Electrical current flows through circuits in many of the objects around us-- our phones and computers, our TVs and refrigerators. Building and controlling the flow of electricity through various components can be instructive and fun.
Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab reminds us that "technologies are just tools-- useless, static objects until they are animated by human ideas." After you learn the basics ideas behind electricity and physical computing, create an original Arduino sketch and circuit design that carries out a specific function.
Use the following resources to explore electricity and circuit design. Think about how to design for meaningful user interaction.
Electronics for Kids, Øyvind Nydal Dahl
Getting Started in Electronics, Forrest M. Mims III
Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery, Charles Platt
Make: Getting Started with Arduino, Massimo Banzi & Michael Shiloh
Practical Electronics for Inventors, Paul Scherz and Simon Monk
What will you program your Arduino to do? Consider the world as you know it as well as the one you'd like to create. As Garnet Hertz points out in his project Disobedient Electronics, "building electronic objects can be an effective form of social argument or political protest."
When designing your Arduino device, use the iterative process.
1. Design a prototype
Create a quick Arduino Sketch and an illustrated prototype of your circuit design. Refer to boards and components as needed. Using your knowledge of electrical current, specifically power and resistance, create your prototype to model the experience you want users to have.
Gather the necessary components, along with your illustrated circuit design, and build a prototype of your circuit. Test your circuit, evaluate what occurred, fix the prototype. Retest and reevaluate what occurred many times until the circuit functions consistently according to your intentions.
3. Analyze your prototype
Test your prototype. Does it work? If not, determine where the problem is. Make changes and re-test.
When your circuit design is just as you want it, test it and share it.
“Don't let the experts tell you that you'll never be one of them. Ignore them and surprise them." -Massimo Banzi