The Arduino microcontroller has sparked a revolution among electronics hobbyists, allowing folks of all skill levels to get started in what has historically been an intimidating field. With its low cost hardware and simple-but-powerful integrated development environment, it’s easier than ever to get everything you need to start working with Arduino. All of that is well and good, but where do you start once you have it?
On Saturday, August 29, a dozen students (some coming all the way from Ohio and even one from Detroit) gathered at HackPittsburgh to explore this question. Each student received all of the parts necessary to make a “physical pixel” – a breadboard, a three-color (RGB) LED, three potentiometers, some resistors, and some jumper wires. The students brought their own laptop, Arduino (or compatible board), and programming cable.
Over the course of the class, we showed students how to arrange these components on the breadboard, how to compile and upload a program, some of the workings and features of the Arduino language, how to control the LED with digitalWrite(), how to read the potentiometers with analogRead(), and how to debug their Arduino sketches with Serial.print().
We think the class was a wild success. Every student was able to get their physical pixel up and working, and some even started building on what they had just learned with project ideas of their own!
We’d like to thank our instructors, Jon Speicher and Matt Stultz, and our teaching assistants, Dave Finlay and Marty McGuire. Most importantly, thanks to everyone who came out for the class! We hope you had as much fun as we did.