Archive for May, 2010

The Arduino Band-Wagon


I am finally hopping on the arduino band-wagon. I purchased my first Arduino. I went with the duemilanove, because it is standard and cheap.Arduino Duemilanove Almost all of the available shields are designed to fit on top of it. Most of the documentation that I’ve read for Arduino projects assume this is the model that you have. While I am not arguing this is the best model, it is definately worth the $15 investment that I have in it.

I have been working with a Boarduino with the same Atmega328 processor on it for a couple of weeks now.Boarduino Atmega 328 It has a couple of cumbersome points that make it a lot less convenient than it’s Duemilanove counterpart.  For one, it does not have auto reset.  This means that every time I want to load a new program on it you must time the reset so that it is ready to accept the new instructions once  it has come back up.  The Duemilanove doesn’t have this dis-advantage.  It is smart enough to accept the new sketch (arduino program) and then automatically reset.  As far as I can tell they both have the same pin-out.  The Duemilanove just has it built in and the Boarduino has to sit atop a bread-board to have the same functionality.  I can potentially see this as an advantage as you could put the Boarduino directly on top of another prototype board and have it run the show.  The other drawback that the Boarduino has over it’s counterparts is the expensive TTL cable that is required to interface with your PC.  Most of the other arduino counterparts I’ve worked with thus far have utilized a standard USB cable to upload new sketches to them.

Overall, I’m very excited about all of the exciting project opportunities that this new investment will present for me.  I am very exited to see the size of the development community that seems to surround the arduino project, and all of it’s derivatives.  I foresee myself, and my fledgling hackerspace (Cow-Town Capacitor) developing with this platform for a long time to come.

I love the idea behind the prototyping system. Build cool stuff, and don’t worry about the integrated circuits until production time. At that time, you will already pretty much have the firmware ready for your project and all you have to do is make it.



I recently went to a convention that had representatives from hackerspaces all over the country.  This was very exciting to me as I was only vaguely aware of what a hackerspace was.  What an exciting idea!

First let’s take a look at what a hackerspace is.  A hackerspace is a group of people and a space that they provide for that has the tools, and know-how for any kind of project.  Usually these people are hobbyists from all walks of life that want to explore aspects of science and technology and value learning from each other.  Projects range from anything from chemistry to electronics even open-source medicine.  The possibilities are endless.

I found a number of people that had found uses fro the Arduino device.  This is a small device that can be assembled by any electronics hobbyist.  It features a USB port or serial port and can be used to control a lot of simple devices.  People even used them to modify their con badges with flashy LED displays and other modifications.

I met an idividual whom is working on an open-source electron microscope.  This is a really cool idea.  Right now as it stands the average person isn’t likely to gain access to that kind of equipment without a grant from a major institution.  The equipment itself costs tens of thousands of dollars and is very unwieldly.  This gentleman and his associates are working on a way to make this tool available for just over $1000.  This would make it accessible to enthusiests and hobbyists that before could not utilize an electron microscope.  He made a very valid point in his presentation that a lot of discoveries were not made by highly financed researchers in an expensive labratory, but in their homes and businesses.

There are many examples of this kind of discovery. Alexander Bell invented the telephone in his home. The wright brothers engineered powered flight in their bike shop. Thomas Edison, while he was highly financed, did not have a lot of the issues that today’s researchers have to deal with. All of these things have effected the world in a pretty profound way. The question begs to be asked what new technologies will we see as a result of continued innovations of this type.

Go to Top