Arduino Classes: Electronics and Computer Programming 101

April 17, 2014 | Greg Astill

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We’re excited to announce a brand new program that’s definitely going to take things to a whole new level in the Digital Innovation Hub.  If you ever wanted to try your hand at computer programming and electronics, then the new Arduino classes are for you.  


For those of you who have never used or heard of the Arduino, it’s in fact a single-board microcontroller, intended to make the application of interactive objects or environments more accessible.  It’s an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. 

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Arduino can connect and receive inputs from a variety of sensors and can control lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (Open Source) and can communicate as a stand-alone device, or connect and run along with a computer or other Arduino boards.

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The software can be downloaded for free, directly on the Arduino website, as well as interactive scripts to get you started.   Those scripts are meant to be a starting point, a template to push your project off the ground, but also a bunch of intermediate and advanced scripts are available, use them and adapt them as needed.

Some great projects using an Arduino could be LED light displays, garage door opener, home security system, clock, thermostat, and robotics to name a few.  Some amazing project ideas that have been shared online are available in the links below:

10 Amazing Projects
Arduino Playground

Cool video showing a Christmas Lights display using an Arduino.

The hardware consists of an open-source hardware board designed around an 8-bit Atmel AVR microcontroller, or a 32-bit Atmel ARM. Current models feature an USB interface, 6 analog input pins, as well as 14 digital I/O pins which allow to attach various extension boards.

The current prices of Arduino boards run around $30, and are available with a variety of introductory accessories to get you started.  The Arduino boards along with the do-it-yourself kits are a great way to get introduced to this wonderful technology, but are priced a higher.


As with some of the programs available through the  Digital Innovation Hub, we’re offering the Arduno programming classes in two parts and have partnered up with HackLab’s very own Eric Boyd to conduct these workshops.  This program is for those who know nothing about Arduino, micro-controllers and electronics and want to learn. A laptop and Arduino kit is provided for use during this workshop.  Program descriptions are below:

Arduino Part 1: Intro for Total Beginners.  Here is where you’ll learn the basics and how to use an Arduino micro-controller.

Students will learn how to:
* Make an LED blink at various speeds
* Use a button to turn LED on and off
* Use a light sensor to control brightness of an LED
* Construct various small circuits on the breadboard

Students will also learn about:
* The basics of electronics (e.g. voltage, current, resistance, ohms law)
* Basic Arduino functions: digitalWrite, digitalRead, analogWrite, analogRead, delay(),
* Programming structures: variables, functions, for loop, if/else structure

Arduino Part 2: Beginners Projects.  Learn how to use an Arduino micro-controller to create a small interactive Arduino project.

Prerequisite: This workshop is suitable for those who are comfortable with the material covered in our "Arduino Part 1: Intro for Total Beginners" program and for those who have knowledge of basic Arduino breadboarding and the four basic Arduino functions.

Students will:
- Create "rave party" code for LED, which will change color based on pot and button

Students will learn about:
- Serial data transmission
- Advanced breadboarding techniques
- Use of variables
- Map() function
- Millis() timer
- Use of battery, stand-alone operation of Arduino

Click here for a list of the dates and times.

Online registration is required for these workshops. Space is limited. To reserve a ticket, click on the link below. Registration for the May sessions is available starting next Thursday April 24 at 9am.

I had the opportunity a while back to take the class for a staff training exercise and was amazed at how much fun and easy it was.  It’s intimidating to think about the code and all the steps that are needed, but Eric does a great job at easing you in.  They’ll be times when you feel a little lost, but pack your patience and you’ll be fine.  Below is a picture of my little creation at an earlier stage, before I added a sensor, additional lights and other components.


Have fun!!