimmed because the light is on half the time. You can also alter the interval between the light switching on and off to make it brighter or dimmer, for example if the light is on for slightly longer then when it is off, it appears brighter. I had a go at coding the LED to fade up and down with Marcus’s help. To just turn the LED on and off I used the code digitalWrite but to make it fade in and out I had to use the code analogWrite and give a value of between 0 and 255.
Next Marcus explained how to program an RGB LED to show and make different colours. Before I could do it he showed me how to look up some information on the Internet to find the right pins for the three different coloured wires. I took out the normal LED and plugged the three RGB LED wires in instead. I made a new program file and identified the three different coloured LEDs. I used analogWrite to control the colour of the LEDs by putting in different values for each one between 0 and 255. For example putting 255 for the blue and 0 for green and red would make it glow blue. If I put 100 for blue and 100 for red and 0 for green I would make it glow purple. It is easy to make the LED flash in any colour you like for as long as you want. It was a really cool project to play with and it also helped me think about how colours mix in the RGB system.
Marcus also gave a short talk about his own project and showed us how the Walabot 3D radar sensor works to sense objects around it, even through walls, and to sense someone’s breathing. J (my brother) didn’t work on his own Shrimp this week but instead worked on his Raspberry Pi playing retro games and learning how to change different settings. Garry gave me the RGB LED to keep and also a couple of other components to play with including a dimmer switch. I will definitely go back to EpicMakeTime if I can and will be working through more of the Shrimp and Arduino Uno projects. It is really fun and interesting making things happen using electronics and code.