Several weeks back I got the Sparkfun Inventor's Kit. I've been thinking about physical computing for years and had read all I could, I needed projects. I decided to go with something basic to familiarize myself with parts and ideas. I have a long standing tendency to want to skip beginners projects for things more challenging, but on this one I wanted to show some discipline.
The kit has 14 projects, motors, led's, servos, flex sensors, transistors, resistors, the whole uncle fun electronics kit. I made them all. The most important piece you get though is the Arduino Uno board. It's a pretty ingenious design that I am only slowly beginning to wrap my head around.
I found the kit entertaining, but it was more like putting together puzzles than really learning the code behind it. In fact all of the code was cut and pasted directly into Arduino. Sure I could speed things up and slow them down, but some of the code was still very opaque. I got a bit of a boost at the end though by hacking together the flex sensor with a sequence of led's "kit" style, it was frankensteined together from some other peoples code I found on-line, but as this is supposed to be hacking that is accessible to the average artist I guess I was doing exactly as the culture is intended to do.
I have ideas for creating backyard shade/light structures the ripple with light at night (via motion sensors) as the breeze gently blows acorss them, and some wearable ideas, but those are a long way off.
My favorite project in the Inventor's Kit was using the flex sensor to control the servo (so much so I decided to go for gold with hacked led bit).
Tomorrow I'm going to go over to my friend Kip's house to play Arduino all day. I think we're programming blinky lights for a kids birthday party, stay tuned.