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Product and Tutorial Difficulty

We rank the difficulty of all our tutorials with a number (integer) between 1 and 5 (inclusive).

Difficulty 1

These are our easiest tutorials. They require just basic soldering skills and proficiency with a computer. Need help learning how to solder? Check out sparkfun's basic soldering tutorial. No programming experience is required for tutorials of difficulty 1, but you may have to upload code from the arduino environment. See this thorough introduction from ladyada or this blinking LED instructable. If you ever run into trouble when working on a project at this level-- rest assured google probably has an answer for you.

Difficulty 2

Tutorials of difficulty 2 are still very accessible to beginners. Some soldering experience will be helpful but all components will still be the easy-to-solder through-hole variety. Different chip sets may be daisy-chained together so you may have to solder the same component in several places. At this difficulty level no programming is required, but the code driving these projects will be a bit more complex.

Difficulty 3

At this level we still use through-hole components but the circuit boards may be more complex and take longer to solder. Programming is not necessary at this level, but the code we supply probably uses external libraries. You will need to know how to install arduino libraries to make these projects work (learn how to at this ladyada tutorial).

Difficulty 4

At this level of difficulty we may start using surface-mount components which are much more difficult to solder than their through-hole counter parts. Surface-mount components are also much smaller and only take up one side of the PCB, so equivalent circuits can be much smaller and cheaper when surface-mount components are used than they can be when you are using through-hole parts. Helpful tutorial for soldering surface mount components is avaiable here from the curious inventor. We will supply code for projects at this level, however the code will be complex and to understand or modify it may require knowledge about object-oriented programming (nice tutorial from java), and bit operators and algorithms.

Difficulty 5

These are our most difficult tutorials. They are almost sure to use surface mount components and probably require a hot air gun to be soldered reliably. We may use packages like the QFN or LGA varieties that have no leads. The algorithms in the code supplied at this level are advanced. Some may have significant documentation on the web while others may still be in the research level and require a strong background in computer science and electrical engineering.