5 Questions with Jon Lazar author of Arduinos and Lego Projects

How to make your Lego projects come to life.
How to make your Lego projects come to life.
How to make your Lego projects come to life.

Jon Lazar is a geek. What does he geek out about? LEGO and teched out LEGO structures. He is a frequent attendee and guest at Maker Faires. He joins us this week to answer our five questions, and talk a little bit about his new book Arduino and LEGO Project from Apress.

Don’t what arduino technology is? A good definition can be found at http://www.techopedia.com/definition/27874/arduino

  • Q1. What was the first thing you built with Lego and Arduino technology?
  • A1. The first thing I built with LEGO and an Arduino was a skull with light up eyes.  The eye sockets were translucent black and red LEDs faded in and out using the Arduino’s analog pins.
  •  Q2. Was there a specific project that led to you writing the book?
  •  A2. The project that led to the writing of the book was the TARDIS. I often get emails asking how to build it or if people could purchase it from me, so it only made sense to make directions available for others to build it.
  •  Q3. Were you a programmer first or did you learn programming to use the Arduinos?
  •  A3. I’ve been a programmer since the age of 6, when I started doing BASIC on the Apple IIE. I’ve continued to utilize those skills and am currently a professional programmer, so adapting to the Arduino programming was just a matter of learning the language used by the Arduino to make it do what I wanted.
  •  Q4. What Lego Ardruino project has presented you with the biggest challenges, and possible sleepless nights?
  •  A4. The project that was the biggest challenge was the Green Lantern. Being a fan of the DC character, I wanted to build the lantern from the comics, but have it work in a way that it does in the comics. I also wanted it to be triggered by the ring, but not work with rings of different colors, if I should make any other lantern colors. I needed to learn to use RFID to work with the Arduino and have it trigger LEDs in the front of the lantern to “charge” the ring. Once the electronics were worked out, I needed to find a way to create a sphere and all the round edges and shapes in the lantern. Additionally I was under a deadline to have it by a certain date to display it. Some late nights and perseverance and the Green Lantern was done with a little time to spare.
  •  Q5. If you knew aliens were about to invade what would you build to try and distract them from their nefarious plans?
  •  A5. Who is to say the aliens are not already among us, learning our LEGO and Arduino ways as they prepare for their future invasion?

Thanks Jon for taking a few minutes to answer our questions, and donating your new book to the Geek Gala.

If you don’t win Arduino and Lego at the Gala you can find it at most online bookstores.