NerdKits - electronics education for a digital generation

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Customer Testimonials » Very happy Marine with a new learning tool!

May 20, 2012
by joecayse
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Hey guys! I wanted to say that this is an excellent tool in teaching myself electronics. While I was trained to work on radios in the Marine Corps, I'll be honest with you in saying that I didn't feel like I knew much about electronics. Also, circumstances had me actually never do any hands-on work on any sorts of equipment. Instead, I become a supply guru/manager of sorts for the past few years.

Now I'm stationed overseas doing a different duty far removed from my original job as a radio technician, but I've already decided that when I finish this assignment, I'm going to get out and go back to college to study electrical engineering. I asked my old man if some of his fellow engineers had a good suggestion for a lab kit that I can work with to keep learning electronics. "Nerdkits," he said.

It only took just over a week for it to get here on the other side of the world, AWESOME! Reading through the beginning of the manual, a lot of "Oh yeahhh"s and "I remember that"s were said. Although I still don't feel like a have a solid grasp on transistors, this manual definitely did a better job explaining than my previous education.

Setting up the breadboard for the Temp Sensor project, a lot of what I learned before started coming back to me. I know it's a fairly simple circuit, but I was happy that I knew the basics of how it works.

Programming is definitely new territory for me. It wasn't extremely difficult following through the instructions, though. I feel like even though I learned quite a bit about how the code interacts with the microcontroller, it's just frustrating being new at something and not knowing it completely. I know without a tutorial in front of me, I probably couldn't figure it out or even compile my own C program at the moment. But, I'm just getting started!

Though I feel like a small fish in a big pond here, and a lot of the things I've been reading around the site and on the board are like Greek at the moment, I'm very excited about having this kit and determined to learn! It was a lot of fun and very satisfying seeing the LCD display the results. I've got three years left before I get back to the US, so I'll be coming back for more.

Thanks, Nerdkits.

May 20, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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Welcome joecayse, make sure and ask your questions and let us hear about your projects.

Besides learning it is actually a lot of fun.

Ralph

May 21, 2012
by Rick_S
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Welcome Sign

Welcome Joecayse,

First of all let me thank you for your service to this great country. I have one brother in the Navy reserves and another in the Army reserves both currently at home for now. I know the toll it can take on an individual and family life. Keep safe.

I think you'll find this group of people here one of the best, most open, and most friendly of any forum you have ever visited. Mike and Humberto, the founders, are very open and supportive as well. Enjoy your kit and if questions pop up, don't be shy about asking.

Rick

May 21, 2012
by pcbolt
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Welcome Joe -

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. It's the least I can do for someone who's willing to sacrifice so much to keep the rest of us safe. Semper Fi.

May 22, 2012
by joecayse
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Thanks, guys. I think my biggest concern at the moment is programming. I definitely need to practice, but I have no idea where to begin. I went to the tutorial referenced in the Nerdkits manual, howstuffworks.com, but I need to download a different compiler (I believe) in order to write for my PC instead of the microcontroller, correct? I think the more comfortable I am with C, the easier it will be for me to understand exactly how I'm manipulating the microcontroller. How do you guys suggest becoming more familiar with C?

May 22, 2012
by pcbolt
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Joe -

You are correct. The compiler used for the Nerdkit is for the AVR family of chips. To program for your PC (Windows), you'd have to get a compiler/linker for that environment. The Linux guys mostly use "gcc" but you need to install a few other things to get it to work on Windows ("cygwin" mainly).

I found a link HERE that has some compilers and tutorials to learn from. I haven't tried it myself but it looks interesting enough for me to download when I get some free time.

May 22, 2012
by Rick_S
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I learned what I know of C from programming the microcontrollers. I don't know if you have any programming languages under your belt or not, but if you have programmed before, C isn't too hard to pick up.

May 23, 2012
by joecayse
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I dabbled in Turbo Pascal like 12 years ago, and I learned HTML, but that was also a while back.

I can't decide if I want to resist the urge to try and learn more before I start my next project, or to just learn as I go.

May 23, 2012
by Rick_S
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Everyone learns in their own way, but for me, I found a project that interested me with a somewhat complicated (for me) program. This was the LED Array project here. I then went through the code line by line as the program would flow until I understood exactly what it was doing every step of the way.

Probably one of the largest hurdles was getting familiar with the datasheet and understanding the use of that information in the program. The C language itself is thoroughly referenced online but for me it wasn't too hard to grasp (at least what I use of it). Some of it is still a mystery to me but I know enough to do what I want usually and if not, I push myself to learn more.

One of the nice things you'll find, being a part of this community, is that if you get stumped, there is always someone who has been there that will help you out.

Good luck in your new adventures,

Rick

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