Review of Arduino Esplora

Table of contents

RoadTest: Arduino Esplora

Author: migration.user

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: arduino leonardo

What were the biggest problems encountered?: No problems with device.

Detailed Review:

I was very happy and grateful to be chosen for this Esplora Road Test – what a neat little device!  I am a Child and Youth therapist at a mental health clinic, and my goal is to use ideas from , ,

physical electronics with the children I see, especially kids who are interested in computer games but don't know how to program or make things.  I like to make and play therapeutic games, and my plan includes recruiting some of the children I work with to help make them really fun. I am also committed to exposing children to physical electronics so that they are exposed to how things work, and how to be creative with computers.  I plan to write a bit more about the therapeutic benefits of electronics in the health  science blog on this website.  I am really new to Arduino projects, and my main exposure to coding is  playing with Scratch on my Raspberry Pi.  So I was lucky to get the opportunity to try out the Esplora, as it is perfect for a “newbie” like me. 

The whole idea of this particular arduino is to help new users learn to code in the arduino environment with lots of feedback from the imbedded features, and without needing to construct everything that would give feedback to the learner on breadboards first.  The Esplora is derived from the Arduino Leonardo, but it has a lot of built in features that come on the board, including a microphone, 3 colored led lights, a joy  stick with a central push button, 4 additional pushbuttons laid out in a diamond pattern, a linear potentiometer slider, a light sensor, a temperature sensor, a buzzer, a three axis accelerometer, a TFT display connector, and input and output tinker kit connectors.  The board itself has a gamepad design, and comes with a usb connection to the computer, which recognizes it like a mouse or keyboard. It also has a 5 ft. long cable to connect with the pc. It has 32 kb flash memory, of which 4 kb is used by the bootloader.

Setting up the Arduino is straightforward once the Arduino environment is downloaded on a computer.  I had hoped to actually set it up with the Raspberry Pi, (because I can’t use my networked computer at work for fun) but that was beyond my skill level so far (although it can be done).  Now that I am more familiar with the Esplora, I might be able to combine it with R.P. for games etc. because there are people posting examples of this in the community.

The startup directions on the Arduino Website(Getting Started with Arduino) are clear and Arduino Esplora can be easily selected.  There is a library of software which can be pasted into the Arduino Esplora file as desired.  There are examples which demonstrate how the software works. After completing all of the beginner examples, one immediately moves into “Expert” examples (an undeserved credential!) and you get the amazing fun of playing  SuperTuxKart and Pong with three buttons and the joy stick.  I am sure more games and sketches will be developed and shared.  This device makes it easy to learn how to create new sketches.  I am interested in building a simple robot with lights, sensors and motors connected to this device as a controller, because seeing the circuits in action really captures children’s interest and curiosity. There is an interesting post on the Make website showing how to add a 1.8 display to this board to make it into a video game – another future project! Apparently some of the Arduino shields do not fit the Esplora (they may not be necessary anyway, as the Esplora has so many embedded features.)  I have added a simple mini breadboard with jump wires, to demonstrate how circuits work and try things out.  The instructions did not include the Expansion Header Pinouts, so it took me a while to figure this out.  The pinouts on the side closest to the joy stick are not active.  The other pinouts have the power at the top (pin 1) and ground at the bottom (pin 10).  This, and the tinkerkit connections, will be sufficient for what I want to do.

Thanks to Arduino for developing this fancy introduction to the arduino world.  I feel a lot more confident having gone through the learning process with the Esplora, and I will be able to use other arduinos in future projects now that I am beginning to understand the basics.  It has really stimulated my “Child’s Mind” – and hopefully I will share my enthusiasm with others.