Need Some Distance Learning Ideas for COVID-19?

Here’s a short list of some of the things that you could do in CIM class with your kiddos while trying out distance learning. All will require a computer (That’s what the C in “CIM” stands for!) and some will require software downloaded… but feel free to change them around to fit your needs!

Research Project: Assign students to build a brochure, via google docs to make a brochure on a manufacturing process. Have them find a link to an interesting video on a process, watch it, and then add it to their brochure. Go HERE for the activity with a downloadable template. Go HERE for some exemplars.

Here’s an example of one of the brochures made with the template

Robotics Programming: Just got off the phone with Intellitek, and they said to go HERE to download the PLTW version of the software, and you have the free trial version. Even better is that if you give your students the key from your school district, they can unlock the full version at home. This is legit, and Intelitek said I could share this method via phone support. It will only work with this version! Wait! It gets better! Go HERE to get video tutorials for a lot of the Robocell projects!

Fusion Basics: Students can do some 3D modeling using fusion if they sign up in the autodesk student community. All of my students already have an account, then they log into their 360 account and use Fusion 360 in their browser! Kinda slow, so if you can download it, even better! The post HERE has downloadable worksheets and electronic hand ins for you and the students and a full set of videos to accompany them.

Advanced 3D modeling: Use your favorite software (Inventor/Fusion 360 was used for this activity) to complete these advanced models. The post HERE has downloadable worksheets and electronic hand ins for you and the students so that you can evaluate them from afar.

This would be another activity that you might be able to use as a distance learning project during the COVID-19 outbreak as well.

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Project Idea: Dual Lynx To Vex Handshaking Modules

Sorry it took so long, but here is some info on how to make the Dual Handshake Module Jim & I designed two years ago. All files are attached in a zip file at the link below. These files include:
  • All inventor part files: tweak to your heart’s content
  • STL and Makerbot files
  • DXF files for the cover.
  • Various pictures to help with assembly
  • Materials list
  • PDF of this Project
reddownloadHandshake Module Container



Parts List v2
Items above in red are not needed. These were from version 1. This brings the cost down, but requires you to use less costly servo extension wires for the cables.

Soldering Diagram (Better one coming soon!)

solder diagram 2



  1. Solder 4N25 IC’s in place. Use caution and work quickly as they are heat sensitive.
  2. Solder LED’s and Headers in place (or wires, your choice!)
  3. Knock the corners of the board off so it fits into the container.
  4. Snap the board into the container.
  5. Place the spacers on top of the board.
  6. Place the cover on carefully.
  7. Put the 4-40 screws through.
  8. Put the nuts on the back, tighten carefully.

Tips and Tricks:

Paint the cover BLACK before you peel it, and the black dots will indicate where the black wires go!  The arrows indicate the direction of the communication: Tail of the arrow = the signal “Sender”, head of the arrow = signal “Receiver”  Cover
 Container back  Container front
Container back prints with space for 4-40 nuts. Container front prints so that the board will snap into the built in standoffs. IN ORDER TO FIT, YOU HAVE TO KNOCK THE CORNERS OFF THE BREADBOARD. I used a belt sander.  
To assemble the parts, see below. Be sure to use the printed spacers to stop the board from wiggling around!  
 HSM exploded view
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How do I Handshake A VEX Cortex With a Lynxmotion Arm?

IF YOU CANNOT READ THE DIAGRAMS BELOW,PLEASE CLICK ON THE DOWNLOAD BUTTON TO GET A PDF VERSION! reddownloadLynx-VEX Handshaking Notes Question: How do I receive a signal on a Cortex from the SSC-32 (Lynx Robot) in RobotC? Answer: One way to do it is shown in the example below. A machine is waiting for a signal from the robot. The €œwhile€ statement in the program below is not necessary, just an added bonus as a start switch. NOTE THE COMMENTS BELOW FOR HOW THE WIRING GOES! LynxToVEXwiring LynxVexHS3 Question: How do I send a signal from the Cortex to the SSC-32 in RobotC?  Answer: It is definitely best to set a SensorValue to either 1 or 0 and make it a Digital Output!  Any other way and the signal will be backwards. Notice that you can check the value of the signal in the debugger window.  Notice that there is only one =. This sets the value. == means compare….. VEXtoLynxWiringSerial LynxVexHS2 Question: How do I make it talk back and forth? Answer: See the picture below. Please read the comments too! LynxVexHS1 Continue Reading



This post is ARCHIVED, meaning the links may or may not work!
My computers do not have serial ports, what is the best way to connect them to my computer?


Best solution for now is below, but nothing beats the good old serial port. Check  the back of the computer and see if it has one. If it does, use it!  It is 100x’s better than any converter with FlowArm.

After many years of using these, we have come to this conclusion: Some of them work better than others with certain things. The one below works best with the Lynx Arms and Flowbotics Studio.

IN MOST CASES YOU MUST INSTALL THE DRIVER THAT COMES WITH THE DEVICE (OR CAN BE DOWNLOADED FROM THEIR WEBSITE) IN SOME CASES THE WINDOWS DEFAULT DRIVER DOES NOT WORK WELL. Repeat: Install the proper driver! If you have one of the devices below, click on the links to get the right driver.

The ones we have found to be most stable when using Lynxmotion Robots with Flowbotic Studio are made by FTDI, and are bought atDigi-KeyThey’re about $19 at Digi-Key, and work with Windows 7 in my lab without installing drivers.  If you need drivers, they are here. I have not personalyy tested these with anything but this ftdi
iogear The ones we have been recommending for years, that worked with Fischertechnik, Basic Stamps, Lynx arms with RIOS, pretty much everything in the PLTW curriculum is the one made by IOGear. We found them for $21 atCyberGuys. You MUST install the drivers for these, and they come with it, or you can go here to get them. When used in this application without the driver installed, it does not wo
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Jim Hanson

Chris Hurd