Arduino Family

Arduinos Made Programming Microcontrollers Popular Among Hobbyists - Which Is Why There Are Tons Of Examples And Documentation, And Why Still So Many People Use Them

Around 2005, the Arduino family of microcontrollers started to open up the world of microcontrollers to the general public. From the start, they were very easy to use. The free development environment, Arduino IDE, works out of the box for Arduinos, no configuration needed. The entry level for Arduinos is very low.

ATMega Microcontrollers

Arduinos were originally based on ATMega microcontrollers, and the boards were developed and produced by Arduino LLC. The name Arduino was borrowed from a bar where the founders liked to hang out.

The first boards were bulky, slow (using ATMega8), and came with very limited memory and only a few GPIO pins.

Resources were improved over time, and footprint cut down.

This original Arduino Nano Every has a relatively small form factor and plenty of GPIOs

Today, there is a vast Arduino Ecosystem with a variety of boards and processors.

Arduino Mega and Nano

The two most popular Arduino family members illustrate the evolution:

Arduino Mega (right) and Arduino Nano (left, almost the same features in a much smaller form factor)

Pros and Cons

The biggest PROS for Arduinos are the huge community, the vast number of code examples, and the ease of use.

There are important CONS, too:

  • No Wireless: Arduinos do not come with any wireless support. You cannot connect them to the Internet, your home WiFi, or use Bluetooth.
  • Limited Memory: modern Arduinos have added more memory and GPIO pins, but memory is still limited. When you create more sophisticated firmware, it is not unusual to run into compilation errors due to lack of memory.
  • High Energy Consumption: Should you plan to run your devices on solar or battery power then power consumption becomes an issue, and Arduinos typically need relatively much power.
  • Expensive: The original Arduinos and even most clones are relatively expensive compared to other microcontrollers.
  • Big: some Arduinos like the Nano are comparably small, yet compared to other microcontroller boards they are still huge and make your devices bigger.

I started my first steps with Arduino, like so many others. Because of the cons listed above, I soon switched to other microcontrollers, though. That is why the examples on this site are focused on ESP8266 and ESP32.


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(content created Mar 23, 2024)