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Product showcase: Kitronik

In this video, you’ll see some examples of the work being done in physical computing by UK company Kitronik.
So the Simple Robotics Pack is one of our products that’s a great starting out kit for people that are interested in robotics and programming and basic electronics. It comes in a nice little box, and inside are all the parts you need to build your robot. It includes in it an instruction book, as well, that takes you through all the steps you need to build it, to code it, and to get it driving around on the floor. And at the end of it, you get a really nice little robot, a couple of wheels, and the electronics you need, it’s very simple. Clipped together electronics and push together wheels. And the cardboard could be reused over and over again.
Particularly if you’ve a big classroom, you can just keep cutting them out. And they can keep making new robots. You can start from having very little knowledge of robotics, very little knowledge of programming. And by the end of it, hopefully you’ve got a nice, little wheeled robot that you can drive around that responds to the commands that you’ve programmed using the Microsoft MakeCode programming environment that we use for a lot of our micro products. And I was involved in the electronic design side of that. And then some other teams were involved in designing the cardboard chassis to be easy to build and to be reusable over and over again by teachers or parents at home.
And others were writing the software. The version of our Simple Robotics Kit that we do for specifically for schools, it’s called a Lesson in a Box. And as well as providing all the parts they need to build their robots, as well as providing all the electronics, we also provide a lot of extra information to go with our educators. And this was actually written and designed in collaboration with teachers and was tested out by students beforehand. So we’ve got some great posters for the kids to have out on their tables as they build and as they actually make their robot. As well as that, we’ve also got a print out of it here, what we provide on the USB stick.
It’s all the lesson plans, all the PowerPoints, all the things that they need for doing assessments with this robotics project that they might do. It’s everything really the teacher might need. Because we realise these days, perhaps a lot these teachers aren’t specialists in this area of programming and are perhaps quite new to it. So we provide as much support as we can from our end before we send these products out to them.
The product being developed is a Halo HD, we call it. It’s a follow on to our previous Halo LED board. So our previous one had 24 RGB LEDs with a microbit bolted on to the board. Since then, we sort of improved the design. So it’s got 60 LEDs, all RGB programmable LEDs. There’s an edge connector for plugging the microbit in. So it’s a lot easier for the user to do less. Additional features we’ve added on are a piezo buzzer for just sound reaction from that. There’s a real time clock so you can actually code the chip so you can get an actual clock throughout the day and stuff. And display that fully on the 60 LEDs around it.
Also included, what we’ve got is a MEMS microphone so you can actually detect sound levels. This is, let’s say, an additional thing that we’ve put on from our original initial design of this. Just because it’s improved the product so much and the stuff on it. As well on the product, we’ve got a power switch. There’s a three AA battery cage on the back. So there’s no need to have external battery cages plugged into anything. It’s all there in one solid unit, as it were. So yeah. There are other additional things like mounting holes and other pins broken out for if you want to connect Servos to it.
So there are many features you can do with just one board and stuff.

In this video, you’ll see some examples of the work being done in physical computing at the moment.

Kitronik is a UK company based in Nottingham that was formed in 2005. They started making simple electronic kits and materials for design and technology teachers, and now create teaching resources, lesson plans and guides on how to teach computing.

Here, electronics hardware engineers Alisdair Trench and Phil Bradwell talk us through their simple robotics kit, and the Zip Halo HD.

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Introduction to Physical Computing

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