Arduino @ FabLab!

Arduino?? No, that’s not a dog’s name. It is a toy. A toy not for small kids, but for big kids. Like we are! ūüôā

Arduino is a tiny computer, which does what you tell him. You can use your computer to write some code that is later transferred to the Arduino via USB. The Arduino then runs your program. If you have ever written any kind of code, you won’t get into any trouble. If you have not, you will also be able to program your Arduino! The language is easy to understand and the coding application¬†comes with lots of examples.

We started by writing code that blinks an LED.¬†Yes, that alone is not very useful in “real life”, however, you could combine it with some other code … or some other Arduino parts! We added a light sensor and of course some code to the¬†Arduino. We told the Arduino to turn on the LED when there was less daylight and turn it off again when we had more daylight again.

Arduino and a Light Sensor

For me, the Arduino seems to be a powerful and useful device! I’m a fan (and user) of home automation devices like the Nest Thermostat. Maybe the Arduino will be the next nerdy device at my home ūüôā

Here’s another inspiration what you could do with an Arduino! Found at¬†http://www.engadget.com/2015/04/04/moon-phases/¬†

 

Working at the Fab Lab, Yeah

My title is based off the song working at the car wash, because when I hear that song I think of a fun experience of being at a car wash.  I chose a play on words of that song, because visiting the Community Fab Lab for Week 10 was a blast.  Going into the day I did not know what to expect and thought being at the Fab Lab might be boring and nerdy. I spent the majority of the day in the electronics section of the lab learning arduinos and how to solder electrical wires.

Learning arduinos was simple and fun thanks to instructors Virginia and Colten.  We starting off learning how to rig the arduino to have one LED blink, next we added a light sensor, and finally a speaker.  The most interesting part for me was changing the code to have the light blink faster or slower, and changing the code to make different pitches and volumes come from the speaker.  Below are a few pictures of my progress, including the code for the LED blink light, a preassembled arduino, and the assembled LED blink arduino.

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After learning arduino, Virginia taught a few of us how to solder an electrical wire to an electric component.  I had never soldered before, so it was a cool experience.  Solder is the material used in between the wire and the metal on the electric component.  Soldering differs from welding in that it does not melt the metal component or the wire, but only the solder.  After melting the solder in between the wire and the metal component, you take off the hot soldering tool and let the solder harden around the wire and metal and boom you have an electrical connection.  Soldering was wild to me because the melting and hardening all happens within seconds.

My overall experience at the Fab Lab was filled with fun, engaging learning.  I look forward to the next opportunity I will have to solder and work with arduinos.

Week 9: Astounded by Arduinos

Arduino Technology: WOW!

This past week, our class had the privilege of learning how to use Arduino¬†technology and how to program an Arduino for a variety of different purposes.¬†As a student currently learning about digital making, I was very impressed by the ease and incredible capabilities that the Arduino has to create in digital ways. We programmed in an interface that directly loads programs we coded into the computing board. Having coded in Java and Python a little bit before, I found the process of writing the program fairly natural. I’m definitely not a developer, but creating the framework and instructions for the digital creation was not incredibly difficult. The challenge came when we had to create the circuits that would enable the program to carry out its various functions and operations. With other forms of digital making, we typically do not have the ability to interact with computer hardware. However, this past week we had the responsibility to enable the hardware to work in order to ensure the work we were doing¬†in software performed the way we intended. My friend and I were able to write a program that made a light flicker on and off at various intervals. While this program may be fairly rudimentary and not necessarily something ground-breaking, it was¬†my first Arduino program!

Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno

Moving Forward Using Arduino Technology

In addition to learning about Arduinos, we also had the Champaign Fab Lab¬†give us a brief presentation about the different projects they have. As we move forward learning more about the various forms of digital making that are available, I believe¬†that we will be able to see the many ways that Arduinos and smaller computers are being used to create inventions that can become a useful product or platform for learning. For our class, I believe that Arduinos and similar pieces of technology will be an excellent way for us to learn about how computers running programs that manifest themselves on delivery platforms other than typical computers. Whether it’s an e-textile or using an Arduino to help turn an every day purse into a solar powered bag that can charge personal electronic devices, the applications of Arduino technology are infinite. I’m excited to learn more about how to program these unique platforms and discover ways that organizations like the Fab Lab can help me find beneficial uses of the technology to create new products or excellent learning opportunities for ourselves and other students.

Week 9: Arduino & Fab Lab

On March 17th the class was full of interesting and new things. First of all I learned what is Arduino and got to play with it. “Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software.” As its definition tells you Arduino is a piece of electronic platform that can be programmed to do certain functions.¬†IMG_20150317_141537

So, I started by watching couple Arduino tutorials from the MakerLab’s website. Here is the link to the tutorials http://makerlab.illinois.edu/2014/02/24/getting-started-with-arduinos/. Then, after I watched first two of them, I started writing code. Here is how it looked like:

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After the code was written I tried to test whether my system would work or not. Essentially my goal was to turn the light on. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that because of some hardware connectivity problems. I believe I was missing some part, or probably connected it incorrectly. But here is how it looked like:

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For the rest of the class we had a guest speaker from a Fab Lab. Fab Lab is a community based maker lab located on campus close to Agriculture Library. He showed us different cool things that were made at Fab Lab and explained what they do there overall. I, personally, think that it’s a great place that should exist in every community. Especially it is very beneficial for children because it helps them develop and understand design as well as think more creatively. Looking forward for our sessions there after the break!

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