empowering creative people

Woollahra Library Maker Expo - 25/09/2017

On Saturday Morning, Graham and Myself headed down to Double Bay, Sydney to attend the Woollahra Library Maker Expo and share the passion for making and DIY electronics with the parents, educators and students from around the community. 

Our eye-catching setup for the expo consisted of a wide range of educational tools & projects from some of our favourite innovators and makers around the world, not to mention our 2 most recent projects: The Infinity Mirror Table and the Huge LED Matrix Display.

We even took the opportunity to run a condensed version of our RoboShop for Young Engineers workshop during the day, walking a handful of young learners through the basics of coding taught with one of our favourite little robots, the Ozobot Bit. From following a simple black line to speeding up/slowing down the Ozobot right through to making timed tracks with directional control, we covered the lot. RoboShop always proves to be an engaging experience for students.

woollahra-maker-expo-1

3D Printing, Ozobots, the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit, with the Infinity Mirror Table and LED Display in the background.

woollarha-maker-expo-2

Graham sharing the 3D Printing love and giving this young learner his first ever Rocktopus, fresh off the print bed! 

What a fantastic day it was! Our thanks go out to the organisers from the Woollahra Library and all the other people that got together to make the day happen. 

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- By Aidan

Raspberry Pi Workshop 20/9/17

We had another cracking Raspberry Pi workshop last night! Over the course of 2.5 hours we covered enough material to help beginners get familiar with using a Raspberry Pi - a giant leap towards getting their projects done. If you're interested in attending one of these events, you can check out our workshops page to check availability.

Once you've got the LED blinking you're already half-way to the moon.

raspberry-pi-workshop-20-sep-2017

This week's hot tip:

ctrl + z will pause a command, and fg will resume it

An example: Ever been editing a text file in the shell and needed to quickly duck out of it to refer to some filename/path or other information? Rather than open another terminal session, you could pause nano with ctrl+Z. This puts nano in the background, and you're free to execute other commands in the shell. To bring nano back to the foreground, use the fg command. Give it a try!

If you live too far away to attend one of our in-house workshops, we've got you covered with our free online courses!

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- By Michael

Arduino Workshop 7/9/17

Last night we had a completely full house with a record workshop participation. It seems that everyone was keen to get some Arduino experience under their belt with educators, library staff, hobbyists, and students rounding out our crew for the night.

It was a fantastic workshop, with plenty of light bulb moments as people discovered how the simple projects and tasks they were making could be scaled into larger, more amazing creations!

Arduino workshop 7/9/17

We covered all of our regular content in the Arduino Workshop, with some extra interest in the hardware differences between input and output pins, as well as talking about how our potentiometer, button, and led circuit could be expanded upon with some more advanced code to add even more functionality.

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- By Sam

Raspberry Pi Workshop 30/8/17

Even though I have plenty of material prepared for these workshops, no two are exactly alike. That's the beauty of the in-house Raspberry Pi workshop - there's always a thought-provoking question or some hurdle (read: bugs in code) that requires us to go a little offroad to resolve. This is where the workshops truly show their value. You get to roll your sleeves up and compress an entire weekend of learning into just two hours. Along the way, if any question at all arises, there's an opportunity to ask and get an immediate answer! 

Here's a snap from last night's workshop - when your code runs just right.

raspberry-pi-workshop-30-august-2017

Some hot-tips from this week's workshop:

  • Quickly change to your user's home directory by executing cd. That's right, just by itself.
  • You can set commands up to run sequentially with && eg try: echo The current time is  && date
  • The up/down-arrow keys scroll through your command history
  • Access your full command history with history, and re-execute an entry with !# where # is the number of that entry.
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- By Michael

Laser Cutter reporting for duty

Our laser cutter has arrived: time for some next-level projects!

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- By Graham

Raspberry Pi Workshop 9/8/17

Last week I had the pleasure of running another Raspberry Pi for Beginners Workshop in our ever-improving Knowledge Factory. While some participants had a brush with the world of retro-gaming on a Raspberry Pi, most had never interacted with one before and this workshop hopefully got them skilled-up with Bash, Python, and electronics to pursue their own projects.

raspberry-pi-workshop-9-august-2017

Getting started with Raspberry Pi can be a bit intimidating, a great way to learn-on-the-fly is to find a project that interests you and copy it. Sometimes something goes wrong - some error occurs or some file needs to be modified. For a complete beginner, these experiences can be a real hurdle. Our free, in-house workshop aims to equip you with core skills for wielding your Pi, ultimately helping to get projects done. If you can't make it to an in-house workshop, we've got you covered with our free Online Raspberry Pi Course.

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- By Michael

Laser Cutter, Inbound!

Today marks such an important personal milestone for me since leaving the Royal Australian Air Force to become a full time maker; We have finished the final steps for our Laser Cutter acquisition in two weeks' time. We partnered with the glorious team at Trotec whom are supplying a Speedy400 (a work area of 1000 x 610mm).

Trotec Laser Cutter

We're going to put this device through its paces with our own projects and will hold regular local workshops for laser cutting, right here in Newcastle, so that anyone can use the equipment on our Maker Open Days. Our journey into light manufacturing also begins for a range of products we've been eager to start. Exciting!

So from me (Graham Mitchell) and the whole team at Core Electronics, thank you for your support and being a part of this moment with us. It's truly humbling to have your support and we'll continue to do the best we can for makers around Australia.

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- By Graham

Raspberry Pi Workshop 7/6/17

Last week I held another Raspberry Pi workshop for beginners. These workshops are a fantastic way to jump-start your journey with a Raspberry Pi. We covered the first-bootup experience, dabbled with some shell-scripting black-magic, and got some hardware connected. 

From this week we've decided to try something new: Reserving your seat in the workshop will cost $10, but if you show up on the night we'll give you a $15 store credit!

A question that pops up almost every workshop is:

What's the difference between a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino?

The short answer is, come along to a workshop and find out! Arduinos are really great for low-power embedded projects that you might want to install in a small enclosure or that performs a simple task. Raspberry Pis are an amazing tool for more sophisticated, web-connected projects like web-controlled displays. We've built a few of our own Raspberry Pi projects like automation tools, cameras and even DIY Gameboys. An Arduino is what drives the interactive hipster coaster that we take to conventions and maker faires. If you're still scratching your head about the whole Arduino vs. RasPi issue, check out Sam's tutorial, or even think about booking a spot at both workshops and collect some more store cred while you're at it!

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- By Michael

The BBC micro:bit has landed in Australia

The micro:bit by BBC has arrived! This is a big deal for schools and educators because the micro:bit is specifically designed for the classroom.

The micro:bit is a microcontroller board designed to help teach students programming in a friendly and interactive way. Aside from the usual offerings like input-buttons and LEDs, the micro:bit sports modern peripherals like a 3-axis accelerometer and compass (magnetometer) and low-energy Bluetooth; Interfaces guaranteed to please the next generation of maker. There's also connections for the usual alligator-clips and banana plugs you'd expect to see in a school science lab.

micro-bit-is-here

micro:bit have really gone to town on their educational content - there are complete lesson plans and projects available, and there's no need for a software rollout in schools because code development happens completely within the web-browser. I admire the approach taken for these lessons - focus is on programming as a problem solving philosophy rather than just memorising syntax.

There's probably an entire generation of UK-based programmers and scientists that can remember their first brush with computing using the BBC Micro back in the 80's, so it's really exciting to see the BBC pick up the torch again.

I've been given a couple of micro:bits to have a play with, so expect to see some reviews coming soon!

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- By Michael

Arduino Workshop 25/5/17

Last week, it was that time again, where we ran our in-house Arduino Workshop, and it was something special. We had a Java programmer, and a year 8 high school student mixed in which made it a truly unique workshop for people with all kinds of backgrounds and experience levels.

Arduino workshop 25-5-17 group

We spent a bit more time on the electronics crash course intro, diving into some interest questions from participants, as well as learning a bit more about how the Arduino board sets up inputs and outputs and the electrical differences between them.

Arduino workshop 25-5-17 single

Whilst we didn't have the time to explore much further content than the standard workshop, it was definitely a case of depth over width, with everyone taking a really close look at what we covered.

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- By Sam

Arduino Workshop 4/5/17

Alas, it was that time again, where we run our Arduino Beginners Workshop and get up to our elbows in maker goodness. As with all of our workshops, this night was completely unique, and along with covering all of our standard content, we got to take a look at some extra hardware implementations.

Arduino Workshop 4-5-17 group

Our 3 workshop participants all had previous programming experience with languages from C++ to Java, right back to Fortran, so rather than diving into new programming techniques, we set up some new hardware and looked at how to use it with various libraries.

Arduino Workshop 4-5-17 lcd display

Where the 'aha' moment was for our group was setting up an LCD character display which meant we could display data and information without being tethered to a computer's serial terminal. Using the Arduino Liquid Crystal library also opened up a whole new world with getting the different hardware up and running.

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- By Sam

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is HERE!

Let this sink in a moment: The Raspberry Pi Zero W is here, in Australia! We offer express post Australia-wide; You could have one in your hands on Friday. We are now official Pi Zero resellers for the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Australia AND New Zealand.

Raspberry Pi Zero W in Australia

Yep, that's Michael in the above photo and we're truly excited with this news! The Pi Zero W is an absolute game-changer - a powerful processor with WiFi and Bluetooth on-board make it an electronics-project-powerhouse.

The last 30 days at Core Electronics have been crazy in preparation for this news! We were sworn to secrecy and had thousands of Raspberry Pi Zero W's / accessories turn up just in time for the Australia-wide launch. There have even been a few secret Pi Zero projects and tutorials in the works to help get you started if you're looking for some inspiration. We've been packing hundreds of Pis so they're ready to post and somehow, we've still managed to keep up with our day-to-day orders and support.

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- By Graham Mitchell

Raspberry Pi Workshop 27/4/17

This week's Raspberry Pi workshop went full-offroad! Participants were quick to punch through the prepared material so we were able to go beyond the usual schedule. One participant was interested in using his Pi as an LED-strip driver so we got into drive circuits and input/output protection. We remixed some of the prepared material to experiment with more programming and workflow. Because we were blazing a new trail and developing untested code, we had the pleasure of debugging it when things inevitably went awry! 

We run these workshops regularly, you can book a free seat here. Workshops a great resource for those who are getting started, or want to see the decision-making and workflow that goes into developing a project. While we only really scratch the surface during these workshops, participants get exposure to the major tools necessary to get a project off the ground with a Raspberry Pi.

raspberry-pi-workshop-26-04-17

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- By Michael

Arduino Workshop 10/4/17

Last night we ran another Arduino Beginners Workshop, and it was simply fantastic! We had 5 participants who were eager and ready to dive into Arduino ranging from some previous experience with Arduino and programming, to complete rookies, which is exactly what the workshop is for.

Arduino workshop 10-4-17

We got way past the standard workshop content and had the time to look into some more advanced challenges using logic statements to control the flow of code, and create a simple user interface with a toggle push button (complete with debouncing), and an LED controlled with a potentiometer.

It was a great learning experience, and due to some unforeseen circumstances, one of our workshop participants worked on a Raspberry Pi setup with a pre-installed version of the Arduino IDE (available for Linux). From past science teachers, to current high school students, everyone took some 'aha' moments away with them.

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- By Sam

Raspberry Pi Workshop 6/4/17

Last night we held another packed-out Raspberry Pi workshop. We covered everything from boot-up, connecting our Pi to the outside world, and even looked at automating our Pi's behaviour. These free workshops are perfect for those who are looking to get their first-touch with a Raspberry Pi, or just looking to brush up on embedded computing and electronics in general.

raspberry-pi-workshop-06-04-17

This week the common interest amongst participants was retro-games emulation: Where you set up a Raspberry Pi to behave like a retro games console. With the skills gained in this workshop, participants are certainly well on their way to setting up that sweet Atari or Super Nintendo cabinet.

If you can't make it to one of our in-house workshops, don't fret. We've been working hard on a free online workshop as well!

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- By Michael

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