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The Arduino Notebook


The Arduino Notebook

As a traveler, I like to have some hardware platforms with me all the time to program and test directly on some actual device ! I have memories of firmware writing in a bullet train, waving my saber sound board around, with my neighbors watching me, wondering if I was a bomb maker or another weirdo with some new kind of Tourette / OCD :-)

As I like any prop to work (I design props replica electronics as a hobby), I created this custom notebook cover, which at the same time makes the notebook pretty unique and useful also for doodling some code / program.  The front and back pads are decorative but can be used also as a protyping area with SMD or thru-hole components. Once the the board is a mess, it can be replaced but the notebook can be kept. Using solder braid, the arduino brain can even removed and placed to a fresh PCB cover.
At the end, it's a code / program doodler. I would have called it coodle if it wasn't "confusing" with certain body areas LOL.

As a former Electronic Engineer, I usually design my own microcontroler boards (PIC based) but Arduino is perfect for prototyping ideas, check some algorithm or code proof-of-concept. I really enjoy the idea of having a protyping platform in my backpack on which I can work pretty much anywhere.

As for the notebook itself, I just LOVE those ZAP BOOKS. First they are made of recycled paper and second, that paper is wonderful to sketch on (I already own a couple of those that I covered with hand-dyed leather).
Also, the spine attachment makes the Arduino "cover" very easy to install. Even if the notebook isn't filled up, you can replace / swap covers at any time.

This cover is just a quick project I routed in the train, when heading to work in the morning. Enough PCB mistakes (3) to call it a prototype (blame the lack of caffeine). I made those as a christmas gift for a couple of friends. Obviously, this is just an example of the possibilities. I chose to put the sparkfun and hack-a-day logos as they are my daily dose of electronic geekness !
More patterns or prototyping areas could be placed on the cover, and the arduino pro mini footprint (1st cover side) could be disguised or masked with more decorative pads, forming a word for instance. The arduino solder pads could be single sided too, it really depends if you want to export the I/Os to the front cover. The I/O remain accessible from the back anyway and can be wired to the prototyping pad area which is double sided and allows to grab signals from the front side.

Same for the wiring of the arduino itself ; I exported 8 leds with SMD footprints for the associated resistors, and a small bridge to connect them. Removing the solder bridge allows to use the I/O for another purpose. I wired the 2 switches to the analog inputs to max the number of free digital I/O's but again, it could be arrange in other ways.

I chose to customize mine with a default program presenting a larson scanner. Two of the 8 leds are exported and mirrored on the front cover to light the hack-a-day skull
up. I can't wait to see what my friends will use that one for.

Cost wise, of course (and to get it slicker) the arduino components could be installed directly on the PCB. At the same time, I like the idea that it's using a separate pro mini that can be removed / swapped, just in case. I would allow to replace the "core" without buying a new cover (that was one of the main ideas of that notebook). That's anti marketing I guess but I like recycling !

(I hope that the use of the sparkfun logo isn't creating any issue, I only made 3 of those as gifts)

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