What is Arduino?:
Well, first let me explain what arduino exactly is. Arduino in general is a opensource platform targetting hobbiysts. Most of us using the interent would have came across the word “opensouce”. Opensource is a methodology where, the developers of a software/hardware give the end user access to their end product’s design and implementation. That means the end user has rights to modify/change the way a software looks/works and redistribute it. Examples of opensource software are Linux operating system, freePCB, openBSD etc [Remember: MS Windows is not a opensource software]. Coming to arduino, arduino is a opensource hardware and software platform which uses Atmel microcontroller as core hardware component and Java as a core software language and which is used to control LEDs, Motors,displays and any hobby projects. The main aim of arduino project is to make everyone try microcontrollers – you don’t even have to care what controller is used. Its that simple!
Arduino – Hardware:
The hardware part of arduino contains a development board made in Italy.(Since it is a opensource hardware, they provide the schematics and PCB files in Eagle at the arduino website – you are free to download and make your own board.) Below is a example board (Arduino UNO) – I’ve labeled the parts
#2 Arduino Cookbook by Michael Margolis
Just plug-it into your computer’s USB port and download the program into the controller board from your computer and the board can be used in the required application.
Arduino – Software:
The arduino software consists of two parts as shown
Bootloader is a little piece of code residing inside the microcontroller which makes the controller special and gives it the power of integration to the arduino IDE and the arduino board. With the bootloader erased, when you try to program from the IDE, the controller won’t understand anything! In simple words, the bootloader acts as a translator between the controller and the arduino IDE. You have to load the bootloader in to the controller (from a different programmer) before integrating it with the arduino board.
IDE(Integrated Development Environment):
The arduino IDE is installed in the computer. The IDE has a compiler, serial monitor etc. Arduino language is a variant of c++ – atleast it looks like c++ programs. Program is written, compiled and uploaded from the IDE to the board.The language is really really simple!. The IDE has the options to select from different versions of arduino board with different controllers and also has options to select the particular communication port where the arduino board is connected.
Shields are mountable things on arduino board which enables easy interfacing of modules such as LCD, ethernet etc., elimating the need for wires. Ther are huge variety of shields for almost all applications
The arduino website sells the board made in Italy and alternatively you can also buy from local distributers. List of distributers is listed in the arduino website. There are many clones which are compatible with the arduino IDE made by arduino users. Some clones resemble the arduino board, and some clones have integrated peripherals too! (Like LDR, IR receiver, extra tactile switches and LEDs etc.)