Here’s how to get ready to work with the Arduino microcontroller system.
Arduino hardware comes in many flavors. The basic Arduino as of this writing is the Uno. This model supports 13 digital input/outputs along with 6 analog inputs. It can run off of USB power or via an external “wall wart” power supply. The onboard microcontroller supports up to 32K of program code with 2K of RAM. This may not seem like a lot, but in 8-bit microcontroller terms it’s probably more than most prototypers need. The main Arduino website hosts an exhaustive list of sources at http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Buy, or you can find it at Maker Shed, SparkFun, Adafruit, and many other online retailers.
There are plenty of other options if your project has special needs. For example, the Arduino Mega is good for very big jobs. It has 54 digital input/outputs and 16 analog inputs, along with 4 hardware serial connections. Should you want to go small, check out the Arduino Mini, which omits USB and female headers to allow a much smaller form factor, though at the expense of some prototyping ease. You’ll find plenty of Arduino clones available too, all of which are configured a little differently to suit particular needs and tastes. If you feel bewildered by the options, the Uno is a fine choice for getting started. All the examples in this book are based on it.
You’ll want a USB cable for programming your Arduino board. For the Uno or Mega ...