Project Tools

Introduction Project Tools LiteProject Tools introduces the key principles of components, circuits and systems. It is available with a range of licences to suit most requirements and school budgets.

The instructional content is aimed at learners just getting started with practical electrical circuits and electronic systems. It is ideal for teachers either developing existing projects or creating new schemes of work. Project Tools contains three modules (see pink tab above for details) allowing teachers to structure projects that progress from “safer” prescriptive activities to those that are “more-open” in outcome – where learners can investigate, then design and make one of several hundred different electronic control systems. 

Projects are tested and made with real components using the reusable SmartStart modelling modules and FastTrack multi solution PCB’s. 

Text and images may be copied and pasted for use as hand-outs or project guides in the classroom (please see copyright details).


Project Tools’ Software Modules and Details

Project Tools contains 3 modules:

1, Acorn Starter Tasks and Themes


Acorn Starter Tasks and ThemesThis module comprises of four ready-to-use focused practical tasks, introducing a wide range of electronic components and the ‘systems’ approach to designing electronic circuits. Each activity, or Acorn task, is based on the FastTrack PCB ; so systems can be quickly assembled and tested. It is quickly understood that more complex systems can be made from other ‘input’, ‘process’ and ‘output’ subsystems .
The Acorn project tasks and themes may be developed later on with new learner-designed systems and made with the same FastTrack PCB.

Features and Screenshots (including additional teaching tools):

Acorn Tasks welcome screen.

The grey strip on the left provides quick access to the four Acorn Tasks.

Interactive learning tools are quickly opened from the top of the screen.
Acorn Tasks
The four Acorn Task guide sheets may be printed on A4 paper.

Input, Process and output stages are shown in block/circuit diagrams.

Pictorial view of pcb and real world components makes assembly easier.
Acorn Project Guides
Interactive component table shows circuit symbols, descriptions and pictorial views of components.

Covering the symbols makes them disappear and reappear when clicked.

Memorising the symbols is easy using the ‘look, cover, write, check’ method.
Interactive Component Table
Resistor colour code chart shows how to identify resistor values and accuracy from their coloured bands.Resistor Colour Codes
LED protection resistor calculator allows you to simply enter the voltage of your circuit and the specified LED voltage/current and it will automatically work out the value of resistor needed to protect your LED.

Values are automatically placed in the circuit diagram.
LED Protection Resistor Calculator
Interactive mutimeter shows how circuit voltages, currents and resistance values may be measured.Multimeter

2 – Circuits and Components

Circuits and ComponentsThis module introduces the core principles of electrical/electronic components and the design and making of circuit boards. By using a combination of hands-on activities and interactive tutorials, learners work by themselves to develop their knowledge and understanding. The tutorials are differentiated (+ audio support) to support more independent learning. An automatic assessment certificate is used to show  today’s achievement and progress. As a follow on, learners design systems which lead to a range of hands-on activities.

To support whole-class teaching, QuickLink’s presentation tool lets allows teachers to assemble interactive whiteboard presentations in seconds. These can contain content from Project Tools’ interactive tutorials, simulations or learning tools and support class-teaching when appropriate. (Single school user + data projector licence required for whole class use). 

Features and Screenshots: 

Electrical/Electronic Circuits and Components welcome screen.

The grey navigation strip on the left provides quick access to its content.

Interactive learning tools are quickly opened from the top of the screen.
Circuits and Components Index
'TrackLayer' circuit board designer.

Create simple series/parallel circuits.

Print 20 different project guides on A4
Lay copper tracks to build the circuits.

Before making, learn to solder by using the virtual soldering iron to safely connect the components to the tracks.
TrackLayer Circuit Board Design Tool
(15-part) Introductory tutorials.

Explores series and parallel circuits and range of common components.
Introductory Tutorials
'Communicating with Displays' Design and Make Assignment.

Use TrackLayer to create A4 project card templates for making.

Low cost practical activity
Communicating with Displays DMA
(32-part) Interactive tutorials with assessment for learning.

Differentiated activities contain a variety of interactions & simulations.

Easy to read "progress check" graphic on left of screen.
Assessed Tutorials
Printable assessment certificate for above tutorials.

Displays correctly answered questions and no. of tries with weighted percentage score.

Areas of difficulty are easy to spot.
Tutorials Assessment Certificate
QuickLinks presentation maker.

Create electronics presentations in seconds.

Access Project Tools' key content instantly.
QuickLinks Slide Presentation Maker

3, Systems and Components:

Systems and ComponentsLearners work on a greater range of project outcomes through its designing guides and unique CAD tool SmartStart – Designing and making electronic control systems is accomplished by providing a description of the subsystems required and dragging the respective icons on to a block diagram. Further research information & activities develop an understanding of:
– the “design process”;
– open and closed loop control systems;
– common subsystems and components. 

Learner-generated projects designed with SmartStart can be made with the FastTrack PCB – This multi solution PCB allows many different systems to be easily managed within the same class.

Additional I.C. based subsystems and PIC circuit boards may be introduced with the Project Tools PLUS software.

Features and Screenshots:

Grey strip on edge of welcome screen provides quick links to activities, research areas and systems designing tool.

Interactive learning tools are always available at the top of the screen.
Systems and Components
Feature and activities investigate "open and closed loop control" systems.

Everyday examples of input, process and output systems provided.

Feature and activities consider the needs of people when designing.

Activities help identify opportunities for designing and making.
Investigating Control Systems
Research section allows input, process and output circuits to be investigated

Voltage Divider analogy helps with the understanding of sensor inputs.
Investigating Subsystems
"SmartStart" design tool uses drag and drop subsystem icons.

Create 1000 systems from 1 PCB.

Generate individual A4 Project Guides to assist making of designed systems.

May be used with Subsystem Designing cards to aid differentiation.
SmartStart Designing
Designed system components drop on to PCB

Subsystems are placed sequentially on PCB to help fault-finding.

Circuit Diagram provided, with details of 9v battery power required and cost of components.
SmartStart Designed System
6-Stage designing guide offers useful tips and suggestions when designing new electronic control products. Guide to the Design process

See Project Tools (PLUS) Software (upgrade)