Some of the gear I’ve been working with over the past few days. Notable elements are the 3 boards (Arduino + 2 Shields), and the Soldering iron hiding in the background. Today was the first time I’ve soldered in probably 10 years. It was pretty shaky at first but I’ve improved quite a bit within a few attempts. Not to mention all the components I’ve soldered ended up actually working, yay!
My education, career experience and current job is within the field of Computer-Science. To most people, like my parents, this means “I program stuff” or “write code”. In the case of my Mom it more generally just means I’m “good with computers”. Up until very recently I haven’t done any real work with constructing hardware. By hardware I mean circuits, sensors, motors, all that stuff. I recently started playing around with hardware and intersecting the physical world of “stuff I build” with my programming knowledge and experience. This means one thing: Robots.
A few months ago I bought an Arduino (lets computer talk to motors, sensors ‘n’ stuff) but ended up putting it on the shelf and forgetting about it. I started working with it a few days ago and I’m freaking hooked! In the last three days I’ve bought tons more stuff to facilitate my new found passion. I bought a small robot chasis (2 motors, wheels, frame), I got a variable temperature soldering iron, multimeter, hydrogen sensor, Infrared distance sensors, and more! Two of the coolest items I bought were Arduino Shields (circuit boards). One gives my Arduino the ability to control multiple motors at the same time and the other is a GPS receiver that gives the Arduino access to GPS data (location, time, elevation, etc).
I’m now trying out all types of builds, messing around with different circuits, and dreaming up all sorts of projects. Since I already have significant programming experience, I now just need to figure out how to go about physically building the projects I’m coming up with. The building is a non-trivial for many reasons but its a very interest hurdle to overcome. For now I’m just executing very small projects that aim to only act as proof of concept for a one or two ideas at a time. As I learn more about circuit design and implementation, I’ll start better understanding how to put together complex systems.
I have a big project in mind that is a long term undertaking, perhaps over the next year or more. Although its quite daunting and will prove to be expensive, its great as guidance because I can focus my “learning” projects towards better understanding how to fulfill the goals of the big project in the future.
As I have recently discussed in a more general post over at my main blog (www.csjohn.com), I am going to be taking a more serious, enthusiastic and voracious approach to my science studies. This blog will basically act as place where I will attempt to make coherent posts about cool things that I’m learning about or already knew yet would like to explain to others. It’s entirely possible that no-one will ever make it here but this will still act as a nice place to collect material about things learning about, for future John.
The next post you will see on here will be one of tremendous…. science!
(Image courtesy of xkcd.com, awesome site!)