Arduino Introductory Workshop

I had a lot of fun today. I participated an introductory workshop for Arduino. Rick Rundell, Senior Director from the CTO office, was sympathetic to the employees who are stuck in the snow in the area and organized the event at Autodesk Waltham office. We had a pleasure to have Andrew P. Anselmo, Ph.D. from Clipboard Engineering as our instructor.

In case you are not familiar with Arduino, Arduino is a tool that you can connect your computer with all sorts of sensors, controllers and other physical hardware, and you can write programs to controls them. It’s an open source project to provide a platform based on simple microcontroller board and development environment for writing software for the board. You can find the information here.

When I saw the announcement about the workshop a few weeks ago, it was right after the AEC Hatckathon in New York. When I saw a little Hacker girl talking about daylight sensor, I was impressed. At the same time, I was thinking if 10 year old girl could do it, why not me? So it was a perfect timing for me to sign up.

It was three hour workshop in the afternoon. It was amusing, productive learning experience for me. Before the workshop, I had no clue what all those tiny pieces do. I did not even know where to start. But by the end of three hours, I could blink LEDs, make sounds, put switches, add a temperature sensor, combine them, and program (in C/C++) to make a different sounds. By doing so, I gradually started to understand what each pieces do and get the idea about how to read a circuit diagram. Amazing kit. Still lots to learn, but I’m now more curious than ever. I can imagine many application of this kind technology for both built and building environment. I will have fun for a while, I’m sure.

Here are a few photos from today’s workshop:

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Mikako’s THE first Arduino project! This is how the hardware look like: the micro controller board (red one on the right) and a blue LED, buzzer, switch and temperature sensor on breadboard on the left. SparkFun is the maker of the hardware we are using. 

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Serious looking participants of the workshop getting hands on.

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Our instructor of the day, Andrew demonstrating a project using LCD,a small screen below his right hand.

The event like this also gives you an added value of meeting new people. I knew people from Revit team, of course. There were a couple of people from the newly acquired Boston office and Terrible Labs, who now works as a member of BIM 360 Field team. It was certainly a nice way to meet new members of Autodesk.

Our instructor Andrew runs a company called Clipboard Engineering, a consulting firm that handles system integration, data acquisition and controls projects, using a wide variety of solutions, from PLCs and embedded controllers to full PC-driven systems in a wide variety of industries. He tells us that he’s used Arduino even in a few art projects to good effect! Sounds very cool, doesn’t it? Obviously he’s enjoying his work. After the event, he gave us this note: “… it was a true pleasure to teach that seminar. Working on hardware gives you a new perspective on software, and when you have only 2K to solve certain problems, it really can sharpen your skill set!” It is very true.

I happen to be making a plan for a DevTech Americas team meeting in San Francisco in April. I keep thinking that a similar activity like this might be something my team will also enjoy. I’ll see where this brings me next …

Thank you, Rick, Andrew and Cole for the opportunity.

Mikako

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