Computer architecture workshop

It is wierd, for a first post, but here goes: A couple of my friends and I have been running a workshop at our college where we takes mostly CS students and try and teach them a bit more about digital hardware since most of what they do is programming. It has been going on for a few years, I think we started 2012. Now, I had an idea, since it's really hobbyist-oriented not academic to put it up online and write as we go this year, and I have been wondering is it doable?

See, in our class we make them, in the first week, build all gates from transistors, then we make them go to 74HCxx chips and implement a few Boolean functions, we then jump to simulating simple processors on a FPGA using VHDL, then when they understand how processors work we jump to Arduino and play around with wireless modules, led matrix displays and ADCs and DACs. We then take a step back to a microprocessor, add periphery and make them build a simple graphics library from scratch and run a simple pacman-like game on a screen.

Is that doable in an on-line form? Or would it be too much trouble to write up a billion guides and schematics etc. Would anybody follow it? We thnik it's an interesting subject but the problem is that it gets pretty technical and we simply don't know if we could muster an audience. I mean, we'd be happy with 5 people learning something new, but still, is it worth the trouble?

We bought a domain and written a few very basic articles on logic - we have a rough week-by--week plan that works in our class, but it's way too quick here.

If you want to check it out: http://quotis.eu/index.php/from-gates-to-games/

Sounds interesting, I for one will be watching to see if you follow thru on this.

Worthiness is for you to decide, but I think if you do a good job with it you'll attract more than 4 others.

Sounds like a great project.
How good are your writing skills? They are bound to be better after you finish.

Try and pilot it first and get some feedback as to if you have the level right.

I definetely will follow it, as a refresher and gap filler.

You want to cover a giant area, good luck.

Thanks

Grumpy_Mike: Sounds like a great project. How good are your writing skills? They are bound to be better after you finish.

Try and pilot it first and get some feedback as to if you have the level right.

Well I am pretty eloquent, or at least I like to think so, but I won't be the only one writing, but, of course, I've never done something like this and I likely could use improvement. Feel free to go through the already posted articles and judge me, I won't mind.

Hutkikz: Sounds interesting, I for one will be watching to see if you follow thru on this.

Worthiness is for you to decide, but I think if you do a good job with it you'll attract more than 4 others.

Thank you, I do like to think so, but we fear it might get to technical. Feel free to leave any feedback, here for now, a colleuge will be setting up a mailserver on our domain tomorrow or the day after, so we'll implement some kind of feedback system there then.

I think this is a great idea! 2 suggestions: 1. Reduce the dimensions and use a compression level for your jpg's which is appropriate for the content, so the web pages will load fast. Get the right balance between looks good and loads fast for users with slow internet connections. 2. Enable comments in the blog software you're using, so people can contribute suggestions and give corrections.

Whandall: I definetely will follow it, as a refresher and gap filler.

You want to cover a giant area, good luck.

Yes, we thought that might be a problem, but we think it's coverable in around 15 weeks. We do have the boards, the hardware, so it's just a matter of presenting it online.

dmjlambert: I think this is a great idea! 2 suggestions: 1. Reduce the dimensions and use a compression level for your jpg's which is appropriate for the content, so the web pages will load fast. Get the right balance between looks good and loads fast for users with slow internet connections. 2. Enable comments in the blog software you're using, so people can contribute suggestions and give corrections.

Well, we did run the .jpegs through some compression. I might reduce them further but I need to familiarize myself with the platform more. Comments will be enabled tomorrow or the day after, as soon as we set up a mailserver, I don't want my personal mail getting spammed up with comments.

I think that'd be a great course. Sort of like the book we wrote, Arduino for Teens, but more hands on. We started with the assumption that some programming background was already in place, and went more into the hardware side. http://www.amazon.com/Arduino-Teens-Course-Technology/dp/1285420896/ There's definitely interest, ours has sold over 2500 copies so far.

valvakir: Feel free to go through the already posted articles and judge me, I won't mind.

Thank you, I do like to think so, but we fear it might get to technical. Feel free to leave any feedback, here for now, a colleuge will be setting up a mailserver on our domain tomorrow or the day after, so we'll implement some kind of feedback system there then.

Get yourself a decent spelling checker, so that you don't mangle words like colleague. Also learn the difference between to and too. Nothing puts me off more than poor English.

If this was my project I would move most of the stuff from Section 0 to the home page. When I go to a website I like to see immediately whether it will be relevant for me.

Then the first link would take someone to the start of the action. (You could have a "you can skip this" beside the syllabus link).

There is a distressing tendency of "modern" websites to start with a home page that just has fancy pictures and tells nothing about the product. Yours is not so bad as that, but it could do with more direct info on the first page.

I note that your section numbering is not consistent between your index on the Home page and the subsidiary pages.

There is a good book about web design "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. The title says most of it.

Personally I don't like the structure of a course that starts with the boring bits - resistors and ohms law (for example). I would start with a circuit that does something and then work back to explain its bits and pieces. That way I have an incentive to learn the bits - I can see how the learning is useful.

In a classroom the teacher can convey enthusiasm and deal with stray questions. On a website you have no control of that stuff so the website must generate the interest or the reader will go elsewhere.

For example, I think your Section Headings are a bit try and academic. Why not something like "Light an LED" or "Transistor switch circuit" etc. That way someone could start halfway through because that is their initial interest and may be drawn (by your snappy presentation) to read the rest of it.

...R

Robin2: If this was my project I would move most of the stuff from Section 0 to the home page. When I go to a website I like to see immediately whether it will...

Wow, thank you, this is very good advice, and we will implement it asap. Unfortunately it's hectic at uni right now - but we'll have a few hours tomorrow to meet and work on the page.