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The concept of Free / Open Source Software, already well understood by LCA attendees, is complemented by a rapidly growing community focused around Open Hardware and "maker culture". One of the drivers of the popularity of the Open Hardware community is easy access to cheap devices such as Arduino, which is a microcontroller development board originally intended for classroom use but now a popular building block in all sorts of wierd and wonderful hobbyist and professional projects. Previous LCAs have featured Open Hardware sessions including Arduino-related talks in various forms including as tutorials, paper presentations, and the Embedded Linux miniconf, and these sessions have always attracted a lot of interest from conference delegates.

Interest in Open Hardware is high among FOSS enthusiasts but there is also a barrier to entry with the perceived difficulty and dangers of dealing with hot soldering irons, unknown components and unfamiliar naming schemes. The Arduino Miniconf will use the Arduino microcontroller board as a stepping stone to help ease software developers into dealing with Open Hardware, starting with a hands-on assembly session at the start of the day when participants will have an opportunity to assemble an Arduino "shield" (expansion board) with the assistance of experienced developers. A special shield kit will be made available to participants at minimal cost that will include the PCB and all parts required to assemble it. Sources of cheap tools such as soldering irons and wire cutters have already been investigated.

The hardware assembly / soldering tutorial is now pretty much at capacity. We can fit in a couple more people who want to use pre-assembled Pebble boards but not do their own assembly, so if you're interested please email Jonathan Oxer at []. The rest of the day is open to all comers.

The day will then work on to progressively more advanced topics in the form of presentations and demonstrations to ensure that even experienced Arduino developers will get value from participation.


The Arduino Miniconf will run on Monday, January 18th, 2010.


Tutorial: Assembly of Pebble general purpose I/O shield

Dealing with hot soldering irons and strange part numbering schemes can be daunting at first, so we're going to run a hardware assembly / soldering tutorial to help software hackers get used to dealing with hardware. The tutorial will be based on the Pebble general purpose I/O "shield" (expansion board) which is being made available as a kit by the miniconf organisers. We're taking pre-registrations for this session (see above) for those who want to be hands-on, but anyone else is welcome to come along and watch and learn - as long as we have enough space in the room!

Introduction to Arduino and the Pebble (Andy Gelme)

Learn why the Arduino has become such a phenomenon within the Maker community, and see how the Pebble expansion board provides additional features such as 20x4 LCD module, button inputs, variable input, light sensor, temperature sensor, relay outputs, and ZigBee wireless mesh networking.

Andy is a co-founder of the Connected Community HackerSpace (Melbourne) and co-designer of the Aiko-Platform for creating distributed networks of devices. He has spent the last decade on commercial research based around creating an Internet of Things. Prior to that, Andy worked at the other end of the spectrum, on large scale Java systems and before that at Cray Research, maintaining super-computer software systems.

Arduino: Put your device in a browser and on the web (Justin Mclean)

One of the Arduino platform strengths is it's built-in libraries and how easy it is to communicate with other programs. In this talk I'll cover several methods of how you can connect your Arduino to a browser and up to the Internet. Just using some of the standard libraries you be amazed in what you can do in only a few lines of code.

Justin has been programming for a quarter of a century. He first started out with C and embedded systems, lost his way with C++ and then found the Internet where he's been busy building applications for more than a decade. He runs his own company, works as a Flex developer, trainer and is a regular conference speaker.

But you can't do that with USB..! (And other stupid Arduino tricks.) (Philip J Lindsay)

Sometimes you come up with a solution looking for a problem. Follow along as Philip shows off some fun, technically interesting but not always useful Arduino projects.

Philip Lindsay has a particular interest in the intersection of software, hardware, craft and art. He has integrated network and USB technologies into the Arduino eco-system. Occasionally he can be heard mumbling how Tim O'Reilly once called him a "troublemaker" for his Google Maps reverse engineering.

When the Arduino meets year 9 (Peter Chubb)

Arduino was originally designed as a teaching device, and its flexibility allows it to be used with a wide range of external devices. This talk covers the experiences of teaching Embedded Systems to high school kids using Arduino, and the subsequent design of an Arduino-compatible board that incorporates extra hardware for use in class and that can also be plugged directly into a robot.

Peter works in the Trustworthy Embedded Systems Project at NICTA, and was one of the developers of the robot clarinet displayed at LCA2009 in Hobart.

Memory Architecture of ATmega CPUs (Jonathan Oxer)

After spending years working on desktop or server systems with vast amounts of memory it can be hard to get your head around the restrictions of working within a microcontroller. Instead of floating around in a sea of gigabytes of memory you have to start watching every individual byte, and often the difference between defining a variable as a "byte" or an "int" can determine whether your program will fit in memory. This talk explains how the ATmega CPU segments its memory; how the stack and the heap actually work; what sorts of things can go wrong when you run out of memory; and how to tell how much memory your program is using.

Jonathan has a habit of taking innocuous household objects and modifying them to suit his own nefarious purposes. He's author of several books including Practical Arduino.

Bonus Feature: Streamlining library installation (Marcus Schappi)

A brief talk squashed in here because the topic is too interesting to not include it! Marcus has been working on scripts to semi-automate the process of installing Arduino libraries in a similar manner to CPAN or Ruby Gems, so Jonathan will leave him some time at the end to talk about it.

Marcus is CEO of Little Bird Electronics.

RepRap: The Arduino in 4D (Vik Olliver)

The RepRap is a 4D Printer (yes, really) driven by an Arduino that prints most of its own structural and mechanical components. Over the length of the project, we have moved from PIC microcontrollers, to Arduinos, to creating the Atmega664 Sanguino {lit: _I am bleeding_}, to two Arduinos, PICs that look like Arduinos and possibly even ARM Aduinolikes. We've interfaced to OLPCs, stepper motors, thermocouples, optical sensors, I2C and a few unrecognisable burnt things with wires in them. You might like to come along and see how we do it.

Vik is a driving force in the RepRap project and is a Board member of the RepRap Research Foundation (RRRF). He's a popular speaker at conferences such as LCA and OSCON.

Topic TBA: Nathan Seidle

Talk description to come.

Nathan is well known in the Maker world as the founder / CEO of SparkFun. He shares his hardware expertise with the world via popular online tutorials and is traveling all the way from the US to be part of the miniconf.

Organisers' Google Group

The proposal for the Arduino Miniconf was a collaborative effort of a number of people, and all our organisation is being done "in the open" using a Google Group for discussion. If you're interested in helping out please see