Arduino is a user-friendly, open-source platform for working with microcontrollers to build electronic projects. The platform includes a suite of programmable circuit boards (microcontrollers), the IDE (Integrated Development Environment), and related accessories. From DIY espresso machines to indoor aquaponics to art installations and IoT devices, your imagination’s the limit when it comes to the kinds of things you can build with Arduino. In this article we’ll introduce some of the key concepts behind this popular electronics prototyping platform.
How does Arduino Work?
Ever wonder how your coffee machine knows what temperature to heat your coffee to? The tiny brain behind your typical commercial coffee machine is a microcontroller that does basic things like receive the analog input from a thermistor and output the temperature onto a digital display. The same can be said of a remote control car which receives commands from a wireless controller over RF waves, allowing you to control the motors that spin the wheels. The Arduino platform gives you a programmable board (microcontroller) with inputs and outputs that can be used to bring your physical projects to life.
Meet the Arduino IDE
The Arduino IDE is the program you use to write the code that tells your Arduino board what to do. The software is based on Processing, a popular IDE and software sketchbook geared toward the visual and electronic arts industry, and teaching people the basics of how to program. Like Processing, Arduino’s clear syntax, simple API, and low barrier to entry make it an excellent platform for prototyping ideas or teaching people how to code. Arduino’s user-friendly IDE makes the platform a favorite among students, engineers, and artists alike.
The Arduino language is actually a set of C/C++ functions that can be called from within your code, which means standard C and C++ constructs will work in Arduino, provided they are avr-g++ supported. Since the Arduino board is just another AVR development board, you can also use other build tools like Makefiles and/or AVR Studio in place of the Arduino IDE. You can also download a plugin for your C++ IDE of choice like Eclipse.
Arduino Product Line
Arduino caters to a diverse clientele of teachers, students, hackers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, and pretty much anyone interested in adding a little interactivity to their projects or environments. Fortunately, Arduino has an impressive catalog of boards, modules, shields, and kits to match. Let’s take a look at some of the broader categories that make up the Arduino Product Line.
The cornerstone of the Arduino platform is its line of AVR microcontroller boards. A typical Arduino board will have a USB jack connecting to a computer, a series of analog and digital I/O pins, reset button, power LED indicator, TX/RX (short for transmission/receiving) LEDs, a main IC (integrated circuit), and a voltage regulator. All of these features are present on the Arduino Uno which is the flagship entry-level model that most people are familiar with. However the exact configuration will vary from one board to another Go to the full article.
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