Posts Tagged ‘Maker’

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Arduino Playground by Warren Andrews is a great collection of Arduino projects. With an ever-growing collection of Arduino books on the market, it is getting difficult for a book to stand out. Many books are introductory project books to get someone up and running. The projects and programming in most books is simple and offers little to a more advanced user.

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Sample page posted with permission from No Starch Press

Arduino Playground  focuses on more advanced projects and cod that is often pages long. The sample page, right, shows the end of a program and some brief discussion. While the code printed in the book lacks comments, important lines are marked with numbers. This makes it very easy to identify critical lines of code and the expanded discussion following the code provides lots of insight.

The sample page on the right also mentions shields. Arduino shields are expansion boards for the basic microcontroller. These boards can add everything from sound to motors to sensors. Many Arduino projects use one or more shields. For example, the project referenced in this sample page discusses a motor controller shield. Arudino Playground goes into good detail to discuss how things things are electrically wired. The author discusses power loads and various votlage supply rails. This information is critical to more-complex projects and is a welcomed addition to this book.

Most Arudino books focus on the Arduino Uno board, the most famous form factor of the popular microcontroller. Arduino Playground uses the right board for the right project. This means some projects use the compact Arduino (my preferred board). This board requires a bit more work as the user needs to solder wires to the various pads. The sample page below shows a nice project photo with the Arduino nano and various modules and plugs. However, even with cool projects, the book does not do well to promote the projects on the cover or early in a chapter. The lack of color print also detracts from the promotion many of these projects deserve.

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Sample page posted with permission form No Starch Press.

Overall I really liked the Arduino Playground. I enjoyed working with more than just an Arduino Uno. The scope of the book is great for those looking for something a little more complex than the range of starter books already on the market. However, this book is in a very crowded market and it lacks the color print of other Arduino books. While it certainly is a good book content wise, I think it could have been even stronger with color printer and better presentation of the projects.


LEGO was all over World Maker Faire! Besides FIRST LEGO League, LEGO was a common sight. LEGO provides a flexible building platform and Makers love LEGO. While it might not ship in a final project, the iconic, modular bricks provides an unmatched ease of use for prototyping. This has been one of my favorite posts to write, showing off all the awesome creations of the community! Follow me after the break to check out more of the LEGO sights of World Maker Faire 2016!

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This past weekend was World Maker Faire 2016 in New York. Maker Faire is a celebration of creativity, technology, and invention. I was lucky to attend the event again this year, showing off some LEGO robots at the ILUGNY booth. While the booth was constantly busy, I was able to explore and see some truly amazing projects. Follow me after the break for more photos from this incredible event!

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Test Setup

This past summer my brother and I ventured to the Bahamas for a short vacation. As amateur radio operators, we thought it might be fun to work from a different country. Several weeks before our trip, we received our reciprocal licenses from the Bahamas. Assigned the suffix “/C6A”, it was then time to figure out my rig.

Traveling with a radio is hard. Antennas for HF typically require lots of area, and people ask lots of questions.I wanted to have a small radio that I could operate from the beach. My brother brought his Elecraft KX2, but my Icom 706MKII would be too bulky. Follow me after the break to learn more about my solution.

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CoverNo Starch Press recently released a new book in the making space. This latest entry, titled Arduino Project Handbook by Mark Geddes, joins the many existing Arduino books on the market. Over the past few weeks I have been reading the book and making some of the projects. The book has a wealth of knowledge to share.

Overall, I really liked the book. I do want to get my one main complaint out of the way now. Based on the title and description, I was expecting a book of projects from start to finish. This book only goes as far as the breadboard. I was expecting projects to have enclosures and mounting of elections, a mixed-media problem faced by many new makers. However, none of the projects make it that far.

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Sample page, used with permission from No Starch Press.

Once I adjusted my expectations, I really got into the book. Most projects are presented with some pictures and then a wiring schematic. You can see that in the sample page to the right or below.  The wiring schematic uses symbols that closely match what the actual part looks like, instead of the traditional electronics schematic. This is really helpful for new makers. From both the wiring schematic and the pictures it is really easy to make sure you wired your project correctly.

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Sample page, used with permission from No Starch Press.

All of the projects, save the last few, use the Arduino Uno. The last few projects do not use the Uno, rather using the ATMEGA328 on a breadboard. While still using the Arduino firmware, this is a good way for makers to condense the number of boards in a project.

The projects are creative and fun, ranging from blinking lights to a weather station. Some projects require just a few parts while others are a bit more complex. Many of the individual skills are easily applied to other projects. For example, several projects use an LCD screen or servo motors, two of the most common devices in maker projects. Furthermore, the sample code is clearly commented and published in the book. This is huge as many publishers are moving this content online, making it harder to follow. I found this helpful when working on my desk when my internet went down. I was able to keep tinkering and following the instructions without having to worry about reaching the publisher’s website.

Overall this is another great Arduino book. Mark Geddes does a great job of showing how new makers can leverage an Arduino. I recommend the Arduino Project Handbook for any aspiring makers and those new to electronics! You can find the book on amazon for under $20. For that price, I think it would be a great addition to any maker’s library!