[Lab] Arduino Courses, another perspective

Amos Hayes amos at polkaroo.net
Mon Mar 31 10:12:07 EDT 2014

I'm in the same boat as Bob. I can get a feel about what the different
simple bits are in a circuit from an educational kit. And I can follow
instructions to make things. But as soon as I imagine something new that
might require certain chips or any sort of more advanced part, it gets
overwhelming. Learning about the protocols would help. So would some
session where we dissect and then maybe implement a slightly complex
project schematic with an opportunity to walk through the circuit and, as
Bob suggests, look at the data sheets and learn the why behind every little
piece from someone who can explain it clearly. How did you know you needed
a resistor there? How did you know how big it should be? etc...

I feel like there is a real gap at that level. But maybe I'm just not
looking in the right places. I took a circuits course when I was in
engineering but it didn't connect any of the theory to implementation for
me. The labs involved following instructions to build things from supplied
parts. So not a lot of thinking about what to build, sourcing the right
components, and connecting them properly based on their data sheets.

amos at polkaroo.net

On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 3:26 PM, Aurelius R <maxrowsell at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for the feedback Bob, what you mentioned is what I do every day. I
> had to learn the hard way about reading datasheets. At first they seem
> overwhelming, but once you know what to look for they're incredibly useful
> pieces of information.
> I was thinking of doing part of the workshop on serial protocols, a very
> key part of what you were talking about. Sensors (at least most modern
> ones) are either in IC or TO-92 packages, and they almost always use SPI,
> I2C or 1-Wire interfaces, all of which are different and require some
> practice.
> Also, breadboarding a project and having someone to walk you through it,
> explaining why every step matters, can really help.
> However, as you mentioned, the code is important as well. I'm intimately
> familiar with AVR-C and how to use ATmega/ATtiny micros. I only just got
> into Arduino recently, after spending a lot of time coding exclusively in
> C, so I tend to blend the two together to get quick, but powerful results.
> What were you envisioning specifically?
> Thanks again for the ideas!
> ____________________
> Alexander Max Rowsell
> Frozen Electronics
> (613) 809-7163
> On 30 March 2014 15:05, Bob <silicon at videotron.ca> wrote:
>> I think the Arduino classes would be a great thing, and a specific
>> project like the break beam alarm would allow people to learn while
>> building something they could use. I am confident that, as Darcy suggested,
>> the curriculum would be constantly tweaked as feedback from the
>> participants is received.
>> I would like to add my thoughts to the plan in the hope that they can add
>> to the course design. If this was already in the plans, well, no harm done.
>> My suggestions come from my being a slightly different type of beginner.
>> I am an Arduino beginner, but I have programmed before, so understanding
>> where to use loops and if statements and other constructs is not a problem,
>> I just have to look up the specific C syntax. I am familiar with computers
>> and have my Arduino up and running and have coded some simple things by
>> copying projects on the web. I also have a pretty good idea of how I may
>> want to build my projects by using a simple drawing. I can figure out what
>> sensors I would need, optical, audio, heat and proximity for some examples
>> of the almost endless choices. I know what I want to do with the sensors’
>> data and probably how to do it in a pseudo kind of way.
>>                 Finally to my point, I (almost) fall completely apart
>> when it comes to designing the actual circuit so that as few as possible
>> components fry. I think that a course on how to read and understand the
>> data sheets that come with every component and how to calculate loads on
>> the components, and I don’t just mean the actual formulas, but why and
>> where to apply the formulas,  would be like teaching someone to fish as
>> opposed to just giving them a fish. Almost any project you can dream up has
>> been done and resides somewhere on Youtube or Instructables or even on the
>> Arduino home page , but plugging components into a breadboard and adding
>> resistors and capacitors and downloading the sketch is not “learning”, it’s
>> a start, but not the end.
>>                 As well, a course on the various electronic components
>> used to accomplish particular tasks, transistors and relays for example
>> would help in the circuit design phase.
>> I hope this helps in some way.
>> Thanks
>> Bob
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