December Update


At the beginning of December we posted our first update video on YouTube that showed the team interaction and how we work together. ( )

On the communication side, our primary objectives for this month were to focus on social media, outreach and the press release.

We created a social media schedule to identify when to post and update our team information. In addition we drafted our press release and identified additional media that we listed under our outreach listings.

We also brainstormed ideas on what to include in the press kit we plan on releasing to the media.  These ideas include original creations using the laser cutter, such as key chains and laser cut chocolate, as well as ornaments and business cards.

During our school’s exhibition on the 18th of December, we organized a fundraiser selling original ornaments using laser cutter. We were able to raise over $300.

During Winter Break our team met for team bonding and went to Sunset Cliffs as well as at a nearby park to get to know each other better. We shared our strengths and weaknesses and discussed how we can be more efficient for our project and our work as a team.

For January we are planning to:

  • Create a cover photo for Facebook page.
  • Set up a calendar to document when certain photos and other important information will be posted.
  • Finalize our Press Kit and send our press release to media to announce our Mid-Year Grant Review scheduled in February.
  • Create more buzz for our social media accounts.
  • Draft the letter to the editor.
  • Post another video to show the progress of our project.
  • Finalize our outreach/communication plan.
  • Write an article for the High Tech High Connections Newsletter


At the end of last month, we were just beginning to get readings from the oscilloscope, so we started our December first meeting continuing work there, as well as exploring a new product we purchased, the IComsat SIM900 GSM/GPRS shield for Arduino to send SMS messages. All the meanwhile we were of course continuing our work experimenting with a physical electric fence.

After a few meetings of research on what arduino shield would best suit our needs for sending a SMS message (we favor the arduino setup because a good amount of people on the team have worked extensively with the hardware and software) we decided to use a shield called the IComSat (below).

The IComSat proved to be a hard nut to crack, as we had many problems involving libraries for the shield, hardware errors, and the very worst luck. We still not have solved this problem, but we are to the point where we know that it works, but a tiny technical difficulty keeps us from successfully using this method.

Next Month’s Goals

Now that we have set up and figured out how our GMS shield works, we need to gather baseline data about the voltage output of our fence so we can start applying and integrating our knowledge of the device to and with our actual fence.


Send pertinent files to Sharon, like the latest CAD, or summary of experiments, and calculations. Compress the files into one .ZIP file per month and ask Sharon to upload it to TeamAccess. Label the files appropriately, with the team name and subject matter.


As of now we have not met the monthly spending goal of 60%, we are closer to 20%.
Next month we would like to meet the monthly budget goal of $1,000. We are going to do this by buying supplies used for prototyping. We forecast prototyping costs to raise our spending significantly.
The biggest issues thus far financially are that we aren’t meeting budgetary goals set forth, but prototyping and further technical work will use up a significant part of budget.


Throughout the course of this month, we have had three meetings that were about two and a half hours long each. As a team, it has become increasingly clear that although we all get along, our greatest weakness is organization. We have struggled to organize our thoughts, our work, and our data once it is collected. In order to combat this, we have begun to have each participant take notes on what they completed each meeting and keep digital records of our data. Hopefully we can create an organized atmosphere that will encourage the team to continue utilizing the new tools put in place. In order to do this, we will (at least in the beginning) need to be more strict about documentation.


January 15, 2015

Technical Work: Fence Set Up

Before our winter break, we left off our data collection discovering that the fence gave different voltage outputs depending where we chose to measure on it using the oscilloscope. We had previously assumed the voltage would be constant throughout the fence since it is a single circuit, so we were surprised to find it had varying voltages at different locations. When we measured the fence at different distances from the energizer we got different results. Unsure as to why this was happening, we wanted to be able to test multiple regions of the fence simultaneously; that way we could eliminate that other factors that were causing the variance. However, after an unfortunate accident broke part of our oscilloscope, we could only utilize one of its two channels, so we decided to order a new oscilloscope to measure and compare two spots on the fence.

In order to measure two locations at once, we needed to change our fence set up. Previously, we had been measuring the voltage output with this set up:


We measured the voltage at the energizer, at the start of the fence, and ten feet out

In order to compare greater distances with our oscilloscope, we changed our fence setup to look like a wave. This way we could utilize the device’s two channels to test and compare the fence at two spots simultaneously to determine if the fences voltage was changing constantly or independently and in accordance with the region we were testing. Our new fence set up looked like this:


Or in person:


Distance Measurements:


25ft 25ft 25ft 30ft 30ft 30ft 55ft 55ft 55ft
Input 18.0kv 18.0kv 18.0kv
Output 17.6kv 17.6kv 17.6kv

Screenshot (28)

At 25ft, our voltmeter sometimes reads the same voltage (low resolution)

Written by Phillip Steiner and Adrian Maya, Technicians for High Tech High’s 2015 InvenTeam