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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

    Join Karen as she shares her enthusiasm for teaching STEM subjects, gives you what you need to know to get started on electronics projects, and more.

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    Karen gives an introduction to Arduino and the open-source platform that it is based on.  She explains what makes it a good platform for beginners and how you can take advantage of its ease-of-use and extensive documentation to get started with electronics projects.  The Arduino UnoArduino Uno, such as the one included with Arduino Starter KitArduino Starter Kit, is a great place to start if you’re new to Arduino. 



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    You can power an Arduino UnoArduino Uno through the power jack or the serial port.  You can also power it directly to pins VCC/GND. The Serial Port can be used for programming or you can program it through the ICSP header with an AVR programmer.  You would use GND and voltage pins to power components in your projects.  There's lot's of I/O for both digital and analog with pins for PWM so its versatile for a wide range of projects. Arduino makes it easy to plug in sensors and peripherals so that it can act as the brains of your electronic projects. There is no soldering required with Arduino and the board is well labeled for ease of programming.  The board includes a reset button, if there is something buggy with your program or project you can easily reset the microcontroller without having to mess with the code or a computer.


    The microcontroller isn't soldered directly on the board, but instead is in a sociket. You can pop it out  and swap out just the chip, without replacing the whole board, should something happen. The Arduino uses its own IDE (integrated development environment).  The syntax is similar to C or C++ but does not require any prior programming knowledge. You can easily integrate many components with Arduino to sense your environment such as through heat, motion, light, and touch.  You can also use Arduino to affect your environment through motors, servos, LEDs, or as the brain of your electronics project.


    For  motors and fans, they may be rated for more power, but try to get as low as you can near 3V. These motors and fans can handle more power, but will still work at 3V. Most LEDs are rated for 1.5-3V DC. Be careful with the LEDs. If they are fed too many volts, they’ll burn out and stop working. While that’s true for most components, LEDs tend to be less tolerant to voltages above their rating. We’ll also make blocks with interrupts, like buttons, switches, and potentiometers.