(No, not the card game.)
The Arduino Board
The possibly most important component in this practical course was introduced on the second day: The arduino uno (and its hard-to-pronounce relatives). We started to get to know our new companion with several basic installments, the first of which was a blinking LED, which is the hardware equivalent to the famous “hello world”. After that, we gradually added more components, like buttons or a potentiometer. Parallel to the physical tinkering, we also learned how to tell the board logically what to do, i. e. the software-side of things.
Input with Sensors
To communicate with the arduino board in other ways than with buttons or the potentionmeter, several sensors proved to be beneficial. We learned about which types of sensors exist and instantly deployed some first experiments with them, e. g. with temperature, distance, magnetic presence or pressure.
Feedback with Actors
Actors complement the set of hardware utilities and allow the microcontroller to react to the (human) input. Apart from the classical LEDs, we also played around with servos, pushing-cylinders, vibration and an analogue number display. Some of these parts required more power than the arduino itself could offer, so we also learned how to apply transistors to create a basic control circuit. This then allowed us to use an external power supply.
Day number two has brought us valuable understanding of the various input and output methods, and – most importantly – how to apply these sensors and actors to the microcontroller. We also went our first steps with the arduino programming environment. Hopefully, we’re now ready to develop some great ideas to assemble our new hardware equipment and knowledge creatively!