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Electronics : Arduino 101

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: Arduino 101
« on: May 22, 2018, 01:12 PM »
    Arduino 101
    Lead Author Bar'uun Strieg
    Edited by: MMCC Education Team

    This guide serves as a basic primer on understanding and using an Arduino.



    You may be asking “What exactly is an Arduino”?  In the simplest of layman’s terms, an Arduino is a small, moderately powerful, computer board that can be programmed to do a wide variety of tasks.  For the purposes of these tutorials, the term Arduino will be used to describe any of a number of boards that can be tasked to move servos, illuminate LEDs, or just about anything else you can think of.  The boards are produced by multiple companies and come in a variety of sizes to suit the needs of users.  At their heart, the boards do essentially the same functions, some just have more input and output options, more processing power, and more memory.

    All Arduinos are controlled by programs referred to as sketches.  Sketches are written in a subset of the programming languages of C and C++.  PLEASE don’t let this scare you off.  You don’t have to be a programming wizard to accomplish things with Arduinos.  There are a multitude of tutorials on the internet about programming Arduinos, and there are probably even more example sketches that can be copied and loaded and run using no computer coding skills at all.  For the tutorials that will follow, sketches will be provided for each project.  Feel free to play with and modify the sketches to make them do what you want.  That is the beauty of an open-source platform like the Arduino.

    The recommended first step would be to download and install the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) from the Arduino website.

    Once you have the IDE installed on your computer, you will need an Arduino to start experimenting with.  If you search for “Arduino” on Amazon or eBay (or any electronics website) you will find a huge selection of starter kits with an equally huge number and variety of accessories that come with them.  Choose one that fits your budget and what you want to do based on what you have learned from these tutorials, or your own research.  If you would like recommendations, feel free to respond in this thread.

    As stated earlier, Arduino based boards come in a variety of sizes, from a variety of manufacturers.  Each tutorial will have a suggested board based on what the tutorial is demonstrating and general size constraints of the project, but you can usually substitute boards based on your own preferences.
    Probably the most common Arduino board is the Arduino UNO or one of its clones.  The UNO’s size is 2.1 x 2.7 inches (53.3 x 68.6 mm). The UNO has multiple input and output pins and provides great project flexibility.  It is reasonably small and can be powered from multiple sources using the appropriate power adaptor or input.

    Officially, the UNO is described as “The Arduino Uno is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, 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 an AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started.”  What this means to us is that it is a very capable little control board that has multiple options available. 

    The UNO can be powered via the USB connection to your computer (which is how you’ll power it for programming), or via it’s dedicated power port (or input pins) using between 7 and 12 volts DC.  The board has an internal voltage regulator and can output either 3.3 or 5 Volts DC to power various external items.  The power input and output specifications hold true for most Arduino based boards, though some do have more restrictive limits.

    There are many resources available which describe the capabilities of individual boards in great detail if you would like to explore them.

    For our purposes, we will concentrate of some basic items that will allow you to develop your own projects, and/or will be needed for completing future tutorials.  The links are provided to wikipedia entries for more detailed information.  From there, you're welcome to do your own further research and shopping.  We encourage you to shop around and find products that fit your needs and budget.

    The Arduino boards listed have been used for various projects depending on the size and flexibility needed.  Breadboards and jumper wires are incredibly useful for prototyping a project and making sure everything works like you want it to before soldering components together in a more permanent fashion.  Resistors are needed to reduce current down to acceptable levels for LEDs or other electronic needs so as not to overpower (and potentially ruin) them.  A soldering iron is used to join components together in a more permanent configuration for extended use.  The Sensor module kit listed below offers quite a few neat components, but it's likely too much for a beginner unless you see things you really want to use for a project.  The last link is a starter kit that has a lot of items included that COULD be helpful for a beginner using arduinos.


    When you're ready to do some shopping to start your own electronics project, a good place to start your search is with "Arduino Starter Kit." 


    In summary

    For now, we encourage you to do some research into arduinos and think about things you would like to build and incorporate into your kit.  Future additions to this topic will provide much more detail on a particular project and hopefully inspire you to create even better electronics projects that will make your kit the envy of all your clan mates.

    --MMCC Education Team--[/list]

    « Last Edit: Dec 16, 2019, 07:01 AM by Hik'aari » Logged
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