13 Replies Latest reply on May 7, 2020 8:36 AM by colporteur

    New to being a maker

    nate.wits

      Hello All!

       

      I'm new to programming and was wondering where i should start?

       

      What's a good hands on project that will help me get up and running? Doesn't just have to be micro:bit.

       

      Thank you in advance!

       

      Nate

        • Re: New to being a maker
          Fred27

          That's a big question. There are many types of programming. What do you want to achieve? If you want to do embedded programming then you're best to start with C. However, if you want to do web pages, games, etc. then that might not be the right choice.

          4 of 4 people found this helpful
          • Re: New to being a maker
            dougw

            There is a vast array of possible technologies and projects. You could start by listing technologies and subjects you are interested in and what your current level of knowledge is. Are you interested in learning by trying to duplicate an existing project or do you want to do something unique? How much time and money would you want to commit?

            4 of 4 people found this helpful
            • Re: New to being a maker
              genebren

              Welcome to the element14 community!  Figuring out which platform (micro:bit, ardunio, raspberryPi) that fits your budget and potential projects (present and future) is a good starting point (great advice from Fred27  and  dougw ).  Learning how to program is best achieved by practice and repeat.  Chose a platform and then build a simple project, say something like a blinking LED.  Then ask, "what else can I do", make some changes, like change the blink rate, or try making it blink in a different way, using a different command type, etc.  Play around a bit, look at other simple projects and see if there are ideas that you can bring to your current project.  Programming is an exercise in extreme flexibility, there are so many little changes that you can do, or even different ways to the same thing.  Don't be in a hurry to leave the first project behind.  And when you do, ease up on the complexity curve a little bit, like add some more LEDs and make them blink in a pattern or sequence, as this will allow you to start adding more logic (if/then/while/do).  But of all things, have fun!  We learn as much from or successes as we do from our failures.

              3 of 3 people found this helpful
                • Re: New to being a maker
                  nate.wits

                  It seems like i need to pick a language to learn and that will help direct me.  What language do you think will be most useful going forward?

                    • Re: New to being a maker
                      genebren

                      Nate,

                       

                      My favorite is C.  This language, while a bit older (early 70s), it led to the development of several of the more recent favorites (java, python and c++).  Platform will also have some bearing on your language choice.  The Ardunio IDE uses a slight twist on the vanilla flavor of C/C++. RaspberryPi can support almost all of the popular language choices.  micro:bit is primarily python.  All three of these platforms have a ton of books/kits/tutorials that will help you get a quick start into programming.

                       

                      For a true beginner, I would suggest either Arduino (or any of the many clones) or micro:bit.  To expand a bit further on this choice, your plans will any have a bearing on your choice.  If you have a desire to combine electronics and programming, the Arduino is a bit more flexible.  More I/O pins, more different choices in the power of your Ardunio (different processors, peripherals, etc.) make this a strong choice to use as a learning tool.  Where out of the box, the micro:bit has more built in (half the size of a credit card and has an ARM Cortex-M0 processor, accelerometer and magnetometer sensors, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a display consisting of 25 LEDs, two programmable buttons, and can be powered by either USB or an external battery pack).

                       

                      To help make a choice, look around the site here, and find an interesting project (something that speaks to you) and try and to replicate that project.  The more projects that you see using a common platform the better, so that you can easily move forward to next project.

                       

                      Good luck!

                      4 of 4 people found this helpful
                        • Re: New to being a maker
                          nate.wits

                          You are a wealth of information! Looks like i'll go with the python language and the micro:bit.

                            • Re: New to being a maker
                              dougw

                              That is a pretty good choice - they will be quicker to learn than most other choices.

                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • Re: New to being a maker
                                ntewinkel

                                nate.wits  wrote:

                                 

                                >Looks like i'll go with the python language and the micro:bit.

                                 

                                You can start coding for micro:bit on their website without actually needing the hardware, so you can try it out without a big commitment.

                                 

                                If you are not comfortable with code, they give the option of programming with Blocks, which is more visual. You can then switch over to see the Javascript code, which also helps when learning Javascript.

                                 

                                 

                                https://microbit.org/

                                 

                                Cheers,

                                -Nico

                                2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                • Re: New to being a maker
                                  ntewinkel

                                  ps, I think Arduino would be a good next step when you're ready to level up, but it's a bit of a leap up from Micro:bit.

                                  Micro:bit is easier to get started with, but Arduino is super affordable and has years of tutorials and examples you can look at so you can cut and paste code and learn from the existing examples.

                                  But C can be very unforgiving to work with.

                                   

                                  My favourite Arduino Getting-Started is Oomlout ARDX: ARDX – Arduino Expermentation Kit « .:oomlout:.

                                  It is definitely a lot more complicated though.

                                   

                                  Also, with Micro:bit you don't immediately have to jump into making connections with wires for it to do things. That is another level of complexity that can add frustration.

                                   

                                  But, like a good puzzle, it can also be very satisfying when you get a project running

                                  3 of 3 people found this helpful
                          • Re: New to being a maker
                            robogary

                            Hi Nate - A good starting place is to get a kit with a small projects manual, or a "project style" board that has sensors and outputs built in.

                            It will save you the time to figure out the bits and pieces. You'll learn by doing projects.

                             

                            Microbit is one example of a project style board, Circuit Playground Express is another.  These are good for low entry cost, projects and instructions are on line.  They support a couple different languages, scratch, python, etc.

                             

                            Arduino is C based, and has alot of proven libraries to do a boatload of projects - surf You Tube for Arduino. Most sensors are really inexpensive. Its another good place to start.

                             

                            Raspberry Pi is fairly inexpensive and well supported. You could learn some Linux, Python, Scratch, html, all kinds of programming.

                            The key difference between doing your programming on a PC or a Raspberry Pi, is the Raspberry Pi has physical IO pins that can be accessed for turning on outputs, or driving component level networks ( i2c, spi ) so you can not only program, but build a working project.

                            6 of 6 people found this helpful
                            • Re: New to being a maker
                              rstone

                              I'm a beginner of sorts myself. Lots of great people and resources here. I started down the rabbit hole with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Great to have another beginner on board!

                               

                              Rick

                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • Re: New to being a maker
                                balearicdynamics

                                Nate, welcome onboard!

                                 

                                My two cents opinion, also based on what I can recall when I started, years and years ago. I have read the comments to your post and I agree almost with all about two main points: the budget and the language.

                                But

                                 

                                1. The budget at this moment is meaningless, you should still find a path that is comfortable for you, and this mostly depends on your personal interests and attitudes. For now, I suggest to keep a low budget and try the most affordable direction to have as much as possible the widest scenario in front of you.

                                2. Honestly, I think you can't have real preferences in some language respect another just because you are new to programming.

                                 

                                Based on this personal consideration I suggest starting investing a few to see what you get and what is your more interesting environment. Regardless of how much money you can invest, sure the next step – buying components and more – will be in the best direction for you. I suggest starting with BBC micro:bit for the reason that with this cheap and powerful device you have the possibility to explore most of the possibilities offered by microcontrollers and languages.

                                 

                                In fact, with 10 $ board, you have the basic components to manage a microcontroller, a set of essential sensors, a basic display, an easy way to make testing circuits (and a robust board too). With microbit you can start exploring more than a single language, at least to have an idea of how these works in the microcontroller world:

                                 

                                • Program easily with the visual language Make Blocks. Then See what does it mean the same coding just switching the online editor and read and access the blocks corresponding Java language. In this step, you don't need to take care of the IDE and the editor, it is available online.
                                • Program with micro Python from the same editor, another small step ahead. And start learning the bases of the second most popular programming language for microcontrollers.
                                • Install a simple ide – the Mu Code and start programming the micro:bit with both micro Python and C

                                 

                                After doing some projects following this approach sure you will have a better idea of what many things now seem obscure and critics become more understandable. Following this path, I think you find things you need and don't have: from the soldering iron to a good testing instrument, from searching a good manual or inventing a good project by yourself, breadboard, some more sensors, and so on. At this point, you have a more clear idea of what is the budget you can consider.

                                Then if you can afford it try forking your activity comparing what you can do with this first microcontroller and the Arduinos family. But in the meantime, try starting exploring with a Raspberry Pi how many more projects can be done and what other things can't be as a microcontroller is needed. And so on.

                                In the meantime, time passes, you can explore the incredible quantity of stuff available on this community, as well as following the new project, ideas, suggestions, challenges, road tests and more. And chat with us, don't be shy and ask; if your knowledge is zero (for now), you are only in the same condition where every other member was when started. And you find here a lot of valuable members happy to suggest, advice and support.

                                 

                                In my opinion, this is the best way to invest your budget without spending money for nothing and learning new things and solutions every day.

                                 

                                BTW, if you are interested in the micro:bit I published in past a series of workshop articles everyone focused on a different easy to do project, in a progressive growing complexity. Now the series is at the point of My coding and micro Python. I can send you privately a copy of these articles if you think they can be useful.

                                 

                                Enrico

                                3 of 3 people found this helpful
                                • Re: New to being a maker
                                  colporteur

                                  What is your back ground?

                                   

                                  Your membership date indicates you have been with the community just short of a year. I will assume from that you have experienced the E14 community. Your message indicates you are new to programming. What does that mean in terms of experience?

                                   

                                  Providing your back ground (i.e. engineering student or high school student looking for technology career) can help members guide you. What access do you have to resources? Some programming can be done from the PC but if you are thinking maker, then you are might be interested in single board computers (SBC)related stuff.

                                   

                                  I'm currently working through an online programming course I hope to use on SBC's. Add a little CV to your questions and we can narrow down your search.

                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful