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Topic: Teaching arduino in 300-level class, suggestions? (Read 6061 times) previous topic - next topic


Hi everyone,

I am going to use arduino in my 300-level electronics (non-ECE major) next semester. I've got hardware and some activities ready but any suggestions from either past experience on teaching and learning arduino is very helpful to me.

Prerequisite for the class:
Physics 1 and 2 (calculus-based)
College level calculus 1 and 2

What I wish to have as prerequisite:
100-level programming

Arduino is going to be a part of the course content, including weekly takehome mini projects (making a resistor sorter with voltage divider known resistor+unknown and analog read and calculate). There will be a major digital project as difficult as temperature logger or light polarization analyzer or a weighing platform/center of mass finder.

I'm using Getting started with Arduino as reserved reference in the library and this free notebook online:
Arduino programming notebook by Brian w. Evans

My students have no experience (required by prior classes) on breadboarding or soldering. On the other hand, they are mostly physics students.

I will need them to assemble their own shield (good lord help my students). I got one volunteer yesterday and it took her almost 3 hours. I'll see if another student can do it faster tomorrow.

I'll try to teach my volunteers (mostly A students) how to program a thing or two to see how fast I can get them to know what they're doing. Wish me good luck :)

If you have any experience teaching someone how to use an arduino or learning it from someone, please help me, pitch in some advice!  :D :) ;)

Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


I'm not sure how related it will be but i would like to suggest a TSOP + an IR Remote.... we have been using this in our workshops and this seems to be the thing that gets our students excited... after all the channel surfing they do... they are awed when they program to integrate remote controls into their project[everyone likes to have control of a remote control ;)]... on top of it... its cheap experimentation with loads of learning...


Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


its a phototransistor tuned (filtered?) to 38KHz of the ir remote !


its a phototransistor tuned (filtered?) to 38KHz of the ir remote !

A Thin Small Outline Package?


Dec 30, 2010, 12:09 am Last Edit: Dec 30, 2010, 12:39 am by focalist Reason: 1
Maybe a POV display?

Physics students will get the concept of POV, and from a programming standpoint, it brings Bitmapped graphics (fonts), bit shifting, binary in general.. as well as timing and interrupts (use an interrupt with a hall sensor or phototransistor for rotation speed sensing).

An 8-bit POV direct driven (arduino can power 8 normal LEDs @20ma fairly easily), mount it on a disc of some type and then counterbalance.  If you get the balance decent, a small DC motor will drive it.  Some folks do this with a "propeller" design, but it's easier to build and balance if a disc of some type is used, imo...

For extra credit, accept input to the POV via IR Remote.. update the text (and store to EEPROM) without a computer...

Still a VERY do-able project that covers MANY concepts..

It also involves objects being rotated at speeds which approach the dangerous and destructive if items are not attached extrenely well.  Physics students always appreciate a 9v battery embedded in the ceiling (or the cat, their own face, etc) because they thought tape would hold up to being spun at 2000RPM.  Now I'm a big believer in Duct Tape mind you... but have your students calculate the kinetic energy of a 9v battery being rotated at few hundred (or thousand!) RPM on an 18" (.5 meter) radius.  Then ask them if they want to stand in the trajectory path, just using Duct Tape.

I have a nice dent in the plasterboard to attest to Duct Tape not being good enough for THIS particular function... though it has given me an idea for a high-speed Fully Automatic Trebuchet..

My town has some strange laws on it's books.. not the least of which makes "The construction and/or ownership of an (get this!) Infernal Device" a crime.  I consider it a good thing to violate this law as often as possible.

We also are the only city in the USA with an ordinance prohibiting the use of Atomic Weapons within the city limits.  You really don't want to mess with the local cops.  It's the fear of retribution from our local police force which held the Russkies in check, you know...


I hear that Arduinos are getting used a lot for controlling lab equipment and uploading data to PC-class machines.  I'm still jealous from when I discovered that a chemistry class on implementing lab equipment got to use all the "fun" electronics books that us EE majors didn't (Lancaster's CMOS and TTL "cookbooks.")


Thanks focalist. I have such a rig for rotation and displaying the rotation speed with POV. Hope to enter AAPT equipment contest! My video cam is not good enough to get a decent video but yes it works. My stage won't go faster than 10RMP. I woud say 1000RPM requires a lot of power to balance frictional loss and I can only hope a 1/4 HP vacuum pump motor can do it with a gearbox.

I'm not sure if my students are willing to write programs to get POV but I'm definitely showing mine to them at the very start.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


westfw, I wish someone can make physics this easy for everyone but maybe arduino has a way to do it and I'm set out to find it.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter


Dec 30, 2010, 07:29 am Last Edit: Dec 30, 2010, 07:30 am by retrolefty Reason: 1
We also are the only city in the USA with an ordinance prohibiting the use of Atomic Weapons within the city limits.

Sir, you have a call on line one, from Berkeley, Calif. They said they were first and you just copied them.



Dec 30, 2010, 11:14 am Last Edit: Dec 30, 2010, 11:23 am by focalist Reason: 1
Actually, it was Chico, CA which has a law on the books.. Berkeley doesn't have one on the books that I've found via google, anyway ;)

HOWEVER, it's hard to beat Marlboro for stupid laws:

It is illegal to buy, sell, or own a squirt gun within the city limits.
"Silly String" is illegal to purchase or own within city limits.
It is illegal for any city resident to own more than two dogs.  

At one point or another, these must have seemed good ideas to some idiot.. and are of course not enforced anymore, if they ever were.  The fact remains these laws remain.  The last one.. no more than two dogs.. umm.. Puppies are illegal?

It is however legal to duel to the death on Boston Common as long as the Governor is in attendance and officiating.  Massachusetts is a little weird sometimes.

Cali has nothing on The PRC (People's Republic of Cambridge)..


Dec 30, 2010, 02:15 pm Last Edit: Dec 30, 2010, 02:16 pm by cowjam Reason: 1
these must have seemed good ideas to some idiot

Laws are usually reactive rather than proactive, they're made because they are seen to be needed.

Maybe some kids got shot by the police because their squirt guns looked real.  I'm vaguely aware that fake guns over your side of the pond need a bright red cap on the end of the barrel but I guess it wasn't always so.

Not sure about silly string.  Maybe it's just too silly.

No more than two dogs seems sensible to me.


Squirt guns probably as a result of people being killed by police

Silly String, erm... maybe vandalism? Or used as incendiaries

Dogs were probably a result of dog fighting rings or something


Perhaps silly string canisters can easily be turned into makeshift napalm grenades?
Not entirely sure what 'silly string' is, but I'm geussing its some kind of chemical that forms a type of foam string that can only serve to annoy people.
If its flammable, it'd indeed be napalm in a can.. so.. is it?  :-?


Dec 31, 2010, 12:15 am Last Edit: Dec 31, 2010, 12:16 am by retrolefty Reason: 1
Then ask them if they want to stand in the trajectory path, just using Duct Tape.

Well as this thread as evolved, then surely there needs be a law passed prohibiting  the use of Duct Tape.


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