From the Couch of Ben Johnson

Father, Principal Engineer at Prodigy Education, serial hyperbolist.


I’m years late to this party, but the Arduino is so cool.

I’m a software person. I have almost no hardware experience outside of a high school class decades ago where we built hardware logic gates.

But, my kiddo has been falling down the Ghostbusters rabbit hole and he really wanted to make a ghost trap with blinking lights, sounds, and doors that open. It sounded like a perfect excuse to learn some basic electronics.

I bought the Arduino Starter Kit for like $100 CDN and it came with:

It also came with an amazing starter manual that walks you through several projects to gain understanding of the various components in the kit. There’s even YouTube videos if you want a more visual walkthrough.

The Arduino has an IDE for uploading code to the microcontroller. The language is it’s C/C++ with a really simple API for controlling the various pins on the board.

In about an hour we had figured out how to have blinking lights and beeping sounds in response to a button press. I’m really excited to see how impressive of a ghost trap we can build.

My software career has been writing code that runs on servers or in browsers. I have some empathy for the hardware, especially when I do things that tax it. But, there’s something tangibly different about code written for a server in the cloud versus code on the Arduino. It’s addicting to see your software change something in the physical world. I really recommend it to other software people.