Bedfordshire Chapter, Arduino workshops

On Wednesday 2nd May 2018, the Bedfordshire Chapter held its first Arduino workshop. This was mostly possible due to the efforts of Chapter President, Faisal Hoque who, as well as running the workshops, researched costs and applied for BCS funding for the equipment. Read on to see the group’s faculty advisor, Sue Brandreth’s write up of the afternoon...

Arduino Workshop (1)

A series of weekly practical Arduino Workshops are being organised by the BCS Student Chapter / Beds Computing Society. They are held every Wednesday in Room A310 between 1.00pm and 6.00pm.

The Arduino is an open-source platform used for building electronics projects. It consists of both a physical programmable circuit board (often referred to as a microcontroller) and an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) used to write and upload computer code to the physical board. The Arduino is used as an educational and industry-level tool in a wide range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees.

The first two sessions were led by Dr James Wood with the aim of ‘kick starting’ the activities on Thursday 12 April and Thursday 19 April, but the workshops are now mainly student led and are proving very popular with the CST’s School’s Undergraduate and MSc students.

We would like to acknowledge the support of the BCS Student Chapter team at BCS HQ in making this possible by generously funding the purchase of Arduino kits and other electronic components.

According to Faisal Hoque, the Society’s President, the arrival of the new equipment proved a tremendous success - with over 30 students attending the event on Wednesday 2 May.

“The first part of the session was spent with everyone opening kits and getting the equipment and software required installed and configured - such as the Arduino IDE. Two first-year students - Oliver Marchington and Waleed Saud - led the first few exercises which involved turning on a few LEDs and getting used to the Arduino IDE and style of coding.  After most of the students had become familiar with the software and equipment, the students then utilised the Starter Kit guides provided in the kits. The students experimented with equipment such as: Ultrasonic Sensors, Temperature and Humidity Sensors, Infrared Receivers, Light Emitting Diodes, Light Dependent Resistors, DC Motors, LCD Screens, Passive / Active Buzzers and Stepper Motors.

After gaining familiarity with all the individual components, they started to work on their own projects. Some worked in groups trying to combine what they had learnt to develop something like a music box that only played one song. Other students worked on their own on the tutorials provided in the Starter Kits.

Arduino Workshop (2)

The sessions went so well that a group of five students decided to stay even later until 9.00pm working on a calculator project that would show results on an LCD screen. They did not complete it that evening - it will be finished in the next session.

A few more experienced Year 3 students attended - bringing their own projects along to demonstrate their work.  A third-year student came with his final year project hoping to get some help and ideas from the other students. He is working on a communications device utilising a theorised technology called Li-Fi.”

In summary, this was yet another very successful meeting and it is hoped that these Arduino Workshops will continue over the Summer break and into 2018-2019.

...Well done to Faisal and the Chapter for organising such a successful workshop. Faisal expressed the group’s gratitude to BCS for their funding. And finally, special thanks go to Jeremy Bennett, Chair of the BCS Open Source Specialist Group for his advice and support to Faisal about what items to buy and where to find them.