Embedded computers and the Arduino in particular are a classic area for hackerspaces. Classes on them are often offered by spaces around the world. (I hear Machine Project is planning one soon!). A microcontroller can sense the world (temperature, touch, light, etc) and act in response (drive motors, blink lights, move stuff, send email/twitter, speak). And they are fairly inexpensive. Microcontrollers are ubiquitous in our modern world – every electronic gadget or toy or serious product generally has at least one, sometimes dozens.
Programming and designing with micro controllers can be challenging, however parts like the Arduino make it much easier. Smart people have put enough wrappers and ‘scaffolding’ around the core to hide much of the complexity and open the use of these devices up to a much wider audience of hackers and designers.
I expect there are many other Crashers who are already playing with microcontrollers, or want to. Personally, I have built some basic ‘experiments’ with the arduino and some other chips. I also have a ‘blimpduino’ – a mylar blimp whose motors are controlled by an arduino, either by R/C commands or autonomously. I have flown it as an R/C blimp but not tried it autonomously yet.
What is the interest/experience of other Crashers with microcontrollers?