Category Archives: arduino

At the Faire

bots@lvI went to the Lehigh Valley Mini-Makers’ Faire yesterday, helping out Don Dagen do some robotics, Arduino, and Makey Makey demos. Don is a mechanical engineer with a passion for teaching kids. (If you’re a school looking to get this started on the primary level, you should hire him, btw)

It was held in the former Bethlehem Steel works, a cool repurposing of industrial space, called SteelStacks. I mainly held down the robot table, where we had a drawing bot, made from Knex pieces, an Arduino, a wireless shield, and 3 servo motors. We used S4A (Scratch for Arduino) to program it. Don also brought a Sparkiduino, a cool little self-contained Arduino robot. We basically had a steady stream of people all day who wanted to play with the bots, as well as play the Makey Makey pong game that Don had set up with a nerf sword, a giant fly swatter, a carrot, and an Angry Birds hat!

I didn’t have much time to see all the rest of the amazing stuff, though there was a laser harp near us, which is my own dream project. Long day, but fun!

It’s Alive! Arduino Success

A followup to my last post, wherein nothing worked.

This time it worked just as advertised. Definitely a woohoo¬†moment! And just in case you don’t believe me, I’ve uploaded some video after the jump.

So what happened in between the last attempt and this one? Lots. First I went to Radio Shack on Friday and bought a package of assorted resistors and a nicer breadboard, which has letter and number markings and is bigger than the “tiny breadboard” that came in the Arduino starter kit from Adafruit. Friday night I bought Adafruit’s Circuit Playground app, which is an amazing resource for someone like me. Today I went to Harbor Freight tools and got several nice storage/tool kits to stash my components in, a digital multimeter, and a couple of magnifiers. One of them you wear like a hat and is sure to help me score MAJOR geek points.

Then I sat down with all my new stuff and tried to find a 220 ohm resistor, as per the instructions on the Arduino website. Guess what? Didn’t have one. Did I mention that I’m color-blind and have a hard time figuring out the color bands on those tiny resisters? When I realized I didn’t have that size resistor, I didn’t know if you could use another one, whether the other had to be stronger, weaker…. Did some googling and found that using one close usually is OK, so I used a 330 ohm resistor, which was the closest I had. I used the Circuit Playground app to check different color bands as best I could till I found the 330 ohm one.

Copied the Processing code from the Arduino site, debugged it, got it running. Then the moment of truth…. uploaded the “sketch” (as Arduino programs are called) and ….. drumroll please………..

Nothing happened. The LED didn’t light up at all, didn’t fade in and out. Didn’t do anything. Said a few choice words. Then started wiggling components, just to make sure everything was connected right. When I tapped the LED, it lit up. Oh ho! Then I pushed it down to make sure it had contact with the bottom of the breadboard, ran the sketch again and BAM: fading LED! Woohoo!

I know someday I’ll re-read this and laugh at the total newbiness of this post. But today is a good day.

PS – if the vid is upside down, my apologies.



First Arduino failure

Rank newbie that I am, I’m doing my very first experiment with Arduino, a breadboard, and a resistor. I used a tutorial from damboat¬†on YouTube and tried to do what she said. It’s

photo (3)

supposed to fade the LED in and out. So I connected the wire from ground to breadboard, LED on breadboard, then resistor from breadboard to pin 9.
What happened? As you can see in picture, the LED lit up. But didn’t fade. I was afraid that maybe my resistor was the wrong value (it was 1K, if my calculations are correct). As I always tell my robotics students, we learn more from failure than success. So I’m learning a lot. Just haven’t learned how to make this work. So that’s my next step.en resistor from breadboard to pin 9 on Arduino. Then basically copied the code (link after the jump).

YouTube tutorial here.

First impressions of Arduino

arduinoMy Arduino Uno from Adafruit arrived yesterday. What an awesome kit! Breadboards, circuit board, LED’s, power supplies, and way more. I found a great tutorial on YouTube (thanks, mjlorton!) which walked me through installation of software and device on my Windows 7 machine. Then I ran my first program in Processing, which made the LED flash on and off every second. Who knew a blinking light could be so exciting?

I’m pretty much an absolute newbie in electronics, but the Arduino is aimed at people like me, among others. The open source hardware concept really appeals to me, as does the MAKE philosophy that this lends itself to. It’s making technology fun again. I’m hoping to make this enthusiasm kind of viral here with my students with a view to helping them learn how to “hack” technology. Not in the bad way, of course, but in the way that they can take the tech apart, remix it, and make it their own. Let the revolution begin.