The kids are home from school, the winter winds are howling outside (OK, this year, if you're in the Eastern US, the air-conditioning is humming inside), and boredom is threatening the peace and good will of the season. What, oh what, to do?
If you're like me, what you really want is a nice project. Not one of those projects that's been cluttering up your guilt-list for the last six months, but a nice, fresh, electronics project that lets you learn a little, practice a little, and end up with something that punches your geek card for another few months.
If you have kids (or friends' kids, or grandkids) who need something to do and could use a dose of engineering, so much the better. Now, you can have fun, pass the electronic torch to a new generation, and end up making some great holiday memories, all at the same time.
[ Those were the days, my friends. Read 11 Things Computer Users Will Never Experience Again.]
To help get your ideas flowing, I went out and looked on the Web for some fun projects that could take up an afternoon (or a weekend) and offer a ton of fun. These projects come from a number of different places. (I make sure to give you links to the originating project.) They make use of a variety of skills and can help you improve your hardware building, your code development, or both. Even better, each one makes something happen, whether it's as simple as blinky lights or as complex as 3D fabrication.
I've split the list between Arduino-based projects and those that use Raspberry Pi as their foundation. I know that there are other systems out there, from BeagleBone to PicAXE, that can be used for simple projects, and I promise that I'll do an article on them in the near future. For now, though, I'm going to concentrate on two very popular platforms for building cool things.
Since it's the season for giving, I'm going to ask you for something, too: Are there cool projects that you've built this year? Any that you're planning to build yourself, or with a young person, during the end-of-year holidays? How about projects that you'd like to see me talk about here at InformationWeek? I'd love to hear from you -- maybe we can start a project-based conversation that extends beyond the holidays into the new year.
So here's to happy project-building. Ping me in the comments section below and I'll tell you about the project I remember most: It's the one that taught my son to solder.
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