Arduino 101- A Beginners’ Guide To Learning The Arduino And All The Fun Stuff It Does
Maybe you have probably heard a lot about Arduinos or seen some techy guys fiddling with a small board and doing some really cool stuff with it, you might be totally at sea or just a bit more curious about its inner workings, either way, this post is for you. So, quickly, let’s get straight into it.
What Is An Arduino?
An Arduino is an open source platform used to interface between hardware and software components. It consists of a programmable circuit board or microcontroller and an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), a software that can be used to write and upload code to the circuit board. Arduino boards can read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board. These instructions come in form of written codes, with the Arduino, loading new code to the board is as easy as simply using a USB cable. The IDE also uses a simplified C++ which makes programming the Arduino so much easier.
The Arduino is mostly used for electrical electronics and engineering projects which involve computing and executing simplified tasks. Its use has become widely popular due to its simplicity and ease of use in creating very interesting projects. It is very flexible and can work with just about any kind of sensor or chips.
Some of the fun stuff you can do with an Arduino are motor driving, LED driving, playing videos, music, sending mails. Arduinos are cross-platform and can work fine on Windows, Macintosh OSX, and Linux operating systems, unlike most microcontroller systems which are limited to Windows.
Arduino boards come in many varieties which differ based on specific purposes and functions which they perform. Each of these boards appear a little differently but they have many components in common.
Understanding The Board
Power (USB / Barrel Jack): The Arduino is an electrical appliance and would require a steady connection to a power source. This can be in form of a USB cable from the computer, UPS, CPU or a wall power source terminated with a barrel jack. The USB connection is labeled(1) and the barrel jack is labeled (2). Ensure the Arduino is connected to a power source of not more than 20 Volts, the recommended voltage is between 6 and 12 volts.
Pins (5V, 3.3V, GND, Analog, Digital, PWM, AREF): Pins are connections to wires for constructing a circuit. You can plug a wire directly using their black plastic headers. The pins differ based on their functions, they include, the GND pin(3) which is used to ground the circuit. The 5V (4) & 3.3V (5) are the 5 volts and 3 volts pins which supply 5 and 3volts of power respectively. Analog (6) pins A0 to A5 read signals from an analog sensor and convert it into a readable digital signal. Digital pins(7) 0 to 13 are used for both digital input (eg. determining if a button is pushed) and digital output (such as powering an LED). PWM (8) are digital pins which can also be used for Pulse-Width Modulation to simulate analog output. AREF (9) refers to Analog Reference, it could be used to set an external reference voltage (between 0 and 5 Volts) as the upper limit for the analog input pins but for the most part, it is not commonly used
Reset Button (10): It is particularly very useful for testing code multiple times especially non-repetitive code. Pressing this button temporarily re-connects the reset pin to ground and restarts code that has been loaded on to the Arduino.
Power LED Indicator (11): Located next to the ON button, it lights up whenever the Arduino is connected to a power source, if otherwise, it indicates problems with the circuit connection.Your Content Goes Here
TX RX INDICATOR LEDs (12): TX represents transmit while RX represents receive, they represent the pins used in serial transmission. They glow to indicate reception and transmission of data on the Arduino, an example is when loading code onto the board
Main IC (13): Where IC stands for Integrated Circuit, this component is considered the brain of the Arduino and is an important determinant of the type of code or program to load on the board as they differ from type to type.
Voltage Regulator (14): It is used to regulate the voltage that enters into the Arduino board by keeping off any extra harmful voltages but no more than 20 volts.