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Elvis Top 5 Project Tools

Whether you are a Student Engineer/ Technology Enthusiast, Professional, Inventor/Maker, projects are a pivotal part of what we do. To fully realise the innovative ideas, one must execute the idea and this is where having a set of useful tools at hand can be pivotal.

I have picked my top 5 project tools which are handy to have when working on a technical project.

Project Tools

1. Raspberry Pi (RPis)

For something of the size of a credit card, the RPis offer huge capability within technical projects which will be discussed below. The RPi is a single board computer that can do everything a normal PC can do.

The family of RPi generations/versions offers a range to select from depending on the capability required by the user.

My favourite is the Rpi Zero 2 W due to:

  • Small yet offering huge capability (65mm x30mm PC in your pocket sounds like a no brainer).
  • Wireless LAN
  • Dual-core 64 bit ARM Cortex A53
  • Perfect for building smart home applications
    • Bluetooth speakers, Wifi Extenders (Wifi Access Point aka WAP)

This is available from OKdo Here

pi zero 2 w

Image take from : Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W – Raspberry Pi

2. Arduino

The Arduino is usually confused as a single-board computer or likened to Rpi but it is based on a micro-controller. The difference between a micro-controller and a single-board computer is that a single-board computer has a CPU designed for various tasks. In layman terms, a computer is able to do a variety of tasks from word processing to playing a game.

The micro-controller Arduino(s) is excelled at very specialised purposes because the systems around the chip is designed with specific tasks. A custom firmware instead of an operating system allowing fast and efficient at little power.

Where can you find micro-controllers?

  • Satellites
  • Microwaves

The Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) enables users to create custom programs known as Sketches. The IDE then compiles the Sketches into a machine code that the microcontroller understands.

Key enabling capabilities on the Arduino

  • USB connectivity allows easy plug into your PC for uploading code. The USB port can also be used to power the Arduino.
  • Arduino has two powering methods with the exception of the Arduino Nano:
    • Using the USB port
    • DC barrel jack which requires 7V-12V due to the presence of voltage regulator to output stable 5V
  • Status LED:
    • RX and TX very handy for troubleshooting as they show when serial data is moving back and forth.
    • One on Digital PIN 13 can be used as a status indicator without the need to wire an LED on the breadboard.
  • The ICSP (in-circuit serial programmer) connector allows users to bypass bootloaders and program directly to the micro-controller. If your Arduino is corrupted you still have a way in!!!!
  • Analog I/O pins on the Arduino can be used just like any of the digital pins if you do not need analog inputs.

Arduino Uno

3. RS PRO 70 Piece Key Bit & Driver Tool Kit

The Aerospace Engineering background in me had to go with something comprehensively suited for mechanics. The kit has a range of Hex keys, drivers, sockets, bits and spanners. With this kit, you will be able to carry out most DIY tasks.

The kit comes with a carrying box making it portable and allowing it to be used in most environments.

This kit is available to buy at RS-online. (025-1479)

RS Pro Tools

4. Digital Calipers

One of the most commonly used measuring device. Gone are the times when reading a Vernier Calliper was one of the first skills for an engineer/maker/inventor to have. The digital callipers take away the human parallax errors by use of linear encoders to measure internal and external distances.

Key benefits of Digital Capilers are:

  • Clear LCD display
  • Can measure in inches or millimetres
  • Floating zero feature for incremental measurements
  • Origin setting

Get yourself one here (024-7206)

Digital Caliper

5. Modelling Software

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software are critical during initial design stages, prototyping and testing phases of the product lifecycle. With a CAD software, you can model different variations without wasting material in trial and error.

DesignSpark offers a suite of modelling software that you can have at your fingertips for your project work.

These include:

  • DesignSpark Mechanical
  • DesignSpark Electrical
  • DesignSpark PCB

Find out more here.

Please use the comment section  below to list your top 5 favourite project kits 

Integrated Masters in Aerospace Engineering, with industrial experience in Computational Simulation, automation, digital twins and electro-mechanical systems. Passionate about innovative engineering solutions to transform the society we live in, IoT, sustainable product life-cycle management, Big Data, education, ML, AI and Equity.
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