I did a talk for a bunch of Knowledge Factory students today. These are folks who will be joining us at the end of the month as students, but have come along early to spend a few days getting a taste of university life.
The subject of the session was the joys of "Making Stuff" and it was great fun. Thanks for being a lovely audience folks. During the talk I mentioned some bits and bobs and I said I'd post references for anyone who fancies following up on the things I talked about.
Arduino is the name of a family of embedded computers of different sizes. These are the kind of computers that you would put inside a device to control what it does. I use them in my wedding lights and other gadgets that I've made. You program them in C using a very easy to use framework that you can download for free from the Arduino web site.There are versions of the framework for Mac and PC. You put a program into the Arduino device and it runs that program each time the power is switched on.
You can buy Arduino branded devices but they are a bit pricey. It is much cheaper to go onto eBay and just search for Arduino. A company called Sintron makes some very nice kits of parts to play with, these start at around 30 pounds. Once you have the kit just search the web and you'll find loads of libraries, sample code and videos to get you started.
If you want some books to read about the platform I'd look for books by Simon Monk. He has written some good Arduino primers, plus a few other fun books.
There is no such thing as the best programming language in the world, but I quite like C#. You can get a free C# book, plus a lot of teaching materials and sample programs, from here.
If you want to learn some Python (and why not, it's great) we have a course of sorts here.
My 3D printer is an Ultimaker. I call her Una and I made her from a kit a few years ago. You can find all my 3D printing posts here.
Bloging is a great way to practice writing and maybe even make a name for yourself. I did a Rather Useful Seminar about blogging. You can find it here.