During my journey to learn more about hardware development, I took it upon myself to first start with the basics.
- What is hardware development?
- Why is it difficult for people to start with hardware?
- What are the commonly used beginner hardware devices?
What is hardware development?
Hardware development is typically defined as a product that has an electronic or an electronic + mechanical component to it. This can include products such as a small robot that picks up trash, a roomba, or an electric scooter.
Why is it difficult for people to start developing on hardware?
After speaking to many people, I found that:
- Knowledge is niche. Without formal education there’s no source of truth or set path to understand hardware. Sure you can learn C, but where do you go next? I think it’s important to work backwards and have small projects in mind to develop these skills. I found that many users who have completed successful projects either have a formal background from school or have watched a countless number of Youtube videos
- Not beginner friendly. When getting started with hardware development. Where do you start? Should you buy a starter kit? What next? Don’t you need to know how to code before you start wiring the product together? It seems a little overwhelming for someone who wants to make a simple product.
- Physicality: Even if you manage to purchase your starter kit, wire it together, and hook it up to your computer, the shear physicality makes it hard to scale with bigger projects. First, you need test equipment, then lab space, then proper wires, and maybe more devices. Here’s an example of what a workspace can look like.
What is the most commonly used beginner hardware device?
After speaking to many people, they mentioned they started with the Arduino Uno. This beginner device uses an ATmega328 chip and can be powered via USB, battery, or AC-DC adapter.
A simple project anyone can do is programming how often LEDs can blink. Therefore, you can easily make that ugly christmas sweater you always wanted. Arduinos seem to be the building block that allows you to control LEDs, sensors, and other peripherals to make more complicated projects. The wiring itself seems to be difficult, but hopefully through Youtube videos I’ll be able to learn.
Now that it’s time to try to create my first project, I would typically need to order the starter kit, then wait for the kit to get to me. How long will that take? If I wanted to start immediately how would I be able to do that?
Luckily for Sahara, I can get started immediately, de-risk the project, and ensure I know what I’m doing before buying all the parts. Hardware is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.