Special Topics: Arduino Prototyping

Spring 2023
Michael Nitsche
LMC 3813

The course provides a hands-on introduction to hardware prototyping with the Arduino platform. Arduinos are useful microcontrollers that support easy access to sensors, motors, lights, or other components. The class covers the use of tools, various sensors, and actuators, as well as an introduction to the programming of Arduinos. Some coding knowledge is beneficial, but the course itself does not require prior programming or prototyping experience. The class will not provide an in-depth technological breakdown to cover e.g. the computer science or engineering principles but targets an exploration of the Arduino platform for media design experimentation. This will be framed by a number of critical readings to situate our work in relation to ongoing debates on making, prototyping, and physical computing. Thematically, the course will center on environmental issues. We will focus on sensing various environmental data and will align technical session with leaning the sensor technologies to register environmental conditions. The final group project will monitor hyperlocal environmental information on the Georgia Tech campus. The class should be of interest for students who want to experiment with prototyping tools, physical computing, and environmental sensing. Students will have to purchase their own Arduino kits and should expect additional purchases for key projects. All readings will be online. Assignments will range from basic circuit-building to the use of more advanced components (sensors, motors), to a combination of the electronic prototype with traditional materials. The final projects will deal with environmental sensing and local data display in highly expressive ways. On the practical level, the course will have multiple critique sessions where students present individually and in groups, discuss their concepts, receive and provide feedback, and re-iterate on their original ideas. The course should be interesting for students with an interest in physical computing who want to build media artifacts and discuss how they relate to our surrounding world.

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