How Come So Many Geeks Are Unaware of Arduino?

How Come So Many Geeks Are Unaware of Arduino?

(Originally posted 11/27/2011)

Welcome to a world where some of you will never return!

Arduino enthusiasts are similar to the characters on “The Big Bang Theory’s ” episode entitled “Comic Book Night ”, where Sheldon makes a comment that the room is filled with geeks whose mother’s only get a chance to change their sheets when they’re out for that weekly outing. Otherwise, they’re totally immersed in the coolest technology around and can’t be coaxed out of their bedroom while in the midst of creating “the next best thing”.

For those of you who do not know what the term “Arduino” means, let me explain it to you. Arduino is an awesome tool for physical computing. It’s an open source microcontroller board (costing a mere $30.00) and a free software development environment. It’s great for prototyping, inventing and experimenting. To program the functionality to an Arduino device, you use the “Arduino Programming Language”. Below you can see what a “bare bones” Arduino microcontroller looks like, followed by a photo of the anatomy of Arduino and then an interesting photo to ponder:

Figure 1.0: The Arduino Microcontroller

















Although it’s hard to see in the photo below, I’m giving you links to further explore this topic if it piques your interest. It’s a partial photo of the basic Arduino’s specs. This photo is followed by another photo that I find thought-provoking (link: Arduino Home Page):











Arduino microcontrollers are used to make cool interactive objects that can sense inputs from switches, sensors, and computers, and via this hardware it can control motors, lights, and a multitude (only up to your imagination!) of other physical outputs to the real world! To whet your appetite, check out these “Arduino 101” videos to see the “tip of the iceberg” of what these simple microcontrollers can do – quickly, inexpensively, with directions (of course at first, you wouldn’t want to be restricted by “How-To” videos once you’re a true aficionado, found here: ! 😉

Now, let me further attract your attention: let me introduce to you “Netduino” ($35.00), an open source electronics platform using the .NET Micro Framework and code in C# (a video series on this topic with Pete Brown is at the end of the article):







Netduino’s specs are (again, my apologies for my professional photography –NOT! See the links again at the end of the article) shown in the photo below ( ):








To give you an idea of what Netduino can do, take a look at this short video clip of a “Tron-like” motorcycle: . Don’t let this fool you, however. Arduino/Netduino’s capabilities are far beyond what you just watched!

The reason I was so fascinated with Arduino when I wrote this article is that I LOVE “state-of-the-art” software, and I “saw the IoT” coming upon us! The book image below is just one of the many books published on Arduino-type innovation, published by O’Reilly Media published May, 2011. Below are a few more books on Arduino, but by no means is this list exhaustive:
































Once you have Arduino’s basics down, your brain cells will be flying around like crazy up in your head with all of the “never been done before” innovations you can’t wait to get started on. To move forward doing more than blinking LED’s, you’ll need a prototyping shield that allows you to build a circuit called the “MakerShield”. What

makes “MakerShield” unique is it lets you swap out major components and pins without having to solder them. You can see the “MakerShield Kit” in the figure below:









These kits and individual parts are not just for geeks, inventors, or gadget aficionados. Kids as young as 8 have won contests, and it’s a great way to pass productive time with your children. Teach them to “Think Out of the Box” and come up with new ways of thinking (and tinkering) – sorry StevieB! Your tagline is too cool not to occasionally use! In addition to contests, there are family-oriented “Maker Faires”, “Expos”, & other nerdy but compelling events to attend.

And thinking of StevieB (one of the main people at Microsoft Research who cut a hole in a table and made Surface 1.0, for those of you who haven’t read my article “Making Sense of PixelSense: the Technology Behind Surface 2.0” , I’d suggest you do so 😉 ), Arduino/Netduino gives you a head start on ideas to take to the next level of innovation through “thinking and tinkering”, just like StevieB’s motto. It also combines human/computer interaction, because many Arduino projects that have been made are Microsoft Kinect-like, taking advantage of Windows 7 accelerometer and other sensors and analog input of your microcontroller (or even more advanced using things like infrared ranging sensors, or photocells over eyes using an eyeglass controller to send the paddle of a Ping-Pong game toward whichever eye is open, or simply tilting your head where you want the paddle to go, or – like Kinect – moving your hands that have force-sensing resistors to determine where the paddle moves; it’s all up to your wild and creative brain cells that determine what you can do with these devices)!







There have been many interesting inventions that began with tinkering with Arduino. Take a look at some of the ideas in the photos below:













Some of the resulting inventions from mucking with Arduino are now marketed products, like in the photos below:













The Official Arduino/Netduino Sites:


Here are some other notable Arduino/Netduino projects that have been done (YouTube is full of them, for those inquiring minds, and these are old…):

The Top 40 Arduino Projects on the Web (with tutorials) (I’ve noticed some of these are old, so it’s up to how much you’re into this to research more on your own):




















  • (#12): Physical Gmail LED Notifiers : (couldn’t find a video, so here’s a photo):








(And RSS Notifier: couldn’t find a video for this either, so here’s a photo):



















Below is a list of cool Arduino sites :

  • MAKE Magazine:
  • ****** Kit-A-Day Holiday Giveaway (great Christmas gifts, Dads!):








  • The Magazine Menu Page:













Finally, as promised, here is the series on Netduino and the .NET Micro Framework with Pete Brown & as well as via this link:





I’ll finish this article with a video called “The Latest in Arduino 03”:

Happy Innovating!

CAVEAT: The things I write in my Notes and on Facebook are my personal thoughts, viewpoints, and knowledge. Although I do work for Microsoft, nothing should be interpreted as representing Microsoft Corporation. 

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