Make: Introduction to Gadgeteer

I hinted about what I’ve been up to recently and I’m now allowed to talk about it more openly. Maker Media (aka Make Magazine) is starting a new online training course offering this summer and after a bit of arm twisting I convinced them that Gadgeteer was worthy and should be included :smiley:

The courses will be taught through and the initial offerings will be:

  • Introduction to Raspberry Pi
  • Introduction to Arduino
  • Design for Desktop 3D Printing
  • Introduction to Gadgeteer (taught by me)

I’m sure you all understand what a huge step this is for Gadgeteer to be included in a list like this and I think it shows that the world can accept Gadgeteer in the list of “open” technologies.

This is intended as an introductory level course targeted at beginners with little or no experience with microcontrollers. So, I will be touching on the basics of many topics using interesting demos that will hopefully inspire the students to dig further but not get bored by being bombarded by technical details.

Here’s a sample (watch in 1080p at full screen)
EDIT: Updated video is in post #13.

(how do you like that sexy mounting plate? Thanks, Gus!)

I still have a ton of videos to produce (~50 in total from 3-10 min each). Make’s wanting to do a test run of the course in May to beta testers in parallel to me finishing up and a real course will probably start in June.

The courses will be structured as a four week course with homework at the end of the first three weeks, “office hours” each week (via a Google Hangout-like tool), and a final project during the fourth week.

The costs are still being worked out but it will probably be around $250 (includes a $100 Gadgeteer kit). An option w/o the kit will probably be offered as well. The details of the kit are still being worked out but it will be based on the Cerberus kit with some surprise goodies added :smiley:

Colin Miller and a few others have agreed to do technical reviews of my material. So, you can be assured that I’m doing everything I can to make everything as accurate as possible.

The sample video above covers most of the different production techniques I’m using. Please watch it and give me your constructive criticism. Please be honest. If there’s something you don’t like, you’re not helping me by keeping quiet about it. Producing these types of videos is entirely new to me and I’m getting better with every one but I’ll take all the help I can get. Thanks!


@ ianlee74 - mint.

Big thanks from me for your hard work getting the gospel out to new recruits.

So again big thumbs up from me.

Thanks, Justin. And thanks for having such cool modules to help make it look so interesting.

I didn’t mention it above but one of my goals is to demo as many modules and mainboards as possible throughout the course and the demos will get more complex as the course progresses. So, if I have one of your modules you can bet it will be seen at some point in the course. If I don’t have your module, send me one :wink: (Justin already did - THANKS!) There will probably be 20 or more demos before I’m done. Demonstrating that Gadgeteer is truly an open maker-driven community is one of my main goals and one of the reasons I wanted to teach the course.

1 Like

Excellent (and well respected) support to Gadgeteer from you Ian, huge THANKS.

And yeah, I love the red acrylic :slight_smile:

Excellent, a score for Gadgeteer!!! Nice vid, looks like great start to a great course.

About time Make Magazine came to their senses and started including Gadgeteer.

@ ianlee74 - now this is seriously cool. I really like your presentation style, easy to understand and great concept delivery. Very impressed at what you have achieved. This is going to be a game changer for gadgeteer.
It’s great that Make are starting to take note too.

@ ianlee74 - I thought that the agenda presentation, using a notebook format, while being cute, was very hard to read.

I agree but keep the idea as it is very cool. Just use a marker and zoom in on the page maybe.

Looking good.

One think that you need to remember is that no one can see the keyboard. So when doing things via the keyboard, it may be worth putting up a little box showing the key sequence you are using or if possible use a mouse orientated way to do the same job. This may feel unnatural but viewers tend to appreciate it.
(Especially as you may well be teaching people who are new to visual studio and they do not know all the quick keyboard shortcuts and a seasoned programmer would know.)

Another thing I would suggest it to make work with a 720p size screen. This makes viewing better on tablet devices etc. Again it causes a set of issues due to real-estate space but if it’s possible to use a smaller screen it opens the videos up to mobile viewing.

Congrats! I like the use of the buzzer and slider to show (a) a variety of vendors and (b) you can discern the effect of your actions without having to see the device; which is good for the video.

Since you mentioned the Open Source in you post here, I would add in that the VS Express is free and available for all. Also, you could mention that the Hydra is Open Hardware.

What’s the primary target audience for these videos? Pure beginners?

When setting the conditional, I would mention it’s a right-click.

Were it me, I wouldn’t mention other platforms (like Arduino) in comparison - I would say that the capabilities are unique to micro controllers, unless you get expensive hardware/software. To me (that being the key) it wasn’t bad, but it sounds like an underdog statement, rather than a simple truthful statement that it was.

Thanks, Mike. This is one of the problems of being too close to the work. It hadn’t occurred to me that I did write too small in that video. Make really likes the notebook idea. I started out using a Sharpie to get bigger text but the problem was it would also bleed through the page and it made the left side page look terrible and distracting. I ended up with this marker because it wouldn’t bleed and still was a felt tip. I’ll try writing larger and see how that works out. I don’t want to zoom in because it doesn’t show the Make logo in the corner :wink:

Thanks. I try to speak out the keys I’m hitting but adding some text is a good idea. Also, you have to keep in mind that this video is #13 of ~50. So, they’ve already seen a four demos before they’ve seen this one and some of the key/mouse movements have already been explained.

Actually, for the real course they are being uploaded in 720p and they have a much better player than the one that YouTube uses. I had to bump it up to 1080p for it to look decent on YouTube. The blurriness that you see in the video doesn’t actually exist. That was a result of uploading to YouTube.

There’s actually a separate video that comes before this one that discusses this.

What’s the primary target audience for these videos? Pure beginners?

Beginners to Gadgeteer anyway. The only prerequisite is that they have some experience in C#. It’s not the scope of this course to teach C#.

Good catch!

I understand. I think a lot of the students will have some experience in Arduino. So, I try to draw as many parallels as possible but I don’t intend to be condescending. I listened again and you’re right. I should not have said “arduino” at that time :frowning:

@ ianlee74 - Congrats! Looking forward to seeing the whole series.

Looks very polished. Nice work!

@ ianlee74 - are you planning to have a video highlighting some of the cool projects that have been done with gadgeteer ? I know duke Nukem has done some nice ones etc. could make a nice little showcase.

Thanks, devhammer.

@ HughB - You bet. I’ve got a video planned called “Where is Gadgeteer?” that will highlight several hobby and commercial projects.

Looking forward to seeing more and/or the finished project!

This should get some nice visibility for Gadgeteer.

Is there going to be a segment on the various vendors out there?

You’ll have to take the class for that. Make might get a little upset if I post all the videos on YouTube :wink:

That’s the plan!

As in this video, I’m introducing the various vendors multiple times throughout the videos. There is a video dedicated specifically to mainboards & modules where I’ll introduce them all formally. But, my main approach is to introduce as many modules from as many folks as possible through the demos.

Is this text better?


@ ianlee74 - It looks very good!

I noticed that – this helps them out, but also gives a nice picture of the ecosystem; it’s not just various GHI sized vendors, but also individuals.

Again, very nice job!

Well done fro sure. I like how you added different parts from different vendors, which is just fantastic. We are adding a new section to community section soon that should help as well… section for creations by community.