Almost end of spring break

Just a check of things in progress and things coming up.

1) The circuit theory test app is almost complete now… although I’d like to add a few more questions (one set about how to read oscilloscopes, and another about Thevenin equivalent circuits), however it’s comparatively easy to add new sets of questions. Submitting the responses automatically has hit a brick wall: you can’t send email from Silverlight client apps (not surprising really, it would be heaven for spammers) and I can’t use any server-side techniques since I’m hosting this on an Apache server. So the score (along with a few other details) is all wrapped up into a encrypted string, and people will have to copy this into an email and send it to me. (The fact that .NET has a crypto library built in was very useful.) Might be something for a student project at some stage: automating this, with a web-page which keeps the high-scores, or something?

2) The digital circuit simulator has a problem: wires would sometimes get confused about which way round they were (in the digital simulator (unlike the analogue simulator) wires have a direction: from the output to the input). So I thought – how hard could it be to detect this was happening, and then automatically change the direction of all the wires so the run from the outputs to the inputs? Shouldn’t take more than an hour or two, I thought? How wrong can you be… it took days. I still can’t quite believe how it took that long… I guess I must have missed a simple algorithm and done it a really complex way. Anyway it’s done now, so that should make the simulator even easier to use.

3) I’m starting to write a series of “Short Introductions To…” for my new first-year module in basic electronics for those without a strong maths/physics background. This is proving interesting, so I’ll start to put them up here for comments and feedback from anyone who happens across them. I know I’m cutting corners a bit in some of them, and leaving some things out in the effort to make them accessible; I just hope I’m not going too far. They’re designed to be simpler than just about any textbook I’ve come across (which is the whole point of writing them really), they’re for a course that leads to a technician qualification, rather than a full design engineering career. I’ll add these to the reorganized “Chapters” section of the web-site as I finish them. I’m planning on one a week from now until October; that way I’ll have enough to hopefully replace all of the lectures on the new module, and try out a “flipped classroom” model.

That’s it for now… I’ll just go and reorganise the Chapters section…

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