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This page describes a hands-on activity for one of the tutorial sessions in BAEN 541, as an introduction to the BAEN 542 – Prototyping Course for Feb-April 2013.





What to do before the tutorial

  1. If possible, download the Arduino Software to your Windows or Mac laptop (see below), as it saves some time during the session.
  2. Spend a few minutes view the world of 3D printing and rapid prototyping
    1. Thingiverse – digital designs for physical objects
    2. Shapeways and Ponoko
    3. A review of a new book on digital fabrication written by Chris Anderson, lead editor at Wired
  3. Read up on Nathan Seidle, the founder of electronics prototyping hub SparkFun (his recent comments on IP obesity and the business of open-source hardware might be of interest, too)



Download and Install the Arduino Software

  1. Get the software for you computer either from the USB discs/drives circulating around the room, or download from the website (it’s an ~80Mb file).
  2. Unzip the files – this could take a while on slower computers! (my netbook took ~5min).
  3. Follow the “Arduino – Getting Started” setup for your computer.  The  Mac install is relatively straightforward, but for Windows you may have to install the driver manually as described online.


Arduino Activities

  1. Connecting a knob to your computer
    1. Hardware:    knob (potentiometer), hooked up as in one of these schematics:  Image 1Image 2
    2. Software:      “File -> Examples -> 01. Basics -> AnalogReadSerial”
  2. Connecting a light sensor to your computer.
    1. Hardware: use a  1kohm resistor + QRD1114 sensor (use the connector and emitter leads on the sensor side, which is the darker-coloured side of the sensor).  Hook up as in this schematic:   Image 3
    2. Software:    same as for the knob.   (“File -> Examples -> 01. Basics -> AnalogReadSerial”)
  3. Control a small RC Servo motor
    1. Hardware: connect servomotor as shown in one of these schematics:   Image 4 Image 5
    2. Software: “File -> Examples -> Servo -> Sweep”  to ensure that the servo is working correctly.
    3. Software: “File -> Examples -> Servo -> Knob”   will work with both a knob or the light sensor from parts 1 and 2.



List of Electronics components

For a list of some useful hands-on activities with electronics, you can download the PDF “Super-Quick Intro to Electronics

Component Pic Function
Breadboard Connections in a Breadboard » 

Correct way to connect components to a breadboard

9V Battery Clip red = positive = 9V
black = negative = ground = 0V
Resistors Used to control the amount of Electrical Current in the circuit (higher resistance value = lower electrical current).
Diode Allows electricy to flow in only one direction, sort of like an electronic valve
Light-Emitting Diode Note that the longer-side always goes to the postive terminal, the shorter to the negative terminal. 

Always use an LED in-line with a resistor. Avoid connecting directly to the battery without a resistor (too much current, might break the component)


Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT)

An electronic switch / amplifier.  Many different styles, we use the 3904 NPN BJT.

Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MOSFET)

An electronic switch /amplifier.  Many different styles to use, we will be using an N-Channel enhancement type (HUF-75321)
Push-button switches Push button down to connect the two wires inside the switch,




Ideas and Components




Background about UBC Engineering Physics / Physics and Astronomy

Student Undergrad Projects and Sponsors

Prototyping tools