Control the world with programming
The Arduino is a microcontroller development board that’s easy for anyone to learn—whether or not you have any programming or electronics experience. It uses an Atmel Atmega 328 microcontroller as its core, a proven microcontroller chip in engineering, and provides you with a board that lets you easily access the outputs and program it using USB, along with a dead simple software library that takes away the complexity of writing microcontroller code. More about microcontrollers below.
As an artist, maker, hobbyist or tinkerer, you will find the Arduino serves as a gateway to the world of electronics; as an engineering student, you can use the Arduino as a door to the world of microcontrollers and hobby electronics projects, even as a first-year student.
This workshop teaches you the basics of the Arduino. You will learn how to program the Arduino using C++, how your program can obtain information from or affect the physical world through its electrical inputs/outputs, and how you can apply this to LEDs, buttons, and possibly other sensors and actuators.
Want more? Once you’ve got the basics down, check out our Advanced Arduino workshops.
Aside: What is a microcontroller?
Microcontrollers are small, low-power single-chip computers that let you control the physical world through programming. They let you connect and control sensors, motors, other electronic chips, and any other electrical or electronic hardware—and unlike general-purpose computers (desktop and laptop computers, etc.), which cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and only let you connect hardware via complex protocols like USB, microcontrollers give you a direct connection between your code and circuits for only pennies to dollars.
Microcontrollers are cheap enough to go into any product, when code is cheaper than special chips or complex circuits. And they are everywhere today. Your $10 mouse has a microcontroller to track movements and send it to a computer over USB. Your electronic thermometer has one, your electronic scale has one, even complex systems use them: your automobile has several to control anything from fuel injection to your entertainment system, and even your computer has a few for specialised sub-system tasks like sending/receiving network data and measuring laptop battery life.
Only question—with the power of code in the physical world, what will you make?
Prerequisites & What to Bring
This is a Bring Your Own Laptop event. Library laptops will not work. Before the workshop, you must install the Arduino software (Windows users: the driver will install automatically if you use the EXE installer, but you must install it manually if you use the ZIP or if something goes wrong; see the Arduino website).
You will be provided an Arduino and all needed components and tools. All materials must be returned to us at the end of the workshop.
Due to time constraints, we expect you to know the bare basics of C, C++ or similar languages (e.g. Java). However, if you have no programming experience, you can still attend: the level of programming needed is simple enough to pick up relatively quickly, and you can ask questions to the volunteers who will be in the room to help you.
For more information on the hardware platform, see the Getting Started section on Arduino’s official website, which covers the basics of what the Arduino platform is and what it can be used for. Many online tutorials can also be found via a quick Google search, both on Arduino basics and on how to do specific tasks.
For any questions regarding the event, please contact our Director of Academics or visit us during our open lab/office hours. If you have questions on the Arduino in general or on a specific project you’re working on, contact us.