Ardent about Arduino

By Lachlan Hardy
1400h Thursday, 08 May 2008 Permalink

I’ve uncovered a deep dark secret individually guarded by many of the geeks in our local community. It’s only natural that children want to play, to explore, to experiment. Sometimes as adults, we want the same things. Especially if we can bring our adult skills to bear on our childhood joys. Brothers and sisters, don’t hide your love away. Physical computing is not a sin. Although it can be a delight. Let me explain.

This morning, Dr Nic started tweeting about his urge for a ‘carputer’ of some description. After he started posting links to tiny hardware bits, I pointed him to the Ruby Arduino Development project:

RAD is a framework for programming the Arduino physcial computing platform using Ruby. RAD converts Ruby scripts written using a set of Rails-like conventions and helpers into C source code which can be compiled and run on the Arduino microcontroller. It also provides a set of Rake tasks for automating the compilation and upload process.

WTF is an ‘Arduino’

Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform. You can buy them, build them, and modify them. You can hack on the code or the hardware designs and share your changes with the community.

I’ve not played with them, but after reading articles and mentions of them and other forms of physical computing (such as Sunspots, Phidgets and the like) for the last 12-18 months, I’m incredibly interested.

Not knowing a lot about it, I can’t tell you why Arduino has captured the imagination of the community than I see more than the other similar products, but all I hear is Arduino. And the story was same this morning. After my next tweet mentioned Arduino, the local fans came out of the woodwork in a flurry of tweets.

It turns out that heaps of folks I know, particularly in the local Ruby community have already paid, played and procrastinated with their Arduino bits and pieces - but everyone wants to do more.

Do you need an excuse to play?

Firstly, if you’re interested in Ruby, Rails, Merb and the like, then it looks like peeps will now be bringing their Arduino gear along to Railscamp in June. I’ve added an Arduino section to the Equipment page so that you can list what you’ve got and we can collaboratively ensure we can make the most of it!

For the world outside the rosy bubble, the Australian importers of Arduino gear, Little Bird Electronics, are holding their first Australian Arduino workshop at UTS on the 31st of May.

Update!Little Bird Electronics are now offering a $20 discount to folks using the code ‘LACHSTOCK’ when buying workshop tickets. Thanks, Little Bird!

So if you’ve got a little electronic skeleton in your geek closet, unpack it and come play. It looks like you’ll be in some fantastic company!


There are 7 comments on this post.

1608h Thursday, 08 May 2008 Permalink

Hi Lachstock peeps, enter the code LACHSTOCK to save a $20 at the checkout. When purchasing your Syd ticket.

Melbourne ticket will be on the site soon. Email me if you need more information.


Marcus :-)

Andrew K.
1617h Thursday, 08 May 2008 Permalink

I’m stoked to see that a) you’re into this Lach and b) there’s going to be a workshop down here in Melbourne!

Matt Allen
1636h Thursday, 08 May 2008 Permalink

Dang! RailsConf is on at the same time. Marcus, are you going to be running any others?


1640h Thursday, 08 May 2008 Permalink

Wow that looks cool! I can’t program, but it looks like a stack of fun.

Are there a lot of experimental projects evolving out of Arduino?

Jim Whimpey
1650h Thursday, 08 May 2008 Permalink

This kind of stuff all looks so cool. Lego has been doing this kind of stuff for ages with Robolab. You can start by making apps visually in Robolab but there’s also a Java API that hooks into everything, the robots have engines, different kinds of sensors, etc. It would be a great thing to give young children but for the software programmer, it’s extremely cool to see physical results of your code.

I think it’s time I moved to Sydney or Melbourne, where all the action is.

Lachlan Hardy
1639h Wednesday, 14 May 2008 Permalink

I just bought my ticket!

Thanks for the discount code, Marcus! Very cool :)

You’d be very welcome in Sydney, Jim! But don’t you have that little degree thing to finish? ;)

Thanks for the links, Rob!

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