The Introduction to Arduino class for both members and non-members will be kicking off on the 31st of August, around 7pm. We're going to go through the examples from the booklet that comes with the Oomlout Arduino kit, basically discussing how they work and what they do, but this is not entirely concrete and subject to change.
This course should run for three weeks. Some notes:
- You will need an Arduino (a Duemilanove or an Uno, though a Mega might work with some slight changes) and some basic electronics supplies (more detail below) from day one. Along with this, you'll need a USB A→B cable to connect your Arduino, and a laptop computer (running Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X) to connect it to, along with the Arduino software, which can be downloaded at arduino.cc. Mac users may need to install a serial driver; follow the provided instructions carefully. It'd be great if you have at least downloaded the appropriate package for your laptop before the labs start.
- We will be going through the 11 sample circuits from the Oomlout Arduino (ARDX) kit, so if you don't have the kit, try to get whatever bits you don't have so that you have the equivalent bits and pieces. Along with the Arduino, you'll need a breadboard, an external power connector (9v PP3 snap terminals to barrel jack type - see below) and some thin solid core wire to connect wire up the bits and pieces. Wire and breadboards can be bought from Maplin; I'd recommend buying a kit of pre-cut jump wires (such as this one from Maplin, or any such kit off eBay) if you can afford it; otherwise some thin solid-core cable (such as this stuff) will do.
- There may be some discussion of electronics theory in order to explain how certain aspects of the projects work, so arrive ready to concentrate a little bit now and again. There may be a little science-type-stuff, but not too much.
All of the necessary components for this (apart from the laptop and possibly the USB cable) come with the ARDX kit, so if you have this kit, you can essentially stop reading here. If you already have an Arduino and perhaps don't need to buy a complete kit, read on to see what you'll need to buy.
If you didn't buy the ARDX, you may not have one of the neat little power cables they ship with. No problem; we can assemble them from Maplin parts using a suitable Barrel plug (either HH60Q or HH61R from here) and a PP3 snap cable (any one of HF28F, NE19V or L85AB from here), along with a PP3/MN1604/6LR61 9 volt battery.
You could use a mains power supply here, but the advantage of the battery is that you're much less likely to damage anything if you make a mistake. To this end, an alkaline battery is safer than a rechargeable NiCad or NiMh battery.
These cables will require minimal assembly (basically, two solder joints) - if you're not familiar/comfortable with soldering, someone will do it for you on the day. Stay tuned for the inevitable soldering workshop!
(If you are doing this yourself, remember to solder the red wire to the centre pin of the jack and the black wire to the sleeve - the Arduino jack is centre positive)
Assuming you haven't bought the kit, the absolute bare minimum you'll need immediately on the first day (apart from the stuff listed above) are:
- Eight LEDs - red, green, or yellow, your choice - not blue or white - these will work well. Alternatively, Maplin sell lucky bags of components such as LEDs which may prove cheaper.
- Eight 560 ohm resistors (Maplin code M560R)
- Two standard rectifier diodes (1N4001 though 1N4007 will do nicely).
- Two small NPN transistors such as 2N2222 (as supplied with the ARDX kit), 2N3904 (Maplin QR40T) and 2N5551 (Maplin UL36P). Any other transistor listed here will do, except that they have different pin arrangements which means they won't line up exactly with the ARDX kit diagrams, but will still work.
- A toy motor such as Maplin's YG13P (which you could gut out of a 2-euro-shop fan or some such too)
This much will get us through the first three example circuits. The following are the additional parts we'll need for the other circuits; in each case, I'm assuming you've got the parts for all previous projects. Wherever possible, I've listed options for Maplin to enable as much as possible to be picked up locally.
- Circuit #4 requires a small servo (search eBay for "9g servo") - they can be gotten from Hong Kong for about a euro, or about 5 euro a pair closer to home. Hong Kong post often takes a fortnight, so try to find a source closer to here.
- Circuit #5 uses a 74HC595 shift register chip. Maplin don't have these, and it may be safest to bulk-buy these should we need to from a reputable supplier. They're about 70c each from Farnell, for example.
- Circuit #6 uses a piezo buzzer - Maplin's FM59P will work. Alternatively, cannibalize a buzzer (preferably one that's enclosed in plastic) from an old PC motherboard or an unwanted electronic gizmo that beeps.
- Circuit #8 needs a bog-standard 10k potentiometer (something like UH03D in Maplin will do, but you'll need a small flat-blade screwdriver to adjust it; any 10k potentiometer/variable resistor will do). Anyone who started on the Processing and Arduino course and bought the kit from Kevin should have a few nice 10k pots we can use for this with the aid of some wire.
- Circuit #10 requires a TMP36 temperature sensor. There's no alternative here, and Maplin don't sell them. Get either from eBay or from a reputable electronics supplier such as Farnell (E1.45 each from there).
Most of the stuff needed is available from Maplin. This is convenient, but potentially expensive, as they do charge a premium for the convenience they offer. Ebay is often a reasonable source of small lots of components for hobbyists, but people have been known to get stung by people selling grey market/faulty/incorrect components, so shop with care.
Alternative suppliers with worldwide reach and reputation include (in no particular order):
Also, suppliers such as Sparkfun, Adafruit Industries, Oomlout and their worldwide distributors cater to the maker/hobbyist market directly. They can be useful for small quantities of stuff that's otherwise difficult to buy, as well as for various kits.
I'm loath to go into more detail now without deferring to Fergal, so let's leave it at that for now.