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Arduino Development Kits: Advantages and Features

Monday, July 28, 2014

Introduction to Arduino

Arduino is a basic single board microcontroller designed to make applications, interactive controls, or environments easily adaptive. The hardware consists of a board designed around an 8-bit microcontroller, or a 32-bit ARM. Current models feature things like a USB interface, analog inputs, and GPIO pins which allows the user to attach additional boards.

Introduced in 2005, the Arduino platform was designed to provide a cheaper way for hobbyists, students and professionals to create applications that play in the human interface world using sensors, actuators, motors, and other rudimentary products. Common applications for students or the inexperienced are simple robots or motion detectors. It offers a simple integrated IDE (integrated development environment) that runs on regular personal computers and allows users to write programs for Arduino using C or C++.

Typical prices of Arduino boards run around $25. Arduino boards can be purchased pre-assembled or as do-it-yourself kits. Hardware design information is available for those who would like to assemble an Arduino by hand. It was estimated in mid-2011 that over 300,000 official Arduinos had been commercially produced and in 2013 that 700,000 official boards were in users' hands.

The Unique Culture of Arduino

Some of the largest semiconductor companies have jumped into the Arduino space such as Cypress, STM, Texas Instruments, Freescale, and of course the incumbent Atmel.   

What is interesting is the emergence of small cottage industries sprouting up in many unsuspected areas. This new generation of platforms is significantly different as it serves as the incubator of new designers, and a new era, as transformations of applications serve new and exciting needs.

The 5 Major Benefits of Using Arduino Starter Kits

  1. Inexpensive - Arduino boards are relatively inexpensive compared to other microcontroller platforms. The least expensive version of the Arduino module can be assembled by hand, and even the pre-assembled Arduino modules cost less than $50.

  2. Cross-platform - The Arduino software runs on Windows, Macintosh OSX, and Linux operating systems. Most microcontroller systems are limited to Windows.

  3. Simple, clear programming environment - The Arduino programming environment is easy-to-use for beginners, yet flexible enough for advanced users to take advantage of as well. For teachers, it's conveniently based on the Processing programming environment, so students learning to program in that environment will be familiar with the look and feel of Arduino.

  4. Open source and extensible software - The Arduino software is published as open source tools, available for extension by experienced programmers. The language can be expanded through C++ libraries, and people wanting to understand the technical details can make the leap from Arduino to the AVR C programming language on which it's based. Similarly, you can add AVR-C code directly into your Arduino programs if you want to.

  5. Open source and extensible hardware - The Arduino is based on Atmel's ATMEGA8 and ATMEGA168 microcontrollers. The plans for the modules are published under a Creative Commons license, so experienced circuit designers can make their own version of the module, extending it and improving it. Even relatively inexperienced users can build the breadboard version of the module in order to understand how it works and save money.

Interested in getting started with Arduino? Call Symmetry at (310) 536-6190, or contact us online.



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