Build fun and creative electronic projects with Arduino, the open source prototyping platform that's taken the design and hobbyist world by storm. In 90 minutes of entertaining and informative video, you'll get a complete overview of basic electronics and the Arduino microcontroller and software. Then you'll follow hands-on lessons on how to write simple Arduino programs that interact with various electronic components.
All you need to get started is an Arduino, an LED, a pushbutton, a breadboard, a few resistors, some hookup wire, and the Arduino programming environment installed on your Windows, Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux computer. Learn how you can add real-world interactivity to art projects, create objects that can react with the physical world, build sensor-based systems, and more. This easy-to-follow tutorial is ideal for designers, artists, hackers, makers, and anyone interested in creating sensor-based systems.
Take your first steps by learning how to program Arduino to do some simple things
Learn how to build basic electronic circuits with LEDs, resistors, and switches
Create Arduino programs that cause your circuits to respond to changes in the physical world
Exchange information between your computer and Arduino, using your PC's USB port
Discover what it takes to make prototypes of your ideas with Arduino hardware and software
Brian Jepson is an O'Reilly is an O'Reilly editor, hacker, and co-organizer of Providence Geeks and the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire. He's also a volunteer system administrator and all-around geek for AS220, a non-profit arts center in Providence, Rhode Island. AS220 gives Rhode Island artists uncensored and unjuried forums for their work and also provides galleries, performance space, fabrication facilities, and live/work space.
This would've been okay if I owned a Mac, but I don't. If you intend to use Arduino with a PC or Linux then this is not the tutorial series for you.
Also, the download feature does not work. I wanted to watch these on my nook reader, but can only watch them online. I need an Internet connection to watch. The server disconnects you before the download finishes on a majority of the videos. This happened on multiple PCs, at different locations.
On the other hand if you own a Mac, have no plans to use Ardiuno using a PC (or Linux), and intend to just watch the videos online only, than this series of videos is a good place to start that learning process.
The videos are available in Mpeg format. Once again if you are a Mac person this is a good series for you, and I would give it an acceptable, 3 stars for its content. Nothing special that stands out though, but it will give you the basics.
Bottom Line No, I would not recommend this to a friend
Whenever a product is reviewed, the reviewer makes an evaluation through the prism of his or her own experience and values. I think this video is an excellent introduction for the rank novice with some provisos. Let me say, before I explain why, that the first review's reference to Brian Jepson as a "bald Will Ferrell" (the American comedian) is a gratuitous comment that has no place here; to offer a counterpoint out of decency--Brian's style and look remind me somewhat of the late Jef Raskin, a personal friend who was a brilliant computer scientist and who was a co-creator of the Macintosh computer. I see in Brian's manner some of the almost impish, lightly irreverent, wry humor that was so characteristic of Jef and that many accomplished programmers seem to share in our society. That is a compliment, but let's move on to the video.
This 90 minute video, nicely divided into eight highly viewable sections, is intended for the rank newcomer who wishes to jump into the exploding world of creative experimentation using the Arduino microcontroller. That controller was invented in Italy expressly for designers, hackers and creative tinkerers who are not trained engineers or programmers, and the Arduino, now in a few incarnations, is gaining popularity worldwide with incredible speed. Brian shows how to download the Arduino open source integrated development environment (IDE), and how to install it and the necessary drivers, both for the Mac and PC.
This is the first of several practical steps shown in the video sequence that are completely foreign to the rank novice. Many novices are so intimidated by where to start that they first and foremost need a down-to-earth introduction to the different dimensions of working with a microcontroller. The friendly "show and tell" of this film is that hand-holding introduction.
Arduino uses "sketches" instead of "programs" in the "Processing" programming language, which Brian notes is similar in some respects to Java and C.
Brian highly recommends that you obtain the book, Getting Started with the Arduino, by Massimo Banzi, one of the founding designers of the Arduino, as an adjunct to the video. This is an important key to getting the most out of the film, because the book shows how to program in the Processing language in detail. Learning to build sketches will take some quiet time perusing this book or a similar one, there is no escaping this fact, and few books have been better written for this purpose than Massimo's.
His book is available from a variety of sources and in different formats. If you have some programming experience the sketches shown in the video will make sense and you'll still learn some interesting things, e.g., there is no separate compiler--you load the sketch and the Arduino is ready to run it. A lot of the details have been put into the background to make it easier for the beginner to assimilate how to use the Arduino.
Early in the video, Brian walks Adam, his student, through a simple sketch for making an LED built into the Arduino Duemilanove board blink. Then, Brian shows how to make a blue LED blink in sync with the first one using pin 13 on the board's periphery. The program is clearly shown, but the minute details of the programming symbols and syntax are not explained. That is for the student to nail as noted above.
Because the film leaves that detail to the hobbyist or aspiring designer, time is wisely budgeted as it permits the video segments to move forward nicely covering other aspects of getting the most out of the Arduino—all of which are of key importance to aspiring Arduino programmers.
As the film proceeds, you are introduced to adding resistors to manage LEDs on a breadboard, with fundamentals of breadboard wiring explained. The discussion moves to installing a button that uses the Arduino to pulse brightness, and then to working with resistors so that you can understand how to connect the enormous population of sensors that provide resistive values to the Arduino brain. Creative mixing of colors (implying the amazing possibilities for LED displays or even LED-arrayed clothing) and the basics of communicating with your Arduino using its USB port are explained in the last two segments.
Let me say also that Brian offers some case examples of how it feels to grapple with the details of programming. In a couple of instances things are not exactly right and he goes back and fixes a detail. This shows the newcomer that it's ok to make some mistakes and that you are probably going to experience this yourself. Suddenly, there is a sense of relief: "I can do this."
I give this video two thumbs up—and you'll need to read the book Getting Started or similar to make the most of it.
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
This video promotes itself as an introduction to all types, even non developers/engineers. It ends up being for no one, because it seems to avoid necessary explanation and elaboration where the complexity calls for it.
The presentation consists of a bald Will Ferrell clone who does all the talking, but he doesn't talk to you, he talks to a another guy whose script consists of "uh huh, mmhmm, yes, ok, ah, cool" and repeating the last thing Will Ferrell says. I suppose it was intended as a student-instructor michel thomas type of duo, except the student doesn't ask any questions, instead he just validates every other last statement made and knows exactly what the other guy is talking about.
You will not learn anything about the processing language from this video, you will not learn a whole lot about electronics either. Early on they plugged the books Make: Electronics/ Making things talk Make: Electronics/ Getting Started with Arduino And the makershed arduino starter kit. It seems like they implicitly defer explanations early on to reading those books.
Most the examples come from the "Getting started with Arduino" book. The hardware part is not well explained, he speeds through everything early on in the first example, every so often asking his partner a question then answering it himself. The actual doing stuff part consists of mumbling, "I put this here, then this goes here on 13 and this goes over here, then this wire crosses over..." while you're staring at the tiny arduino and breadboard, and their GIANT fingers often obstructing view. Breaking it into steps and using some kind of image schematics and explanation intermission would have been appreciated. Having him look at the camera and say, "next what I'll be doing is... because..." would have been ideal. Instead he just continues along like a surgeon giving you the details of what he's doing but never particularly explaining anything specific, giving a detailed reason or giving a good view, he assumes you know how everything works already and he's just showing you how to setup this-or-that particular project he's making.
The programming part is just as bad. I am a programmer. I've taught programming. While I understood his explanations, I thought to myself, "I could never get away pulling off an explanation like that to a beginner". He started off the video by saying something along the lines of, "the processing language is more of a sketch than programming, it's like, easier than a program and more accessible for non programmers. It's for artists and creative types." I think this is kind of deceptive saying this in the free intro video of the course. Then he goes through explaining the program line by line without explaining absolutely anything about the processing language, as if everyone knew programming already and all he had to do was explain his intentions with each step of code he used. His few attempts to explain seem misplaced and extremely painful, for example explaining "for" loops and the difference between integers vs strings. It's as if he pauses during explanation and remembers, "some of these people don't know anything", while his partner continues to nod as if to help him churn through the explanation, with his " that makes perfect sense" infomercial-audience-member personality. Concepts you should know already before watching the video: variables, constants, functions, arrays, for and while loops, logical operators, static typing,understanding of integers and strings, finite state machines and object methods. Processing may be way easier than writing the same code in C, but don't be fooled into thinking a complete lack of fundamentals training can be compensated by a few briefly described examples. You'll end up getting a bad start and wasting more time than if you study fundamentals early instead of relying on if else statements and loops.
The attitude felt like they were winging it. "Be sure not to be connecting things while the device is on, like we are, hurr hurr, we crazy". "As you can see the blue is way brighter, this is because the resistor I got for it isn't quite the best for it, but we'll be using it throughout the examples anyway, lol". "Here we've made a pixel, from 3 leds, I place a plastic cup over it to simulate color mixing of RGB, it's still really blue because we won't get a better 50 cent resistor for the red led, hurr hurr". The last video he makes a couple of programming mistakes, followed by edits to explain where it went wrong.
Having tinkered with arduinos this video was kind of disappointing to watch. As far as learning, you'll probably find better quality explanations and production value on youtube.
Bottom Line No, I would not recommend this to a friend
Merchant response: We appreciate the feedback about places where more explanation was needed, so we're working on some additions to clarify the content of the video. We'll release these changes as a free update.
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