Hello Arduino!

Hardware was a side of technology that I never learned about, other than what I learned from my CSA501 (computer system architecture) class, which was the components of a computer. My brother is the one who was always into hardware and gave me his old arduino uno, along with a box of various bits (LEDs, various sensors, ect). Up until recently I never really took the time to play around with it, partially because I didnt know any C, and also because I never really knew how to approach it. With my recent exposure to nrf5 via Sam, I have decided to dig into the arduino as a means to learn more.

Much like the nrf5 stuff, the first thing needed is the IDE, which arduino provides two options. The first is a web editor, and the second is an open source IDE available on the arduino websites download page. I will be using the arduino IDE and am using ubuntu 20.04, so I downloaded the Linux x64 file. Alternatively if you are using ubuntu, you can download the IDE via apt install arduino.

Like anything in programming its time to start with a classic hello world!. Since this is (embedded) hardware, the hello world equivelant (in my opinion) would be getting an LED to turn on and off. The arduino IDE has a bunch of examples, one of which is for making an LED turn on and off. Lets grok the code.

/*
  Blink
  Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.
 
  This example code is in the public domain.
 */
 
// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards.
// give it a name:
int led = 13;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {                
  // initialize the digital pin as an output.
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);     
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
  digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
  delay(1000);               // wait for a second
  digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
  delay(1000);               // wait for a second
}

The first thing thats happening is an int variable called led is created with the value 13. This is because the LED will be plugged into GPIO pin #13. GPIO stands for general-purpose input/output. The reason behind the use of the specific GPIO pin (#13) is because its right next to a GND (ground) pin. This means you can plug the LED directly into the board: positive (the longer end) plugged into the #13 pin, and negative (the shorter end) plugged into the GND pin.

The setup function is calling the pinMode function, which as the documentation says is initializing the digital pin as an output. Let look at the documentation for pinMode to understand a bit more about it. According to the documentation, pinMode “configures the specified pin to behave as an input or an output.” In this case led (aka pin #13) is being set as OUTPUT.

Finally in the loop function we are calling the digitalWrite function and the delay function. The digitalWrite function, according to the documentation, “writes a HIGH or LOW value to a digital pin.” Since in this case the pin is configured as an OUTPUT, “its voltage will be set to the corresponding value: 5V (or 3.3V on 3.3V boards) for HIGH, 0V (ground) for LOW.” The delay function is pretty self-explanatory, it “pauses the program for the amount of time (in milliseconds) specified as parameter.”