18 Nov 2011

Introduction: before you start

Arduino is really fun and powerful! What it can do are beyond your imagination! You might find it helpful spending a few minutes read through this article before you start bidding on Ebay for your first Arduino board! ; )

How did I start? here is a bit of the history, skip if you wish.

Before I learned to play with Arduino, I was doing a DIY project at home, building a RC car that controlled by a computer over the internet. I was googling for a suitable micro-controller, and there it was, commented by others: "easy to design and implement".
I then went on to search for more examples and usage of this board, spent a week going through some tutorials, making sure that I can actually handle this piece of art, before I bought my very first board from China. After it arrived, I can't believe I can already build some interesting things with it only with the stuff I read from the internet! It was pretty exciting ; )

Some really awesome Arduino projects

Arduino EMF detector

Wii Controller controlling robot

Android Arduino cellbot

You can probably find a lot more on Youtube.

So what is Arduino and What can it do?

You can probably google it, but to my understanding, it's basically a piece of micro-controller that has a very user-friendly built-in interface. It can be programmed to communicate between sensors (light-sensitive LED, mic etc) and computers, control electrical devices such as motors, LEDs, speakers and so on.

It's been a really popular choice for electronics projects, because

  • cheap
  • open-source
  • multi-platform
  • easy to learn and use

For more examples what it can do please check out youtube!

The Skills you need to have before you start

Programming - C/C++
This one is essential. Just the basic would do the job. such as for/while loops, if/switch statements, variable types, functions, basic syntax and so on.
It would also be nice to learn class, library. But I will probably write some thing about these in the future.

Basic Electronics knowledge
You will probably develop your knowledge in the field of electronics along your explore in the Arduino world, but basics like what resistors are for, and how to connect a circuit and so on should be learnt before you do any actual connection. One simple test to do is by asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing, if you are in doubt, google it and make a note!

Some people might call it Electronics skill too, but personally I think it's mostly a technique that grows as you practice, just like holding a pair of chopsticks. But this doesn't happen a lot as we will be using breadboard most of the time.

Selecting the right board

Please see the Arduino official websites for different models of Arduino Board:

But I would strongly recommend to go for the UNO board if you are a beginer, as it's cheap and a lot of tutorials and examples on the net are based on this board. Also most of my work would be using this too!

  • The main difference between different board would be:
  • size of memory to hold data and programs
  • number of input and output pins
  • input/output voltage
Have a look here as well [http://www.arduinobooks.com/which-arduino-hardware/]

I will try to build up difficulty on the tutorials as we move on. Also please point out mistakes i will make, and don't be surprised if you can think of a better way of doing things than mine. In the world of programming and electronics, no thing is impossible. Just like there is actually something faster than speed of light [http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/life-and-physics/2011/nov/18/1].