Although I’ve used a Basic Stamp II processor in the past, the processor that people seem to be using for hobby robotics and automation projects the most is the Arduino. Just from the price ($26.22 from Newark) and the fact that it has fourteen programmable I/O pins it seems like a really good deal. Six of these can even be used for PWM signals.
The Arduino Uno package that I received was small, resembling a pack of cards. Not a bad thing, they seem to send you only what you need so less ends up in the trash (and it certainly saves on manufacturing and shipping costs).
Opening everything up, there was the chip with little else included, except for a couple stickers and a pamphlet about it’s manufacture and warranty. You’ll need an A to B USB cable and an internet connection, but little else to get started (no messing with a USB to serial connection). There’s no manual included, but their website, arduino.cc has some good instructions for getting everything going on Windows. Mac and Linux instructions can be found here. There’s no installation program for the Windows software, just a directory with the stuff you’ll need on it.
They really do a good step-by-step walkthrough of getting everything going. However, one thing that threw me off at first was how long it took to upload everything onto the Arduino chip. Just let it go for a while before cancelling the upload. It took around a full minute for my computer to finish the process.
As seen to the right, the Arduino software comes pre-installed with quite a bit of example code. Using this, I was able to get my built-in LED on pin 13 blinking in less than an hour. I also modified the blinking code to blink on for 3 seconds and off for one quite easily.
I’ve got an idea for a project using this processor (actually several ideas), so check back or subscribe to my RSS feed to see what’s going on!
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