Programming a microcontroller without a computer

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Say you want to build a re-programmable toy, but the person you are making it for doesn’t have access to a computer. How could you do it? Charlie Robinson looked to the past to solve this problem with his Arduino Cassette Engine. His project allows an Arduino to interpret specially coded audio files as binary data, which can then be stored to a memory card. The current version seems to be just storing the data, however there is no conceptual reason why this couldn’t be used to actually reprogram the device once it is downloaded.

So, why is this interesting? Well, if the Arduino can be programmed using audio, then suddenly anything with a speaker can be made into a programmer. I think it would be pretty funny if you could use, say, a garden variety cell phone with some Java software to write programs for your micro.

What do you think, is there some potential here, or would it be better to just give aspiring programmers a regular computer to hack on? [Thanks Matt!]

Arduino photo by Matt Biddulph.

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