The other day my friend called me up. He told me how much he missed building circuits and wanted to start again with the Arduino.
So he asked me “which Arduino starter kit is the best to buy?” At which point, I drew a long breath. Easy question, not always an easy answer.
Picking out an electronics kit depends on a number of factors. You should consider:
What you already have
What you want to do
#1 and #2 are probably pretty easy to figure out. For many beginners, it’s “not much” and “nothing.” When you don’t know #3, what you want to do, then it gets trickier. Coming back to my friend, what did I do? Well, I went out and bought each one of the kits in this post. I put myself in his shoes and maybe these are your shoes as well.
Back in the 1990s, a 1.44mb floppy disk was a reasonable storage size for most documents. For bigger documents or backing up an internal hard drive, other options were necessary. You might remember the Zip Drive, but that wasn’t the first large portable media.
The Bernoulli Box was the precursor to the Zip Drive. It used custom media that could store 10s to 100mbs on portable disks. Well, portable compared to carrying around an entire hard drive. Operating using the Bernoulli principal, the drive’s head never comes in contact with the “floppy” material inside the protective case.
What part is the most important part in building a project? All of them! Okay, bad joke. Selecting the right parts or components for a design is an area where both new hobbyist and veteran engineers struggle. The wide variety of devices make it almost impossible to know if you are selecting the right one.
Looking at a curated List, using component search engines and browsing DIY shops are how I tend to find parts for my projects.
Using a learning algorithm known as NEAT, this Super Mario World play through is an example of a machine learning how to beat the level on its own. Using an evolutionary process, a neural network was built–or learned–to complete the level. The name of the program used to control Mario is called… Mar-I/O.
E: Evolution of
The initial play through is fascinating as well as the breakdown of what is going on. Well worth the 5 minutes.
There are two methods to making a prototype PCB: 1) Etch Your Own or 2) Send to a Prototyping Service. While there are many prototyping service options, most cause you to wait anywhere between 24 hours and 30 days before you get your boards back.
If you need a PCB done today, etching at home is a great option. Chemical etching involves all kinds of steps with all kinds of weird chemicals. If you don’t want your neighbors to think you’re the next Walter White, then mechanical etching is a better option. Which is why I bought an X-Carve from Inventables. It’s a CNC Milling Kit you build yourself.
4 keys to getting electronics help for your project
When describing a person, do you ever use the phrase “their strength is their weakness?” That’s how I feel about Internet forums. The strength of forums is the collective knowledge of like-minded people, some with more experience than others. Sadly, that is also the weakness of Internet forums… Whether it is a topic-specific site like the EEVBlog Forum or an almost anything site like Reddit the strength/weakness holds true.
Lucky for us, most engineering-focus forums are a positive place to ask question and get electronics help.
Your IoT project needs one of these wireless modules
Getting your project connected to the internet is relatively easy these days. Here are five off the shelf modules that will easily add wireless to your project.
Back when I was in school, I remember spending an entire semester making a RF amplifier board. In fact, I had to use a pencil eraser to remove oxidation on the copper traces to remove an unwanted oscillation, caused by the impedance mismatch of the oxidation on the copper traces. Talk about tough.
These days, adding WiFi or Bluetooth is as simple as adding one of the wireless modules available. Or if you are using an Arduino, skip the modules and just add a shield.