Paving the Way

With this introductory article I’m trying to describe a little bit what my current interest is, to show you what is about to come.

My personal interest at the moment revolves around the great arduino-Platform.

I already encountered some interesting bits and pieces with microcontroller, but i mostly wasn’t satisfied with the learning curve for really working with devices like the PIC-Microprocessor. The languages you can use to drive this little genius pieces of hardware for me were not in any way comparable to my favourite language python.

But that is way before i got to arduino, so let’s back off a bit further.

After having fiddled around with some of those PIC’s and having successfully used some DS18b20-Temperature Sensors and some tiny servo (to drive a remote-control based on the measured temperature), i found out about some Microprocessor from Atmel called ATMega, ATTiny that could be programmed with C.

So I went out to get another devel-board for those and had a little more fun trying to do something kinda useful, as the development environment now suited me much more.

But shortly thereafter, when I was desperately hunting for useful software-pieces to drive some of the electronics stuff I had lying around, i stumbled upon the arduino.
And here the momentum changed massively, because of the integration of the whole thing. You get decent hardware, really ready to just simply stuff some device into its ports and have it work. And it most definitively works because of the arduino-IDE, and its easy usage. No hassle with external programming tools like ponyprog after having edited some code in another IDE. In arduino’s IDE you program and with hitting a button it goes into the microprocessor.

The Arduino-IDE itself is much more like my favourite programming language python, it seems to follow the „batteries included“ paradigm. You get all kinds of libraries for driving digital devices, motors or for dealing with analog input from a LDR.

One good aspect regarding what arduino is made up of, is the usage of serial as a means of communication with your programs. With PIC’s i was used to always hook up an LCD to what i was programming for knowing what was happening, or most of the time if something was happening. With the Arduino-IDE you get some button directly next to the one where you send the program to the arduino, that gets you a serial console with which you can easily see what is happening within you program, or what values your sensors do measure.

Looking back now i’m stunned that this is already some time ago, as i got my arduino in February of 2010.

Guess what it happened again. I discovered something truly great and it circles around some article on a blog titled „Rethinking the Arduino hardware interface“ where JCW, the guy behind this great idea, has developed a small board with an ATMega328 and a new means of hooking up all kinds of sensors and actuators  by driving them thru I²C on four standardized ports.

As I now have some of those devices called JeeNodes, that came out of the idea behind the mentioned article. So the coming weeks  i’m trying to give back some of my knowledge gained from dealing with those JeeNodes and perhaps share some code with you.

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