The new maker toolbox
Wired asked me to write about some of the cool tools that are becoming increasingly available to DIYers. I described inexpensive computer-aided design software, 3-D printers, computer numerical control machines, rapid-prototyping services, and the Arduino microcontroller. (The piece is below the profile of Limor Fried.)
This $30 open source device allows designers and artists to make interactive objects. Want a box that dispenses a gumball when you give it a secret knock? How about a fully automated yogurt maker or a wireless backyard weather station? An Arduino board can help you realize these projects in a fraction of the time it would take with discrete components. You connect things to its input pins (sensors, say, or buttons) and output pins (LEDs, motors, sirens, servos, and more). Then use the free Arduino software (Mac, Windows, and Linux compatible) to write a program that tells the outputs what to do with the input signals. Arduino isn’t the only microcontroller platform out there, but its simplicity and versatility have made it the leader. A huge community of developers have published thousands of code examples you can download and incorporate into your own projects.
Illustration: Nina Rausch