Sketchnotes: Girl Geeks Toronto – Adventures in Arduino

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Wearable computing artist Erin Lewis, SenseBridge entrepreneur Eric Boyd, and Site 3 co-founder Alex Leitch shared their Arduino-based projects with a crowd of around thirty women at the Girl Geeks Toronto event on August 13, 2012.

Erin started by introducing the different kinds of Arduino boards that are out there. She brought a few different boards, extensions, and wearable computing materials, passing them around for us to take a look. Erin also described the art projects she built using the Arduino, data sets from nature (windspeed, the northern lights), and various crafts (knitting fiber optics! felting conductive wool!). The video she’d made of her Kegel Organ was one of the oddest applications I’ve seen for electronics. Mind-boggling, but it’s good that people think of doing things like that!

Eric talked about open hardware and the Really Bare Bones Board, an Arduino clone. He shared some of the projects he’d built with the RBBB and later with his own circuit designs. He built the North Paw, an anklet that lets you constantly sense where north is, to explore the possibilities of extending human senses. Because he was curious about how people would react to normally invisible information, he built the Heart Spark, a pendant that flashes in time with your heartbeat.

Alex started her talk with the story of why and how she co-founded Site 3, a coworking space with plenty of tools and a passionate art- and engineering-focused community. She shared the lessons she learned while building an Arduino-based device for making coloured flames safely – well, relatively safely compared to the existing way to do it. There were lots of great pictures, amusing anecdotes, and practical tips for surviving dangerously fun projects.

The three talks focused on interesting applications of the Arduino. If you’d like to get started with the Arduino, check out Getting Started with Arduino. You can get the Arduino from Sparkfun, or head over to Creatron (College and Spadina) to check out their boards and accessories. People have made many interesting and useful things with the Arduino board, and there are many more projects on the Web. Have fun!