A bit of guidance for a total beginner?

Hi Folks, I've always wanted to delve into tinkering around with an arduino, but I just haven't had the time. . . However, a friend just asked me some advice on an art project she's working on and I thought it might be a good opportunity to jump in.

What she wants to do is very simple. She is creating a knitted heart (anatomically correct, not the Valentine's Day heart) and she needs it realistically beat.

Does this seem like a good Arduino project for a beginner? What sort of motors would you recommend to get a beating motion?

Any adive would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Chris

How life like does it have to be? Does it need to look like a real heart as one section contracts then the other?

If it just needs a beat then an old open relay could do the trick. It needs to be one without a casing and be fairly large. The idea is to have the movable contact tethered to the side of the heart. So when the coil of the relay is energized it pulls the contact to it thus pulling the side wall in. Then you can energize the coil in time to create a heartbeat.

Your best bet may be tracking down an old phone. Once that has an actual ringing bell. The ringer will be the kind of relay you want. It will operate on 12V so you'll need an outside power source.