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Topic: Where to start? (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic

Heatryn

Hi people,

I am new to the site and want to start doing some projects using Arduino. Where can I start? Is there a good book overthere and what Arduino board is good to start with?

JesterSig

#1
Jun 21, 2012, 05:30 pm Last Edit: Jun 21, 2012, 05:58 pm by JesterSig Reason: 1
Most people start with the arduino uno. If you have the budget you can start with a mega which is basically a bigger version of the uno (more pins, more serial communication lines, larger memory). Some basic electronics parts and a solderless breadboard are also things you'll probably want to get started. If you have a specific project in mind you could start with a different arduino more suitable to your needs.

Start with the tutorials on this site to get some of the basics. When you have a better idea what projects you want to tackle, look for more advanced topics or books related to your interests. Since arduino is an open environment, there is a plethora of information on the web. Have fun with your new toy!

oric_dan

There is a lot of info on the web, at the arduino.cc site, and your local
Barnes&Noble store should have 4 or 5 books on Arduino to look at.

MichaelMeissner

Everybody starts with the basic blinky light, push button, read from a potentiometer, run a motor and servo, etc. type things.  But these are just to get you used to the environment and what can be done.  After you have gone past the training wheels, the idea is to make something.

I tend to think, whenever you get into a maker/hacker project, you need to pick something that interests you.  Not something that is my pet project, nor your best friend, significant other/wife/husband/etc.'s, but something YOU want to make.  Something that will hold your interest through a lot of iterations to get things right.

Adam Savage (from the Mythbusters TV show) said it better than I can at this year's maker's fair in California:   http://www.tested.com/videos/44436-adam-savage-at-maker-faire-2012-why-we-make/.

So what project do YOU want to make?  It should be something challenging enough that it will take you time to learn to do it, but you should be aware that something fantastically complex will take that much longer to finish, and you can risk burning out.

Also, in terms of doing stuff, you want to break complex stuff down into smaller parts, so that you have intermediate checkpoints along the way (which also includes intermediate successes).  And don't be afraid to every so often revisit things and possibly redo how they are done, but you do also want to keep in mind, that eventually you want to get to a stopping point (or at least a resting point).

smccrary

I'm with Heatryn here.  Just starting with Arduino.  I need to know which hardware to buy.  I am heading for Radio Shack this afternoon to buy my first kit, they tell me they have 3 or 4 in stock.  My project is to automate a home brew system from a Windows-based PC.  So where do I go from there?  Books, blogs, Web?  Thanks...

MichaelMeissner

#5
Jun 21, 2012, 09:36 pm Last Edit: Jun 21, 2012, 09:49 pm by MichaelMeissner Reason: 1

I'm with Heatryn here.  Just starting with Arduino.  I need to know which hardware to buy.  I am heading for Radio Shack this afternoon to buy my first kit, they tell me they have 3 or 4 in stock.  My project is to automate a home brew system from a Windows-based PC.  So where do I go from there?  Books, blogs, Web?  Thanks...

In terms of the home brew system, what is the first task you want to automate?  At the 50,000 foot level, what do you want the machine to do?  Do you want it to measure the temps?  Did you want it to move stuff, fill bottles?  Without knowing about what you ultimately want to do, it is hard to give recommendations.

At the general level, figure that a starter kit is just that, a starter kit.  The idea is to get your feet wet with a few of the basics, and then you will have a better idea of things to add on it later.  At this stage, don't try to buy a kit that does everything, figure you will be buying things in bits and pieces as you refine what you want to do.

From RS, the two boards you get are Uno and Mega.  The Uno is cheaper, but the Mega can ultimately do more.  However, if you don't need to read 20 different sensors, you probably don't need the Mega.  By the time you get to the point where you might need the Mega, you won't need to buy it in kit form, and can just buy the processor.  For shields, try to be realistic in what you buy initially.  As one of my coworkers is fond of saying about work stuff -- it is a process, not an event, which means you are buying everything all at once and never touch the shop again and then go back to the lab and create, but instead you try something, and maybe it works and maybe it doesn't.  If it doesn't you figure out alternate ways to do what you want, and try that..  Basically, buy enough to get you started, and as your design evolves, then get what the more detailed boards, etc.

One problem of starter kits is often times manufacturers just dump everything in a box, and you get some sensors, etc. that you have no idea what they are for (I bought my kit from jaycon.com and that was my experience with their components).  Radio Shack at least has the Make.com book that gives you a starting point of where to begin.

Unfortunately, it is hit or miss whether the clerks at RS have some electronics knowledge.  Some do, and some will give you the deer in the headlights stare if you ask them anything.  Fortunately, unlike a few years ago, RS has started stocking more components, but for Arduino stuff they don't have much selection.  If you have a local electronics store in the area, they might be better than RS (in north, north central Massachusetts, I will go to Electronics Plus in Littleton, and You-do-it electronics further south).  It is usually a trade-off, in terms of buying stuff, if you need it immediately, you need to find a local supplier and pay retail prices, if you need it soon, then consider using a supplier in your country, and if you can wait 2-3 weeks, then order it from a Chinese shop.

You might check for whether there are local hacker spaces of people who are also doing Arduino stuff in your area.  As I recall, one of the groups in this forum is to find people in your local area.

smccrary

Thanks Michael, Good information.

So, following your advice, I did not buy any hardware yet until I figure it out a bit more. I did buy some books and started reading.

I didn't understand the amount of detail being requested earlier. So, I know I need to control:
1. Temperature
2. Volume
3. Flow rate
4. Pumps
5. Valves
6. Timed operation
7. Combination of above
I would also like to interface with a GUI.

Input/output will vary with process. Processes will run the gamut from
being a simple if-then-do (such as for setting a timer), while at the other extreme could be a PID control loop (such as hold a temperature while circulation occurs through a system that could clog at high rates of flow).

I'm guessing I will purchase a Mega, but I'm not sure about a kit or not, or other accessories, like I'm  uncomfortable with the term shields, and I cannot determine how to get a breadboard.

So many questions. :-)


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