Arduino

Arduino_Logo_C

Ok, you might be saying that an Arduino, is by no way some old piece of antiquated technology, so why is it here !?

Well, for years, I’ve been demonstrating some of the older technologies, with the help of microcontrollers. I’ve spent most of my career in what is now referred to as embedded control, starting with early 8-bit microprocessors, like the Z-80 and 8085. When microcontrollers gained popularity, I moved over to ones such as the HC05, and 8051 families. It was all assembly language back then. The HC05 was a joy to program in assembly. The 8051 … eh, the AVR a bit irritating, and the PIC just made you prefer that sharp stick in the eye !

The electronics hobby, in recent years, has transitioned into software, and the microntroller. This kinda irritated me. Microcontrollers are great tools, and get things done, quickly, reliably, efficiently, and economically. Professionally, they are really, the only way to go, the grand majority of the time. But its different at the hobby level. Here, you often want to see what’s actually going on, hence projects like the nixie thermometer kit. It bugged me, when flipping thru Nuts-n-Volts, to see too many projects grab a microcontroller just to make a few LEDs blink. That’s one reason I’ve gone “retro”, and rediscovered tubes. Especially unique and obtuse tubes, like the dekatron. And of course, the nixie tube, which is a “retro” favorite.

By living with micrcontrollers so long, there really was no need for me to adopt the Arduino, when it came along. I had (still have) all the equipment to burn an individual chip, with no extra unneeded hardware, and with the freedom to choose any of the many variants, in a given family, from small to big. Now, however, I’ve decided to release, some general purpose, non-dedicated kits, which allow the end user to configure it to their needs. The Arduino platform, fills this need perfectly. So I will be releasing various shields, and also providing some sample sketches for each shield. Btw, a shield, is a piece of hardware that plugs into and Arduino board (such as an Uno), and a sketch, is a program, in Arduino lingo.

This particular page will have links to various pages, in the Arduino community, and also a sub-page, for each shield, that I provide as a kit. Each shield, will have, at least one sample sketch. The shields will plug into an Arduino Uno (Rev 3 as of 2017) . This is basically the entry unit, into the Arduino world. There will also be some auxiliary information, such as clones, since the Arduino is open source. Some of the cheaper clones come with pitfalls, that need to be addressed. I will make links to those. This will not be a comprehensive Arduino page, since there are many better resources out there, on the web. The Arduino is a good way to teach introductory programming, in a high level language, which is a variant of C. C, and its object-oriented variant C++, is the most widely used programming language out there.

The Arduino Uno

Uno_Dim

This is the most basic starter unit most people use when just getting into the Arduino. The current revision is R3 (as of May 2017, and probably a couple years earlier). If you purchase a “real” Uno, the R3 model is the one that will be shipped to you. As with all Arduino units, its an open source design, and full documentation of the unit, can easily be found on line.

You can buy one here: Spark Fun DEV-11021 for $24.95

This is the genuine unit made by Arduino.

Many other vendors like Ada Fruit, and All Electronics, also sell the genuine article.

You can also get lower cost versions on eBay. This unit, is open source, so those 3rd party board makers, are not in violation of any intellectual property (IP) laws. But many do “cheap out”, and make their units with a different USB interface (CH340G instead of the original ATMega8U2 or ATMega16U2), AND they ship the main ATMega328 uC not programmed with the requisite Bootloader program. Fortunately, to use the alternate (CH340G) USB chip, drivers can be found, downloaded, and installed, from many online sources. Also ATMega328 with the bootloader, preprogrammed, can be found here: All Electronics ARD-24 for only $5.50.

Actually, you can just buy one Uno, if you get the one with the DIP packaged ATMega328 (as opposed to the surface mount one). That way, you can stock up on the bootloader preprogrammed chips, and insert one in the Uno, upload your project, then remove it, and wire it, in your final project. Take note of the chip pinout, on the drawing, above.

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