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Arduino starter kit

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by George Herold, Jun 28, 2013.

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  1. Hi all, My 12 yr old son had a nice report card.
    I ussually get him a gift ~$20. (video game or something)
    I was thinking of instead getting him an arduino starter kit.
    I was looking at this,
    I can get it for $100 from newark.
    (Well I'd get to play with it too so half the gift's for Dad :^)

    Is there something better?
    I guess I'd be most interested in the quality of the manual, project book.
    Has anyone bought one?


    George H.
  2. You can get a Raspberry-Pi for $35 US or so. It is a full blown system,
    can run Linux, but also has some I/O.

    You should watch those "starter kits". They balloon the price up badly,
    and are really for ultrabeginners or for making the public believe they
    need the extra stuff. Whatever else is in the kit likely is readily
    available, and found used will make things cheaper. And likely any book
    that might come with the kit, the information is online anyway.

    Why would I spend money on an AC adapter to put out five volts when I can
    get them at garage sales for 25 or 50 cents? A lot of this "Maker
    Movement" is about telling people how cool they'll be if they build
    things, and then selling them what they need at profit, rather than
    helping them learn and make do. And then the projects use microntrollers
    (prebuilt so they are more expensive than some scrap parts) instead of
    wiring up some discrete components. It's great for the brain dead masses,
    awful for those who want to learn. And awful for those without money, who
    have the brains to make do.

  3. Grin, my son certainly qualifies as an ultra beginner.
    We were looking at tutorials on ohms law last night.

    As for the raspberry, sure maybe someday.

    or for making the public believe they
    Wow, I really set you off, sorry.
    I'm looking for something he can work through semi-independently.
    He'd like to do some robotics stuff, wheels and gears and make something move around.
    I've got all sorts of 'junk' that we can make stuff with.

    If you haven't used the arduino starter kit, or something similar, then I'm not sure you can help me with this question. But thanks for your thoughts.
    I guess when I was younger I had lots more time than money. And now it's the other way... that sounds sad. I've got plenty of time...
    Gotta run, picking up the boy from a parade.. he plays in the band... :^)

    George H.
  4. Thanks Rich, we were looking at the spark fun site too.
    There seemed to be lots of comments about mistakes in the manual.

    Making a good manual is a lot of work,
    (Even a bad manual is a lot of work.)
    and somehow it doesn't get a line item in the budget.

    George H.
  5. Thanks, An "Arduino Cookbook" I love it. Any other good books?
    I guess what I like about a kit rather than 'free lance' is that free lance is full of frustrating mistakes, where the kit gives him something that works, and then he can try moding it. And then go onto free lance.

    George H.
  6. Bill Gill

    Bill Gill Guest

    If your boys in the band why are you on the internet?

  7. Great, nice sites. thanks! I like books, I ordered the cookbook. (How coud I refuse with the great reviews on amazon.)

    George H.
  8. He was insistent that I not go and watch him march.
    I tried asking him why on the way home,
    So some partial answers,
    he thinks the uniform is 'dorky' (not his wording)
    he feels self conscience if someone he knows is watching,
    But I'd guess the real reason is he's at that stage where he's embarrased by his Dad..
    (Maybe I can sneak into the next parade :^)

    George H.
  9. I guess I'd compare the arduino to running the picaxe with basic.
    (maybe I should have gone that route? I know basic better than C.)

    George H.
  10. It depends on what you want. The Pi was actually created to be a "play
    space" for learning to program. Like the COmmodore 64 of 30 years ago, or
    even my KIM-1 that I got in 1979. But the Pi is way better, and way
    cheaper. It allows for play since nobody is worrying about messing up the
    hard drive.

    And yes, Linux is overkill, but the cheap hardware runs it. And you can
    get all kinds of resources for programming and debugging on Linux. LIkely
    any programming language exists for Linux.

    When I got the KIM-1, I'd try single instructions, the monitor made it
    easy to do so, see the results, see how the registers looked after the
    instruction. A much more concrete learning process than reading a book.
    Then I'd string some instructions together, again that was easy to try
    since I could get the monitor to take over when the code was finished. No
    need to fuss with how to display things (which with GUI programs has a lot
    of overhead), you can deal with that later when you get to that point.

    And it had some limited I/O, so I could play with turning LEDs on and off,
    or controlling that GI sound generator IC. It was a whole process, not a
    project. I was learning, not trying to make something.

    "Leaning a new operating system" isn't a hardship for kids, it's exactly
    what they want. It's no different from when I got a ham license when I
    was 12, I never did much deliberate study for it, I was soaking up all I
    could read about electronics and radio. The license was no barrier, not
    just in terms of it being easy to pass (when the Canadian license was not
    a beginner's license) but that it was just part of the process.

    I went through all the books on "electronics" at the children's library
    when I was ten, in quotes since most were really books about electricity.
    And then I started work on the books in the adult library. When I found
    the hobby electronic magazines when I was 11, I couldn't understand them,
    but I stuck with them, and because I was interested, I learned from them.
    The first few projects didn't work (in retrospect I can see lots of
    reasons, but at the time I wasn't yet skilled enough) but ironically the
    first things I built that did work were made from parts I'd pulled of
    scrap electronics. I had gained enough knowledge to see what was needed,
    and what would work.

    When I got the KIM-1, not until 1979 because I couldn't afford a computer
    before that, I used the seme process of learning through experience. I
    didn't read a book ahead of time, I read them in parallel.

    Adults seem to forget that. If someone is interested, they'll learn.

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