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The arduino is a quick and easy microcontroller prototyping board. If you want to create a device quickly, the Arduino platform is a great place to start. From a “smart” nightlight, to a satellite equipped with sensors that sends data back to Earth, there aren’t any limits to what can be done.

Many things are pretty simple, but the first caveat is that it is not a microprocessor- it is a microcontroller. I use quotes around anything that is “smart,” because even Artifical Intellegence is mostly lots of IF statements.

The Arduino runs its code, also called a “sketch,” in a loop. You write your code, upload it to the board, and the code runs over and over.

Take, for instance, a reactive nightlight. If you code the arduino to turn on an LED (Light Emitting Diode) when the room it’s in is dark, it becomes a little cooler. In order to do this, all you would need is an LED, a resistor, and a photoresistor.

In this case you use your microcontroller to control the input and output of the Arduino. The input is the value of the photoresistor, the output is the LED. You could go a couple steps further, with an RGB (Red Green Blue) LED- a full color LED- and change the color based on how bright the room is.

Now you don’t really need an arduino to do the first case, or really the second one. But for these, unless we are full-on Electrical Engineers, Arduino makes it much easier.

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© 2012-2017 Erik Paulsen

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