Introduction to Arduino
Over the 10+ years I've been working with Arduinos, the most common questions I've gotten are: what is it, what can it do, and how do I get started? In this series of livestreams, we'll start from the very basics of what an Arduino is and what it's useful for, and work through useful inputs, outputs, and programming structures. Newcommers should find plenty of information to get them started and inspired, and hopefully long-time users learn something new.
Episode 16 - Interrupts
Writing interactive code without interrupts can be like waiting for a letter to come - you have to keep checking the mailbox to see if any new info has arrived. Interrupts are like an alarm on your mailbox that draws your attention so you don't need to keep checking. They're powerful, useful, and a little finicky - they'll be our subject this week.
- The 'volatile' quantifier
This episode will be live on YouTube on Monday, July 6 at 7pm CDT.
Episode 15 - Long Distance Communication
We've got a couple ways to pass signals between Arduinos sitting next to each other on the workbench now, or even 50' away via a wireless dongle. But what if you need to get signals from 1000' away or more?
That's where a robust wired system based on RS485 can help. As a physical protocol, RS485 won't get you there alone - you'll need a communications protocol built on top of it to actually pass data. This week, we'll look at DMX, the most common control protocol in the entertainment lighting field, how it relates to DMX , and how you can use both to pass messages long distances.
- RS485 fundamentals
- The OSI Model
- DMX (Digital Multiplex)
- Network Topologies
- Singalling and Addressing schemes
- Transmission lines, impedance, and ternimation
This episode was streamed live on Sunday, June 28 2020. The full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 14 - Wireless Signals
Why wires? Not not... not wires? This week, we'll look at ways of passing simple wireless information between two or more Arduinos.
- Radio and Wireless fundamentals
- ASK/OOK Radio Signals
- The Radiohead library that sends wireless information
This episode was streamed live on Sunday, June 21 2020. iThe full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 13 - Creating a Printed Circuit Board
Hand soldering a prototype is all well and good. Heck, making two or three of a thing isn't too bad. But what if you need ten widgets, all wired together the same way? Or a hundred? Or you're using parts too small to be wired to perfboard? These are situations where an inexpensive Printed Circuit Board (PCB) comes in handy.
PCBs are easier to design, order, and use than ever! In this session we'll look at:
- Schematic Capture (getting your circuit design into the computer)
- Circuit board layout
- Creating custom parts and part footprints from a datasheet
- Ordering a circuit board from an online board house
This episode was live on Sunday, June 14th 2020. The full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 12 - Soldering
Getting one thing to stick to itself? Not so hard. Getting two bits of metal to stick together in a way that conducts electricity? Just a little bit harder. So this week, let's do it together. Let's look at soldering.
- Hand soldering skills
- Types and mixes of solder
- Soldering iron and tip species
- Soldering thru-hole and surface-mount parts
- Soldering safety
- Hot air and soldering rework
- Desoldering with hot air, solder braid, and solder suckers
This episode was live on Sunday, June 7th 2020.e The full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 11 - Making it Permanent
So you've made a cool thing with an Arduino Uno that works fine on the workbench. But when you try to install it somewhere for long term use - wires start falling out, components come out of the breadboard, it's a big ole mess. There must be a better way to make Arduino projects more permanent. We'll look at several topics in this vein, including:
- Working with sodler-able perfboard/protoboard
- Transferring the Microprocessor itself from the Arduino to a breadboard/protoboard
- Programming microprocessors without the Arduino itself
- Working with smaller/cheaper microprocessors (ATMEGA, ATTINY) to cut down pricing on large-scale projects
This was live on Sunday, May 31st, 2020. The full episode is archived on YouTube..
Episode 10 - Write Better Code
The joy of the Arduino is that you can get the thing running while writing really bad code. Heck, you can make it do really interesting things while writing really bad code. But what if... and hear me out... the code.... was good?
This week's stream will focus on coding strategies and common coding patterns, including:
- Arrays are Your Friend
- Delta Time avoids delay()
- Switching Program MODES
This episode was live on May 24th, 2020. The full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 9 - Batteries
Being plugged into the wall is great and all, but wouldn't it be nice if your project could come with you? This week's stream will focus on batteries - using them with Arduino, what types have what ramifications for your project, and what do you need to watch out for. We'll focus on:
- Basics of using batteries with Arduino
- Different types of batteries and battery chemistries
- Using voltage regulators
- Using voltage dividers
This episode was live on Sunday, May 10th. The full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 8 - Remote Control with Infrared
Are you still actually physically touching your Arduino creations to control them? Walking across the room to adjust them like a caveman? Harness the power of infrared remote controls to control your circuits from a distance - and how to turn things around and control your TV from your Arduino.
This week's stream will continue our look at Arduino, the most popular microcontroller on the planet. We'll focus on using infrared communications, both to control the Arduino from a remote and using the Arduino as a remote to control other things (computers, TV's, LED Candles, etc.)
- Using the IRLib library to decode infrared messages from a remote
- Responding to remote messages to do things within your Arduino sketch
- Using IRLib to send messages to other IR-controlled things
This was live on Sunday, May 10th. The full episode is archived on YouTube.
Episode 7 - Text Displays and Multicolor LEDs
What if your Arduino project could talk back to you, without having to hook it up to a serial console your computer? Or maybe you want to use a little multicolor LED to tell you the status of how you're Arduino's doing - or a lot of LEDs to make a psychedelic light show. This week, we're adding dot-matrix text displays and RGB/Bi-color LEDs to our Arduino toolbox, focusing on:
- Using the LiquidCrystal library to drive LCD displays
- Strategies for working with text and cursors
- Controlling multicolor LEDs
- Tips for working with color and color values
This episode was live on Sunday, May 3rd. The full recording is archived on YoutTube.
Episode 6 - Putting it Together
After a couple of very hardware-centric weeks, this week's focus will be on programming. Specifically, how do we take this individual skills we've built up - reading a button or switch, lighting up an LED or turning a motor - and string them together into our very first game?
- "Returning" from methods
- Pseudocode and code planning
- Code encapsulation and breaking down high level concepts
- A little more hardware, including:
- Shift Registers and their function in driving lots of outputs
- ShiftOut() for sending data to shift-registers
Episode 5 - Transistors and FETs
Feeling a little limited by the 5 Volts and 20 milliAmps that the Arduino can provide? In this Sunday's stream, we'll incorporate transistors and FETs into our toolbox, to allow for driving higher power loads. We'll look at topics like:
- What are bipolar transistors?
- What are FETs?
- How to select the right transistor or FET for your product?
- Using transistors and FETs to drive high power/high voltage loads, including:
- LED tape
This episode was live on Sunday, April 19 2020. The full stream is archived on YouTube
Episode 3 - Servos and Steppers
This week's stream focused on motion control, including:
- Stepper motor control
- Serial control
- The DO...WHILE loop
- randomness and the random() function
This episode was live on YouTube on Sunday, April 5. The full stream is archived on YouTube.
Episode 2 - Flashes Beep and Boops
Picking up where we left off last time, this stream covered
- Analog Output
- The Serial console, input and output
- The basics of Casting variables (String(), Int)
- Analog Input
- The map() function
- Buzzers and the tone() function
This episode was live on Sunday, March 29 2020. The full recording is available on YouTube.
Episode 1 - Introductions and Basic I/O
In the first episode of this streaming adventure, we covered:
- What is Arduino? What can it do?
- Software installation
- Fundamentals of Arduino code (setup, loop)
- Digital Input and Output
- Introduction to Variables
- Conditionals (if... then... else)
- FOR loops
- millis() and the basics of time
This episode was streamed live on March 22, 2020. The full recording is available on YouTube.