Up, not North

Course report: weeks four and five

February 18th, 2010

As I mentioned in the week three report, I was away for week four. A big thanks to my friend (and fellow Hacklabber) Chad for substitute teaching for me! Chad covered buttons and digitalInput, along with how to use serial output to have to Arduino talk to a computer.

The week we worked on how to do analog input with the Arduino; that is to say, how to have the Arduino read a value off a dial, rather than read whether a button is pressed or not. The electronics behind this is a little trickier than anything we’ve done before, which gave me the opportunity to try out some of the things I’ve learned about teaching. Obviously I can’t say for sure, but I think the theory part went pretty well — definitely better than when I tried teaching similar concepts in the first class!

Once we had the theory out of the way, we went to work adding some analog input to our old programs. In particular, we modified our “blinking” LED program so that you could control the blink speed with a knob, and we also made it so we could dim an LED using a knob; then we worked on doing both at the same time: one knob, two LEDs.

Since next week is the final week of the course, we decided that it might be fun to do something a little different: rather than try to teach concepts, we’re going to work on assembling a project that actually does something. Everyone seemed very excited about the idea of a physical Gmail “new mail” notifier, so I think we’re going to try our hand at building one based off of some of the publicly-available plans.

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