The folks at Autodesk are smart (in fact, my introductory slide was simply “Hello! You folks are smart.”), and have a great deal of programming and logical thinking backgrounds. This three hour seminar introduced them to the basics of the Arduino (digital output, digital input, analog input, and analog output (sorta – the Arduino uses pulse width modulation, PWM)). We use the Sparkfun Inventors Kit as a toolkit, and had a great time.
The attendees got to build some really neat things, and learned some of the details of the physical computing world; such things as switch bounce, broken wires, missed connections, and fried components, which don’t usually appear in the software world. It really was a great class to teach, and there were some really novel things that they made by the end of class; devices that played music that changed tempo based upon the position of a sensor, warning sensors based on sound, and some even wired up the classic ‘Simon’ game. It really was an amazing seminar, and I look forward to teaching it again.
Although the Arduino gets some flack from some control and hardware folks, it is a good platform to introduce folks to microcontrollers, and you can do a great deal with it. You can even port small projects to really cheap ATTiny85 8-pin chips, which makes it an attractive way to build small test projects in higher volumes.
One of the attendees, Mikako Hirada, wrote up a nice blog post on the class here.