Arduino programming for beginners

Arduino is a platform that allows many engineers from all over the world to create their projects with minimal investment.

Arduino Basics

First of all, it is a special microcontroller with the control system of the same name and libraries built in the C ++ language. Accordingly, if you plan to create something unique, you should study all the nuances that Arduino programming has.

Let’s put together a brief description of Arduino programming and clarify the points that you should pay attention to if this is your first time doing this.

Before starting to solve a specific problem on Arduino, it is best to have a basis in the field of programming. So let’s look at what this term actually means. Absolutely any project is built on a step-by-step block model that describes what your microcontroller needs to do and how to do it.

To simplify the work of users, ready-made libraries of functions have been created in Arduino, you just need to enter commands from them to achieve some goal. Naturally, this way you will not achieve much, but creating your own libraries will require knowledge of the language. C ++ on which the firmware of the chip is built.

The key feature of the system is that the characteristics of the Arduino can be improved with the help of additional purchased components, and you can always adjust them for a specific project. Accordingly, your only limitation is your knowledge of the language and its capabilities, as well as your own imagination.

All functions are built from the simplest operands that are typical for C ++. These operands are variables of various types and how they are used. Therefore, any function used in the microcontroller to receive information or send a signal is a set of the simplest operations, which is recorded in the main library. And you will be limited until you have enough experience and practice to understand which library and for what purpose you should write.

The main disadvantage of designing complex projects with Arduino is that you have to write code from scratch and select components for the system, so it is better to first practice on the simplest tasks.

Also, keep in mind that the language for writing the system libraries is low-level, and, accordingly, consists of the simplest commands, in contrast to the high-level python or pascal, which are convenient for users. On the other hand, it is also multi-paradigm, so it is suitable for solving any problem using a programming paradigm that is convenient for you.

OOP is the most commonly used. C ++ itself has a core of numerous libraries and additional functions or methods, so if you are going to understand everything radically, you should start by mastering the language from scratch.

Features of Arduino programming

It is the language on which the system is based that is the main feature of Arduino programming. After all, despite the fact that the board itself and working with it are quite simple, with a low entry threshold, it will take several years to master a low-level programming language and master it perfectly.

Write your first C ++ game

Programming in Arduino has both advantages and disadvantages, and you should study both sides of the issue in order to understand what you are dealing with and what to expect from the microcontroller, in principle, while working with it. Among the advantages of Arduino, users note:

  1. Low entry threshold… This point will also have disadvantages, since due to the simplicity of the system and the lack of requirements for the programming basis, there are many libraries written in a terrible way on the network. It will take more time to figure out how they work than to create your own. And the standard functions from the developers are not enough for serious tasks.
  2. Extensive community… This is the main advantage of Arduino over its competitors, because you will find users engaged in the creation of projects on it, both Russian-speaking and English-speaking. But if you want to get really valuable advice and immerse yourself in the work of the community, you should still learn English. Since most of the problems that you will encounter have long been resolved in Google, but, often, the answers are in English.
  3. A large number of libraries, for different cases. But, as already described just above, this also has its drawbacks.

Arduino programming has a number of significant disadvantages:

  1. A low bar for entry turns most of the libraries with which the network is full into completely useless garbage. After all, some of them work just slowly and are written without any knowledge of the basics of algorithmization, and some do not work at all, and it is not clear why the authors created them. To find help for a specific project, you need to shovel through several English-language forums or create functions yourself from scratch.
  2. The complexities of programming in C ++. In fact, it is one of the most complex multi-paradigm programming languages ​​for creating firmware and low-level tasks. However, if you had experience with it and know at least the basic algorithms, and also worked with at least one other multi-paradigm PL, especially using object-oriented programming, it will be much easier for you to get comfortable.
  3. The low response speed of the chips themselves and their weak characteristics. Yes, Arduino microcontrollers can be adjusted for a specific task, you can buy additional components and sensors, but this plays a cruel joke with them. Since the developers do not know what they will use their brainchild for, they average all the indicators in order to significantly reduce the cost of the final product. As a result, people who create the simplest crafts overpay for unnecessary power, and those who are engaged in robotics or the automation of some processes have to buy and solder many additional boards.

As you can see, Arduino has a lot of nuances and is not as beginner-friendly as it looks at first glance. On the other hand, if you have the slightest experience with programming languages, it will be much easier for you to get comfortable.

How to start using Arduino properly

If you have never programmed before, and this is your first experience, then programming Arduino microcontrollers will go much easier if you start with the basics.

Of course, when you do not have any complex projects in your plans, you can work on ready-made libraries and, in parallel, analyze what their functions consist of. This is one good way to learn, but then it pays to look for feature sets that were written by professionals to make sure they are correct.

Otherwise, you may see the wrong solution to the problem and, as a result, apply those in your projects.

But it is much better to start with the basics and devote at least a week to mastering algorithmization and learn how to break your projects into blocks, and those into specific steps. This kind of block diagramming will come in handy in the future.

When you learn the whole basis, you can proceed to practice and self-study in C ++, any simple projects or tasks prepared on the Internet will do. At this stage, your goal will be to understand the basic paradigms and learn how to use them, as well as explore the capabilities of the language so that you clearly know what it can and can reasonably assess the feasibility of your projects.

Microcontroller programming

The Arduino programming itself is divided into three stages:

  1. Create or download a ready-made library of functions.
  2. Loading these libraries into the permanent memory of the chip. This is also called firmware.
  3. Entering these functions into the command line, for example, AT, for the board to perform certain actions.

If you are doing something simple and you have enough basic firmware, you can skip the first two points.

The simplest projects using Arduino

There are many examples of simple projects with Arduino, for example, you can:

  1. Create a light sensor that will adjust special LED lamps to the brightness required in the room.
  2. Automation of all things in your home. For example, turning on / off lights, opening doors and more.
  3. Greenhouse automation.

Although it sounds scary enough, most of these projects, thanks to the abundance of information on them on the Internet, you will not spend a lot of time and effort.

About: Morozov Dmitry

My specialisation is software engineer. I am 35 years old and have been working in the IT field for over 15 years. I have accumulated experience in programming, project management, training and administration.