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Welcome to Cemetech! Since 2000, Cemetech (pronounced KE'me'tek) has been teaching programming and electronics and developing software and hardware. Among Cemetech's specialties are TI, HP, and Casio graphing calculators like the TI-84 Plus, TI-Nspire, HP Prime, and Casio Prizm, embedded and DIY electronics, and computer and web programming. Cemetech provides a safe, friendly space for people to learn, show off projects, and share knowledge and expertise. Our staff of friendly volunteers hang out on our forum and IRC and SAX chatrooms, and are happy to help.
Cemetech Minecraft Server: One Year In
Published by Alex on March 19, 2017 at 6:17:22 PM CST | Discuss this article (2)

How time flies. We soft launched the server on March 20th. What does a soft launch mean? When we soft-launched we opened the server to those who contributed in building spawn or they were seen as significant contributors to the previous iteration. The following weekend, on Easter, we opened the server up to everyone who wanted to be a member.

In the first few days of soft launching our members broke just over 100,000 blocks. With stone being the most common block being broken. By the official opening weekend we had almost broke 500,000 blocks with stone continuing it's reign as the most broken block.

So where are we a year on?

You guys have broken just north of 6,500,000 blocks. That's 6.5 MILLION blocks. Stone is still the most broken block at 1,700,000. We've had 317 players log in to the server with a maximum concurrent player count of 16; A number that's been held since The End was opened in July. Those 371 players have 11,462 total logins and have played for a cumulative 1 year and 155 days. Meaning, that the average time someone spends online per login is 1h9m44s, we see an average of 22 logins a day.

Now, 371 tracked players is not indicative of our server population. This number includes anyone who has logged in, even if for a second, then logged out never to return. Now, our top players consist of the following playtimes:
  1. DrDnar with 72 Days
  2. ACagliano with 51 Days
  3. tifreak8x with 50 days
  4. LittleMoonBeam with 48 days
  5. TurquoiseDrag0n with 28 days
  6. Rivereye with 22 days
  7. lennartVH01 with 21 days
  8. KermM with 17 days
  9. ElementalVis with 14 days
  10. pyrot3chnic with 13 days

We've had many events as well! For this iteration of the server we introduced a dedicated mining world, mostly for Abba Matches, but also allowed us to use non-renewable ores as currency and keep the main world somewhat tidy and clean, allowing users to focus more on building in the main world than actually building mines that would eventually be abandoned. It also allowed us to keep the map size smaller. We did expand the map a few times and it is equal in size to the prior iteration but allowing players to mind in a separate world allowed players to feels like there was more distance between them, as mines didn't extend for hundreds of blocks under a base, potentially going into, or under, someones build.

We've had quite a few player events as well, such as races along a Daytona International Speedway replica and PvP events.

I can't wait to see what you guys do in the following months and life of the server. Please be sure to post any suggestions you have for the current server!

T^3 International Conference 2017: Days 0 and 1
Published by KermMartian on March 11, 2017 at 12:48:56 AM CST | Discuss this article (12)

Four years ago, I first attended TI's 25th annual Teachers Teaching with Technology (T^3) conference in Philadelphia. Since then, I have attended every T3IC, and this year, I'm proud to say that I'm representing both Cemetech and myself at my fifth T^3 conference. Each year, I have tried to bring someone from the community with me; in the past Cemetech administrators Shaun "Merthsoft" McFall and Thomas "elfprince13" Dickerson have attended, and last year Jon "Jonimus/The Storm" Sturm accidentally found himself at T^3 2016 in Orlando. This year, Jon has once again joined me (Dr. Christopher "Kerm Martian" Mitchell) in Chicago for the 2017 T^3 International Conference.

In past years, we have collected news about new TI efforts and enjoyed excellent sessions taught by teachers from across the country. I have also given a talk each year about TI-BASIC programming and why (and how) to do it with students in the classroom. Last year, we had a Maker Faire-style booth for the first time, where we showed off some of the things that we do here to promote programming and STEM education. This year, we are once again attending many interesting sessions, especially those about programming (now apparently primarily called coding in these circles), electronics, and engineering. I also taught "Teaching Beginner Programming Concepts with the TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator", with a record attendance of 28 teachers looking to learn programming and possibly teach it in their own classrooms. I'll be putting together a video of that full lesson (including the parts I didn't get to actually teach today) in the near future, but in the meantime, you can take a look at my slides, and of course consider "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus" for learning TI-BASIC. Finally, we have been quite active on social media throughout the conference, including participating in TI's #MathFTWChat on Day 0 of the conference (Thursday night, 3/9), as both @cemetech and @kermmartian.

We visited several particularly interesting sessions today. We went to "The TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator + 10 Minutes of Code + TI-Innovator Hub with TI-Launchpad Board = STEM Career Curiosity", taught by Terrance Mankus and Margo Lynn Mankus. Jon got to explore the TI-Innovator Hub for the first time, and the lessons were grounded in compelling real-world problems. I also learned that TI-OS 5.2.1 contains a new HUB tab in the PRGM menu, saving the otherwise tedious task of manually typing out TI-Innovator Hub command strings (see my recent video with the upcoming Norland robot for the TI-84 Plus CE for my experiences with that). Jon also attended "STEM Investigations with the TI-Innovator Hub with TI-Launchpad Board", taught by Stacy Thibodeaux, in which the attendees created conductance sensors to measure the cleanliness of water using the TI-84 Plus CE and TI-Innovator Hub. We also got to visit TI's STEM room, where they were showing off some of their latest projects with the TI-Innovator, and we attended the always exciting reception, showcasing the best dancing skills among our nation's math teachers.

Take a look at our selected pictures below, and keep your eyes on our Twitter accounts (don't forget to follow them, as well as our Facebook page!) and Cemetech's forum for our latest experiences from T^3 2017. If you're curious about our past T^3 experiences, we have coverage from 2013 with postmortem, 2014 with postmortem, 2015 with postmortem, and 2016 with postmortem.

Hands-On with Norland Research E3 Robot for TI-84 Plus CE
Published by KermMartian on March 9, 2017 at 8:21:39 PM CST | Discuss this article (11)

In November, Rick over at Norland Research kindly sent along an early version of his E3 Robot, meant to work with the newest TI-84 Plus family calculator, the TI-84 Plus CE. Unlike all of its TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus predecessors, the TI-84 Plus CE lacks the 2.5mm I/O ("DBUS") port that allowed easy connection to external hardware. The reason for that omission is not clear, but the fact remains that all hardware compatible with the TI-84 Plus CE must use USB for communication. TI has simplified this by providing built-in USB serial support for some platforms, and TI's TI Innovator Hub is a great example of USB-connected hardware for the TI-84 Plus CE. Therefore, Norland needed to update their classic calculator-controlled robot kit that used the 2.5mm DBUS port to use USB instead. The way they have done this is to overhaul the robot to connect to the TI Innovator Hub.

In the video below, I connect my TI Innovator Hub and TI-84 Plus CE to the new robot, and write two simple programs. The first lets the calculator control the robot wheels, independently spinning each one backwards and forwards. The second program is a little more complex, detecting collisions using the front bump sensors and using the motors to back the robot away from obstacles. The robot is easy to use, and if you have TI Innovator Hub(s) and TI-84 Plus calculators in your classroom (or home), you have everything you need to make it work. If you don't already have the TI Innovator Hub, it's an unfortunate (but necessary) result of the TI-84 Plus CE's missing 2.5mm I/O port that you need to buy that as well as the robot itself. It appears that this robot is not yet available from Norland Research's website, but Cemetech will have the news when it is available.

Hands-On with Norland Research E3 Robot for TI-84 Plus CE

Casio Prizm Successor, fx-CG50, Announced
Published by KermMartian on March 9, 2017 at 1:39:47 AM CST | Discuss this article (1)

In mid-January, long-time Cemetech member and Casio programmer TeamFX let us know that Casio is releasing a successor to the venerable Casio Prizm (fx-CG10/fx-CG20). To be called the Casio fx-CG50, this new calculator appears to be an incremental improvement on its 6-year-old parent. Since TeamFX first posted that topic, our members have posted a wealth of new information about the calculator, and more recently, Casio published a press release, and community members have gotten hands-on experience with the fx-CG50. Among the most important facts about Casio's new Prizm replacement that have been discovered:
  • 3D Graphing Add-In: This new add-in is one of the headlining features of the new fx-CG50. Cemetech members may be aware of Graph3DP for the Casio fx-CG10/fx-CG20, a community-made add-in by yours truly that added 3D graphing capabilities to the original Casio Prizm. Specifically (from a press release), "the device can display up to three types of 3D graphs overlaid on one screen. Besides, users can visualise the cross section of the sphere." Casio appears to have noted the importance of a 3D graphing add-in, especially with a high-resolution color screen, and created their own. Unfortunately, it does have some limitations; gbl08ma kindly wrote in the attached topic, " Graph3DP with a better UI would still beat their add-in, which doesn't allow arbitrary 3D functions."
  • Faster Processor: Since the Casio fx-CG10/fx-CG20's OS was relatively open to investigation, Cemetech's members succeeded in overclocking and underclocking the Prizm not long after the calculator was released. From its base speed of 58MHz, members were able to bring the calculator as high as a stable 94.3MHz. However, long-time Prizm hacker gbl08ma found that some calculators could only go as high as 87MHz; others could get up to 101.5MHz.
  • New Main Menu Look: As in the screenshot below, Casio has refreshed the look and feel of the main menu, without substantially changing the layout or how it works.
  • More Emphasis on C-Lab: Casio chose to mention connectivity to external sensors as one of three majors points in their press release, implying that it's a keystone feature of the new device. Per their release, "[t]he calculator can simply be connected to the data collection interface C-Lab in order to measure data [from] temperature or distance [or] triaxial acceleration" sensors. As on other popular graphing calculators, the resulting data can be graphed and inspected.
  • Other Hardware Capabilities: As long-time member gbl08ma notes in the attached thread, "[t]he screen resolution, memory size, etc. are all the same as on the fx-CG 20, judging by the DynaTech page." It also still has a 3-pin I/O (serial) port, and is still powered by 4 AAA batteries (rather than a rechargeable battery, like TI's modern calculators).

As an extra bonus, TeamFx has discovered (from French community website TI-Planet) that Casio is also updated the controversial color touchscreen Classpad calculator with a new model, the fx-CG500. Have you gotten a Casio fx-CG50 yet? Do you plan to do so? Will it also be called the Prizm? Weigh in with new news, opinions, and thoughts in the attached topic (or the original discussion topic)!