Arduino – bringing hardware back to the masses

The Arduino project is another AVR based project that’s caught my attention. Quoting from the Arduino site

“Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.”

Although the Arduino system and software has been around for a couple of more years it has really gained in popularity over the last year. Logging onto their Forum shows over 10,000 registered members.

The current basic design Duemilanove is based on a Atmel ATmega168 Microcontroller, clocked at 16Mhz with 16K Flash memory, 1KB SRAM and 512-bytes EEPROM for the ATmega168 or 32KB Flash memory, 2KB SRAM and 1KB EEPROM for the ATmega328 variety. The 2.1″ x 2.6″ (51mm x 73mm) PCB has 14 Digital I/O Pins (of which 6 provide PWM output and others can provide UART, SPI or I2C functions) and 6 Analog Input Pins.

Like any good idea, Arduino has provided inspiration for others and there are many other “Arduino” compatible or similar boards to choose from such as Freeduino, Boarduino and Seeeduino.

For me, Arduino invokes the spirit of the 1970’s where the early computer hackers, pioneers and developers shared their knowledge for the greater good of the computing community (who knows could we see a new Bill Gates emerging – OK perhaps not as rich).

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