Release your imagination…

Components images

The Arduino is a bit of a phenomenon – an inexpensive, small computer that can be programmed to control endless creations limited only by your imagination.

A lie detector, reaction timer, electronic dice, keypad entry system, laser trip wire alarm and defusable bomb game are just some of the cool projects that the Arduino Project Handbook will demonstrate how to build. All are easily achievable and have one thing in common – they use the power of the Arduino.

In order to understand the true origins of the Arduino Project handbook I’m going to delve into the past where my interest in electronics and computer programming started.

Back in the early eighties I remember picking up a great penguin paperback titled gadgets and gizmos, hidden away in a local book store. The projects were really simple such as making your own working lighthouse using torch bulbs or a revolving display table using an old clock. The ideas in that book sparked my imagination and I’ve been creating ever since.

Curiosity meant I took apart various electrical items to experiment and find out how they worked. I usually struggled to put them back together but amassed a good selection of components to tinker with. This is a great way of gathering lots of parts.

I remember wiring together a string of small torch bulbs to make floodlights for my Subuteo kit as well as creating a tannoy system to blast out music at half time. I even managed to extract some LED’s from a Star Wars toy, only to burn them out as I didn’t understand what a resistor was at the time. Small motors, buzzers and solar cells were all used to create burglar alarms and super whizzy cars – a few motors were burnt out too!

Zx spectrum

At the same time the ZX Spectrum 48k micro computer was launched and introduced home computing to the mass market. The ZX Spectrum was intended as a serious computer but inadvertently lent itself more to gaming due to the simple programming language. As a result software houses sprouted from bedrooms across the country. The program language used by the ZX Spectrum was called basic and in many ways the Arduino language of C is quite similar.

Physical computing, where software and hardware react to the physical world is not new and was around in the eighties but confined to very high end computing and robotics, way out of reach of most households. Now, some 30 years on, I’m tinkering again with electronics but this time I can add programming into the mix by using the Arduino.

The Arduino is a microcontroller and the software that runs it. This little box of tricks can be used to develop interactive projects that can respond to various sensors and control items such as lights, motors or switches.

The internet is bursting with tutorials and articles covering the Arduino and what it can do but it can be frustrating. Many of the online guides are great but usually lack any detailed visual reference and many of the YouTube guides lack the code required.

Arduino project handbook LCD temp display

Similar to the book that inspired me so many years ago, the idea behind this book is to introduce the Arduino and components needed to create projects in a simple way and hopefully inspire the reader to create their own contraptions by combining projects.

The projects start with the basics and progress with a steady learning curve to more complex designs. Each project description will include; what the project will do, the items needed, visual references of the set up, simple step by step process, schematic and finally the code with some simple explanations.

What this book doesn’t do is go into great detail of electronics theory or programming but will give a good starting point.

Whilst there are many excellent Arduino books available, I couldn’t find one that was visually stimulating but practical at the same time. I decided to experiment with the Arduino and create a record of my achievements that I could refer back to – this book is a result of that.

This is the type of book I was looking for but didn’t exist, I hope that now it does, you might enjoy it too.

You can buy the book from here

Mark Geddes, August 2014

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