Throughout the school year we introduce computer science concepts as appropriate for age and skill level. Towards the end of last school year we started using the micro:bit platform as a fun learning tool with much success and plan to continue in the following weeks.
The micro:bit (available at https://amzn.to/2MoWJKJ) is a plug-and-go easy to use introductory electronics and programming platform with a 5×5 LED “display” matrix, a couple buttons, and a 3-axis accelerometer.
The kit comes with a battery pack and a short micro-USB cable for power/programming. The longer hi-visibility red cable that I used is this one: https://amzn.to/2KQv6Wm
The programming environment is web based, so any computer with a modern browser and an available USB port should work. Our kids were able to do the labs with our relatively low-power, long battery life Samsung Chromebook 3: https://amzn.to/2nDF83M
Time-lapse photography is a concept of taking snapshots at a particular interval over time to record events in a low resource manner, compared to capturing a video stream. Here, we discuss how to use a relatively inexpensive web camera and a computer to build a low-budget time-lapse platform.
Pretty much any relatively modern PC with decent storage and functional USB 2.0 ports should suffice. I had an old big-box special on hand.
Multi-adjustable Gorilla Pod Tripod makes for camera positioning in tight corners. Mine came as a kit with a flashlight, but here’s a standalone model: https://amzn.to/2nlG5O7
We looked at how to use the fswebcam Command Line utility to capture images via the terminal. You may either git clone from the project page, or on an Ubuntu/Mint system, enter in a terminal window:
sudo apt-get install fswebcam
It is a bit of trial-and-error figuring the optimal parameters for the fswebcam utility with a camera.
Then we watched how bad I am at live shell scripting, though I freely admit its not my everyday gig and that I make liberal use of internet search the few times I write shell scripts. Can’t go wrong with an O’Reilly book on Shell Scripting if you want an at arms reach reference to thumb through: https://amzn.to/2Onqol0
Hope you found this useful and informative. Having a setup like this opens up a lot of other potential applications to build upon.
Disclaimer: from a technical and functional perspective, this post is about using extending usage of commodity hardware using computer scripting. There are some potential premise security applications for such a setup. While anyone is welcome to use the information herein, the reader is responsible for determine appropriate for use, deployment, and maintenance of such applications for their security needs. I/We do not explicitly endorse this type of setup as a part of a security protocol.