Practical Arduino

Author: Jonathan Oxer & Hugh Blemings
Publisher: Apress

ISBN: 978-1430224778
Aimed at: Intermediate hardware designers
Rating: 4
Pros: Good collection of projects
Cons: Not well explained
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead

Arduino is an open source hardware platform that can be used to design custom controllers. This book is a collection of projects using an of a range of Arduino implementations.

Despite the book being targeted to some extent at the beginner you really need to know a little about electronics and micro-controller programming to get much from the book. The first chapter is an introduction to the basics and it does go over resistors and capacitors in series and parallel but it is just too short and too shallow to be of much use. Some of the comments are power supplies and precautions are useful to slightly more advanced readers but in the main the introductory material might as well have been left out. There is no attempt to teach the basics of the Arduino from either a hardware or a software point of view. Some of the projects and the resource section at the end to attempt to teach some aspects of interfacing but there is no systematic approach. For example, if you want to find out how to interface to a motor you need to look elsewhere - not one of the projects deals with output transducers.

As soon as the projects get started then the book settles down into the basic format of describing the idea and how to realise it. How valuable the book will be to you depends on how interesting you find the projects so a brief account of each one seems in order.

Remote control - basic idea open up some remote controls, attach inputs and write programs to automate things.

Time-lapse camera - an interface to a panasonic camera.

Virtual USB keyboard - basic USB interfacing

PS/2 Keyboard or mouse input - how to connect these devices to the Arudino.

Security Automation sensors - connecting standard sensors to the Arudion

Online thermometer - using a DS18B20 temperature sensor and putting the data on a TCP/IP network as a web page.


Touch conrtol panel - interfacing an off the shelf touch panel

Speech Synthesizer - using an off the shelf speach chip

Water flow gauge - connecting to an off the shelf flow sensor

Oscilloscope/logic analyser - software to convert an aduino into a scope.

Water tank depth sensor - interfacing a standard differential pressure sensor and creating a web page.

Weather station reciever - using an off the shelf 433Mhz reciever to connect to a La Crosse weather station or individual sensors.

RFID access control - using an off the shelf RFID reader

Vehicle Telemetry platform - for vehicles that support ODB2 via an off the shelf interface and a ready made GPS module.

How impressed you are going to be by this list depends on whether or not any of the projects is something you might want to do. I was particularly interested in the Vehicle Telemetry but I'm thwarted by the lack of a vehicle that supports ODB2 connection. You will also notice that the words "off the shelf" crops up a lot. The hardware content of many of the projects is at the level of connecting up standard modules. The main development is then all about writing the software. How well the software is explained varies from project to project and this in turn often makes t difficult to generalise or even identify exactly what has been learned.

This is a useful compendium of ideas for projects centered on the Auduino - buy a copy if the projects appeal but be ready to put in a lot of work.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 February 2010 )