Arduino micro controllers have become extremely popular with hobbyist over the last few years, allowing people to build weather stations, automated irrigation systems or toy musical instruments. So what about using these credit card sized programmable electronics boards in a scientific laboratory? After all, Arduinos are able to read almost every type of sensor and control lots of the equipment typically found in a lab.
During their MRes year the Sensor CDT students learn how to use Arduinos for sensing applications. Therefore, it was only natural to offer a similar training to other researchers, especially to those from the CamBridgeSens strategic network and other Centres for Doctoral Training.
Under the title "How to use Arduinos in your research" a one day workshop was held in the electronics teaching lab at the Department of Engineering on 8 June 2016. The sold out event was attended by 40 undergraduate and PhD students, researchers and professors from Departments across the University, including Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Chemical Engineering, the Computer laboratory and Zoology as well as by researchers from other universities and R&D staff from industry. The workshop formed part of the Open Technology Week 2016, organised in the Departments of Plant Science and Engineering.
Sensor CDT and CamBridgeSens programme manager Oliver Hadeler led a team of first and second year Sensor CDT students who delivered a challenging and well designed series of hardware and software exercises to beginners and advanced users alike. Attendees learned how to read sensor data from analog and digital devices, use interrupt routines and control lab equipment. The exercises culminated in a setup to measure and control the speed of an electric motor through which the users became aware of the capabilities and limitations of the Arduino board. These are often glossed over in the online open hardware community but were explained in detail by the Sensor CDT students who were always at hand to answer questions.
If you have missed this workshop and would like to attend a similar one, please email Oliver Hadeler at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are planning to run similar workshops in the future.
Some comments from attendees:
- The examples were very well designed.
- It was very nice that there were such helpful assistants.
- Exactly the kind of level and detail expected.
- Very much worth the trip from London.
- Great fun! Thanks