What is Arduino?
To understand what is it and what you can do with Croduino , it is necessary to understand what it is Arduino. Arduino is an electronic prototyping platform designed for the creation of electronic projects. It consists of a hardware part, which is actually physically programmable electronic circuit (known as the microcontroller) and software parts called IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which are running on your computer and from it you program and manage the plate.
The plate itself was made in Italy in 2005, and was created by a small group of students. It has gained it's popularity mainly because of it's simplicity. Programming of the plates requires no part of hardware (called a programmer) as for other microcontroller systems, only a sufficient USB cable that can connect with any computer, regardless of operating system. Arduino can be programmed from Windows, Mac, Linux, Android ...
Probably the best known and most used Arduino board - Arduino Uno
Also, programming of boards is done in customized version of C ++ programming language. The programming language has been simplified to the extent that the basic things about handling and programming the boards can be learnt in just a few hours. To find out more about the Arduino, you can read the other posts on our LEARN side of the page or on their official website.
The appearance of the Arduino development environment
Croduino is a version of Arduino. Since the Arduino is open-source (more in the section below), derivatives, changes and different versions of Arduino are permitted - but we also created Croduino; Croatia's first Arduino compatible board. Croduino Basic and Basic2, for example, is identical with the Arduino Nano, and in contrast to the often used Arduino Uno, in size it's slightly smaller and has two more pins (more on pins down below).
Croduino Basic2 inherits Croduino Basic. With the same features as the Basic, it costs 99kn - 20kn less.
It is noteworthy that the Croduino is fully Arduino compatible board, which means that everything that works with Arduino, works with Croduino too. This means that all projects, examples, codes, schemes that you can find for Arduino, you can use for Croduino too.
What can Croduino do?
Croduino is a tool for anyone who wants to create interactive objects and control the world around him in the way he wants it. Can be used by school students, hobbyists, artists, educators, retirees, activists or anyone else. In the correct combination, with it you can get numerous effects but can be interactive with any object or electronic component: light, LED lights, motor, coffee maker, internet, smartphone, TV, and communicate via Bluetooth to devices or anything else that runs on an electronic principle.
Who remembers sneakers that tie by themselves from Back to the Future 2? You can make them with Croduino!
The imagination is the only limit that determines what new and innovative thing will you create in your environment. Since the plate itself is quite cheap, and you can purchase it simply, as well as other sensors and actuators for the plate, Croduino is an affordable way to customize the environment, or for education.
But if you need a little inspiration, here are a few links to interesting content:
And so we come to another very important and unique characteristic of these boards, and that is their community. Community is the English word and in this case refers to the large number of people who deal with Arduino and their works, creations, projects and conclusions are published on the Internet.
So we like to say, if you have an idea for a project with Arduino, there is a very good chance that someone has already made it. And not only made it, but also published an article on how to do it on the Internet, including the wiring diagram and program code, images or videos. If you ever get stuck, google some examples of Arduino projects - you will get more then three million and eight hundred thousands results for a variety of projects, some of which will be for your taste.
But if you get stuck with the project, there is our TechSupport or Arduino forums.
What can be found on Croduino board?
Here is Croduino Basic with labels - let's see what's what
Although we are showing everything on the example of Croduino Basic, everything goes for Croduino Basic2 and Croduino Pico - since they have the same microcontroller.
Pins are places to which we connect our components, sensors and actuators, or clasping wire. In the picture above they are marked in red - these black holes in them are for connecting our components. On the plate and on the headers (these are actually those black things used for clasping components) are printed the names of each pin so you have orientation when you're connecting. Each pin has its own number and there are three types: digital, analog and other.
Digital pins are in our picture above and are marked in red. If on these pins we connect, for example, an LED light - we will be able to turn it on and off. If on such pin a pushbutton (push button) is connected, we will be able to discern whether the push button is pressed or not.
Analog pins are in turn a little more sophisticated so they aren't just able to turn on or turn off the LED light, but they can also make it work at half its strength or spin the motor at different speeds. Also for example, they can print the temperature value that temperature sensor gives us. Analog inputs are located down on the right, marked in red, while headers are out on the top and are marked with an apostrophe ( ') at the end of the pin numbers.
We still have a small group of pins down on the left. If we go from right to left, we have:
• + 5V - DC power source with voltage of 5V. It is often used for connecting components, sensors and actuators. It produces a small current (400mA)
• GND - The negative (ground) DC voltage
• 3V3 - source DC power supply with voltage of 3.3V. Used for some sensors and modules, but provides very little current.
• VIN - Input DC voltage from 7V to 24V. Provides power to the batteries with higher voltage or some other source.
• rst - is connected with the reset push button, more on that below.
• Aref - reference analog voltage. It serves as a reference for comparison with the analog voltage measurements. It is not intended for beginners.
Here's a review of pins and details about Croduino Basic (click for larger image)
Right green box in the picture is called a microcontroller. This is the brain of the whole board (the same as to say that the processor is the brain of the computer) that controls all. It controls what happens on the pins, reads the signals that come to it, it stores the computer code and so on. The actual microcontroller on most Croduino boards is the Atmel ATmega328.
If we imagine that computer (ie. USB port on computer) speaks one language, and microcontroller in another language - then it's USB conventer that interpreters their language in order for both to communicate successfully. Through it, we upload the code and communicate with the computer. Croduino uses FTDI FT232R and CP2102.
It is located on the left side, a purple color mini-B female USB connector. Through it, we connect the board to a computer and upload code to the microcontroller.
Marked purple on the right - pressing this button to resets the entire board and the code begins to run from its inception. On some older Arduino boards, some pressure on this key was required so code could upload, but today the key is far less useful, and you will probably rarely use it.
LEDs on 13th pin
LED on 13th pin is marked blue over USB converter and is often used for testing and prototyping since it is already soldered which makes it practical. And you will use it in your first steps of learning to use Croduino board when you make it blink.
There are three more LEDs on the board, in order from top to bottom (marked blue, right):
• Red - Indicates communication in the direction PC -> Croduino
• White - Indicates communication in the direction Croduino -> computer
• Blue - Indicates that the board has the power and is on.
Sensors and actuators
Croduino itself quickly becomes boring without any additives, but it is somewhat useless for practical application when you do not connect some sensors or modules. Fortunately, almost every electronic sensor or module can be connected to Croduino and get information from it in case of a sensor or control it if it is a module. It is even better and easier if those sensors and modules are adapted for use with Croduino / Arduino!
For example, in the category of sensors there is a subcategory of temperature sensors which has more sensors that are adapted for use with Arduino and with them, you will relatively easy obtain information on the current temperature they read. When we say adapted, we mean that it is relatively easy to connect them with Croduino and that there is a lot of code examples from which we extract information that we need. It's the same with sensors of other physical quantities: gas, position, light and other ...
With such a sensor system, why it would be different for the actuators? Those electronic components or devices that perform some sort of action are called actuators. We can say that they convert electrical energy into another form of energy: light, mechanical (shift), heat and so on. So we have a module with a relay which is adapted for Croduino and it is easy to use. Otherwise, if we take only the relay, we would need more external components to ensure smooth operation. A similar or the same thing is for many other actuators, too.
On the 2-channel module with relay there are many components that make it easier to connect to Croduino.
How to start working with Croduino?
We believe that each of you have some ideas that you would like to accomplish with Croduino, but you should start slowly. We can not immediately know how to do something so you will be required to start from the basics. You should acquire hardware and components needed for the operation and select the source from which to learn and absorb knowledge.
As for the components, there is really a great selection to choose from, but our recommendation is, of course, some of Croduino sets for Beginners. Basic Croduino Set for Beginners (CSP) contains all the necessary components for complete beginners who have never had contact with the electronics, but also for those who already know something about it. Contains Croduino, experimental board and cables for it, lots of LEDs and other basic electronic components with which you can already do some projects. HOBBY Croduino Set for Beginners is enhanced version of the basic CSP involving greater quantities of electronic components, which of course allows you to do more complicated projects, and it is more fun, too. In addition, there are few actuators, such as ultrasonic sensor, the relay module, motion sensor, LCD monitor etc. There are two more CSPs which are used additionally to amplify two basic kits: SENSE which includes a number of sensors and actuators, and REFILL that really is rich in basic electronic components.
CSP HOBBY contains a number of components, sufficient for a number of creative projects
When we have obtained Croduino, experimental board and components, it's time to decide how will we learn the basic things about electronics and programming so that we are finally able to create our projects. More on this in the last section of this tutorial, "What next?".
The complete system, both hardware and software, ie. the physical and the other, invisible, are open-source. Open-source (cro. Open source - wiki) in terms of software means the software code that is open to anyone for review, modification, experimentation, change, and even profit from it. In terms of hardware, the concept is called OSH - Open Source Hardware (Wiki, OSH Association) and implies that hardware (design) which is under the OSH license is allowed to be studied, modified, distributed and sold (you are allow to earn money from it).
Designers and manufacturers that label their products as OSH usually offer their product's own design files with them, such as: Cadsoft Eagle files for printed circuit boards. In the case of software, those same manufacturers will make their codes available for everyone to see and use, and provide all the other actions that are almost limitless for end users. All products that are designed and produced by e-radionica.com are declared as OSH, and that includes a series of Croduino boards. OSH files for them can be found on our GitHub. As for open software, we opened the software for all of our projects and tutorials that you can find on our blog.
While open source is not the subject of this article, we can't help but wonder: Why is everyone, especially companies, using open-source? Wouldn't competition just steal ideas and do the same thing, because there is no any restrictions, and grow rich? And let's not even talk about Chinese, they are copying everything! - The truth is, however, no matter how hard you worked and spent money on legal means of protection such as patents and trademarks, it is difficult to truly protect any product against theft. We are of the opinion that everything can be copied and will be copied. And any tangible object can be copied. Perhaps the best example of it is a case of Apple's patents being copied - in China. And you will think it is crazy when you see how much big companies are spending on patents. All in all, the conclusion is that small companies can not afford such costs.
In addition to this review on why the company should use OSH, Open-source is a big and important reason for the popularity of Arduino and Croduino, and many other electronic devices. A large community was created (groups of people dealing with electronics, in this case) that discusses improvements on internet forums, creates new products, helps others who get stuck, and great things are happening even offline: numerous makerspaces, Hacklabs or even larger gatherings like Maker faire. E-radionica has its own blog which shows you codes and hardware and offers free instructions and examples for the use of their products. Everyone likes to have a good tech support, especially when it comes to things for which we are not sure that we know how to properly use, so for example we provide free support for all our products via email: [email protected] There are many more other advantages in the world of open-source, and we believe that you have also experienced some of them.
In the end, the video recommendation for those who want to hear a little more about the open-source. This is TEDx lecture from Sparkfun's founder, that is, as a company, a major promoter of open source: link.
Now, when we are introduced to Croduino, it is time to work and learn more with concrete examples, and here is something to read and learn. Here are some useful links:
- • CROduino video lessons(Youtube), Vimeo - Instructions for working with Croduino in the form of videos that demonstrate step by step and explain the basic principles of electronics and the C programming language - everything you need to use Croduino.
- • Croduino cathegory on our blog - where you can find a variety of content related to Croduino: how to install the driver, how to use the software, examples of advanced use etc.
- • Where to start cathegory on our blog - includes instructions for beginners to use Croduina, components and modules to our site
- • Components cathegory on our blog -explains how and why certain component works, with images and examples.
- • Croduino cathegory in our shop - all Croduino offers.