Electronics is more fun with Arduino

Dan Von Kohorn
2 min readMay 1, 2017


I really like the open source Arduino project. It’s easy to build low-power, robust, programable devices and connect all kinds of sensors and controls to these things. And they cost about $4 each.

There are C++ libraries to control tiny cheap OLED screens — and so much more.

They don’t require an operating system, so you write your code on a computer and send it to the device via USB or wifi.

Here are some of my recent projects:

This project consists of 2 parts: 1) an ESP8266 chip with onboard WiFi, a tiny web app and API, and a relay that controls a solenoid valve, and 2) another ESP8266 chip that makes API requests based on a moisture sensor. These two devices come together to measure the soil moisture and wirelessly control the valve on my irrigation system.

WiFi + moisture sensor + buttons + APIs + relay + solenoid valve = automatic irrigation system

Here is a demo of an arduino hooked up to 2 servos and using a button that is configured as an “external interrupt” to take priority in the processor and make it snappy and responsive.

External Interrupt + button + 2 servos

This is a flight recorder. It uses 3 tiny “MEMS” sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, & magnetometer) to calculate which direction you are facing and how you move in 3 dimensions.

MEMS chip with accelerometer, gyroscope, & magnetometer

Here is a demo where a joystick controls 2 DC motors:

Joystick as input device

And this shows 2 stepper motors with “H bridge” circuits for highly precise and repeatable motor control for building things like printers, robots, CNC machines and more.

Stepper motors

Programmable hardware is fun. I encourage programmers to play with physical hardware to re-kindle your creativity and enthusiasm. I encourage anyone who is interested to get started with programming and electronics this way; it’s cheap and easy, and especially engaging for new learners and kids.

It really is easy to get started: https://www.arduino.cc/en/main/software



Dan Von Kohorn

I build and invest in tech companies. Managing Partner at Broom Ventures. https://dan.vonkohorn.com