Having Fun With The Arduino Uno

Redboard Breadboard
Redboard Breadboard

It’s been busy at the end of 2015. What have I done? I’ve gotten in up to my neck with the Foucault Pendulum, that’s what. I’ve been sort of neglecting Swift, although I have a simple app idea for iPhone that will be written in Swift if I go through with it.

The Arduino IDE takes C / C++ code. C is an old friend of mine. As unsafe as it may be, I enjoy it. It’s simple. I still like Swift. I think Swift is the language of the future. It’s still evolving at quite a clip.

So back to this pendulum thing. There is so much to say about it. In fact, a very lot has been said about it. Just type those two words into YouTube and you will find plenty of videos ranging from deep mathematical analysis of how the pendulum works (it’s just a weight on a string) to outrageous cosmologies. I mentioned before that I’m building such a pendulum. The thing is, I have to do it on a much smaller scale than is ideal. It may not work due to other effects swamping out the terrestrial effect.

A pendulum loses energy as it swings. To keep it swinging, it is necessary to add the lost energy back somehow. I’ve chosen to use an electromagnet below the bob. It seems simple. Unfortunately I don’t know electronics. This has lead me to the Arduino Uno, Arduino IDE, and programming in the physical. The picture at the top is the current state of my board design. I still need some parts that I’ve already ordered. And I think I will need to order more parts so I can change certain parameters that are hard coded into my Sketch (I don’t know why Arduino programs are called sketches) on my final board.

If you’re at all interested, I have my source on GitHub:


There will be more posts to come and commits to the repository as I develop the board. Currently I’ve got all the parts removed so I can continue going through the Sparkfun Inventor’s Kit Guide to learn more about what I can do with the Arduino. I took that picture simply so I would have a reference to remember how I wired the thing up.

The README file in the repository links to more information about the Foucault Pendulum. There are also some PDF files that I put in source control although I do not expect to edit them as they are other people’s works with their own copyrights. The files are there for their educational and historical value.

There is a certain irony to what I’m doing. While I’ve had college physics courses that taught such important things like Ohm’s Law and such, I don’t know a thing about electrical engineering or circuit design. I’m OK on the programming end of things, although there is the Arduino standard library of functions (on top of what the C Standard Library offers) to learn. I’ve got some books on that subject. Yet here I am designing a circuit to drive a pendulum.

There are plenty of circuits out there for doing this exact job. They are complicated. I’m pushing the complexity onto an open sourced hardware device and C code. If the pendulum works as desired, it won’t be because I’ve learned circuit design. This is the world of Physical Programming.

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David S

David Steuber

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