What is an Arduino?
Arduino is basically an open source electronics archetype platform for electronics engineers, hobbyist, designers or anyone interested in creating interactive electronics projects. It is a flexible platform and based on an easy to use software and hardware systems. Arduino comprises of a microcontroller and a software or Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that runs on laptops or computers, used for writing and uploading computer codes or programs to the physical board.
Arduino has the ability to sense the environment from different input sensors and can reacts to its surroundings by controlling motors, lights, and other equipments. An Arduino programming language and IDE is used on the microcontroller on the board, for performing interactive operations with the surroundings. Using arduino we can build a standalone project and it can communicate or interface with a software that runs on a computer.
Fig: Arduino IDE (screen shot) for LED Blinking Program
Why choose Arduino?
Today there are many different types of microcontrollers are available in the market. So why choose Arduino? It’s an important question… Some points for Why choose arduino are given below.
- Unlike other programmable circuit boards or microcontroller board, arduino doesn’t require a separate hardware or programmer parts to load a code on to the board, instead of these you just need a USB cable.
- Furthermore, the arduino IDE utilizes a simplified sort of C++, so you can easily learn the programming sections.
- Arduino supports a standard form factor.
- Working with arduino does not require any previous experience.
- For amateurs, Arduino offers a wonderful platform for their projects ideas.
- Inexpensive compared to similar boards.
- Simplicity of ardunio compared to others.
- It is an open source platform. So any one can modify and build your own Arduino board.
- Arduino is based on Atmel’s ATMEGA168 and ATMEGA8 microcontrollers.
- Experts can easily make improvements and extensions on to the arduino board.
These are some factors that make arduino very popular among project lovers.Also you can compare your Arduino with Raspberry pi. For more details read these topics.
As a beginner everyone has some confusion, which arduino family can be used or which board fits for their applications etc. Commonly UNO is the popular boards in the arduino family and as a beginner, this board will help you to develop your dream project. Today there are many varieties of Arduino boards available. You can select any board or build your own Arduino board; it’s up to yours…
What Is Inside an Arduino / What's on the board?
Many varieties of Arduino boards are available in the market for various purposes. The boards are slightly different from each other, but most arduino boards have the same major components.
1. Power (Barrel Jack / USB):
Every Arduino board should be connected to a power supply. A USB cable connected from a wall power source or from your computer is used for powering the Arduino UNO and is terminated into the USB/Barrel Jack. In the above figure label: 1 denotes the USB connection and label: 2 for the Barrel Jack. Through this USB connection, we can load program codes on to the Arduino board. It should be noted that the supply voltage should not be greater than 20 Volts; otherwise this will over heat your Arduino board and more chances for destroying the board. It is recommended to choose the Voltage level for Arduino Board models in between 6V and 12V.
2. Pins: 3.3V, 5V, GND, Digital, Analog, AREF, PWM:
- GND (Label: 3): As it all knows “ground”. In Arduino there are many GND pins, so you can select any one for ground your circuit models.
- 3.3V (Label: 5) and 5V (Label: 4): The 3.3V pin provides a 3.3V of power supply. Similarly the 5V pin gives a 5volt power. Commonly these pins are for connecting simple components with the Arduino board.
- Analog (Label: 6) (A0 through A5 on the UNO): These are commonly “analog In” pins. These “analog In” pins are used for reading the analog sensor signals like temperature sensor signals and after that it will convert this analog value in to a digital level that you can understand.
- Digital (Label: 7): The Digital pins may be used for both digital inputs and digital outputs (It’s from 0 through 13 on the Arduino UNO). It can be used like, blinking or powering LED etc.
- PWM (Label: 8): In the board, there is a ~ sign near to some of the pins – 3, 5, 6, 9, 10(digital pins) and 11 on the UNO Arduino. Actually these pins are normal digital pins but it can be used for Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) also.
- AREF (Label: 9): AREF denotes Analog Reference pin. This pin occasionally used for setting an external reference voltage level generally between 0 to 5 volts as higher limit voltage for analog input pins.
3. Reset Button (Label:10):
There is a Reset Button in the Arduino like all other boards. When you push this button, for the time being it will connect the RESET Pin to the GND (Ground) and restart any program code that is loaded on the board.
4. Power LED Indicator (Label:11):
There is tiny LED near the name ‘ON’ and this LED will “lights up” when plug on the Arduino power supply. If the LED not working or doesn’t turn on, it indicate that something wrong with the Arduino board. So it is recommended to recheck your connections in the circuit.
5. TX RX LEDs (Label:12):
TX denotes Transmission likewise RX is reception. The TX RX LEDs will provide us some visual sign whenever the Arduino is receive/transmit data. That is whenever you are loading new codes on to the Arduino.
6. Main IC (Label:13):
The Main IC is the brain of your Arduino. There will be slight differences in the ICs from board to board. But it is noticeable that the ICs are from ATmega line and from ATMEL. It is an important thing that, you should care about the board type along with the IC type before loading or entering a new code from the Arduino software. Usually this information about the types of IC is given as ‘writings’ on the top of the IC.
7. Voltage Regulator (Label:14) :
The voltage regulator controls the voltage levels into the Arduino board. The regulator will separate the extra voltage levels that will destroy the circuit. But it has some limits so don’t plug into greater than 20V into the Arduino board.
How to Install Arduino software IDE on windows:
After understanding the basics of Arduino board, it is the time to understand How to Install Arduino software IDE on windows. If you would like to know how to install the Arduino software set up just go through the link How to Install Arduino software IDE on windows…. And start forges your own interactive projects or anything….
Commonly Used Arduino Boards :
1. Arduino Uno
2. Arduino Robot
3. Arduino Due
4. Arduino Mega 2560
5. Arduino Micro
6. Arduino Zero
7. Arduino Mega ADK
8. Arduino Esplora
9. Arduino Leonardo
10. Arduino Ethernet
11. Arduino Fio
12. Arduino Tre
13. LilyPad Arduino Simple
14. Arduino Nano
15. Arduino Mini
16. Arduino Pro Mini
17. LilyPad Arduino
18. LilyPad ArduinoSimpleSnap
19. LilyPad Arduino USB
20. Arduino Tre
These are the commonly used Arduino Boards. Today there are a wide varieties of Arduino boards are available having different functioning and capabilities. . Arduino provides a great plat form for DIY project lovers. Since Arduino is an open source platform, it means that anyone can make modifications in the Arduino board and can introduce different types of Arduino boards which give more functionality and capability according to the users imaginations and creativity.