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What is arduino ?

what is arduino

Arduino® is a hardware and software package that allows you to learn electronics (while having fun) while becoming familiar with computer programming. Unlike other boards, Raspberry Pi for example, Arduino is open source, so you can download the original schematic and use it to build your own map and sell it without paying royalties.

The Hardware

They are programmable electronic cards (therefore equipped with a processor and memory) on which we can connect temperature, humidity, vibration or light sensors, a camera, buttons, adjustment potentiometers, contacts electric… There are also connectors for connecting LEDs, motors, relays, displays, a screen…

An Arduino board is a brain that makes electronic systems intelligent and animates mechanical devices.

The image below shows an the Uno board which is widely used for beginners.

An Arduino Uno board with its connectors.

In writing related to Arduino you will often see the words “microprocessor”, “micro-controller”, “MCU”, “AVR”, “ATMega168”, “ARMCortex-M3”…

In a very simplified way: all these terms designate a processor. The processor is the calculation unit (CPU) contained inside the integrated circuit designated by one of the terms previously mentioned (example: MCU, ATmega168, etc.)

The Software IDE

The creators of Arduino have developed software to make programming arduino boards visual, simple and complete at the same time.
This is called an IDE, which stands for Integrated Development Environment.

The Arduino IDE is the software used to program Arduino boards.

The IDE displays a graphics window that contains a text editor and all the tools needed for programming activity.
You can therefore enter your program, save it, compile it, check it, transfer it to an arduino board…
At the time of writing this page, the most recent version of the Arduino IDE is 1.8.10. The look is pretty much the same on every platform (Windows, Mac, and Linux). The following image shows the initial screen that appears when launching the IDE.

Types of Arduino Boards

Over the years, the designers at Arduino.cc have come up with a number of board designs. The first Arduino board, the Diecimila, was released in 2007. And since then, the Arduino family has evolved to take advantage of the different types of Atmel microprocessors.

The Due, released in 2012, is the first Arduino to use a 32-bit ARMCortex-M3 processor. It stands out from the rest of the family in terms of processing power and board pinout configuration.
Other boards, like the LilyPad and the Nano, don’t have the same pinout as well and are aimed at a different range of rather “mobile” applications.
In the case of the LilyPad it is for easy integration into clothing and fabrics.
The Esplora integrates sensors and actuators and the compact size of the Mini, Micro and Nano predestines them for miniature, light and discreet applications.

When several types of microcontrollers are indicated, it means that an early version was produced with the first type and later with the other (generally more powerful).
For example, an older version of the Duemilanove will have an ATmega168, while newer models will have the ATmega328. Functionally, the ATmega168 and ATmega328 are identical, but the ATmega328 has more internal memory.

The latest additions to the Arduino family, Leonardo, Esplora, Micro and Yún, all use the ATmega32U4 microcontroller. If the latter is similar to an ATmega328, it also integrates a USB serial interface component, which eliminates an integrated circuit (easier routing) like the one present on the Uno and Duemilanove boards (ATmega16U2, FT232RL).

Arduino naming convention

Although the design of the Arduino circuit and its software is open source, the Arduino team has reserved the use of the term “Arduino” for its own designs.
The Arduino logo is a registered trademark.

You will sometimes find builds that look like official Arduino boards, but are not produced by the Arduino team. Some manufacturers use “-duino” or “-ino” in the product name, such as Freeduino, Funduino, Diavolino, Youduino, etc. Some, like boards made by SainSmart, use only the model name (Uno and Mega2560 for example).

Due to a dispute between the company created by the original founders (Arduino LLC) and a different company created by one of the original founders (Arduino SRL), Arduino LLC uses the Arduino trademark in the United States and Genuino elsewhere.

Some “manufacturers” claim to be selling an Arduino board, but are actually just a copy using the trademark without permission.
Massimo Banzi has dedicated a section of his blog to these blatant unauthorized copies.

The main point to remember here is that you can copy the schematics, the bootloader code, the Arduino IDE code and use them to create your own version (open source principle) .
Just don’t call it ‘Arduino’.

What can you do with an Arduino?

In addition to the ease of programming made possible by the Arduino IDE, the other great feature of an Arduino is the capability of the microcontroller on which it is based.
With a few extra shields readily available, a wide selection of inexpensive sensor modules and actuators, there really isn’t much you can’t do with an Arduino.
The condition is to keep in mind a few basic constraints: memory, clock frequency, peripheral output currents and voltage levels.

Here are some possible applications for an Arduino:

Measurement and detection

  • Automated Weather Station.
  • Lightning detector.
  • Tracking of the sun for orientation of the solar panels.
  • Radiation monitor.
  • Automatic wildlife detector.
  • Home or business security system.

Control

  • Little robots.
  • Rocket or airplane model.
  • Multi-rotor drones.
  • Simple CNC for small machine tools.

Automating

  • Automated greenhouse.
  • Automated aquarium.
  • Laboratory sample shuttle robot.
  • Precision thermal chamber.
  • Automated electronic test system.

Top 9 uses of a Raspberry Pi

Top 9 uses of a Raspberry Pi

Recently the Raspberry Pi celebrated its 10th birthday. But people still asking what they can use a raspberry pi for? After reading this post, you will discover lot of uses of a Raspberry Pi. This post is a summary of ExplainingComputer Youtube channel video

If you don’t know what a raspberry pi is, you can check out this post. That will help you understand everything about these super tiny computers.

Small desktop computer

People used the very first Raspberry Pi 1B for word processing as well as for some light web browsing. Fast forward to today and modern Raspberry Pi 4 or Pi 400 is a very capable low-cost desktop computer. Many different desktop operating systems are now available for the Pi. As well as several cases that turn it into a rather stylish small computing device. Office applications work very fluidly on a modern pie and the browsing experience is also pretty decent. With a little patience, it’s even possible to edit video and to run sophisticated 3d and compositing packages including blender.

Media player

Many people use the Raspberry Pi as a  media player by installing a media center operating system such as OSMC or libra. Both of which boots directly into a player called Kodi. This is very easy to configure and provides a clear straightforward interface that works well on a Raspberry Pi. It plays content from local drives accessed from a home network or streamed over the internet. Or By using a wide variety of add-ons that include Youtube. 

NAS or server

Users who want to store and exchange files use the Raspberry Pi as a NAS or network-attached-storage device. Popular NAS software includes open media vault otherwise known as OMV. More broadly, a Raspberry Pi will transform into a small server by installing the Next Could. Next Could can run groupware and which allows files exchanges over the internet. You also can set up a Raspberry Pi as a plex server to share media files. Without mentioning using it to host a website.

Robotics & automation

The GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi can control motors servos and other electrical and electronic devices. This makes the Pi a great controller for robotics and automation with many hobbyists. Robots operated remotely over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or another wireless link are a perfect example. Similarly, the Raspberry Pi can automate smart homes. That allows remote or programmed control of everything from light bulbs to watering systems. The limit is the maker’s imagination.

Surveillance & IoT

Raspberry Pi is a connecter of all manner of sensors to a network and more broadly to the internet. That allows it to function as an IoT or internet of things device. A Raspberry Pi is great for streaming video from a camera. Which can allow you to monitor activity in your garden or the latest withdrawals from your fridge. You can even make it a remote weather station with the temperature, humidity and air quality sensors.

Printer controller

The Raspberry pi can control a printer. This includes connecting a conventional inkjet or laser to a Pi. That allows accessing a printer without an ethernet or Wi-Fi connection over a network. Alternatively, installing Octopi allows a raspberry pi to control and monitor a 3d printer. Soon enough, I’m sure that developers will include our favorite single-board computer in the 4d printing process.

Retro gaming

A Raspberry Pi is powerful enough to emulate many classic microcomputers and games consoles. That makes it excellent for retro gaming. Popular emulation software includes DOSBox as well as Retropie, which brings together emulation station retro arch and similar projects. That enable a Raspberry Pi to run all manner of arcade home consoles and classic PC games.

Smart speaker

A Raspberry Pi even provides a potential platform for machine learning and artificial intelligence. You can use it as the brains of a smart speaker. Engineers have demonstrated that a Raspberry Pi can run amazon’s Alexa. Also, as a Google assistant accessed via a smart speaker built with a google AIY kit.

Learning platform

A very important thing you can do with raspberry pi is to use it as a  learning platform. Lots of people use a Raspberry Pi to learn about coding, networking, IoT. It remains an exceptionally good piece of educational hardware. Even though any computer could be a learning platform. But the Raspberry Pi is a computer that you can experiment with without messing up anything. You can just re-flash the micro SD card start again if you mess up a Raspberry Pi’s operating system. It’s probably less convenient if you reinstall the operating system on any other computer, but. So the Raspberry Pi is very useful as a learning platform.

That’s the end of this post. If you know other uses of a Raspberry Pi, feel free to share them in the comments below. 

What is a Raspberry Pi ?

What is a Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a small, inexpensive system consisting of a circuit board of approx. 9 × 6 cm on which all the necessary components are located to be able to use it as a computer. Use an SD card and connect a power pack for the power supply and you are ready to go. Depending on the intended use, this can already be the minimum configuration of this single board computer if the system has previously been programmed accordingly for a specific task, which is commonly understood as an embedded system.

A monitor can also be connected to the board. A USB keyboard and USB mouse can be connected as input devices. A network and an audio connection complete the Raspberry Pi hardware to a normal and usable computer. A special Linux distribution is used as the operating system for this. In contrast to other systems, this OS is quite frugal to be able to deal with relatively limited hardware resources. This limitation is mainly because of the processor performance, memory size, and the board’s graphics system. The OS “Twister”, can also be used as the main OS for the Raspberry Pi.

Origins

The origin of the single board computer dates back to 2006 at the University of Cambridge. The intention was to be able to provide the students and anyone interested with a cost-effective system in order to bring them closer to programming computers.

Almost everyone knows how to work with personal computers and primarily with the Windows operating system. Over the years, however, it has become more and more difficult and confusing to understand and program a PC, which applies in particular to the hardware and the programming of the same for your own applications. Even considering that PCs have become cheaper and cheaper for what they offer in terms of performance and functionality, they still cost a lot of money in relative terms.

In earlier times, many PC users actually took it for granted that their own programs and hardware extensions were also implemented for the computer, which is why the PC was still regarded as a device for specialists such as computer scientists or electronics engineers. It hasn’t had this status for a long time. The fact that it can basically be used intuitively by anyone for all sorts of tasks is ultimately due to the software, which is becoming ever easier for the user.

For a programmer, this user-friendliness leads to more and more complex processes, which require the appropriate know-how and a large number of special tools, development environments, and programming languages. It is not uncommon for the Windows operating system and the corresponding programs to give the impression that an enormous amount of superfluous program code is »carried along« that is seldom or never called, which is partly due to the universal compatibility of the personal computer with Windows so that even Decades-old programs still work with the latest Windows version, which leads to quite high performance and memory requirements. For these reasons, a standard PC seems unsuitable as learning, experimenting, and programming system for beginners.

A home computer with a 6502 CPU (2 MHz) was developed at Cambridge University in the early 1980s, which served as a teaching model in British schools and was supported in a series of broadcasts by the BBC. This home computer, known as the BBC Micro, was manufactured by the English company Acorn, which later made a name for itself as ARM (see Chapter 3.2). One of the developers was Jack Lang, who was also involved in the Raspberry Pi development, which makes it clear that the idea for creating a “teaching system” was also the inspiration here.

In contrast to the BBC Micro, however, the Raspberry Pi was supposed to be much cheaper. This was certainly achieved with a price of around €25 (model A). In addition, the Raspberry Pi is designed from the outset to also be able to run office applications and games. Features such as the internet access and video playback in HD quality show that this is a “real” computer in small format.

The development was largely based on the ideas of David Braben. David had already developed the well-known space game “Elite” as a student in Cambridge in 1984. He also founded the development studio Frontier Developments. Together with two other computer scientists from Cambridge (Alan Mycroft, Rob Mullins) and Eben Upton, a Cambridge graduate who was now Technical Director at Broadcom, and entrepreneur Pete Lomas (Norcott Technologies, Electronic Design). also a Cambridge graduate, developed the Raspberry Pi Foundation established as a non-profit foundation to fund the project and attract open source software developers.

When naming this single-board computer, the Foundation wanted to continue the tradition of naming computers after fruits. A perfect example will be Acorn (acorn) or Apricot (apricot). Both of which have a Cambridge/ARM tradition. With the most well-known Apple, whose products Interestingly enough, such as iPad or iPhone also work with ARM processors. After long discussions, it was then agreed on Raspberry (raspberry). The Addition Pi identifies the main programming language of the system, Python.

Contrary to the original idea, the distribution of the Raspberry Pi boards was not taken over by the Foundation itself. It was transferred to the two global distributors RS-Components and Farnell. After the start of sales on February 29, 2012, the distributors were able to sell +10,000 boards within an hour. The demand was so great that the sale had to be suspended. Interested parties had to register for a single copy per buyer before it was available again weeks to months later. Within a year (2012), the two companies then sold over 800,000 of them.

The Raspberry Pi allows connection to various peripherals, which allows for a wide range of possible uses.

The Raspberry Pi has triggered a “hype” worldwide. Not only due to the low price, but rather to the overall concept. A concept in which the aim is not maximum profit, but the fact that maximum performance at minimum price with the open Source ideas are combined. Every interested (young) person – with a tight budget – can afford to program and experiment on current hardware and engage in lively exchange with other developers in the open source community. It is actually remarkable how many uses and applications for the Raspberry Pi have been created in a very short time. Thanks to open source, these do not cost any money and are constantly being further developed.