I went into Electronics for the Rest of Us a complete novice. In fact, my main motivation for enrolling was a desire to improve my embarrassingly poor tech skills. I’m happy to report that the course went above and beyond my expectations, and actually turned out to be a lot of fun!
Before 3IE1, I had only ever built circuits to take measurements in physics labs. I hadn’t ever had the opportunity to build a circuit that could do something. Consequently, I was rather surprised at the amount of work it took me to do something as simple as making an LED blink periodically.
Thankfully, my mediocre Arduino skills were supplemented by extremely thorough tutorials and the incredibly helpful message boards of the online Arduino community. With a little help from the internet, and a little troubleshooting from our instructors, Chloe and I were able to build a fun, if rather modest, device prototype.
Our make-off invention was a shrewdly marketed household thermometer. The device consisted of an RGB LED, a Piezo speaker, and a temperature-sensing thermistor all wired into the Arduino. When temperature was an optimal 25 °C, the light was green. If the temperature fell, the light turned blue to signify that the room was too cold. If the temperature rose, the light turned red and an alarm sounded to alert homeowners to the dangers of an overheated house. The sound that was played was the Star Wars theme, in anticipation of the commercial boom that will accompany the release of Episode VII this winter.
Overall, Electronics for the Rest of Us was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It was an excellent starting point for an electronics beginner, and I’m excited to learn even more in Part 2!