So I bought an Arduino last Sunday afternoon and spent a pleasant few hours with my eldest setting up simple circuits and even running our first Arduino program. We got much further along than I had hoped. I'm new to electronics and circuitry - I know I know (hangs head in shame), so it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for my daughter. I hoped to get the Starter Kit but Maplin didn't have them in stock so I bought a basic Uno board, some push-buttons, LEDs, resistors, photo-resistors (LDRS or light-dependent resistors), wires and a breadboard and a USB cable. The total cost ran to about 90 Euro but it was money well spent.
If you want to get started on messing with Arduino, go watch the man himself Massimo Banzi on Youtube.
What prompted this sudden interest in Arduino was a thread on the
ScriptCraft Group about using Arduino to send and receive
messages/events from Minecraft. My first sighting of Arduino was
at local CoderDojos. My kids seemed to know more about them than I did (I
never - until recently at least - had much of an interest in
Electronics). Anyway it seemed that wiring an Arduino with some
real-world sensors up to Minecraft might be an interesting project. This
is my first foray into this area. Consider this the
Hello World of
... it's a somewhat contrived example of real-world / virtual-world interaction (a real-world 'button' is no different to a keyboard button after all) but it demonstrates how sensors attached to an arduino (which can be remotely connected over wifi with a wifi shield) can trigger events in the Minecraft game. This all being based on ScriptCraft and using Arduino hardware, the source code and instructions for setting this up are on github of course. Under the hood, it's using MQTT - Message Queue Telemetry Transport - a lightweight protocol machines use to natter amongst themselves. It's a pub/sub mechanism aimed at resource-starved machines and it's part of The Internet of Things. Needless to say, I like it.
There's plenty of potential for some interesting two-way interaction between Minecraft and Arduino-based contraptions. I can't wait to see what others do with this.