There is an embedded controller in almost every electronics gadget you touch these days, so learning how to program one is an awesome skill to have. And the Arduino embedded controller used in this example is a fun way to learn programming because it is so quick and simple. The Software is free, there are tons of examples on-line, and the hardware –- an entire embedded controller — is only $25-$29! And you can do so many cool things with it – read temperature, control motors, blink lights, make a Pinewood Derby track timer for your local Cub Scout pack, etc. Try the simple step-by-step example below and you will be on your way!
Download software: http://www.arduino.cc/
Cost: Free software; Hardware starting at $29 at Radio Shack
Hardware requirements: Arduino Uno (from Radio Shack or online)
Operating systems supported: Win, Mac, Linux
Difficulty level: 2 out of 5
ABOUT THE PROGRAM — A WALK THROUGH
This program shows you how to read a switch input and use it to control an LED.
1. Change the input pin number – move the switch to a different pin.
2. Make the light blink 8 times faster
3. Make the light blink slower
4. Make one button press turn light on, another turn the light off (advanced)
There are thousands of things you can do with an Arduino processor – do a YouTube or Google search and try one of those!
Arduino – go to Files >> Examples for lots of simple programs you can start with
youtube.com – LOTS of examples
google.com – Even more examples
RESOURCES, TIPS, TRICKS AND HINTS
Radio Shack has lots of books and experimenter kits to help you get started. Go to RadioShack.com and search on Arduino.