Treasure box for science workshops
Here I use a PIC16F84 to run an LCD screen to show a message on the lid of a small toy treasure box. The idea of the workshop is for the participants to generate enough electricity to power the PIC LCD circuit. The screen then slowly tells them where the key is to open the box to get at the treasure inside! Their homemade elecricity source is either a home made windmill or sea water battery etc. I delibrately made the LCD screen type out the message slowly so they have to make sure they can generate elecrtricity for at least 5 - 10 seconds to get the message properly (see picture below). I was amazed how little current the PIC / LCD circuit required - just a few mA at 3 - 6V - which is easily obtained from a homemade power source (once they know what they are doing of course). I used a low power zener and resistor to limit the voltage that will go to the PIC and LCD. This little device has proved to be very popular. I have used the treasure box for The Brighton Science Festival workshops and they also went around the country as part of the COAST TV windmill workshops I ran with the Open University.
THE CREATIVE SCIENCE CENTRE
Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ
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