The Arduino range of microcontroller boards is a fun way for beginners to learn coding that connects with the outside world. In addition, there are numerous add-ons (shields) with components already built on to them, ready to be utilized with a bit of code.
Compare this to way back in 1983, when my folks bought me a C64 computer (I was about 10 years old at the time). I was soon learning how to connect some basic components and sensors to its joystick and parallel ports to try and do some interesting things. On one occasion, I actually managed to fry this £350 computer while soldering a wire that was connected to a port when it was switched on at the mains. Fortunately, the C64 was repaired at minimal cost, but don’t try something like that yourself. Today, if you do fry an Arduino, it’s not as big a deal as frying a home computer.
This Hackatronics coding series starts off with an Arduino multi-function shield (available from Hobby Components and other internet suppliers). The shield is for R3 type boards, and all our code examples have been tested to work on an Uno, Leonardo and Mega 2560. We have developed a library to make it easy to access its on-board components, as well as a number of readily available sensors, such as temperature, sonar, heart beat, and motion sensors.
More advanced coding projects involve the use of an Android device interacting with Arduino boards to do more interesting and challenging things. The code is reasonably straight forward, and could be modified to suit the coder’s own requirements.
Familiarity with the Arduino platform is assumed, as is the installation of the Arduino development environment. To view a summary of the applications using the multi-function shield, see the short video here.
The object of the series is not to teach coding, but to provide working examples and applications that can be experimented with and enhanced – well, that’s how many of us learnt to code all those years ago. Anyway, have fun coding!
- Arduino LCD Shield – Coding Menus the Easy Way
- Android and Arduino Coding Fun
- Hackatronics – Arduino Multi-function Shield
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