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In this article, we will make a brief introduction to the Arduino, which is basically a plate with a programmable microcontroller, cheap and easy to use.
The first thing we have to be clear about is that it is a microcontroller and how it differs from the microprocessor. We have all come into contact with both concepts, that is, everyone in the house has a computer, whether desktop, laptop ... Well, the core of our computers is a microprocessor, a chip in charge of carrying out complex operations based on some instructions (that we will call program) and some data of entrance obtaining some data of exit. To process and store this data we need to connect the microprocessor to the RAM and other I / O devices (Input / Output), which are connected through the motherboard.
The microprocessor is defined briefly, and taking into account that we had said that the microprocessor needs to connect to memory through the motherboard, in the microcontroller we have both the memory where we store the program, and the memory where it is stored. data, in the same assembly (on the same chip).
Forgive me if I have taken licenses to define it, I know there are several differences, such as the location of the data memory and program in reference to the microprocessor.
With this all Arduino board you can make different Arduino projects simple at your home.
Where do we find a microcontroller?
We find it in most electronic devices that we use every day, such as remote controls, watches, televisions, cars and many more. The importance of knowing how they work and how they are programmed opens a lot of doors for us.
A few years ago a free project appeared, called Arduino, which facilitated the access to this class of devices to the students, given that it is a plate based on open hardware (its design is free and it is possible to reproduce it by anyone).
Initially, the board was connected through a USB port to program it (usually it is done based on its IDE that we can find it here). The programming of Arduino was not done at a low level with assembler like many microcontrollers (from now on we will call them PICs), but it is done with a language more comprehensible by most of us, C / C ++ (the basic reference to the language we find here and examples on this route).
With these elements, a programmer who does not know about PICs would be able to program the Arduino in a short time.
The board of the UNO version consisted of 14 digital I / O pins, of which, it had 2 for serial connection. These pins are useful for most basic sensors, or for relays, actuators, etc ... which only have 2 states, on or off (or with the Arduino constants HIGH and LOW). It also has 6 analog pins, capable of reading up to 1024 voltage levels, called analog port resolution. These are used to read sensors that return ranges of different voltages depending on their status, such as a thermoresistance, a variable resistance, etc.
Basically, with the structure of the Arduino UNO, anyone can enter the world of PIC programming. But, for larger projects, more power is needed, so the Arduino guys were creating plates and improved versions of the Arduino UNO. I expose a few:
It is the first evolution of the Arduino Mega, in fact, it has the same ports but the PIC is different, with greater capacity and greater frequency of work. Another difference is the USB port, which at the same time is used to upload the program, the Leonardo is able to use this USB host, that is, we can use it as a keyboard, etc ... Another inclusion is the SDA and SCL ports, used for devices that communicate through the I2C protocol.
Arduino Mega 2560
For those who fall short, the Leonardo designed the Arduino Mega 2560, with much more speed in the microcontroller and many more digital (54 pins) and analog (16 pins). We have the pins for I2C like the Leonardo (although they change position).
From this design also Arduino Mega ADK, which is a modified plate of the Mega 2560, but is added a USB host port. Google has designed several projects with this badge and its flagship, Android, an example you have on this page.
Another evolution is the Arduino DUE, with the same design as the Mega 2560 but with a 32-bit microprocessor. It is much faster than the Mega 2560.
Basically, this board has the same characteristics of pins and processor as the Arduino Leonardo but has incorporated a microcomputer where a small Unix resides, which allows us to assemble very basic web servers. This board is used mostly for projects in which the sensors have to information through an Ethernet network quickly and easily.
There are more developments that will come in the future, merging the power of Arduino boards with computer motherboards. Offering us the possibility of creating a multitude of projects, with unlimited power and scalability.
In future entries, we will try to explain the basic functioning of the Arduino.
This Arduino is very good for making science fair projects ideas. By these, you can also win the competition.