2016 Review and 2017 Plan


Ken and I had a great year in 2016 with myStorm we went from idea to production in 6 months, pretty awesone, since then we have produced the new BlackIce version and have run several workshops at OSHCamp in September and at BCS/OSHug in December.

The last 3 months have been focused on development of the tutorial, SDK and forum for myStorm we are developing a community around this core. Moving forward into 2017 we are planning another build of BlackIce board with a new manufacturer over the next month or so. Later in the year we have plans for a lot more myStorm events, add-ons as well as examples and tools etc.. to keep abreast of this follow the blog and forums at myStorm.uk.

I also need to focus on some of my other work and research for 2017 as it has been stacking up over the last year. One of the key ideas was to offer a hands on course for robotics using FPGA in 2017 in the form of monthly subscription instalments. The purpose of this project is to get folks up and running in robotics using a maker philosophy with lots of hands on modules and tasks as well as all of the hardware needed.

The course would be subscription based over 12 months with quarterly commitments, this would cover all of the hardware software tools and online content. Each month you would receive new courseware and tasks, each quarter you will receive a new hardware pack for the next module of hands on fun..

I have sketched out some initial ideas for modules over the first 4 quarters

Module 1 Micros

  1. Introduction to the tools including base board for hardware, covering basics coms, data exchange, control and interfaces.
  2. Introduction to basic motor control using microcontrollers
  3. Introduction to sensors and feedback control

Module 2 FPGA

  1. Introduction to basic logic gates and Verilog
  2. Using logic and Verilog to control motors
  3. Using FPGA for hardware control loops

Module 3 Micro + FPGA

  1. Interfacing Verilog and code parts
  2. Higher level control strategies
  3. Orchestrating and planning

Module 4 Vision

  1. Introduction to basic machine vision
  2. Using cameras and image processing
  3. Adding vision into the planning layer

These are only module ideas at this point in order to get your taste buds tingling, the schedule might be a little aggressive on each stage as we will be moving quickly through the tasks and builds, but the key thing is to have a simple vision based motorised vehicle operated by microcontroller and FPGA modules, from this we can then move onto all sorts of different applications in robotics. If the first 12 months is successful and it gains a large enough following, I will likely take it further into more complex areas like alternate propulsion, autonomous navigation and machine learning.. There are many areas that can be covered with this sort of format.

I will likely have at least two groups of participants Pioneers and Settlers, the Pioneers will operate at least a month ahead of the settlers. The smaller number of elite pioneers will be helping to shape and test each module before it is released fully to the settlers, pioneer places will be limited to a small number of key participants who are likely to be quick learners and willing to shape and test the modules for others, these will be early adopters and I will need their commitment this month in order to deliver the schedule I am planning.

I would expect all participants to be able to solder at a rudimentary level and have access to a soldering iron. They will also have at least a basic ability to write code in python or maybe C/C++ only basic levels of either language are required. A willingness to lean about basic microcontrollers, FPGA, logic, control and robotics..

Please let me know your thoughts on the idea, how much would you be willing to pay monthly for such an interactive hands on and learning experience, what about the content and module content too much, too little, ideas, let me know here or on twitter?



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