Completely new to Arduino, need some pointers

Hey!

I’ve only recently become aware of the limitless potential of Arduino and I really want to give it a go.

I have very little experience with electronics like this, I know the basics and can use a soldering iron well simply from obligatory lessons in secondary school, but the lessons never really explained why I was soldering what I was soldering, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t go slinging jargon around without an explanation :stuck_out_tongue:

I play a lot of Garry’s Mod and use the Wiremod addon, it allows you to write expressions which you can use to control your contraptions. The expression function has recently been updated with a completely new syntax, which I’m having to learn now, and it seems very similar to the syntax of Arduino sketches (correct terminology?), so hopefully I’ll get my head around programming a lot quicker than I will with constructing :stuck_out_tongue:

I actually have a good idea of what I’d like to make - bare with me, this is probably too advanced for a beginner such as myself, but I’d like to be able to order everything I’ll need as soon as possible, that way I can get to it once I understand how to get to it. I’ll be getting the starter stuff too, of course, the Arduino board, probably a protoboard, transistors, leds, wires etc… if there’s any kits or modules that you’d recommend, please do!

at my school, we have to do this project about identifying and expressing ourselves, I don’t think that the board moderators would appreciate me putting to words what I think about it, but I figured that if I used Arduino I could

a) make something worth keeping
b) get into a new hobby
c) have fun! (unlike many of my classmates)

I found these open-face helmets which have these great big visors, and I thought it would be cool to mount an LED matrix behind the visor which would display patterns effected by some kind of sensor. If I could find a microphone that gave volume and pitch readings, I could write a sketch that would change the LED matrix pattern based on what kind of range those readings were in. This really isn’t supposed to be technically advanced, so I’d probably use 3 possibilities for each reading (low, mid and high for pitch, soft, neutral and loud for volume).

My main problems are with the LED matrix, I don’t really know how to control one besides finding some kind of Arduino chip with a massive number of pins and controlling the lights individually. I’ve heard of controllers, but they only seem to support 8x8 displays, which really wouldn’t be big enough in this instance.

My other problem is that these matrixes appear to be flat, whereas the surface of the visor will be curved. Assuming I’ll be able to control more than 64 LEDs at dimensions other than 8x8, could I construct my own? I thought about using a sheet of thin sponge, cutting it out to the same size as the helmet visor, attaching my LEDs and then bending it to fit the curve. I’d have no idea how to wire it up, but if I’m going to have to construct my own controller I’m going to have to learn how these things work anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

thanks for any help, I’ll keep researching and learning in the mean time.

Hey fellow newbie!
That’s a long first post, and it looks like you’ve set yourself a lot of work!

For a start, type “LED matrix” into the field at the top right corner of the page you’re looking at. You will see lots of past posts from people trying to use them. Scan through for anything that makes sense to you.

As for your construction method: No ideas yet. If I get an idea I’ll post again. My current project doesn’t use LEDs.

I’m sure others will offer help. If it’s slow coming, 1) ask one thing at a time. 2) give enough detail so we can visualise what you’re doing.

And keep trying!

…this is probably too advanced for a beginner such as myself, but I’d like to be able to order everything I’ll need as soon as possible, that way I can get to it once I understand how to get to it. I’ll be getting the starter stuff too, of course, the Arduino board, probably a protoboard, transistors, leds, wires etc… if there’s any kits or modules that you’d recommend, please do!

Advise you don’t get a bunch of stuff that may prove to be of more use to others than yourself!
Generally postage costs and speeds rarely mean that you have to plan more than a week ahead what you might need.

Have you seen the book “Getting Started with Arduino”? Its cheap and you can probably guess what its about … :slight_smile:

Regarding displays INSIDE (or on) a helmet visor.
I don’t think most folks eyes focus in that close.
Suggest you try it with something like a piece of newspaper before you start buying heaps of stuff based on that concept…

Thanks guys,

the LEDs are supposed to be facing outwards rather than inwards for clarification.

Were you referring to the Make book? I’ve been watching the Make videos and I was considering getting the book, it’s only £7.50. getting to understand this all will probably help in the long run anyway, so I’ll look into getting the basic gear.

An idea for your LEDs. Flexible strips. Check here to see if they come in a suitable configuration
http://www.superbrightleds.com/light_bars.htm?gclid=CIXWn_OO2pkCFQIupAodZBc9Vg
or google “flexible LED strips”.
I don’t know if your visor curves in more than one direction. if it does, I
suggest trying cardboard strips first- you might find a problem!

I second what that_chap said about ordering stuff. I know from experience! :-[ Make sure you know what you’re doing before you rush into it.

Since you’re just starting out with the Arduino, I wonder if there are any user groups nearby who could help you out if/when you get stuck? I’m in Bristol, and we have Dorkbot Bristol which meets once a month and where just about everybody has an Arduino. You may also find local electronics clubs and/or amateur radio clubs where people will have expertise with this sort of thing.

rodmac, thanks, I’ll look into them. I’m not sure if they can be individually controlled but thanks anyway!

Anachrocomputer, I’ll take a look around, I imagine that that kind of group would be very helpful.

I was going to purchase the starter kit from tinker.it, but unforunately they’re sold out… I did manage to get the book from Amazon, though, so I’ll have something to read while I’m waiting :stuck_out_tongue: