Over the last few years, many books and magazines featuring electronic projects and programming have become more widely available in bookstores. If you read the book titles, you’ll most likely see the words “Arduino” and “Raspberry Pi” here and there.
However, though there are many people who have heard about Arduino and Raspberry Pi, there aren’t too many who know exactly what they are.
So in today’s article, we’re going to tell you all about Arduino. We’ll cover points such as:
Arduino is an easy-to-use, open source microcontroller board, great for beginners and those with a limited knowledge of electricity, programming, and electronics. When you hear the name Arduino, the product in reference is most likely what you see in the picture below.
You will notice various electronic components on this board. It is similar to the boards often found in personal computers and televisions. The Arduino board is a microcontroller development board loaded with a chip (called a microcontroller) whose functions can be changed through the use of programming. The board in the photo is one such example.
Arduino doesn’t just refer to the Arduino board. It also includes the integrated development environment (IDE) programming software of the same name.
This particular programming software is often called the Arduino IDE. When distinguishing between the board and software, it is easier to refer to them separately as the “Arduino board” and the “Arduino IDE”.
Arduino came about from the development of a platform called “Wiring”, built by Hernando Barragán in 2003 as a research project for his master’s thesis at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in Italy. His original research aim and the purpose behind developing Wiring was to simplify the complicated processes and mechanisms of microcontrollers, making it more easily accessible to artists and designers with little knowledge of electronics.
The Arduino development project began in 2005. Barragán’s master’s thesis instructor, Massimo Banzi, together with students David Mellis and David Cuartielles, began another project (forking Wiring’s source code) called Arduino.
The name Arduino comes from the name of the bar that Banzi frequented, Bar di Re Arduino, a name that has stuck with it since.
Soon after, Arduino grew in popularity, and with the help of the Maker Movement (a movement that promoted the use of digital machine tools such as 3D printers), it quickly became the most popular microcontroller board in the world.
If you look deeper into the history of Arduino, you will find many articles referencing the internal division of the Arduino team (Arduino LLC and Arduino SRL), and their issues related to trademark and manufacturing rights. Thankfully, the matter was eventually reconciled, which for Arduino users like us, brought a huge sigh of relief (especially in terms of the impact it would have on Arduino board distribution and Arduino IDE updates)!
Nowadays, it is easy for beginners to learn the basics through articles and books. You’ll often find many titles such as “How to do ~ with Arduino” and “How to do ~ with Raspberry Pi”.
But as a beginner, it can be a challenge knowing where to start. Many people are probably asking themselves, “Which one should I buy?” Hold on to that question. First, let’s take a brief look at the differences between Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
Arduino is a microcontroller board, and Raspberry Pi is a single-board microcomputer. We just took a brief look at the microcontroller board. Perhaps the best way to describe a single-board microcomputer is as “a small personal computer that can accomplish the minimum necessary functions”. With this in mind, you can consider different perspectives and decide whether to use Arduino or Raspberry Pi based on your needs.
Some people will say that between a microcontroller and a personal computer, the personal computer is best because it is more forward compatible. However, both individual devices have their own set of pros and cons, depending on how you want to use them.
The first difference is the presence of an internal operating software: while Raspberry Pi has an OS, Arduino does not.
This is more than just a simple matter of whether it is better to have an OS or not. There are several considerations you should take into account before making a decision. For example, when using a personal computer, other applications running on the OS may affect the desired behavior, and freezing may occur.
Of course, if you want to use a program that runs on Linux, you’ll want to opt for Raspberry Pi, as Arduino lacks that ability.
This simply means remembering that: a microcontroller will do what a microcontroller is meant to do, and a personal computer will do what a personal computer should. Raspberry Pi can carry out just about any input-output function, including operating LEDs and switches. However, it’s not a matter of what you can or cannot do, but what roles each device is suitable for. By knowing this, you can figure out which one to use based on your goals and needs.
For example, Arduino is most suitable for the following roles:
If you are dealing with electrical signals (hardware-oriented), Arduino is a good choice.
The roles that Raspberry Pi is most suitable for are as follows:
If you need something to act as a personal computer (such as using software), you should use Raspberry Pi.
If you happen to know someone who can teach you how to use it, then it may be helpful to learn from that person. However, it can be difficult to arrange one-on-one lessons multiple times, and the people who teach it are already so knowledgeable, it can be hard to keep up. For these reasons, I would actually recommend self-study to learn on your own.
The following two methods are recommended by the author:
When learning from technical and introductory books, it is best to buy the ones sold at bookstores and online shops. While it does cost money to get these books in the first place, many are specifically written for beginners who are starting from scratch. These books likely have the best and most easy-to-understand explanations. Additionally, there are also a number of books that serve as complete guides, so that you will only need to purchase one. This can save you hours of surfing the web, and browsing through all kinds of articles without really knowing what you’re looking for.
Here are some examples of books on Arduino that I’ve purchased myself. You may want to check the user reviews and related products before choosing one for yourself.
Searching the Internet and browsing through tons of free articles is a great way to gather information at a much lower cost than the price of a book. You can find well-written articles that provide enough information to help you get started on your own. It is also useful to read information and explanations written from various perspectives. Here are some articles I recommend for getting started with Arduino. You may want to save these articles and refer back to them any time you want to look up something new.
How to Get Started with Arduino
This article explains how to install the Arduino IDE, and how to operate LED lights. It is easy to do and recommended for people who are using Arduino for the first time. Take your first step by referring to this procedure!
Use a breadboard to connect LEDs and resistors to your Arduino and make LED glow or blink. This article will teach you how to work with programs and wiring.
Using Light Sensors
Here you will work with a sensor that functions similarly to our own five senses. Use a light sensor to detect the brightness of your surroundings, which changes the color of the LED.
There are a few things to consider before buying an Arduino board. Because there are a variety of kinds of Arduino boards on the market, their prices and functions vary by type. Here are 4 types of Arduino boards, and the most common needs they serve.
If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, or have no idea what you want to create, I recommend Arduino Uno. It’s great for first-timers who simply want to try it out.
Arduino Uno is the most basic board, and a standard item of the Arduino series. As one of the most standard Arduino products, you’ll find that most information available in online articles, magazines, and technical books cover how to use it. Also, many Arduino accessory boards (called “shields”) are compatible with Arduino Uno.
A pin header is installed on the input/output port, which you can connect to a breadboard with a jumper wire.
Arduino Uno is the most popular board used to illustrate examples in online articles. So if you use a board of a different brand, you may find it challenging to assemble according to these articles, as most are written based on Arduino’s specs (such as pin count, etc.). But if you use Arduino Uno, you can easily follow the instructions and codes exactly as written!
If you want to operate a number of LEDs, switches, and motors, Arduino Uno may not have enough input/output ports. In that case, the Arduino Mega may be your best bet. However, it is more expensive than Uno.
The Arduino Mega has more input/output ports than the Uno, meaning you can connect more devices, such as sensors. (When connecting multiple LEDs, you must be mindful of the current consumption. This should be noted not only for Mega, but for all microcontrollers).
Uno only has one serial communication port (a USB port). With Mega, you get three extra ports in addition to the USB port. So if you need to set up communication between microcontrollers, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc., I recommend Mega.
Also, because the most frequently used ports are positioned similarly to Arduino Uno, many Uno-compatible shields can also be used with Mega.
Mega also has more pins that can be used for PWM output than Uno does, so if you need to operate more motors that use PWM, opt for Mega. And if you plan to use Arduino to build robots in the future, it’s definitely worth having.
If you want to install your board into a smaller robot or device, I recommend the compact Arduino Micro, a board even smaller in size than Uno. It’s slightly cheaper than Uno, too.
The Arduino Micro comes installed with a pin header and USB port, and the microcontroller board can be directly connected to the breadboard. If you solder the pin header onto a universal board, you can wire it without using jumper wires.
On a universal board, wiring is done on the copper-plated (patterned) soldering side of the board. It has become common practice in the field of electronics works to save the clipped legs from LEDs and resistors to use for wiring on the board.
In recent years, DIY keyboards have gained popularity in the field of electronic projects. By making your own computer keyboard, you can create your ideal, original keyboard with any functions you desire. With Arduino Leonardo, you can build your own HIDs such as keyboards and mice. The board shape is similar to Uno, though it is a different type of Arduino board.
An HID, or Human Interface Device, is a general term referring to peripheral computer devices such as keyboards and mice. HID compliant devices are HIDs that can be operated without installing a product-specific device driver when connected to a computer via USB. The Arduino Leonardo is equipped with a microcontroller called ATmega32U4, which can also behave as a HID-compliant device such as a keyboard or mouse.
All Arduino boards equipped with the ATmega32U4 microcontroller can be used for DIY keyboards and mice, including the previously introduced Arduino Micro. If you want to build a prototype on a breadboard, choose Leonardo, and if you want to solder onto a universal board, choose Micro.
With the advent of Arduino, microcontrollers have been frequently used not only in manufactured appliances, but also in independently-made DIY crafts, such as hobby robots, art, and DIY electronics. Here are three such works that use Arduino.
TINKERKIT BRACCIO ROBOT
Tinkerkit is an official robot arm kit developed by Arduino. You can control the arm using Arduino, whose movements are powered by 6 servo motors. While there are various types of educational robot kits, most of them use Arduino.
Plastic Reflectic is an installation project that addresses the issue of trash in our oceans that contribute to environmental pollution and destruction. It uses a whopping 600 waterproof servo motors! Arduino is often used in electronically-controlled media art exhibitions such as this.
Arduino Camera Slider
This device is an automated camera slider made using Arduino. Arduino is used to control the two stepper motors that drive the back-and-forth movements and rotation. One of the great things about using Arduino for DIY projects is that you can customize nearly any part of your work, from size to type of operation.
Finally, here are some articles on electronic projects using Arduino that I have previously shared in Device Plus. Many authors have built a number of unique and interesting devices. Please feel free to reference them at any time.
How To: Arduino Hexapod PART 1- Mechanics and Wiring
Hexapod robots are one of the coolest robots to build, but they are usually quite expensive. One of the reasons is that they usually have lots of parts and use 18 servos, all of which need to be powered and driven by some microcontroller. In this tutorial, I will show how to build your own Arduino hexapod, or Ardupod, by 3D printing all the parts and using only 12 servos to control the robot. Are you ready? Let’s get to it!
Arduino Garage Opener & Universal Radio Interface
Incidental radio waves are everywhere. Deep space echoes from the Big Bang are most evident in the microwave spectrum, whereas the rather local echoes from your in-house electrical wiring, and nearby metro train system, are most evident at 50-60Hz. Whenever you’re touching a 3.5mm TRS jack and hear that aggravating hum, it’s you being a big audible condenser for incidental analog radio waves.
In this article, we’ll go over a practical and interference robust radio system perfectly suited for Makers.
Make Your Own Arduino RFID Door Lock
Tired of being locked out when you lose or forget your keys? Well, I have the perfect solution for you! Today we will build an Arduino RFID door lock. I wanted to find an easy and secure way to lock a door, without having to buy an expensive locking device. We will learn about radio frequency identification (RFID) and make use of wireless communication.
Today we introduced the features of Arduino, explained how to choose the right one for you, and showed some real-life examples. One of the greatest pleasures of working with electronics is simply being able to create unique, one-of-a-kind devices that don’t exist anywhere else in the world! If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Wow, I really wish I could make something like this,” give it a shot with Arduino!