I recently decided to learn more about microcontrollers and electronics in general. I took a robotics class in high school using, I think, some sort of BASIC stamp platform. Then in college my senior project involved writing genetic algorithm based pathfinding AI for an Open-Robot. I handled the AI while my partner built the hardware and embedded code. The high school class was too long ago and I wasn’t very involved in the hardware side of my senior project, so I was basically starting fresh.
I have seen a lot of arduino hacks around the internet so I purchased the “Inventor’s Kit” from Sparkfun and an electronics toolkit from Adafruit. I was one of the kids that would get halfway through a lego instruction book only to throw it aside and start building my own thing. In keeping with this characteristic I only made it a few examples into the inventor’s kit before thinking of what I could do on my own. I’ve always wanted to install some home automation and somehow the idea of an automatic toilet came to mind. I realized I could easily throw it together with the arduino and servo from the kit and an IR rangefinder I purchased separately from adafruit. I threw everything into two project boxes from Radioshack and powered it with a 9V battery switch I soldered up. The code is pretty simple and can be found on GitHub. A quick video of the flusher in action and a little peek at the circuitsis below. With my first arduino project done and some new parts on the way, I look forward to my next one!