Need Advice on First Ethernet Project, too much for first try?

I’ve always loved the term go big or go home, but the project im thinking about taking on seems a little ridiculous. I have a science project, its just a demonstration solar panel that tracks the sun. that part is handled, what i want is to do is create an app for an iPhone/iPod that allows you to change settings and such from the app. So knowing nothing about app building or the Ethernet shield, do you think it is do-able? I figure i can get the app built, there are tons of free and simple app builders. What im having trouble wrapping my head around is the in between. Like the app sends and receives data with the arduino, which reports how long its been running, the current wattage its got, and so on. How does that in between work? does it go through a website like twitter, or does it send it straight to the shield? help and advice would be most appreciated.

If your iphone has a web browser, then you probably can control stuff via a web page in that browser. There are other possible solutions you can research by doing a google advanced search of this forum for key words like iphone.

so what about the app directly sending and receiving info with the arduino? Does the arduino act like a server with the Ethernet shield?

The ethernet shield is certainly a web server. It connects to your router, then it will serve it's webpage. You would then connect to the website, and control the Arduino.

cool thanks, what do you think about the level of difficulty for a first Ethernet shield project?

The data from the Arduino will be sent to the ethernet shield, which will send it to the webpage. Your app will interact with the webpage. When you make a change to a setting on the webpage using your app, the ethernet shield will see that change, pass it along to the Arduino, which will then carry out the instructions that you gave it from your app.

For instance, the Arduino might sense that your solar panel is pointing southeast. The Arduino will send that information to the ethernet shield, which will post it on your webpage. Your app will see that information on the webpage. Lets say that you want the solar panel to face southwest for some reason. Your app would send a command to the webpage (this can be as simple as checking a box on the webpage), which will be picked up by the ethernet shield, then the ethernet shield will send that command to the Arduino, and the Arduino would send that command to the solar panel tracking system, which would point the solar panel to the southwest.

You don’t really need to develop an app to control the Arduino through a webpage. You can write the webpage so that there are check boxes for the commands that you want to have, then when you check one of those boxes, the webpage will send that command back through the ethernet shield to the Arduino.

cool thats what i was thinking, what is your opinion on the difficulty level?

Virtually all the code you need for the Arduino side is already out there, so the difficulty level depends on how much you know about web development. If you look around, you will probably find most of the webpage code included with the Arduino samples as well.

So, I would say the difficulty level is probably medium at most. There are a lot of knowledgeable people on this forum, and I’m sure that if you post your questions in the proper places, you will be able to find the answers to any areas that may be difficult for you.