What to do next after finishing a starter kit?

My son and I did the projects in a starter kit. It was fun, and I wonder what we should do next.

There are lots of books and webpages with ideas, but the first question is: How do we get parts? We do not yet have the abilities to work with odd bits from disassembled electronics. Buying the parts (resistors, stepper motors etc.) individually online is expensive because of shipping costs, unless you buy a whole bunch of items at once.

Maybe what we need is a kit? Maybe an "advanced beginner" kit or a course of study?

Any suggestions on how to go about the next step after the starter kit?

redder: My son and I did the projects in a starter kit. It was fun, and I wonder what we should do next.

There are lots of books and webpages with ideas, but the first question is: How do we get parts? We do not yet have the abilities to work with odd bits from disassembled electronics. Buying the parts (resistors, stepper motors etc.) individually online is expensive because of shipping costs, unless you buy a whole bunch of items at once.

Maybe what we need is a kit? Maybe an "advanced beginner" kit or a course of study?

Any suggestions on how to go about the next step after the starter kit?

http://www.mouser.com

right up the street from me, so I don't know what their shipping costs are, but component prices are dirt CHEAP. http://www.sparkfun.com is also a good place for components that are on breakout boards and such.

Thank you. Yes, Mouser and SparkFun are good sources for parts. But it leaves the question: What is a good advanced-beginner project? Can you recommend kits? Or alternately, what is a good way to get hardware to follow project-instructions, given the high cost of buying a small number of parts?

redder: Thank you. Yes, Mouser and SparkFun are good sources for parts. But it leaves the question: What is a good advanced-beginner project? Can you recommend kits? Or alternately, what is a good way to get hardware to follow project-instructions, given the high cost of buying a small number of parts?

This is the great thing about this kind of stuff- for the most part, you can build whatever you want, and morph it however you'd like. It's always more fun if you can actually use it when you're done. Whether it's to rotate a solar panel to follow the sun during the day, getting the weather like my current project, or making a full-on robot, the sky really is the limit.

Thank you. Yes, the sky is the limit, but at the moment we are still taking baby steps. The question is: Can you suggest specific projects, or ways to find them -- and their associated components -- for a next step for an beginner who just did a starter kit.

I'm in a somewhat similar situation: just finished the beginner kit and trying to step from it into the vast infinity of the Arduino world. It does seem hard to find resources for this level. It's probably a good sign that we should each blog about our projects at this stage so that we can leave a bit of a trail for others who follow after us.

Data logging? There is a project for logging the temp and time etc. the fridge door is open on Adafruit http://www.ladyada.net/make/logshield/ and plot the data online. Good educational project.

Thank you! And importantly, AdaFruit sells kits, so I don't have to go scouting about for parts.

I'll appreciate more tips for advanced beginners.

It's worthwhile to learn about various sensors and modules or "breakout boards" available that can be used as building blocks. The idea would not necessarily be to produce some finished or even particularly useful project with a specific purpose. Once familiar with a few modules, that knowledge will suggest larger and more practical projects. SparkFun and Adafruit are great places to browse. There's far too many to list, but some common ones might be 7-segment LEDs or LCDs to display information, real-time clocks, temperature sensors, etc. Start with one or two modestly-prices ones that sound interesting.

If you have done a starter kit then you have good basic knowledge. What to do next will depend on whether or not you want to build the electronics from scratch or are happy to buy major components and combine them.

For a subject I think you would be best to look to your hobbies and interests and try to find some way of combining that with the arduino in a useful way. For example if you were into photography you might have a project to do time-lapse photography, or take photos when motion is detected.

Don't leap into something too big though. Better to get satisfaction succeeding in small steps than frustrated with something too complex, especially if younger people are involved.

When I was a kid, I liked nothing better than "action at a distance" and things that rolled around under their own power: remote control and robots. Of course when I was a kid we had dry cell batteries, bell wire, soldering guns, knife switches... and tube TVs to scavenge.

There are little "robot" kits out there both with wheels and with treads. One with little sensors that makes it change direction when it gets close to an object would be cool for a kid. Hack a cheap remote control to make the robot/tank go where you want by sending signals to a arduino-attached receiver.

As for parts with no shipping, there is always (cough) Radio Shack, but you pay a premium for not paying for shipping... Look on Amazon (esp with Prime, no shipping, join for the Christmas season then quit), Ebay -- a number of places ship from Hong Kong for almost nothing, but it may take 3 weeks to arrive (delayed gratification). Not everyone has high shipping costs. Check the "where to buy USA" section (http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Buy) and explore those sites with your kid, looking at what other kinds of projects people have done.

--Jeff in Texas

Sorry, forgot to mention the obvious;

Project ideas http://arduino.cc/playground/Projects/Ideas

Exhibition area of user's projects http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Projects/ArduinoUsers

To echo Jack Christensen, just pick one of the usual sources - I just scanned the Sparkfun site to see what they have. Grab sensors until you feel you’ve spent enough and make each one a mini project while you find out how to wire it up and write code to interface with it. Once you’re done with each, you have tools you can deploy in a more complex project, and just having mastered them may inspire you to use it in something useful to you - in which case please post about it.

Consider some servos and steppers too - may be more fun for a younger audience to have something moving.

Hi,

My daughter and I are working on a controller to turn on her desk light automatically when it gets dark. Simple and useful. Parts from sparkfun.

:)

I suggest finding on new projects with the parts you already have, I assume the kit came with quite a few different parts.

What kind programming skills do you have ? how skilled are you with electronics ?

I've done a bit electronics without Arduimo, and is quite skilled with programming generally.

First thing I did after the kit was finished was just to add a bunch of stuff and change the programming to make it work like I wantet. In this order:

  • making a running led loop
  • added a pot to change speed
  • added two buttons, one for stop/start, one for direction
  • added a piezo "beeper" to beep on key press

I also implemented this as a StateMachine to demonstrate how such programming is done.

Bottom line is; you have some parts, see what can be done with these. and stock up un some few breakout boards and some general parts. The rest is up to your imagination.

Happy hacking :)

I started with the sparkfun inventors kit and only did about half the projects.

I like to bounce from project to project.

I currently have a half done robot using the magician chassis http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10825 a 180deg scanning "head" using the kit supplied servo and a sharp medium range ir proximity sensor http://www.sparkfun.com/products/242 and a motor control shield that I put together based on a SN754410NE Quad H-Bridge Motor Driver

I also have another half done project which is an eddy current sensor.

I flick back and forth between the two as the mood takes me.

But the one thing that constantly lives on my arduino, and which I recommend as a good first project, is to build your own LCD shield. It's the easiest way to get your arduino communicating with you and it gets you started with soldering things which is something that you will need to be familiar with as all the really cool stuff will be DIY.

You can wire it up in standard fashion from parts or you can buy kits or you can go further and do things like wire it through a shift register to free up pins. It depends on how adventurous you are.

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10054 http://www.sparkfun.com/products/7914

Another good project to put together (and it's really just software if you have the LCD shield) is the frequency measurer.

i know the basics mostly(i think? :D). mainly im somewhere, reading something or thinking randomly, and i think "ooooh i could do... with a Arduino and have fun project!" then i set out attempting it, and research if i dont know.