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Arduino Microcontroller == Awsomeness

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A week or so ago (in this thread)Munawwar introduced me to Arduino. Arduino is an open source hardware and software microcontroller development platform -- and it is simply fantastic.

Now I have had microcontrollers before and found them too intimidating to really be much fun for me. I don't think there is really much difference between the Arduino and say the old OOPic that I have, except that I have never really figured out the OOPic after owning it for years. Things were different with the Arduino, 10Mins after opening the package I had written my first program for it, uploaded it and run it. Simple. Easy. Most importantly non-intimidating.

Now I admit that to get very far with this thing I will have to break out ye olde soldering iron and actually design some circuits which means actually using ohm's law for something other than math exercises. BUT -- I already have a great amount of confidence building just working with my few components that I can plug directly into breadboards so I have no doubt that I will be able to carry the momentum into more interesting projects. PLUS there are a number of prebuilt shields that people have made that you can buy and plug-and-play. No soldering needed!.

Being an open source platform there are lots of tutorials and examples of things that other people have done. There are extensions to the libraries and prebuilt shield to add in other technologies.

So if you are interested in breaking away from the confines of a PC -- if you want to put a computer in your shirt, shoe, doorknob, dinning room table etc. then I HIGHLY recommend getting an Arduino starter kit.

Some of the readily available shields (components ready to integrate) -- accelerometers, RFID, Bluetooth, Flash card readers, Ethernet, joy sticks, ultrasonic range finder and many many more -- Don't be tied to your PC! Start programming the world around you!

8 Comments On This Entry

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27 June 2010 - 10:07 AM
Hi, NickDMax. I just wanted to let you know that before reading your post, I had no idea what an Arduino or even a microcontroller was. But your post interested me so much that I did a bunch of reading until the morning hours about them. I just bought Getting Started With Arduino, Getting Started with Arduino Kit, and of course, Arduino Duemilanove. It totaled about $55.00 with shipping.

I can't wait to start toying around when my stuff gets here. :)


27 June 2010 - 10:20 AM
I hope that you have as much fun with it as I am! There are LOTS of resources so I think the main limitation is your imagination (and perhaps your tenacity). When you get yours please let me know how things go. My impression is that this takes the much of the intimidation factor of working with microcontrollers but I would like to know how others feel about it.


27 June 2010 - 12:03 PM
Will do. And yeah, after I read about Arduino I did some research on other microcontrollers to decide if I actually wanted Arduino or if I wanted to get PIC, but because Arduino has more resources I decided to go with that. Are you using a book to learn from or are you just reading tutorials? What have you done so far?


27 June 2010 - 12:26 PM
Have you seen the new TI launchpad? Same sort of idea, but lets you get off the ground with a simple controller kit, everything you need in a box for $4.30 including shipping. Trouble is, they ran out of stock in about 0.07 seconds... unsurprisingly.

I'd love to get into the arduino. It's got a massive community already and there's almost always a new use for it every week over on hackaday.


27 June 2010 - 03:43 PM
Interesting. From what I read it has much less capability than the Arduino, but I guess if it costs $4.30 you can't really go wrong. Either way, competition is good. :)


27 June 2010 - 08:51 PM
Yes I think the Open Source nature of the Arduino is good too. You don't have the support of a major manufacturer like TI -- but at the same time the cost difference may make a huge difference if you are trying to market some small handmade electronics.

One of the things I really like about the Arduino is the spirit behind the whole thing. I think that the green movement got a lot of tinkerers on TV and there is a kind of increased inventive spirit in the air recently.


05 July 2010 - 08:00 PM
I have an ATMega644PA on a development board that I received as part of a course in my Computer Engineering program. I've got to say, programming PCs is only half the fun as microcontrollers can be. I've worked with microcontrollers and PC programming in the field of Design Engineering. Microcontroller Programming can seem daunting at first, but once you get it, you get it. End of story. And there's nothing better than to finally get your data bits flying around at the right speed, or successfully taking in real world data and having your system react accordingly.


06 July 2010 - 07:10 AM
As a programmer, I have to say that a great deal of the Arduino code examples I have seen have actually not been stellar examples of programming (and often using up more space than they have to). Though in all honesty I don't think most of these guys are professional programmers so they do what works.

I do have to say that even now all I have really done is light up LED's and read RFID cards (got a deal on an RFID card reader at Radio Shack).

My next project, if I can find time this week, is a galvanic skin response reader. -- Well, that is assuming that the old OP Amps that I have are still good. The pins are all kind of bent our of shape and may break when I try to get them in line. I also found some scematics for an EKG circuit and I think that would be really neat... what I really want to understand is an EEG. Baby steps...
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