The Arduino Microcontroller


The Arduino microcontroller is used in art and design as an open source programmable tool to create interactive works. It can drive motors, LEDs, sensors and other components. Microcontrollers are small computing systems used for low power and low memory purposes.  A microcontroller consists of a microchip on a circuit board with read-write capabilities, memory, inputs, and outputs

The Arduino was designed as an open-source microcontroller that can easily be programmed, erased and reprogrammed to create interactive projects.  A microcontroller is a small computing system that is used for low memory and power design purposes. In other words, a microcontroller is a microchip on a circuit board with memory, read-write capabilities, inputs, and outputs. The Arduino tool was introduced in the year 2005. The Arduino board was designed to offer an easy and inexpensive platform for students, hobbyist and professionals to create systems and devices that could interact with the environment using actuators and sensors. Arduino offers an open-source computing platform used for programming and constructing electronic devices based on simple microcontroller boards.  The boards, like many other microcontrollers, are capable of a mini computer performance by taking and processing the inputs to produce outputs that control a variety of electronic devices. The boards are also capable of sending and receiving data over the internet with the help of other electronic boards.  Generally, Arduino pack is made up of hardware called the Arduino development board and a code developing software known as the Arduino integrated development environment (IDE).  The hardware is built up with a 32-bit Atmel ARM or an 8-bit Atmel AVR microcontroller’s that are manufactured by Atmel. These microcontrollers can easily be programmed using C or C++ programming languages in the IDE. The Arduino microcontroller enables designers to execute electronics incorporated works that were traditionally performed by specialized electrical engineers.

The architecture of Arduino.

As stated, the elements of Arduino are categorized into hardware that constitutes an Atmel AVR processor and onboard I/O support while the software consists of a standard programming language and the boot loader that runs on the board


Some of the components that make up the hardware include

Atmel AVR Microprocessor- This is the heart of the development board. It can send, as well as receive commands to the peripheral devices connected to it. The microcontroller used in various Arduino boards differs depending on their different specifications.

External Power Supply: the Arduino development board is powered with a regulated voltage ranging from 9 – 12 volts

USB port:  This port is used to upload (burn) the programmed code to the microcontroller using a USB cable. The port also has a 5V regulated power which is used to power the Arduino board in case the External Power Supply is missing.

Reset button:  This button on the board is used to resets the Arduino microcontroller.

Analog input/output Pins:  There pins, ranging from A0 – A7 (typical), are used to receive and send analog signals to the periphery devices. The number of analog pins varies depending on the board.

Digital Input/output Pins:  These input pins are used to receive and send digital signals to the periphery devices. The number of digital pins also varies depending on the board.

Power and Ground Pins: These pins are located on the development board and provide regulated voltages of 3.3, 5V and a ground to the external devices.



A program written for the Arduino is known as a sketch.  An Arduino IDE is used to develop the sketch. The Arduino IDE has the following features.

Text editor- this is the platform for writing a simplified C or C++ programming language.

Message area- this the location whereby errors experienced during the compiling of the program are displayed. This is also responsible for displaying the feedback during runtime. Runtime is the time during the running, saving and exporting of the source code.

Text- error messages and other information get displayed by the console during runtime as earlier defined this the time when the program gets exported, saved and get executed.

Console toolbar- this is where various buttons are contained. These buttons include verifying, new, open, upload, save and the serial monitor. The development board and the serial ported that is being used gets displayed at the bottom right corner side of the display.

Theory of operation

The theory of operation of Arduino is simple. The user downloads the Arduino IDE editor to his computer. The Arduino IDE editor presents a good environment through which one can interact with the Arduino board. Once the user the editor in his computer, the user can connect the Arduino board to his computer. Through the device manager, the user shall select which port he wants to use. After the port the selection, the user can write a program that is subject to the components connected to the Arduino board. He or she must take a keen interest in establishing the digital pins as well as the analog pins. Sensors and actuators can be connected to the same board; however, the user must ensure analog sensors are connected to analog pins. The digital sensors must as well get connected to the digital pins. The working principle of digital pins is through two states, high and low. The user can declare one state as high whenever the statement is true or false. The same applies to the low state. To have a good program, the user must declare which component has been connected to which pin. This will help when writing the program into the microcontroller. Once the program has declared which pin is connected to which component, he or she can successfully write his program on the text editor. The program on the text editor is referred to as the source code. When the user has come up with the source code successfully, he can run to test the source code. If there are some errors, they will be displayed in the message area highlighting the lines of code with the errors. These errors can be corrected, and if there are no errors, he can upload the source code to the Arduino board via the USB cable. The microcontroller will save and execute the program successfully. In case the user wants to write another program, he or she can use the reset button to reset the microcontroller.

Physical equipment- physical equipment required for a user to successfully learn on how to use an Arduino microcontroller depends on the project the user intends to achieve. For example, if the user wants to light an LED at the intervals of five seconds the following are the physical equipment that the user will require, the first equipment the user will need is the LED itself, the user will as well require a jumper wire (male-female), pull-up resistors and breadboard. Depending on the complexity of the project, the user may need more equipment.




Graphs of performance- the graphs of performance vary from one project to the other, depending on the complexity of a project, the graphs of performance may be high or low.

Accuracy- The accuracy of Arduino boards depends on the accuracy of the source code. Whenever dealing with digital inputs, the accuracy aspect maybe not a very major issue, however, when dealing with analog inputs, the accuracy aspect mainly depends on the sampling aspect of the sensor. When there are multiples samples the accuracy of the Arduino increases. It is necessary that whenever dealing with analog inputs, there is a high level of sampling to increase the accuracy of the results. Accuracy as well depends on the formula used in analyzing the result in determining the output. In case there is an error in the analyzing formula, this error will affect the final results hence reducing the accuracy of the microcontroller.

Positive aspects- there are several positive aspects of Arduino. The first aspect is the increased accuracy. This helps in realizing more authentic results. The second aspect is it is user-friendly. It is worth noting that Arduino does not genius people to use or instead it is not only engineers who can use Arduino, but even average people can also learn and use Arduino successfully.

Negative aspects- the main negative aspect of the Arduino microcontroller is the fact that it involves some programming to use it successfully. Programming may proof difficult for some users hence excluding them from being the Arduino community.

Cost- the cost of Arduino is relatively cheap. It is worth noting that Arduino Uno costs roughly 10 dollars. This amount of money is relatively affordable to most people in the united states of America. Other equipment required for one to successfully use Arduino is relatively cheap, and they cost cents. For about 40 dollars it is easy to buy a complete Arduino kit that one can use to learn basics.


In conclusion, Arduino is an essential aspect of the advancing technology today. This Arduino can help learns to enhance their skills in their daily learning. These microcontrollers can as well assist in creating new inventions has, they are user-friendly.

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