Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dreaduino: Tinkering With Open-Source Hardware

Ciao. I have been playing with Arduino, the tiny Italian computer, for a few months now, and enjoying it thoroughly. This single-board microcontroller is meant to be easily modified into electronic hardware of your own design. Just plug in a few electronic inputs (buttons, knobs, motion sensors, etc.) and outputs (lights, buzzers, screens). Then, upload a program to the board’s flash memory telling Arduino what to do when a certain button is pressed or sensor reaches a specific reading.

The standard size and placement of the board’s connectors means that anyone can extend the functionality of Arduino by creating a “shield” – another circuit board that fits snugly on top and adds specific input and display options.

More importantly, Arduino is an open-source project with the board’s design and accompanying software given away freely. Anyone may build or program an Arduino clone or shield without risk of patent or copyright infringement.

I decided to begin my hardware adventures with a preassembled Arduino Uno R3 and Seeed Studio’s Grove base shield that makes use of 4-pin JST connectors to simplify the entire process of building a working electronic circuit. This way, I don’t need to bother with a soldering iron to get my prototypes working.

I have been learning a great deal as I struggle with a few projects that I’ll try to share through video and bits of code that I have managed to stitch together.

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