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Feb / March 2013
Arduino 101 Part 4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Beckett   

Arduino 101 Part 4

LCD for the Temp-Controlled Relay
In the last issue we presented a project to create a temperature regulator. In this issue we will show you how to include an LCD that displays the highest and lowest temperatures, along with the current temperature. In the sketch I have also included a section that scrolls text, as a demonstration.
Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) are constructed of layers with a liquid between the layers. When an electric current is passed, they align the crystals to either allow or block light, thereby forming recognisable characters or shapes.
They feature very low power consumption with very high contrast, and come in a variety of forms, sizes, colours and response times. We are going to use a standard 16x2 LCD (16 characters x 2 lines), which are readily available and with the use of an Arduino library, can accept standard ASCII characters.
Using certain commands, we can control the placement of the characters, clear the display, and manipulate the characters that form feedback to the user.

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

3D Printing update PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Snow   

3D Printing update

Almost every week there seems to be news of something tricky or unusual made by a 3D printer. New Scientist recently reported that fossilised bones found at an old railroad site in Brazil were scanned on site by a portable CRT scanner, then rescanned in the section of rock moved to a laboratory; from this a 3D replica was printed out in resin. The animal turned out to be a new species, a 75-million-year-old extinct crocodile.
The 3D printing process is broadly called Additive Manufacture (AM), Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM)  or Rapid Manufacturing  (RM) where layers of a powder or other materials are built up progressively by a printer or deposition machine remotely controlled by a computer design pattern. Hence the possibility of 3D models.
So what are some of the 3D printing achievements that have made news? Medical achievements rate highly.
*  An 83-year-old Belgian woman became the first person to receive a transplant jawbone tailor-made for her face. Scientists at the University of Hasselt BIOMED Research Institute in Belgium developed a custom-made lower jaw transplant, using a prosthetic jaw made from titanium powder with a bioceramic coating by LayerWise on a 3D printer.
* A 3D bio-printer has created a hydrogel base for implanting cells – enabling arteries to be grown. Other bio-printer medical applications include an artificial cartilage mat from 3D printing using electro-spinning and ink-jet techniques (reported by the journal Biofabrication).

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Houses for humanity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stan Scott   

Houses for humanity

“Humbling” is the way that Kiwi carpenter Stan Scott describes the experience of building a house for a poor Sri Lankan family under the Habitat for Humanity scheme. This is despite the fact volunteers pay for the privilege of making their way to the country in question to create decent houses for the poor and disadvantaged.
Whether in Cambodia or Sri Lanka, Samoa or in Auckland, the New Zealand volunteers who undertake this work come from every sphere—a multi-millionaire beside a carpenter, an accountant and a drainlayer working with housewives, a teacher and plumber side by side.
In the most recent expedition this year, Kiwi volunteers went to build houses in the west of Sri Lanka, a country devastated in recent years by tsunami and war.
Stan Scott reported; “We went to the little village of Pathayamwatte in the district of  Negombo, on the coast outside the capital Colombo. I was away for 16 days. The build itself was for seven days, one day prep at the beginning and about six days building. We made brick-style houses and everything was manual labour. I was in charge of four houses out of 24 to be built.”

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed

Rewarding practical prowess PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patrick Neal and Sam Leary   

Rewarding practical prowess

When we asked the question about giving practical boys their due, when NCEA was not necessarily acknowledging their hands-on skills, we came up with a novel answer.
When Michelangelo got stuck into the detail on the Sistine chapel ceiling, did he use his favourite 4” fence-stain brush or his airless sprayer? An impossible, limited choice to answer? NCEA and particularly Unit Standards can be a bit like this. It is hard to reward excellence with such a low-resolution choice on offer as “pass” and “fail.”
Boys in particular like to know their pecking order and some will work hard to be the top dog. Sure, the more capable students pass more standards and earn more credits. But what if ten students finish the year with identical grades but have wildly different abilities, with some just scraping through while others exhibit outstanding practical skill?
There have also been instances where a student has been averse to any form of paperwork and has produced no bookwork for assessment but shows a high level of practical ability. Generally these kids earn stuff-all credits and are labelled failures—but they aren’t necessarily. I’m not criticising the current system; it does have its flaws and its benefits, like any system.
It got me thinking. What if there was a way of rewarding technical ability, not academic ability but purely practical aptitude? It would allow students to see where they sit in the class and possibly help employers during interviews.
Years ago, carpenters and blacksmiths were known as artisans, so why not exhibit school woodwork and metalwork like art?

Read more in the latest issue of The Shed