Saturday, April 2, 2011

What Exactly is an Arduino ?

Posted by rinson

Figure 1-1. An Arduino Uno

Wikipedia states “An Arduino is a single-board microcontroller and a software suite for programming it.The hardware consists of a simple open hardware design for the controller with an Atmel AVR processorand on-board I/O support. The software consists of a standard programming language and the boot loader
that runs on the board.”To put that in layman’s terms, an Arduino is a tiny computer that you can program to process inputs
and outputs between the device and external components you connect to it (see Figure 1-1). TheArduino is what is known as a Physical or Embedded Computing platform, which means that it is aninteractive system that can interact with its environment through the use of hardware and software. Forexample, a simple use of an Arduino would be to turn a light on for a set period of time, let’s say 30seconds, after a button has been pressed. In this example, the Arduino would have a lamp and a button
connected to it. The Arduino would sit patiently waiting for the button to be pressed; once pressed, theArduino would turn the lamp on and start counting. Once it had counted for 30 seconds, it would turnthe lamp off and then wait for another button press. You could use this setup to control a lamp in ancloset, for example.You could extend this concept by connecting a sensor, such as a PIR, to turn the lamp on when ithas been triggered. These are some simple examples of how you could use an Arduino.
The Arduino can be used to develop stand-alone interactive objects or it can be connected to acomputer, a network, or even the Internet to retrieve and send data to and from the Arduino and thenon that data. In other words, it can send a set of data received from some sensors to a website, whichcan then be displayed in the form of a graph.The Arduino can be connected to LEDs, dot matrix displays (see Figure 1-2), buttons,switches,motors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors, distance sensors, GPS receivers, Ethernet modules, orjust about anything that outputs data or can be controlled. A look around the Internet will bring up awealth of projects where an Arduino has been used to read data from or control an amazing array of devices.