Volume 3 No.3, Fall 1999

ISSN# 1523-9926

Software Review

Review of CurrentMAKER Version 2.5

Stanley Hochman 

CurrentMAKER is one of three floppy disk problem packages from Coastal Computers.  CurrentMAKER has 105 categories of DC and AC problems, from the color code identification of resistors through ac circuit analysis.  This disk deals with passive components only.  Because of its comprehensive nature, you can assign different levels of problems for students to work with.  It is an ideal drill and practice set for both DC and AC classes. 

The problem set includes questions on series and parallel DC and AC circuits, and combination resistive circuits, Thevinin and Norton equivalent circuits, power, troubleshooting, analysis, and synthesis problems.  The disk also includes a simple schematic sketch and analysis system.  Components are entered on a grid.  When the circuit is completed, voltage and current values are calculated and displayed.  Students are able to take a test of selected problems and their results are tabulated as they go.  A grade and analysis of their performance is given at the end of the test and they can print out their results. 

I havenít used this product in a very long time.  One of my former students figured out how to display the answers to the problems (in a much earlier version) and then entered the answers, magically getting 100% on each computer based quiz.  I tried to find the key combination with this version of the software but wasnít successful in finding it.  I worked a large variety of the problems on this disk to get a feel for how it would work for my students.  It is an excellent tool to augment your textís problem sets (whatever your text may be). 

Additional comments/observations on this disk are as follows:

1.      The software is time-dated.  The expiration date is approximately ten months after the disk is used for the first time.  (It seems to be Y2k compliant.)

2.      There were no instructions with the disk, though it wasnít difficult to learn it was frustrating trying to figure out the rules until I got the hang of the system.  It will require a fairly simple set of instructions to get students started.

3.      The Help information is easy to read.

4.      You get into help by pressing the Space Bar (NOT the F1 function key).

5.      The program is DOS based.  It would have been nicer if it were Windows based (but would have required considerably more memory).

6.      The problem set had conventional current and electron flow versions.

7.      Answers were shown to five significant figures.  I would have preferred three to be consistent with our test instruments.

8.      Answers can tolerate an error of 2%.  My preference is no error tolerance.  This forces students to read their calculators accurately, and round properly.

9.      Resistor values were non standard, and were in the ohms range.  My preference would be to use the standard 5% values and include values through the 100 k range. 

The software is available from Coastal Computer Co., (252)433-7436, or at  www.ccomputer.com

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