Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Humboldt Microcontrollers Community

Microcontrollers are about to become a part of my life.

That is to say, I'm going to learn a few things about microcontrollers, which were already involved with many parts of my life.

If you live in Arcata, CA, or elsewhere in the Humboldt County region, you should consider participating in a new activity in the area -- the Humboldt Microcontrollers community. To start out with, we're going to meet every other Thursday from 6 to 8 PM at 1385 8th Street, Arcata, CA, USA. The first meeting will be this week, on May 15, 2014. The purpose of this new intentional community is to get together on a regular basis with other people who want to learn about microcontrollers and / or want to share what they know about them.

If you like microcontrollers or are interested in learning more about them and you live in Arcata, Eureka, McKinleyville, Fortuna, Trinidad, Blue Lake or any of the other fine parts of the Humboldt region, please connect with us. Even if you can't show up every other week, we'd love to find out who all the members and potential members of this new community are and how we can work with you, help you learn and learn from you.

So what are microcontrollers?? They're basically little computers. Wikipedia says a microcontroller is "a small computer on an integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals...used in automatically controlled products and devices, such as automobile engine control systems, implantable medical devices, remote controls, office machines, appliances, power tools, toys and other embedded systems." So you've likely got a few of them in your car, in your electric drill, in lots of the newer electronic toys, in your cable tv set top box, and in your fish locator.

The Humboldt Microcontrollers community activities are being organized by the Humboldt Makers Group, a local organization of people interested in DIY activities of all sorts, a group for people who are part of, or would like to be part of, the 'maker movement,' even if they don't know what the maker movement is. Probably the best way for now to keep track of the Humboldt Microcontroller community activities is to watch the Humboldt Makers Facebook page. Microcontroller community activities will be posted there as well as a few pictures of microcontroller projects and other topics of interest to makers.

I'm going to use this blog to reach out to people in the Humboldt area to invite them to participate in the Humboldt Microcontrollers community if they already know what microcontrollers are. I'm also reaching out to others in the region who don't know what microcontrollers are, but might really enjoy or benefit from working with microcontrollers and 'making' things that are controlled by or assisted by microcontrollers. It will be lots of fun seeking out both types of people, meeting new people who can teach me lots of interesting stuff about microcontrollers and new people who I might be able to help learn about these powerful devices. Or if I can't teach them, maybe I can learn with them.

I'm also using this blog to chronicle my Adventures With Microcontrollers. I'm starting my learning pretty much from scratch. Meaning I haven't programmed these devices or built anything with them before. And I don't know much about electronics. So if you read a little about microcontrollers and think it might be fun to learn a little more, please join me and a few other people every other Thursday. Don't worry if you don't know anything about microcontrollers or electronics -- show up anyway. And don't worry if you can't come on May 15 -- just show up whenever you can. Check the Humboldt Makers Facebook page for up-to-date info on meeting times.

Tomorrow I'll write a little bit about the Arduino, the single board microcontroller we're going to use for learning the basics of what a microcontroller is, how you connect and program them, and what you can use them for. In other future blog posts, I'll talk about interesting and useful applications for microcontrollers in Humboldt Country, do more in-depth explanations of what the different parts of a microcontroller are, explain what electronic components are needed to learn about and use microcontrollers, and I'll try to find reasons and ways to convince Humboldt area people to come join us in the learning and sharing of knowledge and skill with microcontrollers.

If you have questions about the Humboldt Microcontrollers community, send me (Bob Waldron) an email. The address is arcatabob [at] gmail (dott) com.


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