How to Get Started With Robotics at Home
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If you’ve ever wanted to get started with DIY robotics, you’ve probably heard the name Arduino thrown around. Arduino is an Italian made, open-source, electronics platform with incredibly user friendly hardware and software. The modular nature of the hardware and the simplicity of the programming environment makes it ideal for beginners while still having the capabilities for more complex projects.
In simple terms, the Arduino is a mini computer that can perceive the environment through sensors that measure things like light, sound, temperature, distance, etc. It can then use this information to impart change to the physical environment by sending signals to actuators or other hardware. Actuators consist of things like motors, lights, speakers, LCD screens, and much more. The Arduino performs these actions through instructions received in a program, or sketch. These sketches are sent via a USB cable and created using the Arduino integrated development environment (IDE), which is based on the C programming language.
In a nutshell, here are some of the main features of the Arduino:
· Read an analog signal
· Write an analog signal*
· Read a digital signal
· Write a digital signal
· Provide a 5V or 3.3V source
· Provide a ground (0V)
· Easily communicate with your PC via USB
*Arduino can’t truly create an analog signal. It “fakes” it by using pulse width modulation (PWM). I’ll elaborate on this in a future post.
If you are a complete beginner to programming and electrical circuits, I recommend getting the Arduino starter kit (https://amzn.to/2YWt01o). This set comes with over 100 components and an easy to understand project book that teaches fundamental concepts via sample projects. In the upcoming posts, I will be providing tutorials on each of these examples from this book.
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