Why do you like Arduino?

Hi!

I'm a freelance journalist based in India, and write a lot on open source related stuff. Currently, for one of my subsequent stories, I'm trying to gauge why people like certain open source hardware platforms better than others.

It would be great if some of you could take time out to answer a few questions for me...

  1. Why do you like Arduino? What are the technical merits that made you choose this platform over other open source ones?

  2. How is the 'community' experience as far as Arduino goes?

  3. In what ways have you used Arduino, and what other purposes do you think it is best suited for?

Look forward to some active discussions on this. You could also mail me your responses if you so wish.

Regards, Janani

What magazine / sites do you write for, and which publication is this Arduino market research intended?

Hi!

I write on open source for Linux for You, linuxforu.com and Electronics For You, all leading publications in India. They belong to the same publication house, and this particular article might be published in any or all of these.

The article is not gonna cover only Arduino, but several other open hardware platforms such as Beagleboard as well.

Regards, Janani

I like the arduino because of its easiness to learn. Within a few days after getting one, I had buttons making leds blinky and beeping noises with a piezo, using a sketch made from scratch.

1) open source, low cost, easy to use on every body's computer, multi platform 2) dynamic community, very responsive forum 3) personnally as a platform for hobby developement and/or experience. But one of my children use it as a motor controler on an electric bike he is designing.

  1. Why do you like Arduino? What are the technical merits that made you choose this platform over other open source ones?
  2. How is the 'community' experience as far as Arduino goes?
  3. In what ways have you used Arduino, and what other purposes do you think it is best suited for?

1) What other open-source projects similar to Arduino are there? The closest competitor to Arduino is probably the Parallax Basic Stamp, which is not at all open source. a) price and simplicity. b) multi-platform support. What first sucked me in was that Arduino was a painless way to start doing microprocessor programming on my Mac. It wasn't IMPOSSIBLE to do before, but Arduino brought together all the pieces in a way that "just worked." c) Community. 2) The arduino community is great. Enough experts to help the new people along, and enough new people with fresh ideas to stimulate the experts into thinking/implementing things in new ways, and remind them of the "joy of development." 3) when someone wants to produce something "electronic" these days, the "answer" is frequently along the lines of "well, you could use a microprocessor for that." And then the idea would stall, because to use a microprocessor you pretty much had to have knowledge that spanned electronics, manufacturing, and software development (frequently in obscure languages.) Now, you can say "you should use a microprocessor; try an arduino - it's set up to be easy to use, and it'll either solve your problem (if you only needed one) or move you significantly along the development cycle toward a more standalone product." But I think it's those "I need less than 10 of a gadget that does X" applications where Arduino really excels...

Hi!

I write on open source for Linux for You, linuxforu.com and Electronics For You, all leading publications in India. They belong to the same publication house, and this particular article might be published in any or all of these.

The article is not gonna cover only Arduino, but several other open hardware platforms such as Beagleboard as well.

Regards, Janani

Beagleboard and Arduino have about as much in common as a space shuttle and SUV. An Arduino footprint can be as small as your thumb, or as big as a Mega stacked with shields.

Beagleboard is one size fits all with a few add-ons, it's costly and not nearly as flexible. It has speed on it's side comparable to a laptop computer and costs almost as much as a laptop. It has an on-board OpenGL ES 2.0 capable 2D/3D graphics accelerator, it's practically a small PC so you should compare it to other small SBC PC's, like Gumstix, both use a Linux operating system whereas Arduino uses a bootloader and is programmed in a language based on C++.

Beagleboard.org has an Alexa ranking of 265,000, Arduino.cc has an Alexa ranking of 23,000. Arduino has an audience and user base "at least" ten orders of magnitude larger than Beagleboard just to give you an idea of its comparative popularity.

For a few dollars I can assemble a small Arduino and program it to manage my household lighting, for a few dollars more, I can build an Arduino with WiFi capability and embedded server to control devices remotely via web based interface.

Arduino is popular because its capabilities are vast, it's inexpensive, it's open source with endless amounts of reference material, and it's forums cover just about every type of electronics project imaginable, and forum members all try to help one another in a true spirit of creativity so newbies don't usually need to wait very long to get constructive replies to intelligent questions.

So for a person new to electronics Arduino is good for all occasions with a steep learning curve that is softened by strong community support and well formed reference material and tutorials - but most people are quick to discover that for themselves = )

Beagleboard ... has speed on it's side comparable to a laptop computer and costs almost as much as a laptop.

$150 ?

But yeah, Beagleboard is an "embedded system" of the microsoft style, where you take a desktop-like platform and physically shrink it and somewhat limit the SW. Whereas Arduino is more like taking basic electronics and adding programability; a different kettle of fish.

Hmm... a lot of interesting inputs coming in :-) Looking forward to more!

  1. Why do you like Arduino? What are the technical merits that made you choose this platform over other open source ones?
  2. How is the 'community' experience as far as Arduino goes?
  3. In what ways have you used Arduino, and what other purposes do you think it is best suited for?
  1. Very easy learning curve. I easily imagined how it would solve the first problem I needed it for. I was able to start using it without spending a single penny (download the IDE and try out the programming language, THEN order a board). Plenty of speed/power for what it's designed to handle. I am not familiar with any other open source platforms in this range.

  2. Top notch - the experts really are. Amazingly (thankfully), it's not polluted by the usual annoyances of a public forum, such as trolls and flame wars. And it's well-connected to outside resources for parts and information.

  3. Sense-and-control projects: temperature controlled fans, home climate control and LED-based bicycle headlight.

I find the ability to mount ready made and custom shields very handy as well, adds a huge amount of flexibility to the units. The amount of tutorials and sample programs is also a huge bonus.

I used to use PICs, but writing modular software in assembler for that architecture was tricky, and so every project was almost started from scratch. Common devices were just different enough from each other to make porting a nightmare. I couldn't justify buying the C tools.

Then I moved to OOPIC, which was OK if the device you wanted to interface to had an object written for it, but it wasn't open source. Performance wasn't great.

Arduino verges on the ideal - very rapid prototyping, using existing objects, and if the performance falls short, the ability to optimise still remains.

Applications are the usual hobby stuff - toys/robots/models, lighting, camera triggers, data loggers, orbital death-ray devices.

I have only been using the arduino for a short time, a couple of months now and I have learnt so much I wish I had tried it a long time ago. I have a background in electronics, but not in designing projects, mainly just faultfinding & repairing, but I finally bit the bullet and ordered one, 3 days later I ordered another. Amazing product.

I love the arduino because it is simple, yet can be very powerful, can be tiny, but can be expanded into a very large project. The platform is easily programmable with easy access to all pinouts and a huge library of knowledge, both in the playground, reference section and in the forums. All of the knowledge and samples are free, so the only cost is the parts for your project.

The community is fantastic, I am constantly amazed at all the ideas that people are trying out, from the very simple, like automating lights, to complex systems interacting with many sensors. I feel that anything I would ask on the forums has either been answered and just a search away or someone will pop up with the answer very quickly.

So far some of the projects I have been working on are a laser triggered camera trigger for capturing water droplets hitting water, a telescope alt-az mount for a friend and my home automation system which interfaces with my mobile phone by using a 433mhz RF transmitter with home easy wireless sockets, lights and a door interface.

I have done many smaller project, mainly just as proof of consept, that will later be implemented into other projects. It has sparked alot of imagination and when I see something I always think "Ooh, I could automate that with an arduino"

I will soon be starting out on fabricating my own custom pcb instead of using the arduino prototyping boards for a more permanent solution and moving the prototyping boards onto other projects.

My next purchase will be an arduino mega for the bigger projects that I have in mind.

Martin Harding

Recently started with arduino.
Since I’m a software engineering student, who has done two years of mechanical engineering… with no aptitude for electronics, arduino is the way to tinker with robotics and the like.
There are so many shields available, its almost shocking. I’ve seen IO expander shields, shields that increase the available digital pins beyond a hundred, ethernet capabilities, GPS devices, etc. etc.

It is cheap, it is open source… the community LOVES experimenting (see the many different shields and projects!), and I suppose the thing I love the most is that regardless of what you want to do, what your experience is… you’ll get help from anybody who might be able to.

It is also a boon that it runs flawlessly on linux, whereas fellow students using windows sometimes have issues finding the right com port ;D

Posted by: westfw

$150 ?

But yeah, Beagleboard is an "embedded system" of the microsoft style, where you take a desktop-like platform and physically shrink it and somewhat limit the SW. Whereas Arduino is more like taking basic electronics and adding programability; a different kettle of fish.

$150 is the cost of the board but once peripherals are added to give it the same capabilities as a laptop the cost would be getting close to the price of a low spec ASUS.

But yeah, 2 completely different beasts = )

Hello, I have heared about Arduino from several sources. One year before I was starting to try AVR- Controllers in Assembler, for me it was very hard to get the first LED blinking. The documentations are not in every case free. And before I was able to upload my first program, there was a lot of reading and understanding of hardware initialization for the right typ of AVR. Then I was trying Arduino ist was working out of the box. There was a standardized type of atmega, not the whole range. There was a platform neutral IDE, with an excellent documentation and a lot of (working, high quality) examples. I was trying the poor way with an AVR for 3$ and assembler, because I was wanted inexpensive solutions (And was not sure if my experiments are operational), and now I was taking the effort to pay more than 300 $ in Arduino related Equippement, but I am lucky all is working as expected. short answer 1.) it is a good tested and well documented inexpensive OpenSource Platform (OpenSource is interesting there are many countries ditributors and communities) 2.) there is a very good organized community, a ot of docs and projects are available, they are easy to find. 3.) small project for easy automation tasks (Timer for Toaster, Automation of Coffeemachine, controlling for heatingplants, monitoring for process documentation for cleaning machines) Regrda Inside-Man

I've tinkered with other MCU's (mainly the Parallax Basic Stamp, in 3 different forms.. the TAB Sumo-Bot kit, was the 1st. Parallax's BOE-Bot 2nd, and the Homework Board 3rd). I later began tinkering with the Innovation-FIRST VEX platform, but when they began losing interest in the experimenter community, everything sat to the side for awhile.

About 7 months ago, someone mentioned about MAKE: Magazine, and one of the subjects of their podcast I had picked-up on, was the Arduino. Once I got my 1st Debit card, I placed an order for one from Adafruit Industries, along with the Proto-Shield, and a bare minimum of parts.

Now, packed into a small tupperware box, I have the Homework board, all the parts I initially had when I was tinkering with the BS2 platforms, a Duimilinov, and a Mega-2560 w/Protoshield. I'm now awaiting a LCD and 2nd Duimilinov I just ordered off EBay today, (within the next few weeks, I hope.. Just had a mini breadboard I ordered 1.5 months ago, arrive today.. >:( ) I've found the front-end Java window an easy to follow User interface, and the programming is fairly simplified to make even the 1st time experimenter feel at ease. :)

The cost is definitely well within the accessible range for just about anyone! Especially the heavy-duty Mega versions! Massive power, the price even a pauper can afford.

Stephen Griswold (gelfling6)

I'm close to ordering an Arduino.

I think the Arduino has some of the best tutorials out there. It also has a bootloader that makes things easier to learn. The forum here helps and there are lots of projects that are open source. The cost is reasonable because you can spend a lot of money on other systems and Arduino is one of the cheapest. You almost can't go wrong with Arduino if you are a beginner and if you can't make it here then you can't make it anywhere.

I can name other microcontroller makers. Some of them aren't friendly and I've been on other forums where you don't get anywhere. Others make it a business so if they give away tutorials for free then they can't sell their classes to schools so even though they have introductory kits so be prepared for some reading. There is also a cost factor whereas it costs money to pay engineers so if you have a kid who is trying to build something, these companies aren't going to talk to you. Cash is king in this market and unless your supplier either has a datasheet or tutorials, you will have to know enough to learn it on your own. I've seen other learning packages come out but it seems that some of these companies have to charge a lot of money to keep talented people.

A microcontroller is only as good as what it helps you do. If you can't learn another system then it won't do anything for you and it could be the best microcontroller around. If you can't use it then it doesn't mean anything. There are technicians who will take instructions out of sequential order (the way we learn) and put them in alphabetical order because they don't want to make it easy to learn or else they can't sell support. Why should you have to pay several times for the same product? It isn't that way with Arduino. The Arduino is easier to learn and that is why there are tutorials.

I think for these reasons Arduino is made for the masses and not for the classes.

So this is high praise from me and I'll probably be making some enemies once some of these workers from other microcontroller companies read this.