1. jerseyguy1996

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    I was thinking about getting one of these to play around with. I have never used a microcontroller before and other than being able to construct a circuit using a schematic, I don't understand electronics very well. How many people have played around with one of these before and what was your experience?
  2. mrmeval

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 30, 2006
    I have one and it works well. You will need to learn more about electronics to hook up various devices. You will also need to learn the limited subset of C language it uses. There is a large volume of help available.
    http://www.arduino.cc and http://www.freeduino.org

    I'm currently trying to get an LCD working but have a lack of time to get to it.

    I did expand the I/O so I could drive 16 LEDs. This proved I could drive any 16 devices I choose from 16 LEDs to 16 motors to 16 strings of xmas lights or any combination. I can do more than 16 if I add more expansion but the programming gets a little more complex and I didn't need to.

    Steppers and motor drivers are pretty mature with the device. There's ultrasonic and other sensors available which people have figured out how to use with the arduino.

    Serial flash ram can be hooked up as can any SPI device.

    You don't have to buy the arduino per se, there are others out there that work with the software. There's boarduino http://www.moderndevice.com/RBBB.html and Ladyada's http://www.ladyada.net/make/boarduino/ offerings. These save money once you've gotten your design complete and want to make a more permanent one or make more than one.
  3. jerseyguy1996

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    Thanks Mrmevel. I was going to try to use it to control different functions of a saltwater fish tank such as receiving a signal from a float switch and turning on a pump for a set amount of time to topoff the tank. Checking the temperature and either turning on a heater to warm up or a fan to cool off the tank. Adding dosing pumps to automatically take over the daily dosing of supplements to the tank. After reading through the site it doesn't seem as though the learning curve will be too steep.
  4. hgmjr

    Retired Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    Hello jerseyguy1996,

    I must say, this sounds like a fun project with a payoff at the end.

  5. jerseyguy1996

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    I think so. I would like to start off with a simple task such as checking one of the input pins to see whether it is high or low (the float switch) and if it is high set one of the output pins to high to turn on the pump which will run for a set amount of time after the input pin goes low. This way I can decrease the amount of cycling on and off by the pump. Right now it is on for a few seconds every few minutes due to the sensitivity of the float switch.

    After I have that simple task working I will work on having it check the voltage coming from a temperature sensor and have it determine whether to turn on a fan or a heater based on that voltage. So this would be more complicated but I think learnable (if that is even a word).

    After that I can try to make it check other parameters such as PH and add alk to raise PH when it gets too low.

    Finally I would like it to check a table of times to turn on and turn off the lights.

    I want to do all of this in baby steps and hopefully gain a working knowledge (if ever so slight) of how to use a microcontroller.