"See first that the design is wise and just; that acsertaine, pursue it resolutely; do not for one repulse forgo the purpose that you resolved to effect” – William Shakespeare
What is involved in designing, developing and manufacturing Electronics and Communications Technology (ECT) systems?
The most important areas are:
- General procedural issues that are valuable in all focus areas of D&T, but may have a different slant in the context of ECT
- Product design and manufacturing issues that are particular to ECT products
- ECT specific skills and knowledge
The first four modules of this section of the website discuss general procedural issues and highlight features of these that are particularly significant in ECT. Because these are important in all areas of D&T, these sections include many hotlinks and references to suggestions from other sources.
The next section looks at aspects of product design and manufacture that are particularly important in ECT.
The remaining eight sections discuss knowledge and skills that are specific to ECT. Because these areas are likely to be les familiar, they are presented in much greater detail.
The materials in these sections cover a wide range of topics. They include all the materials in the current GCSE specifications. They also include further material that might be needed in a wide range of possible GCSE project work and also at ‘A’ Level.
A more detailed overview of each module is given below. Obviously you do not need to read through sections that cover material with which you are already familiar.
General procedural issues
- Exploring the task
Exploring needs, wants and opportunities; designing for self, a client and for markets; conducting surveys and observations; use of mood boards, mind-mapping, brainstorming and word association; solutions from the past, present and other cultures; methods for developing design criteria; potential future impacts.
- Generating ideas
Generating original and creative ideas; finding and using ideas from other information sources including technical information; methods for developing design proposals; presenting ideas to various audiences (client, maker, buyer etc); standards (ISO, BSI etc).
Planning and optimising the use of time, materials and equipment; planning sequences and reviewing progress; managing projects; collaborating with others; quality assurance and total quality.
Design criteria; criteria for evaluating products; quality control; evaluating originality and benefits; evaluating materials and construction methods; product life-cycle; evaluating existing products.
Product design and manufacture
- Includes material on:
Aesthetics; designing the layout and appearance, ease of use, ease of assembly, maintenance, disassembly and disposal; modelling ECT products; materials and manufacturing processes; mechanisms; selecting and mounting input and output devices; fitting the pcb to the product and the product to the pcb; adapting bought-in housings; joining electronics to other materials; developing a user guide.
Electronics and Communication Technology
- Systems design
An introduction to the basic language of electronic and communication systems – input sensors, process, output devices, software, hardware, digital and analogue.
More sophisticated techniques including the use of truth tables to analyse design problems.
More advanced system concepts – processing analogue signals, timing diagrams, feedback, a.c. and d.c. signals
- Input and Output devices
Selecting and using useful input sensors (switch, light, moisture, magnet, rotation, temperature, tilt), generating pulses and using output devices (bulb, buzzer, motor, sound, LED).
More elaborate input sensors for light, magnetic field, temperature and sound and output devices (relay, solenoid, heater, electromagnet)
Detecting ultrasound, infra red, movement, flow and pressure plus more sophisticated output devices
- Software Engineering
Using flowcharts and an interface to control an output device, generate a sequence and test an input sensor. The benefits of subroutines.
Using a PIC microcontroller. Using variables to store information and to repeat a sequence a fixed number of times.
Using analogue input sensors with a PIC microcontroller. Counting and timing. Handling more than one thing at a time.
- System Building Blocks and Functions
Making ‘decisions’ with gates. Using a comparator. Delivering power to an output device with a driver.
Generating at delay. Using a latch to ‘remember’ what has happened.
Counting, more sophisticated gates, processing analogue signals, and driving the 7-segment display and stepper motor.
- Circuits and Components
Understanding and measuring voltage, current and resistance. Basic components and their use in simple circuits (resistor, diode, transistor, switch)
Using batteries. Ohm’s law. The potential divider. Use of computer aided design (CAD) for circuit design.
Working out power consumption. Using an oscilloscope. Details of transistor circuits. Understanding data sheets.
- Manufacturing ECT Systems
Basic skills for making a printed circuit board (producing the board, drilling and soldering). Using instruments to check the system and to find any faults.
Use of computer aided design (CAD) for printed circuit design. Systematic techniques for fault finding and repair.
Planning and organising batch production. Quality procedures in production. Isolating faulty components.
- Electronic Communication Systems
Resources and approaches for introducing younger pupils to electronic communications
Resources and approaches to enable pupils to incorporate electronic communication subsystems in their projects
Basic electronic communication concepts and examples of familiar systems: IR remote control systems, PICtalk and PICAXE, telephones, radio, TV, mobile 'phones and fibre optic cables.
- ECT and the Internet
An introduction to the Internet; social, business, cultural, ethical and environmental issues; using the Internet in design and technology and designing a simple web site.
Supporting home-school links with the Internet; data transfer rates, file sizes and download times; designing a more complex web site.
Domain name selection and registration; Internet communication; introduction to more advanced topics in web design; useful download sites.
HEALTH WARNING: It is important that these sections are not seen as stages in a linear 'design process'. The routes involved in designing and developing ECT products can start from:
- exploring user needs and wants
- evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing products
- investigating an electronic sub-system or a product design technique and thinking
- about useful applications
- any of the sections in this part of the website
These sections should be viewed, not as a sequence, but as areas of knowledge and skills that are drawn on in a wide variety of D&T work.