Exploring Tinkercad simulation

Microcontroller Group – May 2020 meeting

You are invited to the May 2020 meeting of the Microcontroller Group at Melbourne Computer Club. It’s all a bit different with The Virus, so of course it is online. Which is why we can invite anyone, anywhere, to come and watch. For members of our club the meeting will be interactive. Non-members can still watch but, unfortunately, not be seen or heard. We are expecting a lot of visitors, and two-way interaction would simply be too hard to manage, and run the risk of just one open microphone drowning everything in noise or feedback.

The main agenda item is an exploration of the circuit simulation function of Tinkercad by a professional electronics engineer. But the meeting will be quite free flowing, with opportunities for members to ask questions, show off their latest projects, and tell us about new things they have discovered or learned.

Melbourne Computer Club is located in South East Melbourne (Australia). The Microcontroller Group is one of over 30 Special Interest Groups within our 1600 members. Interests range from electronics to genealogy, from investment tools to video and photography. We are also developing a respectable Maker Space with metal shop, 3D printing and electronics facilities.

And let’s not forget our roots, going back to our founding in 1984 as Melbourne PC User Group: Personal computers, covering most hardware types and operating systems.

The meeting can be viewed below at 7pm Wed 13th May local time

Are you a Melb PC member? You can gain interactive entry via a link published in the All Company group on Yammer (member login required).

The Tinkercad presentation will be by David Stonier-Gibson, who has nearly 50 years experience with embedded micros, and also happens to be club President.

“Just before the lockdown I had started introducing my grandson (11) to Arduino. Last time I saw him I gave him an Arduino UNO, a solderless breadboard and a handful of basic components (LEDs, resistors and the like). I deliberately held back on giving him anything fancier like servo motors or OLED displays, not wanting him to have things that would distract him from getting the basics down first.

“Then the virus struck, and face to face meeting became impossible.

“Fortunately I had learned on FaceBook about Tinkercad and it’s ability to simulate electronic circuits, and even Arduino. So I spent a bit of time exploring it, and started using it each week with son-squared, as I call him (he started calling me Dad squared first, so fair is fair!). We have had 3 or 4 sessions so far. I have introduced variables of all types, functions, superloop multitasking, and libraries. Next week I will introduce him to object oriented programming. Nobody has told him that’s complicated!

“So far the Tinkercad simulator is scoring 98 out of a 100 in my books. It handles my class definitions (I have only tried that as inline code), and simulated a servo motor pretty well. Son-squared showed me how it does an ultrasonic ranger! I have started exploring basic circuit simulation and uncovered one discrepancy, which I am investigating further. I will try and see how faithfully it simulates things like the signals driving servos and other peripherals – if at all.

“Let’s just say I am very impressed, and look forward to sharing some of this with you.”

Time zone guide

People in Europe and Asia should be able to attend in real time. For friends in the Americas it may require a lot of coffee. But fear not, the recorded meeting should be available on YouTube after the event.

Let’s stay in touch!

If you’d like us to notify you of future events in the microcontroller/electronics/maker areas feel free to register your interest below. Honestly? How many emails you receive is hard to say, but it won’t be many. We are only just now setting out on building a mailing list of non-members. You could also use this form to send us a message – maybe you would like more information, or you can see a possibility of a partnership or collaboration. We are definitely interested in local community involvement, for example in STEM.