Since we are going to need a computer between at least every three people in the clinic (while allowing the curious others to hang out with us too, which is no problem), I thought I could get an idea early on of how many of you would be able to bring a laptop/notebook/raspberry pi, or whatever computing device that would allow a USB gadget to be plugged in and show up as a serial port. Well, the latter might be way over your head, so maybe just answer the short questionnaire at the end and say if you have a computer you could bring!
Second, the Arduino is more than just a "computing" thing, it turned out to be a movement world wide. So, you will hear lots about it where ever you go. So I would like to encourage you to do a little reading up about it, without worrying which way electrons flow and how a servo motor works, just read as much as you can about the whole Arduino culture out there...how a student in Italy did a Masters degree thesis, 5 other guys started creating something easier and faster to use than a Basic Stamp and how Open Source and Open Hardware allowed this little project to creep in everywhere. Just like, wherever there are lawyers, there are trouble, so you will notice a http://www.arduino.cc/ and a http://www.arduino.org/ with the latter being sued in the US, since the 5 guys basically trademarked the Arduino in the USA, then got encouraged to do it worldwide and then had to find out that the 5th guy in the group (the one manufacturing the boards for the group) already trademarked it in Italy and then created the Arduino Srl company and now acts like they invented it. Not to discourage you, because having it Open Source and the hardware open, is going to leave them in the dust...it is still only an Atmel ATmega328 (or other related) processor with code on created by a Java application. And even if it fails miserably, the easy of use standard has been set and the next group will make our lives even simpler!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduino is most likely a better first introduction to the movement with some examples of the Arduino products already out there. Just note that any "Arduino" or "Arduino derived" product usually contains the main processor itself, and when you plug something into or onto it, it is called a "Shield". There are products like OBDuino (for talking to your car's computer over the CAN bus), RFDuino (rfduino.com) (making it smaller and easier to go wireless), Moteino (http://lowpowerlab.com/moteino/) (having the wireless part soldered on to the main board) and so forth! I am mentioning these, because I don't think you have to pay a royalty to either of the Arduino groups if your product does not use "Arduino" in it. There might be some rules in the GPL licensing terms, on how and where you need to show your customers where the original Open Source code used was obtained from and maybe where they could find the code or hardware you implemented can be found (if required). And no, this has nothing to do with the code that we are going to write and use to "implement" the idea you have "on" an Arduino platform. These are rules for people building and selling the products for you to play with!
Ok, enough geek/lawyer speak, on to the next part...you might be curious to see how easy the software we are going to use is, by simply downloading the latest version of the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment) from http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software (version 1.6.4 today)
Once you have it installed (on any computer, does not need to be the one you are bringing), you will notice the two functions in the code, "setup()" and "loop()" and that there are really only two buttons to use at the top "verify" and "upload", the first making sure your code is good and compiling it for the Atmel processor and the "upload" to....guess....load the compiled code into the board. (And here is the first tip to save time, you only have to click the latter button when your board is connected, it will verify or compile it first!
In the top menu you will find File->Examples with plenty of things to peak through. Again, don't break a sweat, just check what is available and if you don't have a headache yet, only then start reading through some of the code.
So, since almost all the parts for the kits are here, if you bring your $17.50 to the next meeting, I will gladly give them to you, so you can get a head start before the clinic(s), which will most likely happen in September and October.
Again, we will first go through a little demo, then a little introduction, then get the software installed on everyone's computer who has not done so, while getting the connectors on the Arduino Nano soldered (soldering clinic too, yes) and then plug it in to see the blinking light.
Through all this, we will make sure that a slide here and there explain with a resistor, capacitor, micro-controller, volts vs amps, a diode, a light emitting diode (yes, LED) is, while explaining a bit, a byte and how to get a micro-controller to switch a bit to make a voltage high that would force current to flow through a diode that would make a light, still following, see we need more than one clinic, I knew it!
So, here is the questionnaire (and don't worry, there are no wrong answers, we just want to know how far back we need to start. No kind of answer here is going to make me cancel the clinic):
(also replace "know" with "kinda know", if you like)
I have a computer/laptop/notebook that I could bring to the clinic: ______________
I have another computer someone else could use: ____________
I have a soldering iron I could bring: ___________
I have seen programming code in my life before: _____________
I have written more than 5 lines of code: ____________
I know why there is a resistor with an LED in a circuit: ___________
I know why a red LED shines red and a green LED shines green: ___________
I know what a micro USB connector look like: ___________
How 'bout a mini USB connector: ___________
I know how 9V becomes 5V on an Arduino board: __________
I will remember to bring my bag with parts and a 9V battery to the clinic: ____________
And then, in a few words, do you have something specific that you would like your Arduino board to do once the clinic is over:
(just having fun or learning something new is a good answer too, but rather make a wish)
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