Arduino Diary – Week 1

Every Wednesday, from now until Christmas, I’m spending Wednesday afternoons with some friends doing a bit of R&D on Arduino, the open source microcontroller.   I’m a novice, as are a lot of the others,  but luckily there’s a couple of people who know a bit more about what they’re doing.

I’ve mentioned Arduino before, and shared this film too I think, but for a recap it’s lovely and worth watching when you have time.

Arduino The Documentary (2010) English HD from gnd on Vimeo.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a very quick weekly roundup of progress, as much for my own records as anything, so I can look back at progress.  This is week one.

Week one

Arrived with Arduino in hand, a cable to connect to Mac, and that’s it.  I actually missed the first week, so I spend the first hours learning how to do the basic first exercises, borrowing some of Matt’s peripheral electronics to do it; really simple, yet hugely gratifying stuff…

‘Here’s how to make a button send a 1 or 0 to the computer, here’s how to make a light go on, and off, and on, and off…’

There is a light that frequently goes out.  Then comes on again.  On a loop.


Suitably enthused, it’s a quick trip to Maplins to pick up some of my own peripheri.

“Don’t go mad, like I did, and buy lots of random stuff” says Matt.

I go mad, like Matt did, and buy lots of random stuff.

The rest of the afternoon is spent, with the the help of Pete, playing around with potentiometer (analogue turny dial things, if you prefer), writing code that determines how much the light goes on by, using two LEDs so that as you turn the dial one fades and one lights up.


Which gives me an idea for short term project to focus on, something to aim towards; a very basic sliding potentiometer, that has a series of LED lights that light up as it’s turned up, and then a “send” button that tweets the status.

A kind of sliding mood status, or perhaps a productivity gauge I can score out of ten, and find peak productivity times.

Or maybe something I can set as an aspiration for productivity, so that I set a level, and then force myself into an “8” for the next hour.


Maybe it’s a mixture of the Bachman Turner Overdrive level in Smashey and Nicey (enter a certain ZONE) and Mean Machine Angel’s Dial in Judge Dredd (set a level of desired performance).  That’s a combination you don’t hear about often…


Anyway, once I got home, and had eaten dinner, I tried for a few hours to make the potentiometer tweet the value it was outputting, by cribbing various bits of code from examples here and there.  But with absolutely no success.

Having hit the wall, I retired to bed, feeling both delighted with progress of the first day, and narked that I hadn’t managed to make a turny-knob write something stupid on the internet.

That’s next week’s aim sorted though.

And in eight weeks time, I’ll have a dial in the centre of my forehead…