An Introduction to Arduino

An Arduino is an open-source microcontroller development board. In plain English, you can use the Arduino to read sensors and control things like motors and lights. This allows you to upload programs to this board which can then interact with things in the real world. With this, you can make devices which respond and react to the world at large.

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For instance, you can read a humidity sensor connected to a potted plant and turn on an automatic watering system if it gets too dry. Or, you can make a stand-alone chat server which is plugged into your internet router. Or, you can have it tweet every time your cat passes through a pet door. Or, you can have it start a pot of coffee when your alarm goes off in the morning.

Basically, if there is something that is in any way controlled by electricity, the Arduino can interface with it in some manner. And even if it is not controlled by electricity, you can probably still use things which are (like motors and electromagnets), to interface with it.

The possibilities of the Arduino are almost limitless. As such, there is no way that one single tutorial can cover everything you might ever need to know. That said, I’ve done my best to give a basic overview of the fundamental skills and knowledge that you need to get your Arduino up and running. If nothing more, this should function as a springboard into further experimentation and learning.

Arduino Uno

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The Arduino Uno is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328 (datasheet). It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header, and a reset button. It contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a  DC adapter

 

 

 

Arduino Mega 2560 

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The Mega is the second most commonly encountered version of the Arduino family. The Arduino Mega is like the Arduino Uno’s beefier older brother. It boasts 256 KB of memory (8 times more than the Uno). It also had 54 input and output pins, 16 of which are analog pins, and 14 of which can do PWM.

 

 

Arduino LilyPad

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The LilyPad was designed for wearable and e-textile applications. It is intended to be sewn to fabric and connected to other sewable components using conductive thread. This board requires the use of a special FTDI-USB TTL serial programming cable. For more information, the Arduino LilyPad page is a decent starting point.

 

 

Is it a Microcontroller ?.

Some people think of the entire Arduino board as a microcontroller, but this is inaccurate. The Arduino board actually is a specially designed circuit board for programming and prototyping with Atmel microcontrollers.

The nice thing about the Arduino board is that it is relatively cheap, plugs straight into a computer’s USB port, and it is dead-simple to setup and use (compared to other development boards).

Some of the key features of the Arduino Uno include:

  • An open source design. The advantage of it being open source is that it has a large community of people using and troubleshooting it. This makes it easy to find someone to help you debug your projects.
  • An easy USB interface . The chip on the board plugs straight into your USB port and registers on your computer as a virtual serial port. This allows you to interface with it as through it were a serial device. The benefit of this setup is that serial communication is an extremely easy (and time-tested) protocol, and USB makes connecting it to modern computers really convenient.
  • Very convenient power management and built-in voltage regulation. You can connect an external power source of up to 12v and it will regulate it to both 5v and 3.3v. It also can be powered directly off of a USB port without any external power.
  • An easy-to-find, and dirt cheap, microcontroller “brain.” The ATmega328 chip retails for about $2.88 on Digikey. It has countless number of nice hardware features like timers, PWM pins, external and internal interrupts, and multiple sleep modes. Check out the official datasheet for more details.
  • A 16mhz clock. This makes it not the speediest microcontroller around, but fast enough for most applications.
  • 32 KB of flash memory for storing your code.
  • 13 digital pins and 6 analog pins. These pins allow you to connect external hardware to your Arduino. These pins are key for extending the computing capability of the Arduino into the real world. Simply plug your devices and sensors into the sockets that correspond to each of these pins and you are good to go.
  • An ICSP connector for bypassing the USB port and interfacing the Arduino directly as a serial device. This port is necessary to re-bootload your chip if it corrupts and can no longer talk to your computer.
  • An on-board LED attached to digital pin 13 for fast an easy debugging of code.
  • And last, but not least, a button to reset the program on the chip.

Article Courtesy : Instructables

Adarsh Vengarathodi

Adarsh Vengarathodi is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of MistLayer, Inc. MistLayer is an ICT Company headquartered in San Francisco offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. MistLayer delivers innovative products that augment the lives of thousands of people around the world.

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