Arduino is one of the most popular ways to learn coding and electronics and a simple way to create interesting, useful devices. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this open-source platform!
Arduino – a platform of wide-range possibilities
Arduino is a small platform designed for both beginners and experienced makers interested in the world of programming and electronics. Usually, the name “Arduino” is associated with small PCBs that contain an 8-bit AVR microcontroller with a set of programmable inputs and outputs. The Arduino ecosystem includes numerous hardware extensions (Arduino Shields) and, above all, Arduino IDE software, which is also open source-licensed.
The memory of the on-board microcontroller contains a pre-loaded bootloader so that communication with the computer can be carried out directly via the USB port without the need to connect an additional programmer, as is the case with regular AVR microcontrollers. The Arduino programming language is a simplified version of the C language, thanks to which its understanding is much more accessible for people without vast technical skills.
A large online community of Arduino fans does provide numerous program codes that have been tested and are ready to run, as well as specialized libraries supporting external equipment such as LCD displays, servo motors, LED lighting, and even Wi-Fi-controlled devices. Plus, it’s easy to get help with your projects. A significant advantage of Arduino boards is the low energy demand from the power source. Thanks to this Arduino can be used as a controller for wireless devices, such as remote-controlled vehicles. From the beginners’ point of view, a significant advantage of Arduino lies in its high durability to damage in case of a sudden shutdown of the power supply. The board continues to operate normally as soon as the power is restored.
What should you be careful about when choosing an Arduino?
It might seem that the Arduino is the perfect tool for any DIY enthusiast regardless of skill level and experience. This is true in many ways. But you have to look at the Arduino objectively, i.e. both in terms of advantages and disadvantages. Due to the architecture of the Atmega328 microcontroller, on which the Arduino UNO R3 is based (the most popular of “those blue programmable PCBs”), the 8-bit data bus cannot be used in applications requiring more extensive program code and arithmetic. Moreover, the microcontroller in Arduino can only run one code at a time. Although the syntax of the programming language implemented in the Arduino IDE is simplified, the problems may start when we want to program a regular AVR microcontroller without an Arduino bootloader.
In such a case, the knowledge and skills practiced while programming with Arduino may turn out to be insufficient and it will be necessary to learn the Assembly or C language from scratch. Unlike the Arduino language, such languages allow us to understand the architecture and working principle of the microcontroller better. The cost effectivity of Arduino used in various projects is also important because unlike a set with a classic 8-bit AVR MCU with a programmer and USB/TTL converter, the costs can be even twice as high, and the Arduino board itself can take up too much space to be installed into our project.
Nevertheless, Arduino is still a great tool for people who want to learn practical programming in the basic scope, as well as a platform for creating amateur embedded projects. In addition, due to the rapid prototyping process, Arduino boards are very often used by professionals for R&D purposes. If you plan to purchase the original Arduino UNO R3, check out Botland Store – the officially licensed distributor of Arduino modules and kits.