I really wanted to try Arduino; Arduino narrates a story where the good guys are winning. Saturday I arranged to buy one, the Arduino Uno, and the first thing that came into my mind was “Wow, it’s really smaller than I thought possible!”.
I went home and started unboxing it: the packages comes with a pamphlet and some decals, and the board itself is very cute and gives the idea that the designers paid attention to small details.
I wanted to make it breathe right away connecting it with my Ubuntu desktop, but the steps were a bit more complicated than I thought, so I’m gonna explain them to make things easier for other people. First of all, Ubuntu Maverick distributes an “
arduino” package containing the Interactive Development Environment (IDE), but it’s an “old” version (18) and it doesn’t support the newer Arduino Uno (as the Ubuntu instructions say). For this reason I followed some of the generic Linux instructions to get started. On my Ubuntu machine I use “
sun-java6-jre” installed, but the “
openjdk-6-jre” should work fine, too. The Arduino pages say that the braille support package “
brltty” must be removed because they conflict with the serial port communications, so I did:
$ sudo apt-get remove brltty brltty-x11
Then, to install the prerequisites:
$ sudo apt-get install avr-libc avrdude binutils-avr gcc-avr
The Arduino IDE versions that support the Arduino Uno are the ones >=21, So I downloaded and extracted the current one, version 22:
$ wget http://arduino.googlecode.com/files/arduino-0022.tgz $ tar xzf arduino-0022.tgz
Then I connected the Arduino Uno board using an USB cable, and the leds started blinking. On my desktop, the device was recognized and a new serial port “
/dev/ttyACM0” was created:
$ dmesg ... [ 3221.472079] usb 2-1.2: new full speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 4 [ 3221.631190] cdc_acm 2-1.2:1.0: ttyACM0: USB ACM device [ 3221.631845] usbcore: registered new interface driver cdc_acm [ 3221.631848] cdc_acm: v0.26:USB Abstract Control Model driver for USB modems and ISDN adapters ...
It’s time to start the IDE; it’s not necessary to install it, it can work from where it was uncompressed.
$ cd arduino-0022 $ ./arduino
The IDE itself is just a simple window containing code, that is called “sketch”. From the menu, I opened an example navigating to “File -> Examples -> Basics -> Blink”, and another window appeared with few code lines to make a led blink.
The “verify” button compiles the code, and the “upload” button does the trick of putting the code onto the board and starting the program. It’s really “one-click” simple! The led starts blinking and the dirty work is completely hidden to the final user.
I’m really happy with my purchase and I haven’t even started doing anything! I appreciate the quality and the simplicity of this product that is a great step forward from traditional PICs, mostly because it’s easier to start using one, and also because there’s a large community of enthusiasts that have done the most creative things and have put their experience on the public domain for others to see and use.