I’ve been playing around with the Arduino for a while now (offline to the blog) and while it is a great platform to get into the embedded arena (and electronics in general), I am yearning for something a little bit more, something beyond the Arduino.
I haven’t done a blog post in a while (I had great plans on posting my experiments and circuits as I learned) but the time it takes to create a post on a simple circuit that I built during the learning iteration process just didn’t work.
I was keen to move onto the next ‘idea’ so by the time it came to sit down and write something it was 3 mini-projects later. All I can say is that the best way to learn is to just physically build it.
Recently I’ve been studying digital circuits (nand2tetris is a good course) instead of analogue circuits and have been fascinated on how an actual the computer works (right down to the inner workings of the logic chips).
I think it is now time to move beyond the Arduino and get myself into some other projects. Maybe something that isn’t Arduino but is a little bit old and feeds my nostalgic urge (hint: z80).
This month I thought I would try something different and explore the Arduino that everyone is talking about. I purchased an Arduino UNO starter kit from Australian Robotics and with a few electronic components I’ve collected over the past few years (plus a few extras that I’ve gotten recently) I’m starting my Arduino Adventures.
I had played around with electronics in the past (like when I was about 10, my uncle bought me a “Dick Smith’s Funway into Electronics”) but most of it was just following along some diagrams and plans. I never really ‘got it’ or understood what was happening. Fast forward about 30 years, and after reading about electronics again and hearing about the Arduino I thought I’d give it another shot.
To begin on my Arduino Adventures journey, I setup my ‘electronics lab’ next to my computer (as I obviously need my computer to program the Arduino). Being neat and organised is vital when you have lots of electronic components about. It provides you with an awesome space to do your inventing (not to mention that it is fun to sort out resistors and capacitors in their own unique draws – my OCD was off the chart!). It also makes the space a little bit more cat friendly. 🙂
I’ve been following along some of the tutorials online, however I’ve really been focusing on the Arduino Workshop book and in a short space of time have built some controlled traffic lights. Woohoo! I have found this book to be quite helpful and works well with my already understanding of basic electronics (without dumbing it down too much).
So here is the final product. The picture doesn’t really do it justice (next time I should upload a video). Most of the logic controlling the traffic lights is coded within the Arduino itself. You simply hook up your inputs (2 buttons, one for each set of traffic lights) and outputs (3 lights for each traffic light). It is quite an awesome feeling when it finally gets working.
I’ll most likely continue with the Arduino Workshop book for quite some time and once I’ve completed it then I should have a better idea on the kind of things I can build with this little device. I must admit it is quite addictive. Seeing REAL physical feedback. I haven’t had this much fun with programming for quite a while. I can’t wait until I can play with motors and stuff (which are later chapters in the book).
Also, I haven’t forgotten all my other projects (such as MonsterMovie and AdventureWorld) as I still plan on finishing those at some point. It is good to have a break from them at times so I figured having some Arduino Adventures would be a good distraction.