One of the biggest advantages to the Arduino and similar hobbyist development boards is that it gives beginners the chance to quickly implement ideas without needing prior experience. Reddit user MrTheOx is a perfect case in point: using a Teensy 3.1 microcontroller, he was able to interface an M1 gunner turret yoke to his PC for use as a games controller. The finished product is certainly robust - it's estimated that it requires around 3-5 pounds of force to begin rotation - but more importantly begins MrTheOx's hacking and making career with a satisfying device he'll likely use every day.
Before this I have never written code or done any soldering. After running through the tutorials I think I have a good handle on the Teensy and proceed to test the pots to see if they are still working well.