Paul Flavin has always been able to spot a good bargain. That nose for an excellent deal has helped him become engrossed in a new hobby.
Flavin leads the Arduino group from 6 p.m. to 10 on Thursday at the Rochester Makerspace. The Arduino is an easy to use micro-controller with exposed I/O pins, programmable through a USB Cable.
Flavin started using the Arduino with remote controlled cars he bought at Savers and other discount retailers.
“It always intrigued me, on a conceptual and metaphysical level,” Flavin said. “It’s like measuring the progress of the child by when he can walk, balancing on two legs, it becomes automatic. The balancing is a beautiful example of a simple control problem.”
Group participants can use the Arduino in a variety of projects including designing and building robots and control theory. Learning the Arduino can help anyone’s knowledge in a wide range of fields including electronics, programming and robotics.
The “Raspberry Pi” board, which runs the Arduino, can be purchased for $35 at most electronic stores including Amazon.com and RadioShack. The Arduino Software is free, open source and available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
“I am kind of surprised, if you go to the library and just read it, you have to have patience and perseverance when you first use it,” Flavin said. “You can run into problems. It is good for anyone to learn.”
The Arduino’s popularity can be seen not only in the United States, but worldwide as well. The website arduino.cc features not only basic information on the technology, but links to groups from places such as England and Poland.
“The Arduino has been extremely popular worldwide, they have done everything possible to make it as simple as possible,” Flavin said. “You plug into a laptop and into a USB. There is no telling how big the thing can be.”
For more information on the Arduino group at the Rochester Makerspace visit the website rochestermakerspace.org.