As part of the first year module SPD105 Digital Manufacturing, a group of our students are learning how to use the open-source, electronics programming platform, Arduino, to develop interactive, digital products. They are benefiting from workshops run by Andy Smith at Makernow. In addition to designing the electronics component, they will also be using 3D CAD (Autodesk Inventor) to develop a casing for the product and manufacturing a prototype using one of our 4 axis milling machines.
The project brief states: Functions for your device can be very simple but there must be shape in your milled casing that purposeful accommodates the electronic component parts. You should establish a clear context and user group for your product. Consider one input (into the device) and one output (what feedback does the device give on receiving the input?). You will be using an Arduino unit, 9V battery and relevant electrical components. The device should be no bigger than 200mm x 200m in size.
First year student, Thomas Oaten, has put together some thoughts on the process so far:
“If you can think of a device that solves a niche opportunity by the use of electronics, there’s a good chance someone somewhere has achieved this by using an Arduino unit. An Arduino unit is basically a gateway to understanding coding and promote making. I believe that using an Arduino has made the idea of manipulating electronics to create functioning products more accessible thanks to examples of code that are stored on the application that control the Arduino. However I have found that to fully understand the code we have needed the Makernow labs Andy Smith as we have learnt and understood how to dim L.E.D’s using an analog code as well as control multiple L.E.D’s choosing when they would turn on and off.
During our sessions we have also been able to control colour alongside shapes through our computers. By learning this we will be able to apply what we know about both inputs learnt and put them into our projects. In my case I hope to use the input of the weather so the output would be represented as light emitted from the Arduino unit.”
Here are some more great Arduino projects (external links):