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You may have heard the name Arduino, or you may already be using it. Here, we go into some of the ins and outs connected with the Arduino. Arduino was founded by Massimo Banzi.


Before we dive-in to the world of Massimo Banzi, and the Arduino, it is worth knowing that much of what made Arduino was already in existence. Yes! Yes, this is true, but what was lacking was puling all of these things together and MARKETING!

Hernando Barragán already did much of the work some years before the Massimo Banzi Arduino revolution. Click here if you want to read about the history of Arduino on github.

Arduino as a module#

Generalissimo / CC BY-SA

YooFab loves Arduino#

YooFab loves Arduino for many reasons, including the fact that it is a well-designed development environment with hardware, software, firmware, and an IDE. Some people love the IDE, while others hate it. It provides a development platform that allows you to get hands-on experience quickly. The integrated development environment does allow you to use another editor, such as GEANY or ATOM, instead of their own offering. When this option is selected, your source code will be displayed in gray text, and you will not be able to make edits. You will then have to change the source code from your favorite editor.

So, what is Arduino?#

Arduino is a computer hardware and software company that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers for building digital devices and interactive objects. Arduino is more than just a physical thing; its a whole development environment that includes hardware and software. Arduino has a large and active community, which means that there are groups, clubs, blogs, and support for almost anything. All of the projects products are licensed under the GNU Lesser Public Licence (LGPL) or the GNU Public Licence (GPL). This is great because it allows other companies or even individuals to build this design.

Arduino copies#

The Arduino design has led to the creation of a wide range of derivative products. The spectrum ranges from low-cost Chinese-produced boards that resemble the Arduino, to specialized versions of the Arduino that use specific hardware to make it more suitable for a particular environment. Therefore, all Arduino boards and software are eligible for distribution by anyone. You cannot put the Arduino logo on the board or product, nor can you actually call it an Arduino. Nevertheless, this is not a huge issue. There are many kinds of Arduino-style boards available commercially, either as pre-assembled boards or as do-it-yourself kits.

Which Arduino is better?#

It is difficult to answer this question, given the numerous Arduino boards available. The official source in Italy has everything from the Arduino Uno to full Linux machines, all with the same code, and all of them using the same software. For most projects presented on YooFab, the chip-set in the Arduino Uno or similar is perfectly adequate.

A list of Arduino compatible boards on Wikipedia

Arduino Nano#

Headfirst / CC BY-SA

The Arduino Nano is compatible with the Arduino Uno.

The Arduino-Nano has the same or similar architecture as the Arduino-Uno, and will perform the same or a similar job. Its main advantage over the Arduino-Uno is that its legs are designed to accommodate bread-boarding on solder-less breadboards, which is great for prototyping. Many companies have used the Arduino Nano as a standalone component, meaning that the board was plugged into another PCB as though it were simply another component. It is also much smaller, but still retains the USB dedicated input/output port that can be used for programming the board and for other purposes.

Arduino pro mini#

lookout / CC BY-SA

A picture of the Arduino-pro-mini, which is like the Nano but doesn't have a USB port. The Pro mini is compatible with the UNO.

This version was not designed to be used for prototyping.

This version was not designed for experimental purposes, but for final products. Although it is possible to program it without an external interface, it requires a BASB or other interface to do so, as it lacks a USB port of its own. With the low pricing and slim design, the board can be integrated into a project or PCB as though it were just another component. Its price is comparable with similar bare chips from the PIC range. It's a great way to get a low-production-run product on the market without having to start from scratch.

Gain Hands-On Experience with Arduino#

You can carry out this rapidly with Arduino. The simplest way to gain hands-on experience with this might be to plug an Arduino Uno or compatible board into the USB of your computer with the Arduino IDE installed, and then compile and upload a program to the board. The IDE comes with some simple examples. One of the simplest is the blink program, which performs a bit like a HELLO WORLD C program. It works to prove that the programming tool-path and your board are functioning correctly. Once the blink program is uploaded to the microcontroller chip, the Arduino will reset automatically and the on-board LED will start to flash. The process can be completed in less than a minute with minimal reading. 1

When you compare this to the PIC chip and associated development environment, the story is different. As far as we are aware, there were no free compilers available at the beginning of the PIC story, 2 or at least if there were any, they were impossible to find. One had to immediately purchase a cross-compiler and then figure out how to connect it to your PIC chip. This would not be a problem if you are an electronics engineer with a background in embedded design. This is not a great start for a Newbie because it doesn't let them get hands-on experience quickly.


  1. Minimal or Skimming means to read something at a comparatively faster rate without going into an in-depth reading, so as to have an idea of what the work is all about. On the contrary, scanning implies a reading technique in which one takes a quick look of the document, so as to find the specific information contained in the written material. 

  2. The MPLAB XC Compiler is priced at $99 or maybe $1000 more if you want actual compiling capacity. Since Microchip owns the PIC and ATMEL ranges of Harvard chip processors, it makes little sense to charge money for the PIC compiler or for any IDE.