Robert E. Seastrom rs at
Mon Oct 26 10:04:21 CDT 2009

Alex Fraser <beatnic at> writes:

> Every thing you know about this please.
> [[]]

Fun and cheap.  Lowest effort physical computing device I've seen
ever, including the Basic Stamp and PICAXE.  Install the FTDI chip
driver (provided with the IDE), plug in USB, set the appropriate
device in your IDE, and you're ready to rock and roll.  I am working
on a couple of "non-expandable but Arduino-bootloader-compatible"
projects that should try to capitalize on this
low-effort-to-first-success property.

The stacking interface boards ("shields") are quite nice too -
connectivity for a variety of things available from places like and - everything from
proto boards to stepper drivers, audio, gps, ethernet...

The Arduino has a wonky header spacing for the shield.  It is not
generic-protoboard-friendly.  I have a few "Seeeduino" semi-clones
from seeedstudio (supra) that have duplicate stacking pins to
accommodate protoboards.  Recommended, and cheaper than the original,
but with an SMT (not removable) microprocessor which might be a deal
killer for some projects.

Programming language is perhaps best described as "C with a lot of
darned friendly libraries".  This allows the best of both worlds - you
can use libraries others have developed, so it is good for the artist
faction of the MAKE community, or you can go behind the libraries'
back and use AVR primitives (the device on board is an ATMega8,
ATMega168, or ATMega328 depending on the vintage of the Arduino - they
differ in terms of built in flash memory, eeprom, scratchpad ram, etc,
but get bigger and better over time).

A word of caution about the AVR.  Like the PIC, it is a Harvard
Architecture cpu, not Von Neumann as you are probably used to.
Generally speaking this is completely transparent to the user; the
compiler hides it well.  The difficulty comes when you have a bunch of
predefined data/structs that you have compiled in - these are stored
in program memory (flash) but you can't address them as data until you
copy them to scratchpad RAM.  There are stock routines for this, but
it is something you need to be aware of as you lay out how your
software is going to interact with data.

Adafruit (supra) has some nice little kits of components, breadbord,
shield, and Arduino which make great gifts for young folks (having
handed over 4 or 5 of these with quite pleasing results).  You may
have to do the soldering of the stacking headers yourself depending on
the recipient's skill level.

Joe-Bob sez buy one today.


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