ERU1, Winter 2017 – Madeena’s Post

By Madeena Homayoun

My name is Madeena and I am in my last semester of studies at McMaster University, soon to be graduated as an Integrated Science student. Before starting, I was really nervous about the “Electronics For the Rest of Us” course. I wanted to have a guided educational experience involving electronics, but I was fearful that others in the class would be much more advanced than me, that I’d be lost with the material, or that I wouldn’t learn or gain the course credit. Yeesh.

This reflects an attitude a lot of us may have regarding electronics. Having a grasp on electronics seems to the outsider to be a mystical subject known only to those born with a natural intuition for it (we all have that one sibling who is responsible for internet and TV troubleshooting).

This anxiety definitely persisted into the assignments as we went through them. It started with me experiencing a high level of anxiety and an impending sense of failure at the beginning of each assignment, and gradually led to a sense of ease, pride, and accomplishment with each step forward. It did help that the assignments were designed so that each accomplishment was really visible in front of you!
The instructors were also very helpful and kind and I felt that I was truly being guided and taught.

For instance, we first started with programming a light on our Arduino pad to blink on and off. Then, the assignments gradually built on each previous one and got more complex throughout the course. These included using a potentiometer to control the amount of LED light, incorporating a photoresistor, and controlling a red-blue-green LED light with a thermistor (changing the colour based on the temperature). Finally, our final assignment was to incorporate these many aspects and also explore some new functionalities to create a multi-functional device (as seen in the video attached below.)

Overall, my nervousness towards electronics improved a lot and I have an increased confidence in myself in handling electronics and programming. With caring mentors and course-ware designed for beginners from an exploration and discovery approach, this course ended up being really rewarding, memorable and fun.
A short video showing the multi-functionality of the device we built at the end. This includes an LED light that can change colour and play a tune once it reaches a certain temperature, and a photo-resistor that brightens another LED light based on the level of ambient light detected in the room (similar to what a night light does.)
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