ESP32So, the eldest says, "I want to build robots".
Like any half-decent parent I hit Google that night with a vengeance and came out with one overriding thought.. "Microcontrollers".
See, I'm old-school. When I want a tech thing done I build it from scratch. Well, you know, nothing is from scratch; as Carl Sagan said..
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe
But scratch-ish. I've built amps, PSUs, effects pedals, loads of shit; designed and etched the PCBs, soldered on the components. I once gave a girl an effects pedal for her birthday, hand-made, and she said it was the best present she ever got. So..
Microcontrollers. They make all that shit obsolete.
The last time I etched a PCB was decades ago. Since then I've tended towards "just buying shit" because the whole building electronics things is way too time-consuming to run alongside adulting.
Don't get me wrong; I've had ideas for a dozen "gadgets"; things I'd like to experiment with or install around the house; thinking things that respond to me and what I'm up to. But then I think of the electronics involved and move on in life. *sigh*. I was somehow too busy to notice the advent of consumer-focused Microcontrollers. OMFG!
Microcontrollers existed in "industry" for years before some bright spark (Wiki:Arduino) thought about putting one on a PCB that instead had NO specific function! That stuff, is up to you. The importance of this gestalt shift cannot be overstated.
Everything is now happening in software.*
The board has connectors for all the chip's pins so you can attach *things* to it; myriad sensors, touch, data, whatever; INPUT, and same again on the OUTPUT; speakers, screens, LCD readouts, whatever you need.
I feel like I'm not entirely getting my point across here. I cracked a couple of ribs last night and the pain is interfering with my language skills. That and the pain-killers.
What I'm saying is that these days you can go straight from imagining a thing to having a thing in the time it takes to attach a few components to a breadboard, grab the code off the internet and upload the "sketch" to your board. Boom! Assuming the code exists. And if it doesn't, well, write it.
By board I mean most any ESP32 module. And by write it, I mean, I did..
ESP32 Signal Generator for Sine, Square and Triangle Waves.
With serial and web control, memory presets and more..
Imagine an Arduino board but WAY faster with WAY more memory as well as WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. And then imagine that you can buy it for around £2 on AliExpress (My Happy Place), which you can. Madness!
Want to build a wee robot that you can control from your tablet or phone?
* Which as you know, is the place I like best.