Arduino ?

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  1. #1

    Default Arduino ?

    It's so hard to keep up sometimes and although I've heard this thrown around, I just now took a brief look at their site (very brief).

    Saw a bit of sample Arduino language to blink an led or something and I'm asking myself, "what's the point" ?

    Why do these new languages show up when Picbasic is so easy to learn and there are so many resources for it?

    What am I missing? WHY is "Arduino" so special? And what does it mean? Is it someones last name or something?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

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    Default Re: Arduino ?

    It's popular because it's free and it's open source. The hardware is open so you can build an Arduino compatible board yourself (with compatible I mean that it fits with all the shields available) or you can just use the appropriate ATMEL microcontroller on a design of your own. The bootloader that sits in the microcontroller is free and the IDE and compiler are free.

    Contrary to what some believe there is nothing special or propriatary with the "Arduino chip". It's just an ATMEL microcontroller with a bootloader flashed to it. There's no interpreter (like on the BasicStamp) on the chip.

    The "Arduino language" is more or less C which, weather we like or not, is the "industry standard" programming language. I've never played with the Arduino (because I use PBP and I don't know C) but I'm pretty sure there are orders of magnitudes MORE info and examples available for the Arduino than there is for PBP. "Everyone" is using it.

    Not saying anything is "better" than anything else but these are some of the reasons for its popularity. Personlly I prefer PBP because I have it and I know how to use it (most of the time) - but it ain't free.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

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    Default Re: Arduino ?

    One big reason for its popularity is that students just learning to program (C++) find it accessible and create projects based on it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Wellton, U.S.A.

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    Default Re: Arduino ?

    And then there is the PBP alternative.
    Always wear safety glasses while programming.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

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    Default Re: Arduino ?

    The big draw to the Arduino platform is;

    1. The compiler is free and open source. Which doesn't really mean much unless you just want a free compiler or you can modify the open source compiler to meet your own specific needs.

    2. The board design is free and open source. This part is cool, but only if you use the Atmel controller.

    3. The required parts for a working embedded control system are very cheap. Again, very cool, but only if you use the Atmel controller.

    4. A HUGE number of pre-built compiler functions are provided for controlling things like servo motors, PWM outputs, A/D inputs, etc, etc, so you write very little code or have to know little about how & why the code actually works.

    This is all built-in to the compiler as C functions you simply call to do things. So, in short, you need to know/learn very little to do some fairly complex things..

    5. Most educational institutions now prefer to teach C VS BASIC or assembly since this is what the majority of students that graduate and get jobs as embedded programmers will eventually use.

    6. The HUGE factor is - they have plug-in shield boards with pretty much everything from A-Z hardware-wise, and code for each board you simply cut & paste to make the whole 9-yards work. So even with zero experience in embedded programming, you can easily build some fairly sophisticated embedded control sytems.

    7. They regularly update the compiler with new pre-built functions to control new shield boards as they become available.

    So the casual user, with pretty much zero experience in embedded control systems, can create some pretty cool stuff without the normal learning curve, and they don't even need to know how to read or interpret data sheets for the sophisticated peripherals they are interfacing to the embedded control system.

    They took the Parallax BASIC Stamp approach and blew it out of the water, with a faster processor and a TON of people developing new shield interface boards, and C functions to control them, which they simply integrate into the compiler at some time.

    So they do all the work for everyone.

    The only drawback I see with this approach is that once students actually get out there in the job market, they will not be using anything remotely similar to the Arduino C compiler, or have all these nifty built-in C functions, pre-assembled shield boards, etc, so they're pretty much pooched unless the company they end up working for is using an Arduino board/compiler for their products...;o)

    Crownhill has a PIC-based board, the Amicus18, which includes a free BASIC compiler, but it's still a ways off from offering everything the Arduino does, and their user base is pretty limited compared to the Arduino.

    But I still prefer the Amicus18, or an MeLabs dev board to the Arduino since I prefer to actually learn something VS the cookie-cutter approach.

    What happens if you need to use a new sensor, and nobody has developed a new shield or pre-built C functions to use it?

    Last edited by Bruce; - 13th September 2011 at 09:35.

    tech at

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Cambridge - UK

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    Default Re: Arduino ?

    Note that the Crownhill Amicus18, can easily be used with PBP, it is Compiler Agnostic, there is no need to use the AMICUS free BASIC compiler.

    Users of the meLabs PBP3 compiler can thank PBP3 Forum Moderator Mackrakit (Dave) for very kindly porting the Proton BASIC Compiler code over to PBP3 and updating the original Amicus18 documents for PBP3 users. See here

    Amicus18 is an easy route for PBP users to take advantage of the mass of low cost Arduino development board - Shields - staying with their favorite language, PBP

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Arduino ?

    Thanks everybody -- I'll look at that Amicus18, it's a PBP to Arduino converter? I looked closer at the Arduino site and sure like the selection of premade modules.

    I wish sometimes I would have been more patient with C but Picbasic and Visual basic came a lot quicker. (to me anyway).

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