Well, I have successfully completed the first project from Creation Crate.
Behold my mood lamp. The "crate" arrived with all the components I needed to make this Frankenstein's monster of a "lamp." Well, except for the fact that the light sensitive resistor somehow disappeared between the dining room and the living room. Either that or it wasn't in the package to begin with. If the latter is the case, well, that would be bad. You can't really make the lamp work without it. Thankfully, my husband had an extra lying around from another electronics kit.
I logged on to the website and watched the "getting started" videos, which are free if you want to go and look at them. There was one on basic electrical circuits, which was mostly a review of your 6th grade science classes. Then there was a tour of the arduino which was full of indecipherable acronyms and explanations that made me feel very stupid indeed. I watched it twice. That didn't help. I understood roughly half of it, mostly thanks to my husband, and Alistair's videos. In the end I moved on to the next video, hoping I'd understand what I needed to when the time came. The last video was mainly about how to download the software to program arduino. I had already done that, so I was good.
The next thing we did was wire the circuit. I followed step by step diagrams to put the components on the breadboard in the correct position. Most of this I understood, and there was a cursory explanation as to what I was doing. Some things I didn't quite understand, for example, there was a regular resistor next to the light sensitive resistor. I understood that the light sensitive resistor is a variable resistor and restricted electrical flow based on how much light was in the room, but I don't know why the other resistor was necessary. I also am not sure why it was put where it was. My husband's initial attempt to explain was... insufficient. We'll have to come back to it.
On to the code. The code was presented in chunks that, for the most part, made sense. They used a few complex mathematical equations to make the lights change color at pleasing intervals. And I basically only understood those thanks to seven years of teaching mathematics. Your average Joe would have been lost. I disliked the approach of "here's some code you don't need to understand, it makes the colors pretty." My goal is to be able to write code from scratch, not just copy it from someone else's website. If I'm going to do that, I need to understand what I'm doing. Or at least, I need to know where to get those equations in the future. There was a similar chunk of code that governed... some kind of delay... in the LEDs. I didn't really understand what they were doing - and neither did my husband, who, you know, does this for a living. So it clearly wasn't well explained.
So, did I successfully make a thing? Yes. Yes I did. Did I successfully learn how to make a thing? Kind of? I did the exercises after the instructions that had me change some things in the code and on the breadboard to prove I knew what I was doing. Do I know more than I did before? Yeah, I would say so. I've never used the analogue pins before, and that was interesting. We'll have to see how the next few projects go.