Introduction to Arduino workshop

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The Introduction to Arduino Workshop is a beginners workshop designed to get newcomers up and running with Arduino microcontrollers.

Resources for Workshop Participants


1. Blink LED [adafriut experementers kit 1]

  • sketch is located under examples basics blink
  • circuit 1 in book

2. Single Servo [adafriut experementers kit 4]

  • Copy and Paste sketch from oomlout
  • circuit 8 in book

3. Using a NPN transistor to switch led's on and off

  • see the blackboard --> turning two leds on and off
    • will prepare us for controlling the RC car later
  • similar to [circuit 3 in oomlout]
  • similar to circuit 10 in book
  • use blink sketch
  • for extra difficulty use a motor in place of one of the leds
  • [npn transistor pins]

What to Expect

  • A fun participatory workshop
  • Hands on practice
  • Opportunities for active problem solving (,istakes are encouraged!)
  • To work together to make something original that completes a task
  • To know what to do next to keep learning/playing

Before the Workshop

  • Thanks for signing up. If you have problems with anything, don't worry. We'll take some time at the beginning to get everyone ready.
  • Bring your laptop if you have one
  • Go ahead and download the software for your operating system.
  • Install it on your laptop.
  • Feel free to explore the links a little and take a look around the internets for cool projects.
  • Edit this wiki!!! Put some comments under the links if you want. List what you'd like to learn. Whatever!
  • [What NOT to DO!!!]

Follow- up/ Resources:

Resources for Planners

General Links for lesson plans/tutorials

Meetup description

1. Background - A little bit about the arduino and open source hardware.

2. Arduino Basics - How to blink LED's, upload code, simple control of servos, etc.

3. Original Fun - Create something original to compete in a simple project based competition. Don't worry, you'll be provided with plans and materials that will work. The only goals are originality and fun. Completion of the task is optional.

4. Learning Beyond the Workshop - Information on how to participate in the Arduino community so you can flex your new-found powers beyond the hack.rva workshop. Including websites to find projects, parts, additional shields, and code. 5. What to Bring - A laptop with the Arduino software installed. A willingness to have fun and make mistakes.

6. Cost - Determined by components. $80 if providing full kit, otherwise it is to be determined.

Learning Goals and Objectives or Scope

  • Have fun and make something with other people. Encourage participants to become active learners in the Maker tradition of try-fail-try, share, and participate.
  • Each participant:
    • will leave the workshop with a working knowledge of how to get started using Arduino
    • will know what to do next to keep learning and working with Arduino
    • will learn and apply at least 3 basic arduino programming skills

Learning Plans or Outlines

We're using a google doc folder at the moment to collaborate. Arduino Workshop Folder. Beth made the lesson plan from a conversation we had during open house and research on her own. The Journal is my ranting so far.

  • Kramer's plan:

I'm planning

  • 15 min intro
  • 60 min build three circuits
    • 1. blink led
    • 2. move servo
    • 3. Use transistors to switch led's on and off or a motor (Circuit picked because it is slightly modified to control the RC Car, per-soldered the hacked rc remote)
  • 45min build for competition (radio controlled vehicle using servos from the arduino to control it. Decorate vehicle (LEDs).
  • 15 min competition (how many pegs can you knock down in the most ridiculous way possible. 1 award for pins. 1 award for originality.)
  • 15 min close and clean up

That leaves 30 minutes cushion. I'm sure I'll need it.

Concerns and Ideas

  • doing the original task could take a while
  • I'd like everyone to walk away with something. Maybe a certificate with a picture of the thing they made.
  • Need to edit and clean up this wiki, but I'm tired and it's late

Followup on the July 19th meetup


The workshop was a success. Each member participated and seemed to enjoy themselves. We met our stated learning objectives. The participants varied from very little familiarity with electronics and programming to near expert. Even with the disparity everyone could complete the most of the task and everyone needed help at some point. The participants were expected to try on their own first and initially attempt to troubleshoot problems. This caused a little frustration in a couple people, but overall it seemed to go well. We had one helper to two students and this level of interaction was really necessary to stay on time. The workshop lasted three hours and it was tight, but we finished on time. We had to move on to the competition before everyone was finished with the transistor switching project. The final competition went well, but they definitely could use more time. No-one really got into the decoration or modifying the car itself. The competition went great.

Kramer's experience running the workshop

Arduino Workshop Folder contains the journal. It isn't complete, but there are some candid moments. I went into this not really knowing much about arduino, electronics, or hacking in general. My original idea was to base the workshop around a competition. This Eventually led me to the Thunder Tumbler RC toy as a vehicle to hack. I figured at the very least we could control the thing with a servo. I tried that and it didn't work well. I also originally envisioned things being made with cardboard. It became painfully evident that cardboard cutouts would be very difficult to make in the time allowed. The R/C toys happened to be very easy to hack and I had access to help from other members who just happened to be around. I used google, but I would have had a much more difficult time with the electronics without personal help. I barely finished planning and preparing before the workshop. I'm lucky things fell into place. It was pretty stressful. I probably spent 20 hours preparing. Whenever I tried to do something original, it took like five times longer than I expected. I did a very rough run-through a couple days before with Beth. We hit a bunch of tech problems I would not have expected. It was essential to the success of the workshop and I really didn't have it planned at that point. It was the best I could bullshit at that point.

I put in quite a bit of work and it was stressful with other commitments in my life. I also went over budget. I spent money on supplies and was reimbursed later, but the class didn't earn enough to cover all of it. I'll just have to do another one to make up the difference. With these things in mind I'm glad I decided to teach the workshop for a couple reasons. I learned vastly more than I could have without the responsibility of teaching. I also feel I contributed. I hope to continue to improve the workshop and develop better techniques for learning.


  • There were some silences and participants may have been uncomfortable with the direction to follow the book without being engaged. It just seems to be the opposite of a guided workshop. Maybe a slide, gif, or video of the completed task(s) would pull it together.
  • The lack of name plates or name tags made it difficult to interact with people.
  • The help sign seems like it was a good idea, but didn't get used. Maybe it should just be a 2 sided card with QUESTION on it instead of HELP.
  • It might have been helpful to show the internals of the controllers; it could make the way it works a little more clear.
  • Transistors were hard to understand. The jump from LED to motor to RC car was tough. Good Luck?
  • It might be beneficial to do a 5 minute overview of programming and code. Introduce method, variables, #include, and loops. Or not - maybe it's better to learn them like a spoken language...
  • The RC car destruction competition was awesome! It might have been nice to have a space to see the car move. The 2 cars on the same frequency was kind of a problem.
  • Multiple sources of information was a problem. It would be better to use a single source for schematics and programs.
  • The cost went way over the budget, so we'll have to figure that out.
  • I loved the TORNADO KICK!!! (We need the videos!)
  • The intro should also include their past experience with electronics, micro-controllers, and programming. That would help when determining the level of detail to provide when offering help.
  • 6-8 participants is definitely the upper limit and requires 2 assistants.
  • Would like to see the participants interacting with each other after and participating in making the workshop better in the future. Doing things like commenting on the wiki. Having students participate in the teaching