Starting in April, we will be conducting 10 weekly (one per week) online workshops around the ESP32 line of processors. The ESP lines of microcontrollers are used in many of the IoT devices that you might find online or at local retail stores. The ESP8266 and the ESP32 are popular platforms for connected projects online due to compatibility with the Arduino programming environment and vast open user projects and community. We are focusing on the ESP32 in this workshop as it is the newer and more feature rich processor that is intended to replace the ESP8266.
Goals / Long Term Plans
The ultimate goal of this workshop is to introduce participants to the concepts of electronics, programming and IoT. Additionally, after this particular workshop series is over, we will repeat it for new members – probably once a year and will develop additional workshops/videos that demo parts from the Original Arduino workshop kit AND the MTRAS bot. Depending on participation, we may also host small themed competitions using the kit.
What we will cover:
This series contains an intro to coding using the Arduino IDE, an intro to electronics, and an intro to IoT - all in one! We will cover:
- Basic electronics – We will cover fundamentals such as voltage, current and power, series and parallel circuits, basic digital systems and components. We will also demonstrate how to solve basic circuit equations such as Ohm’s voltage, current, resistance and power laws and Kirchhoff's Laws for Current and Voltage. We will introduce basic components such as resistors, capacitors, and transistors. We will discuss digital systems theories and Boolean Algebra.
- Introduction to programming for microcontrollers (C++) – this will include programming environments (IDEs), basic syntax, controls, and logic. We will also discuss Object Oriented Programming concepts and reusable code libraries.
- An intro to developing for the Internet of Things – We will discuss some common protocols and tools to send and receive messages and common security concerns and strategies through 3 seperate projects - the last of which, called Monty's Messages, we will allow workshop participants to interact with other participants through their kits.
What we won't cover:
- Advanced use cases – We will be covering how to use the ESP with the components in our selected kit (details below). We don't, at this time, anticipate covering components outside of the kit in the sessions. However, later workshops are planned to incorporate other MTRAS kit components with the ESP32.
- How to build a specific robot or device – This series is meant to be foundation building and while we will be covering how to read sensors and control a servo, the kit doesn't include a specific robot body or platform. Our hope is that by the end of the series, the participants will be armed with the knowledge to move forward with whatever platform or project they have in mind.
- Advanced programming – While we will be covering the basics of coding, this is not meant to be an all-out mastery series. Once again, this is foundational training.
Who can attend?
This workshop series is intended for those new to electronics and coding. The recommended minimum age is high school age (or younger with supervision).
Due to the constraints of an online workshop, this series will be limited to 10 participants – Those who enroll first will be the first guaranteed a seat.
So, how do we conduct a workshop remotely?
We (the group managers) talked through several scenarios for remote workshops and our experience has always been that even in-person electronics and programming workshops require the instructor and a couple of people working with participants to iron out issues as they arise. These issues usually center on connection problems between components, bad breadboard rails, bad components, or just various issues connecting microcontrollers to PCs to program them.
Of course, I wanted to tackle a workshop that had all of these issues rolled into one over zoom! (Bear in mind that these conversations started back in October)
So, we looked at kits that are pre-built or limited focus and none of those were very useful from a learning electronics point of view. I had an idea of making a kit that used jumpers to make circuit connections so that we could limit most of the possible setup problems that the participants would have.
This seemed straightforward enough.
Anyway, 5 months, 10 circuit designs, 4 printed circuit boards, and 4 enclosures later, I've finally come up with something that I think will make a good remote trainer for absolute newbies.
Why conduct this remotely?
Aside from the continued challenges/risks that the pandemic still poses, we would also like to conduct more than one workshop session per month as we have in the past. With our members spread around middle Tennessee, an online session appeared to be the most convenient for most - even after vaccinations make meeting in person possible.
We are aware that there are those of you who do not or cannot participate in zoom sessions for various reasons. However, for this workshop, we will be meeting online.
What you will need to participate:
This series is meant to be hands on. While there will be some lecture on the basics, the bulk of the sessions will be hands on by the attendees. Visitors/Observers are of course welcome but you may find the experience tiresome without the interaction of participating. Therefore, we encourage you to consider getting or bringing the following items.
- Kit - We have a kit (details below) that can be preordered below for this series.
- PC/Laptop and Internet Connection - you will need a laptop pc to program the ESP32 and of course to attend the zoom based workshops.
- Software - We will be using the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment). The software and requirements for the Arduino IDE are listed here (http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software).
What's in the kit and how much is it?
We look forward to introducing you to K.E.R.Si. (Keep Everythng Really SImple)! As described above, the K.E.R.Si. trainer kit has been specifically designed for online learning with all of the components already combined on one board. The inspiration for this kit comes from the old Radio Shack trainers (150 in one is the one I had) that were really popular once upon a time. The idea was to learn about circuits by making simple connections between parts per a “recipe” book.
In our kit, each component can be interconnected using simple jumpers instead of wires. This helps to eliminate common errors and issues with connecting devices on breadboards – especially for new users.
However, we didn’t want the kit to only be useful for just this workshop series. It is expandable! After the workshop concludes you can keep using the trainer as a base platform for your own experiments. Use the breadboard and your own components to design any device you want to build. Additionally, most of the main components can be removed or replaced if needed if an experiment goes awry.
The kits come with the following items:
- 6 buttons
- 1 rotary encoder w/button
- 1 AM312 motion sensor
- 1 IR sensor
- 1 LDR
- 1 DHT22
- 1 ultrasonic range sensor
- 5 LEDs
- 1 NeoPixel
- 1 OLED LCD screen
- 1 IR LED
- 1 variable buzzer and driver
- 1 servo header with supplement power supply
- 1 ESP32 dev board v1
- 1 MCP23017 digital port extender
- 1 DS3231 RTC
- 4 Grove I2C plugs
- 1 USB programming cable
- 1 bundle of breadboard jumper wires
- 1 half-length breadboard
- 1 parts case and back panel
- Full I/O header to extend all component pins to the breadboard
- Printed kit enclosure, back plate lid, encoder knob, and other matching PCB supports (See color options below)
The kit is $45 Plus shipping to your home. Submissions must be made before April 3rd, 2021.
After you submit your request below, I will contact you regarding your scheduling preferences, shipping and kit costs. I will accept checks and direct paypal payments only.
It will arrive in a personalized enclosure and comes in the following colors (Click for Larger Image):
Q: Can I just watch the workshops without buying a kit?
A: Yes! This series is FREE to attend. Just sign up below and enter “0” in the Number Of Kits option.
***NOTE: While you are free to view the workshop series, if you are not actively participating with a kit, you will be limited to watching muted. To keep on schedule, we will need to reserve questions in session to these participants.
Q: Will the workshops be recorded and made available for later use?
A: Yes! Each workshop will be recorded and made available on our YouTube channel to the participants. For privacy reasons, we will limit the workshop viewers to the participants only. If you would like access to the workshop recordings but do not want to sign up for the workshop, please contact us here.
Q: I would like a kit and to attend a workshop but the time and days don’t fit my schedule, what can I do?
A: We will do our best to accommodate as many as we can but since this is a live workshop, once the schedule is finalized, we will need to maintain it. When signing up for the workshop below, please enter a number of preference next to each time offered (1 = first preference, 2=second preference and so on). If there is a time shown that will not work, please enter a 0 beside that item. We will do our best to avoid all of the Zero days as best we can but if we wind up having to choose a date that will not work for you, we will contact you directly and discuss other possible options for you such as waiting for a repeat of the workshop series or participating with the recorded material.
Q: What if I can't make it to a particular workshop, how can I make it up?
A: We will record each of the workshops and make them available to participants. If you cannot attend a workshop then you will have the materials covered online. Additionally, if you have questions you will be able to contact me directly.
Q: Will you be repeating any of the workshops on future dates?
A: We plan on making this basics workshop a recurring event. At this time we are not sure of the interval but it is likely a once a year event unless we have enough interest to conduct one sooner.
Q: Can I get a refund for the kit in case I can't attend the series sessions?
A: No. Unless the kit is defective in some way, no refunds will be offered. If the kit is defective, then an exchange will be offered for the defective parts.
ESP32 Workshop Series Sign-up:
The deadline for ordering a KIT from this form has passed.