plain arduino board

What the heck is an Arduino?

I’m not an electronics wizard. Even though my parents have both taught in tech for most of my life, and we had a TRS-80 in the garage when I was eleven, I went a different route in high school and college and pursued writing and performing.

I am, however, deeply in love with the ideas behind coding and robotics. I’ve always wanted to be able to make machines do what I say. I liked DOS, because I could write commands and the computer would perform the tasks I asked for. I was actually a little sad when command lines and keyboard shortcuts mostly gave way to GUI and mouseclicks. I’m what you might call a dabbler — geeky enough to want to do things with code, but until now not geeky enough to get off my butt and do it.

Anyway, I was talking about this to my dad, a.k.a.Richard, a.k.a. the guy who runs TeachElectronics.com, and he was more than happy to help me fulfill my dream of knowing which end of an electron is up, so I’m taking his electronics course and at the same time, I’m going to start learning what an arduino is, and how to make it do what I say.

plain arduino board
Photo: Serene Vannoy

This is an arduino Uno. To be honest, I only knew that because (a) dad told me, and (b) it says “ARDUINO” right on it. Dad handed me this arduino, along with the cable — this thing:

arduino cable
Photo: Serene Vannoy

— and said “Okay, here’s your first arduino project. You see this little tiny LED over by the pin marked ’13’? You need to make that flash on and off every 2 seconds.” That’s it. He also gave me a couple of books on arduinos, and then sent me on my way. Well, he bought me dinner first, but basically, yeah, that was all the instruction I got on this project.

Right now, I’m reading this book:

Book cover, Beginning Arduino, by Michael McRoberts
Beginning Arduino, by Michael McRoberts (link goes to Amazon)

…and I’m only up to the part where it tells what the heck an arduino is, so these posts will be mercifully short for a while, as I get my bearings. Come back next week and maybe I’ll know what the pins do!