Verve 2 Review: Electronics Basics for Kids and Teens. What can be done with an electronic constructor?
InXus Interactive recently launched the universal Verve 2 board, thanks to which children from 10 years of age and older, as well as gamers and technical enthusiasts, can learn the basics of electronics by creating their own smart device, but without programming knowledge and the same electronics.
Thanks to this device, you can work with quite simple to use and at the same time interesting and useful sensors, as well as create systems from sensors of varying complexity, from managing arcade games to home security systems.
Kit and Design
The starter kit that we got includes:
• Verve sensors: button, light, magnet, motion, sound, temperature, touch, turn;
• 8 connecting cables with 3.5 mm connectors;
• 2 wires with 2 crocodile clips in the insulator;
• 4 extension cords for connecting cables;
• Mini-USB cable;
• Flash memory with software for MacOS and Windows with 2 applications and a quick installation guide;
• user's manual.
Verve 2It is a small plastic green case, inside of which there is a main board. On the front of the case there is a small black button, which when pressed starts to light up in blue, which means that VERVE 2 is in keyboard emulation mode. On the side parts there are 4 numbered connectors through which the sensors are connected, i.e. In total, you can connect 8 sensors. At the top side is the Mini-USB connector for Verve 2 power and data.
Sensors and their functionality
It is worth noting that the sensors can be connected to the main board in any order. The purpose of the sensors included in the kit:
• Button sensor - a sensor that captures the click of a button. It takes a measurement when you release the pressed button. Press the button for the sensor to respond;
• Light sensor - light sensor - measures the light level. For example, by shining a flashlight or creating a shadow (covering the sensor with your hands, your body, or in another way), you can get a sensor response;
• Magnet sensor - magnetic sensor - measures magnetic fields. Bring it close to a magnet, such as the one included in the kit, to get a response;
• Motion sensor - motion sensor - measures changes in speed. Shake it, for example, from left to right to get a reaction;
• Sound sensor - sound sensor - measures the ambient sound level. To get a sensor response, you can, for example, snap your fingers, clap your hands, or talk / scream next to him;
• Temperature sensor - temperature sensor - measures the ambient temperature. For the sensor to respond, place it in a cold or warm place;
• Touch sensor - a touch sensor - measures small changes in electrical conductivity, for example, when your body touches both contacts. Attach, for example, contacts to your body (and the body of your friends) to get a sensor response;
• Turn sensor - a rotation sensor. The rotation sensor measures the rotation of the rotary knob. To get a response, turn the knob back and forth.
Software and included applications
As mentioned above, Verve 2 comes with Flash memory, where you can find software for the Windows and MacOS platforms, and it does not require installation. Also on Flash-memory you can find 2 applications:
1. “Sensor Jam”. After starting this application, a window will open in front of you in large capital letters from A to H. By clicking on the letters on the keyboard, you may find that the program will start to make different sounds depending on the button pressed. For example, pressing the letter A on the keyboard, you will hear the sound of a drum.
At the same time, it is possible, by left-clicking on the corresponding letter on the screen, to assign your own sound in the “mp3” format.
What is all this for? When the blue indicator on the device is lit, i.e. Verve 2 will be in the emulation mode of the keyboard, you can configure it so that, for example, when you shake the motion sensor “Motion”, the keyboard key “A” works from left to right. In this case, the program will make a sound with such a sensor activity.
In fact, you can come up with a ton of other uses.
If you want to reset the program to default values, then in the lower right corner of the screen you need to left-click on the text "* Click here to reset the app."
2. Space Fighter - Space Fighter - a simulator for fans of arcade games. Although the game is primitive in appearance, it can be especially fun when setting up sensors to control a fighter.
Application Interface and Programming
When the Verve2 application is launched, a window with 8 diagrams opens that characterize the response of the sensor to an action depending on the purpose of the sensor. These responses are displayed in the “Mapper” tab, which is located at the bottom of the program. It is also possible to view the response of the sensors individually by selecting the appropriate sensor on the top panel. On each diagram there are 2 “sliders” that set a threshold value or a range of sensor response values that interests us, which allows us to configure so that a notification is triggered when the output signal falls into the desired range.
First of all, you need to set up an account. To do this, in the lower right part of the window, left-click on the gear. In the window that appears, enter the email address, password, mail server (for outgoing messages). Other parameters can be changed as desired. And save the changes.
At the bottom of the program window there are 2 more tabs: “Logger” and “Server”. When you select the “Logger” tab, an empty graph opens, on which the time value of the effect that the sensor sends to the program is plotted. When you click on the “Start” button, the construction of the graph begins depending on what kind of manipulation occurs with the sensor (for example, if you click on the button's sensor button or move the “Motion” sensor, etc.). It is possible to save data to a log file in the “csv” format by clicking on the “Save Data” button.
There is a switch below each chart. By clicking on it, we see that the diagram is divided into a large number of cells. Thanks to this, if we are dealing with a sensitive sensor, we can configure it so that when a small effect or when a certain value is reached, this or that button is triggered or the notification we need is sent in the necessary form.
For example, to control the Space Fighter application, we will use 3 sensors: Motion sensor, Turn sensor and Button sensor. To control the ship in the game, you need to reprogram the buttons "Left", "Right", "Up", "Down" and "Space". The first sensor is set up to move the ship left and right, the second sensor is set up to move the ship up and down, and the third sensor is set up for a shot that will fire using voice control, for example, when pronouncing the word “Hit!”. We set it so that the lowest cell is not tied to any keyboard key in the case of a sound sensor, because there is no perfect silence, which means that the sensor will work at the slightest sound or noise, which does not suit us. Not everyone will like this control, but in fact the process of such a game is very funny.
The control configuration can be saved by clicking on “Save / Flash” in the lower left part of the program.
Sensors may be suitable for home security. For example, if you are not at home, but you want to monitor whether anyone has entered your apartment and turned on the light (or if the flashlight has not turned on), then you must leave the light sensor on and set up notification notifications.
You can also attach a sound sensor to the windowsill with tape or install it in another place, but next to the window, and if someone tries to enter your apartment through the window, the sensor will respond to the noise and send you a notification.
Another possible use of the sensor against burglars is to attach a magnet to the wall, and attach the magnetic sensor to the window or in another way, but so that the sensor and the magnet are at a close distance to each other. When the burglar tries to open the window, the magnetic field energy will decrease and Verve 2 will send you a notification.
Verve 2 sensors can also be used for other purposes. For example, a sound sensor can be used as a baby monitor, installing next to the baby's bed. The sensor, having caught noise and rustles, will transmit the corresponding notification to the device of mom or dad.
Verve 2 is a feedback system of sensors, a web server that provides real-time operation of the device via the Internet, as well as a system for collecting, processing, analyzing and storing data received from sensors (primary and secondary) connected to the device. The presence of many sensors, as well as working with an open application programming interface, makes interaction with the device convenient and enjoyable, allowing you to come up with creative and useful ideas and turn them into reality.