in Arduino

Arduino Cookbook on its way!

A Safari Online subscription was one of the best things I took on in 2010. As part of the service, subscribers can access early drafts of Oreilly books. Yesterday, I had a quick look at the upcoming “Arduino Cookbook” and I here is my review.

I really like the Oreilly “Cookbook” series. With most programming books, it seems that the authors assume zero knowledge from their audience and start with variables, for loops, functions and classes etc etc… With the “Cookbook” series, the editors assume a more advanced audience and give solutions to real-life problems. For me, this is great for two reasons: first of all, due to my busy schedule and short attention span, I like being able to read 5-10 pages and feeling I’ve actually learnt something. The second reason is that these books, by giving us “recipes”, i.e. solutions to real-life problems, effectively teach us how to solve problems.

Now, the questions are “how the new Arduino Cookbook compares to other arduino books” and “is it a worthy member of the Cookbook series”?

Overall, I have to say, I was very impressed. The authors opted to start with simple recipies on problems most rookies stumble upon, but at around page 100 things start getting interesting, with recipies that interface Arduino and Processing, a very good section on lcds, plus everything you may decide to connect an arduino to, from various sensors to servos, gps receivers etc.

The book is true to its Cookbook roots and gives practical advice on problems that arduino users will have at some point to deal with. I found numerous recipies on problems I had come across in the past and had spent hours on forums trying to figure out solutions.

Another good point about this book is that it’s using the new Arduino Uno.

Is this the best Arduino book to date? Yes. It’s better than “Practical Arduino” when it comes to quantity and quality of examples and more useful in the long term than Masimo Banzi’s “Getting Started with Arduino” which is a very basic intro to the subject. Should it be the first book on Arduino one should buy? No. This is a “cookbook” and expects some understanding of the subject. I still thing Tom Igoe’s book “Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects” is the best and most inspiring intro to the subject, but the Arduino Cookbook goes further when it comes to practical advice and knowledge that can be transfered to many different projects. It does stick to its “Cookbook” roots!

With the arrival of the iPad, I have stopped buying real books, as the ebooks are cheaper and the Safari Online subscription service is great. The Arduino Cookbook will be one of the few real books I will personally buy this year as I think it’s a book worth having on my library.