I picked up my first Arduino as somewhat of an impulse purchase to avoid extortionate delivery costs when I was buying the Devastator Robot Platform which I blogged about here. I thought I might be able to use the Arduino to control the robot but ended up using a Raspberry Pi. I did eventually get around to playing with the Arduino kit and buying a few more along the way.

The kit I bought from DF Robot was somewhat of a letdown, as the software (ArduBlock) they’d advertised with it only worked on a really old version (1.6.5) of the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE). The components included within the Gravity Starter Kit also worked a little differently to most of the Arduino tutorials online, which tend to use basic electronics components and not pre-build modules that just plugin.

There was enough in the kit, along with some of the other bits and bobs I’d bought to build Jnr Trak, to get me hooked on one of the YouTube tutorials from a Texan called Paul McWhorter, whose style of teaching is really engaging and slightly addictive.

I think he’d previously done an Arduino series back in 2015, but I started with the ‘new and improved’ Arduino series that he started in May 2019, and which is still going now, with Episode 68 airing on the 30 June 2020.

I started watching them at the beginning of June, and I’m now fully caught up and eagerly awaiting episode 69. During the course I ended up buying the Elegoo Super Starter Kit which he uses throughout the course (and which also gave me another Arduino). I also picked up a couple of Arduino Nano’s (which are used in later episodes) along with some additional breadboards and wires!

I’m not sure how useful learning the Arduino IDE actually is, although the coding principles and the additional explanation of the physics and mathematics that Paul adds certainly are. DFRobot has also provided a Scratch-like solution to ArduBlocks – Mind+ – which looks quite promising too. So, after my initial disappointment with the Gravity Starter Kit, I’m quite happy I made the impulse purchase now.

I’d strongly recommend taking a look at some of Paul’s YouTube videos, and maybe picking up a kit and joining in. It’s great fun and educational to boot! Here are some pictures of the projects I’ve completed so far (mainly taken toward the end of the series) along with a spreadsheet which lists all 68 episodes: