December 8, 2022
  • December 8, 2022

What is Arduino? | Android Central

By on February 4, 2022 0

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

Best answer: Arduino is an electronic prototyping platform that uses a microcontroller board connected to input devices and output hardware (or both) to design electronic projects. The Arduino platform consists of hardware, an integrated development environment, and a long list of third-party products that fit into the ecosystem.

What is Arduino?

Arduino UnoSource: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

If you like to tinker or have fun with electronic projects at any level, you’ve probably heard of Arduino. It’s an affordable and useful way to learn more about the nerdy side of electronics by wiring and programming something together that does “stuff”. Sometimes simple stuff, sometimes complicated stuff, but always cool stuff.

An Arduino isn’t for everyone, however. It’s not designed to be a cheap, easy-to-use computer like the Raspberry Pi, and it’s more for things like automation or information gathering. On the other hand, it makes a great mastermind for most Internet of Things projects for your connected home and allows you to build this cool thing with a bit of basic electronics skills and some familiarity with programming.

Arduino is a complete electronics prototyping platform. It’s a brand for the products inside this ecosystem, the hardware itself, a programming language based on C/C++ and the other products that come with it like a breadboard, sensors, controllers , etc

Simply put, you use an Arduino board to collect data from a sensor or send data to something like an LED (or a combination of both) to build something cool. A simple example to understand is using a temperature sensor connected to an Arduino board that lights up an LED when you need to wear your coat when you go out. But you can do so much more.

The Arduino board

Arduino UnoSource: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

The most popular Arduino board is the Uno. It’s one of the first, so it’s been widely adopted, but it’s also the cheapest, making it the best to buy if you want to get started with the Arduino platform.

The Uno model is powered by an ATMega chip running at 16 MHz and has 32 KB of storage. It also has 2 KB of onboard memory. It’s the exact opposite of powerful hardware, but it wasn’t meant to be powerful hardware. If you think of an Arduino (not just the Uno, but all models) as a controller board, you’ve got the right idea.

You don’t connect a screen or keyboard to an Arduino (you can, but not for programming) because an Arduino board was not designed to be a PC. So you will need a PC to write and upload your program to the Arduino hardware. Windows, Mac, and Linux all work equally well. You can use a Chromebook to write and upload code to an Arduino board, with limitations that we’ll discuss later.

Arduino UnoSource: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

The most important hardware on an Arduino board is the set of input and output pins. The Uno has 14 in total, two of which are used for power and six configured to provide a PWM output to control analog devices with a digital output. You connect your input devices and your output devices to these pins, and depending on the program you loaded into the Arduino, the magic happens. Or things burn. Either way, it’s great fun.

Accessories can also be attached to these pins, and you’ll find all sorts of things you can attach. These are called shields, and you can choose from something like an LCD screen that connects directly to the board without wiring or soldering. It makes it easier to design and invent, which is why Arduino is so popular at all skill levels.

What makes Arduino special

Arduino UnoSource: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

It’s not just one thing but a handful of important factors that make Arduino special.

Arduino is cheap and open-source. This makes it accessible to almost anyone, but it also means you can design other parts that attach to an Arduino board that will work for anyone using the same model. A soldering iron, a 3D printer, and some basic electronics knowledge means you can build almost anything the Arduino platform can power.

Arduino uses C/C++ for programming. C can be a little frustrating to learn, but millions of people use it, and there are countless tutorials and online courses that allow anyone to learn how to use it at their own pace. The IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that connects to Arduino hardware is also free and easy to understand.

Arduino has a huge community of users and developers who are always ready to lend a hand when you encounter a problem. This can be an invaluable resource as everyone from beginner to pro will run into a problem at times. Having people to help you debug a problem or point you to the right information is essential if you just want to tinker around and create cool stuff.

Buy a starter kit

Arduino UnoSource: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

By itself, all you can do with an Arduino board is turn the light on and off. It’s a great way to get started with using the IDE and setting up the hardware, but you won’t get very far once you figure out how to blink the LED. The best way to access the platform is therefore to purchase a starter kit.

A good starter kit will come with a board, a handful of jumper wires, something to connect to the Arduino like a sensor or two or more LEDs or a small motor, and most importantly, Sample code to use these things. Unless you are really proficient in C++ is important. You’ll find plenty of sample code online, but buying a kit means you get code and hardware that work together.

I’m semi-proficient in C and have a ton of junk in parts bins above my workbench. I didn’t buy a starter kit because of this and quickly came to regret it. If nothing else, having the resistors labeled correctly is well worth it as the price of a good kit is pretty low.

When I wanted to grow up, I do buy a kit and spend a lot of time looking at what’s available. I opted for a starter kit from Elegoo and think it’s perfect for anyone looking to get started with the Arduino platform.

You might want more coins, or you might not want as many as what’s included here. The good news is that there are plenty of Arduino starter kits to choose from. However, once you’ve figured out exactly what you need and how much you want to spend, there’s one more thing to consider: should you buy a genuine Arduino-branded board or one of the excellent third-party clones?

Arduino UnoSource: Jerry Hildenbrand/Android Central

Join the nerdy side

An Arduino-built board offers a few advantages: it’s still high quality with tight solder joints that won’t fail and drive you crazy. It still works with the USB driver, so you shouldn’t have any problems when trying to connect. Unfortunately, it also has a built-in flaw in full-size boards for I/O pins. There is a larger gap between pins seven and eight. It shouldn’t be there, but it is, and since there are many third-party shields that conform to this irregularity, it stayed. You will find many third-party accessories that have the same size gap, and you will need an adapter to use them with a third-party card.

Third-party Arduino boards are also excellent, often better than the original. Arduino is completely open source, which means anyone can build the hardware and resell it with modifications. You’ll find things like Wi-Fi or extra storage built into third-party cards and, depending on what you want to do with them, are a great addition. The only potential downside would be the Windows USB driver, but buying a card that doesn’t work with it is a rare occurrence.

Finally, if you plan to use a Chromebook to write and upload code to your Arduino board, you must purchase an official model from Arduino. With Chrome OS, you must use the Arduino web editor, and it only supports official boards. Wouldn’t it be great to have the best Chromebook only to find out you can’t use the card you just bought with it.

Don’t decide based on price because the difference is not big. For example, official Arduino boards are usually under $20, and while a third-party board might save you a buck or two, you need to think about what you want to do and decide if that matters first.

Our choice

Elegoo Arduino kit

ELEGOO UNO Project Super Starter Kit

This kit contains everything you need to get started with the Arduino platform. You don’t need to solder anything, and you’ll find complete code samples for all hardware included.

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