JM: What did you do that involved electronics at KS3?
Ryan: In KS3 we were introduced to circuits and how they could be used in everyday life, and then we were told that we were going to make them, so I was happy about that, because my dad was interested in it.
JM: So your dad has done work in electronics?
Ryan: My dad has been doing work with circuits since he was about 16, and his dad was an electrician working on repairing circuits. My dad didnít study electronics in school. He picked it up through my granddad and when I told him that I was doing this in school he was happy that I was following in his footsteps.
My dad was quality control manager at Littlewoods for a few years and then he moved into general engineering.
JM: Tell me some more about KS3.
Ryan: We learned how to solder and to design basic electronic circuits.†We were also shown how to drill holes in a PCB, how programmes can be used to design PCBs and how you can test circuits on computers without making them.
I found KS3 quite interesting, and I thought that it was something I would like to do, so I stuck with it. I was quite motivated throughout.
I think my favourite bit at KS3 was drilling the holes and soldering because that is more of a hands-on approach, rather than just designing on computers.
JM: You opted to do GCSE Electronic Products in Y10 and GCSE Systems and Control in Y11. What did you do early in Y10?
Ryan: Mr Taylor showed us how to use the various programs we would need on the computers. He showed us how design PCBs and how to use the CAM router to make the PCBs.
I found PCB design quite hard at first because it was a new piece of software and I didnít fully understand what to do. But Mr Taylor sat down and spoke to me about it and explained it in a way that I could understand.
In the end I created a PCB; I think it took me about seven or eight attempts to do it, but in the end I got it completed, and it was good quality.
||JM: Tell me about your GCSE Electronic Products project.
Ryan: We were asked to create any type of alarm we wanted and to design the casing for it. This involved vacuum forming and drilling holes into the case so you could have LEDs and things like that. I found designing the case so that things were all in a sensible position the hardest bit.
I developed a door alarm for a bedroom and it used reed switches as detectors.
JM: What were the most interesting things about the Electronic Products GCSE for you?
Ryan: The most interesting thing was finding out about all the different ways that things are created, and all the different type of circuits which there are out there. It made me realise that, if it wasnít for technology and the people who create it, we probably wouldnít live as we do today. That made me want to learn about how circuits work and create things like that.
I think the least interesting bit was analysing existing products. I found it hard because there are quite a few alarms out there, but I found it difficult to find information on the kind of alarm I was looking for. Eventually I did find information on a web site that helped me with my design, but spending a lot of time searching on the web was frustrating.
JM: Tell me about the Systems and Control GCSE.
Ryan: At first I expected Systems and Control to be similar to Electronic Products, but designing something different. But in Systems and Control, because we were using PICs, we could choose what tasks the system would do.
At the end of Y10, after we did our exams and we had finished our coursework, we spent three or four lessons talking about PIC chips, what they do and how we could use them in the Systems and Control GCSE.†After that we were shown how to program the PICs and looked at how we could develop a Point of Sale display.
The PIC was useful to make the advert appealing Ė making the LEDs flash simultaneously or in a sequence and turning on other outputs. Systems and Control involved creating a PCB and understanding PIC circuits.
JM: You based your Point of Sale display on a personal interest?
Ryan: I based it on a hobby I have been doing since the end of Y9. I thought that, because itís something I know a lot about, I could do well with it.
JM: Tell me about the sport.
Ryan: Parkour or Freerunning is a way of getting from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible without the use of transport.†It involves vaults and Ďprecisionsí (precisions are jumping from one place to another and landing). It involves quite a lot of balance and it helps strengthen your whole body. So I thought it would be good to develop an advert for Parkour Ė it would promote health.
JM: Iím sure Iím putting it in old fashioned language, but it sounds like a combination of gymnastics, dance and athletics.
Ryan: Yes it is like gymnastics and athletics mixed together.†We have asked if we can we do gymnastics at the school to improve our muscle flexibility. Once you start doing it, itís easy to get hooked, and itís a good pastime.
||JM: What were the things you concentrated on in the first month or so of the project?
Ryan: After I had chosen the idea, the first things I started to do was choosing pictures, thinking how I would make it interesting, and what it would do.