If you’re like me, you won’t have heard of Arduino. Outside this sphere of ignorance there’s a whole lot of artists who not only love Arduino, but are passionate about it too.
If you’re in the “What the hell is Arduino?”, this book gives you a good guide to what it it and what can be done with it.
Arduino comes from an educational background and is a combination of open source hardware running open source software, enabling the control of ‘things.’ These ”things’ can be assembled allowing quite complex circuits to be constructed.
Though it’s possible to purchase a fully constructed Arduino board, all the board schematics and plots are available for free download, so it is possible to build your own (obviously the chips that populate the board must be purchased). However the boards are priced so it probably isn’t worth the effort.
New add-ons are constantly being designed and made available. The software too is in constant development.
What’s in the book?
The book comes out of the O’Reilly Make: Projects (i.e. from Makezine.com), and gives a reasonable introduction to the philosophy behind the architecture and the software.
After the intro, the second chapter is all about tinkering/hacking and how the whole Arduino experience is about experimenting.
Chapter three goes on to describe the hardware (and how to drive it under Windows, MacOS X and Linux).
The fourth chapter is on actually programming the unit, then more advanced programming. There’s a troubleshooting section and some appendices with explain breadboarding and schematics.
The book is easy to read if you’ve come from a computing or electronics background.
Note however, all the information in the book is available on the Internet, just maybe not in one place.
The book does give a reasonable start to both the Arduino hardware platform and the Processing language (Processing is used for both programming the Arduino board and running programmes on the IDE (development environment) that runs on the host computer).
Arduino and in turn the book, wont be for everyone, but if your children are getting the electronics bug, this may be a good thing to motivate them. An ideal way to keep them engaged, stimulated and quiet at xmas!
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