Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It interacts with the outside world via different sensors, buttons, motors, LEDs and so on, which allows programmers to create a wide range of applications. A big advantage of this board is that it has standard connectors (such as USB), which allows easy connection with other devices and systems. Something important from a financial point of view is the fact that Arduino could not only be bought, but it also could be assembled by users with enough knowledge in this area. This platform has as a part of it microcontrollers and processors made by a variety of producers – Atmel, ARM, Intel. The control of the board is done via a set of instructions in the programming language Arduino (based on Wiring) and the IDE Arduino Software (based on Processing).
Arduino was born as an easy tool for fast prototyping, aimed at students without a background in electronics and programming. As soon as it reached a wider community, the Arduino board started changing to adapt to new needs and challenges, such as IoT, 3D printing, embedded systems and others. During the years developers from all over the world (students, hobbyists, artists, programmers, experts in different areas) have gathered around this open-source platform and their contributions have added up to an incredible amount of accessible knowledge that can be of great help to novices and experts alike.
The main advantages of Arduino are the following:
- inexpensive – it costs not more than $35;
- cross-platform – the Arduino Software (IDE) runs on Windows, Macintosh OSX and Linux operating systems;
- simple, clear programming environment;
- open source and extensible software;
- open source and extensible hardware.
The Arduino projects are created with the Arduino Software (IDE) and if we want to start our first project we have two options:
1. If we have a reliable Internet connection, the better choice is to use the online IDE (Arduino Web Editor). It allows us to store the projects in the cloud, having them available from any device and backed up. The main advantage of this option is the fact that we always work with the newest version of the IDE, without the need of installing updates and additional libraries. All we need to do is to create an user account at auth.arduino.cc/register, then to go to arduino.cc/editor and to add a plugin to our browser. Now we could login to our account and write and upload projects for our Arduino boards. The Web Editor automatically recognizes the Arduino microcontrollers which are connected to our PC and it changes its settings according to the particular Arduino model.
To check if everything is all right we could run one of the preloaded projects with which the IDE provides us. This could be done by going to ‘Examples’, choosing ‘Basic’ and then ‘Blink”. After that we should upload the project to the Arduino board via the ‘Upload’ button and we should see the yellow LED on the board switches on for a second and then off in an infinite loop.
2. If we prefer to work offline, we should use the newest version of the Desktop IDE. We have to go to arduino.cc/en/Guide/HomePage, to choose the operating system we are using and to download the proper version of the installation file. After installing the IDE we have to go back to the above-mentioned Internet address and to choose the Arduino board we are using from the list to the right. We should follow the instructions for configuring the Desktop IDE according to the model of the microcontroller we are using.