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The Arduino Platform

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the Arduino platform, and find out which hardware and software resources you’ll need to work through the course.

To run the examples, you’ll need to assemble the circuits by hooking up electronic components. You can generally find these items at electronic component stores or in good Arduino starter kits. You’ll need:

  1. An Arduino Uno or other compatible board
  2. A standard LED of any color
  3. A push button
  4. A 10 KOhm potentiometer
  5. A 470 Ohm resistor
  6. A 10 KOhm resistor
  7. A breadboard
  8. Jumper wires of various colors and sizes

In addition to these hardware components, you’ll need to install some software. To install the Arduino IDE on your computer, download the appropriate version for your operating system from one of the following resources:

For more information about Arduino and the Internet of Things, check out the following resources:

00:00 In this video, I’m going to give you some background on the Arduino platform and talk about the hardware and software that you’ll need for this course. Arduino is an open-source platform.

00:08 It’s composed of hardware and software that allows for rapid development of interactive electronic projects. The emergence of Arduino drew the attention of professionals from many different industries, and that really contributed to the start of The Maker Movement. With the growing popularity of The Maker Movement and the concept of the Internet of Things, Arduino has become one of the main platforms for electronic prototyping, and it provides a great platform for creating MVPs, or Minimum Viable Products.

00:37 Arduino uses its own programming language, which is similar to C++. However, it’s possible—as you’ll see through this course—to use the Arduino with Python or another high-level programming language.

00:46 In fact, platforms like Arduino work well with Python, especially for applications that require integrating sensors and other physical devices. As I hope you’ll see in this course, Arduino and Python can facilitate an effective learning environment that’ll encourage developers like yourself to get a little bit more into electronic design.

01:04 The Arduino platform includes both hardware and software products, and throughout this course you’ll use Arduino hardware and Python software to learn about basic circuits as well as digital and analog inputs and outputs.

01:17 So, what do you need? Well, the main ingredient you’re going to need is an Arduino board. This is a screen grab from store.arduino.cc, but this isn’t the only place that you can purchase Arduino parts and kits.

01:31 You can find them from various online retailers or possibly an electronic shop in your town. A small kit can be a good option because it might include a lot of the parts that I’ll list in the upcoming hardware requirements for this course.

01:43 And here’s that list. So first off, you need an Arduino board. It can be an Arduino Uno, which is what I’ll be using, but it can be another compatible board. And along with that, you’re going to need a standard LED of any color,

01:57 one push button, a 10 KOhm potentiometer,

02:06 a 470 Ohm resistor—and I’m going to show you a little bit about reading resistors in the next couple slides—and along with that, a 10 KOhm resistor.

02:19 It’s not required, but it is much handier to use a breadboard for assembling electronic circuits.

02:27 And then to tie things together, if you’re using that breadboard, you’re going to need some jumper wires of various colors and sizes. Okay. A common skill that you’ll need to have is how to read resistors, so I created this chart that you can use.

02:42 It’s in the accompanying PDF that you can download. And as you might’ve noticed, when I was showing you pictures of the resistors a moment ago, they have bands of color on them. In general, the first three colors represent the value of a resistor, while the fourth color—or in some cases, the fifth color—represent its tolerance.

03:00 The first one is a 4-band example. The first two colors are going to indicate the significant digits and the third one is going to be the multiplier. So starting from the left side, you’ll see that there’s a brown band, which indicates a 1; then a black band, which indicates a 0; then an orange band, which is the multiplier.

03:19 In this case, it’s multiplying by 1,000 Ohms. The last band is the tolerance band, and that means this value is going to be within 5%, plus or minus, of this total value. So, take the three values together and you end up with 10 KOhm—10,000 Ohms. So, that’s one type you need.

03:38 And here’s the other. You can see the first band—in this case, it’s a 5-band—starting with yellow for 4. Then, it’s a little hard to see—the resistor itself is blue in color, but the band is actually violet. And it’s a little hard to see that, but that is the actual color—it’s sort of a violet. Printing of resistors—the quality of the colors can really vary. The next band is black, which is a 0.

04:07 So, 4, 7, 0 is what you’re starting with for the significant digits. Then comes the multiplier—it’s a black band, also—times 1. So this is actually 470 Ohms. The last band, which is actually brown—it’s a little hard to see the brown there, I tried my best to get the colors to come out in the photograph—it’s a tolerance of plus or minus 1%. So here is a 470 Ohm resistor.

04:32 This will be included in the PDF that you can download along with this course. I hope this chart will help you identify your resistors. So, what’s a breadboard?

04:41 A breadboard is a fantastic tool for putting together prototypes and connecting circuits together, without the need for a soldering gun or more importantly, a desoldering tool.

04:52 Notice that there’s a top and bottom section—sort of side rails, if you will—that have marked positive and negative values. The entire negative row is interconnected, so anything that you plug into one of the spots along the top will be connected to any of the other negative spots, and the same holds true for the positive row.

05:13 The rows with the letters, A, B, C, D, E, and the other set of F, G, H, I, J are connected only the five in a row together—say F1 to J1, and so forth. And I can kind of show you what that means. In fact, again, here down at the bottom, blue and red are connected again.

05:33 So, what’s going on underneath it? Well, my breadboard—on the bottom of it, there’s a piece of paper and it can be folded back, sort of hiding the secret underneath it: a row of metal connects across all of those plugs, giving you all this interconnection without any solder.

05:49 I hope you can see how this is perfect for experimenting and prototyping—being able to plug in and unplug and experiment with circuits. Okay, so that’s the hardware, and you’ll get to wire up a bunch of different examples here coming up.

06:01 Here’s a little bit about what’s called the Integrated Development Environment for the Arduino. You’re going to follow these steps: You’re going to connect the board to your PC; you’ll install and open the Arduino IDE; then configure the board settings, which involve choosing what serial port that you’re connected to—which will actually have a name, as far as the USB port; then you’ll write a little bit of code; and then you’ll press a single button that then on the IDE uploads the program to the board.

06:30 So, about the Arduino IDE. To install it, you’ll need to download the appropriate version for your operating system, and there are install guides available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

06:41 I’ll be using macOS and showing you how to install it on that, but they’re all pretty similar. And for this course, you will use the Arduino IDE, but there is also an Arduino web editor that you can also use to program the boards. Let’s go ahead and install that software.

06:57 To get your copy of the Arduino IDE, you’re going to go to arduino.cc with your browser, and from there,

07:07 under the SOFTWARE pulldown menu, there’s a choice for DOWNLOADS.

07:13 And there, you’ll see what I was speaking about—that there is a web editor. But that’s not what you’re going to use. You’re going to want the Arduino IDE, and there’s versions for Windows, macOS, and Linux, depending on what your Python setup is configured for and what operating system you’re running.

07:30 I’m going to go ahead and download the macOS version. Great. And as I download it,

07:42 I’m going to drag it into my Applications folder.

07:47 Once you’ve downloaded it, go ahead and open it up,

07:51 and you should see it open up a default of what’s called a sketch.

07:57 That’s great! Up here, I can see that I’m running Arduino and I’ve got a basic sketch open.

08:05 In the next lesson, you’ll upload your first sketch to the Arduino. You can think of it as a “Hello, World!” for the Arduino.

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