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Arrrrrrrrrrrrrg, I HATE exam boards

  1. Apr 8, 2006 #1
    Take a look at this:


    For a sense of scale that metal thing in the foreground is a 30cm ruler. This is my recently completed A-level electronics coursework (exams Brits do 1 year before uni/college for those over the pond iirc).

    Anywho, what it is is a 4-bit Turing-complete computer processor made from predominantly 4000 series logic chips. It's taken me nearly a year, uses around 250 metres of wire, 150 integrated circuits and 80 prototype boards. I've pretty much extracted every strand of digital electronics i know to forge this conglomerate thing (it even has a ^@&$ing dot matrix display for crying out loud - a decent programmer could write a game of pong for it).

    So you'd think, considering this is literally an order of magnitude more complex than the trash that's normally whacked out I'd pretty much be garuanteed full marks, right?

    WRONG. Well this is why I'm pissed off (as in really, really pissed off, just for clarification) - because to get even 50% for this project my project write-up is going to have to be an order of magnitude larger than normal - I have to write a circuit diagram, logic diagram and prototype board layout for every subsystem (oh, about 30 in this case) as well as for the entire system (anybody got some wallpaper that I can write this on?), so if I made some 10 chip piece of honk I'd be done in a day, whilst this is going to take me a month of flat out work, and this happens to be a month before I take around 15 A-level exams as well.

    I know I probably should have thought of this all in advance, but it really, really irritates me when exam boards reward effort with a bucket full of excrement. :mad: . It hasn't been helped by the fact that my electronics department has been close to openly hostile about my project. It's the largest thing ever built by our school department and all they do is @%*& me off by complaining I'm using all their equipment. WTF? I go to one of the most expensive schools in the UK and they have a go at me for using £200 of equipment. I have got ZERO support, ZERO help and ZERO encouragement from my electronics department with this project and it strikes me as incredibly wrong that that should be the case (granted I probably got no help because I haven't drawn up any circuit diagrams yet, but it show total contempt when he can't even remember what I'm building. He keeps referring to it as a 2-bit computer or an ALU despite me repeatedly telling him just what the £&!@ it is I'm building, and on one of my end of term reports he mentioned that I had just started working on my project - despite the fact I had started several MONTHS earlier).

    p.s. sorry this thread has no direction whatsoever, but I had to rant about this. Why do I even bother? I should take this as an important life lesson - never try to excel because I'll get less credit than if I sat on my arse.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2006 #2
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahhahaha Sucks 4 U!

    Ever heard of Pspice?

    Personally, If You turned in a circuit board like that to me and I was your professor, I'd just give you a flat out F. No way in HELL would I try to follow your circuit. It's a bloody mess man!
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2006
  4. Apr 8, 2006 #3
    How on earth did that take a whole year to build?
  5. Apr 8, 2006 #4


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    You knew what you were suppose to do, don't act surprised.
  6. Apr 8, 2006 #5


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    I have a feeling he didn't just throw it all together with no rhyme or reason.
  7. Apr 8, 2006 #6
    Then why'd he build it out of breadboards?
  8. Apr 8, 2006 #7
  9. Apr 8, 2006 #8


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  10. Apr 9, 2006 #9


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    First of all, I can't believe you did that without a circuit diagram. Not an "I'm impressed" kind of "can't believe", I just flat out don't believe you. *Noone* can build a processor from scratch without a schematic, at least a rough one. So you should have had something drawn.

    Of course, if you meant that you'd done it for yourself, and just not submitted it to officialdom, then that's plausible.

    Secondly, why on earth are you breadboarding the whole circuit and submitting it like that ? Even my little electronics lab in Junior College had electrolytic apparatus and blank copper PCB templates for students to freely use. Etching the PCB can be as simple and inexpensive as drawing the required outline with a permanent marker before electrolysis, then drilling the required holes. If you want a more professional look there are stick-on templates you can purchase (again, cheaply) to serve the same purpose with more precision.

    Failing a customised PCB, at least you should've used Veroboard, it's more permanent and slightly neater than breadboard.

    What I'm trying to say is : IMHO, that looks like a half-arsed project. In electronics, neatness does count, at least in the final submission. A prototype board submission in the making for a year will not receive high marks in my book.

    And yes, I've done a fair bit of electronics in my young days.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2006
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