Arduino Uno Projects And Software
What is an Arduino?
The Arduino Uno is a computer on a board. It has everything that is needed to make a controller circuit similar to the ones that you find in just about every electronic product available nowadays. It has it's own memory for holding it's software and data. It has digital and analog input and output capability. It has timers and a USB port for communicating with other computers.
The best thing about this board is that not only is it as cheap as chips but you can plug it into your PC, download the programming environment for free and start programming it straight away. Then when you have downloaded your program to the Arduino and got it to run how you want you can disconnect the board from your PC. Just attach a power supply and it will will run happily stand alone.
The Aurduino is perfect for building simple controller projects that require some smart programming and an interface to the real world. I've been wanting to get to play with one of these for ages and I'm going to show you how I got mine up to speed and ready to start developing projects.
To get started you need an Arduino Uno board, a USB lead and some free software. So the first thing to do is download the Aduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software from here. All the common platforms are supported and for Windows you can choose the zip archive or the Windows installer version. The installer is probably the easiest but I chose the zip archive because I like to know exactly where the files are being installed to.
Installing the IDE software
Follow the getting started instructions to install the IDE and the Arduino USB driver. This procedure worked flawlessly on my Windows 8 machine apart from the part where the instructions say that it should fail. It gave me no indication of failure but it was still necessary to use the device manager to manually install the driver as detailed in the instructions. The process was easy and straightforward apart from this.
Your first Arduino sketch or program "Hello World"
Connect your Arduino to your PC USB port and run up the Arduino IDE. Copy and paste the code below into the IDE editor window and click the download button on the toolbar.
"Hello World" sketch
When the download has completed, start up the serial monitor from the toolbar Tools/Serial Monitor. You should see the words "Hello World" scrolling up the screen. Congratulations you have set up and written your first Arduino Uno program.
IDE Seial Monitor toolbar button
Serial Monitor Window
Why "Hello World"
You might be wondering why we call this program "Hello World". It has become a tradition that the first program that you ever run on a new platform has this name. It doesn't have to print the words. In fact many Hello World programs don't but they all have the same thing in common. They are always very simple and generally are the first thing you get to run on a new computer, controller or other programmable platform. The purpose of "Hello World" is to establish that your system is working. Nothing more and nothing less. Is your baby alive? If it will output these words on it's serial port then there is a good chance that it is alive and all is well.
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