Since just before Xmas i've been playing around with a new bit of kit i got called the Arduino Mega 2560. Alot of you won't know what this is but it a rapidly growing community, any bit of hardware with the name "Arduino" will spark interest straight away. I genuinely get excited when i start to read about projects involving Arduino and my expectations have yet to be let down by an application utilizing one.
So what is the Arduino?
Well the short answer is its a open source electronic prototyping platform (according to the box). A more descriptive answer would be the Arduino is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega chip. The model i have is the Mega, which has 54 input/output pins which can be assigned for different uses depending on your particular needs. Anyone else see the versatility of this little board?
Adaptability? In my workshop!
What struck me as most unique about this piece of kit is the shear adaptability its open to. The way the Arduino is laid out it has opened a niche marketed for what have become known as "Shields" which get sandwiched on top of the microcontroller. All it needs to run is nifty coding and bobs yer uncle and fannys yer aunt!
<insert coffee break>
So when i got the Arduino i was also given a wonderful little book called "Beginning Arduino" by Michael McRoberts. It gives a brilliant foundation for the Adruino as a tool, because not only to you need an understand of simple circuit building (which i'm confident i can say i have) but also a breakdown of all the code that is associated with making the microcontroller tick (Which i don't have).
For my technical project this year in college i wanted to build a Temperature control system that would keep a Pulsejet engine in check. Now i'll make a separate blog about that but needless to say the Arduino would be the brains of the operation. I chose a special type of temperature sensor, scripted the code (with some help) to include a set point and once the set point is reached, a trigger that would activate some pumps to begin a cooling cycle. I (eventually) got a working prototype just in the nick of time! I think the only thing that would let me down is my presentation and lab book, i was never one for sitting down and filling out a diary... I do physics not heritage studies for fuck sake!
Future plans for my loverly Adruino?
I've had my eye on the AeroQuad project for a veeeeeery long time so i suspect the next step would be to get it airborne. Most of the parts and senors have been bought and will be arriving before summer i hope. More updates to follow i'm sure ;) Another option is to build a submersible drone for some underwater exploration... You might have guested that robotics and autonomous control is a fetish of mine.