Before we start creating lots of cool projects with arduino, what is Arduino?
Arduino is an open source, computer hardware and software company, project, and user community that designs and manufactures microcontroller kits for building digital devices and interactive objects that can sense and control objects in the physical world.
An Arduino board is an open-source programmable computer hardware, which is basically an easy-to-use version of a microcontroller. There are hundreds of versions of the board and literarily thousands of Arduino compatible sensors and breakout boards.
Microcontrollers are so complicated to deal with. There are always so many different kinds with different unique ways to program and interact with them. Arduino is here to fix that. I myself had never done any form of microcontroller programming, but with two 5 minute tutorials on youtube, I started working with Arduino.
Arduino comprises of a software programing enviroment/ IDE (programmed in C++…don’t worry, its easier than you think) and a hardware, a microcontroller which executes the comands and instructions you give it in the programming IDE. TBH, most of the time you wount ever need to type a word of code… yes really! Thats because Arduino already comes with a ton of examples and the also, the Arduino ecosystem is so LARGE, that every single project you want to do or idea you may have is already on the internet. And because Arduino is open source, you can copy code and project specifics from the internet for free without infringing upon copyright…except maybe in special cases.
Types of Arduino boards
Because Arduino is open source, many different versions made by different companies and individuals exists on the market as “Arduino boards”. This is a list of the types of boards made by Arduino themselves and to me are the best to start off with as a learner.
Arduino Uno (R3)
The Uno is a huge option for your initial Arduino. It consists of 14-digital I/O pins, where 6-pins can be used as PWM (pulse width modulation outputs), 6-analog inputs, a reset button, a power jack, a USB connection and more. It includes everything required to hold up the microcontroller; simply attach it to a PC with the help of a USB cable and give the supply to get started with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery.
Arduino Nano is a surface mount breadboard embedded version with integrated USB. It is a smallest, complete, and breadboard friendly. It is absolutely my favourite Arduino board.It has everything that Diecimila/Duemilanove has (electrically) with more analog input pins and onboard +5V AREF jumper. Physically, it is missing power jack. The Nano is automatically sense and switch to the higher potential source of power, there is no need for the power select jumper.
Nano’s got the breadboard-ability of the Boarduino and the Mini+USB with smaller footprint than either, so users have more breadboard space. It’s got a pin layout that works well with the Mini or the Basic Stamp (TX, RX, ATN, GND on one top, power and ground on the other). This new version 3.0 comes with ATMEGA328 which offer more programming and data memory space. It is two layers. That make it easier to hack and more affordable.
You end up paying less with Nano than Mini and USB combined!
Microcontroller Atmel ATmega328
Operating Voltage (logic level) 5 V
Input Voltage (recommended) 7-12 V
Input Voltage (limits) 6-20 V
Digital I/O Pins 14 (of which 6 provide PWM output)
Analog Input Pins 8
DC Current per I/O Pin 40 mA
Flash Memory 32 KB (of which 2KB used by bootloader)
SRAM 2 KB
EEPROM 1 KB
Clock Speed 16 MHz
Dimensions 0.70” x 1.70”
Arduino Mega (R3) Board
The Arduino Mega is similar to the UNO’s big brother. It includes lots of digital I/O pins (from that, 14-pins can be used as PWM o/ps), 6-analog inputs, a reset button, a power jack, a USB connection and a reset button. It includes everything required to hold up the microcontroller; simply attach it to a PC with the help of a USB cable and give the supply to get started with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery.The huge number of pins make this Arduino board very helpful for designing the projects that need a bunch of digital i/ps or o/ps like lots buttons.
Arduino Leonardo Board
The first development board of an Arduino is the Leonardo board. This board uses one microcontroller along with the USB. That means, it can be very simple and cheap also. Because this board handles USB directly, program libraries are obtainable which let the Arduino board to follow a keyboard of the computer, mouse, etc.
LilyPad Arduino Board
The Lily Pad Arduino board is a wearable e-textile technology expanded by Leah “ Buechley”and considerately designed by “Leah and SparkFun”. Each board was imaginatively designed with huge connecting pads & a smooth back to let them to be sewn into clothing using conductive thread. This Arduino also comprises of I/O, power, and also sensor boards which are built especially for e-textiles. These are even washable!