What is an Arduino?

Author: Aus Electronics Direct   Date Posted:1 April 2016 

What is an Arduino?

An Arduino is a rapid prototyping board, it is essentially a microprocessor with all the supporting circuitry and supply built in, and easy access to the pins. This – coupled with the Arduino programming language and the IDE – the programming environment – we have a system that allows us to take relatively cheap and simple modules, and create incredibly complex devices. We often do not even need to know much about the sensor or device we want to control or read with the Arduino, a lot of the work has been done already!

There is a vast collection of libraries and code you can find and use online! Just google “Arduino projects” or try something more specific. Perhaps “Arduino metal detector” or “Arduino robot”.

Tell me about the Arduino pins?
OK so you see all the headers around the board and wonder why we call them pins perhaps? The use of the term pin, is referring to the leg of the microprocessor we are accessing. Each Arduino has differing amounts but here is a rundown of what you will find on the Arduino boards:

  • Digital I/O pins (Some include PWM capability)
    • Digital input and output pins. You can either listen for a 0v or 5v signal coming in to these ports, or put 5v or 0v out of them. You either get a result of 1 for HIGH or 5v or 0 for LOW or 0v. There is no in-between.
  • Analog Input pins
    • The analog input pins can measure voltage between 0v and 5v with 1024 steps of precision. This means 0v is 0. 5v is 1024, and any voltage in between will correspond to a linear curve. This allows very precise reading of voltages on the analog pins.
  • Power Supply
    • Conditions incoming power from the barrel jack or USB to ensure it is clean and powers the 5v, 0v, 3.3v and other related headers.
  • Crystal
    • Oscillates at a set frequency to provide the timing of your Arduino.
  • Reset Button
    • Press this to reset the processor. This does not interrupt power to any part of the board, it is a soft reset. It uses a hardware interrupt I believe, and in no way has any effect on the power to any part of the board or chip.
  • Supporting hardware
    • Various components that help to provide a hassle free prototyping experience.

Useful Resources and Links:

Arduino Board Reference
Arduino Homepage
Youtube Arduino search
Buy modules, sensors and parts!


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