Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's Next?

I must have missed the memo!

In the last week, the following things have occurred:

1. Arduino The Documentary was released.

Arduino The Documentary (2010) English HD from gnd on Vimeo.

2. Make magazine Volume 25 focuses on the Arduino. (I'd estimate 50-60% of the magazine is directly related or involves the Arduino in some manner - I have the PDF/digital version on my iPad, but the print version should be out by Jan 25.)

3. Beginning Arduino from Apress hit the shelves (once again, however, I got the digital version)

4. Even The Ben Heck Show has coverage of the Arduino in this week's episode!

Given that the Arduino seems to have multiple spotlights on it for the month of January 2011, I guess this is as good a time as any to announce that when I finish the Make: Electronics book (this week, I believe) I plan on continuing forward by learning (and blogging) about my experiences with tackling the 50 projects in the Beginning Arduino book (#3 above).

Fifty projects?! I've scanned most of them and believe that I can do it... but I'm not setting a timeline and I'm most certainly not committing to doing all 50. A lot of it depends on costs (which I haven't figured out yet) of all the required components... and interest. The book looks great, but if I dig in and find myself getting bogged down or dissatisfied with the projects/book? Who knows?

That said... I've been waiting a LONG time to begin my hands-on with the Arduino. I know what it is... I know how it works... sort of. But I've never actually done anything with one. So...

I've ordered myself the Arduino Uno... and I may be ordering a few add-ons/accessories from the MakerStore shortly.

But because this is a completely different topic and book, I'll be moving this discussion over to a new blog - - I've already got 2 followers, so apparently some folks have already jumped in even before the announcement.

As with this book, I'll be documenting my results - both successful and otherwise - and including photos and videos of my work. While I'm at it, I'll also do my best to build a running Google Spreadsheet that contains all the parts I've used (and where I bought them... and cost). Chime in if there's anything I've missed (or that you'd like to see me add) and I'll see what I can do...

Now... back to Exercise 35 and that PICAXE...


  1. I've completed Beginning Arduino through chapter 8 and have learned a lot...indeed enough that I felt compelled to begin learning C++ proper as well. The downside of Arduino however, is that while it is cheap at $30 or so, I still chafe at the idea of building a project that includes such an expensive part, so I am still using it only for and the Parallax Basic Stamp Board of Education ("BOE") too.

    Eventually I hope to understand Arduino and C++ well enough to prototype projects with Arduino and a bread board, then create finished projects using the ATmega, or other Atmel chips. C++ seems much more versatile than BASIC.

    But, the PICAXE projects in Mr. Platt's book were a great introduction to that controller and I have already reworked one of my BOE projects so it can run from a PICAXE 08M. I programed it to drive a pair of model airplane servos which position a hammer over the bars of a childs toy glockespiel and strike the notes to Mary Had a Little Lamb. The next step for that project is to jump up to either a more capable PICAXE chip or an Atmel MCU and incorporate an I2C bus, a Real Time Clock, and additional memory. Then I will neatly package it in some artistic way and it will strike out various tunes at programmable times each day.

    Anyway, I think Mr. Platt did an awesome job of introducing the PICAXE, and I am kind of hoping someone will prod him to write a complete book on it.

    Although Arduino seems to have captured everyone's attention at the moment, PICAXE has some great advantages. In particular, it is cheap and easy to wire up and program, and for my purposes (teaching technology to middle school kids) there is a huge benefit in using a cheap MCU that can turn a salvaged toy car into a programmable robot for under $10.

    Anyway, I continue to enjoy your blog and also the CNC book.


  2. Hmmm... maybe I'll do a parallel set of posts, and mimic all the Arduino projects from the book... as Netduino projects.

    Should be an interesting challenge.

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