Tag Archives: Roberta Hodara

Teaching Arduino in paradise (Maui)

Bill Levien recently packed his bags and flew to Hawaii with a syllabus and a hefty stack of Atmel-powered Arduino boards. His mission? To teach open source computing at “Winterim,” a four-day workshop organized by Jaqueline Peterka and Roberta Hodara at Seabury Hall in Maui.

“With the books and videos that I had in Flow and a few rather large orders from Maker Media and Adafruit, I was able to gather enough course material to ensure that we eased into programming and electronics while laying a strong foundation for tinkering, setting up the students for continued learning beyond the four-day workshop,” Levien wrote in a blog post describing the course.

“On the morning of the first day, we built some basic circuits without a microcontroller to get a feel for prototyping circuits using tactile buttons, potentiometers, force sensitive resistors and ambient light sensors. In the afternoon we went over to the lab to demonstrate how a microcontroller can do many things with the same basic circuits, using code to modify blink patterns, blink durations and multiple LEDs. After some more light coding, we were able to play a melody using a piezo-buzzer via pulse-width modulation.”

By day two, course participants had graduated to using a third-party library, switching statements to decode signals via an infrared receiver which listened for commands from universal remotes to control various outputs.

“We were able to switch on LEDs, control servos and change colors of an RGB LED. We learned to read and sketch schematics and dug into basic programming concepts like switch and if/else statements and for loops,” Levien explained.

“We also got a lot of practice mashing up code samples from books with our own code and modifying them to achieve our desired functionality.”

On the fourth and final day of the course, each student proudly showcased an Arduino-based project including:

  • Temperature probe that activates an LED at 23° Celsius.
  • A game, counted on a 7-segment display and monitored by a PIR motion sensor, which challenges users to press a button as many times as they can.
Fortune-telling “magic” 8-ball.
  • Motion-activated intruder alarm, armed/disarmed via remote control.
Motion-activated intruder alarm programmed to play a threatening melody with a buzzer.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Bill Levien’s full post on the Safari Blog here.