Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Few Tips & Tricks: Arduinos, PCB Tricopter Frames, Home-made Acid Etchant for Copper

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By: Gabriel Staples
Written: 28 May 2013
Updated: 30 Oct. 2013
-added link to LadyAda's Arduino Uno FAQ
-added link to Arduino Nano V3.0 on Ebay

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So, this month I've been dabbling into a few new RC airplane areas that I have previously not looked into.  You may wonder how these topics in the title relate to RC airplanes?  Well, for me, everything does :), so let's briefly discuss:

Arduino & Microcontrollers:

What is Arduino?  Well, Arduino is a small interface board which connects to your computer via a USB cable, and consists of an Atmel microcontroller chip, or "brain," which can do a variety of functions and processing, as well as circuitry to enable you to connect to it via a USB cable, in addition to a voltage regulator and input and output ports.  Basically, it is a development or experiment board which allows you to plug in sensors and circuitry and do anything you can imaging via your own personal ingenuity and programming skills---yet it is inexpensive and simple enough that anyone can get started.  It is especially designed for the non-programmer.  Here is Arduino's description of themselves.  A few things that make Arduino unique are its price, ease of use and programming, and the fact that it is open-source.  Open-source means that its parts, pieces, construction, and coding are all available to the public, and that its software is FREE.  This is the counterpart to "proprietary," which means that something is owned by a company and its internal workings are generally guarded and kept secret in order to prevent others from duplicating it.

You might not know it, but the microcontroller, or MCU, which is the heart of the Arduino, is a very common-place item in today's electronics.  Modern RC radio transmitters use them, for example, as well as ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers) and "smart" battery chargers such as the Thunder AC680.
 Many UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) use microcontroller-based autopilots!  Now, with Arduino,

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