Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busyyyyy.. Hmmm.. Arduino. :)

I've been busy with stuff since I came back from Montréal.

Well not *that* busy but I didn't have time to be bored yet... and I cannot foresee such time in the near future.

First, I have received my Arduino experimenter kit from SolarRobotics.
Listen, this kit is awesome.

But before, let me tell you about the Arduino.

The Arduino is a prototyping platform. It's a thing with electronics and places to plug wires. This :

Arduino Uno

The first question everyone asks me when I show them mine is "What does it do?".
The question is actually very difficult to answer because it can do a LOT of things. Really.
Here is a list of 40 projects made with an Arduino board. Anything that needs to be controlled, like lights, motors, sound devices, robots, displays, cameras... can be controlled by it. The Arduino is used to build interactive stuff. To make things do things.

"Make things do things."


If you know something of microcontrollers, you know that you usually need an external programmer to program them. Not with the Arduino. Thanks to its serial bootloader, you can plug the Arduino to your computer via USB, send code to it and voilà! It's ready to go!

Microcontroller. There is one very similar to this on the Arduino.

The Arduino can also power itself via USB. So that makes the process of programming, uploading and testing your code very simple and fast. Awesome. :)
There are many variations of this board. Some have bluetooth, some have more memory, some are smaller, etc. There are also things called "shields" which are kind of "add-ons" for the Arduino to give it more functionalities. An interesting one is the WiFi shield, to enable the Arduino to communicate on WiFi.
More information on different variations of this board here.

So, about my kit.

My kit. Plus a lot of other things not shown in the picture.

For $84.95 (and the shipping was free! Because it was an order over $75 in Canada. Also applies to the US), you have :
  • Arduino UNO with ATmega328 (yup, the Uno) [$29.45]
  • 300 point breadboard [$4.45]
  • Laser cut color acrylic base-plate [?]
  • 1 USB A-B cable [?]
  • 1 x 5-cell AA battery pack holder [$3.95]
  • 70-piece flexible jumper wire bundle (these are nice) [$6.30]
  • 10 x Red 5mm LEDs [$3.00]
  • 11 x Green 5mm LEDs [$3.30]
  • 1 x massive 10mm blue LED [What I received is a green LED : $1.37]
  • [Not included in the list : a 5mm RGB LED, probably worth around $1.50]
  • 1 x DC Motor [$2.95]
  • 1 x Mini Servo [$6.15]
  • 1 x 74HC595 8-bit shift register IC [$0.95]
  • 1 x Piezo Speaker/sensor element [$2.10]
  • 2 x Pushbuttons [$1.00]
  • 1 x 10k Trimpot with handy finger-sized knob [$2.59]
  • 1 x Photo resistor [$1.35]
  • 1 x TMP36 Temperature sensor [$5.20]
  • 1 x 5V DPDT relay [$3.50]
  • 2 x 2n2222 transistors [$0.30]
  • 25 x 560 ohm resistors [//]
  • 3 x 2.2k resistors [All resistors sold as a kit ~~ $2.20]
  • 3 x 10k resistors [//]
  • 2 x 1N4001 diodes [No price... probably something like $0.20]
  • Arduino-to-acrylic base mounting hardware [Screws and bolts... maybe $0.10]
  • 4 x 2-pin male header (for pinning the templates to the breadboard) [$0.40]
  • 2 x 20-pin male header (for pinning more templates to other breadboards) [$1.37]
  • Plastic case [$10.50]
Total worth of hardware in the kit : $94.68 if parts are bought separately from this website. It is very possible that you can get better prices on these parts on another website but I doubt that it would represent enough savings for the cost to be less than what this kits cost.

SO, very good bang for the buck!

This kit is specific to SolarRobotics. There are other kits sold at other stores that contain less parts (and/or different parts) that cost more. Of course I haven't scraped the whole Intarwebs, but I'm fairly certain that this is one of the best kits you can get for your money.

With it comes a manual and templates overlays for the breadboard that feature many experiments. This is GREAT if you have never or almost never done electronics before. The kit comes with a book (specific to this SolarRobotics kit) that provides more details on each experiment and doing them will make you learn quite a bit about electronics. The whole thing comes in a nice transparent plastic case with the walls that you can take out and put back in when needed.

So, I have been busy playing with this yesterday an today.
I've been able to drive two of the three LED strips I got from DealExtreme with the very precious and patient help of my friend DoomGuy (because I am still a noob at this and I didn't know how transistors worked and I didn't want to blow shit up), using the two transistors that were included in the kit.

Very precious and patient help. ROFL.
No I kid, it was more than that.

Since I will probably drive a lot of 12v things in the future, I need more transistors and more powerful ones. So my friend helped me shop for something and he came up with this :
which handles up to 11 amps and 60v. At this price ($0.32), you can be sure that I will order a bunch so I have enough for years to come. I haven't placed my order yet because I'm waiting to see if there is anything else I would need.

Oh god... I was going to close this post without stating the most important.

The reason why I bought an Arduino is especially because I want to make something like this :
I want to drive a ton of colorful LEDs.
More specifically, these :

Bling bling bling!

These are programmable LED modules. Each module has a chip on it that both stores the data sent to it and pushes the extra data received to another LED module connected to it. By connecting many of these modules in a chain and sending the first module enough extra data to "fill" all the modules in the chain, it is then possible to control them all by having only the first one plugged to the Arduino. This was necessary ; the Arduino has enough pins for just 4 RGB LEDs. With the system above, I can have a ton. :D :D:D:D:D:D:D

I ordered 25 of them along with the appropriate wires and an Arduino shield. I should receive them next week. :3 I CAN'T WAIIIIIIIIIIIIIT GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

So I have been busy playing with this and shopping for things to buy to use with my Arduino.

Second reason of being busy, I'm preparing a huge party for the 24th of June, the National holiday in Quebec. I'm not saying more, besides that I will probably broadcast it on Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment