Me and Arduino, down by the school yard

I feel like I’m one information set away from the people who attend this, but they are so darn cool that they are doing this that I have to forward this announcement. Go if you are at all interested – it’s a great bunch of folk. They just changed their name from “notbago” to “GO Tech

Here’s the note from Dale Grover:

It sounds like there’s enough interest to do a “Bare Bone Board” (Arduino clone) build night at the next GO Tech meeting, which is January 8.

What is an Arduino? From “Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.” Or, if you prefer, it’s a minimal Atmel ATMega168 microprocessor circuit and all the software to program it over USB in C or a C-like language from Mac/Linux/Windows. The Arduino runs about $35. However, some folks have designed boards that use a USB to TTL serial cable, which means the board itself runs more like $10-$15. You only need one $20 cable to program any number of boards.

The ATMega168 has 16K of program space (a little less due to the bootloader, I think), 1K of RAM, some EEPROM, and decent analog input, pwm output, and general digital I/O.

Here’s my proposal. I can coordinate a group buy of the BBB boards from Modern Device (, and cables from some other source. I have had no problems so far running the software under Mac OS X (10.4), and it is supposed to run under Linux and that other operating system as well.

BBB kit–includes everything except a power supply (but you can run it off of USB). $10. (What a deal!) (This is the quantity pricing on the BBB. The RBBB is even cheaper, but I think the BBB is worth the little added cost.)

Optional: USB Cable–$20. You could skip this, see if you like the kit, and order the cable from Mouser or later. Just use someone else’s to make sure it runs.

Optional: Plastic bread board. $5. Approximately what AdaFruit sells. Lets you easily prototype with through-hole components. Worthwhile having.

I’ll supply LEDs, resistors, solder, 5 soldering stations, snips, a few “third hands”, etc.

What you would supply: If you have a decent iron, snips, third hand, then bring them.

If you would like to participate, send me the following directly to dgrover at redcedar dot com:

*Your name
*What you want me to order–i.e., BBB kit ($10), USB cable ($20), bread board ($5).
*What tools you can bring–e.g., soldering iron (you’ll want a decent one), snips, etc.
*A statement that you’re kind of sorta sure you might be at the meeting, at which time you’ll do your darndest to pay me with a check or cash. *Please don’t send any money now.*

Or, you can just tell me you’re bringing your own BBB kit. (This helps in figuring out how many soldering stations to line up.)

These are fun little boards, the Arduino software makes it easy to just jump right in, and you can apparently also program in straight C using the software. The hardware can be programmed using the regular Atmel programmer as well.

I imagine we’d spend the first hour or so building, and the rest of the time exploring the software. It would be helpful if folks brought (in addition to a soldering station) a laptop with USB, with the Arduino software already installed, and perhaps even a printout of the excellent instructions for the BBB assembly.

That’s all for now.


NotBAGO is a meeting for Ann Arbor area readers of Make Magazine, Circuit Cellar, Home Shop Machinist, Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools, slashdot, etc. That is, people who are interested in and make things using technology, whether that’s a metal cutting lathe or a Python script. A kind of generalized mixture of CerealBar, DorkBot, Oxford Geek night, and Portland Machinist Guild. We have machinists, electrical engineers, software folks, industrial control types, and so on. We share projects, information about tools and ideas, and connect with like-minded people.

Call for a renewable energy standard in Michigan

This email came in from Jeannine Palms:

Let’s make a difference! By signing this petition, we can stop new coal plants from coming to Michigan and polluting our air, lakes and streams.

Join me in telling your legislator that coal plants are just dead wrong for Michigan.

I understand that we currently will use coal for energy, and this petition is not to have NO coal plants – just none built before there is a strong renewable energy standard that supports the future of our state’s economy and quality of living (like, air quality).

I added my name to the petition. Here are the words of it:


Michigan’s energy future is in the crosshairs. Our state is threatened with an onslaught of at least seven more dirty coal-fired power plants that will keep Michigan locked in the energy dark ages, dependent on imported fossil fuels and producing more dangerous global warming pollution. More outdated dirty coal plants will hamper the development of clean energy and the good paying jobs that come with it.

But the Legislature can stop this from happening NOW by passing a NO NEW COAL PLANT policy until Michigan has a strong Clean Energy Plan that would:

* Enact a strong renewable energy standard that requires energy providers to generate 20 percent of their electric power from renewable sources by 2020.
* Enact strong statewide utility funded energy efficiency programs that result in at least 1% energy savings per year.
* Protect consumers from having to absorb the skyrocketing future costs of coal burning.
* Implement a long term energy plan that guarantees energy efficiency and renewable power are used before any more outdated coal plants are built.
* Develop new standards for controlling the emissions of CO2.

It’s time for Michigan’s leaders to put old-fashioned, dirty, global-warming coal power aside and point the state to a new, clean, jobs-rich future that protects the Great Lakes.

Time is of the essence. Michigan’s energy future is on the line. Act Now. Stop the coal rush that threatens our state. No more dirty coal plants until renewable and energy efficiency measures are in place