Why is the Arduino a Hit with Entry-Level Electronics Tinkerers?By Shalin Shah
The board game Monopoly was launched during the Great Depression to make people feel better about their real purchasing power. I'm not aware of any new financial board games as a result of our most recent economic crisis, however, Jameco is always committed to making our customers feel better. We do it with inexpensive electronic components that are thought by some of us as simply fun toys. The latest such Jameco toy is the Arduino single-board microcontroller and software programming suite. I saw a great article in Wired Magazine with five reasons that explain why Arduino is a hit with entry-level electronics tinkerers everywhere.
Great Projects for BeginnersThe hardware consists of a simple open hardware design for the controller with an Atmel AVR processor and onboard I/O support. The software consists of a standard programming language and a boot loader that also runs onboard. The Arduino hardware is programmed using a Wiring-based language, similar to C++, with some simplifications and modifications, and a processing-based IDE.
The Getting Started with Arduino Kit is a great starter kit.
Arduino IDE Example Program
Cost-EffectiveAt less than $35 a piece, the Arduino is an inexpensive investment for someone who simply wants to try it out. Compared with other single-board microcontrollers, which can cost up to five times as much, the Arduino is quite a bargain!
Arduino with Prototyping Shield
Large Online CommunityThe Arduino Project began in Italy in 2005 to make inexpensive devices for controlling student-built interaction design projects. Within just five years, more than 120,000 Arduino boards have shipped.
Visit the Arduino Community
Product DevelopmentPreviously, the Arduino board exposed most of the microcontroller's I/O pins for use by other circuits. The MEGA and the Duemilanove provide 14 digital I/O pins, six of which can produce PWM signals and six analog inputs. These pins are available on the top of the board, via 0.10" female headers.
Now, however, the Arduino Nano and the Arduino-compatible Barebones and Boarduino boards provide male header pins on the underside of the board to be plugged into solderless breadboards.
SimplicityThe Arduino IDE is a cross-platform application written in Java designed to specifically introduce programming to newcomers unfamiliar with software development. It includes a code editor with features such as syntax highlighting, brace matching and automatic indentation, and is also capable of compiling and uploading programs to the board with a single click.