Big Trak 2022

Lessons Learned


I had a great time with this project. If your creative, have some electronics experience, and come computer expierience ... go have some fun and play with arduino and go build something! That said there were also parts of the project that were a challange. Here are some of my take aways for folks.



I was very impressed with both arduino (and arduino knock offs). Thus what i'm really saying is the arduino open source spec is a good thing. What immediately stuck me while searching around is how much supporting "stuff" is out there. Back when I was in high school and reading my Tandy Color Computer magazine, there were some great projects. But at that time it was hard (as a kid) to

  1. Get funds to pay for things
  2. Find all the component parts you needed
  3. Get the component parts you needed
  4. Understand / Get support to work with electronic parts.

As I looked around for things I could do with arduino I quickly found lots and lots of supporting boards, caps, all in one kits, etc, etc. Everything I could dream of wanting to do appears to have pre made sub component. Mostly at very reasonably small price ranges.

Community support

The second striking things was the community support. I order a whole starter kit, mostly just to pick up the how to tutorials and instructions. While this did help jump start, I immediately found that I was getting pretty good google hits for any remaining questions I had. Additionally a was able to identify that the tutorials in the kits are nice but not required. I found all the required how to and tutorial details I needed out on the internet with a few quick searches.

And, as they say, thats not all. When things would not work I typically found what I needed on stack overflow. But be careful, when you go beyond the basic I have uncovered minor discrepencies across similar how-to-dos. So do you your homework. I have also discovered the normal dis-information where there is confusion on stack overflow. So read carefully through entire threads.


Lessons Learned


I found that prototyping is fun. After that - it can get interesting. Wiring up can be a challange, so its important to plan ahead. In fact do lots of planning. Now needless to say, this is also not entirely possible when prototyping. Prototypes are always prototypes. And as such the "first one" always has some things in it that you would do differently. I think some of that is the nature of the beast. Yet I also found various situation where I'm not sure I entirely thought through things enough and thus ended up re-doing various PCB boards due to sizing issues. Multiple times over. Joy.



Make sure to plan for some patience if you are not a patient person. I am, and I still had to check myself from time to time. There is defintely a learning curve in various places. I stuggled just setting the bluetooth AT command due to some simple but not entirely well documented items. Differnet cards are wired differently thus examples differe. Different libaries exist to use software serial lines vs rx/tx lines. In the end I think I might have gone round and round for several hours and then suddenly accidently (or prayerfully I should really say) had the correct combination of settings show up. Worked out in the end but you just have to be dilligent. Go step by step. Be a very maticulious entineer. And i've always found things to work out.