This week, I had the great pleasure to give an introductory seminar on the Arduino at Autodesk. Autodesk is a sponsor of Artisan’s Asylum, and they have donated some fantastic design software.
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.