10-Rep Learning ~ Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology & Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


Design Journal 13: Mutual Friends

They spoke very little of their mutual feeling; pretty phrases and warm expressions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends. ~Thomas Hardy

Coding and electronics in Arduino projects are mutual friends and co-dependent on each other.

Good code cannot run on faulty electronicsSuperb electronics don’t work with bad code.

There is a balance, an interdependence between code and electronics.

We have hit a snag, in these days before Thanksgiving.

The code and electronics are not working together.

They are not playing well together.

The sloganized phrase “Fail Fast” and “Fail Faster” has never been more poignant than today.


I wonder, if I had celebrated Ada Lovelace Day, would my experience be this difficult?


Design Journal 12: A Twilight Visit to Radio Shack

The Oldest Padawan on Tython ventured to Radio Shack (on this planet) last night at sunset.

Radio Shack at Twilight on Planet Earth

I was the only female in the place.

I had been working in the Maker Lab, disassembling my American Airlines-issued headphones when I discovered that the wires were too thin to solder. (Aside: I was so happy to have a “Too thin” issue ascribed to me!). I bought my 1/8 Stereo plug…and…then…looking around….I saw these super cute dancing LED Speakers (click on the picture):

Dancing Speakers
















And, right next door to Radio Shack was the cutest Beauty Supply store!! So I bought these super cute bows!

Lovin’ Radio Shack at Twilight!!!






Design Journal 11: A Stitch in Time and Time to Stitch

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~Walt Disney

Time for Stitching:

StitchingI am stitching with gray, connective thread from the various components (LED lights, on/off switch, voice recorder) back to the Ground component on my Voice Playback Integrated Wearable. Each line is distinct and must be sewn separately. The positive loop of the component must always connect back to the Ground. The stitches do not have to be close together as I learned in 4th grade Home Ec class, but the connective thread lines can’t criss-cross or intersect.





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Design Journal 10: Keep Calm and Ohm On

NOTE: This post contains Science curricular tie-ins…read at your own learning acquisition risk!


This is the symbol for Ohm.

Ohm references unit of electrical resistance, expressing the resistance in a circuit transmitting a current of one ampere when subjected to a potential difference of one volt. It is named after German Georg Simon Ohm who even has his own Law (Note: there is not a without-the-e typo in Georg–dude must have been too busy inventing ohms to add the last “e.”)


Ohms are units of measure on Resistors.

Resistor Bands

I learned in the Maker Lab that my Voice Playback Integrated Wearable needs  the 56KOhm Resistor* so it can tell my Voice Recorder how many times per second to pull the microphone. The times per second is also known as the “sampling rate” which is the number of times a signal is measured (sampled) per second. The unit of sample rate is “samples per second.” This is often expressed in kiloHertz (kHz). For example, “CD quality” sound has a sample rate of 44 kHz. Source

I am making a digital recording, versus an analog recording because the code I am using will save the recording as a series of 1’s and 0’s.


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*thanks to Kim, in C19, for traveling to Micro Center in Tustin to pick up my 56K Ohm Resistors (price $1.95).




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Design Journal 9: Revised Schematic

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. ~Albert Camus

My original schematic for me Voice Playback Integrated Wearable has undergone a change. I found that I needed a Transformer to connect the 5V Voice Recorder to the 3.3V Lilypad. The Transformer will connect the Voice Recorder to the Lilypad. I am learning a lot from the “Bald Wisdom” website, in particular the post “Electrify Your Halloween Making Things Scream.”

New Schematic



I am also searching to add to the code I have copied from SparkFun, to find something called “RP” to help synchronize the sound and blinkey lights. I will need to have automatic sound delivery followed by the blinkey lights. I am undecided right now as to whether the blinkey lights will signal all at once or in a progression.


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Weekend Ed. Quote~November 1

In a time of destruction, create something.

~Maxine Hong Kingston


This quote jumped out at me after all the time in the Maker Lab


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Design Journal 7: What to do while waiting for Arduinos to arrive

Just a few quick musings while I wait for my Adruino components to arrive.

** The Blue LED light just won the Nobel Prize: http://sco.lt/4o4iZd.


On Tuesday, Oct. 7, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that they awarded the prize to Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University in Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara for:

“…having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source — the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.”


*Demographically speaking, I also find it interesting that the average age of Arduino and Lilypad users was 26-27 years (Buechley, 2010).

*I found this interesting listing of articles for Arduinos on Scoop.It : http://www.scoop.it/search?q=arduinos


Buechley, L., & Hill, B. M. (2010). LilyPad in the wild: how hardware’s long tail is supporting new engineering and design communities. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 199-207). ACM.

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Design Journal 6-My Arduino Shopping List

Recent studies by Buechley and Hill conclude that Arduino purchasers were 78% male 9% female (p. 202). After today’s order,  I am in the 9%. In addition to my previous order, my project needs a Voice Recorder. There are two vendors that have been recommended as suppliers for the voice recorder and sound file. One vendor is SparkFun

Voice Recorder and Thin Speaker :

thin speaker


Voice Recorder Breakout

These two items are listed at SparkFun under these item numbers:

Another vendor to consider for next time is Adafruit: http://www.adafruit.com/Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried.  Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was recently awarded Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of the year. Limor’s goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Adafruit has grown to over 50 employees and a 15,000+ sq ft. factory. Adafruit is more than a webpage or online shopping site. It include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store.
In 2014 Adafruit was ranked #11 in the top 20 USA manufacturing companies and #1 in New York City by Inc. 5000 “fastest growing private companies”. I really like the web site map for Adafruit. There are forums and a blog. Both encourage collaboration and communication. Every Wednesday there is a live chat at 8:00pm ET. I am slowly moving passed lurker status!
Buechley, L., Hill, B.M. *20100.  LilyPad in the wild: how hardware’s long tail is supporting new engineering and design communities. In Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, 199-207.


Design Journal 4-A Visit to a MakerSpace

We are crayons and lunchboxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. ~Laurie Halse Anderson

I visited a MakerSpace today. It was tables and calm and noise and production.

Maker Lab

The lab I visited is located in one of our town’s universities. I am hoping to find some resources and use some tools and see if anyone has done a project like mine.

There is Lots of creative conversations and brainstorming.

There was electricity for the tools and electricity in the air for the ideas.

There was an incredible amount of learning in the space.


The folks at the MakerLab talk about lithium batteries and Lilypads one minute and Maker Movement and Dale Dougherty in the next minute. Bring your pen and notepad and wear your Vans if you want to keep up.

One of the MKO’s in the Maker Lab actually constructed this huge 3D printer:

Made in the Maker Lab: 3D printer

This jewel is called a “BreadBoard” which I learn is a board for making an experimental model of an electric circuit.

There’s that word again: experimental. As in “Fail Soon to Succeed Sooner” (Dyer, 2012)


On my Christmas wish list:

ceiling electric cord

We have some initial discussions about the projects everyone is working on and designing. One girl is getting ready to use the laser cutter to carve pumpkins for Halloween. A group of engineering students are creating a huge trebucet to fling pumpkins. I ask them if they know a local science teacher who every Halloween hosts a “Punkin’ Chunkin'” contest. Not everyone knows him but all agree that this is a great idea. Another project is a Darth Vadar costume with wearable technology, customized voice and breathing and maybe some sort of lighting. I find out that this is part of Cos-Play, a new word for me.



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Dyer, J., et al. (2013). The innovator’s DNA: Mastering the five skills of disruptive innovators, Harvard Business Press.


Design Journal 3-My Arduino Sketch

Here is my (very rough- RISD grads need not worry about competition) sketch for my Arduino project:

My Arduino Project

Now I need to add where the circuits will be placed.

For that, I need to search for the correct parts and go to a MakerSpace.


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