Practical Arduino

Reviewed by Major Keary

I have two criticisms of Practical Arduino: the typeface used for the body text is too small, and the poor quality of the photographic illustrations, some of which are muddy to the point of losing essential detail. A larger typeface would, of course, increase the book's page count and make it more expensive; however, a typeface with a larger X-height combined with justified typesetting might have been a good compromise.

Those complaints are overshadowed by the book's wealth of content, technical detail, and practicality. As the title suggests Practical Arduino: Cool Projects for Open Source Hardware is not about theory; it is about the application of Arduino techniques to real-world projects. Those presented in the book include remote control, time-lapse camera controller, virtual USB keyboard, security/automation sensors, online thermometer, touch control panel, speech synthesiser, water flow gauge, water tank depth sensor, RFID access control system, and vehicle telemetry.

Each project has a parts list, a schematic diagram, and detailed instructions for assembly and programming. Source code and schematic diagrams are available on-line.

The water flow gauge and water tank depth sensor projects will strike a chord with Australian readers; their inclusion probably has something to do with the strong Australian connections of those involved with the writing of the book and its technical editing.

The vehicle telemetry platform in particular is a fascinating project with many features, including a GPS module and voice synthesis. It is not a description of what might be done, but is based on actual modifications and applications to a real motor vehicle.

Apart from the particular projects that are covered Practical Arduino is a resource in its own right. There are links and references to a wide range of further reference material. The book is not intended to be a beginner's primer (there are other texts that are more suitable for raw novices), but it does include a useful introduction to "practical electronics for software developers".

An essential library acquisition. Its shelving category is 'hardware', but—even though the focus is on hardware—it moves into a much broader field.

Jonathan Oxer & Hugh Blemings: Practical Arduino
ISBN 978-1-4302-2477-8
Published by Apress, 423 pp., RRP AU$ 57.95

Woodslane. This title can be purchased from the Australian distributor at


A discount can be redeemed by entering the following code at the checkout:



Typeface and photographic quality

The authors put a lot of effort into producing high quality, colour photographs with a purpose built light-box. It was terribly sad to see that effort significantly degraded in the final result. The authors also fought very hard to get better typography (consistent and readable fonts, layout, etc) ... and, once again, the end result did not reflect their desires.

Despite these obvious publishing shortcomings ... it was great to see that Jon's and Hugh's passion for putting microcontrollers to practical use ... still shines through the book's rough exterior. With content that is accessible to newcomers to electronics.

The success of the book prompted Jon to create FreeTronics as a means of providing readily available boards / kits for the projects in Practical Arduino.

Looks like his next big project is to put all this to everyday use in his own (under construction) home ... and produce an on-going series of video blogs on YouTube.

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