Confession – I hate huge electronics stores. You can find everything there, but there’s one big catch: the people at these kinds of stores are usually unhelpful and mean.* On my first electronics store adventure I didn’t have a perfectly detailed list of what I needed and it ended something like this: I almost cried,** left in a rage, and questioned my Arduino abilities.
When I signed up to attend Open Tech School’s Physical Computing Club 1.0 I had instant nightmares of the electronics store. The computing club session was about audio and Open Tech School hosted it at the FabLab in Berlin. I thought that I needed all new components and imagined myself walking through each unmarked aisle staring – eyes glazed – at thousands of not-quite-right tiny electronics.
Open Tech School’s Physical Computing Club
Instead of facing fear head-on, I ignored the store and woke up on Sunday with no new parts in my toolkit. Slightly worried, I blindly chucked my Fritzing Creator Kit and computer in my bag and headed off toward the meetup.
At FabLab I shyly sat down and started setting up my work area. Arduino mounting board – check. Instruction book – check. Wire components – check. Resistors – check.
I flipped through the Creator Kit book for ‘audio’ and found an activity within a minute. I felt immense victory:
I imagined all the parts that I didn’t have and an electronics expert patronizingly waving an “I told you so” finger at me. I persevered and started assembling the project.
To my surprise, all the supplies were in the kit. All of them!
I was ready to go. With the book in my lap, the Fritzing sketch on my screen, I came up with this set-up in about 10 minutes:
Two potentiometers and a Piezo
Then the fun part began. I used the potentiometers to alter the tone of the sound and the frequency that the tone played. The result was quick and rewarding:
Me as a professional DJ
With the Creator Kit, I was able to head to a meetup without any preparation and jump into the topic at hand. From there I could experiment and play with other parts of the kit. Huge electronics stores are still intimidating and frustrating, but the Creator Kit helped me jump into a hackday without any extra preparation.
*Mad props to the nice old man who always smiles and is patient with me. There is good in the world, after all.
**Johanna actually cried.
You can learn more about Open Tech School and Physical Computing Club at http://www.physicalcomputingclub.org and follow them on Twitter at @PhysCompClub and @OTS_BLN.