In signing up for Electronics for the Rest of Us, we hoped to gain some experience with the process of coding and electronic design, and were not disappointed. The iterative grind of coding, banging our heads against the screen until that one final break-through occurred, was largely as we expected, but we were pleasantly surprised by the cascade of progress that always followed. We now have some basic knowledge about defining variables, the setup and loop segments of the code, and the use of serial monitor feedback. We also understand some basics of wiring and breadboard work. With these tools, we now have the exciting ability to conceive, design, and construct a useful machine.
We also learned a good deal about this process in itself. For example, we learned that it is extremely useful to have a firm concept of the final product in mind before and during construction. That way, our work remains directed, cohesive, and motivated, and problems could be solved in their context of reaching an ultimate goal. Furthermore, we gained useful experience with the additive nature of code work. We first worked on small elements of our final machine individually – blink, LED thermometer etc. When assimilating these smaller segments into our final machine, we could draw directly from the code we had already written. Not only did we now have the knowledge to overcome the coding obstacles we had faced, but we had a record of our work that ensured we would not have to encounter those obstacles again. This showed us the benefits of maintaining a portfolio when working in the field of programming or working professionally with code.