contacting a moderator?
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contacting a moderator?

by saypat on Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:28 pm

Hello. I'm brand new here and a rookie at all things electronical. But I love this stuff, and want to do it. I want to get a starter kit, but WHICH ONE??? Are the Sainsmart ones all the same, as they are about 2/3 the price as here? And which kit, some are for relays and others for other things? Will I, a complete rookie at electronics even begin to understand that code stuff??? I just like the end products, making LEDs light up and making lights dance to music. I am going to listen to the Sat night thing tonight and hopefully ask some questions. And I will read more here in the forum.

Is it possible to PM a moderator and ask a question or two?

appreciate all help, advice, direction, etc...

many thanks!

patrick
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Re: contacting a moderator?

by adafruit_support_mike on Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:52 am

All the questions you've asked are fair game for public discussion here in the forums. We have lots of people who are just getting started, coming back to electronics after a few decades of doing other things, or trying to pick up new tools and techniques. The community is friendly, and we have a strict "be excellent to each other" policy.

WRT buying hardware, obviously we'd like you to buy ours.. not only for the profit motive, but because we put a lot of effort into making things work. Our prices represent an investment in quality, reliability, research, and sometimes negotiation with the manufacturers for things you can't get in catalog parts. We don't support hardware from other vendors because we don't know what choices they've made in selecting components, and sourcing parts from different suppliers can make a difference in how a device works. We support our stuff, Sparkfun supports their stuff, SainSmart supports their stuff, etc.

WRT your "will I be able to do this?" apprehension, my experienced opinion leans strongly toward: yes.

We see kids learning to solder and write code before they're out of elementary school: http://sylviashow.com The question isn't "can I learn it?" but rather "can I put aside my fear of not being good enough to do the actual learning?" If so, you can learn as much as you want.

On top of that, electronics and software are gregarious hobbies. More often than not, the people with the most experience are the ones who enjoy helping newcomers most. Getting information isn't a problem, though getting us to shut up can be. ;-)

WRT the starter kit best for you, I'd suggest one of these two:

- http://www.adafruit.com/products/68
- http://www.adafruit.com/products/170

The Arduino is a good platform for learning how to make code and hardware work together. The learning curve is fairly gentle, but you won't outgrow it. Even when you learn enough to work with more sophisticated hardware, it's a handy tool and the programmable-hardware equivalent to a scratchpad.

For now, don't worry about specific applications. Just enjoy making the LEDs blink. That's something else you'll never outgrow. Work through the example circuits in the tutorials, and get familiar with the basic parts and how they fit together.


For a book recommendation, I'd suggest this one: http://www.adafruit.com/products/517

Forrest Mims has been writing books to capture the interest of electronics beginners since the 1970s. He gives you just enough theory to understand what the parts are doing, then gives you a cookbook of circuits to build, play with, and learn from. I don't know another writer who captures the fun of electronics better than he does.
When you void a product warranty, you give up your right to sue the manufacturer if something goes wrong and accept full responsibility for whatever happens next. And then you truly own the product.
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Re: contacting a moderator?

by saypat on Sun Oct 27, 2013 5:06 pm

Hello Mike. Thank you very much for your thorough reply, much appreciated by me. It seems you are attentive to us in the forum, that's great! I was at the Sat night help thing last night and have to say a bit disappointed, but I understand. It seemed more for the pros. I introduced myself and asked a question. One person said 'hi' and welcomed me. I'll stick to this forum.
I don't know what the fascination is here, but I am fascinated by it. I'm doing quite a bit of research on it all as that is the way I am. I will get a starter kit, soon. I would like a kit with instructions, and projects that lead u step by step. I like support. Seems like there is quite a bit here, with the forum, and the tutorials. I really am amazed at your reply to me, and the depth, and commitment of time. How many of YOU are there that can spend that kind of time for so many?

thanks for the book recommendation, sounds like a very good one. Question: If u buy a kit that doesn't have a 'guide', are their guides available that have projects in them, that also tell u what you will need for the projects? I like the BIG starter kit for $124, everything in one kit and 15 projects. Just wish they offered a 1/2 of one for $60 and 7 projects.

If I purchase here, does the product ship from USA? I think SainSmart ships from China? I'm guessing from what you wrote to me that both SainSmart, and Sparkfun, are reputable companies? It's tough these days to find a company that will stick by you after your purchase. Amazon is number 1.

Can I ask you again, is it possible to PM a moderator, or other member? Some forums require one to be a member for a while before allowing that. Looking forward to hearing from you again. I did read that you guys address new threads quicker than replying to a previous thread?

thanks again Mike, very much...

patrick
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Re: contacting a moderator?

by adafruit_support_mike on Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:56 am

There are three of us acting as general moderators right now: Bill, Rick, and myself. Adafruit's experts in various subjects are also active in the areas where their knowledge counts.

For step-by-step project instructions, take a look at our tutorials in the Learning System (just under the 't' in 'Adafruit' up above). The 'Learn Arduino' section will be most useful to you for now: http://learn.adafruit.com/search?q=arduino (BTW - in response to your question over in the Starter Kit forum, PID 68 doesn't come with a printed manual, but it contains enough parts to get you started with the online tutorials.. that keeps the cost down).

Our products ship from New York, New York, where our factory elves do wonders with material handling.

WRT the reputability of SainSmart and Sparkfun, we try not to comment on other companies unless we can wholeheartedly praise them. Sparkfun falls in that category because they're another Maker company, located in Colorado. IIRC, we had some of the Sparkfun folks on Ask an Engineer a few weeks ago. I don't know much about SainSmart beyond their existence.

WRT PMs, I think that system is broken right now. Our web team have tweaked the forum software like a Formula 1 racer, and I believe that's one of the pieces that got suspended along the way. Honestly, it was mostly used for somewhat-polite warnings to play nice in the general forums. There's no question too beginner-ish to post publically.. we're very friendly to people who want to convert enthusiasm into experience, and as one of my professors in college once said, "for every one of you who asks a question, there are ten others who wanted to ask the same thing but didn't."

And yes, new threads do get noticed quicker than old ones. The general triage pattern is, "conversations I'm already in", "posts that haven't been answered yet", and "everything else". We try to do a full sweep a couple of times every day, but the 16th post on a thread that we know has been idle for a while tends to be last on the to-do list.
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Re: contacting a moderator?

by PhilD13 on Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:48 pm

Just to share a bit.
After being out of any electronics since about 1984 (college), I recently got back into it as a hobby.
The learning kit I bought was the Ardx v1.3 kit http://www.adafruit.com/products/170 as it has a good selection of components and you can follow the tutorials included in the kit as well as most of the tutorials on the Adafruit learn site. http://learn.adafruit.com/search?q=arduino

You should find the Arduino programming pretty easy and I would suggest that you do some of the tutorials and then figure out how to alter them as suggested in the tutorials. The tutorials will help with learning or refreshing the basics and are actually fun to do.

I went from the Arduino kit and tutorials to making an icetube clock kit, then to making an UsbTinyIsp programmer so I could load in different firmware to the clocks brain, then on to using the free version of Eagle Cad to collaborate with a few other forum members to alter the icetube clocks circuit and board and make my own board.

As a side project to the above icetube stuff, I combined the UsbTinyIsp circuit with a standalone target circuit found on the web to make an integrated programmer board which works well so far. Since I already have the usbtinyisp programmer the projects Intended purpose was more to see if I could do it and have it be successful than anything else.

Now I'm thinking about some Arduino projects.......

All of this has required learning new things and research and refreshing old knowledge. So you can see how something simple can lead into more, but the road is fun. In general, the forums are very helpful and will make you think, especially if you get into a discussion about why something was done a certain way and why a different way may or may not be better.

I wouldn't be afraid to ask questions as the forums here as the people frequenting them are friendly and helpful enough and no one is going to make fun of you if you don't know or understand something. The forums also contain a huge amount of info already on many subjects, problems and issues. I would agree with Mike on the PM aspect of the forum. I share moderation duties on a different high traffic forum that is unrelated to Adafruit and yes the PM system is generally used to remind a few of their manners rather than to ask questions in private.The reason is when a question is asked in PM, then the question/answer only benefits the person asking the question, not any other forum members who may have the same or similar question.
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