ATtiny84/85

In the spring of 2017 I wrote a grant for some Circuit Playground boards. My hope was to increase engagement in my classroom by having students program games on real hardware. At $20 apiece, I thought they were a great deal, and they had the necessary hardware to create games like Tug-o-War.

Then, in 2017 I attended the ASTE conference where I missed a presentation by Mark Proch and Chris Van Wyhe on using ATtiny85s in the classroom. Luckily a friend attended the presentation and provided me with a link to the website they used: http://www.nexmap.org/. Although I was not interested in "hacking notebooks," I immediately saw the value in learning to use an ATtiny85 for small projects (you can buy them from Digi-Key for about $1 if you buy in bulk). I racked my brain trying to think of ways to develop something similar to the Circuit Playground. After a couple failed attempts, I eventually realized I needed more pins (the ATtiny85 only has 5 usable pins). So, I purchased an ATtiny84 (which has 11 usable pins) and designed a programmer to make transferring code to it easy enough that middle school students would be able to use it too.

ATtiny84/45 Programmer Bill of Materials (Less than $8 a piece if you build 10 or more)

Then I started working on developing a couple projects geared towards middle school students. I designed these projects with a couple goals in mind. First and foremost, I wanted projects that could be completed in short order. Second, I wanted students to do the coding. Every "Learn to Solder" kit I've seen comes with a preprogrammed microchip which kills the need/desire for students to learn to program. Instead, I have created tutorials that walk students through how to program my projects. Third, I wanted something inexpensive so that I could afford to create a class set and so that students could afford to take them home. Finally, I wanted to give students a chance to learn and practice soldering. Now my students can leave my classroom with something they built, programmed, and sorta enjoy playing (my projects are not as fun as Fortnite, but they are engaging).

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Michael Backus,
Apr 1, 2018, 10:21 PM
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Michael Backus,
Apr 1, 2018, 10:29 PM