Science, Maths & Technology
  • Audio
  • 5 mins
  • Level 1: Introductory

DIY tech - just making it up with the Arduino

Updated Wednesday 25th March 2009

Arduino is an exciting, but simple way to get into electronics, as Tony Hirst explains

Way back when, I did electronics as my undergraduate degree. Looking back it now, I remember that some of the most pleasurable times were spent in the lab, soldering iron in hand, working on one electronics project or another. Which is why DIY initiatives like Arduino are so exciting. So what is Arduino, exactly?

To all intents and purposes, it's a "get you started" kit for playing with simple (and not so simple) electronics projects. Built on an open source platform - which is to say, the rights to the design and its reproduction allow people to work with the board without having to pay royalties or patent fees to anyone else - the Arduino is small, programmable electronics board that can talk to a computer and control devices in the real world.

The Arduino Diecimilla Creative commons image Icon by Randomskk, some rights reserved under Creative-Commons license
The Arduino Diecimilla.

The board contains a microcontroller, a clever device that combines a microprocessor (so it can run programmes you download to it) and a set of electronic inputs and outputs. The inputs allow it to monitor the real world - for example, using a light sensor or a microphone (sound sensor), as well as controlling things in the real world (for example, switching lights or electical motors on and off, controlling an audio speaker, or even driving a small printer).

Arduinos were very much in evidence at the UK's first Maker Faire, held in Newcastle in the North of England in March 2009. Originating in the United States, Maker Faires are celebrations of technological tinkering, a place to share tips and ideas about how to get involved with DIY technology. As part of a special co-production of the BBC World Service IT programme Digital Planet, reporter Angela Saini went along - here's what she found out Arduinos:

Copyright BBC

You can read about more about the other features included in the Open University/Digital Planet special on DIY Technology.

And if the idea of Arduinos intrigues you, they could well be part of home experiment kit in a forthcoming OU course. Stay tuned for more, as we have it...

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Never mind the quality: Transcript Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Never mind the quality: Transcript

Where does the future of television look like heading? This full transcript of Digital Planet makes some predictions.

Article
In search of intelligence Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Photos.com article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

In search of intelligence

Ivan Horrocks takes a look at the data trail we leave behind ourselves

Article
The Silver Bridge Disaster: The collapse Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team audio icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

The Silver Bridge Disaster: The collapse

The 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge was a human tragedy - 46 people died - and an engineering mystery: why did a bridge built to last a century not make 40 years? Part 3: The collapse

Audio
10 mins
The machine that is still changing the world Creative commons image Icon By Land Rover MENA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

The machine that is still changing the world

The automotive sector is not only continuing to adapt and improve itself, but through the adaptation and spread of its techniques to manage operations more effectively in other sectors, it is also continuing to change the world. 

Article
Deplaning: Why is the 747 coming to the end of the runway? Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Wikimedia Images article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Deplaning: Why is the 747 coming to the end of the runway?

For a long time, the 747 has dominated the skies. But Boeing is slowing production. How come?

Article
Is Microsoft finally breaking the mould? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Is Microsoft finally breaking the mould?

The launch of Microsoft’s new Xbox 360TM challenges some of our assumptions about firms and their capacity to innovate new products. Paul Quintas asks whether a company previously focused on software can become an apparent leader in hardware products?

Article
Richard Feynman: bongo playing Nobel laureate Creative commons image Icon Fermilab under Creative-Commons license article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Richard Feynman: bongo playing Nobel laureate

Richard Feynman: theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate, educator, practical joker, bongo player, shameless self-publicist, polymath, or simply, genius; take your pick 

Article
Aeroplane Design and Engineering Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: iStock article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Aeroplane Design and Engineering

Ever wondered what happens to lost luggage or why plane windows are the shape they are? Take a tour of our interactive aeroplane to find out.

Article
What does an engineer look like? Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: NASA article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

What does an engineer look like?

In 2015, some men still struggle with the idea that engineering might not be an exclusively male endeavour. No, they really do.

Article