Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 1: Playing with Electronics and Arduino

Cold but excited, I find myself at 110 Williams Street, the place where I'm going to be working at with Ms. Chipps. I'm there early, and I circle the place around a bit. Not used to Manhattan yet, I'm still amazed at all the humongous buildings!

110 Williams Street building
I wasn't quite sure how our first day was going to go. My biggest fear was if I had enough knowledge to begin working for this project or not yet.

As of right now, my Intel idea is to create a mobile device that can monitor a baby's vitals for parental use (Yes, there are products with similar ideas out there already, but I have a few adjustments in mind... I'd share them with you, but I'd have to kill you afterwards). I learned C# from the Microsoft Virtual Academy and JavaScript as a class course in school for the programming aspect of this project. There's a bit of electrical engineering in this ol' head of mine too.

Oh how I wish I had listened to my dad, and started really getting into this stuff earlier! (I'll probably mention my dad often. I'm slowly and frustratingly figuring out he really is right when he says "Daddy's always right!").

As I stood in front of that intimidating building, I began to doubt myself in my ability to work with Ms. Chipps. However, as I said before and I'll continue to say it more, Ms. Chipps is the best mentor ever. I sit down with her in the building, and she starts off by telling me, "I'd like to start working on the basics with you first, and go on from there." I think I was about to jump out of my seat and hug her! I am glad she's choosing to work with me at a pace I can follow and making the "I don't know how to do this" moments less awkward for me. I like that she's a mentor that can trust me to do things on my own, rather than those that take all the work for themselves. I want to grow from this experience, not just fulfill a class.
A book that she had me work on while I was there (and later let me borrow) was Make: Electronics by Charles Platt. It's really great because it explains just about everything to you. I didn't have to ask many questions on what she had me read (projects 1 to 4) as it included all the background and fundamental information.
It was kind of exciting because I got to work with LEDs for the first time, and finally apply what I learned in science class! The project done from the book was small and quick, but I feel like I learned a lot. Hands-on experience is very different from just being able to read it.

After working with the projects from the book, she moved me on to the Arduino board (I believe we used the Arduino Uno). I had to install the software onto my laptop first, and then she had me type up the code to make an LED blink on and off. I think I'm going to have to learn another programming language now, but making that happen though was pretty exciting.

I can't wait to do more stuff with Arduino as I'm told it can do more than make a light blink. And I won't have to wait long! Tomorrow, I'll be seeing Ms. Chipps again. She plans to show me how we can use the Arduino Lilypad as a part of our clothing, which I'll blog about afterwards!

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