PICAXE projects - for science, maths, art and robotics

Don't forget to enter your robots, digital art, and time machines into the Science Fair

Introduction: PICAXE 08M2 pins and breadboard

Example projects: junior and senior students

Manual for beginners: Example circuits and codes

Art Exhibition: PICAXE Haiku Robots 'Fresh out of the box'

Introduction to PICAXE Controllers

The PICAXE range of processors were developed in the United Kingdom (with Oil & Gas funding) by Bath firm Revolution Education Ltd. These pre-programmed, interpreter devices are extremely cheap and only have a few limitations.

All PICAXE processors are programmed using a language which is a variant of BASIC. The software to do this is available for free. Make sure you download the latest version which now includes a 4 channel data plotter!

AXEPAD is the alternative software offered in Windows, Mac OS and Linux versions.

Apart from the BASIC commands, the Programming Editor allows programs to be entered as flowcharts. The Editor also permits you to simulate how your programme will operate, a great time saving feature.

A USB to serial converter can be bought to connect old programming leads or simply purchase a USB downlaod cable AXE027.

The use of a breadboard is a great option to avoid soldering and the risk of burns; you simply push components into the board as in the example below;

A 3 x AA battery box with switch is a safe and tidy way to ensure that the batteries cannot be connected the wrong way around in a circuit. We are prototyping on Wishboard then use Veroboard (& 8-pin IC sockets) for finished circuits.

08m2 pinout

PICAXE 08M2 pin configuration

PICAXE kit for mathematics students

PICAXE kits for Mathematics, Science or Art

Electronics for Science, Maths, Art and Physical Education: Year 9 to Year 13 introductory PICAXE manual with simple circuits to make and example PICAXE codes.

 Winston - the multipurpose pixace 08M robot.
Investigate what looks like complex  behaviours that emerge from simple reflexes such as avoiding light or touch.
A geat introduction to AI (artifical intelligence)

Example projects and circuit ideas

We have a number of PICAXE projects tested by students as well as winning projects judged at the PICAXE Project Gallery. The PICAXE can act as a data logger, transmit data through students (skin is slightly conductive), provide motor control for small robots and do heaps more!

Below are some of the projects...

CPR training simulator: this uses part of the RIGEL games and electroncis link

CPR trainer

The Fenton cardiopulmonary resuscitation simulator uses a PICAXE 08M2 to measure and monitor heart compression rate. The instrument operates in two modes; stand-alone and computer linked. Two simple sensors, a lever switch and capacitive humidity sensor, provide input to determine heart compression and respiration timing. The unit is lightweight and portable, augmenting the use of a ‘mini-Anne’ manikin (available from the St John Ambulance Service).

In stand-alone mode, successful heart compressions can be heard as piezo beep sounds and also seen visually by LED indication. A LCD screen attached to the unit provides feedback about compression rate and prompts when respirations should be given, providing a significant improvement in a student’s ability to self-assess their skill at performing CPR.

If linked to a computer, the RIGEL interface fulfills the function of the LCD and also provides a simulation of a heart beat trace and blood oxygenation levels. As someone who has received First Aid training,

The CPR simulator in its present form is extremely effective in its simplicity. All above information is for general reference only; always undertake CPR training from authorised medical experts such as St John.

Heart rate sensing Teddy Bear  - a heart rate monitor to calm a scared child!

heart beat sensing teddy bear

There is a thunder storm outside, and your daughter is afraid of the noise...what do you do?

Simple; grab a spare teddy bear, tell her the bear is scared too, and she must hold it's hand to calm it down by thinking happy thoughts...biofeedback to the rescue!

A teddy bear fitted with an infra red (IR) sensor in its paw detects blood flow in your finger when you hold its paw.

A picaxe 08M2 chip detects the pulses and flashes a light emitting diode (LED) in the bears chest in time with your pulse rate.

The circuit can be used as a standalone heart rate monitor / digital pulse meter to measure and monitor heart beat rate. The instrument uses Infrared sensors which can easily be clipped to finger ends or ear lobes to detect the heart beat by finger plythysmography technology.

The unit is lightweight and easy to handle. The pulse can be heard as piezo beep sounds and also seen visually by LED indication.

Other projects linked to their own pages;

Sensors from voltage dividers  - simple sensors to make for your robots and data loggers

Send data to a calculator  - use your casio graphics calutor to remotely cotrol a robot or turn on devices!

RIGEL  - combining lessons in hardware, firmware and software design,  the ultimate real-word interactive games and electronics link!

Heartbeat sensor displayed on RIGEL software

Black Box data-logger - Add a sensor to this mobile PICAXE to record data anywhere, then download to your PC (with code)

Lunar Lander - use nothing but air to steer a spaceship to safety

Laser Wars! - Play a combat game in broad daylight instead of in the dark! See the Terminator!

Bike Indicator - A Primary School student puts a PICAXE on her bike (with code)

Mighty Mouse - uses LDR's to either run away from light or move toward light. You can even get him/her to follow a line drawn on the floor or desk! (with code)

The Professors electronic ear - a classroom noise level alarm; a must for all teachers!

Connect to a virtual reality - use Game Maker to create a flight simulator

Build robots - big and small

Puke Ariki Main Gallery exhibition - February 2009

Michael Fenton, Andrew Hornblow and others helped artist Ian Clothier design a PICAXE robotic system to create an interactive analogue/digital art work for the 'Fresh out of the box' exhibition at Puke Ariki.

photo: Bryan James

"A special collection of Taranaki treasures, and new artworks reflecting the culture of Taranaki. Fifteen artists, each with a link to the region, have responded to various objects in the exhibition and produced new work in various media which launches the exhibition into both an art and objects realm."

Ian Clothier: "My first digital media project to directly aim for creating an integrated system, albeit small scale. It utilises autonomous robotic cars and feedback, the interaction of which leads to a continually changing output: word lists. The word lists are then searched for sequences of words that make poetry."


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