Introduction to Arduino Microcontroller



Introduction to Arduino (For beginners)

Ever thought of working with microcontrollers, but resisted due to lack of knowledge about them?
Ever made a futile attempt of reading a whole microcontroller datasheet?
Ever found hard learning (memorizing) the assembly syntax and keywords?
Can’t afford to buy the costly USB programmers for your microcontrollers?

Get ready.! Arduino answers your laments!

What is Arduino?:

Well, first let me explain what arduino exactly is. Arduino in general is a opensource platform targetting hobbiysts. Most of us using the interent would have came across the word “opensouce”. Opensource is a methodology where, the developers of a software/hardware give the end user access to their end product’s design and implementation. That means the end user has rights to modify/change the way a software looks/works and redistribute it. Examples of opensource software are Linux operating system, freePCB, openBSD etc [Remember: MS Windows is not an opensource software]. Coming to arduino, arduino is an opensource hardware and software platform which uses Atmel microcontroller as core hardware component and Java as a core software language and which is used to control LEDs, Motors,displays and any hobby projects. The main aim of arduino project is to make everyone try microcontrollers – you don’t even have to care what controller is used. Its that simple!

Arduino – Hardware:

The hardware part of arduino contains a development board made in Italy.(Since it is a opensource hardware, they provide the schematics and PCB files in Eagle at the arduino website – you are free to download and make your own board.)
Below is a example board (Arduino UNO)  – I’ve labeled the parts 🙂


Just plug-it into your computer’s USB port and download the program into the controller board from your computer and the board can be used in the required application.

Arduino – Software:

The arduino software consists of two parts as given

  1. Arduino Bootloader

      2. Arduino IDE

Bootloader is a little piece of code residing inside the microcontroller which makes the controller special and gives it the power of integration to the arduino IDE and the arduino board. With the bootloader erased, when you try to program from the IDE, the controller won’t understand anything! In simple words, the bootloader acts as a translator between the controller and the arduino IDE. You have to load the bootloader in to the controller (from a different programmer) before integrating it with the arduino board.

IDE(Integrated Development Environment):
The arduino IDE is installed in the computer. The IDE has a compiler, serial monitor etc. Arduino language is a variant of c++ – atleast it looks like c++ programs. Program is written, compiled and uploaded from the IDE to the board.The language is really really simple!. The IDE has the options to select from different versions of arduino board with different controllers and also has options to select the particular communication port where the arduino board is connected.

Arduino Shields:

Shields are mountable things on arduino board which enables easy interfacing of modules such as LCD, ethernet etc., elimating the need for wires. Ther are huge variety of shields for almost all applications.

Buying options:

The arduino website sells the board made in Italy and alternatively you can also buy from local distributers. List of distributers is listed in the arduino website. There are many clones which are compatible with the arduino IDE made by arduino users. Some clones resemble the arduino board, and some clones have integrated peripherals too! (Like LDR, IR receiver, extra tactile switches and LEDs etc.)

So, what are you waiting for go grab a arduino board and start your research 😀

Arduino website:

All these projects are developed and tested by our engineering team. You can buy the components and try them with confidence.

What is Arduino

In this article, we explain the basics surrounding arduino. As the title indicates, this article is for absolute beginners in the world of electronics and for people who are beginning with arduino boards.

Arduino is an electronics prototyping platform based on a micro controller. Arduino boards are usually made using Atmel’s Atmega series micro controllers or ARM micro controllers. Arduino is an open source hardware project which means the designs of board (the hardware architecture, CAD files) are available to public with open source license. Anyone can modify the hardware designs and the associated software.

What you can do with Arduino

“If you can imagine it, you can create it” – these lines best describes arduino. You can build any kind of interesting projects and applications using your arduino board. Let’s see some examples:-

1. A 4WD Robot with Remote Control – This is an interesting robotics project built using an arduino compatible board. The remote control in this project is created using the XBEE radio. You may see the video given in the project article to see how the robot operates.

2. GPS Cat Tracker – is another interesting project created using TinyDuino (another arduino compatible board). This project helps to track any moving object or living being using GPS.

There are hundreds of different projects that you can try with arduino. I have listed just 2 of them. In the coming days, we will be publishing many different projects based on Arduino. Subscribe to our Email Newsletter to receive exciting new projects in your email.

The Arduino Platform

Arduino was originally designed for non technical people. In fact, the founders of Arduino designed it for creative people like visual artists, digital designers and the likes. It is very clear from the book written by one of the Arduino founder Massimo Banzi. If you read his book on Arduino – Getting Started with Arduino, you will find things explained at the simplest level possible using real world analogies any common man can understand. I will reproduce the main lines written by Massimo Banzi in Chapter 3 of his book – Getting started with Arduino.

“Arduino is composed of two major parts:the Arduino board, which is the piece of hardware you work on when you build your objects; and the arduino IDE, the piece of software you run on your computer. You use the IDE to create a sketch (a little computer program) that you upload to the arduino board. The sketch tells the board what to do.”

This is one of the simplest description given to an electronics prototyping board, and is easily understood by anyone. I will be coming up with a detailed article on Arduino hardware and software next – in which I will explain the board in detail. The photograph given below is the side view of Arduino Uno board made in Italy.

How to learn Arduino

There are hundreds of resources available to learn arduino and build exciting projects with it. If you prefer online resources, then the Official Arduino Guide can be a great starting point. You can find lots of interesting projects featured in the Official Arduino Blog as well. These two resources are more than enough to begin with Arduino. To go further and do advanced projects with Arduino, there are plenty of other online resources available like MakeZine, HackADay and more.

How to Buy Arduino

boards are available for purchase in many international online stores. If you are from USA, you can buy the board from Amazon or SparkFun. Similarly there are different online suppliers for Arduino boards in different countries. You have to keep in mind an important fact regarding arduino. Since arduino is an open source hardware, any one including me and you can make an arduino copmatible board and sell it commercially. There are many popular arduino compatible boards like NetDuino, FreeDuino, SeeDuino etc.  One easy way to differentiate between original arduino boards and the compatible models is to look for the trade name in the board. The name “Arduino” is trademarked and reserved for boards made from the original parent company in Italy. All compatible arduino boards use a different but look alike trade name like “Freeduino” or “Netduino”.

If you are a beginner, you may begin your learning process by buying an Arduino Uno board – which is the cheapest of original arduino boards. I have given photograph of an Arduino Uno board with its packaging below.

Unpacking Arduino Uno

I hope this much information is enough to help you understand “what is arduino” and what you can do with it. I have covered the general aspects, what is the platform, where to learn and how to buy. In coming days, I will cover topics on installing arduino and we will be doing some interesting projects as well.