Arduino Project Handbook: 25 Practical Projects to Get You Started
What was it that encouraged me to write this book? The Internet is bursting with tutorials, videos, and articles covering the Arduino and potential projects, but many lack detailed visuals or the code required to build these projects. Like the Gizmos and Gadgets book that inspired me many years ago, this book is intended to help you build simple projects that will inspire you to create your own contraptions using the skills and techniques that you’ll learn.
In this book you’ll concentrate on creating your project on a breadboard. This is the best way to learn about how circuits work, because the connections are not permanent; if you make a mistake, you can just unplug the wire or component and try again. Each project has step-by-step instructions for connecting the main components, along with photographs to help you with layout. Tables are used in most projects for quick reference.
The projects will have a circuit diagram to show the connections clearly, like that in Figure 1. These have been created with the Fritzing program (http://www.fritzing.org/), a free, open source program for creating visual schematics of your projects.
The Arduino is a small, inexpensive computer that can be programmed to control endless creations limited only by your imagination. As you’ll soon see, the Arduino can be used to make a whole host of projects, like a ghost detector, joystick-controlled laser, electronic die, laser trip wire alarm, motion sensor alarm, keypad entry system, and many others. All of these projects are easy to build and have one thing in common—they use the power of the Arduino.
In the early 1980s, I picked up a great Penguin paperback titled something like Gadgets and Gizmos, hidden away in a local bookstore. The projects were simple ones like making a working lighthouse using flashlight bulbs and building a revolving display table using an old clock. The ideas in that book sparked my imagination, and I’ve been creating ever since.
My curiosity led me to take apart various electrical items to experiment with and find out how they worked. I usually struggled to put them back together but amassed a good selection of components to tinker with. (This is a great way of gathering lots of parts, by the way.)
I remember wiring together a string of small flashlight bulbs to make floodlights for my Subbuteo table-top soccer game and creating a loudspeaker system to blast out music at the halftime break in a game. I even managed to extract some LEDs from a Star Wars toy, only to burn them out because I didn’t understand what a resistor was at the time. I used small motors, buzzers, and solar cells to create burglar alarms and super whizzy cars, and I burned out a few motors too!
At roughly the same time (1983), Sinclair Research in the United Kingdom launched the ZX Spectrum 48k microcomputer, introducing home computing to the UK mass market. (The United States had its Commodore 64.) While intended as a serious computer, the ZX Spectrum inadvertently lent itself more to gaming due to its inclusion of the simple programming language BASIC. As a result, software houses sprouted in bedrooms across the country as people rushed to build games for the ZX.
This sparked my interest in programming, but at the time I couldn’t combine my two passions. Physical computing, where software and hardware react to the physical world, was around in the ’80s but confined to the realm of very high-end computing and robotics, way out of reach of most households. Now, some 30 years later, with the introduction of the Arduino, I find myself tinkering again with electronics, but this time I can use programming to bring the projects to life.
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