What is Arduino, how it works and what you can do with arduino

Arduino is a free hardware platform, based on a board with a microcontroller and a development environment (software), designed to facilitate the use of electronics in multidisciplinary projects.

Today we are going to explain what exactly Arduino is, as well as the main characteristics that define it. It is one of the types of the most popular motherboards in the developers world , but unlike Raspberry Pi it does not have a single model, but offers open hardware bases so that other manufacturers can create their own boards.

So in this, we will start by explaining what Arduino is, talking about its concept, what makes the project different from others, and what you can to achieve with it. Then we will go into how these boards work , and finally few examples of projects that can be carried out with our Arduino board.

What is Arduino

Arduino is an open source electronics creation platform , which is based on free, flexible and easy to use hardware and software for creators and developers. This platform allows you to create different types of single-board microcomputers to which the community of creators can give different types of use.

arduino circuit with uses

In order to understand this concept, first you need to know about free hardware and free software concepts. Free hardware are devices whose specifications and diagrams are publicly accessible, so anyone can replicate them. This means that Arduino offers the base so that any other person or company can create their own boards , being able to be different from each other but equally functional when starting from the same base.

Free software is a computer program whose code is accessible by anyone so that whoever wants to use  can use and modify it. Arduino offers the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) platform, which is a programming environment with which anyone can create applications for Arduino boards, so that they can be given all kinds of utilities.

Origin of Arduino project

This Arduino project was born in 2003, In order to facilitate the access and use of electronic and programming Several students from the Institute of Interactive Design of Ivrea, Italy created it. They did it so that electronics students would have a cheaper alternative to the popular BASIC Stamp , boards which costs more than a hundred dollars in those days, So, not everyone could afford them.

There hard work resulted an Arduino, a board with all the necessary elements to connect peripherals to the inputs and outputs of a micro controller, and which can be programmed in Windows as well as macOS and GNU / Linux. A project that promotes the ‘learning by doing’ philosophy, which means that the best way to learn is by practically twerking the project around.

How Arduino Works

arduino connected to esp8266

The Arduino is a board based on an ATMEL AVR microcontroller. Microcontrollers are integrated circuits where instructions can be recorded , which you write with the programming language that you can use in the Arduino IDE environment. These instructions allow you to create programs that interact with the circuitry on the board.

The most used microcontrollers on Arduino platforms are the Atmega168, Atmega328, Atmega1280, ATmega8 for their simplicity, but it is being expanded to Atmel microcontrollers with 32-bit ARM architecture and also to Intel microcontrollers.

The Arduino microcontroller has communication ports and input / output ports. with which we can connect different types of peripherals on the board. The information of these peripherals that you connect will be transferred to the microcontroller, which will be in charge of processing the data that comes through them.

On the other hand, Arduino provides us with software consisting of a development environment (IDE) that implements the arduino programming language, the tools to transfer the firmware to the microcontroller and the bootloader executed on the board. The main feature of the software and the programming language is its simplicity and ease of use.

Arduino promises to be a simple way to carry out interactive projects for anyone. For someone who wants to do a project, the process is to download and install the IDE, search the internet a bit and simply “cut and paste” the code that interests us and upload it to our HW. Then make the corresponding wiring with the peripherals and we already have the software interacting with the Hardware. All this with a minimal economic investment: the cost of the Arduino and the peripherals.

Arduino is a project and not a specific model of board, which means that sharing its basic design you can find different types of boards . There are in various shapes, sizes and colors for the needs of the project you are working on, there are simple or with improved features, Arduinos oriented to the Internet of Things or 3D printing and, of course, depending on these features you will find variable range of prices.

all types of arduino boards

In addition, Arduino boards also have other types of components called Shields or backpacks. It is a kind of boards that connect to the main board to add an infinity of functions, such as GPS, real-time clocks, radio connectivity, LCD touch screens, development boards, and many more elements. There are even stores with specialized sections on such items.

What is Arduino used for? what you can do if you have Arduino. 

Arduino can be used to create standalone elements, connecting to devices, and interacting with both hardware and software. It helps us both to control an element, for example a motor that raises or lowers a blind based on the existing light is a room, thanks to a light sensor connected to the Arduino, or to read the information from a source, such as It can be a keyboard or a web page, and convert the information into an action such as turning on a light and writing what you type on a display.

With Arduino it is possible to automate anything to make autonomous agents (if you want we can call them Robots). To control lights and devices, or anything else you can think of, you can go for an Arduino-based solution, especially in developments of devices connected to the Internet.

Arduino is a technology that has a fast learning curve with basic knowledge of programming and electronics, which allows developing projects in the field of Smart Cities, the Internet of Things, wearable devices, health, leisure, education, robotics, etc …

Importance of Arduino community

There is another important factor in the success of Arduino, it is the community that supports all this development, shares knowledge, develops libraries to facilitate the use of Arduino and publishes its projects so that they can be replicated, improved or be the basis for another related project.

In summary:

Below is how the first official Arduino looks like

first original arduino

Arduino simplifies the work with microcontrollers and offers the following advantages: cheap, multiplatform, simple programming environment, free and extensible software through C ++ libraries, free and extensible hardware.

When working with Arduino, different technology concepts are handled with priori that have nothing to do with each other but unify them: digital and analog electronics, electricity, programming, microcontrollers, signal processing, communication protocols, processor architecture, mechanics , motors, electronic board design, etc …

Importance of Arduino in the Hardware world

Arduino and by extension free hardware has become an important element not only in the maker world but also in the hardware manufacturing industry.

A study of the state of the hardware industry in 2016 is made at this link. More companies are developing innovative products and we have better tools for prototyping and manufacturing available. Access to and knowledge around these tools is becoming more and more universal. Of these tools, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printers stand out.


CircuitSchools Staff

We at CircuitSchools publish on basics of electronics and electric components and everything related to evolution of electrical technology with complete analysis of development boards and modules along with latest projects with innovative ideas.

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