Feedback on Tasks overall?

Please feel free to leave feedback on the overall level of tasks. I’m trying to pick a wide range of effects, stay within a range where a beginner can attempt these, but someone experienced can still enjoy it. It’s been less tutorial, and more hands on education, learn by doing, with helpful suggestions. Is this working for people?

Too many tasks? This is absolutely work at your own pace, don’t feel rushed to stay up to date, or do them in order. Some later ones will build on earlier ones, at least potentially.

March begins the use of a Matrix (March Matrix Madness!)

April will bring in the Sensor Board, I think.

So people can plan for that, if they don’t have one yet.

Well first, I just wanted to say I’m a fan of your enthusiasm, creativity, and word play on the ones so far!

I wanted to check in with people on the difficulty.

How does the difficulty so far affect your participation?
  • It doesn’t - my participation is mostly related to other factors
  • I’d participate a little more if they were more challenging
  • I’d participate a little more if they were less challenging

0 voters

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I’m with @jeff here – I really appreciate you taking on this giant task. @scruffynerf, you are definitely a Pixelblaze hero!

There are multiple types of difficulty at play here - some people are challenged by the language, some by understanding how to use the Pixelblaze’s tools to get the LEDs to behave, etc… The tasks we’ve had so far have been wonderful fun, but they’ve jumped quite rapidly between difficulty levels in different areas.

Eventually, you’re going to want to go back and fill in some of those gaps. Particularly, I think, in the areas of how the language works, and in the basic concepts and math involved in crafting and controlling moving waves.

No way am I saying we need this right now, but eventually there might be multiple “tracks” showing a gradual path through the various things that people find challenging. I’ll just throw out a few categories for discussion, based on what I’ve seen:

  • Basics of Programming (Pixelblaze is a really good tool to use for teaching this, IMO!)
  • Mastering the Pixelblaze language and programming model.
  • Understanding the wave functions – how a little math can lead to Better Blinking Lights.
  • Problem solving steps – How to get from idea to working code.
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I find myself in the basics arena and frankly got well-stuck in how to manage waveforms and in particular get the waveform information OUT to the render call so as to turn LEDs on and off. For my purposes, a much simpler initial task would allow progress while not falling woefully behind on other, moiré interesting tasks. This is why I eventually just wrote some code to make a simple flasher , with sliders so as to see and affect code/lighting behavior on the fly.

I have found the background info to be scattered and not complete in many places. It would be extremely helpful to have a cheat-sheet/map/outline of what information is available and where to find it.

Finally, PB coding and control of LEDs is really dependent on understanding timing that derives from waveforms. A conceptual and practical guide to this… applied examples, connecting to how lights are turned on and off would be great. Maybe that’s in there somewhere. But searching for it… not so great.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Know that I really appreciate all the help, smarts and generosity here.

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For those asking for “less challenging”, is the issue a lack of JavaScript knowledge or specifically how PB works? I’m happy to adjust the level of things (and on fact, already planned on it with Matrixes, as the PB specifics are a smaller part of what I want to start with there) but need to know what needs adjusting specifically.

And the wave form stuff will absolutely be a focus, @JustPete, as part of that. It’s much easier to see the waveforms in 2D than 1D.

@Scruffynerf this is a great question and thank you for asking! And thank you for running those exercises! (I just saw this post so am only now replying).

The first hurdle is the scattered resources and preliminary instruction set. It would really help if there were a set of references clearly indexed and referred to from a single place. Presently, there is stuff on Github (simap/pixelblaze, that I do not know how to get back to ) , @Pixelblaze kind of, @Electromage, embedded in Patterns, and etc.

And then there is just looking around on the internet for JS term definitions, and etc. Knowing where and how to look is half the battle. Only half, but half. And that starts with PB not with JS. So, an intro resource guide, indexed, linked and organized for starters.

Learning by reading code - I found myself just reading through Pattern code that I accessed through the board. Some patterns pretty well annotated some not at all. As a beginner, in reading most code, I invariably get to places where I say to myself “I do not know what is going on here”.

So, I would suggest thoroughly annotating at least learner code and identifying it as such for ease of access. And, have a noob review the annotations for clarity. You need a crash-tester for language. i would never underestimate how stupid or stuck ) a beginner (I) can be.

As far as JavaScript language goes, I think a reference document especially of terms commonly used would be great. I have started and am pretty well along on putting one together for myself. I am happy to share FWIW.

I think there is also an opportunity to highlight and explain certain oft-used programming tools, code we see repeated often here.

For the first challenge I think throwing out a working piece of code and asking beginners to mod it would be nice. One thing at a time. ( I remember really liking Quantum Mechanics for this reason, it started super conceptually simple (like, “here is a thing and we will give it certain properties”) and built to probability distributions in 4-space, one dimension, one step at a time).

Frankly, I had trouble getting beyond sparks in the first exercise. Sparks was pretty easy, getting them to linger was not so much. So I wrote a simple flasher that I got working and could control some lights (on time,. off time, color, hue, saturation) with. Just my way of doing it, not the best but a way.

So, that’s my 2 cents for now. Its not everything but it is something. Perhaps it helps. Hope so.


All good feedback and this is an iterative process. We’re evolving it, based on interest and skills.

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Like I said, one step at a time…
Most important that you know I most appreciate all the dedication, hard work and creativity you’all have and are putting in here.

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