Arduino is an open-source prototyping platform. This means the content and designs of Arduino are free for the public to obtain and develop. This feature makes Arduino the best platform to get started with learning hardware development and engineering due to the large community using, supporting, commenting, building libraries, and modifying the Arduino hardware and software.
What it entails:
As mentioned, Arduino may refer to the
- Hardware: these are Arduino boards that you buy from a vendor and plugs into a computer via USB port. Essentially, the Arduino board is a microprocessor with additional components to allow USB connection to a computer and easy connection to sensors and actuators via jumper wires.
- In the computer, the Arduino software 'Arduino IDE' recognizes the Arduino plugged in the USB port. The IDE allows you to write friendly code, compiles it, and uploads to the Arduino board on your command.
How it works:
Let's use a simple example of this explanation.
Let's say you want to read room temperature of your room. You will need a sensor, a processor and an actuator;
- Processor: The Arduino board (the hardware) and a computer with the Arduino software running (google and download Arduino IDE). The computer is only for writing and uploading some simple code. after uploading, the Arduino will run independently. However, you may leave it connected to the laptop as a source of power or to read the information received by the Arduino from the temperature sensor.
- To read the room temperature, you will need a temperature sensor. Chances are, any temperature sensor you get can be Arduino compatible; this is the good thing about Arduino.
- An actuator is an output device. It could be a screen, a speaker, a motor, etc. It is the opposite of a sensor: While sensors feed data into the Arduino, the actuator receives instructions from the Arduino. In this case, upon receiving the temperature reading, you may decide to; output the values on an economical 16*2 LCD display; or just blink a red LED to show an alarm when overheating, or start some garden sprinkler system to cool the plants.
You may take your project a notch higher by adding wireless connectivity such as WiFI, Bluetooth, LoRa, etc to transmit the data wirelessly to suit demands. The options are only limited by your imagination!
Simply put: Arduino is a good place to build a hardware project that needs to collect data e.g. temperature or motion data and use the data to output information or trigger an event e.g. an alarm.