I am a freshman in college and am interested in doing a project that utilizes the Arduino board. I have basic C++, Java, and Python experience, and have soldered pcbs before. I am coming from a quadcopter background (where I mostly use pre-programmed boards with integrated sensors) so I have heard of the Ardiuno platform, however I have never done any true projects that had me rewriting code or messing with sensors and their integration. I would like to know where to start so I can learn how to use the board, which will undoubtedly give me an edge in engineering projects.
I am currently pondering buying an Arduino Uno - I want to use it as a learning base, and have the capability to do my first few "real" projects on it later on. Is this a smart step, or should I invest in a bigger/smaller board?
The project that I want to be able to complete once I am accustomed to the board and its nuances is this: I need to connect a sensor to the Arduino that tells me the time it takes for a piece of paper to pass by it. This can be an IR, color, or sonar, I am not sure yet. It will sense when the paper blocks the sensor, and start a timer. This timer will stop when the paper passes over the sensor and no longer blocks it. Knowing the length of the paper, I will be able to take this time and figure out the speed that the paper is traveling at. The speed range could be anywhere between 250mm/s to 750mm/s. I would like to display this speed on a display or on the screen of my computer.
Does this logic sound feasible, or will I find that once I get accustomed to the Uno that it isn't possible? Is the hardware available to do this sort of task? Is this too challenging a project to be a first or second Arduino project? If so, what would you recommend so that I would be able to do it? I am sorry for all of these questions, but having wanted to do an Arduino project for close to 3 years now, I am very excited at the opportunity. Thanks in advance for your feedback!