How the Creator Kit saved me from the electronics store

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

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:

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 16.10.54

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!

all-the-things

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

10 minutes!

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

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

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