The Arduino Starter Kit

Box for Arduino Starter kit

Ardui­no cre­a­tors have recen­tly laun­ched the new Ardui­no Star­ter Kit, a kit com­pri­sing all the com­po­nents nee­ded for a com­ple­te intro­duc­ti­on to the world of elec­tro­nics and the Ardui­no con­trol­ler board, even if you don’t have any spe­ci­fic kno­wled­ge of it. Spe­ci­ally if you don’t have any kno­wled­ge of it.

Sin­ce I have been playing around with an Ardui­no tuto­ri­al, trying to remem­ber all that I had for­got­ten of my Engi­ne­e­ring edu­ca­ti­on and star­ting my own “recon­nec­ti­on” to elec­tro­nic tin­ke­ring, I was con­si­de­red the per­fect AltLab mem­ber to be given the oppor­tu­nity to try it out and revi­ew it.

What’s in the kit?

A vision of the Arduino Starter kit

  • A book explai­ning elec­tro­nics and the Ardui­no board, with seve­ral expe­ri­ments to do;
  • 1 Ardui­no Uno (R3) board;
  • A small bre­ad­bo­ard;
  • A bal­sa woo­den plat­form desig­ned to ser­ve as a plat­form for your Ardui­no and bre­ad­bo­ard; (gre­at idea! thin­king of buil­ding one for myself)
  • A ran­dom set of the usu­al elec­tro­nics parts (resis­tors, motors, LEDs, seve­ral sen­sors and one LCD scre­en);

You can get the com­ple­te and exhaus­ti­ve list of com­po­nents on the kit web­pa­ge if you want.

My Experience

The inside of Arduino Starter kit and its boxes

The first thing that caught my atten­ti­on was the impres­si­ve looks of the kit. Coming in a good qua­lity prin­ted card­bo­ard com­pact box, it seems more of design pro­duct than a elec­tro­nics intro­duc­ti­on kit. This would also be my fee­ling throughout the rest of expe­ri­en­ce: com­pa­red to the my own star­ter kit, whi­ch I bought in a hack-fest, this seems like com­pa­ring a Land Rover to a Lada Niva. They both per­form the requi­red work , but one is con­si­de­ra­bly nicer than the other.

Left pic­tu­re shows how all of the kit dif­fe­rent com­po­nents come in indi­vi­du­al old-gold colo­red boxes, nicely pac­ked and orga­ni­sed.

The book itself is more of a “artis­tic” book than what i would expect for a elec­tro­nics intro­duc­tory tuto­ri­al. Being used to the engi­ne­e­ring “cut & dry” manu­als, this actu­ally sur­pri­sed me the most.

The book for the Arduino Starter kit

I’ve glan­ced though the intro­duc­tory chap­ters in the book and played a bit with the more advan­ced expe­ri­ments on the book sin­ce I alre­ady had mas­te­red the basics Ardui­no. I even asked a “lay” fri­end who was curi­ous about the Ardui­no world to try it one after­no­on. The sim­plest sta­te­ment is that it duti­fully ful­fills its goal of intro­du­cing you to the Ardui­no. The book tri­es its best to cle­arly explain the basics of elec­tri­city and elec­tro­nics in a way that actu­ally makes sen­se for “mere mor­tals”. My “lay” fri­end quic­kly unders­to­od it and although she had some misun­ders­tan­ding with the bre­ad­bo­ard inner con­nec­ti­ons at first, after the bri­ef hours that i let her alo­ne with it, i found her hap­pily doing cir­cuits invol­ving mul­ti­ple LEDs and resis­tors and some weird pat­tern of blin­king.

Her and I though, had some trou­bles with the low-cut /fixed length jum­per wires that were inclu­ded in the kit. Although its goal is to make the bre­ad­bo­ard con­nec­ti­ons easi­er and cle­a­rer, we found out that it actu­ally makes it har­der to a “new­bie” to work with. By for­cing some fixed lengths it either makes con­nec­ti­ons errors more pro­ba­ble or for­ces us to care­fully fol­low the dia­grams and colors right to the mil­li­me­tre, not lea­ving spa­ce for impro­vi­sa­ti­on and sim­ple foo­ling around.

The balsa platform with the Arduino and the breadboard

Also, I must say that the code pages are not suf­fi­ci­en­tly sig­na­li­zed, sin­ce they are inser­ted after the cir­cuit assem­bling and pro­ject pic­tu­res as if it was alre­ady done. Sin­ce the first book pro­jects didn’t use any code at all, the first pro­ject that did pro­vi­ded me with a pho­ne call from my fri­end asking me why she didn’t mana­ge to get expe­ri­ment wor­king at all, even after care­fully redoing everything twi­ce and men­tally fol­lowing the “flow of elec­tri­city” throughout the wires as i showed her. The­re was no indi­ca­ti­on of code, and sin­ce she didn’t actu­ally unders­to­od how it rela­ted with it, she didn’t turn the page to look for it. I did noti­ce the same thing when i star­ted using the book, but i alre­ady knew that the code had to be somewhe­re.

On the who­le, the pro­jects itself are inte­res­ting and amu­sing, even without the colour­ful and sligh­tly chil­dish deco­ra­ti­ons inclu­ded in the kit, and pro­vi­de you with fun­da­men­tals to start buil­ding more advan­ced stuff. The light the­re­min sounds hide­ously though!

Final thoughts

If you are alre­ady fami­li­ar with elec­tro­nics or you’re not afraid to start explo­ring it without a safety net, you can pro­ba­bly save a cou­ple of euros buying the Ardui­no board and other ran­dom sets of parts or kits from your local/online elec­tro­nics sto­re and just fol­lowing the ran­dom infor­ma­ti­on fre­ely avai­la­ble from the web.

Howe­ver, if you are a com­ple­te new­bie to this bra­ve new world, or just want a safe gui­ded expe­ri­en­ce to intro­du­ce you, simi­lar to the gui­ded workshop you would get with a tea­cher, this is pro­ba­bly one of the best star­ter kits avai­la­ble. The pro­jects are inte­res­ting, cover most of the buil­ding blocks that Ardui­no pro­vi­des and it will lea­ve you per­fec­tly equip­ped to “higher flights” in this fas­ci­na­ting world of DIY elec­tro­nics.

What are you still doing here? Don’t was­te your time, go get it.

3D Printer Workshop — Building 5 Prusa Air 2


A AZLabs (rede de labo­ra­tó­ri­os da Audi­ên­cia Zero), em par­cei­ria com os Fablab EDP e Fablab Coim­bra, está a rea­li­zar este workshop para a cons­tru­ção de cin­co impres­so­ras 3D, mode­lo Pru­sa Air2.

São cin­co os par­ti­ci­pan­tes que estão a cons­truir a sua pró­pria impres­so­ra 3D, a AZLabs, Fablab EDP, Fablab Coim­bra, YDre­ams, e o Pavi­lhão do Conhe­ci­men­to — Ciên­cia Viva.

Com a coor­de­na­ção do Mau­ri­cio Mar­tins, e após 4 ses­sões o workshop já vai numa fase bas­tan­te adi­an­ta­da como podem ver  nes­te album de fotos 😉

Em bre­ve tere­mos mais notí­ci­as, fiquem aten­tos!


Our founder, Catarina Mota @Ada Lovelace Day


phd fel­low, co-foun­der of @openmaterials and @altlab, mem­ber of @nycresistor and, co-chair of the Open Hard­ware Sum­mit, TED fel­low

Adafruit 608-1Today is Ada Love­la­ce day! Cele­bra­ting the achi­e­ve­ments of women in sci­en­ce, art, design, tech­no­logy, engi­ne­e­ring and math! Ada Love­la­ce Day is about sha­ring sto­ri­es of women — whether engi­ne­ers, sci­en­tists, tech­no­lo­gists or mathe­ma­ti­ci­ans — who have ins­pi­red you to beco­me who you are today. The aim is to cre­a­te new role models for girls and women by cele­bra­ting ama­zing women making and doing cool things. If you’re loo­king for a worldwi­de Ada Love­la­ce Day event? Ple­a­se visit the Fin­ding Ada events page. Be sure to check out all our posts today and from pre­vi­ous years here of ama­zing women!


Creative Politics Artistic Residency

Pos­ted on  by 

Some mem­bers of the AZ Labs com­mu­nity have been gathe­ring in artis­tic resi­dency in Gui­ma­rães once more, the topic for this resi­dency is Cre­a­ti­ve Poli­tics, mea­ning to come up ide­as and pro­jects con­nec­ting the citi­zens back with the poli­ti­cal sys­tem. Com­plai­ning is easy, pre­sen­ting solu­ti­ons is har­der. Citi­zens feel dis­con­nec­ted with poli­tics and disen­ga­ge them­sel­ves from the­se issu­es. We are trying to coun­ter that with artis­tic or otherwi­se use­ful pro­jects and pro­po­sals.

During the first wee­kend we had run­ning at LCD a paral­lel event named Antro­po­co­de, part of the Atlan­tic Arc Sum­mer of Labs 2012. During the wee­kend over a dozen artists and hac­kers from Por­tu­gal and Spain were gathe­red deve­lo­ping con­cepts and pro­jects in a hac­ka­ton about the bor­der­li­ne of body and tech­no­logy. Some of the pro­jects were also rela­ted to the cre­a­ti­ve poli­tics the­me.

The hac­ka­ton is now over but the Cre­a­ti­ve Poli­tics artis­tic resi­dency con­ti­nu­es with a dozen other folks, mos­tly folks from Por­tu­gal but also inclu­ding some foreig­ners. The first days have been focu­sed on brains­tor­ming pro­ject ide­as. You can find more infor­ma­ti­on on our wiki.

Some exam­ples of pro­jects cur­ren­tly being deve­lo­ped:

  • Reclai­ming Data
    Rese­ar­ch and docu­men­ta­ti­on of open data ini­ti­a­ti­ves in Por­tu­gal, the end goal is to deve­lop a viral video cal­ling for more acti­ve par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on and invol­ve­ment from the citi­zens or a web­to­ol to request mis­sing data.
  • Hac­king Urban Resour­ces
    Rese­ar­ch and docu­men­ta­ti­on of ways to hack urban resour­ces to impro­ve the way of life at a local level in Gui­ma­rães, brin­ging back the con­trol of the city to the citi­zens. A sam­ple book on how to re-appro­pri­a­te, re-use local resour­ces and also on how to re-learn use­ful old skills.
  • Poli­ti­cal Mana­ger
    A web based game whe­re you play the role of a rising poli­ti­ci­an and have to impro­ve your skills to build your care­er without suc­cum­bing to the pres­su­res of the dark side.
  • Com­pa­ra­ti­ve News
    The goal of this pro­ject is to help citi­zens unders­tand the trends and ten­den­ci­es in the poli­ti­cal dis­cour­se that the media pre­sent to them every­day. The stra­tegy is to com­pa­re dif­fe­rent sour­ces of infor­ma­ti­on, like news­pa­pers, radio and tele­vi­si­on using data visu­a­li­za­ti­on. The intui­ti­on behind this pro­ject is that com­pa­ring sour­ces ena­ble peo­ple to see the big pic­tu­re, to iden­tify what’s impor­tant and what’s not.