A Beginners Guide to Arduino
The world is progressively adopting robotics and automation in general. Therefore, the next set of engineers and creatives must learn the art of programming, not just programming but hardware programming. However, many beginners avoid hardware programming as they believe that the coding is complicated. Several microcontrollers seem complicated for beginners, but there are beginner-friendly microcontrollers such as Arduino.
Arduino is one of the beginner-friendly microcontrollers because of its compact architecture, readily available programming development environment, and clear coding syntax. This tutorial is a high-level outlook of the Arduino ecosystem, comprising of all the basic parts and pieces used in Arduino programming.
What is Arduino?
Arduino is an open-source development board used in prototyping of a variety of projects, both simple and complex. The board comes with a microcontroller that can be programmed to accept inputs from sensors and control actuators. The sensors can then be used to sense things in the real world, and actuators used to control real-world objects such as robots and machines. Due to its flexibility and reliability, the Arduino board is popular with many DIY creators and fabricators who would like to test their ideas before mass production.
Arduino was introduced in 2005 in Italy by Massimo Banzi to facilitate nonengineers’ access low cost and simple board to prototype hardware projects. The open-source nature of the board allows anyone to produce their own board. Therefore, there are a large number of board manufacturers producing Arduino compatible clones all over the world. However, there are several boards designed by the Arduino community. In the next sections, we will look at the types of Arduino boards available in the market.
Types of Arduino Board
Arduino is an efficient and reliable prototyping board. However, it is hard to choose the right board for the project as the boards have critical differences that may affect some projects. If you are new to the Arduino development ecosystem, you may think that there is only one Arduino board. However, there a variety of official boards and a variety of clones that are produced as a substitute for the official types. However, to limit our scope, we will only discuss some of the common Arduino boards.
Arduino Uno is the best board for beginners as it is the most used and documented type of board. The board is the most common and versatile board for beginners. The Arduino Uno board is based on the ATmega328P controller. The board has 14 digital and 6 analog input/output pins. The board is programmed through a USB cable as it has an inbuilt bootloader. It can be powered through an inbuilt power jack or the VIN pin in the power pins section. Arduino board can comfortably work with voltage ranging from 5V-12V DC. However, as a beginner, you should not worry about tinkering with the Arduino board as it is reliable. The worst case that can happen is damage to the microcontroller or the power ICs, which can be replaced at a low price. The board has an inbuilt LED connected to digital pin 13 and a reset button for restarting the program.
Uno means one in Italian and was chosen to mark the release of the Arduino IDE. Arduino was the first series of USB boards, and version one of the Arduino software was the first IDE dedicated to Arduino programming. Therefore, the board and the IDE acts as the reference board and IDE.
Arduino Mega is the second most common Arduino development board after the Arduino Uno. Arduino mega is majorly chosen due to its improved functionality and extra pins. Arduino Mega 2560 is a development board based on the ATmega2560 microcontroller chip. It has 54 digital input/output pins, with 15 being PWM enabled. The board has 16 analog input/output pins and 4 UARTs, hardware serial ports, a USB port, and a DC power jack port. The board can be programmed directly through a USB cable as it has an inbuilt bootloader. Arduino mega board is compatible with most of the sensors, shields and actuators designed for Uno and other prototyping boards.