Category Archives: Arduino

World Smallest Reading Light

Hi all,

I tried to venture into new territory this week and explore photoresistors in hopes of making a smarter reading light.

I have been inspired by my summer challenge to read more, which I have found myself doing before bed. While I love relaxing with a book before falling asleep, I dislike that I have to get up to turn my lights/lamp off.

Reading Light!

I realized quickly while experimenting that I knew nothing about photoresistors and thresholds, which was crucial to this piece of code. I researched and borrowed quite a bit, but still know only very little about thresholds and would like to know more!

Ideally this would be a lot more light than two LEDS, hence the name.



Making sense of things

We were talking last time about how awesome computers are at reconfiguring themselves to do different things. This was manifest in pins on the microcontroller that we could change the behavior of through software.

What we were lacking in this model though, something that we possess, is a sense of memory (regret, if you must). Our programs so far forget things as soon as we’re done with them. It’s not a very efficient method, like buying a new water bottle everytime you wanted a drink. Instead, let’s save the planet and use something over and over again. In programming, the tool we can use for this is a variable.

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Your first programs


!!Updated with code and the circuits from class!!

While you’ve successfully managed to leave the lights on, you’ve so far been limited in that you have only been able to do one thing at a time. With software, we can do multiple things (or at least have the appearance of multiple things) happening.

Software is the realization of Alan Turing’s universal machine. In short, this is a computational machine that can replicate any other computational machine after being fed a set of instructions that indicate the computation to go through and how the machine is set up to do this.  Through software, we can reconfigure a machine to do anything we darn well please, including teaching the machine to behave like a different machine (see also, emulators).

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Courtney – Switch & Story

Hi all,

Here is the custom switch and the story behind it. (Skip to :32 to just watch the  switch video.)


Thanks for watching and feel free to ask any questions!


Julia’s Switch



There’s just no place like home.  When she clicks her heels, a ruby light turns on to tell Dorothy she’s on her way back to Kansas. Click on the photo to see the gif.

Sam – Week 1: Keeping your flowers hydrated!

Hey everyone,

So, let’s imagine a slightly different situation: the cables are ultimately built into whatever vase and that the flower isn’t half dead…

I thought that a creative “smart home” switch would involve taking something boring (like watering flowers) and making it interactive. So, the idea is that when your flowers are dehydrated, the LED is off. When you water them, the LED switches on.

Here’s a quick video:

Another idea I had in mind involved keeping some sort of device right outside your window and installing cables/sensors that light up an LED or emit a sound inside your room. Whether your curtains are closed or the room doesn’t have windows, you’ll know when it’s raining!

Mike Thal – Week 1: Circuit Switch for Bread Plate and Drink

Hey everyone, the video explains it all.  Enjoy!

Switches and things

Computers are great adding machines. They’re also great at comparing things that usually don’t work well together. Jim Campbell has a nice animation about this. We can get away from the mouse, monitor, keyboard (and now ubiquitous touchscreen) to think differently about these machines we use all the time.

At the end of the day, all we’re doing here is wrangling electrons. They want to move from a place of higher potential energy to a place of lower potential energy (we call this ground). The bus falling off the side of a cliff metaphor is generally a good idea of how we can think of these things moving through a circuit.

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