Losing faith already

Hi guys,
I'm a newbie here. I watched some vids online a few days ago about the Arduino and loved what I saw. I have no background in electronics at all and am fairly low level when it comes to programming but have a real will to learn ( at the mo I am concentrating mainly on Java).
I picked up the Franzis Arduino Tutorial Kit last night from my local Maplins store. It comes with a breadboard (without the + and - rails I see on almost all videos online) and some LED's, resistors etc. Anyway I successfully managed to complete project 1 (blink LED) without using the breadboard, just plugging the LED into pin 13 and ground etc with the basic code being used in Sketch.
Anyway... I am totally stumped when it comes to project 2, fading LED's and digitalRead all seem a little too far advanced for me. I guess the other thing is that almost every book/video (even beginner ones) seem to think you have a fairly extensive background in electronics etc so don't really tell you much about what resistors to use... the ones they have are totally different colours to the ones I've got so that doesn't help.
I am beginning to think (after spending the whole of last night and all of today so far that there is no real support for actual beginners in how to use this stuff. When you have a breadboard without the rails that everyone uses, that already throws you off. Also it says in the manual... Open the terminal which is found under tools in the Arduino IDE. I'm guessing they mean Sketch when they say IDE? I don't have any terminal there at all, nothing on the cd that it came with either. Can't even seem to download Hyperterminal off a website (this was just mentioned on a quick google search) and nobody even talks about the Franzis Tutorial Kit.
Gah! Hope this hasn't cheesed most of you off reading this, considering these little micro computers are meant for kids to have a crack at, I must be missing something real obvious or maybe I should just stick to something else and sell the Arduino. IDK, any help would be appreciated.
Many thanks,
Tommy B

IDE is the editor for arduino. The "terminal" you refer to, is this for viewing the output from you sketch? Look under Tools, Serial monitor.

Re digitalRead, this is a very basic command to read the input.

May I suggest you read some of the many books written for beginners before giving up. They have many examples of the basics in electronics and programming.

(link to illegal download site removed by moderator)

Weedpharma

Ah thanks for the reply weedpharma :slight_smile:
Yes that may be an idea, I guess it's because I found the first example so easy that following onto step two shouldn't have felt so tough. I think I'll give the beginner books a go first like you say.
Cheers again,
Tommy B

Arduino is so much fun, but you do need a bit of knowledge to start with. Google is AWESOME!!!! It knows everything!!! YouTube is pretty amazing also............ Don't necessarily rely on this bunch on here to help you though :-[ Plenty of sarcasm and belittling is par for the course, but occasionally you will actually find some guys on here to be really helpful.Don't give up just yet!! :smiley:

Regards,

Graham

ghlawrence2000:
Don't necessarily rely on this bunch on here to help you though :-[ Plenty of sarcasm and belittling is par for the course, but occasionally you will actually find some guys on here to be really helpful.

If you don't have thick skin, the internet is probably not the place for ya!

What we don't like is spoon feeding answers to someone; we prefer to get clear and cognizant questions, ideally explaining the problem well, what has been tried, what has failed, plus code, pictures and schematics. For more general questions, we prefer that we get a question of what is trying to be accomplished, rather than questions that seem to indicate that the person has some kind of "secret project" that they won't tell us about, and rather make us all guess what they are trying to do. Half the time with these kinds of questions, had they told us what they were attempting to do (ie - what the project was), rather than what they had attempted as fixes to the mystery project - an answer would have been arrived at in a shorter time period.

We don't take kindly to those who claim to be "electrical engineers" or something of that nature, yet ask questions that seem to indicate that they slept through their classes; that's just insulting to us and them.

We also prefer that you read the stickies at the top of each forum, plus put your code in code tags when you post it. Also - please google your problem well before you post; inevitably, many questions posted could have easily been answered via a two-word google search (with one of the words being "arduino") within the first 5 results. It's better when we find someone who does the research, and shows us the link(s) they found - maybe they can't get it to work because the information is wrong or something, but it shows they tried first, which is welcome news.

Asking questions properly is very important - read this if you want to ask questions in the right manner, and get the best answers:

http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

For the OP:

Regarding the breadboard - post a picture of it, let's see what you have. Likely it is close to what the tutorial you are following uses, but is just slightly different - but we have all seen and used most of the common breadboards, so one of use will be able to tell you how yours likely is set up, so that you can successfully complete the tutorials. You might also google around, to see if you can find some info on the layout/hookup for your breadboard versus others.

Your resistors should have similar color codes; look up the resistor color code chart and learn how to use it. Also learn what and how Ohm's Law works (very important!). If you don't have the exact resistors, don't worry too much. For many circuits, you can just get close; pick the resistor you do have that is closest, but larger than the resistor being asked for (better to reduce the amount of current rather than increase it).

Hope this helps...

Thanks guys!
I have done a lot of googling before I posted but the trouble I guess is when you are new to all this, it's hard to know exactly what to search for as the terminology/keywords aren't in my vocab just yet :slight_smile:
Yeah I have fairly thick skin but just the comments on my post have made me realise the best way to post my issues so cheers for that :slight_smile:
I guess I need to do a little learning first before jumping onto step 2 that's all. I have ordered another breadboard off eBay now that is closer to the ones in the videos with the extra rails (+ and -) on both sides as mine doesn't have this. I will try and post a picture of it on here asap. Awesome I had no idea about the chart, I am just looking at these things and I'm like "whhaaaaa???" etc. Again time to put some real ground work in first.
Cheers again for your replies and Graham, your advice is great, I think I'll try and do some googling before the harshness rains down from above on this site haha! I know you guys don't want to spoonfeed ( and rightly so) just looking for a point in the right direction as to beginner courses that don't jump from ... Step 1 - plug LED into pin 13 and GND. Step 2 - Small amount of code. Step 3 - Plug in, upload and hey presto. To Step 1 - use totally new Breadboard with rails you don't have, then resistors you don't have, then Use Analog commands, even though you are only using Digital outs etc. Step 2 - Google all of the above and get knowhere because everyone seems to have a strong background in resistors and what Ohmage + where you can use what etc.
Phew! anyway, you get my drift. Sorry for the long post. I truly do value all of your replies and advice though. Now onto mission Noob Level Up! Bring on the Youtube vids and books :slight_smile:
Cheers again,
Tommy B

If you want to gain a better background in electronics, I would suggest the following books:

Grob's "Basic Electronics"

Horowitz's "Art of Electronics"

Both of these books are of the "EE101" variety - they are textbooks, and as such recent editions will be pricey ($100.00+ USD each); instead, get an older edition online or from a used book store - the information will still be accurate and relevant.

Another resource to look into would be Forrest M. Mims III's "Engineer's Mini-Notebooks" series of books; it used to be you could find these at Radio Shack, but not any longer. Instead, again - look online. Here's the author's website as well:

You might also look into subscribing to the magazines "Nuts and Volts" and "Servo" - both by the same publisher:

Nuts and Volts is mainly geared toward general electronics, while Servo is geared toward robotics (it was a "spinoff" of N&V).

Another great resource is this site:

Just be aware that if you are in the United States, that some of the schematic standards and other small portions are different in Europe (and vice-versa if you are in the EU); if you are located elsewhere, then it can really go either way - so it's best to be aware of both.

As far as programming is concerned, the Arduino is coded for in C/C++, so information about those languages will be useful. That said, you need to be aware that most tutorials for C and C++ assume you are coding for larger hardware - not an embedded microcontroller. There are several differences - too many to articulate here, but again, be aware of this as you search for help.

cr0sh!
Thankyou for the reply, wow that has given me another great place to start investigating. I am in the UK so I will keep in mind the differences that can crop up. I have only touched a little on C++ but hey I got another 30 years or so left in me so that should give me some time to work on things :slight_smile:
All your replies have been a real help so thankyou all again for those. Next time I ask something, I should be a little further down the road.
Cheers again,
Tommy B

Did you look at the link I gave earlier? The books are ebooks that can be downloaded free.

I learnt a lot from reading some of these books.

Weedpharma

tommyb:
cr0sh!
Thankyou for the reply, wow that has given me another great place to start investigating. I am in the UK so I will keep in mind the differences that can crop up. I have only touched a little on C++ but hey I got another 30 years or so left in me so that should give me some time to work on things :slight_smile:

You’re welcome. If you are in the UK, you might want to check out Earthshine Electronics (Mike McRoberts) arduino stuff:

http://www.earthshineelectronics.com/

They publish (as part of a kit they supply) a book called the ASK Manual (Arduino Starter Kit Manual) - it’s free to download here:

http://thearduinoguy.org/?page_id=100

It’s not a bad manual (though it works best with their kit, of course).

Something you might look into is to take a look at all of these resources, and source out your own “kit 'o parts” - most of the kits all use the same kinds and values of parts, and in many cases you can find other sources for the parts that are cheaper than buying the kits (and you can generally get a ton more of the parts). But not always - so shop and price things carefully (shipping can eat into things very easily doing it that way, too).

weedpharma:
Did you look at the link I gave earlier?

I did.

The books are ebooks that can be downloaded free.

Small correction...
The books are ebooks that can be illegally downloaded free.

I learnt a lot from reading some of these books.

Stealing feels good doesn't it. Probably doesn't feel so good for the victims, though.

Post a link to that site again and I will ban you. Permanently.

This was not my intent and was done in ignorance.

I accept your comment otherwise.

Weedpharma

Hey Tommy!
Hello from another old fart in UK :slight_smile:

A little tip that might help is to pick up a cheapo multimeter, then you must:

!!!!Take out the fuses, and then tape over the A and mA sockets (can debate that all you want:P)!!!!
!!!!Keep it away from any mains/line/high volt supplies!!!!

As long as you only use it at low volts arduino stuff you will be OK.

First thing it is handy for is to double check resistor values before you put them in the breadboard.
By all means read the colour code first, then check with the meter.

You'll also find it handy for many other uses too, and as your knowledge grows, you'll know when it's time to put the fuses back in and measure current (Amps), then when to replace the meter with something better.