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The idea that designing robots is an activity performed only by people who will finally stop Superman once and for all has kicked the bucket. And we can thank Arduino for that. Italy's finest programmable logic controller, Arduino has vastly lowered the barrier of entry into electronics tinkering. Their platform has become the go-to starting point for makers, as well as other curious minds looking to explore homebrew electrical devices.
Arduino! More like Ar ... dunno. (But for real, what is that?)
That horrible pun aside, Arduino is a single-board computer that combines a microcontroller with an array of general-purpose I/O pins. For anyone who doesn't subscribe to Electronics Monthly, it's a small, programmable computer that interacts directly with physical sensors like LEDs. Put even more simply: Robots, dawg. You know, like R2-D2 and the most pleasant character in cinema history, Johnny 5. And you can learn how to use it with this Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle for just $10.
But what can you actually make with it?
Anything. Seriously, anything -- CNC milling machines, automatic dog feeders, flame-throwing jack-o-lanterns, a boxing glove that punches anyone who suggests rewatching Suicide Squad. Anything is possible with enough time, dedication, and insanity.
But to avoid burning down your house with a Halloween display gone awry or being barred from AffleckFest 2017, it's probably a good idea to start a bit simpler. The following beginner-oriented packages let you build something cool without having to invest in a 3D printer and tracking down hundreds of identical tiny capacitors and resistors. Though between you and me, start drawing up the blueprints for that boxing glove. America needs more heroes.