[Edu-sig] A suggestion for a high school programming project

francois schnell francois.schnell at free.fr
Tue Sep 7 23:53:11 CEST 2004


Me too I'd like to see more things between Python and electronics...
Thank's to the rapid grow of cheap and powerfull microcontrolers, 
electronics is more and  more  a programming activity acessible to 
nearly everyone.
As a hobby I programed few PIC microcontrolers, it's very fun,  but 
unfortunately I had to that with Basic  :-( 
Where's my lovely Python there ?

Maybe there is some hope with  Pyastra and I pray that it will  develop 


well, at the time of speaking Pyastra website seems down... but we can 
still dream :
on top of Pyastra it would be very nice if it was possible to program 
them visualy  :-)

I know "Scracth" a visual programing kind of Lego from John Maloney - 
MIT (based on Squeak) will enable  kids to program visualy  some 

In french schools  the  hardware and software for processs control and 
acquisition data is expansive ( nearly 1000 $ per unit) but we can still 
continue to dream:

With microcontrolers it is possible to build something nearly similar ( 
a little bit slower, 10 bits resolution instead of 12) for the price of 
a videogame and that a kid could have in his schollbag.

Microcontrolers are also easy to interface with serial interface devices 
like  mobiles, PDA or a Gameboy (things that kids love).

If someone knows any project linking Python and electronics I'm interesed.



Paul Barrett wrote:

> I was at SciPy (the Scientific Python Conference) in Pasadena, CA last 
> week. There were some good talks about scientific applications of 
> Python. One talk by Michel Sanner and his collaborators of the Scripps 
> Research Institute was about their Vision library, which used to be 
> called Viper. Michel has demonstrated this software at previous SciPy 
> Conferences and possibly at one of the Python Conferences in the last 
> few years.
> For those who are not familiar with the module. Vision 
> (http://www.scripps.edu/~sanner/python/viper/) is a visual-programming 
> environment in which a user can interactively build networks 
> describing novel combinations of computational methods, and yielding 
> new visualizations of their data without actually writing code. Nodes 
> encapsulating specific computational methods are organized in 
> libraries and displayed in Vision. The user can drag-and-drop them 
> onto a canvas and connect their input and output ports to define an 
> execution flow. Subnetworks can be encapsulated into macro nodes, 
> allowing nesting of networks.
> Also during lunch on Friday, I was given a tour of the CalTech 
> Infrared lab, where they are building some IR detectors for one of 
> their telescopes. To control and test one of the new IR detectors, 
> they use a commercial application called LabView, which allows 
> electronics engineers to create programs visually by connecting the 
> outputs of one node to the inputs of other nodes.  Sounds like Vision 
> doesn't it.
> For a number of years now (about a decade or so), I've had this vision 
> (not to be confused with the Python library) of being able to use 
> Python to develop space missions for NASA from beginning-to-end.  That 
> is from the hardware development phase of a NASA mission, where the 
> scientists and engineers are building and testing the hardware, to the 
> publication phase, where scientists are preparing their results for 
> publication.  The SciPy community is starting to get close to this 
> ideal. We currently have numarray, the multidimensional array library, 
> matplotlib, the cross-platform graphics library, and the scipy package 
> of scientific algorithms. However, there is currently no software for 
> programming and testing electronics hardware like LabView. My 
> suggestion therefore is to create such a package using Vision.
> In my opinion, creating such a package should not be too difficult. 
> Vision already provides the visual programming environment. The next 
> step is to extend it with software for creating electronic circuits. 
> I'm guessing that advanced high school students should be able to 
> tackle this project with some guidance from a computer science teacher 
> and an electronics teacher. In addition, a possible application of 
> this package would be to create an OBDII (On-Board Diagnostics 2) 
> scanner for reading information from a car's microprocessor.  
> Hardware, which can be used to interface the car's microprocessor to a 
> laptop, can be purchased for about $100.
> Having heard Jeff Elkner talk about his experiences teaching Python to 
> students at Yorktown HS in Arlington, VA, I think this project is 
> achievable for a group of advanced high school students. What I think 
> is nice about this project is that it has practical applications.
> Any takers or am over the top on this one?
> -- Paul

François Schnell - Strasbourg - France
Linux is the answer. Now, what was your question?

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