Another year is coming to an end. As usual, we’ll share our Year in Review: a summary of what happened throughout the year on the Random Nerd Tutorials blog. We’ll share some interesting facts about the blog, and our milestones for the next year. We’ll also share some random facts about our lives and reflections.
This year, the RNT blog has completed 10 years in March. We never thought we could run this blog successfully for so long. Rui started this blog as a hobby while he was still studying at the University. You can learn more about RNT and our story here.
In the picture above, you can see what our office looked like from 2013 to 2019.
Nowadays, it’s mainly me (Sara) who writes all the website content and eBooks. Rui takes care of other important bureaucratic stuff related to the blog while also working on other personal projects.
For me, it has been five years since I started working full-time on this blog, and it’s impressive how much I have learned during this time and I continue learning new things every day. When I began, I knew nothing about programming or electronics.
Number of Published Tutorials: 122
Over this year, we’ve published/updated 122 new tutorials, which is quite impressive. This was the year that we published more tutorials. However, some of those often cover the same topic but are tailored for different boards and use both Arduino IDE and MicroPython.
Our goal for the year was to bring out at least one new tutorial every week, and we did even better—we averaged more than two tutorials every week.
At the beginning of each month, we send out a newsletter recapping all the projects published in the previous month. During that week, there are times when we release a new project, and other times when we don’t. The RNT Recap is something that we implemented a couple of years ago and that we’ll continue during the next year.
Most Popular Tutorials
Here are the top 5 most popular tutorials we published this year.
This tutorial shows how to create a WebSocket server with the ESP32 to display sensor readings on a web page. Whenever the ESP32 has new readings available, the web page is updated automatically without the need to manually refresh it. This is a great tutorial to learn about WebSockets with the ESP32.
We also have a similar tutorial for ESP8266: ESP8266 NodeMCU WebSocket Server: Display Sensor Readings.
The Raspberry Pi Pico is a relatively new microcontroller board. The Raspberry Pi Pico can be programmed using MicroPython or C/C++ like the Arduino. Installing and programming the Raspberry Pi Pico boards using Arduino IDE is quick and easy.
This tutorial shows the Raspberry Pi Pinout and explains the difference between the various pins and explores the different peripheral interfaces. This is a great tutorial for those getting started with physical computing with the Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi Pico is a relatively new microcontroller board. It is widely available, inexpensive, and easy to program. This getting started guide will make it easier to start making projects with this board.
This project shows how to take a picture with the ESP32-CAM and save it to the microSD card. We include the current date and time on the filename. This is useful because each picture will have a unique filename, which means no issues with overwriting existing files; you’ll know when each photo was taken; and it will be easier to organize or retrieve your files later on.
This year we didn’t release any new eBook, but we updated almost all our previous eBooks. Whenever you buy one of our eBooks, you have access to any future updates that we might do in the future for no extra cost.
Here’s a list of the updates:
- Learn ESP32 with Arduino IDE (Version 2.2) – Updated September 2023
- Smart Home with Raspberry Pi, ESP32, and ESP8266 (Version 1.3) – Updated July 2023
- Firebase Web App with ESP32 and ESP8266 (Version 1.3) – Updated July 2023
- Build Web Servers with the ESP32 and ESP8266 (Version 1.2) – Updated July 2023
- Build ESP32-CAM Projects using Arduino IDE (Version 1.3) – Updated January 2023
For the next year, we intend to create a new eBook about the Raspberry Pi Pico, and another one about Physical computing with the Raspberry Pi board.
New Subjects and Project Pages
This year we started covering new subjects: projects with the Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Pico. While the Raspberry Pi has been here for a while, the Raspberry Pi Pico is a very recent microcontroller board. It’s easily available and inexpensive and it’s been gaining a lot of popularity, so we decided to start exploring this new board.
On the other hand, even though the Raspberry Pi board has been here for quite some time, we noted that there was a lack of tutorials for the Raspberry Pi mainly addressed to physical computing. So, we also decided to start exploring that area. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get one Raspberry Pi these days. We were lucky to find a Raspberry Pi 5 in stock recently, and we’re waiting for it to get delivered.
At the moment, we already have quite some tutorials about the Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Pico boards, so we created two new pages on the blog dedicated to those boards.
You can find all the Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Pico tutorials on the following links:
Make sure you save those pages so you can find them easily whenever you need.
At the moment, we’ve only covered the basics, but we intend to cover more complex and interesting subjects next year, so stay tuned.
Currently, we have a LOT of tutorials published on our blog. It can be challenging for you to find what you’re looking for, or if a particular subject has already been covered or not.
We decided to start experimenting with a new type of articles: project compilations. These are like organized bundles of tutorials on similar topics (this is also a great way to showcase older tutorials that are still relevant).
- ESP32: 26 Free Guides for Sensors and Modules
- ESP8266 NodeMCU: 21 Free Guides for Sensors and Modules
- 7 Different Ways to Send Notifications with the ESP32
- ESP32 Wireless Communication Protocols
- ESP32: How to Log Data (9 Different Ways)
- ESP32 with Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy: The Ultimate Guide
First, it makes it easy for you to find what you need without scrolling through a ton of posts. Also, these compilations let us compare things. For example: “7 Different Ways to Send Notifications with the ESP32,” showcases various options so that you can make a better decision taking into account your project requirements.
And if you’re into learning about a specific topic, say ESP32 wireless communication, logging data with the ESP32, or Bluetooth, these compilations create a kind of roadmap. You start with one tutorial and you can follow a path to learn more step by step.
Let us know in the comments what you think of this kind of articles. Do you find them useful?
For those of you who don’t know, Maker Advisor is our other website where you’ll find reviews about development boards, tools, and gear for your electronics lab. That’s also where we show where you can buy your electronics components for your projects (check the Tools page).
If you buy your components using our links in the Maker Advisor blog, you won’t pay more for it and you’re supporting our work.
Like last year, we’re currently not actively creating new content for Maker Advisor, except for some new board reviews and updating our previous guides.
Even though I like to write content for Maker Advisor, it takes a lot of time and work that doesn’t pay off in the end. We try to keep the website as updated as possible, but we have thousands of pages, so it’s difficult to keep up with all the updates.
If you’d like to take a look at some of our most popular articles on Maker Advisor, here’s a list:
- ESP32 Development Boards Review and Comparison
- Best ESP8266 Wi-Fi Development Board
- ESP32 vs ESP8266 – Pros and Cons
- Best Raspberry Pi 4 Starter Kits 2023 – Buying Guide
- Best Arduino Starter Kits – Buying Guide 2023
Milestones for this Year
Looking at the milestones we set last year, I can say that we more or less achieved them.
More Raspberry Pi and Node-RED Projects ✓
First, we wanted to create a new section dedicated to Raspberry Pi, Node-RED, and home automation. That was successfully achieved. You can check that new section here: Raspberry Pi Projects and Tutorials. We created several new tutorials for the Raspberry Pi, but not so much about Node-RED.
More tutorials about encryption and secure communication ✗
I failed miserably at this point as I didn’t create any tutorial related to this subject. I don’t know what happened because at the end of last year, I was studying that subject and I found it quite interesting. I need to come back to this subject again.
Updating Most of Our eBooks ✓
At the end of last year, we planned to update most of the eBooks this year, which we did successfully. You can check all the eBooks we updated this year here.
Publishing a New Tutorial Every Week ✓
Our aim for every year is to publish a new tutorial or newsletter once a week. That might not seem like much, but it’s a lot of work and it’s the bare minimum to keep the blog running successfully (consistency is very important). This year we published/updated a total of 122 articles, which averages more than two tutorials per week.
Milestones for the Next Year
Here’s what we intend to do next year:
- Create a new eBook exclusively dedicated to the Raspberry Pi Pico board covering not only the basics but also more advanced topics on IoT and Home Automation.
- Expand our collection of free Raspberry Pi Pico, Raspberry Pi, and Home Automation tutorials.
- Try (once again) to create tutorials covering subjects like encryption and secure communication.
- Write a new eBook dedicated to the Raspberry Pi board and physical computing, also covering the most basic stuff like running Linux commands, establishing SSH communication, etc.
- Of course, I’ll continue creating tutorials about the ESP32 and ESP8266 too. I want to take a look at subjects like Matter and Thread.
- Try to get one ESP32-S3 and create a getting-started guide.
- Get the new Raspberry Pi 5 board and test some projects.
As always, I want to be able to publish at least one new tutorial once a week. We also want to continue sending our Monthly RNT Recap (a compilation of the previous month’s publications). If you don’t receive our newsletters, you can subscribe below.
Stay updated by subscribing to our weekly newsletter!
I was quite surprised when I counted the tutorials published this year. I think 122 is quite a big number, especially if you consider that it is only one person writing them all and that we are only two people running this blog. I’m glad about the work we achieved this year, but I would like to have had the Raspberry Pi Pico eBook published already this year. At the moment, I plan to have it ready, maybe at the end of February or March.
Like every year, we spend a lot of our time answering your emails and questions. We give priority to those of have already bought something from us, and then we also try to answer all the other emails and questions on the blog posts.
In previous years, I made an effort to answer all the comments on our blog posts. However, many times, those comments are rude, the questions are not well formulated, and there are also many people asking us to write code for them for free. Sometimes, please just mention that “the code doesn’t work” without any further information. We ALWAYS test the code and projects we publish. I don’t publish any project without testing. However, differences in our IDE version, board models, different installations, and library updates may cause some issues and the code might not work temporarily. From now on, I’ll stop focusing on those comments, and only answer when it’s a pertinent well formulated question.
Something that’s been annoying me for quite some time is some websites that copy our complete projects and tutorials and use them as if they were created by them. They just change some words and use the work as if it were original. They also copy our thumbnails and diagrams (change the colors slightly), and some even copy our whole website theme. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Last year I was feeling a bit demotivated and I felt I needed something new and some more adventure into my life. So, we decided that we would travel more this year. That also means a lot of work, because I need to write everything in advance so that we have newsletters and new tutorials to post while we’re away from the office. Additionally, we still need to answer all your questions promptly, even if we’re not actively working at the office. Nonetheless, I’m so glad that we can work online and have the freedom to work (kind of) from anywhere.
If you want to read a little about our travel this year, continue reading. If you’re not interested, you can skip to the Wrapping Up section.
My Travel Blog (My New Hobby)
As usual, we also like to share our travel adventures here on the blog at the end of the year. I was always super excited to write about this topic, but I felt writing just a few paragraphs about the places we visited and our experiences was not enough. So, we decided to create a new blog exclusively dedicated to travel content where we share practical travel guides, tips, and itineraries based on our personal adventures.
At the moment, this is just a hobby (remember last year I mentioned I needed a new hobby? Here it is), and the blog is just in its early stages. We still have a lot of content to share about this year’s adventures and a lot of work to do to make it look like what I have in mind.
You can check out our new blog on the link below:
You may also follow our travel adventures on social media (make sure to check Instagram stories to check our adventures in more detail):
Our Adventures this Year
Since I didn’t have the time to write about all our adventures this year on the new travel blog, I’ll just summarize here where we’ve been this year. We also created a quick 20-second video recap.
We’ve spent a week in Dubai in February. At the time, this was the farthest away country that we had been to and this was our first contact with Middle Eastern culture. I was very skeptical about visiting Dubai, but we both love it. Everything was super memorable, and it is much cheaper than I expected (we’re used to prices in Europe that have been skyrocketing in the previous years, which makes it super expensive to travel here especially if you’re a budget traveler like us). I liked Middle Eastern culture so much, that we decided that we would visit another Middle Eastern country this year.
We have our whole Dubai trip documented in the following article:
To go to Dubai we made a layover in Bari, Italy, and Vienna, Austria. We just spent one night in Italy, but it was so nice that we decided that we needed to go back to Italy. Our time in Vienna was not that good, and we didn’t like the city or the food (I’m sorry).
On our next trip, we went to three different destinations in one go. We went to the Netherlands to see the tulip fields in Spring. Then, we caught a flight to Rome, Italy. And finally, from Italy, we went to Jordan.
We had been to the Netherlands before, and we both loved it (except for the food, I’m sorry). Everything is so well looked after, the roads are exceptionally good and everything works so well. We have written about our visit to the Keukenhof gardens in the article below:
Rome was much better than I expected. Now I understand where all the hype comes from (yes, the food is really that good). We can’t wait to come back and visit other cities in Italy. We have put together a detailed itinerary to explore Rome for first timers based on our personal experience:
From Rome, we caught a flight to Jordan, where we spent nine days on a road trip exploring the country. Jordan is such a beautiful country, and the people are genuinely nice and super welcoming. Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world, is impressive, and the Wadi Rum desert is just out of this world.
I’ve put together some detailed Jordan travel guides and I’m still working on new ones:
- Jordan Travel Guide: 9-Day Detailed Itinerary with Tips, and Costs
- Guide to the Dead Sea, Jordan: Where to Float, Stay, and Things to Do
- How to Spend One Day in Amman, Jordan
Road Trip to the Alps (Germany, Austria and Italy)
As usual, every year, we go somewhere in our RV. I just love the freedom to park and sleep “anywhere”. Traveling on the RV is also great because we can easily work from there and we can save so much on accommodation and food. In our opinion, this is the most affordable way to travel in Europe.
We visited so many epic and wonderful places in Spain, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. It was such a memorable adventure. We loved the Austrian Alps and Dolomites, the landscapes are one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. We also visited Barcelona, Colmar, Venice, and Cinque Terre
Southeast Asia Trip
Finally, to end the year, we went on a two-month trip to Southeast Asia, this was a dream of mine for a long time. I remember back in 2016 when I finished my degree, Rui promised that one day we would go on a long trip to explore Thailand. That day finally, came. We visited Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. It was such an epic trip because everything was so different from what we’re used to: the weather, the culture, the food, the landscapes.
I’ve written an article with our complete itinerary that you can check below:
I plan to write more detailed travel guides and itineraries about all the places we visited.
Overall, 2023 was a great year. Everything ran smoothly with our blog and we achieved the main milestones we have set for this year.
We hope you enjoyed what we published throughout this year, all the tutorials, newsletters, eBook updates, etc. We also hope you’re happy with our work, and for those of you who have bought something from us, thank you so much for supporting our work. We hope you’re satisfied with your purchases and with all the help you got from us. We always do our best.
Nevertheless, there’s always space for improvement, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions. Drop a comment below to share your thoughts. Additionally, if you have ideas for upcoming topics and tutorials you’d like to see featured here, feel free to leave a comment.
Thank you so much for supporting our work. None of this would be possible if we didn’t have such amazing readers, followers, and subscribers. Thank you so much. You are the best!
How was your year? We hope you had an amazing year. Tell me what you think about this year, our work, or your plans for the next year in the comments below. I really want to know what’s on your mind.
Sara and Rui