# Cheap wireless (RF) receiver/transmitter solution?

P

#### Phantoz

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi,

I'm in a situation where I would like to buy (or build, prefferably the
former since I have little to no skills in electronics) a large number
(perhaps few to start with, but scaling up to 100 or so) rf
where each student in a classroom has the device and can use it to indicate
a choice in a multiple choice quiz (live, during the class). The only
requirements are that the devices have some sort of unique signature to map
to a particular student (though simple attacks to this like giving their
device to another student are not an issue atm), as well as that the device
allow the student to choose one of four options, and work at an acceptable
range (say, 20-25 meters). I would like to translate the results real time
to some comodity pc hardware.

The key, of course, on an academic budget is cheap. Similar experiments
have been done with things like pocket pcs, but we have no where near the
budget for that.

Any suggestions on a place to look for this, or pointers on how to build?

P

R

#### Rich Grise

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi,

I'm in a situation where I would like to buy (or build, prefferably the
former since I have little to no skills in electronics) a large number
(perhaps few to start with, but scaling up to 100 or so) rf
where each student in a classroom has the device and can use it to indicate
a choice in a multiple choice quiz (live, during the class). The only
requirements are that the devices have some sort of unique signature to map
to a particular student (though simple attacks to this like giving their
device to another student are not an issue atm), as well as that the device
allow the student to choose one of four options, and work at an acceptable
range (say, 20-25 meters). I would like to translate the results real time
to some comodity pc hardware.

The key, of course, on an academic budget is cheap. Similar experiments
have been done with things like pocket pcs, but we have no where near the
budget for that.

Any suggestions on a place to look for this, or pointers on how to build?

Get some undergrads to wire a pushbutton array to all the seats, like they
do on those TV shows where everybody votes. Better yet, call one of the TV
show production outfits and find out how they do it.

Good Luck!
Rich

R

#### Roger Johansson

Jan 1, 1970
0
Phantoz said:
atm), as well as that the device allow the student to choose one of
four options, and work at an acceptable range (say, 20-25 meters). I
would like to translate the results real time to some comodity pc
hardware.

Why do you need radio communication for distances of 25 m ?
A network of computers and a simple program is a lot easier, and the
students already have laptops, I presume. (The pupils get free laptops
to use in the schoolwork when then begin school at 6 years age in my
country, and all classrooms have networks built in already)

The simple function you described can be realized with a simple directly
wired circuit, if the students have no laptops. Hardware cost is
something like 100 dollars.

In short, forget the radio communication, it is extremely unnecessary for
the purpose you describe. We are trying to minimize non-important radio
communication, because there is too much pollution of the radio frequency
ranges.

J

#### John smith

Jan 1, 1970
0
Phantoz said:
Hi,

I'm in a situation where I would like to buy (or build, prefferably the
former since I have little to no skills in electronics) a large number
(perhaps few to start with, but scaling up to 100 or so) rf
where each student in a classroom has the device and can use it to
indicate a choice in a multiple choice quiz (live, during the class). The
only requirements are that the devices have some sort of unique signature
to map to a particular student (though simple attacks to this like giving
their device to another student are not an issue atm), as well as that the
device allow the student to choose one of four options, and work at an
acceptable range (say, 20-25 meters). I would like to translate the
results real time to some comodity pc hardware.

The key, of course, on an academic budget is cheap. Similar experiments
have been done with things like pocket pcs, but we have no where near the
budget for that.

Any suggestions on a place to look for this, or pointers on how to build?

P

Try this. http://www.replysystems.com/ not a very cheap solution, but it
works. we've used it succesfully.
Last I heard, years ago, they were testing a low cost/low tech/simple to use
unit for K-9, maybe HS students.
Their signature system is used by large corporations for voting by their
board. We used it on classrooms.

BTW, The Fleetwood Co. is better known for making furniture, go figure!

P

#### Phantoz

Jan 1, 1970
0
Great link. Looks exactly what I would like, but the cost is a bit pricey
($130US per unit for the cheapest unit type). Will keep poking their site though, see what else they might have around... P P #### Phantoz Jan 1, 1970 0 Hi, Why do you need radio communication for distances of 25 m ? A network of computers and a simple program is a lot easier, and the So, the fallback is to create a wired circuit. It requires signifigantly more prep time for each class, and makes demonstrations of the technology a bit more painful. This is likely how I will go, but thought it wouldn't hurt to hit usenet first for some opinions. students already have laptops, I presume. (The pupils get free laptops to use in the schoolwork when then begin school at 6 years age in my country, and all classrooms have networks built in already) As far as I know, we don't give our 6 year olds laptops yet, but one day perhaps (though I hope not). Truthfully, I doubt more than 50% of the students would use them at once during the class anyways, due to the size. Something of a smaller form factor like a remote control or a car alarm remote is what I would be aiming at instead. Pocket pc sized would be acceptable but kind of the largest I would be looking at... P G #### Gary Schafer Jan 1, 1970 0 Try garage door openers. You can program multiple codes in them and they are available with multiple functions. 73 Gary K4FMX C #### CWatters Jan 1, 1970 0 Gary Schafer said: Try garage door openers. You can program multiple codes in them and they are available with multiple functions. One student with a finger on the button would probably block all the other transmissions. C #### CWatters Jan 1, 1970 0 Phantoz said: Hi, I'm in a situation where I would like to buy (or build, prefferably the former since I have little to no skills in electronics) a large number (perhaps few to start with, but scaling up to 100 or so) rf receiver/transmitters. Mobile phones? Text 1,2,3,or 4 to this free number etc... Do a deal with the phone company for special rates to that phone number. M #### mark thomas Jan 1, 1970 0 The artist formerly known as Phantoz wrote: | So, the fallback is to create a wired circuit. It requires signifigantly | more prep time for each class, and makes demonstrations of the technology a | bit more painful. This is likely how I will go, but thought it wouldn't | hurt to hit usenet first for some opinions. The ultimate logic behind a wired versus wireless system can be identical, meaning there would be no increase in prep time required for each class. The added pain of demonstrating the wired technology is of little consequence compared to the actual functionality of the system, in my opinion. | Pocket pc sized would be | acceptable but kind of the largest I would be looking at... I have friends currently developing an in-house solution to a similar problem in a corporate environment. Their solution involves a simple program running on Blackberries, that parses data into XML format and emails it, all transparent to the user. A program that uses this email technique running on a similar pocket pc is very easy to implement, but of course the cost of the wireless pocket pcs and wireless 802.11 router would be too expensive for your budget. Your 3 main options are to either go with the wired approach, seek additional funding, or scrap the idea altogether. R #### Rich Grise Jan 1, 1970 0 Hi, So, the fallback is to create a wired circuit. It requires signifigantly more prep time for each class, and makes demonstrations of the technology a bit more painful. This is likely how I will go, but thought it wouldn't hurt to hit usenet first for some opinions. I don't understand this at all. What's "prep time"? Why does it take longer to tell kids, "with the pushbuttons in the little box on your desk, select ..." than to tell them, "get out your laptops, start your wireless network, log into our system and download the software,..." I apparently don't know what "prep time" means in this context. And that "demonstrations of the technology" is a complete non-sequitur. What is the goal here? To have a multiple-station voting/quiz answer thing, or to demonstrate the technology of a multiple-station voting/quiz answer thing? Thanks, Rich J #### John smith Jan 1, 1970 0 Phantoz said: Great link. Looks exactly what I would like, but the cost is a bit pricey ($130US per unit for the cheapest unit type).

Will keep poking their site though, see what else they might have
around...

P

Yes. they are pricey - now I remember, this was years ago.
Talk to them, I believe they have special pricing for schools.
The system works, and they had good customer service (directly from them,
not the many resellers they had).
There might still be competition, I kinda remember a British offering or
some other low tech device.
I wish I had their names for you. I remember we went through a lot to get
alternate sources,and there were some, but we went with fleetwood --- their
furniture is so comfy

J

#### John smith

Jan 1, 1970
0
CWatters said:
One student with a finger on the button would probably block all the other
transmissions.

Absolutely.
A similar problem is Hot/dead spots.
We had that problem with a system in two adjacent classroms operating in the
same band.
You have to make sure you are not in close proximity to a garage opener
testing ground.
YKWIM.

J

#### John smith

Jan 1, 1970
0
Rich Grise said:
I don't understand this at all. What's "prep time"? Why does it take
longer to tell kids, "with the pushbuttons in the little box on your desk,
select ..." than to tell them, "get out your laptops, start your wireless

I apparently don't know what "prep time" means in this context.

And that "demonstrations of the technology" is a complete non-sequitur.
What is the goal here? To have a multiple-station voting/quiz answer
thing, or to demonstrate the technology of a multiple-station voting/quiz

Thanks,
Rich
I'm not a teacher. I'm an engineer who researched the technology at the
request of teachers,
many, MANY, teachers that teach for a very LARGE corporation.
These teachers said they needed a system like the OP requests, I found one
solution for them - the company also makes furniture.

The logic behind it is, AFAI remember, similar to what hapened when I went
a question and points to a studnet to answer it - now he knows one student
got it right/wrong - but what about the rest of the class?
Nowadays, specially adult learning, you get many people in one room and not
enough time to querry and interact with everyone.

This system allows the teacher to prepare a test - project it on big
screen - querry the class - and immediately see the results for each student
(honor system). The teacher can analyze the data and find which students did
not understood the material (concentrate on them) or if the teacher sucks
and have to explain the concept all over again.

soap box: Every classroom should have overhead projectors, PC and software
for presentations, and one such reponse systems, along with the best
trained/paid profesionals, along with a few other tools... (slide rule and
yard stick

M

#### Mike

Jan 1, 1970
0
Since you'd want to do your data capturing on a PC, perhaps an electronic
unit on each unit equipped with an 802.11 interface that has a unique
assigned address. Not sure how you'd go about that, but I know that option
is there.

Mike

W

#### Wim Ton

Jan 1, 1970
0
Phantoz said:
Hi,

I'm in a situation where I would like to buy (or build, prefferably the
former since I have little to no skills in electronics) a large number
(perhaps few to start with, but scaling up to 100 or so) rf

Does it have to be RF? When inside one room, IR may be an option as well
(cheaper and more common)
where each student in a classroom has the device and can use it to indicate
a choice in a multiple choice quiz (live, during the class). The only
requirements are that the devices have some sort of unique signature to map
to a particular student (though simple attacks to this like giving their
device to another student are not an issue atm), as well as that the device
allow the student to choose one of four options, and work at an acceptable

The protocol may be complicated: imagine the following situation:
the first 2 students answer at exactly the same time, so the signal is
garbled and rejected, the answer of number three comes in on its own, and
he wins, how unfair ;-)
This may be solved by sending a timestamp. Desiging such a protocol and
proving its correctness would be a nice academic assignment.

Wim

W

#### Wim Ton

Jan 1, 1970
0
We had that problem with a system in two adjacent classroms operating in
the
same band.
You have to make sure you are not in close proximity to a garage opener
testing ground.

Use IR ?

Wim

M

#### Mike

Jan 1, 1970
0
As a professional software developer, I can say that a client/server
environment would be ideal. On the server side, assigning a "test unit" to
each student is as easy as keying in the serial number of the unit (which
typically would map the IP). Data capture could be done in just about any
language supporting socket IO operations. If you (or anyone in the group)
can figure out how to make such a unit with an 802.11x module, this is
probably a good candidate.

Mike

C

#### CWatters

Jan 1, 1970
0
I'm not a teacher. I'm an engineer who researched the technology at the
request of teachers, many, MANY, teachers that teach for a very
LARGE corporation. These teachers said they needed a system like
the OP requests,

There are several companies that make this type of system. Speak to
companies that make "audience response systems" or "quiz show systems".

You can even rent them if you want.

http://www.audiencevoting.com/

http://www.optiontechnologies.com/audience/voting_system.asp

http://www.interactivemeetings.com/audience_voting.html

Probably too expensive for schools though.

perhaps...

http://www.buzzersystems.com/

D

#### d.wills

Jan 1, 1970
0
Since you didn't indicate that this was based on some "game" "quick
response" type situation, I would go the route of IR. A simple handheld
device for each student, with the output configured to send a serial #
(uniquely assigned to each student) and then the response (A, B, C ... etc.)
You could easily place a couple of receivers around the room and have them
all tied into one PC. A simple display board that gives feedback to the
students that their response was received would allow them to know whether
or not their answer has been registered (I am thinking a grid of lights, one
per student that gets reset with every question, assuming that all students
are answering every question.) The PC could give immediate feedback to the
teacher to indicate whether they understood the material, or, if this is a
true testing situation, would give immediate scores. You would also know
each student has answered before moving on to the next question.

I see it as a bunch of IR remotes transmitting to 4 or 5 carefully placed
receivers, attached to a pc running a fairly simple VB program to tally the
results.

Now if you are thinking a gaming system of some sort, most of this doesn't
work (ir is too prone to interference), but since you didn't indicate that,
add remotes and basically have an unlimited supply of unique serial numbers
or number of answers (10 to 16 with most standard keypads), and can cover a
larger area by simply adding ir receivers. Each student can keep their own,
and you can probably build (buy?) them for $3 to$6 each (small board, PIC,
ir led, crystal, a few discreet components) and write the software in a day
(or have someone do it for you.)

Just an opinion

-Doug

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