If you thought that for developing your own piece of integrated hard- and software, say a weird 3D input gadget, a table that lights up inside in various ways or other crazy things you’d need a degree in electrical engineering or physics – think again.
Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
From my own experience, I can only confirm that Arduino is a great thing to hack yourself into various aspects of your (digital) life – here is a nice documentary I came across on vimeo:
I just finished my first project with it – and I am quite happy it all works!
Sure, it’s not going to win any design awards, but that’s not the point. Just getting something like this to work, roughly the way you imagined it when setting out, is just priceless. And it wets the appetite for more. After all, this is a hobby that helps to stay in touch with the fundamentals in computer science. You know, keep the feet on the ground (soldered to the circuit board) while sticking the head in the sky (programming, algorithms). Maybe someone in the family will appreciate it as a self-made present after all 😉
Ingredients: 1 Potentiometer, 5 “standard” LEDs, 1 RGB LED, pingpong balls, a couple of resistors, plaster, airballoons, bubble wrap, gaffer tape, soldering kit. Just add water (to the plaster) and some patience (soldering).
There are a number of great video tutorials out there, for example the ones I found via makershed: