Sunday, April 21, 2013

Maker Community: SJ Tech Shop & TinyDuinos

I am struck by the awesome diversity that exists in Maker communities in terms of people, disciplines, projects, purposes, and goals. This was further confirmed with a visit to San Jose TechShop's Arduino Show & Tell this past Sunday evening (April 21, 2013). SJ Tech Shop is a cool space with a growing community of builders, hackers, and makers creating various projects for personal and business applications...or mayhem. In the 21st century, no matter one’s profession, it is important to know basic coding and basic tech-builder techniques. I'm starting with  Python progamming language and experimentation with Arduino

What is Arduino?
“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.” 
“Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP).” (Arduino, 2013).
The basic package I am using to experiment with Arduino includes the Sparkfun Inventor’s Kit for Arduino with Retail Case, the Arduino Cookbook, and the Arduino 1.0.4 software package. The eventual goal is to build a DIY robotic head made of cannibalized Lego Erector and Mindstrorm parts, mounted with various sensors that trigger audio/visual responses using Raspberry Pi et al., with the robot head linked to a laptop interface connected to the internet. I am starting by getting a single LED to light up. You could say it is early days yet.

Here are two cool examples of projects being developed that were on show at the TechShop.

Replica of London Tower Bridge with LEDs
This is a miniature version of London Tower Bridge mounted with RGB light sensors hooked into an Arduino circuit board. This idea will be expanded to include motion/proximity sensors linked with RGB color sensors; colors will change depending on the proximity of the viewer.

These gents (led by Michael Gregg) build mini-Arduino boards smaller than a quarter that include microcontroller, reset button, and a shield amongst many other parts (list price $21). Other parts on show were $2 mini-shields and a variety of mini-sensors in the $40-50 range. These cool TinyDuinos will be on offer at Maker Faire. With technology hardware increasingly becoming smaller and more streamline, it is safe to forecast that mini-Arduino parts will be in large demand in the near future as the Maker industry space matures. More info soon. 

LadyAda offers excellent Arduino tutorials here. A round-up of solid Engadget articles on Arduino spaces is here. While you are at it, check out MakeZine’s Arduino blog here.

Introduction to Arduino

(Video Source: Makezine)

Everything You Need to Know About Arduino

(Video Source: The Ben Heck Show)

Image Sources:
By DustyDingo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.