I recently began my final course before I have earned my Masters of Software Engineering. Typically, I work directly with software. Hardware is a bit of mystery to me. Although I have taken my share of computer engineering, assembly, computer architecture, and even the rare introductory electrical engineering courses, I did so only so I could understand enough to move onto the software. In fact, one particular reason I leaned towards software as a young teen is because, even when I broke it, it could easily be fixed at very minimal cost. This kept mom and dad happy.
However, I wanted to challenge myself and learn something new. So, I chose real-time systems. I love the fact that real-time systems encompasses many (almost all?) of the aspects of computing. From programming languages and algorithms, to software engineering, to control and queuing theory – real-time systems encompasses it all. (Of course, there are times that you have to break some of the rules of these other studies in order to meet real-time deadlines – but that’s for a later post.)
In any case, as I was saying, I wanted to challenge myself. Well, this arrived in the mail today:
This is an Arduino Uno microcontroller. Arduino is an “open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.” Open source AND easy to use? I’m in! I’ve already written my first program (or, sketch, as it is called). It’s simple enough – I got the LED on Pin 13 to blink at various intervals. However, as the course moves forward, the ultimate goal is to build an artificial pancreas which would (in the “real world”) be used for those individuals inflicted with diabetes. This is going to be a very interesting project, even if it is a bit outside of my comfort zone.
I hope to learn a lot, and I’m excited about getting my hands on some real hardware!