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EduCase Portable Classroom

A self contained classroom suite in a portable case for use anywhere in the world regardless of infrastructure

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The EduCase is a fully functional classroom inside a portable case. It contains multiple computers (Raspberry Pi & Android) loaded with content, tutorials, tools and information which educators can use in any area of the world.

The project is fully self contained and self-powered and also includes provisions for communication with the outside world using either cellular data or a dedicated portable satellite dish and receiver linked to the "Outernet" satellite data provider. It also houses it's own LCD display and utilizes an LED projector enabling the entire classroom to see the content.

The EduCase can be deployed to refugee camps, rural areas, developing nations or anywhere else around the world and used to provide content, communications, courses and material we take for granted in the western world.

The EduCase can also be deployed into disaster/relief zones and used for sharing news, communication or things as simple as an impromptu movie theater.

Many areas of the world do not have access to simple educational tools needed to provide youth the tools to advance in today's technical world. Rural areas, refugee camps and struggling nations need educational solutions which are portable and fully functional.

Here is the full video intro:

In 2015 I conceived of this project after researching some of the real struggles experienced during the multiple refugee crisis's. In many camps there was little to no access to quality education for the youth.

I wanted to build a fully functional classroom which would include computers (Raspberry Pis & Android systems), display, projectors, power source, cameras, communication systems (cellular and satellite down link) and charging support (solar, home and auto).

Over many months I gathered the components and assembled the first EduCase with great results:

To support the project I also devised a method of receiving "Outernet" internet data transmissions using a portable satellite dish. Using a Direct TV folding satellite dish I retrofitted it to receive KU Band using a universal LNB.

I was able to get the system fully operational and able to receive the data transmissions & content directly from the satellite using the "Lighthouse" receiver. This enables the project to receive news, events and content anywhere in the world (although this is not required for the project overall)

The result is a simple, modular, portable and fully self reliant system capable of deploying anywhere in the world (most as carry-on luggage)

Once onsite- the system deploys in a matter of minutes to become a fully functional education, communication, and information supply station.

I could not be happier with the results. My hope is that we can supply the EduCase to areas in need globally such as refugee camps, areas of conflict and remote areas world wide.

The tiny LED "Pico" Projector does a fantastic job of making any light colored wall/surface into a huge TV screen/monitor for the class to view. The projector interfaces directly with the Raspberry Pi, Android MK809 TV Stick or either mobile phone.

I also did a live stream while installing some of the supporting software, texts and tutorials. You can view it HERE (Warning LONG live format/streamed video):

Overall the project is relatively cheap to produce and can be duplicated by anyone as it is fully open source.

The KU band satellite downlink is now being replaced with an InmarSat L band receiving system which will work the same but much easier to transport. Stay tuned for that.

I hope to produce a production version of the EduCase and make it cheaply available to educators and disaster relief personnel worldwide. Fingers crossed it will make a positive difference in the world someday soon.

For Version Control All files Stored on GitHub.txt

Find all files in the GitHub Repository.

plain - 220.00 bytes - 10/09/2016 at 21:09

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  • 1 × Raspberry Pi Pi loaded with Raspbian and lessons, reference materials, and programs
  • 1 × Arduino Nano Used for case controller. Run Aurora firmware via GitHub repo.
  • 1 × Controller PCB (optional) Gerber files in GitHub repo. Custom PCB simplifies controller assembly
  • 1 × LED Pico Projector HDMI input projector for showing information to the audience
  • 1 × HDMI LCD Monitor Monitor for use when not setting up projector

View all 24 components

  • New Satellite System Video

    Eric Wiiliam11/11/2016 at 20:30 0 comments

    I am super happy to report our new and MUCH smaller satellite receiving system is working PERFECTLY! It uses another Raspberry Pi 3 with a custom Outernet OS to constantly receive the data from the InmarSat satellite and serve it out via its own WIFI. This is exactly what I wanted and couldn't be happier with the performance.

    Here's a full video of teh assembly and the receiver in action:


  • It's ALIVE! New Satellite Downlink Working Perfectly!

    Eric Wiiliam10/29/2016 at 15:01 0 comments

    I finally received the parts for the new L-Band satellite downlink this week. They consist of a patch antenna, a low noise amplifier (LNA) and a software defined radio USB stick.

    I flashed the operating system image to the Raspberry Pi 3 which converts it into a fully automated receiver as well as transforms the wifi into a hot-spot which any device can connect to and browse/download the files. I connected the devices and put them temporarily into the small Pelican case:

    Right away I started receiving data from the satellite no problem at all! I was able to even get the signal to noise ratio up over 8 several times. This is plenty enough to receive all data with no issue. During testing I found that it will still receive packets without error down below a SNR of 3 but above that was basically 100% reliable.

    After some hours I started to see many of the files, news and information sent down. There is a tonne of great information available. We can also request the files we want or even supply our own to the Outernet team for transmission. I may send the EduCase design files :)

    The weather files also have completed download and setup allowing the full 3D rendering of all weather information for the entire world. Moisture info, winds, barometric pressure, and movement are all there. This would be really handy information in many areas of the world.

    I couldn't be happier with my new receiver system for the project. The antenna, LNA and SDR are under $100 to buy so the entire receiver will come in under the price of the previous satellite dish alone. Not to mention how much more portable this one is. Assembly guide and documentation will be updated after I complete testing on the receiver. Cheers!

  • New Satellite Receiver System!

    Eric Wiiliam10/18/2016 at 01:36 0 comments

    I've been waiting for this until I was sure the plan would work out but it is official, the EduCase is getting a brand new and MUCH smaller satellite downlink system! No longer will we need to haul the large folding dish and instead we will have a tiny 12cm square L-Band version which will work ANYWHERE in the world to get the same news, tutorials, weather, information and content!

    I made a quick video to explain the basics of the new receiver system:

    The Outernet team makes a custom Raspberry Pi image as well as the tools to use it from within Raspbian. I have already flashed the image to my raspberry pi and will have it fully functional as soon as the remaining components arrive in 2 days.

    The L-Band patch antenna will easily fasten to the outside of the new and much smaller case and I will store a dedicated Pi and battery system within the case. I can also use the Pi inside the main EduCase:

    The advantage of having a dedicated Raspberry Pi inside the remote (weather sealed) case allows it to be outside the building/classroom receiving data while simultaneously providing a Wifi hotspot and serving all the content to the People using the EduCase systems (Pi, cell phones, Tablet and more)

    I will also convert the portable folding satellite dish over to L-Band as well. This will be as simple as making a DIY homebrew helical antenna and replace the KU LNB with the new one. This will be even easier than the first process I went through getting the proper LNB/polarization for the Galaxy 19 satellite data to receive properly.

    The 12cm antennas have already been tested as far north as Alaska so a dish will rarely be needed but. having the flexibility of a high gain dish would make the system truly a rockstar and would virtually guarantee function as long as the satellite is LOS even slightly above the horizon. I already have the parts anyhow so why not :)

    Cheers

  • Documentation Updates

    Eric Wiiliam10/09/2016 at 20:33 0 comments

    Good documentation is critical to any project. Throughout the EduCase build I tried to write and update the documentation "as I went" versus leaving it for the end. I can happily report this effort has paid off and I'm really happy with the results. Although this method has some drawbacks- I've found overall the project is much further ahead than it would be otherwise.

    The System Design Document can be found on GitHub with all the other documentation

    It contains overviews of all the systems on board, architecture, code logic, schematics, points of contact and more.

    As well you will find the Assembly Guide documente updated regularly. This is intended to supplement the instructions on Hackaday and provide one place to update specific details as the project evolves. As well as give the project version control via GIT.

    My hope is that having enough information, pictures and links should make it easier for people of any skill level to create their own version of the EduCase

    Check out the entire repository on GitHub HERE as there are many more functional diagrams, schematics, Gerber files, .stl files and code free for download.

  • Arduino Lab Added

    Eric Wiiliam10/05/2016 at 02:18 0 comments

    A very minor addition but I had to wait to determine my space availability before adding it here. I knew I absolutely needed some electronics parts hidden away to do live Arduino and breadboard work so I put together a nice little kit

    In a small box I added all my favorite parts such as the Arduino Nano, breadboard, jumper wires, LEDs, resistors, buttons, sensors, OLED display and more.

    This little kit takes up basically no space and can introduce people to the basics of electronics and power of micro-controllers. The Arduino IDE works great on the Raspberry Pi for programming the Nano. I really hoped I would have room for this little addition to the EduCase project.

  • Electronics Lab

    Eric Wiiliam10/03/2016 at 15:10 0 comments

    As you may have guessed, I really wanted the EduCase to make it easy to teach STEM topics and very much wanted to include a basic electronics/Arduino lab. The software/teaching tools side was easy. I added dozens of documents covering all areas of basic electronics and Arduino programming

    To power electronics projects I knew we will need a power supply capable of full control like a lab unit would be. These little adjustable units are just what I needed:

    There will always be situations where I wish I would have a different power supply, voltage or current rate so with this available- I should always have what I need in the field.

  • LCD

    Eric Wiiliam10/02/2016 at 21:48 0 comments

    For those adding the Arduino case controller and monitoring I have updated the CAD file for the LCD display bezel.

    The Aurora firmware available on GIT is working extremely well and can alert the user to any unsafe battery or temperature issue within the EduCase. Should I be able to make a production version of the EduCase, this monitoring will be vital to protect the equipment and simplify things for the end users.

    The alarms (temperature, battery voltage etc) flash the backlight display on and and off when active. I found this to be a great power-efficient method of user notification. I will also add a buzzer if I get to make a production version (depends on the Hackaday Finals)

    The bezel can be easily fabricated on any 3D printer. I used my Solidoodle 2 with no issues at 0.2mm layer height and 30% infill.

    Ultimately this will make it easier for mobile classrooms, news and education anywhere in the world. At least that is my hope :)

    Cheers, Eric.

  • Batteries Updated

    Eric Wiiliam09/25/2016 at 21:10 0 comments

    Finally got the internal batteries updated. I went with the Panasonic UP-RWA1232P2 lead acid batteries. these are tried and proven in industry to be robust and long life with a hefty 4.5 Ah capability (4500 mAh for those new tech folks who seem to love higher numbers)

    The datasheet is now included in the Git file bundles and so far they are working great.

    I have room for several in the case but for now I'm only running 2 in parallel for our current build but I think I will update this to 4 very soon. The controller monitors the battery voltage and temperature at all times with no issues thus far. We also have the optional relay power cut as shown in the schematics. I haven't found a huge need for this yet but I find it better to include such things now rather than trying to add them later.

    Cheers

  • Battery Protection Alarms Fixed

    Eric Wiiliam09/24/2016 at 22:38 0 comments

    I'm not sure how many people will build their own EduCase with the full Arduino control but I know if I go to a production version I will want some functionality to protect the case and batteries. I updated the Aurora firmware to V1.2 for the system alarms.

    You can see some of the updates in the code here:

    These to will initiate a warning and alarm via the LCD display if the battery voltage drops too low or the batteries themselves get too hot for any reason. From there it is easy to use the integrated relay to shut the case down in the vent of a severe over temp condition (not currently done in the code but will be added later)

    You can find and browse all the new code and mods on Guithub at the links in this project description.

    Cheers! Eric

  • Controller FD Updated

    Eric Wiiliam09/24/2016 at 22:04 0 comments

    I was able to get the functional description and code for the controller updated on GitHub. While I was at it I fixed a few items in the Arduino code that were bugging me. I went ahead and added the real time clock code for setting and checking the I2C to Git as well in case others use the same one as me downrange. That code is a pain to find.

    Pretty happy where the project is at and I truly think this could be a really neat commercial product too. The price to produce this would be extremely low and I think the payback allowing students anywhere to learn any topic would be immense. I'm really excited about this one :)

    Heres a shot from the functional flow:

    Cheers

View all 15 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    Important note: There s a full build instruction document which is updated often is stored in the GitHub Repository HERE. Always refer to it if you are looking to assemble your own EduCase. Instructions here will not be maintained as often.

    Okay lets get building. Gather all the components for your case as well as the case itself. Here is a quick overview of the parts when I started my build:

    For your enclosure, Pelican style cases are extremely well suited for the project and can be found here

  • 2
    Step 2

    Assemble the batteries into the case as per the electrical schematic. You can use any time of battery you wish but it is preferable to use lead acid batteries which lend themselves better to these discharge cycles better than LiPo etc. My Panasonic batteries:

    Ensure you fuse the battery output as per the schematic (found on Github HERE) using protection of your choice. A PTC is preferable but and automotive spade-style fuse can also be used and are easily available from many sources

    Charging is done via the charge port and can utilize an automotive "cigarette lighter" style plug, an external 12VDC mains supplied charger, portable solar panel and many more. The portable panel I use here is a briefcase style rigid folding unit I sourced from eBay some time ago.

  • 3
    Step 3

    At this time it is best to decide if you will incorporate the Arduino controller into the case. It will be easier to wire the relay power control and temperature sensor now before you finalize the component locations inside the case.

    The Arduino and LCD make it much easier to monitor the case and are pivotal to prevent unnecessary damage to the batteries by over discharge. You can also set up control, reminders, alarms on any temperature, voltage level or time based parameters.

    If you choose to use the control you can order the printed circuit board using the files I have provided on GitHub.


    Wire the components as per the layout in the code and schematics and flash the Arduino with the code provided. Download the Aurora firmware from Github HERE

    Flash it using the Arduino IDE from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software

View all 11 instructions

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