An Arduino is a simple, low cost microcontroller thingy. It’s got a bunch of digital outputs, analog and digital inputs and a programmable microchip. You download a program onto the chip (either one you’ve written yourself or one of thousands of programs others have written) and then hook up electronics to the inputs and/or outputs. The Arduino can then be disconnected from your computer to run autonomously.
You can get a nearly infinite number of devices, called “shields”, that plug into the Arduino–to give the device, for example, GPS or wireless capabilities. And there are vast libraries of programs for Arduinos–useful for non-programmers such as myself.
In the class we used the $24 Leonardo model of the Arduino, which is commonly used for prototyping. Once you figure out what inputs and outputs you need for your project you can get a cheaper Arduino with fewer features for use in, let’s say, your automatic chicken coop door opener.
I thought I’d compile a list of Arduino based project related to the “low-tech, home-tech” subjects covered on this blog. I’ll keep updating this list as I hear of more projects.
Chicken coop controller
Garden Bot (information about “an open source garden monitoring system). Includes links to other Arduino based gardening projects.
Gardening moisture sensor/watering controllers
An Arduino waterer that tweets!
Fun with a rotary phone!
And a shout out to the amazing bloggers at Holy Scrap, masters of using microcontrollers in clever low-tech ways. Follow their blog!
Please leave a comment with a link if you know of other projects that should be on this list.