School Chem Lab

I am working on a “Concept Prototype” of a modular school chem lab.

Modular Observation Beaker + Reagent beakers
The MOB sits on top of an Uno with Wifi, battery shield then with thermometer and Ph probes.
The RB (x2) sits on top of the same but with a safe fluid delivery system.

Educational Rationale:
Only components functionally visible to support learning are evident.
Complete Titration develops superior understanding

After online chat I was advised to go on the Forum…

My instinct is to buy Adafruit battery shield as it is the most self contained to put in a box and place a beaker ontop of. Wifi shield or Arduino (dont know this one) Arduino has less power drain + analog inputs + cost seem to win over Raspberry Pi.

… so above are my questions. Actually teaching at a school I know there are huge obstacles here in Australia. Quietly getting “concept prototypes” together is the most productive way forward.

Thanks, it will be really interesting to me to see if there is any interest at this early stage.

Hi Peter,

I’ve not built something like this, though I did find the below project. Between that project and your own objectives, you should have enough to tinker with some ideas. I wouldn’t worry about the final look of the device until you have the parts working the way you expect.

Given motors, light and other stuff is involved, it might be best to use a 9V wall power adaptor via the Arduino power jack. Small batteries wouldn’t last long for a setup like this.

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Thanks Graham,

I am working on something for schools. It is their first encounter and directing student focus is trickier that I think anyone imagines. On the day anything extra can and does mislead students so most start with just bare beakers and indicators.This is a trade off as the big picture is held back. The idea is to build the “Tritration Machine” + pH sensor but to hide it.

The end goal is to get early student exposure to


I will try to get the gist of this across.

Thanks again Peter

An alternative to the Pi/Arduino could be something like the WiPy or AdaFruit Huzzah32 they are both variants of the ESP32 and are a great Arduino-like system that has wifi and Bluetooth built in.

I have gone along the ESP 8266 route and this is my progress.

indent preformatted text by 4 spaces

I have questions as to

(1) how to set the IC2 addresses of the various breakouts
(2) the K thermocouple has only one wire showing at the end… What is the deal here?


Oh my mistake here, I didn’t know posting video’s was like this. So here is the tour so far.

A lot of I2C devices had the address fixed in hardware, but some do allow it to be changed though this will need to be checked in the Datasheet.

The thermocouple is pretty much just a resistance you measure the voltage drop over as the temperature changes so the sensor end is just the two ends of the wire fused together.

Thanks, realistically not being able to set the addresses would totally stuff IC2. I just have to get going and get soldering and setting up. I am feeling a bit flat on this.

Yes the thermocouple actually measures voltage, but the one i have here has only one piece of wire sticking out the signal end.

Basically I am off work with a stroke and doing projects to reboot. I am supposed to enroll in courses but am just seeing where my capabilities and the market is before I do too much.

Could I get Core to contract manufacture notional products as I churn through them?


This is a simple one that schools would lap up as it is a low cost way of getting across to the very young and disengaged that the number is what is in the wire.

I have a MBA and ran a robotics company so I hope I can progress things realistically and with no stress.


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Hi Peter,

We don’t really do any product manufacture here unfortunately. In regard to the thermocouple, what is the SKU# of that part?

Okay I will ask around.

I will photograph it soon

But heres a screen grab

However, I have found the wires the insulation has moved down obsuring them.

**Dr Peter Hill **

**Science teacher / Physicist ** 0432009205

Hi Peter,

If the two leads aren’t accessible then hit reply to your original order confirmation and we will get it sorted out for you.


This is a great forum, the software is really great for it.

Basically I went a little slow on the thermocouple as the wires had snuck inside, and I wanted not to wreck things so posted firsts.

The ganging of the rails and the colour coding of the wires are to teach the circuit.

I have to go but I do have a practical question before I plunge into micro python.

Sorry my quick questions going into this is do I need to configure a 5v rail and also add a 3.3 to 5 V chip.

The second question is: Is the deal that you have to load a Python complier on your PC and wade through really hard to access tutorials or am i missing something. Is there a easier way? Being new, I don’t know what to expect. It would be good if USB recognised the chip and downloaded the app driver for it with buttons to have a serial reader and python complier abit like the arduino interface. Thanks

Hi Peter,

What board are you programming with microPython? Is that the Adafruit HUZZAH?

Yes that the one, HUZZAH I just feel uneasy in my head… I can follow the path of down loading Python 2.7 etc but it just seems a little out of sorts after so much effort has gone into making things easy.
As a teacher it seams people have not laid things out so it is easy for a student to follow. So the things I do automatically like ganging the Vcc GND Clock and Com rail and colour coding the wires that you should do in education makes me feel uneasy that I am missing something.

So I should say ESP8266 Adafruit HAZZAH + Strain sensor IC2 + Thermocouple IC2, once I can program them it is pretty plain sailing for production runs, so I will ask about volume pricing and I am talking to contract manufacturers.

I will check the forums to see what has been done in this area.

I have done a MBA in the past, and business wise I think Core business model works well to develop competency in Education.

All the best.


Hi Peter,

The HUZZAH supports micropython, but it is in its purest form and a bit hard involved to install and get running. You can find the directions here:

The HUZZAH ‘supports’ micropython, but there are much easier to use microPython boards out there. For the sake of ease of use, there is no easier programming experience than CircuitPython in my opinion. That’s a version of Micropython that Adafruit makes which is designed for ease of use/education.

The load cell seams better


but I tracked down a faulty wire on the load cell


I have a reasonable experience with robotics and cables, and looking at the nature of the wire failure it points to manufacturing of the product. I have had other strain gauges for the last 20 years so this is a first.

So in summary, thermocouple is not IC2 but rather IPC and can have one wire operation. Obviously I needed an IC2 thermocouple amplifier, and I am stopped by code hitches not compiling

The strain gauge is IC2 is found but checking the integrity of the stuff I turned up this fault. It would be great if you can help.

Always calm and friendly, but will keep on chipping away. Do you want a robot documentary on my work and links etc?

Hi, I haven’t heard from Core. I will need a replacement strain gauge as soon as possible, for the short term any one will do. In Nortel I would build two stations at a time to account for any faulty components. in this case it was the Thermocouple and the Strain sensor as parallel items. I am off delivering high tech samples now so please get back with a plan forward. The plan is for teaching purposes there will be three separate strain gauges on the intelligent-wifi-beaker and the circuits will be available for explicit teaching. I hope this helps.

There are one or two docos on my work at various stages, this is one I promised.

My apologies here as the email had bounced with “new user over 5 images” which was a surprise as I had less than that.

At any how the load cell red wire has detached and is broken, and I need to move forward on a replacement. My “without prejudice” assessment that it is not caused by a trauma but a manufacturing fault but I am agnostic on this.

I am moving ahead on generation 2 of the Einstein Quantum Pendulum as new components for this have arrived.

All the best Core colleagues Peter

Hi Peter,

Not a problem about the gauge, just reply to your original order confirmation email and we will sort it out.

Very cool doco! Those are some incredible machines!

If you want to unlock full user privileges (more than five photos etc) then just read a few posts on the forum and check out the user guidelines.