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D'you know Arduino?


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D’you know Arduino?

Arduino is a system of electronic bits and pieces you can assemble into software-controlled gadgets such as musical instruments, car accessories, computer peripherals... you can even find plans on line for an Arduino-based laser cutter. Like Meccano or Lego, Arduino is available as complete sets, or you can buy the parts you need for a particular project. The system is built around an eight-bit micro-controller you programme in C. Which, in plain English, means it’s a highly capable computer you can bolt onto pretty-much anything you can think of.

To celebrate ten years since Arduino’s invention, Victoria University’s School of Design hosted a celebration last weekend. Arduino users packed into the Media Lab for a day of talks, demos, workshops and a show&tell session.

Trouble is, I had to be somewhere else. So, I press-ganged event organiser Birgit Bachler into writing this week’s blog post for me. Here’s her report...

World Arduino Day Wellington

It's Saturday morning, around 10am, when Adam walks in the Media Lab of the Design School with a fish bowl under his arm, wondering where it would be best to let the fish roam around the lab freely. Adam's fish Suzuki is able to move the bowl depending on his position in the bowl, which sits on a 3 wheeled omni-drive mechanism which allows it to drive in any direction at any time. In the meanwhile Henry and Blake are fine-tuning the setup of their robotic string ensemble, consisting of six wooden instrument bodies fitted with custom designed PCB boards and a mechanical bowing mechanism.

Arduino Day Wellington29 March 2014 is worldwide Arduino Day, and Wellington is part of it, with the event taking place at the Media Lab of the School of Design at Victoria University of Wellington.

Arduino “is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.”[1]

In honour of Arduino’s 10th birthday, independent organizers were asked to host an Arduino Day with a programme tailored to local audiences. Arduino Day is a free event: Anyone interested in physical computing, all makers, designers, artists, hackers, geeks of all ages and levels of expertise are welcome to join.

The morning session consisted of presentations of the exhibited demos and lectures, showcasing a great diversity of projects developed with this platform. Anne Niemetz’s talk gave insight to the wearable technology works of design students, while Dr Wyatt Page elaborated on the engineering aspect of hyper-instruments and Josh Bailey showcased his development of interfacing Arduino with high voltage Tesla Coils. The informal afternoon programme invited the interested audience to the stage to present their own Arduino works, and share their research and experiences. Among the various projects shown in the afternoon was one self-built Arduino based Delta 3D Printer, an LED-based clock and a prototype for a dance performance suit.

Arduino Day Wellington

Among the visitors were students, engineers, artists, designers, music producers but also hobbyists and interested locals of all ages. It was great to see lots of visitors who said they “used to be involved with making electronics a long time ago” mingling with younger makers, getting excited about their projects and offering their help and experience. An affordable open source developing platform like Arduino invites various groups of people to work on electronic projects and clearly gives them a common ground to talk to each other.

Birgit Bachler

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