Arduino is a fantastic little device. I have been in the IT business since 1986 and have never been so enthusiastic of any single thing as I am of the Arduino.
This is Arduino, version Uno R3:
Physically it measures 53 by 68 mm and it needs 5 to 12 volts to run. It has no on-off switch, instead the code you upload to it will run as long as the Arduino has power.
Wikipedia has this to say of Arduino:
Arduino is an open-source hardware and software company, project, and user community that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits for building digital devices. Its hardware products are licensed under a CC BY-SA license, while software is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) or the GNU General Public License (GPL), permitting the manufacture of Arduino boards and software distribution by anyone. Arduino boards are available commercially from the official website or through authorized distributors.Wikipedia
What this means is that for 2 euros, you get a device that has 6 analog inputs, 11 digital inputs, a 16Mhz processor, 32 kilobytes (!) of memory, a development environment using a variant of C++, and millions of sample programs to use as you design your own. Arduino is by far the best environment to use in courses such a Innovation and prototyping, or Basics of IoT, because its connections are easy to make, there are literally hundreds of sensors and auxiliaries to connect, and coding at this low level makes the students acutely aware of the need to understand basic programming really well.
In the picture above, Arduino is listening to the rotary dial – when it returns to the normal position, it sends 100 millivolts during the rotation. When Arduino senses that voltage in its analog pin, it starts a clock. From the duration of the voltage pulse it is possible to deduce the number that was dialled. If 9 numbers are dialled in the correct order, Arduino tells the motor to open the latch, causing the door to open.
The whole cost of the device depicted above remains under 5 euros. But the device is an integral part of the escape room ambiance, and serves as an example of the amazing versatility of Arduino. It must be noted that the Arduino Uno has no connectivity without extra parts, but if your device can work as a standalone device, you can’t do better than use one of the Arduino family of devices (partial list):
|Device||Processor||Memory||Digital pins||Analog pins|
|Arduino Uno||16Mhz ATmega328||2KB SRAM, 32KB flash||14||6 input, 0 output|
|Arduino Due||84MHz AT91SAM3X8E||96KB SRAM, 512KB flash||54||12 input, 2 output|
|Arduino Mega||16MHz ATmega2560||8KB SRAM, 256KB flash||54||16 input, 0 output|
|Arduino Leonardo||16MHz ATmega32u4||2.5KB SRAM, 32KB flash||20||12 input, 0 output|
|Arduino Nano||16Mhz ATmega328||2KB SRAM, 32KB flash||22||8 input, 0 output|
If you need connectivity, you can add a shield. A shield may give you Bluetooth, Ethernet, or WLAN connections. Shields are also available for driving motors or sensors, and adding many capabilities to the otherwise rather limited Arduino Uno.
But you must remember that Arduino is very capable in even complex systems, such as 3D printers. Most of the filament printers are actually run by an Arduino, which has been customized to fit that environment. For projects that do not need communication capabilities, Arduino is the way to go.
Our students have created dozens of projects using the Arduino ecosystem, and learned an awful lot of both the joys of having successful robot builds, and how frustrating it may be to debug something that looks completely right, but still has one pin connected wrong.
Let us talk to you about how we can help you along with your basic level robot needs!