Arduino project without the arduino

Hey all,
I have an automatic plant irrigation system in the works for use on my gardens this summer. It uses a capacitive soil moisture probe from dfrobot as an analog input, and outputs to various zone valves. I want to build a similar system at work for my office plants. My question is this: I have a pc at work (windows 7), is there some way to easily run the arduino software with inputs and outputs from my pc rather than buying an actual arduino? it seems like a waste to buy an arduino when I have a fully functional computer 3 feet from my plants :slight_smile: i should mention that I have ZERO experience with programming of computers outside of arduino - and I am definitely a beginner with that too! Thanks!

The simple answer is no.

You do realize that the Arduino hardware is required to control the valves and read the probe?

The significant difference between an Arduino and a PC is that the Arduino has no operating system to get in the way of control of outputs and the collection of data on inputs. If fine control of timing is not important that probably does not matter.

Back in the day when PCs had parallel printer ports you could connect things to them in much the same way as with an Arduino. You can't do that with a modern PC that just has USB ports and the Arduino is a very cost effective way to translate commands from a PC into the control of devices.

And, of course, you can program an Arduino to control things without the need for a PC.


Thanks for the input. I guess I'll just have to get another arduino to play with in my office then :slight_smile:

If you have a digital input (comport, LPT, etc.)
You need a simple program to control your water pump.
I would advice you some USB/lpt device.

But if you have no expirience in programming...

I guess I'll just have to get another arduino to play with in my office then

Invite the boss to play, so that you don't get fired for wasting company time playing with the Arduino.

I've heard of some programs using parallel ports to control peripherals such as CNC controllers. That would probably be more complicated than using arduinos. You could probably purchase some labview stuff but that's far more expensive than an arduino.

Arduino is probably the easiest and most enjoyable way to learn how to program. If you don't want to learn C some companies provide add ins that allow you to program it directly. Mathworks and National instruments come to mind.