08/21/2020 at 19:42 •
08/13/2020 at 11:16 •
This log answers the Benchmark requirement for the Hackaday 2020 prize entry rules:
Benchmark-How well is the project impact and viability demonstrated? Are estimated costs realistic? How well does the project improve upon other currently available solutions?
Preliminary testing can be seen with the target user group on a short video at:
The testing indicates the impact and viability of the project.
The estimated costs are realistic as the component is a repurposed off the shelf component.
This project fills a gap in what is available as assistive technology. This gap was identified by the Technologists who work at Beaumont College with the target user group.
The project is now in use.
08/13/2020 at 11:13 •
This log answers the Production requirement for the Hackaday 2020 prize entry rules:
Production-Is the project realistically reproducible (taking into consideration necessarymaterials, skills, and production processes)? Are the manufacturing processes detailed? Are those processes realistic for scalability?
Production is easy as the project repurposes a commerically available BBC microbit.. There are over 1.5 million microbits already produced. Microbits cost around $15 each. So obtaining these does not require any production.
The code is on my GitHub site, so can easily be replicated.
08/13/2020 at 11:12 •
This log answers the Design requirement for the Hackaday 2020 prize entry rules:
Design-Is there a depth of design detail available (like a system design, CAD models, project test methods, etc.)? Is there base-level planning for the functionality (e.g.,functional block diagram, list of specifications and descriptions of how they will be met, etc.)? How user-friendly is the design?
All design details can be found on this website and on my own website at:
The design is extremely user friendly as it repurposes off the shelf technology.
08/13/2020 at 11:09 •
This log answers the Concept requirement for the Hackaday 2020 prize entry rules:
Concept-Is the project creative, original, functional, and pushing boundaries? Does the project effectively address the selected challenge?
This project is creative in that it creates a solution to a recognised problem.
I repurpose off the shelf technology in a creative way.
The need for this project was identified by the Lead Technologist at Beaumont College, Lancaster. This is a specialist educational centre for students, many of whom have cerebral palsy. The professional at Beaumont were unable to find off the shelf technology that fills the gap that this project intends to.
The idea was original at the time of creation. Since I created the project, the idea of having a moving pattern indicate that communication software is in use is now implemented in a commercially available speech synthesis package. However, that is a close source commercial product and the technology only works with that one package. My project should work with any of the AAC packages that I have so far encountered and is safe, cheap and open source.
Preliminary testing was done with the target user group and shown to work. It is in use with the target user group.
At the time it was built, there were no other solutions. The project pushed the boundaries of enabling natural two way communication for the target user group.
Does the project effectively address the selected challenge?
It is effective in that it works for the identified problem and is easy and safe to replicate.
07/07/2020 at 08:55 •
I use a virtual environment in Python to develop the script. Why? Apart from this being 'best practice', using a virtual environment with only the libraries that you need for the script installed reduces the size of the stand alone executable. I have tried all the common tools for creating a stand alone executable. The two I have most success with are:
Currently I favour pyinstaller.
I put a file called 'freeze.txt' onto the GitHub site. This contains all the extra installed libraries in the virtual environment. This enables another developer to copy my virtual environment development setup. I don't know if anybody else will ever want to develop this code, but having the freeze file is a good habit to get into. This is produced from within the virtual environment using the command:
pip freeze > freeze.txt
06/19/2020 at 18:35 •
I've entered this project for the 2020 Hackaday prize, for the United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles. I don't think I'll win anything as my project doesn't need much built, which is what Hackaday is all about. The hack is re-purposing a board designed for school education as assistive technology.
What I want to get out of the competition is for the UCPLA to see this project and find somebody who could use it, then give me feedback on how well it worked and what could be improved.
06/16/2020 at 18:52 •
I maintain a set of actively update instructions at:
Much as I like Hackaday and this project site, I have no control over it. Tomorrow, all of this could be gone. I hope not. So I keep a set of project files on my own website, just in case. The page can be found on the 'my website' link on the intro page for the project.
06/13/2020 at 19:14 •
I like Linux. This is an OS designed by programmers, built by programmers, for programmers to program. Unfortunately the communication software used by my target user group does not run on Linux - Windows or MacOS only. One day it would be nice to look at an open source communication software package on Linux. In the meantime, I installed a Windows 10 virtual machine (VM). I got Windows 10 for free through my local University where I retain an unpaid honorary position during my time off from working at sea.
I use VirtualBox to host the VM. Be sure to install the Virtual Box Guest Additions add on to enable the VM window to resize to the full extent of your monitor, amongst other extensions.
Sensory Software were kind enough to give me a licence for their Grid 3 software. One advantage of the VM is that I can swap the hard drive with this on between different machines without being asked for a new licence.
I also have a licence for Communicator, but so far I haven't managed to get this software to run.
06/12/2020 at 19:09 •
I found a nice silicone cover for the microbit (a Kittenbot). Then I tried to stick it onto the smooth back of a communication device...
I found some sticky back Velcro with extra sticky glue that seems to do the trick. The silicone is a hard thing to get anything to stick well to.
On my 'to do' list is to use my new and shiny 3D printer to make a case for the microbit that clips easily onto the back of a communication device. This would be a neater solution than sticking bits of Velcro on.
On t'other hand (as we say Up North), the whole idea of using a microbit is to make it easy for anybody to implement this project. Sticky back Velcro works and is easy to get hold of. Not so many people have access to a 3D printer.
I admit it, I'm looking for an excuse to use the 3D printer for something original, after cranking out face shield clips for local care homes. Which made me get to grips with the basics of how to set up and use the machine.