Have you ever thought of a neat device that you wanted to create, like a temperature gauge or an alarm clock that uses lights to go off? Well, a small company in Ivrea, Italy wanted to let students build designs like this with an easy to use device. Enter the Arduino.
An Arduino is a single-board microcontroller designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible. The Arduino is programmed using an open source hardware to design projects that students can create. The hardware uses a simple C programming language that is transferred to the Arduino which is stored until another code replaces the existing code. Auruinos can be purchased pre-assembled or in a do-it-yourself kit. Since 2005, the Arduino has been widely bought, with over 300,000 official Arduinos sold in mid 2011.
In this week’s gear review, The Oredigger will specifically be looking at the Arduino Uno, one of the newer versions of the Arduino product line. The Uno was bought in a Inventor’s Kit, which includes the board and more. It comes with jumper wires and a breadboard to hook up devices. Some of the sensors include, a flex sensor to measure flex, a photocell to detect ambient light,and a thermistor for detecting temperatures. Other parts include buzzers, buttons, and resistors. Everything one needs to build some fun stuff.
The Uno is simple to use. The ports on the board are all marked with the number of that pin plus led’s to test to see if the board is working. When first setting up the board, the Arduino is plugged into the computer using a usb cable that produces a nice 500mA power supply which is enough for most projects. From there, Arduino provides example codes to test out the board. The first is a blinking led. When compiled and ran, a small LED on the board blinks and BAM! The board is working and it is ready to go.
The Arduino boards are perfect for Computer Science and Engineers alike! If you are curious at all about the Arduino and want to get one for yourself, sparkfun electronics located in Boulder CO is a good place to get started. The Starter Kit is only $59.95 and includes all the above plus an online guide with project ideas and troubleshooting.