Bill Jamshedji

DroneBot Workshop

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Your first Arduino project: Design and Build a Colorful Musical Toy (PUBLISHED)

SAMPLE LESSON

The instructions for the project workspace say to be creative and tell a story, so I'm going to start off with a story!

Once Upon a Time a group a very talented developers got together in a small bar in Italy and designed a microcontroller, a tiny computer that can be used to create all sorts of fascinating devices. “What shall we call our new microcontroller?” asked one of the Developers. “Let's name it after this bar” answered one of the other ones. And so the Arduino was born.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Arduino microcontroller has opened up a whole world of possibilities to pretty well anyone who wants to create sophisticated devices without requiring a degree in electronics or engineering. It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and there are literally thousands of projects you can build with it.

My first Skillshare class will be an introduction to the Arduino. As Skillshare classes are project-based I thought it would be neat if the students would not only learn about using the Arduino but would also end up building a cool and unique little electronic toy.

With that in mind I've decided that the class project will be a musical toy that also flashes some colorful LED lights while playing a song. You'll be able to customize it with your own music and your personal choice of colored LED’s. And of course it's up to you to find a cool box to put the finished product in.

I will show examples of using your national anthem and the colors of your flag, but you can also customize it for any tune and selection of colors.

So for example my American audience can build a device that plays The Star Spangled Banner while flashing red white and blue LEDs. Canadians, on the other hand, can make a toy that plays O Canada and flashes red and white lights. Hopefully you get the idea!

Here is what I have so far:

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CLASS DESCRIPTION

Arduino’s are a family of inexpensive single-board computers that allow you to create just about anything you can dream of with minimal technical skills.

This class will teach you to build your first Arduino project, a fun device that plays a tune and flashes colored LED lights. You can design it to play your national anthem while flashing your country's colors or get creative and make a unique tribute to your favorite sports team!

Don't worry if you've never worked with electronics or programed before, it's not a prerequisite. Just come prepared to learn something new and have some fun!

ASSIGNMENT

You will be building a unique electronic toy that flashes LEDs while playing the tune of your choice. As you create your project you learn about the Arduino, Electronics and even a little bit about music.

You can create your toy on a temporary breadboard or assemble it permanently as your own unique creation. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

SUPPLIES

To build this project you’ll need to gather together the following items:

  • An Arduino, Genuino or Arduino clone board. I use an Arduino Uno clone in the lessons, this is the most popular Arduino board and is available for less than 20 dollars. You can use it later for other projects.
  • A computer with a spare USB port. This a desktop or notebook and it can be Windows, Mac or Linux. You’ll use it to program your Arduino board.
  • A USB type A to B cable. This Is the type of USB cable you use with a printer. Your Arduino board may have come with one.
  • (3) Colored LED lights. Pick the colors to match your country's flag or your sports team's logo. LED’s come in all shapes and sizes, I recommend the 3mm or 5mm ones which are dirt cheap and commonly available.
  • (3) 330 ohm ¼ watt resistors. Actually any value from 150 to 470 ohms will be fine.
  • (1) 10 K (10,000 ohm) resistor.
  • A pushbutton switch. This is also called an “SPST momentary contact” switch.
  • A piezo element or tiny speaker.
  • A solderless breadboard. This is a plastic board used for prototyping electronic circuits. It should be available from the same place you bought your Arduino and the other electronic components.
  • Hookup wire for the breadboard. This may have come with your breadboard, otherwise you can use standard 22 gauge solid insulated wire.

Optionally you’ll need a few things to exercise your creativity and make your project permanent:

  • A box or enclosure for your device. Use something you have around the house or explore your Dollar Store for a small plastic box.
  • A small “perfboard”, this is a circuit board with holes surrounded by copper pads. It’s optional, but it will make it easier to permanently wire your circuit.
  • Solder and a soldering iron.
  • A 9 volt battery and a battery clip with a 2.1 mm power connector OR a small USB power supply.
  • Your Imagination!

DELIVERABLES

Your class project is to create a musical toy that flashes colored LED lights. There are a couple of deliverables for your assignment:

  1. Let us all know what tune you have chosen to play and what colors you are planning to use for your LED lights. 
  2. When you are finished with your project post a picture or a link to a YouTube video that shows it in action!

An optional deliverable is to create a permanent version of your project and install it in an enclosure of your choice. Use your imagination and try to reuse some scrap items you have around the home to enclose your project. And of course post a picture or a link to a YouTube video to let us all see how smart and creative you are!

VIDEO OUTLINE

You can see the Video Outline here. As I finish the videos I will update it with the actual running times. 

INTRO VIDEO

The intro video is now ready. Please let me know what you think.

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