What an exciting weekend this has been. I decided I needed a new hobby and went old-school. I actually stopped by a Radio Shack store and bought a starter Arduino kit.
For most of us (including me) the Dreamforce 2013 keynote was one of the first times we understood how the connection between software and electronics will begin to become more prevalent in our jobs. Marc Benioff called it the “Internet of Customers”, we have also heard the terms “Connected Devices” and “Internet of Things”. Think about the demo that Alex Dayon had. How many of us saw the tech hit the button and had our own light bulb go off as if to say, “I know EXACTLY what the push of the button should do and all the information I have access to”?
Now, I was feeling very ambitious and proud. I don’t typically buy things that I am not sure I can even get to work. However, I am motivated and more importantly, confident in my skills as a ButtonClick Admin that I can be a part of the Internet of Things!
A couple of things to note: The start kits typically come with everything you need to make a LED blink (let’s start with that). There are plenty of places to buy a starter kit (Amazon, Adafruit, Radio Shack, Arduino) and will range between $60 and $120. There are 2 separate areas you will be learning – Arduino programming and electronics – that will lead to the combined skill of Arduino programs for electronics (The next thing is to hook it up to the internet). Lastly, the kit will not provide you the software to install – no AOL CD-ROM – you can download the software for free.
Picture this – I unpack the Arduino and all of my accessories and I am ready to remote control my next cup of coffee (or I wished) with the push of a button and I am overwhelmed. It took all of 3 minutes for that to happen. Here is how I did start though:
In the software you download there are a lot of pre-programmed “sketches”, or programs , that are available to you. They are very well commented and will explain so much to you as you read them. Being involved with Salesforce, it was actually an easy to read program. The same thought process we use every day for our role as an admin (or developer) is the same for these sketches. Understand the output, design how to get there with the limitations/variables/processes you have.
This is the point where is gets very easy for us. I opened the first sketch, “Blink”, and with my Arduino plugged in (and all of the other accessories still in their bags), uploaded the sketch and the internal LED was blinking. That easy. Starting from that initial sketch and seeing how the board reacted, I changed the blink time. I then made it blink an SOS. I am on a roll! My next decision was to try and make the external LED blink. This was almost too easy too – I was looking at some of the learning examples from Arduino and saw how they hooked up an external LED (I didn’t need to know electronics).
I am not confident in explaining HOW to write the programming yet, but I am getting there. I will share more lessons of both success and failure (in fact, I already burnt 2 LEDs out) as I continue along. Just like the Arduino starter kit, let’s start easy. Overall, this was a fun weekend. I made a few lights blink. Now I will continue learning so I can have Salesforce make lights blink!