Arduino – the electronics platform for anyone

Find out more about this open-source platform so many rely on.

April 1, 2022

by

Aleksandra Szczepaniak

As an electronics enthusiast, you’ve surely at least heard about Arduino as its unique features caused it to gain immense popularity worldwide. Today, the company, founded and developed by enthusiasts, dictates standards to huge corporations. Let’s take a look at Arduino that thousands of users have put their trust in.

What is Arduino?

Arduino is an open source platform for creating electronic projects. It consists of a programmable circuit board as well as a piece of software, or IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that runs on your computer and is used to write and upload computer code to the board, but we’ll get to that :) Basically, Arduino is a development board, which can be used by anyone willing to design and create devices able to interact with the real world.

What to use Arduino for?

From everyday objects to sophisticated scientific devices, Arduino has served as the brain behind a lot of electronics projects. Its software and hardware were intended for designers, artists, hobbyists, newbies, hackers, and anyone whose interests involved creating interactive items or environments. In particular, it’s become quite popular with those who just start their adventure with electronics. And there’s a reason for that. Contrary to most previous programmable circuit boards, Arduino doesn’t need a separate device to load a new code onto the board, as a plain USB cable will do the job.

What’s more, Arduino offers a simple and accessible user experience. Not only is the Arduino software easy to use for newbies, but it’s also flexible enough and gives a lot of possibilities for advanced users. It runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac. In addition, Arduino provides a standard form factor, which breaks down the microcontroller functions into a more accessible package.

Arduino can interact with a great array of devices including LEDs, buttons, speakers, motors, GPS modules, cameras, the internet, TV and your smartphone. The board can read both digital (like a button or a smoke sensor) and analog (like temperature or pressure) inputs, and turn them into outputs, for example, starting an engine. By sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board, you can tell your board how to react to those inputs. Flexibility, free software, inexpensive hardware boards, and both hardware and software being easy to learn altogether have resulted in a large community of users.

What’s on board

Arduino Uno

Arduino boards come in many varieties offering different capabilities that can be used for various purposes. Additionally, open-source hardware means others can alter and produce derivatives of Arduino boards that give even more functionalities.

Arduino consists of many different parts and interfaces on a single circuit board. Over the years, the design has changed, and there are some variations that include other parts as well.

All datasheets for current and deprecated boards you can see here. On most Arduino boards you can expect the following components:

  • a power connector that provides power to the device itself and also a low voltage able to power connected components such as various sensors and LEDs.  
  • a serial connector that allows you to communicate to the board from a computer and also upload new programs onto the device.
  • a microcontroller – the brain of an Arduino – which enables Arduino to execute commands and make decisions based on a variety of input.
  • various other small components, such as a voltage regulator and/or an oscillator, that provide important functions to the board; although you usually don’t interact with them directly, it’s good to know about them
  • numerous pins to connect with different components you might want to use with Arduino

Arduino’s programming

Arduino enthusiasts, especially at the beginning of their adventure with the device, will mostly go for using the official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for their Arduino. It’s an open-source software running on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems making it available to users with different preferences and budgets. IDE allows you to write a code in a specific environment with syntax highlighting and other features to make coding easier, and then easily load the code onto the device with one click.

You can use Arduino IDE for multiple purposes, and its strength comes from a number of built-in libraries that make the code creation faster. Additionally, there are hundreds of projects, some with tutorials, made by the Arduino community. You can see them here, and on a number of other sites.

Use Arduino for your projects

So, we’ve shed some light on Arduino. But what we’ve presented above is merely a tip of an iceberg when it comes to this open-source platform. The best way to check how it works and what possibilities it offers is to use it for your project :) Check out our tutorial about connecting Arduino to Leo Rover :) Also, make sure to choose the right board for project as there are many. This article might help :)

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