What is Electronics? – My first day with #Arduino
“Michelle, Do you know anything about electronics?”
“I’ve replaced parts in a computer…….?”
Little did I know that this was the answer Lee Stacey (who works with Designspark) was hoping for. He immediately arranged a meeting to offer me the challenge of designing something electronic with the #Arduino board from RS Components and to blog my findings.
He and Designspark believe that someone with little or no electronics experience can learn and design with Arduino.
When Lee first took the magical box of bits and book Getting Started with Arduino (which I must say at first glance looked like gibberish) out of his bag. I admit I was a small bit concerned, it looked way over my head. And yet, on the other hand The Arduino Kit looked exciting and a challenge. I do like a challenge and I love a bit of tech, so I could not refuse.
On my return home, I was still thinking to myself what on earth is this Arduino all about. Even though I was still a little apprehensive, I was keen to explore electronics. As I started to read the book, it all started to take shape, the book was explaining what the Arduino board is and does, I was already learning about electronics!
First I learned what Arduino was
Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software on running on a computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP).
I was ready – I wanted to….. design something ….
- Download the IDE – Integrated Development Environment. – Check.
- Plug in the Arduino board to download the drivers. – Check
Sounds professional doesn’t it, I still didn’t really know what was going on!
- Find out which port it is assigned to. – Check
- Assign port.
I’ll need that for programming later. (programming!)
After reading the instructions on how to do this, I went into the Arduino development environment and the port was already there.
I felt as though I’d done loads already but I had built nothing yet! …..
Its about to all happen now!
The first test is to see if I can get a LED to light.
The instructions say to select file new and to name it. My file is already named and it tells me to save the sketch first before renaming it, so that’s what I do.
The book explained that I could copy and paste the sketch (coding) from www.makezine.com but the page would not open on my pc, so typing it is then.
- Type the sketch – Check
- Hit Verify button – Check
Its verified, it says done compiling.
- Upload sketch to the board
Followed the instructions to upload it to the board and whoooooooooo I have a flashing LED on my board!
After all that excitement I then had to read lots of text explaining what I just did, and it all made sense……. how strange! I loved reading the book, it is a fascinating, effortless, easy to use book.
After that I was feeling brave and confident so I decided that I was going to make the LED blink slower and faster – it worked!
Happy and smug that my first test worked out ok. I was looking forward to doing more…….