It’s been some time since I posted Part 1 of this series. In my first post, I covered the idea behind Arduino and the many applications of their boards. I have taken the past month to gain experience in micro-controlling and, as promised, I will share more of my educational journey.
Since an Arduino board interprets inputs and controls outputs, it only makes sense that you mostly see inputs and outputs on the front face. For the sake of keeping this guide as concise as possible without technical overload, I will only highlight the most critical parts of the board. As shown in the orientation above, the UNO R3 (a popular starter Arduino board) has digital pins up top that can be used as an input and/or output. Working around the board clockwise, we have a reset button that can be used to disrupt the current task and start from the beginning again. Next, we have the ATmega328 micro-controller which acts as the brain of the board. Below the brain, we have another strip of inputs and outputs. Starting from the far left, the user has freedom to use 6 analog inputs which can be used for sensors or other components. The next 3 pins are unregulated voltage (Vin) and two ground pins. The last 3 pins are a regulated source of 5V, 3.3V, and a reset pin. Lastly, we find the external power supply and the USB plug for power and communication purposes.
Inputs and Outputs
The 14 digital pins located up top can be used as inputs or outputs to fit various needs. They operate at 5V and can stand up to 40mA of current. Some pins have special functions but I will cover that when the times comes to use them.
The 6 analog inputs on the UNO have the same 5V operations level and provide 10 bits of resolution. Working with analog and digital signals at the same time can be a bit tricky but, like stated above, I will get to that when the project calls for it.
The UNO R3 can be powered via an external power supply such as a wall adapter or by USB connection. The board can be supplied with 6 to 20V but anything above 12V is NOT recommended. The board can become very hot at higher voltages! Connecting a USB cable supplies the board with 5V but more potential can be supplied using an external power supply. This is important for driving components that may need more power than the regulated 5V supplied by USB.
Standing by the idea of making coding and micro-controlling easy to learn, the software supplied by Arduino allows the user to jump right in without any headaches. The IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is easy to setup and looks very clean. A sample screenshot is included below to help highlight some important areas.
The 5 buttons at the top left starting from the right are: verify, upload, new, open, and save. Verify is used to compile your code and approve it for use. Upload sends your code to the Arduino board. New opens up a new “sketch”, or code. Open allows the user to open an existing sketch and Save is self-explanatory. The magnifying glass to the top right is a serial monitor that shows what the Arduino is transmitting and is useful for debugging. The large white field is open space to write your code and the black field below is a message area where the IDE tells you of any errors.
What a post! I hope Part 2 doesn’t confuse you and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment. I will get back to you as best as I can but just know that I’m learning this environment for the first time too! My next post will get into our first project dealing with LED’s and code debugging. I will also include a video to help you visualize what all is going on. Until next time!