DIY Electronics is Changing the World


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arlcd4.jpgSchafer: Absolutely. Schools are using Arduinos. There are some classes with Arduinos and there are a lot of kits that are sold with Arduino that have the LEDs, the resistor and maybe a motor and things like that, to let kids go through the different examples. There's actually a lot of stuff online. The website Instructables.com has a lot of projects that use Arduinos.

I do run the OC Arduino plus Raspberry Pi meet-up out of my office once a month and we have a variety of engineers, retired engineers, people that just want to learn. I mean, we have a lawyer that's built a product to plug into a keyboard. He does a shortcut on the keyboard and it puts a whole paragraph in the document.

Now he's working a way to keep track of files around the office with RFID. We have a kid, he's probably in his mid-20s, never touched a computer or did programming in his life other than just data processing, and he's built an Arduino with two sensors to put on a person's knee to help them do their physical therapy the right way. He's a physical therapist and he's building a prototype.

That's really what Arduino is about and it's fun because it crosses over into engineering. Because Arduino builds everything like Legos and building blocks, so if you had a concept and you wanted to build it rapidly, you'd grab Arduino stuff. If you wanted a touchscreen LCD on it, you'd grab an arLCD; it's really easy to take an idea to reality.

The power is not that you can do things quickly. The power of Arduino is the online community; there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of applications online. But what you're really doing is introducing the technology of building things with electronics to people in other disciplines—and all of the great ideas and inventions easily come when you cross-pollinate different disciplines.

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