How to Gain Momentum with Your Arduino Projects

A common issue we’ve found with the Arduino platform is it sometimes happens that you buy a kit and then end up not using it so much.

This is understandable with anything in the Do It Yourself (DIY) space. It’s also what makes it unique, as you have to be motivated to create interesting projects. If we were to compare the experience of using an Arduino kit to that of owning an iPhone, it would be almost hilarious.

While the iPhone is able to send text messages, control the thermostat in your home, and play games, just by tapping the screen, the Arduino requires physical add-ons and hours of research, plus trial and error to accomplish these tasks. And even after the project is finished, it is likely that you will be looking at a jumble or wires for your first prototype.

So our mindset has to change from one that is demanding that tasks are completed for us immediately, to one that understands that work needs to be done to accomplish your goals.

Let’s take a look at some ways to move from inaction to action.

Make a list of cool projects you want to try

Even before starting to familiarize yourself with all the different modules and shields available for the Arduino platform, try to think what you can do with just the most limited tools. For example, would it be interesting to try out a project that blinks a LED every time your favourite team scores a goal during a game? Using three LEDs can you come up with a day of displaying what the weather forecast will be today? Can you leave a light sensor out for the day and find a way to log all the values over a 24 hour period?

There are tons of ideas on sites like Instructables, and in Make Magazine.

Familiarize Yourself with Different Modules and Add-ons

Now that you have an idea of what sort of projects interest you, you can research which additional tools will help you build the project. For example if you started out by learning how to connect a button to a breadboard, you might want to consider moving up to a button module which contains everything a little neater. If data logging on the computer was interesting to you, you can consider a data logging shield that records values to a SD card.

Hold Yourself Accountable to Finishing Projects

One of the best ways of becoming accountable to a project is by working with a friend or collaborator. For younger artists this should be a little easier by tapping into the network of colleagues from school. If you are older, you can consider posting on sites like craigslist, or putting up notices at your local café or college.

You don’t have to stay accountable to just people who are working with you though. Find friends who are also working on artistic projects and are looking for accountability. That way you can check-in every week to see how everyone’s projects are progressing.

Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture

Building new things and experimenting takes a bit of energy to stay on track. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up. If you really love this stuff, then make an effort to visualize where you want to take this. Try to remember any inventions you thought of as a kid, or problems you come across in day-to-day life that you think you can solve.

So today, get that kit out of the closet, and start tinkering.

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