First 77 Days of Arduino Enlightenment In Photos

Less than 3 months ago I didn’t even know what an Arduino was. A couple of times I had stumbled upon them with various web searches, but quickly dismissed them as well beyond me even if interesting. Then a few coincidences consipred to make me sit up and take note. The first being the Nottinghack Openday. This didn’t actually promote Arduinos, in fact, I can’t even remember them even being mentioned. But the were there. Several of them. And that must have got in to my subconsious. A few days later was a discussion at work about how to read the switch status of many switches via the network and log them on a database. I had found a device for about £120 that could read 8 switches, but with the ~100 we were looking at it would be expensive. Multiplexing (MUX) was mentioned and I started to Google…

3 days later and a package arrives on my desk. Inside is an Arduino Uno, a beginners kit (consisting of LEDs, resistors, breadboards and a few other bits), an ethernet shield and a MUX shield. My professional and personal Arduino adventure had started

14/6/11 – First Arduino arrives at work. Go beyond Blinky to 3 LED traffic lights

16/6/11 – Use ethernet shield and MUX shield to display analog inputs on a web page (Note the two shields are not compattable with each other)

24/6/11 – Use ethernet shield to connect Arduino to Twitter. Tweets whenever a button is pushed

26/6/11 – Parts have arrived to start work on custom MUX shield that will be integrated to ethernet shield. This will be part of a work project to detect the status of multiple switches in welding bays

2/7/11 – First Nanode arrives. 16:59 start work on building it.

2/7/11 – 18:10 Nanode working and Blinky runs

3/7/11 – GPS unit tested with DFRduino

8/7/11 – Hello World displayed on LCD screen

9/7/11 – Custom MUX shield soldered up and tested

19/7/11 – Breadboard based GPS Datalogger (DFRduino + GPS + SD Card Reader) logs drive home from Hackspace

31/7/11 – LCD Screen added to GPS Datalogger

4/8/11 – Prototype for factory sounder project built (Arduino + Ethernet Shield + LCD Screen + Battery Backup Real Time Clock)

12/8/11 – After custom shield made for RTC, the Factory Sounder hardware is finished

13/8/11 – GPS Datalogger moved to veroboard for semi-permanent mounting in custom case (VHS cassette box!)

14/8/11 – “Spencer” scrolling marquee on 8×32 LED display

15/8/11 – Trying some custom graphics on 8×32 display

19/8/11 – Welders Switch project finally mounted in suitable box. The scope has been revised to cater for 10 bays (30 switches) not the 32 bays (96 switches) the hardware had been planned for, so a lot of the hardware is redundant

20/8/11 – First AVR built on breadboard (bare processor only version of Arduino). Tested with 8×32 display

20/8/11 – First PCB based AVR. Designed to be powered from a battery and run the 8×32 display as an animated name badge for upcoming Hackspace party

In this short time I’ve gone from making an LED flash to creating commercial solutions for problems that didn’t have a (affordable) solution to, to building devices the size of VHS cassettes that do a small subset of what most modern mobile phones do, to designing old school style 8 bit animated graphics.

I’ve bought 4 Arduinos for use at work and 3 clones for home use plus components for a couple of AVRs. As well as several shields and prebuilt hardware modules I’ve got back in electronics at a component level and have started soldering resistors and capacitors for the first time in 21 years.

It’s been a steep learning curve in the first 77 days. I’ve got an inkling where the next 77 days will take me, but the one thing I do know… it’ll be fun!