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Programming with GENIE

GENIE is a programmable system, which means that you can control how it behaves by writing a computer program — and by changing that program, you can turn GENIE's hand to solving a whole range of different design problems.
    A programmable system
At the heart of the GENIE system is the GENIE microcontroller.

This special type of electronic component is what makes the GENIE system programmable. It is able to take programs written on the computer and through a process known as downloading, store them in its memory. Once there, the GENIE microcontroller can run the program to provide the intelligence to control your project.

However, the GENIE microcontroller will not work on its own. To function, it needs to be connected to other things, such as a power supply, a socket for connecting a cable, and whichever particular inputs and outputs are required.
Collectively, these different parts form what is known as an electronic circuit, an example of which is shown above. It depicts a GENIE 08 Project Kit being used as part of an embedded control system for a project. This is one of many different boards and kits that we offer as part of the GENIE range. Each is tailored towards different project applications, with some better suited to controlling motors and others focusing on sound and music or lighting, for example.

We have worked hard to ensure that with GENIE, whatever your project, there is a board or kit that can help bring it to life! To learn more, click here.

Our latest, the GENIE 14 Audio Kit, is particularly exciting as it offers opportunities for you to add realistic sound effects and high-quality 16-channel MIDI music. Alarms, toys, robots and countless other projects can be enhanced with GENIE.

For those teachers or pupils with in-depth knowledge of electronics wishing to create their own programmable boards and kits, there is a brand new range of GENIE microcontrollers that can be built into custom circuit designs and layouts.

    Knowing where to start

As with all forms of design, where you start will depend on the particular design problem that you are attempting to solve. Sometimes the behaviour of a control system may be known early on, and at other times it may evolve slowly through further investigation or feedback from end users.

At some point in the design process, though, you will be ready to start planning the type of embedded control that your project requires. You will need to consider:

  What inputs are required from users or the environment?
  What outputs do you want to produce?
  How will these inputs and outputs be controlled by a program?

Of course, with so many different input and output components from which to choose, and such a wide array of possible programming options, what you really need is an expert on hand to guide you.

The Circuit Wizard 3 Resource Centre is that expert; an extensive collection of resources fine-tuned through decades of experience supporting teachers and students with their design projects, it is our way of being there in the classroom with you.

For teachers, the Resource Centre acts as your own professional trainer, providing knowledge and development that will inspire confidence on topics that might well be new to you. Students will also benefit by becoming motivated and self-sufficient learners, discovering and investigating areas specific to their own design projects.
    Programming with flowcharts or BASIC

To begin the process of actually writing the computer program that will run on a GENIE microcontroller and bring your project to life, you will require some special software — either Circuit Wizard 3 or the free GENIE Programming Editor.

Which of these two software products is right for you will depend on your level of expertise. The free GENIE Programming Editor is best suited to those already confident with electronics and programming, whereas Circuit Wizard 3 by contrast is aimed at those looking for more assistance, through its in-built set of classroom resources and support for designing, modelling and making.

Both Circuit Wizard 3 and the free GENIE Programming Editor allow you to control the behaviour of a GENIE system in two distinct ways: a graphical flowcharting system and a more powerful text-based BASIC programming language.

GENIE Flowchart programming

If you are new to programming, or just prefer a more graphical approach, then GENIE flowchart programming is for you. With flowcharts, programs can be created by selecting commands and then linking them together with the mouse.

Because flowcharts are more visual there is less for you to remember and fewer opportunities to make mistakes. When selecting the options for a command, for example, the software will provide a list of all the valid choices that are open to you.


GENIE BASIC programming

For those with prior programming experience, we also allow GENIE to be controlled through our own special version of the BASIC language.

Unlike the graphical flowcharts, BASIC is a text-based language, which means that you enter commands by typing their names into the computer along with any parameters that may be required (such as the values to be used in a calculation).

Most computer programming languages work this way, and so GENIE BASIC programming provides a stepping stone towards the languages and concepts that will be covered in complementary computing and technology courses.

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