I got into Arduino as a way to teach my children about electronics and programming. We had tried using Scratch early on (5-7 ages), and after some initial interest the quickly got bored with it. Likewise, the kids patience for “Learn to program : for kids!!” books wasn’t there, so I was looking for a more hands-on, immediate results approach. Arduino seemed like a good platform for a variety of reasons.
While the kids in fact have gotten into it, I have spent way more time tinkering than they, and it has indeed become my latest hobby, and led to my interest in learning Processing. The great thing about arduino is there is a vibrant community of enthusiasts out there and it is all open source, so if you are struggling with getting something to work, there is certainly someone out there who has already solved it. Plus there tons of tutorials out there and places to buy components, such as:
- Make: Arduino Projects
- Radio Shack
- SparkFun Electronics
- Anything you can’t find there, you’re sure to find on Amazon
Learning to work with arduino is like learning programming in a lot of ways. At first you have to do a lot of really simple projects to get the basics down – make an LED blink, read the temperature from a sensor, send variable values to a serial device, take an action based on an input switch or button – but then once you have those down, you can start to do some really interesting things by combining them together. Here is a list of those I found most interesting or fun, or improved in some way from what I what I was able to find available on the interwebs.
If you are just getting started, I highly recommend the Make: Getting Started with Arduino. The Make series in general are always a great place to start and they’re generally inexpensive.
- Self calibrating laser trip wire
- 8×8 LED Matrix bit map driven display, with Processing bit map generator
- Arduino powered 160 RGB LED outdoor strip
- GPS driven, RC HUMVEE patrol vehicle