GENERAL (NON KIT SPECIFIC)
Scorpio's kits are designed to suit the Australian Curriculum requirements for students to carry out the design, manufacture, assembly and evaluation of their project. For that reason the kits we offer do not have body parts / chassis or wiring.
The students need to:
design i.e. work out component placement, define size and shape etc. Then they cut out the body they have designed and assemble the device (drill holes, bolt things together, solder wires etc.) and test that it all works
mark out, manufacture and assemble etc. (i.e. they learn cutting and soldering skills)
develop troubleshooting and evaluation skill
Can you please tell me about the kits – how do they work?
Our kits provide all the mechanical, electrical and electronics components required. However, the kits are supplied without bodies and wiring (unless you order a No Solder version, in which case the electrical components (switches and motors) come with wires attached).
What kits are available to choose from?
We have a range of around 80 kits, starting with no-solder kits, then simple mechanical kits, simple electronics kits (using PCBs) up to more complex mechanical and electronic kits (including remote control or Picaxe programmable kits). Many of the kits are wheeled, but there are other types of devices as well (including such items as a wind up torch).
Where do I find the information about the kits?
You can find details for all of these kits in our catalogues and on our website. The online catalogue provides additional information about the kits.
Check out the table that displays the guidelines for skills, levels and construction times that are appropriate for your students.
Can I get the Teaching unit before I purchase the kits?
Each kit has a “Teaching unit” – instructions, illustrations, suggestions, hints etc. In some cases a short theory section is included. Most of these units are downloadable from this website. The online version is a “Lite” unit that allows teachers to assess kit suitability for their use without having to buy anything.
The downloaded instructions don’t give enough information
The online unit is there to let teachers assess the scope and type of work. These are abridged units that have the IP (intellectual property e.g. PCB overlays, circuit diagrams, component values etc.) removed to prevent others copying our designs..
The Teaching unit supplied with the order is the one to use. It provides the necessary information required to enable a student to complete the project.
In addition, we would suggest not keeping a master copy as Teaching units are updated or there may be a change of designs / components.
We have purchased Scorpio kits. Is it possible to get a Pdf copy of the Teaching Unit so that I have a digital copy on file?
Yes, you can request a digital copy. Keep in mind that kits and Teaching Units are updated when required to improve them and add additional ideas. You will need to compare the revision date in the title block against the date of the paper copy. The latest copy is always the one we can email – that may have additional information or ideas not in the printed copy
I am a new Technology teacher - what kits would you suggest we use?
This question does not have an easy answer as it depends on your experience and your students’ experience and year level. If you would like to call or e-mail we would be happy to make suggestions suited to your situation.
However, if you are looking at starting kits, the kits we have found successful in many cases are:
For mechanical devices: the DRAGSTER is a good unit for learning about gearing and mechanical parts
For electronic devices: the ROBOBUG is our introductory electronics kit, and has a simple PCB that requires component identification, assembly and soldering
Do you have any tips, advice or suggestions for kit making?
Our best suggestions are:
1. The teacher should always build the project before it is introduced to the students.
a. You will get a far better understanding of the problems students may face during construction and you can much better inform them of the really important things before they undertake them.
b. You can determine the areas/skills you need to teach before beginning the project.
c. It gives you a sample to show students what the device might look like when they finish.
2. If undertaking a remote control project, purchase an assembled set of PCBs and wire them up. When you have confirmed that they work, they can be used to test student transmitter and receiver operation if they are having problems. This will help narrow down whether it is the transmitter, receiver or both that aren't working properly. Make sure they are mounted on a board so they can't accidentally be put on top of something that can cause a short or be swapped for a student PCB.
3. You really need to prepare the students to help them assemble and construct their PCB's. It only needs one error and the PCB will not function or function correctly. Get students to start by assembling the things that sit lowest on the PCB (wire links then resistors, diodes etc.) and then have them swap PCB's with other students for checking before soldering. Then solder them and go on to the next component.
4. Students should be experienced at soldering before tackling any of the more complex electronics projects (especially Picaxe or remote control). If they aren't, then some soldering exercises using old PCB's for students to practice on is a good idea.
5. Never ever let students copy another students PCB. If the first person makes a mistake and is then copied, everyone else make the same mistake. Students don't learn anything by copying and if something is wrong then you will have the headache.
6. Check, check and check again before allowing students to insert batteries and turn on the power. Some components will be damaged if powered up while incorrectly installed.
7. If the device doesn't work straight away turn it off immediately and check everything again really thoroughly (and spray the gearbox with silicon lubricant if it wasn't turning) before turning it on again.
8. The main problems are usually soldering (dry joints, short circuits), incorrect component identification and/or orientation.
9. A significant number of students also damage transistors by overheating them during soldering. You could try using heat sink clips.
10. Check the transistors using an In Circuit Transistor Tester (TRANT) before batteries are inserted and the power switched on. Note that this will only confirm that the students haven’t overheated them – it will not confirm if they are oriented incorrectly.
11. If the circuit doesn’t work when power is applied, you can check the transistors using an In Circuit Transistor Tester (TRANT). This reduces the risk of (again) overheating the component by removing it.
12. Students also experience problems because they are careless. Wiring the battery connections incorrectly and connecting power is almost certain to damage one or more components.
13. Students often put the PCB's on top of metal sheets, pliers, screwdrivers etc. and cause short circuits that damage components.
I am having problems with the kits. Can you help?
We stand behind our products, and will support our customers with advice, and if required spares and replacement parts as soon as issues are raised.
I seem to be missing parts - what do I do?
We suggest checking the kits before starting construction - as finding problems early on lets us provide support and parts before the job has progressed too far. We will provide spares and replacement parts.
Suggestion: don’t let the students just empty the bags onto a table, as small parts may roll away or be dropped. Use something that has edges to prevent that, such as a foam tray or a picture frame.
What is the best material to use to make the kit?
I'm trying to find out how much material to buy for my e.g. Belt driven cars. Do you happen to know what the desired platform shape and size is for the car?
As the students are expected to do the design and work out the size and shape of the body it depends on them.
The constraint width wise is the width of the steel axle provided for the driving wheels, as it needs to have the pulley (or gears) and the 2 wheels pressed on.
Length wise it isn’t as important so long there is room between the wheels for the pulley (or gears). Some of this will be related to aesthetics (i.e. does it look good or proportional) and can depend on whether the student wants to incorporate other features (e.g. a F1 type wing or vacuum formed body).
If students are given a larger piece of material for the body they will often get more creative.
Can I customise any of Scorpio Technology’s kits?
As all of the kits designed by us are packed locally this can be arranged. There will be a premium charged as this is a one off set up. To get a quote e-mail us the quantity and your requirements so that we can work out a price.
I have designed a kit for use by my class. Could you pack the components into individual kits?
If you are interested in us packing the kits specially for you, we can organise this as a service to you. The kit price will depend on the time taken to set up and pack, and the cost of the parts required. To get a quote e-mail us the quantity and your requirements so that we can work out a price.
HINTS & TIPS - WIRING WIRES / PREPARATION:
Use different coloured wires, for ease of tracing circuits and troubleshooting (if required). It is best to follow standard wiring conventions for all battery connections: that is RED for POSITIVE and BLACK for NEGATIVE. When wiring up switches, use six different colour wires. This will avoid confusion and make it easier to follow the wires when connecting them, and it will be easier to trace if you experience wiring problems.
Use multi stranded wires for all connections. Single stranded wires are not suitable: after they have been bent a couple of times, they will break off. When cutting wires, make them slightly longer than you need - but avoid making them too long, as it will look untidy
HINTS & TIPS - SWITCHES:
While connecting the wires to the switches, it is necessary to clamp the switches to hold them still (a printed circuit board holder is ideal). If you don't have access to one of these, a small vice or a pair of pliers, with an elastic band around the handles, may be suitable - but be careful not to damage the switch. When soldering wires to the switches, take care not to overheat the switch terminals (Overheating could cause the plastic part of the switch to melt).