This is a sophisticated and intelligent book describing interesting projects in a way that even newcomers to Arduino, electronics, and programming should be able to create and get running without problems.
No need to have a lot of skill with electronics - the book uses prebuilt modules
No need to know programming - the book provides working code
Up to date - written to use the recent Arduino 1.0 update
None that I have found
"Environmental Monitoring with Arduino" explains how to use the Arduino to detect or monitor various physical conditions in the environment around you. It is an inexpensive, short, focused, project-oriented book that has a variety of interesting projects, some of which you may find useful as a permanent device. Unlike a certain project-oriented book I reviewed recently, there is no fluff.
Some aspects are explained in a modular approach, allowing you to use ideas from the book for other projects you think of, but obviously it does not have as many "recipes" as a book like Arduino Cookbook, Second Edition.
I think this book is reasonably well suited to someone with little or now experience with Arduino, programming, or electronics. It builds up the reader's understanding of various components, starting very simply and moving to an implementation of radition monitoring and sharing data on the Internet (all with Arduino) that was inspired by the work of individuals in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and resulting nuclear power plant problems.
1. The World's Shortest Electronics Primer
2. Project: Noise Monitor / LED Bar Output
3. New Component: 4Char Display
4. Detecting Electromagnetic Interference (and making bad music)
5. Project: Water Conductivity / Numerical Output
6. New Component: Ethernet Shield
7. Project: Humidity, Temperature, and Dew Point / 4Char
8. Real-Time, Geo-Tagged Data Sharing with Pachube
9. Project: Radiation Counter / Sharing Data on the Internet
10. Casing the Gadget
The book starts with a really short primer on electronics. You don't need much - most of the work will be done using inexpensive pre-built modules, and what you will be doing is mainly plugging a couple of components together, and the book tells you exactly how to do this. The down side is that for people who might prefer to make some pieces from scratch - say, the 4-digit display made of 7-segment LED displays used in Chapter 3. But this isn't a problem either: in most cases, the maker of the assembled device offers a schematic online if you want to build it yourself.
It does NOT have a similar primer on programming, however all source code is provided to make the projects work. To modify from the original design, you may need to learn some programming, but there are plenty of other books and Web pages out there to help.
Each of the other chapters has a similar design. It describes the purpose of the project and a little about the physics that are involved in detecting or measuring environmental conditions. It includes a description and explanation of the components of the project and how they work at a high level. It tells you what parts you need, explains new ones, and provides a wiring diagram usually involving an Arduino, a breadboard, and the various other parts. It shows you the code (but does not explain it). It tells you what you should see when you run it.
You will also find interesting and relevant sidebar discussions, variations in the design, things to try, and helpful notes and warnings.
Reasons to get the electronic version instead of the paper book
1. It's less expensive
2. Instant gratification - get it and read it NOW
3. You can easily carry it anywhere and read it on any device that supports PDF (this is assuming you buy the PDF from O'Reilly's site)
4. You can zoom in on tiny details such as the drawings, which can be difficult to view in the book
5. References in the text to a figure have a hyperlink that brings you to the figure.
6. When you find an interesting reference to a Web resource, just click it and you're there
7. You can copy/paste code from the text into your IDE and run it - or you can download from the indicated link by clicking it
8. Use Acrobat Reader's View>Read Out Loud feature to have the text read to you aloud