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Practical Arduino: Cool Projects for Open Source Hardware (Technology in Action) 1st Edition

42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1430224778
ISBN-10: 1430224770
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jonathan Oxer, who has been labeled "Australia's Geekiest Man," has been hacking on both hardware and software since he was a little tacker. He is a former president of Linux Australia, and founder and technical director of Internet Vision Technologies. He is author of a number of books, including How to Build a Website and Stay Sane, Ubuntu Hacks, and Quickstart Guide to Google AdWords. He has been surgically implanted with an RFID chip and is set to host an upcoming TV show called SuperHouse ( featuring high-tech home renovation, open source automation systems, and domestic hardware hacking. Jonathan has appeared on top-rated TV shows and been interviewed on dozens of radio stations about his home automation system. He was technical supervisor for the first season of the reality TV show The Phone, has connected his car to the Internet (, and is also a member of the core team of Lunar Numbat (, an Australian group working with the European team White Label Space ( on an unmanned moon mission for the Google Lunar X-Prize (

Hugh Blemings took a radio apart when he was about eight and never recovered. From this start and an interest in Ham Radio, he began his career doing hardware and emedded software development back when 68HC11's were the latest and greatest. Hugh has been working on free software since the mid-90's for fun and as a (still fun!) paid gig since 1999. He was co-author of the gnokii project and developed kernel device drivers for the Keyspan USB-serial adaptors. He worked at IBM's Linux Technology Centre as a open source hacker in the Canberra-based OzLabs team for just shy of eight years, doing everything from first line management to Linux kernel porting for embedded PowerPC platforms. He now works on Ubuntu Linux at Canonical in the kernel team, but remains firmly of the view that any day that involves a soldering iron, a 'scope and emacs is a good day.

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Product Details

  • Series: Technology in Action
  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (December 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430224770
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430224778
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Brent T on January 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a beginner to the Arduino, and received this book just a few days ago with my shipment of a Arduino Duemilanove starter kit. In short, this book is not for beginners.

My background is that of a mechanical engineer, so I'm more technically inclined than most. I have not programmed, or coded, anything in the last 10 or so years, and I have not programmed in C.

This book should really be entitled ADVANCED Arduino. It is lacking some basic overview chapters or appendices to get a beginner up and running. Another very useful reference would be a Programming Language appendix that really covers the programming structures available and suggestions on how to get the most out of the language. For that, I found a useful PDF reference by Brian Evans on the web.

I was hoping this book would have covered some interfacing with motors. An overview on interfacing with different types of motors, including DC Brush, Brushless, hobby servos, and servo motors with encoders or larger motor types would be very helpful. One of my first projects that I am tackling is using an Accelerometer, but I need the resolution via a digital interface. A project including an SPI data interface would have also been appreciated.

I'm sure I will be referencing this book in the future. Some of the projects are quite amazing. I've never thought about interfacing the Arduino to an automobile for real time telemetry!
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Neil G. Matthews on January 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
The authors have well and truly delivered what they've outlined as their goal in the Introduction section, namely "We want you to take these projects as inspiration and examples of how to apply a variety of handy techniques and then adapt them to suit your own requirements, coming up with new ideas that put ours to shame". Frankly I'm impressed with what Jonathan and Hugh have achieved. They've packed in an incredible amount of information in over 400 pages using 14 broad coverage real-world projects demonstrating how to put the Arduino to practical use. Importantly, they've included some succinct and relevant background information on basic electronic theory and implementation that will save readers days of frustration in getting their circuits working. Nothing kills off the excitement of working on projects than not being able to find why something won't work as intended. With Arduino projects, there is the added difficulty that 'bugs' could be in the software and/or hardware. Excellent title - Practical. Says it all.

I like the Contents at a Glance page in addition to the detailed Contents. Use the former to get you quickly to a project of interest or the detailed Contents to quickly search out techniques relevant to your latest brainstorm.

The included source code easy to read and well explained. Great to see it is also available on line - an essential requirement for this type of book.

Circuit diagrams (schematics) clear are easy to read. I support the authors' approach in encouraging readers to develop skills in reading these.

A useful index - I find it very annoying when books that are likely to be used as a reference omit one.

Do yourself a favour and read the Resources chapter first.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jack Purdum on May 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've been teaching programming for almost 25 years, mostly in C, and have been a licensed amateur radio operator for over 50 years so I know enough electronics to be dangerous. As an author myself, I know how hard it is to write a book on programming. I can't even imagine adding hardware descriptions to the task. As daunting as that might seem to me, Oxer and Blemings have done a wonderful job of covering both elements in Practical Arduino.

Chapter 1 begins with a discussion of very basic electronics (e.g., Ohm's Law, capacitance, etc.) and elementary safety issues. It also covers the minimal tools one needs to build each project that forms a chapter in the book. There are 16 chapters in the book, and 14 of those chapters discuss a project you can build. Most of the projects can be built with the ATMega128 or 328 CPU, although the last project (a telemetry system for an automobile) requires the horsepower of a 1280 CPU.

Essentially, each chapter begins with short description of the components you need to complete the project. Early in the book they even tell you several places to purchase specialized parts that might not be available at your local Radio Shack or equivalent. By the way, eBay has a bazillion electronic components for sale at very low prices. Amazon is also a good place to look, especially for the Arduino and the tools. If nothing else, they're a good way to discover what you should be paying for components.

Each chapter then proceeds to walk you through the construction of the project for that chapter. The topics were selected to highlight major tasks often encountered when using microcontroller (e.g., sensors, controllers, serial communications, etc.). None of the topics are the "blinky LED" type.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Crawford on August 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first thing you notice when you open this book is that it seems to've been printed on recycled Charmin. After that, you'll notice right away how much trouble the authors and publishers took on the photos, i.e. just about none whatsoever. Instead of color photos, we are treated to the exciting world of monochrome. Ah, but not just any monochrome. No sir! The authors evidently went to all the trouble of finding one of Matthew Brady's original cameras, last used to photograph Civil War battlefields. They do provide lots of dim, dark, nearly zero-contrast photos, many of which are almost adequate. The publishers then took these lovely photos and reproduced them with what appears to've been a 1970's copier, still using the original toner cartridge I think. To economize on all that expensive recycled Charmin, the authors have painstakingly avoided any white space and have given us pages that have all the readability of medieval German.

THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR BEGINNERS. The title should have used the word "Advanced" instead of "Practical". There are no easy introductory projects in this book, not one. Also, they seem to be horrified by the idea of easy-to-use breadboards and instead invite us to spend endless hours with a soldering iron, hoping that we can interpret those murky photos and not make any mistakes. As to the quality of the information so densely provided, it may be that once you have struggled through it all, you will have gotten really useful data from this book. I think you'll need to be a real Arduino expert though and extremely patient to boot. To me, the whole thing is spoiled by being so poorly presented. However, if you're one of those people who think form and style count for nothing, I'm sure you will truly appreciate this book. Good luck.
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