Getting Brothas and Sistas and Their Kids into Arduino

A few years ago, I wrote an article on creating electroluminescent and other light and presentation displays for the hood as an opportunity. The benefits of using special effects lighting and presentation would attract visitors to our commercial zones to shop and enjoy themselves around big and bright lights and interesting presentations. However, I did not get one response or a comment to that article and felt like shutting down Dream and Hustle as a result. In fact, that was one of the low points of this blog and when I felt my audience at the time were readers full of hypocritical sh*t about doing for self and just reading my blog as a pastime hobby. I strongly felt that article was so important, so basic and so fundamental to helping us progress economically and still feel that way to this day. I will re-publish that blog article soon. The reason why that blog article was so important because I was hoping cats understand the technology of creating microcontrollers to drive these light displays are very inexpensive and easier to create and we have more powerful batteries, LEDs and capacitors that can go bigger and better things nowadays. I’m going to state over and over again – the very first step in creating any form of economic empowerment in our community and for ourselves is to setup a communication framework and that consist of marketing and signage. We cannot go to step 2 until we take care of step 1 which is communication. One of the things I’m working and trying to get my son working on is programmable microcontrollers. The interesting result is the development of a hobby that is cheaper than buying video games and also entrepreneurial as well as STEM-orientated. I would seriously recommend getting your child whether a boy or girl over the age of 10 years an Arduino Kit to play with. You can get these at Radio Shack or Frys and online if you do a search. I was able to install my Arduino Uno that cost $30 on Windows 7 fairly quickly and was able to run the sample program that I upload to the microcontroller and blink the light. The other cool thing is the language to program Arduino is a low-level C-type language so kids and you can learn to program code. It is similar to JavaScript but a lot easier than that. What I’m going to use Arduino for is to help build out prototypes for lighting effects as well as kiosk processing. Now, here are the type of products you can do with your kids as hobbies (or disguised as hobbies): Bill Acceptor for Vending Machine. We can buy some old bill acceptors off Ebay and hook that up to the microcontroller and be able to see how much money is inserted. Once we know how much money is inserted, we can display that amount on the screen. Now we can build kiosks that take bills and create new forms of businesses that allow us to accept deposits for a prepaid mobile money transfer service in the Black community. Or we can setup a system that uses RFID cards to control prepaid Laundromats. Or accepting parking payments on an empty lot. LED Display. Now we can do some stuff here like create an LED display for a large business that create a looping light effect for signage to grab attention. Stuff that you cats see in Times Square and Las Vegas we can create smaller versions of those displays in the hood and make the whole block vibrant. Now, they have smaller batteries that cost about $20 that can power these things for a week and we can even use solar panels or wind to recharge that $20 battery – those are the also the benefits that cats are sleeping on. Water Display. I don’t think cats realize that those interactive fountains that synchronize to music can be done through a microcontroller. In fact, those Holiday displays where the lights are sync to the music are done the same way. We can buy fountains from any Home Depot or Lowes that can shoot water up at variable length and synchronize with music and lights to create a display at the park that people can visit our hood and enjoy and spend money at the local merchants and retailers. Anti-Thug TrackBot. We can buy a robotic track platform that uses a camera to help us navigate the hood and search and marginalize thugs who are a threat to the community safety and economic viability. It can be small enough to drive under parked cars on the block and sit under cars and SUVs and spy on cats on the corner. If one of those punks need to be got, we can use facial recognition on the video feed to see if they are a convict or sexual predator using public records database. We probably can mount a AN/PEQ-2 laser that only can be seen with night vision and have a crossbow configuration that can impale them in the leg and drive away under all the park cars and the cops don’t know sh*t..okay, let me stop. As you see, there are plenty of innovations that can be created with microcontrollers that you and your children can get into. This is the type of STEM skills that we need right now and the kind of skills good paying jobs in America need but cats ain’t qualified. First use Arduino and start hooking up sensors and lights and learn to program them. Then you can move up to more powerful implementations: I really hope cats take this article seriously this time and fully understand why I consider this topic more serious and worthwhile that brothas and sistas should not ignore. It is very upsetting to me to see 12,000 African-Americans standing in a job fair with paper resumes but zero African-Americans putting a simple comment in the comment section on Dream and Hustle on this topic telling people to check out Instructables.com for more information. It is a lot of stuff out there that need to be invented and implemented and you cats cannot sit there thinking that same tired stuff you about is still going to get you somewhere. These boards and microcontrollers cost from $20 to $100 bucks and really easy to program and very powerful stuff. Your kids will probably love this hobby at the things they can build and they will go on YouTube and learn how to do some things themselves. This is a great way to get your kids and you into STEM-based hobbies and also setup some nice entrepreneurial projects and help create solutions for our community.

7 thoughts on “Getting Brothas and Sistas and Their Kids into Arduino

  1. Thanks Ed,

    This is excellent for young people, anyone who has interest, something very different from the beaten path to no where.
    I have on son that is studying in a STEM related major and another that just started college this year. Thanks for sharing this information again. I’ m on my way to Radio Shack in the morning and will be introducing this post with them
    as something to figure out, ” a new hobbie.”

    1. Have them go on YouTube and Instructables.com for quick projects. The UNO is your starting board and there are some good books at the bookstore.

      On the grown folks level we will be using Arduino for creating presentations and collecting money to create new forms of business in our community.

  2. Ed

    Are you still out there? I know this article is dated, but just as relevant now as it was then

  3. I just found this website (searched for “african american arduino”). Thank you for putting this together!

    My husband and I just bought the Arduino Starter Kit and the Robotics Starter Kit from Radio Shack for our 12-year old son. He did the LED projects in the Arduino Starter Kit companion book and we were looking for ideas for future projects that could benefit the community.

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