Simply put, it's amazing. This alone (open source gameboy!) is worth learning it: http://antipastohw.blogspot.com/2008/10/using-inputshield-to...
And a quick link to some other projects that I imagine will spark a few hn minds: http://hacknmod.com/hack/top-40-arduino-projects-of-the-web/
How common are local meetups for the hardware hacking novices? Hardware people are sometime hard to connect with (even harder than the average CS student...). I'd love to start diving into this!
I guess they mean Atmel vs Picaxe, coz the Arduino is actually a dev board that uses the Atmel ATmega328 chip (previously ATmega168).
If you are starting out, it's better you start with an Arduino, later when you are a pro, you can buy only an ATmega and use it. I have a lot of electronic guys laughing at me when I said I bought an Arduino for $30, coz they said it could be done with just a $3 ATmega chip. But it's a lot easier doing things feeling safe that there's a community to support you when something goes wrong.
Arduino dev board isn't for finished products (although you can use it). Basically meant to make physical computing easier to learn for hobbyists. The Arduino Duemilanouve has currently is sold with an ATmega328 chip that runs at 32Mhz and has 32kb of memory. The older Arduino Duemilanouve or Diecimelia boards came with a ATmega168 chip running at 16mhz and 16kb memory (2kb for bootloader + 14kb programmable). If you are looking to make something complex like mobile computing stuff, you should checkout Gumstix at gumstix.org (often refered to as computer-on-module) and also the ARM-based 400mhz Beagleboard (beagleboard.org $149). Beagleboard, I heard lacks a sound module though.
The Arduino's programming syntax is similar to C, and it's simpler when compared to programming a barebone chip like ATmega or Picaxe.
P.S: I'm not a pro. I just learned how to control a DC motor with the Arduino last month. So I might me wrong.
I've been doing hardware essentially my whole life :-) If you have something you want to talk about, bounce ideas off, or just want to know how to start, you can contact me through my profile. I love talking about this stuff.
Do you hire a firm to take care of moving all the various parts between factories, or this something a single factory can handle? What order of magnitude is the minimum lot size?
And lets say you wanted to get your finished design into some plastic molding, how would you go about that?
I know that's a whirlwind of questions, but I think it's something a lot of software guys are really in the dark about and yet would like to know.
Plastic molding: same thing. What quantity are you looking at? The costs and options change depending on how many you want to build.
All about getting a rough working product to a prototype to a finished product ready to sell.
I've heard a lot of people doing printed PCB stuff, but I'm not sure if it is related to getting a finished product or a prototype.
I've noticed that most huge companies like Nokia, Lenovo etc outsource these stuff. I see a Nokia 1100 from Germany and another 1100 from made in country.
P.S: I pointed out Nokia 1100 and Germany coz I heard the ones made in Germany are still selling in the cracker market for around $1000 becoz some defects in the Nokia 1100 made in Germany allow these crackers to reset IMEI numbers, reprogram it, etc
It's called "Printed Circuit Board Assembly"
Tooling for plastic molding is >$10,000, even simple parts. Look at machining premade plastic parts or using sheet metal.
And good point about the molding. It would probably make more sense to find existing plastic cases and tool out whatever holes you need for IO/display. Although that raises the question of how you would setup a factory line to do that tooling.
I'd even just like keywords so that I knew what this was called then I could google it myself.
From the faq:
Does Fritzing simulate my circuit, like, does an LED actually blink if I plug it in?
No, sorry. We don't think that the advantage of having a simulation is worth the effort. Hardware is very difficult to simulate and it would also complicate the usage of Fritzing. Also, we think that it is important that you get hands on with the real stuff, and that you should try out your circuits physically. We will however add some simple checks in the future, to help you avoid common mistakes.
But yes, the website's intro to the tool is very confusing.
"Fritzing is an open-source initiative to support designers, artists, researchers and hobbyists to take the step from physical prototyping to actual product"
How about just saying that it's a Arduino sketching tool? ;)