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Topic: BASIC ARDUINO HARDWARE HELP (Read 5592 times) previous topic - next topic

Pepsikid51

Is there such a thing as BASIC or a BEGINNERS section on using ARDUINO and/or ARDUINO associated hardware? Basic or Beginner approach does not start with a SKETCH, nor a SCHEMATIC, and although helpful for marketing isn't a description of a piece of hardware capabilities. What I'm talking about is a section where a piece of hardware is described in terms of usage, not capabilities.

I understand there are hundreds of pieces of hardware, and several hundred more ways they can be used. What I don't understand is where I can go to ask questions about using it, that are answered in the same context I ask it in. Basic, Beginner, (any thing NON-ELECTRONIC) terms. If I knew schematics and nomenclature... chances are pretty good I wouldn't be asking the question, 'cause I'd know electronics.

Manufactures and to a certain extent retailers, for "legal implications" feel they need to be very cautious giving out advice to avoid the dreaded law suit. Others seem like they try to help but do so with trying to impress how smart they are instead of how dumb I am. I attached a drawing, they respond with a schematic, I don't know symbols, I can't grasp the logic expressed in terms of a 4 year degree.

What I can do is see an example of a LED attached to a power supply, and expand it out to 10 LED's (6 connected in parallel, 4 in series) connected to that power supply. So I ask the question "Where do I go"... been there done that, I mean for help in how a piece of hardware is configured for use not capabilities that can be used.

In example: Mega Sensor Shield. Description states it is for making simple connections for a large number of servo's etc. using an external power source. It does not come with instructions, or explanations. 8 channel Relay Module, same thing no instructions but description says it is used to control circuits where external power is needed. I now have both, I can use them both independent of each other with an external power source, but can't use them together. Not because of their capabilities, but because of their lack of documentation on how to configure those capabilities.

Lastly, if there is no place I can be pointed too, there should be. In fact I would be willing to populate it with drawings and terms that could be understood from a beginners standpoint. However in order to do  that I would need the appropriate place and sufficient assistance to "grasp the knowledge" to create examples. I'll do the graphics, I'll do the annotations, You can do the editing/review, Others will reap the rewards. Again, I'm not talking about "sketches" I'm talking hookups (hardware to hardware).

DVDdoug

#1
Dec 09, 2014, 06:36 am Last Edit: Dec 09, 2014, 06:43 am by DVDdoug
I don't know what to tell you...   Using the Arduino requires electronics and programming...    You can copy someone else's project, but if you want to make a modification or do something unique, you need to understand SOME electronics and some programming.  If you are doing something complicated, you might need to know LOTs of electronics and programming.

If you take electronics at a university you'll be into the 3rd or 4th year before you study microcontrollers.   But, many hobbyists or "kids" jump-into the Arduino and they just learn whatever they need to know for whatever they are doing...  And, they make mistakes and sometimes burn-up parts, etc.  So, you don't have to know all about electronics before you start, but you'll have to learn something!

It's a good idea to learn the basics such as Ohm's Law, what a resistor does (and how to make a voltage divider), Kirchhoff's Law (how voltages and currents divide in series and parallel circuits), what a capacitor is, how diodes work (including LEDs), at least something about how transistors & MOSFETs work, and at least something about digital logic and how "ones" and "zeros" are represented as "high" and "low" voltages.

A schematic is a symbolic representation of how the parts are connected.    For example, two or three parts that are connected in parallel might be shown together and side-by-side on the schematic, even though they might be physically scattered around on the circuit board.   You might have large capacitors and tiny capacitors.  They will all be shown on the schematic as the same size with their capacitance values, and possibly their voltage ratings.   

If you know the schematic symbol for resistors, capacitors, etc. it's easier to wire-up the circuit or understand how the circuit works than it would be looking at a picture or diagram of the parts on a circuit board or breadboard.

If you've ever worked on an automobile's electrical system, you know it's easier to look at the wiring diagram (schematic) than to look at the wiring harness if you need to figure-out where the wires go.

The Arduino's description, pin-out diagram, and language reference tell you ALMOST everything you need to know, IF you understand what you are reading.   A few times I've looked-up something on the ATmega datasheet, but 99% of the time all of the information I need is the in the basic specs and description, pin-out, and language reference (and sometimes I look at one of the example projects).

CrossRoads

Try my book, goes into a lot of the basics you are describing.  Don't let the title fool you.
Intended for folks with some programming background looking to move ahead into the electronics side more.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.

KenF

It's easier to go the other way.  If you know what you want to achieve then you can find something that is suitable.  After all even though there are many ways to skin a cat, it's unlikely that you'll find a filleting knife that describes itself ideal for skinning cats.


Grumpy_Mike

#4
Dec 09, 2014, 08:58 pm Last Edit: Dec 09, 2014, 09:01 pm by Grumpy_Mike
Quote
I don't know symbols, I can't grasp the logic expressed in terms of a 4 year degree.
And it seems that you don't want to know them.

Quote
Manufactures and to a certain extent retailers, for "legal implications" feel they need to be very cautious giving out advice to avoid the dreaded law suit.
You might think that but it is not in anyway close to the truth.

Quote
I don't know symbols,
They are not hard to learn, but I get the feeling that you actively want to shut your mind off from these.
There is a video here that might help.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cps7Q_IrX0
also this might help:-
http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/01/reading-circuit-diagrams.html
The problem is that it is a universal language and in order to communicate about electronics there is no substitute. Even your so called diagrams are nothing more than graphical ways of expressing circuit interconnections.

Quote
I can't grasp the logic expressed in terms of a 4 year degree.
I am not sure what you think these are but I have taught 4 year degrees and there are no logic expressions used here that are anything above a first year, and even those that are tend to be in the specialist end of things and not needed until you get very deep into the subject.

Quote
Others seem like they try to help but do so with trying to impress how smart they are instead of how dumb I am.
That is a construct that you are putting on things. It is not meant and should not be taken as a put down of any sort. You are quite free to ask any question here. The trick is that if you do not understand the answer then ask again about what you don't understand. Looking at the two posts you have made you have asked a question, got an answer but then that is it, you leave the thread and never return.

The bottom line is that I read your question as "how can I do electronics without learning anything about it" like as you said in another post you don't have to know how a carburetor works to drive a car. That is true, you do not have to know how MP3 compression works to down load a track from iTunes and play it on your phone. However if you want to make a device that powers a car or that plays an MP3 file you have to know at least a bit about carburetors and MP3 encoding.

So if you are dead set against learning anything about electronics then my advice would be to stick to consumer devices and do not try and make anything for your self. If you want to learn then you are very welcome and most people will bend over backwards to help you, but help you to learn.
 


Pepsikid51

I thank you all for your comments, but of course feel most of them do not go to the heart of the matter. Perhaps I did a poor job representing my knowledge, or lack of wanting to learn electronics. I'm not wanting to BUILD an amplifier from scratch or design a robotic pool cleaner, I'd like  to connect some LEDs ultimately controlled by a software program as to when (event conditions are met). That requires an interface (Arduino). My problem is NOT with learning a symbol or memorizing Ohm's Law, but I can't (or don't want to guess or try 3 or 4 experiments) where the result might not only not work but destroy a second chance.

When a piece of hardware utilizes jumpers, connection ports, or has multiple options associated with it, those options should be identified as to what they represent, and how there used, not every possible use but certainly some basic concepts. As for my reluctance of learning electronic, quite over stated, I've taught myself quite a bit, difference being emphasis on troubleshooting (Identify what's bad and replace it) not repair or build it. It is not my hobby, but used in it. I learn what I need to accomplish an objective, maybe should commit it to memorization but document my efforts so I don't have too. Regardless of my experience or  education none of it, I feel would serve me any better to know concretely how features or options are wired without some sort of guide from the designer. I can guess and make a reasonable effort but just like a basic sketch to turn a light on or off, there are hundreds of possibilities, some call it blink some call it flash others call it interrupt, the result is the same on and off!
 

KenF

So you already have the basics. 

  Arduino's can read digital inputs (which it sees as just on or off)
  Arduinio's can write digital outputs (which it produces as HIGH or LOW)
  Arduinio's can read Analog voltages (which it sees as a value between 0 and 1024)
  Arduino's can write Analog voltages (actually PWM in the range of 0 to 255)
  Arduino's can run a program to do stuff under certain conditions.
  The amount of stuff they can handle is dictated by
 
  • The amount of program space they have available (how big the program can be
  • The amount of sRam they have available (how much data they can manipulate
  • How many digital inputs/ouputs they have available
  • How many Analog input/outputs they have available

And that's about it.

Every application that the arduino will be put to just uses inputs to decide what it outputs.  The world is your oyster. 

To compare their relative strengths/weaknesses You could start here

But if you're new to working with microcontrollers, likely as not, it won't mean a whole lot to you.  Give us an example application and we'll likely be able to advise better which is suitable.

To handle a bunch of leds, pushbuttons, and basic communication.  Any of them will work. 

JimboZA

The amount of stuff they can handle is dictated by
 
  • The amount of program space they have available (how big the program can be
  • The amount of sRam they have available (how much data they can manipulate
  • How many digital inputs/ouputs they have available
  • How many Analog input/outputs they have available

.... not to mention the degree of cunning you employ in your code, from almost trivial things like using bytes as variables where we might lean towards ints, through to using clever algorithms to save time and memory.
Johannesburg hams call me: ZS6JMB on Highveld rep 145.7875 (-600 & 88.5 tone)
Dr Perry Cox: "Help me to help you, help me to help you...."
Your answer may already be here: https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=384198.0

KenF

.... not to mention the degree of cunning you employ in your code, from almost trivial things like using bytes as variables where we might lean towards ints, through to using clever algorithms to save time and memory.
At a pinch you could even use a spare output pin to store a boolean value. No internal memory required at all.  If you've got a lot of pins you could even save a few bytes of data just on the states of those unused pins.

Pepsikid51

Yes, and again I'm not making my point, but you are. Some of the last posts are typical to what I guess is "Basic" knowledge  when it comes to the Arduino and family of boards... Telling me what they can do. WHAT is not the question, HOW? Specifically I have a 8 channel relay module, I connect 8 LED's to it with a common external power supply, I connect it to Mega and ... wow it works (thanks KOzO001) . I now connect a Mega Sensor Shield to the Mega with the 8 channel relay with ext. power and... It doesn't work! Note: Sketch's used, size and type of power is irrelevant to this, It worked as wired, only modification is adding the shield now it doesn't. 

Somewhere along the line power is not being distributed properly. All 3 (module, shield and Mega are capable of using external power sources, and yes I see the jumpers, what I don't see is how they are supposed to be set. Logic - Arduino and Module and LED's wired to ext. power works, Shield (supposed to be passive) added to the mix causes it not to work. I didn't need to change any jumper settings, just connect the LED's (and the proper size and type resistor) for this circuit to work PROPERLY between the Mega and Module. The shield advertised (described) as a good board for connecting a large number of servos, loads etc. using an external power supply. This bring me to 1st point of contention (without documentation), the jumper (Shield) is on leaving the Mega +5 voltage to power it, just as if the Shield wasn't there. But it is and the identical circuit working 2 minuets earlier does not work.

Clearly, and I know it's upsetting to "basic anything" in Arduino, using anything outside the +5v capability of the board is not discussed. Described as capable of, or an option but not HOW it is done. My logic says I wired a external power source to control a group of LEDs and the relays operating them, not the Arduino nor the Shield... The Arduino powers the shield and passes the pin state to the relay pin, the relay opens or closes based on that pin states and allows the external power to power the load. Now I know that wasn't presented in proper nomenclature or all inclusive about power voltage and amps, but isn't needed because I'm  not asking how many loads I can use or considering those factors, at least not until I can get a simple circuit tested and running. As a closing note, if/when I do find the answers I have and will post results not necessarily in a format of technical expertise but in plain English, helping others who follow to avoid the pitfalls I can't. Again thanks for responding, I do try to see its value... It may answer the question you think I'm asking but its not what I was looking for.    


CrossRoads

#10
Dec 10, 2014, 07:40 am Last Edit: Dec 10, 2014, 07:54 am by Coding Badly Reason: Link tags added
Seriously, my book will help you out a lot for those questions.

http://www.amazon.com/Arduino-Teens-Course-Technology/dp/1285420896/
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.

Grumpy_Mike

Often people who seem to "know" things are though of by people who don't as having a good memory and remembering lots of things, sometimes this is mistakenly called knowledge.

In truth the people who seem to "know" things do not remember those things as a series of discrete thing. Instead they know a few "principals" and then can apply those principals to a specific situation. It appears to me as if you want to reduce electronics to discrete things. The problem with trying to do that is that you have way too much to remember. The number of combinations of things rises exponentially for each extra thing you throw in. So what you want to do is ultimately totally impractical.

Quote
not necessarily in a format of technical expertise but in plain English, helping others who follow to avoid the pitfalls I can't.
The problem here is that what to you appears to be plain English, will not be seen as such by everybody or indeed many people, technical or not. This is partly because in order to write anything you have to have a set of assumptions in your head to write against and those assumptions are not necessarily shared by your "lay" audience. The other point is that explanations like this are a dead end, they do not get you anywhere, you can not use that knowledge to solve the next question, you will never make any progress. You also can not say why a thing happens only that you should do it like this to make it happen. It is like teaching a robot how to draw a bird. It can only draw that one bird in one way. No variations in pose, species or size. You are prescribing every stroke. Only when those strokes can be described as a flexible algorithm can you truly learn how to draw a bird. It is the same with electronics.


Pepsikid51

#12
Dec 10, 2014, 10:57 pm Last Edit: Dec 10, 2014, 11:08 pm by Pepsikid51 Reason: attach link
Ok, approach I've been using is misguided or going way off track. I'll be looking at your book "Cross Roads", and appreciate your efforts. The intent of the post was not to enter into debate over Learning electronics or having anyone labor because I'm to lazy to do my own research. I feel I learn a lot more doing for myself but just wanted to avoid damages, frustration (delays) in the process.

Attached is a conceptual plan of attack. Each section (LED's, Digital Display, and IR Sensors) has been constructed and bench tested as usable. Additionally, all sections have been in use for a couple years but using a different interface (Phidget). A software program change has prompted the requirement to change the interface to Arduino. Again, I understand the Arduino is a microcontroller, and has capabilities far beyond what I need, one of those properties is it is an interface (required for communication) between the real world and the computer.

Because the examples are BASIC, they use a Uno board, something not suited (but usable) as a single entity. I need to expand on that example because power and quantity of pins dictates it. Thus a Mega (pins) and Sensor Shield (ext. power). Both pieces of hardware have options for using external power sources but cannot find sufficient examples of HOW to combine them or using anything other than the +5 power of the Mega.

I just can't believe a board is designed with 56+ pins but only 3 to 5 are usable at a time because of power limitations, or documented as how to increase that limitation. Furthermore don't understand why this limitation is in place if each section is powered by its own power source for the loadshttps://www.dropbox.com/s/at49i33uhkjnv4z/GantryProject.png?dl=0.          

KenF

I just can't believe a board is designed with 56+ pins but only 3 to 5 are usable at a time
You are right not to believe it because that's nonsense.  You can use ALL 56 at the same time.  The only limitations are current NOT voltage.  They're completely different entities.

You can control stuff WITHOUT blasting out the full capacity of a pin.

raschemmel

#14
Dec 11, 2014, 03:03 am Last Edit: Dec 11, 2014, 03:19 am by raschemmel
Quote
If I knew schematics and nomenclature... chances are pretty good I wouldn't be asking the question, 'cause I'd know electronics.  
I have a news flash for you. At least 80% (by my estimation) of NOOBs, do not know electronics on their
first post and probably at least 60% or more can't read or draw schematics. Worse yet, they have this
strange tendency to post on the forum FIRST before Googling anything when a simple Google search
that starts with the keyword "arduino" and ends with the keywords "example, circuit, code" etc, will yield
dozens of tutorials and schematics. Perhaps it's the human factor. They don't want to feel all alone while
struggling to learn. They want a "LIFELINE", which of course, winds up being us. You say you have
experience troubleshooting. Have you considered the possibility that the reason it didn't work is something
simple ? If you were posting to solve your Mega issue, instead of looking for a simpler way out, it might
be working by now. You seem to be very intelligent, with a firm grasp of the English language, and if
I had to guess, I would guess you are a very capable reader. Is there anything you are not telling us ?
Is it possible you just don't enjoy fiddling with the jumpers and whatnot and regard the whole process
as a pain in the you know what ?

This"
" I hate electronics  and all the fiddling around that goes with it..."
and this,
"I want to build a circuit that does this ..."
somehow seem contradictory.

I still don't know what you mean by "basic" .
Can you give us an example of what you consider to be a basic tutorial about anything ?
(that is somehow different from all the OTHER tutorials readily available online ?)


That might help us ...

Interesting Project.
Regarding THIS:
Quote
I just can't believe a board is designed with 56+ pins but only 3 to 5 are usable at a time because of power limitations, or documented as how to increase that limitation.
NO uC is designed to power peripheral hardware. ALL of them are designed to provide control
signals to hardware powered by external power supplies. All of the arduinos are designed to power
the minimal hardware necessary for learning the hobby and doing small projects , and they do a
fairly good job of that. I don't see why you even bring up the power issue when all you need is an
external power supply or supplies for 5V , +12 , and possibly +24V, all of which are cheap on ebay.
Your LEADER board project is NOT a typical beginner project ; far from it. Add up the power consumption of your hardware and specify a power supply in terms of some voltage at some current and we will be
happy to help you find it.  Your problem with the Mega doesn't sound that serious. I think the solution
can be found if you take the time to look.

Quote
Basic, Beginner, (any thing NON-ELECTRONIC) terms.
Isn't that like asking someone to explain cooking food in non-cooking terms ?
(or interior decorating in non-decorating terms ?)
(or accounting in non-accounting terms ?)

I'm sorry, I don't get it. (probably because I have 30 yrs electronics experience and can't put myself
in your shoes) (FYI, I started as a restaurant short-order cook and taught myself electronics. When
I started , I honestly did not know what a resistor was. )
Arduino UNOs, Pro-Minis, ATMega328, ATtiny85, LCDs, MCP4162, keypads,<br />DS18B20s,74c922,nRF24L01, RS232, SD card, RC fixed wing, quadcopter

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