Before you start
Whether you're new to Arduino or a seasoned builder, this project has something for you. There's nothing quite as satisfying as creating an interactive physical object, knowing that if it breaks or needs modification, you know where all the parts go and how everything works. The 'Duino tag gun is a great project to work on by yourself or with friends. To complete this project, you should at least have a basic understanding of electronics (you should know what a resistor is, but you don't need to know the science behind one) and have an understanding of programming (you should know what loops and variables are, but you don't need to be able to parse Big O Notation). Don't be afraid to jump right in.
In this series, we use Arduino technology to create a basic interactive laser game called 'Duino tag:
- Part 1: Learn some Arduino basics, lay out the project, and do an experiment that will help you understand how Infrared works.
- Part 2: Build and test the receiver part of the 'Duino Tag gun, including the testing.
- Part 3: Build the transmitter and complete the 'Duino Tag gun.
To follow along, you don't need any electronics work experience, although experience working with electronic components can certainly serve you well. The same can be said about working with a microcontroller. If you've worked with microcontrollers, you'll have an edge, but keep in mind that the Arduino platform is well suited for people without that experience. Above all, you should be willing to stretch your skills. Working with electronics and microcontrollers can be a rewarding experience. Most software engineers don't get a chance to write code for devices that interface with the physical world, and Arduino provides a low-cost entry point into working with interactive devices.
This tutorial, Part 1 in a three-part "Building an Arduino-based laser game" series, focuses on Arduino basics. We jump into using Arduino, look at the language basics and API. We prepare for the 'Duino tag project, including design basics and putting together a parts list. We learn about ordering parts online, where to go, and parts we need. Finally, using some stock components and some basic test code, we demonstrate basic principles governing how the gun works.
For this tutorial, we need few tools and supplies:
- Computer with USB port
- While technically not true (many kinds of Arduino hardware interface over old-style serial ports), this series is written assuming you are using a model that communicates over USB. There is Arduino software available for Microsoft® Windows®, Mac OS X, and Linux® (32-bit and AMD-64 bit).
- Arduino Diecimila
- This is the specific model of Arduino hardware used in this tutorial. You may substitute an Arduino Duemilanove. Order one from a reputable online dealer. Check the Resources for links.
- USB A-B cable
- This is like the one you probably have attached to a printer.
- Basic 5mm red Light-Emitting Diode (LED)
- You might have one already, or you can find one at Radio Shack or an online dealer.
- The brighter the better.
- Arudino software
- See Resources to download Arduino software.
- Installation and setup guides for Arduino
- See Resources to download the Arduino installation guide.