It's been a fine evening of progress on. . . .drum roll please. . . my upcoming circuits video site/class, transponder.net. Before I had the idea for Rocketboom one of my daily activities was teaching high school robotics and undergraduate and graduate physical computing.
Having developed the curriculum in each case, I quickly learned that people of different ages can pick up the basics of circuitry very, very quickly when the parts are learned in the right order.
Once the parts are understood both conceptually and practically, the room for creativity is enormous.
The resource is being served via a wiki and will be introduced with six, five-minute videos along with a dozen shorter videos on individual part groups.
As I continue on to create a weekly project hack, it's my hope (though not my expectation) that other people who are interested will help contribute to improving the resource by adding their own experience and information.
The site is designed to create a visual entry point into the world of physical computing. Computers are simple machines - a series of switches really - and with just a little bit of logic and visual thinking, for next to nothing in cost, you can create your own little computers to do the very specific tasks that you want them to do.
Below: A selection of some of my sensors to map out the world. [more info]
Below: From my common integrated circuit pile: Pretty simple, inside the chips it's just more circuits, made up of the same kinds of common parts (transistors, resistors, switches, etc.). It's just that these little guys don't require the side of a building for a surface mount. [more info]
Below: A resistor is not always a potentiometer which is not always a trimmer though a trimmer is always a potentiometer which is always a resistor. This problem will not be discussed further.