What is Arduino?

Arduino is a platform for building electronic projects. It’s an open-source project. Arduino is an open-source project. It’s made up of a physical programmable circuit board, referred to as a microcontroller and a piece of software, or Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that runs on your computer, used to write and upload computer code to the physical board. Using Arduino has become quite popular among people, just starting with electronics and for good reason. This platform is quite unlike previous programmable circuit boards as the Arduino does not need a separate piece of hardware to load new code onto the board. Arduino requires a USB cable to upload new code. Arduino’s Integrated Development Environment is built with a simplified version of C++, making it easier to learn to program. 

Arduino boards were first created in 2005 in Italy by Massimo Banzi. They were created as a way for non-engineers to have access to a low-cost, simple tool for creating hardware projects.  Arduino boards are under a Creative Commons license as an open-source project, which allows anyone to produce their own board. There are hundreds of variations of Arduino boards that exist as a result of user modding and tweaking. However, only official boards have Arduino in their name.

Types of Arduino Boards

Using  Arduino boards for prototyping projects and inventions is a great choice but can be confusing when choosing the right board. If you’re still fresh on this topic, you would automatically assume that there there was just one “Arduino” board, and that’s it.  The truth is that even apart from the user-modded versions, there are still many variations of the official Arduino boards, and then there are hundreds more from competitors who offer clones.  

Below are some of the best official Arduino boards out there. These boards all have the name Arduino on them because they are original. There are also pretty good clones of the originals on the market. Clones are also viable options because they are generally less expensive than their official counterpart.  Adafruit and Sparkfun are examples of companies that sell variations of the Arduino boards, which cost less but still have the same quality as the originals. 

Arduino UNO

This is the most popular Arduino board and probably the best one in a lot of instances. It comes with several handy features to help users out in completing their projects. Arduino UNO makes use of the Atmega16U2 microcontroller. With this controller, the UNO has a faster transfer rate and a larger memory than other boards. The UNO doesn’t require peripheral devices like a joystick, mouse, keyboard, and many more. This board has  SCL and SDA pins and also has two additional pins that fit near to the RESET pin.

The UNO has a total of digital input pins and output pins. Out of these, 6 pins are used as PWM, 6 pins as analog inputs, USB connection, reset button, and one power jack. The UNO connects to computers via a USB port and also gets a power supply to the board from the computer system. A flash memory of 32 KB is allocated to the UNO. The UNO is also a very compatible board and can be combined with other Arduino products.

LilyPad Arduino

This particular board is usually considered as being designed for integrating with wearable projects and e-textile projects. It is a round board that can easily be connected to other devices (the round shape helps decrease the snagging). The LilyPad uses the Atmega328 microcontroller and Arduino bootloader. It uses minimal external components that make the design easy and compatible.

This board requires a power supply of about 2 volts to 5 volts. The LilyPad also has large size pin holes so that it can be easily connected to other devices. It can be used across various projects, especially ones that include motor, light, and switch. This board’s components are washable, which is why it is used a lot in the clothing industry.

Arduino Mega

This microcontroller makes use of the Atmega2560. The Mega has 54 input pins and output pins in it. Out of the 54 pins, 14 pins are of PWM output, 4 pins are of hardware port, and 16 pins are analog inputs. This Arduino board also houses one USB connection, ICSP header, a power jack, and one REST pin.

The remaining pins exist as crystal oscillators having a frequency of 16 MHz. The Mega uses a flash memory of 256KB to store the data in it. Like the UNO, the Mega connects to a computer system with the help of a USB cable. Power can be supplied to this board via battery or AC to DC adapter. This board has quite a few free pins in it, and as such, it’s really suitable for projects that require more pins in it.

Arduino Leonardo

This board uses the Atmega32u4. It comes with 20 digital input pins and output pins, 7 of which are used as PWM and 12 pins used as analog inputs. This board has one micro USB connection, a power jack, and one RESET button fit in it. The additional pins also act as crystal oscillators at a frequency of 16 MHz. The built-in USB connection on this board removes the dependency of an extra processor in it. This board has no additional USB connections and is considered one of the cheapest Arduino boards compared to the others.

Arduino Red Board

The Arduino Red board is another type of Arduino board that uses the mini USB cable for getting programmed, and the Arduino IDE is used for this purpose. This board is compatible with the Windows 8 operating system, and there is no need to change the security settings to make this board work. The Red board uses the FTDI chip and USB chip for the connection to another device. As the red board’s design is straightforward, it can be easily integrated with other projects. The only requirement is to plug the red board and select the appropriate option and can upload the program in no time. The barrel jack can be used to control the USB cable of the Arduino Red board.