In Towards automatic measurement of conductivity of saline solution, I complained about not being able to use the KL25Z board, because my son was using it. What he was doing with was building his first prototype for the light gloves project:
The prototype board has many differences from the final design: no battery, no battery charger, no buck/boost regulator, no flash memory, no processor, screw terminals instead of jacks—even the LED driver chip is different, since the chip he plans to use is only available as a surface-mount device. But there is enough of the design here to start demoing and writing code. They are hoping to keep the final board below 5cm×5cm, so as to get low PC board prices even in very small production runs. That will mean all surface-mount parts, so I think I’ll have to get a hot-air rework tool so that they can assemble a prototype—I’ve been thinking that I might want one for myself to play with surface mount designs, so this isn’t really a hardship.
My son still owes me some money for buying him the PC board run, the screw terminals, the Bluetooth module and some heat-shrink tubing. It is a bit annoying that he isn’t old enough to get his own Visa card, so that he can do his shopping without me as an intermediary. (We’re not talking big bucks here—we’ve spent more on pizza for him when they work through dinner than they’ve spent on all parts combined.)
I’m pleased that he got his first PC board working on the first attempt—he did the design entirely on his own, though he did ask my advice about things like via sizes and how fat to make the wires. Since there can be moderately high currents for the LED driver, I recommended that he make the ground and power lines as fat as he could, and he decided to do a flood for each. The board looks quite nice:
The two teens spent a big chunk of the day wiring up the LEDs and writing a small test program, as they want to demo the glove tomorrow for the back-to-school event. It may also be an enticement for teens to join an Arduino/microcontroller club—look at the cool stuff you can learn to make!
Once they got the demo working, they invited over a third member of the team to do some brainstorming about what else needs to be done (and how they’ll do it). It looks like they’ll be talking half the night.
Since it is clear that my son will be spending a lot of time on this engineering project this year, we decided to make it part of his official school work. In addition to the engineering design work, he’ll also do some a paper for his econ course (on pricing the components and manufacturing, and setting a retail price for the gloves), and papers for a tech writing course.
His first tech writing assignment is to write up a description of the color space he decided to use for representation of colors in the program, and why he chose that color space out of the dozens available. He spent a week thinking about color spaces anyway, before settling on a commonly chosen one—so writing up that reasoning for the other members of his team will be a good writing exercise.