Sunday, August 4, 2013

Physical computing arduino lab meeting

I recently held a one hour demo/workshop on arduino. This was for a lab meeting with the Carrington lab (University of Washington, Friday Harbor Labs). We covered a few simple general coding concepts as well as arduino-specific coding and breadboard layouts. As I will show below I used four tutorials from the extremely well pedagogically-crafted ARDX experimenter kit (see link for their tutorials and code). The demos consisted of making lights blink (sending digital signals out) and getting temperature and light readings (reading analog signals). This demo required an arduino and breadboard, 6 LEDs, resistors, a photoresistor, and TMP-36 temperature sensor.

I'm posting ppt slides and arduino code here. 

Two blinking light tutorials: 

Demo 1: Blink a light
Intro to using a breadboard and to arduino coding language
Demo 2: Blink a series of LEDs on and off.
Practice using a for-loop control structure.
I think I only used 7 LEDs. 

Two sensor tutorials:
The light and temperature sensor topics were chosen to be of interest to my fellow field biologists who care about light and temperature in experiments and in the greater environment.

Demo 4. Temperature sensor

Demo 5. Add in a photoresistor to the temperature sensor code. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning how to use microcontrollers

'How to use a microcontroller' is not taught in most biology programs, hence what any electronics enthusiast must do is either attend an engineering or electronics course or teach themselves. This is ironic because many of the scientific instruments one uses are super expensive, but would be inexpensive to make (i.e. data loggers). There is often an assumption in science that the more expensive an instrument the more accurate it is; that the sum is more than the components. Perhaps companies well versed in industrial design often make more hardy, consumer friendly instruments than the average maker. As such, it is important to use good design principles when making something that other people will use. 

Adafruit arduino experimenter kit and guide

My dive into microcontrollers was via the Adafruit arduino experimenter kit ($85). I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to learn to use microcontrollers and analog components (such as relays, potentiometers, temperature and light sensors, motors, pressure sensors, etc). Each section was a tutorial on a component, such as a temperature sensor, with a wiring diagram, example code (online and in the book), and suggestions on how to tweak the system and better understand it. This was the best set of tutorials on any subject I have ever used. I am not only super impressed with adafruit's prototyping device design but with their pedagogical design as well. 

Tom Igoe's popular science physical computing book!

I am currently reading 'Making Things Talk,' a popular science guide to physical computing by Tom Igoe. Tutorials are on networking your arduino through projects such as physically playing a game of computer pong using a stuffed animal monkey, and having a cat send pictures to you via the internet by stepping on sensors. 

Monday, February 4, 2013


Dr Hamming is known for his Hamming codes and apparently also for his motivational science talk! Thank you, coursera. (The Hamming codes we learned about in my computer networking coursera class are on error detection and correction of bits transmitted over a physical connection).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Seattle Times

Apparently the Carrington lab got a spot in the Seattle Times last year...

Designing Interactions

I'm posting a video lecture by Bill Moggridge on Designing Interactions, an academic field and online book consisting of interviews on our interaction with technology. (Posted to facebook by Jordan Bartee!)

Since the lecture is an hour long, here is an interview that is part of it that I thought was especially neat...
Click here to go to the interview with BillVerplank

The full video lecture is great (if you can stomach the absence of any interviews with women that aren't students, wives, or just splitting the interview with another person):