Survey of interest in Arduino, Raspberry Pi and other electronics classes

Based on registrations for classes filling up, there seems to be never ending interest in Electronics, Arduino, Microcontroller, Raspberry Pi,… This posting is to find out about what classes would be interesting and to encourage others to teach classes. I think the DMS model free and cheap classes and rewarding teachers with an honorarium is a significant part in our pre-Covid growth. As I look at the calendar today, we are moving back toward our previous mode of more and more classes with lots of them FULL. Before Covid, about six (I think) of use were offering a range of electronics classes. Having pulled back for over two years, I’m moving back into teaching but there are few other classes in these areas.

There are several ways that you can help get more activity in this area. The easiest is to reply here with a list of classes that you would like to see. If you know someone that might teach, encourage them. Many of you can teach a DMS class. It does take preparation but, there are a number of us that would be glad to help. Just reply with, “I would like to teach…” Many classes require parts to use in building circuits. I furnish my own but ELab has lots of supplies and @artg_dms is open to discussing DMS purchasing parts to support classes.

To get things moving, I will offer a few ideas for classes I think we should have:

  • DC Circuits: power sources, resistors, voltage, current, Ohms law, multimeters,…
  • Simple Transistor and OpAmp circuits
  • Soldering
  • Anything related to Raspberry Pi
  • Robotics
  • Animatronics
  • Oscilloscopes
  • Advanced microcontroller usage - All my classes welcome beginners in electronics and programming. When students leave, they have run Arduino IDE or Thonny, plugged in components, loaded programs to exercise the circuit. We need a more advanced series of classes to follow up.
  • PlatformIO or Visual Studio Code - A few people have mentioned that I should use these since they are better than the Arduino IDE. While I agree that they are better tools, I have settled into teaching beginners and those with limited experience. Arduino IDE is the most popular tool on YouTube and other helpful sites.
  • Wokwi - This neat free microcontroller simulator is probably too simple to justify a how-to class on it but a class could be developed with real programs and virtual components and students could Virtually Make circuits. In my classes, we use real physical components but I have started taking about three or four minutes at the end of lecture to show of this site. Students can then go home, grab a snack and start programming without buying real parts. Here is a link to a sample that I set up for a Robot Camp that I am running. It simulates what a obstacle avoidance robot might do by using a servo to aim a distance sensor three directions to decide which way to go. The “distances” are random numbers but it illustrates a circuit with three components. Just click the triangle Play button!
  • rc03_robot_servo.ino - Wokwi Arduino and ESP32 Simulator

I do not currently have any classes on the calendar but here is a list of classes that I have run and could run again. Are any of these of interest? Click the link to get a description of the class.

Arduino: ESP8266 and the Cute Little OLED Color Displays

Arduino: ESP8266 Sensors for Fun and Non Profit!

Arduino: Make an Atomic Clock with an ESP8266 and an I2C LCD Display

RPi Pico W: Sensors for Fun and Non Profit!

RPi Pico W: ThingSpeak into the IoT with MicroPython and MQTT

Arduino: Controlling the Wild RGB LED Strips!

Raspberry Pi Pico W - Make an Alarm that Tweets

Arduino: Sensors for Fun and Non Profit!

Arduino: Make an Atomic Clock with an I2C LCD Display

Arduino: Blynk into the Internet of Things!

Arduino: Low-Power/Deep-Sleep and the WiFi Solar Weather Station

Arduino: Using I2C LCD Displays

Arduino: Wireless Communication with the NRF24L01 Trasceiver

Arduino: Exploring the Mighty ATtiny85!

Build a $10 Alarm that Tweets
If I ran this again, it would probably be $20 or so.


I would like to see a basic soldering class. Maybe solder some LED lights.


I’m thinking about doing a class on programming STM32s or ESP32s using C# and the .NET nanoFramework. I’m just dabbling in it and it is VERY cool, especially for anyone with C# or Java experience.

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I have a need to take a small wiring schematic and turn it into a printed circuit board, so I’ll be on the lookout for that kind of class.

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On the topic of PCB design, I’ve downloaded kicad, but have only just started with it. I follow along a Youtube tutorial whenever I give myself the time to spend on it.

I similarly wouldn’t mind a class on the PCB mill.

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Jim Merkle @JMerkle is also planning on an STM32 class.

I should have also listed interest in making PCBs. My main interest is to prepare the file and have it made for a few dollars. I keep hearing that it is easy and cheap. Can someone put it together and run a class?

In the pre-Covid days we had a few classes KiCad and other CAD programs focused on PCBs.

Keep in mind that you do not have to be a great expert to run a very successful DMS class. For example, you might decide to do a class on designing and ordering a simple two layer board. There seem to be a million options on traces, pads,… Ignore that and just specify a simple set of defaults to be used by students. After they have one good board, they can look back at more of the available options.

I will present a KiCad class on creating using templates. I presented this class at the Labs several months back this year. Just need to find some free time to present. Do you think anyone would be interested in learning how to create KiCad templates?

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I’m not familiar with the use of KiCad Templates at all. Hopefully other folks will reply to your question.

From just my personal standpoint, an ideal class would be basic and mainly cover just what is required for a simple two layer board with pads for a microcontroller like the ESP8266 Wemos D1 Mini. I would think that if I could do that, I could change to RPi Pico W, ESP32 or whatever. The class should also cover suggested economical PCB fabricators and cost estimates.

Of course, I’ll sign up for whatever you and @JMerkle offer!

I use EasyEDA for simple board layouts and it’s super easy to use (it’s in the name!).

But I’d definitely sign up for a KiCad class.

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KiCad has a long learning curve. Past experience in KiCad classes shows it needs to be broken up into multiple classes. Schematic capture, creating component footprints, board layout, board routing, silkscreen, putting it all together to send to a pcb house. You are not going to learn all the details in a weekend of classes. As with any very capable software, lots patience and time are needed.

EasyEDA may be a better place to start.


The template creation process would cover the information needed to get started with KiCad.
I would be teaching how to get started using KiCad by showing how to create a reusable template for a standard 50mm X 50mm board layout with mounting holes.
The class would cover schematic symbol placement and footprint placement on the PCB.
I will be teaching KiCad 6.0 not version 5 as shown in the Digikey Youtube.
Like Art states it takes several classes to understand everything with Kicad but what I teach will enable someone to get there a lot faster than I did.
Maybe EasyEDA would be a better class. I do not know. It depends on your end game and your expectations. I found after using all the other CAD software KiCad worked the best for me.

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