December 6, 2019 at 10:33 am #81607ChinomnsoParticipant@chinomnso-ugwuanya
The Arduino board comes in variants, each of the variants having areas in which they excel, and are better than the others. While some Arduino boards may look significantly different from the one below, they most likely have most of the components on this one here, albeit differently arranged. They may have a higher number of these components, or they may have some extra components. The labelled board in the illustration below is the same model as my Arduino Uno, and that is what I will be writing on here.
If you’re contemplating what kind of microcontroller board to get, I will suggest you go for the Arduino. If you need reasons to choose the Arduino over other options out there in the market, click here and get enough reasons to make an informed decision. For now, let’s take a careful look at the Arduino Uno board.
Power (USB/Barrel Jack)
Since your Arduino is an electronic device, it surely needs electricity to run. It can be powered either through the USB port, or through the barrel jack. The USB port obviously receives power from a USB cable that can be connected to your PC. Alternatively, your Arduino can get power from a wall power supply terminated in the barrel jack. It is also by means of the USB connection that code is loaded onto your Arduino board. It is worthy of note however, in order to avoid destroying your Arduino, you must not use a power supply in excess of 20 volts.
The pins on the Arduino board are the points to which you connect wires to build circuits. These can be used in conjunction with a breadboard and wires. The wires usually have plastic “heads” by which you can grip them and plug their ends into the board. Your Arduino has several pins with their various functions. Each of these pins is labelled on the board. Read on to see what each of these components does.
GND: GND stands for “Ground”. On your Arduino Uno, there are 3 GND pins, and you can use any of these to ground your circuit.
5V, 3.3V: It goes without saying that the 5V pins give out 5 volts of electricity and the 3.3V pin give out 3.3V of electricity. Majority of the basic components used with the Arduino board can run on 5 or 3.3 volts.
Analog pins: There are 6 of these pins labelled A0 through A5. These analog pins are designed to read signals from analog sensors like temperature or water sensors and then convert the signals received into digital values that can be handled programmatically in a digital environment.
Digital pins: These pins labelled 0 through 13. They can be used to read both analog and digital signals like powering an LED or detecting when a button is pressed.
PWM: On your board, some of your digital pins (3, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11) have the tilde (~) appended to the number. Although these pins can be used as normal digital pins, they can also be used for Pulse-Width Modulation (which is beyond the scope of this article). In the meantime, take it to be something you can use to simulate analog output. An example of that is fading an LED in and out.
AREF: This is short for Analog Reference. If you’re working with most common devices, you may not really need to use this one. But you may use it to set an external reference voltage ranging between 0 and 5 volts as the upper limit for analog input pins.
Power LED indicator
Right under the word “Uno”, you will find a tiny LED. This LED comes on once you power your board on. If for any reason this LED does not come on when you plug a power source on your board, it’s most likely your board is damaged.
The reset button
The Arduino has a reset button that when pushed, will restart the running of any code that you have loaded onto the Arduino. This can be used during testing your code.
Although you’ll rarely need to use the voltage regulator, it is still good you know about it. It is labelled 14 on your Arduino Uno and it does just what its name says – it regulates the voltage, controlling the amount of voltage that enters your Arduino board. You must use this with care, anyway. Having a voltage regulator on your Arduino does not mean you should supply your Arduino board with anything in excess of 20 volts, hoping the voltage regulator would perform some magic. It has limits that you must not exceed.
See that black stuff with metal legs on your Arduino board? That’s the integrated circuit. That’s more like the brain box of your Arduino. Although they may vary slightly from board to board, they are usually ATmega boards manufactured by ATMEL. It’s important that you know what IC type you’re using before you upload your program to the board. Very likely, you will see the IC type printed on the IC. If you’re feeling nerdy and want to sweat out a little, if you want to go deep into technical details, go ahead and read up the datasheets of the different ICs you’re interested in.
TX and RX LEDs
TX is a short form of transmit, while RX is short for receive. On your Arduino Uno, 2 pins are marked TX and RX respectively. Then, TX and RX appear again near two LEDs somewhere around the middle of your board. The purpose of these LEDs is to serve as indicators as to whether your board is receiving or transmitting data.
Now that you have known the different components of your Arduino go you’re ready to explore and start building awesome stuff. Watch out for more Arduino-related topics in this category. You can expect to see how-tos that will guide you as you explore the wonderful world of microcontrollers.
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