What is Arduino? How does it work? What tasks can be accomplished with Arduino?

What Is Arduino?

The Arduino computer system has become rather popular with people just starting out with electronics programming, and for good reason we will discuss later.

The Arduino computer system has become rather popular with people just starting out with electronics programming, and for good reason we will discuss later.

What is Arduino? Arduino is an open source hardware and computer system used to build electronic project/ devices.

It is consist with tangible components mostly called “Arduino or Microcontroller” and computer softer, or Arduino IDE which is refer to Integrated Development Environment runs in Computer for writing a code to control the physical board.

But why is Arduino? There are many other electronics components you can use in starting to learn electronics programming like raspberry pi, IchigoJam and others, but It is still popular.

The Arduino is easy to use, no need for other electronic components for starting to use it, just only one single board of Arduino and USB cable.

Additionally, Arduino IDE uses a simple programming version of C++ which is easy to learn for beginners in programming.


The original project of Arduino was started at the “Interaction Design Institute Ivrea” (IDII) in Ivrea, Italy.

The pupil used a BASIC Stamp microcontroller to learn programming but it was costed of $50 which was expensive to the pupil.

TIn 2003 Hernando Barragán developed the platform during a Master’s project at IDII called Wiring, with the supervising of Massimo Banzi and Casey Reas.

The project purpose was to create easy, low cost tools for creating digital projects by non-engineers.

The Wiring platform belonged of a printed circuit board (PCB) with an ATmega168 microcontroller, an IDE and library functions to easily program the microcontroller.

In 2003, Massimo Banzi, with David Mellis, with another IDII student, and David Cuartielles, added support for the cheaper ATmega8 microcontroller to Wiring project.

But instead of continuing to work on Wiring, they change the project and figured it Arduino.

The Arduino boards are consistent with sets of digital and analog input/output (I/O) pins that may be interconnected to different expansion boards.

The boards use Universal Serial Bus (USB) for loading programs from personal computers to Arduino.

Arduino Uno

The Arduino Uno is one of the popular boards in the Arduino family and it is better for beginners.

We are going to talk about what is the features on it and what it can do by using it.

In this Arduino notes we are going to pass through in:

  • What projects can be accomplished by using an Arduino Uno?
  • What is on an Arduino board?
  • The different varieties of Arduino boards
  • Project that you can use your Arduino board
  • What Arduino can do

    The Arduino hardware and computer software called IDE was configured for anyone who wants to create something new with interactive objects and environment.

    It can interact with LED, Lamp, Switch, motors, smart phone, internet, GPS, sending and receiving SMS, Camera, TV, Sensors or/and computer.

    By using Arduino, you can build robotics, controlling your home lamp wherever you are.

    It can be used in Medical, Transportation, agricultural, education, home appliance systems and so on. Mostly innovators in this time they start to develop their ideas by using this board.

    What Arduino board has

    There are many various Arduino boards that may be used in different categories of purposes.

    All those Arduino boards look different, but they have some majority in common.

    Just we pick one from them to show the common features, called Arduino UNO.

    Every Arduino board needs a port to be connected to a power.

    Arduino Uno is powered from USB cable connected from computer or other power source ex: Power bank, charger and Adapter power supply (Must not greater than 12 voltage) through barrel jack.

    In the above Picture, USB cable is plug in through 1a and barrel jack is connected on 1b while 1c in the other power input where it receives the range of voltage from 7-9 Vin.

    USB cable is also used to upload code from a computer into an Arduino board and to communicate with each other.

    On how to install and programming for the first time, wait a little bit.

    Arduino has many different kinds pins as we numbered on the board above and have different functions:

  • GND (2): Stand for “GROUND”. These pins are used to ground your circuit board. Here we have 3 pins of GND on the board, take time and look where they are.
  • 5v & 3.3V (3): The pin of 5V supplies 5 volts, and pin of 3.3 volts supplies 3.3 volts of power to the other components connected to the Arduino. The most components used with Arduino work happily off of 5 or 3.3 volts.
  • Analog (4): The analog pins are labelled from A0 up to A5. Those pins are used to read the analog signal from analog sensors and convert it into digital numbers that we can see.
  • Digital (5): The digital pins are labelled from 0 up to 13. Those pins are used for both digital input and digital output. Some of them are able to simulate analog output, those pins are marked with this tild (~) take look on digital pins 3, 5, 6, 9, 10 and 11 on Arduino Uno board, it is also known as PWM (Pulse width Modulation).
  • Tx &Rx (6): TX is short for transmit, RX is short for receive. Those pins Digital pins 0 and 1, it can be used to communicate with computers.
  • LED (7): That is the LED used to indicate our Arduino is powered. This LED should light up whenever you plug your Arduino into a power source. If this light doesn’t turn on, there is something wrong. Check your circuit and re-powered again.
  • Important IC (8): IC is stand for Integrated Circuit. It works as the brain of an Arduino, to be a real person you need to have a brain, can you do anything without a brain? Is the same as an Arduino. This IC is different from board type to another board type. The most ICs usually come from ATmega company and you can find it on the top of IC. To know more about IC read datasheets.
  • Tx & Rx LED (9): These LEDs will give us some nice visual indications whenever our Arduino is receiving or transmitting data from computer or components.
  • Rest Button (10): This button is used to rest Arduino. This can be very useful if your code doesn’t repeat, but you want to test it multiple times.
  • Different types of Arduino

    Arduino have different kinds of board, each with its own capabilities.

    Arduino is part of open source hardware, It means that someone can modify/edit and produce change of Arduino boards that provide even more functionality.

    We are going to discuss a few types of Arduino that are more commonly here in Rwanda.

  • Arduino Uno
  • As we discussed above, Arduino Uno is a good choice for starting to use Arduino.

  • Arduino Mega
  • The Arduino Mega looks like the UNO but It is bigger than Uno. It has lot 54 of digital input/output pins ( but 14 pins among them can be used as PWM outputs or analog output), 16 analog inputs, a USB connection, a power jack, and a reset button.

    Simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with an adapter power supply or battery to get started.

    The larger number of digital and analog pins make this board to be used in the project requiring a more number of 13 digital pins or 6 analogy pins.

  • Arduino Nano
  • The Arduino Nano is a small, complete, and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328P.

    It has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Uno

    It has 13 digital input/output, A0-A7 Analog Input/output pins.

    It lacks only a DC power jack, and works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard one.

  • Arduino Leonardo
  • The Leonardo is the first development board of Arduino that use one microcontroller(IC) with built-in USB.

    Because the board is handling USB directly, code libraries are available which allow the board to control a computer keyboard, mouse, and more.

    Some project Arduino can be used

    LED based 7-segment displays are very popular amongst Electronics hobbyists as they are easy to use and easy to understand.

    And has many applications as we discussed above.

    As putting the end of our tutorial, I would like to give a simple exercise you remember we said in the introduction that we can also display alphabets, how about we display some alphabets?

    We are going to list most 10 projects you can build with Arduino:

    • 1 Build a Tiny Weather Display System
    • 2 Build a Motion-Triggered Night Lamp
    • 3 Build attendance system with Fingerprint
    • 4 Build a robotic car
    • 5 Build a FM Transmitter and Receiver
    • 6 Build a personal Alarm system
    • 7 Build Follow me car robotic
    • 8 Build A smoke detector
    • 9 Build Speed control of vehicle