Brighton University Start Arduino Workshop

Tuesday 23rd February

Welcome to ArduinoLAB

We worked with the University of Brighton Visual Communication Undergraduates over two weeks to introduce them to physical computing. ArduinoLAB was limited to two days of Arduino workshops with an objective to instil the desire to discover rather than deliver a coding proficiency course, so we opted for a rapid light touch approach.

The first day was very intensive, racing through a lot of coding for basic inputs and outputs, involving a steep learning curve of both electronics and programming. After the initial days input, the group were challenged to use the skills they had learnt to apply to an “End of the Pier” project, building upon simple code to create interest through context rather than complexity.
After a week of self directed exploration, the second session focused on bringing their projects into the physical world and off the breadboard. We gave them some options as to how they could do that from snap board soldering, copper tape to bare conductive paint and conductive thread. This required locking down of projects and code to leave enough time for physical making and prototyping. Once committed to an idea and a desired outcome, this is the point when a deeper understanding of code is necessitated through having a real project to problem solve. This is how the best and most profound learning takes place.

We had some exciting projects brewing at this stage included a piezo activated dolls head, servo glass harp, copper tape room sensor, LED moon phaser, and Jack in the box.

Slack for iOS Upload-13

After a further 2 days of making, we regrouped to evaluate the outcomes of the workshop. The glass harps were hitting sherry glasses with teaspoons and the dolls head was turning to look at you (terrifying). Some sketches had successfully turned into working prototypes, others discovered flaws in the initial concept and were back to planning, others had aimed beyond what was achievable within the timeframe and were still researching. All these outcomes exemplify the complex skills required when breaking down an idea into code, electronics and physical construction.

ArduinoLAB day 2

Each stage comes with its own unique set of challenges and resolutions. As the workshop drew to a close, there was clear evidence of students learning how to debug and refine skills. For instance, a first attempt at soldering a remote button required lots of bug testing, second one less, third one worked first time!

The feedback from students was certainly overwhelmingly positive.There were some really great outcomes and a really exciting introduction to some new ideas, which the Visual Communication students can start to embedd technology into their work. The collaboration was a resounding success.

To begin your own journey into the world of physical computing, check out the Start Arduino Kit, available from our online shop.