What is Arduino Microcontroller board?
Robotic lovers are always trying to search a smart microcontroller board. Almost every robotic developer needs and wants a powerful, compact, robust, and easy to use board for development. Also they required an easy to use graphics console or platform for bot programming. Choosing a good microcontroller board can solve your 50% problem because microcontroller board is a brain of robot. And if you are accessing that brain easily, you can program it very smartly. Here I will explain some basic feature of very popular Arduino microcontroller board.
Arduino microcontroller board, it is an open source platform and it is extensively used for robotic projects. Here open source platform means you can inspect, modify or enhance its codes which are available in different communities and forums. Arduino microcontroller board is PCB which contains a microcontroller with its required component and some terminal for input & output device. It is also supported by Arduino development studio. It is programming software (called IDE, Integrated Development Environment). The purpose of Arduino development studio is to program and upload code from computer to microcontroller.
The Arduino board is quite popular among student because it is designed in a very simple pattern. It has inbuilt programmer so you can program your bot with a USB cable. Additionally its IDE uses C++ which is very popular among student. SO before proceeding further I would like to explain boards and how it meets with our requirement?
What’s on the Arduino Microcontroller board?
In Arduino family there are many microcontroller boards. They are different in many categories but most of the board have some common components. And theses common are:
Power Connector (USB / Barrel Jack)
Power supply is required for every microcontroller board, In Arduino board you will get a robust barrel connector for power supply. In some Arduino board you can also get USB slot for power option. In market you can compare with other board which has pin terminal for power connection which is not a good choice.
Most important point is that Arduino didn’t have any power protection circuit or some Galvanic Isolation type of things so be careful for over voltage because it can harm your board.
Input and Output terminals (GND, 5V, 3.3V, Analog, Digital, PWM, AREF)
Arduino board consist many terminals (soldered pins on PCB). These IO terminals are used by your external circuit. Details of these terminals are given..
- GND: Its voltage level is Zero. These terminals are required for sensors and other components.
- 5V & 3.3V: 5vols & 3.3Volts are power terminals it can be used for sensors but it is recommended that don’t use 3.3 volt because wrong wiring can affect you controller functionality
- Analog: These are Analog terminal and it is used for Analog sensors and can be used for Analog output.
- Digital: These are Digital terminal and it is used for Digital sensors and can be used for Digital output.
- PWM: These are digital terminals but it can be configure for Pulse width Modulation (PWM).
- AREF: It is for Analog reference signal.
Indicator LEDs & Reset Option:
In Arduino Board, there is Power, Tx & Rx LEDs which gives you a clear picture about you board. It (LEDs) represents the functionality of microcontroller board. Power LED indicate that your Arduino board power is healthy and same as Tx & Rx indicate that its data transmitting & receiving circuit are working normally.
Reset push button is a very good function which is included in board because previously Jumpers are used to reset controller. But here a small push button makes this stuff very easy. If your controller goes hang during execution of your code, don’t worry you have a magical button. Just press reset button.
Microcontroller & its voltage regulator circuit:
Arduino microcontroller board is using ATMEL Integrated Circuit (IC). Different Arduino microcontroller board have different IC. It basically depends on its requirement. Popular series of ATMEL microcontrollers are:
- ATMEL AVR 8bit and 32bit Microcontroller IC
- ATMEL SMART ARM Processor based Microcontroller
- ATMEL 8051 Architecture Microcontroller
In terms of flash memory and its clock speed, capabilities of these microcontrollers are vary.
For driving microcontroller, Arduino Microcontroller board has a voltage regulator circuit. Main purpose of this voltage regulator circuit is to provide a constant and regulated power supply for microcontroller. But as I told earlier this board doesn’t have any isolator circuit for IO channel and also its voltage regulator is not protected for over voltage surge. So it is recommended that don’t go above 20 volt and if possible use a fuse in power source.
The Arduino Microcontroller board Family
As you know that Arduino is open source hardware so in market you can get many variant of this board easily.
But some popular Arduino Microcontroller boards are:
Arduino Uno (R3)
It will be a good choice for a beginner. This board consist 14 digital channels here 6 can be used as PWM outputs, 6 Analog channels, one USB slot for Programming, one Power Jack and a reset button. It contains all components which are required for a microcontroller It can easily connect with your computer and also this board is supported by Arduino IDE software. It means with this basic board you can enhance your programming skill. More ever It is not build for complex programming but for newbies it is a good starter microcontroller board.
It was my favourite board. It works on 5 volt. It has 14 DI channel & 6 AI channel which is sufficient for a small bot. Here programming memory is 14KB with 8 MHZ clock speed. It was developed for wearable device. It has a perfect circular design.
Arduino Mega is categories in enhance category microcontroller board. Its operating voltage is same as Arduino UNO but it has 54 DI & 16 AI channels which is enough for design a humanoid with 17 Motors. Its clock speed is 16 MHz with 256 KB flash memory.
Arduino Leonardo is a retired microcontroller board. Now you will not get the support for Arduino Leonardo but still it is available in market. It is based on ATmega32. It has 20 DI & 12 AI. It also consist a 16MHz clock oscillator. At that time, it was the first board with USB slot.
How it meets with our requirement?
Arduino microcontroller boards are fully equipped with a lot of features which can make robotic development easy. Its IDE (Programming software and languages) has a better Graphical User Interface with easy access of library. Here you can get a lot of support from Arduino Community. Also a lot of pre-define codes are available in Internet. It is suitable for both newbies & expert.
So overall Arduino Microcontroller is a good choice for Robotic Lovers, If you are searching for a microcontroller board at any level choose from Arduino. If fact Arduino is developing different type of module which can boost up your creativity like IoT & WiFi modules, so before using smart modules you should do some practice on micro controller.
So boost your creativity and love your imagination…