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Mike Riley

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Practical Arduino Book Review

February 06, 2010

Long-time Dobbs Codetalk readers may recall my Arduino review nearly a year ago.  At the time, only a brief book programming the product existed.  Apress has recently published a book that dives much deeper on the subject and walks readers through over a dozen Arduino projects.  Read on for the review.

For any software developer interested in exploring embedded systems programming, the Arduino board provides an easy, expandable hardware platform to experiment on.  However, learning how to make the board do something truly useful beyond the introductory texts written meant Googling for personal blogs of engineers and hobbyists who were willing to share their ideas.  Even so, these posts often left much to the imagination and rarely delved into the step-by-step details of the what and why behind their projects.  Thankfully, Practical Arduino authors Jonathan Oxer and Hugh Blemings have filled this void by writing a book with all the right details.  Each of the featured projects provide the parts list, schematics, detailed assembly instructions, plenty of build photos, and most importantly, the complete source code listings that make the Arduino do its magic.

Projects described in the book include constructing a time lapse camera controller, an online thermometer, a rudimentary speech synthesizer, a weather station receiver, a water tank depth sensor and more.  While these projects require additional hardware beyond the Arduino board, the costs are minimal compared to the education and fun that readers will have building and using the end-product creations.  Readers entirely new to building electronics may need a primer before tackling these projects.  O'Reilly's Make: imprint recently published an excellent introductory guide on the subject, titled Make: Electronics - Learning Through Discovery by Charles Platt.  While reading this book is certainly not a prerequisite for Practical Arduino, it will make following and appreciating the schematics, design decisions and even the Arduino code logic vastly more relevant.

In addition to the book, the authors have created a Practical Arduino website that not only hosts the book's source code but also provides a way for its readership community to share their Arduino creations and code as well as keep visitors abreast of the latest developments in the Arduino community.

I really enjoyed reading this guide as well as building a few of the projects it advertised.  Practical Arduino provides enough 'practical' projects that make it worthwhile to spend the time building the examples.  The authors also maintained clear, non-condescending explanations and offered a number of ways to extend the creations beyond the builds in the book.  More importantly, my skills on programming the Arduino along with my desire to build even more projects using this relatively inexpensive piece of programmable hardware increased exponentially.  If you're interested in learning about what the Arduino is capable or, if you already have an Arduino but have yet to realize its full potential, Practical Arduino is a definite must-have book to show you the way to Arduino enlightenment.

 



Title:  Practical Arduino
Authors: Jonathan Oxer and Hugh Blemings
Publisher: Apress
ISBN: 978-1-4302-2477-8
Pages: 500
Price: $39.99 US

 

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