Use Arduino just as a Converter?

Hello.
I came across Arduino and thinking about buying one and starting with the experimenting of this whole materia.
One question couldnt be answered on the site yet: Can I use the arduino only with the onboard chip as the processor? Or is it also possible to use Arduino just as a Converter, lets say to read sensor values from analog sensors from my computer? Then, I would run the program on the computer and not on Arduino and get the values directly through the USB connection. Is this possible?
Thanks

There are many ways to do that. Firmata and Processing are two popular choices. You can find information on these and other techniques for communicating with PC software here: http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/InterfacingWithSoftware

So the USB connection does not only allow to copy programs to the arduino, but also to get direct sensor information?
Do you know where I can find more information about interfacing with C++? The “playground” has just a very small example:
http://devlog.bigmonachus.org/2008/08/interfacing-arduino-with-c-and.html

Yes, the Arduino USB connection is just a USB serial port. Any PC based programming language that knows how to talk to a comm port can utilize the Arduino USB link. Most PC based programming languages have a serial communications library available.

Lefty

As Lefty says, interfacing with C++ (indeed, with any language) involves sending and receiving serial messages. The information in the playground should get you going with getting sensor onto the serial port. The documentation for you favourite C++ compiler should tell you how to send and receive serial data. Perhaps if you say more about what you want to do and the environment you have on your computer, someone can help you more.

heh well, all I want to do is get to know Arduino. And as I know the basic stuff now, I’m ready to buy one. So thanks for the help and you’ll probably see me post again as soon as I’ve got mine and got trouble with it :wink:
thanks guys