With 15 ratings
By: Tom Igoe
Purchased At: $33.99
The workbenches of hobbyists, hackers, and makers have become overrun with microcontrollers, computers-on-a-chip that power homebrewed video games, robots, toys, and more. In Making Things Talk, Tom Igoe, one of the creators of Arduino, shows how to make these gadgets talk.
Whether you need to connect some sensors to the Internet or create a device that can interact wirelessly with other creations, this book shows you what you need. Although they are powerful, the projects in this book are inexpensive to build: the Arduino microcontroller board itself ranges from around $25 to $40. The networking hardware covered here includes Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and can be had for $25 to $50.
Fully updated for the latest Arduino hardware and software, this book lets you combine microcontrollers, sensors, and networking hardware to make things... and make them talk to each other!
Take, for example, the problem of leaving a cat at home alone all day while you are at work. A connected cat mat can send you an email each time your cat steps onto that mat. And the homemade, network-connected mat also can cause a photo to be sent from your computer's camera, so you can see what the cat is doing. Other projects in the book include a digital compass, an ultrasonic distance ranger, a toxic vapor sensor (with unique alert), doing barcode recognition using a webcam, plus more. Importantly, the author, Tom Igoe, also devotes a lot of text and illustrations to explaining "the concepts that underlie networked objects," and he provides "recipes to illustrate each set of concepts. Each chapter contains instructions for building working projects that make use of the new ideas introduced in that chapter."
The author does not have a cavalier attitude about "the network of things" and the constant collection of consumer data now becoming more pervasive. Indeed, "[T]he Internet has become a less innocent place....", he cautions. And he emphasizes that we need to know more about "who the custodians of [our] data are, what they are collecting, and what the terms of our relationship with those custodians include. Unfortunately, that level of transparency has not yet been realized in the devices and services we're enthusiastically inviting into our lives."
Igoe also contends that it is "now necessary that anyone using the internet must have a basic understanding of the security tools that make it a safer place to conduct our activities." He adds: "I want you to know how these devices [in "Making Things Talk" and beyond] convert your actions into data, how they transmit that data to servers, and where they send those readings. For that reason, I haven't used many of the cloud-based data services for connected devices in this book. The internet and Worldwide Web are built on a number of open and collaboratively derived standards like the Internet Protocol (IP) and the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP), and there is value in knowing those standards before you start using cloud-based services that rely on them."
If you want to work with microcontroller electronics, digital sensors and networking devices, you can find plenty to like and plenty to learn from in "Making Things Talk, 3rd Edition."
(My thanks to O'Reilly Media for sending an advance reading copy for review.)
But this is a book for the serious maker/inventor (not the casual electronics hobbyist), because the projects require a lot of work—understanding theory, gathering and connecting parts, planning, coding, testing, etc. If you have the time, everything you need to know to complete the projects is fully explained, and there are wonderful step-by-step instructions (illustrated with photos, diagrams, and code examples).
This is NOT a book about adding audio to things, or about the Internet of Things—it is a book about networking things. As the author explains in the Preface, this book is “for people who want to make things talk to other things. Maybe you’re a science teacher who wants to show your students how to monitor weather conditions at several locations around your school district simultaneously, or a sculptor who wants to make a whole room of choreographed mechanical sculptures….This book is a primer for people with little technical training and a lot of interest. This book is for people who want to get projects done.”
To use this book, you need some basic knowledge of electronics and programming microcontrollers, and access to the Internet. You will also need to purchase parts (e.g., an Arduino breadboard), but the book includes suggestions for online sources of parts. Two books are recommended for background reading before you start the projects: Physical Computing:Sensing and Controlling the Physical World With Computers, and Getting Started With Arduino.
This book is an awesome foray into making things talk - literally. Guides you through a variety of work, stuff you can buy online or through local electronics stores, stuff like breadboards, microcontrollers. It's about networking objects, flowing data to parties of interest, serve real life small scale use cases through them.
If you are a total novice to the world of programming, microcontrollers, electronics - it's possible but requires investment of time and interest, if you are already into some of this, it will be an easier ramp up.
I am waiting to gradually introduce my 10 year old to this wonderland. Great book, great illustrations, will be enjoyed for years to come on projects.