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Editing Tom Igoe’s Making Things Talk left me with the urge to build Arduino stuff all the time. When Macworld Executive Editor Dan Miller asked me if I had any cool ideas for their Geek Factor column, I didn’t have to think long. And if Dan’s reaction is any indication (“by far the geekiest article I’ve ever done”), we have another Arduino fan!

Your Mac can already talk to all kinds of electronic devices, including digital cameras, camcorders, printers, external disk drives, mobile phones, and other computers. But there are plenty of other gizmos that your Mac can’t communicate with: motors, robots, external LCD displays, and sensors of all sorts.

For your Mac to talk to one of these items, it needs something to act as a translator. That’s what microcontrollers do. Connect one of these programmable computers-on-a-board to your Mac’s USB port, and you can then hook an external device to the board and program it to tell that device what to do.

To show you what’s possible with microcontrollers and the Mac, I came up with a demonstration project that I call BreakTimer. This system enables your Mac to detect whether you’re sitting in your chair and, if you’ve been sitting too long, to tell you it’s time to get up and take a break.

Check it out; the whole article is online, and you don’t even need a soldering iron to build the project (but trust me, you will pick one up on your next project). Control the world: Microcontrollers connect hobbyist hardware to your Mac

From the Maker Shed:

Make Pt0134
Making Things Talk by Tom Igoe – the best book on Arduino!
Price: $29.99
Buy: Maker store – Link.

The best (and only) book on all the things you need to get started with Arduino! Programming microcontrollers used to require an expensive development environment costing thousands of dollars and requiring professional electrical engineering expertise. Open-source physical computing platforms with simple i/o boards and development environments have led to new options for hobbyists, hackers, and makers. This book contains a series of projects that teach you what you need to know to get your creations talking to each other, connecting to the web, and forming networks of smart devices.

Click here for example code – Link.
Sample chapter – Link.
Table of Contents – Link.