Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My first arduino: a DC Boarduino kit

I built my first through-hole soldering kit this weekend, and also my first arduino. I'm darn happy about it:

  • I built this thing the same weekend that it came in the mail. My usual practice would be to let a kit like this sit and ferment for weeks.
  • My first kit worked almost the first time! When I was building it, I got done, applied power, and it wouldn't work. And then I saw that I had one resistor left over. And I had to drill a hole through some solder that I'd accidentally allowed to fill a hole for that resistor, while maneuvering around all the other components. On the other hand, NONE of my neophyte solder connections were bad, so after I installed the missing piece, it worked great. This is like the principle of letting a kid win the first time they play a game. If I'd broken this first kit, I worry that I wouldn't stick with the hobby.
  • It loads code pretty fast.
  • My kids seem interested in learning to solder and work with electronics. This is going to be fun.
In general, it's exciting to have something to work with that involves hardware, but also has a strong software component. With an arduino, most of your circuit is changeable and development is therefore fast.

I've already had some fun playing with parts from my junk box. I think this'll make it possible to make lots of things out of junk.

On the other hand, I had intended to build most of the projects from Making Things Talk. However, the components used for some of the coolest projects in that books are pretty expensive -- bluetooth modules that cost $60, GPS modules, wireless networking modules. Unfortunately, it looks like the sort of modules that are easy to interface to a board are expensive, even as the consumer versions of such things become super cheap. But since an arduino can speak USB, maybe I can interface to some castoff parts that way.

(When I sat down to write this post, I decided there were probably lots of posts out there about people's first arduino boards. And there are.)


  1. Hey, I have a USB Bluetooth dongle that's yours for free if you want it.

  2. Yeah, I'd love to have that bluetooth dongle. But you should ask for it back if you come up with a use for it before I make use of it.

    I did a quick search, and the issue with USB gadgets like this for Arduino is that the bluetooth protocol stuff is handled in the driver software, which arduino can't use; the bluetooth modules that are designed for use with PIC chips like Arduino contain additional onboard chips that do the protocol work, and make the module appear, to the arduino, to be an ordinary serial port. However, you can get chips to do that stuff, so it can be done. Here's a forum discussion that is relevant.