The Micro User

By BBCSoft/BBC Publications
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 3.12

Gateway to electronics and logic

The Secondary Science program Microtechnology, from BBCsoft is a package of learning modules in electronics and digital logic. Supplied on cassette with detailed instructions for transferring on to disc, it is accompanied by a clear and concise manual.

The first two sections deal with Boolean logic as applied to binary numbers and gates in digital circuits.

In each case there are increasing levels of difficulty, achieved by adding further types of gates.

The second module tests the application of Ohm's or KichnofFs laws to an array of three resistors. As the calcu lations are sometimes difficult, a scratchpad is provided where you can make simple calculations in immediate mode.

Various types of flip-flop are simulated in the third program. You select the type of flip-flop and then apply the various inputs and the computer displays the effect of these inputs upon the outputs.

The final simulation is that of an electronic servo mechanism. In the same way as the flip-flops, you alter the various parameters while the program simulates the resultant effects on the circuit.

The final and best part of the package is a suite of programs called Circuit that allow you to design and display circuit diagrams.

The main part presents you with a grid on which you can draw a circuit diagram using the cursor keys.

Other keys enable the cursor keys to draw, move without drawing and erase. The diagrams can also be labelled. In order to assist there are available 40 shapes - resistors, capacitors, ICs, transistors and so on - called by the function keys alone or with Shift, Ctrl or Shift+Ctrl.

The print routine - a sample output is shown supports Epson FX80 printers, and I have found it to work happily with RX and LX80 machines.

The shapes can be altered by editing existing shapes, creating shapes from scratch and by using the tiny characters from which the shapes are made.

The last facility available from Microtechnology is the diagram display utility which allows you to present a slideshow of diagrams, with each diagram in the sequence - up to 30 - selected by function keys. This facility would be useful in a teaching environment.

> In summary, Microtechnology is a versatile package which should prove useful for O and A level teaching. The circuit editing component is particularly good, although the version 1 had still contained some small bugs. It does not appear to support joysticks or mouse.

Ian Whitmore

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