The Arduino is an open-source platform. That is, the creators have uploaded the designs online for anyone to use. This platform forms the core of several famous development boards. The Arduino Uno is a good example. It consists of a microcontroller, a programming language to program it and its Integrated Development Environment (IDE). The Arduino IDE is a software that allows you to program the Arduino. Arduino boards are easy to use and an excellent way to start your project building journey!
Sounds confusing? Read on, we promise it is interesting.
These development boards are basically circuits comprising a programmable microcontroller and peripherals that allow the user to interact with the outside world through output elements like LEDs, motors, LCD screens, touch screens, and even the internet. So let’s say you wish to make a device that responds to some input (Temperature, Light, Motion or just lines of code) through outputs like motors, information (on a screen), lights, etc. then you can do it with an Arduino board.
An Arduino board can be interfaced with any electronic input device and also with any electronic output device in some way. In short, the possibilities of things you could do with an Arduino is endless.
But that holds true for almost all types of development boards like Beagle Board, Raspberry Pi etc. So why choose Arduino?
Why use Arduino boards?
We chose to start with Arduino instead of advanced industry level embedded system platforms (STM32 etc.) because of the following reasons.
Our objective is to start with the basics of electronics project making before we move onto the more complex projects.
The system was created to allow beginners and enthusiasts. Hence, it is relatively easy to use. That said, it is also a great platform to learn how a microcontroller based system works.
Despite being simple, it is capable of enabling experts to develop complex projects.
- The platform is open-source. So you can take the core functionality (made available by Arduino for free) and make your own customized board with a microcontroller and only the peripherals that you need. (This is a fantastic feature if you are trying to market a particular product that you created on an Arduino core on a large scale.)
- The Arduino community is vast and online is help is readily available. This is great for beginners.
- Components are easily available.
You may have heard the name Arduino associated with boards like the UNO, Mega, Nano, LilyPad. These all are a part of the Arduino family. Each board has a different type of microcontroller at its core along with varying functionality.
As of now, the Arduino UNO is the simplest Arduino board and thus it’s best that we start with this.
We really liked this video from the authors of one of our favorite magazines giving an introduction to Arduino.