How the arduino won? This is how we can kill it.

[Phillip Torrone],  has written a piece over at Make entitled “Why the Arduino won, and why it’s here to stay“. While boasting that the Arduino “won” at roughly 100k units in the wild sounds decently impressive at first, lets just ponder for a moment how many bare AVR chips there are out there in home-made projects. Kind of makes 100k sound small doesn’t it.  However, if you look at their definition of the Arduino, targeting fresh and new people to microcontroller projects, that changes things a little bit. That number suddenly starts to seem a little more important if you re-word it as 100,000 new beginner hackers. Sure, they’re only tweeting toilet flushes and blinking lights, but they’re excited and they’ve tasted blood.

[Phil] goes on to talk to manufacturers on how to “beat” the Arduino. He lists features that would help push someone onto a new platform instead of the Arduino. This, is where I think we come in. We can kill the Arduino.

Not as a platform, but by removing it from the hands of people through education.  Lets embrace these new hackers. Lets pull them in with open arms and show them what they can do once they have learned from their Arduino and are ready harness the power of microcontrollers without limitations. We can show them just how simple of a circuit they could use to blink their LEDs. We could show them why and how we think another chip would be better suited to their project.

One reason attributed to the popularity of the Arduino is the hostile attitude from “old school” hackers. If someone shows up and excitedly says “look, I made an RGB mood lamp with an Arduino”, we shouldn’t scream in their faces how stupid they are for such a massive overkill. We shouldn’t ignore them either. That will only send them back to the Arduino forums with their tails between their legs to do yet, another copy/paste project. We should pat them on the back and say “Hey, great job! You know I’ll bet we could make a cheap circuit with a 555 that would pull that same effect off quite nicely and it would only cost $1. Here, check out this schematic.”

Embrace them, educate them, and the Arduino will no longer be their only tool.

Comments

  1. jeicrash says:

    Very nice article, may not be full of HACK, but it brings up a good point in the hacking community. Without pointing new comers in the right directions and improving their education we have set ourselves up to see more arduino controlled self cleaning litter boxes. The litter box may be clean, but the newbies still offer up what was just cleaned out in a long line of re-packaged arduino projects, instead of fresh ideas using more appropriate components. Thats at least My 2 cents worth though.

  2. birk says:

    Sometimes it’s not about the microcontroller part of the project. I use the Arduino as a quick and dirty way to test the “rest” of my circuits. Once I have the hardware interface down and/or the logic figured out I put the proper uC in and save the Arduino for the next job.

  3. komradebob says:

    It’s not a ‘kill’, it’s more of a ‘co-opt’. :)

  4. Phil says:

    I thing its good that hackaday don show just hacks, sometimes non hacked thinks are like a hack :). A hack a day keeps the doctor away.

  5. js says:

    The arduino isn’t just a board. It’s the bootloader and IDE also. I’ve prototyped things on an arduino board, then programmed a new CPU with the bootloader and code and put it into a board designed for the project. I would consider that item arduino based even if it doesn’t have an official board.

  6. Lenny says:

    NOT A HACK!!

    I kid.. I kid… great article. This did a great job catching my attention with the “and how we can kill it” part I was like “has HAD lost their mind(s)”? … then I read on… really well written and a great point.

  7. EmptySet35 says:

    @birk I agree completely. It drives me insane to see people’s “finished projects” which amount to nothing more than and arduino, breadboard, and a rat’s nest of wires. For me, that’s the beginning of a project, the test phase. After that I lay out the PCB and select the right uC for the job and put the whole thing in a nice enclosure, then my project is done.

  8. I only bother with an Arduino if I am specifically asked to and if

    For small things that must be power efficient there’s PICs, for bigger things there’s the parallax propeller. I built a full featured autopilot (the “draw a route on google earth, hit send, watch it go” sort) with it in 2007. Even have the source code on my webpage, but ofcourse it’s not trendy enough, so nobody cared…

  9. John says:

    How about more “basics” articles. With an included shopping list? I am a software guy and have 0 hardware exp. I dont have many tools and even fewer parts sitting in a bin. The duino kits interest me b/c i know I can spend 50 bucks and bang out a couple beginner projects before moving on. Where is your project pack & associated tutorials?

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      @John,
      I think you might have misunderstood. For you, the arduino is perfect, go get one! after you’ve done some projects, you won’t have 0 hardware experience and you’ll be ready to start making your own shopping list!

  10. Anne says:

    The point of Arduino is to give people who aren’t hackers yet a way to experiment. The Smash Putt installation in Denver this January is a good example of what Arduino can empower:

    It’s not that the board or the environment are magic, it’s that they’re good enough to let people get on to the rest of the project.

  11. matt says:

    see, im doing electronic engineering, so i have some theory hardware knowledge, and am studying PICs, but have no hardware to play with. so i have the issue of what uC, what hardware, what project, what IDE, what dev board. and i dunno where to start =(

    • ivan says:

      Huh maybe it’s a bit late to reply that:) You might be a full grown EE master by now, however i have one advice which might do good: don’t think of the environment, the MCU , the platform or such. You let your mind loose get get the idea of what your project wants to do. Then sketch it for a second and then start to imagine how much time and money are you ready to spend on it, until you see it finished. And then just start reading the main product lists of Microchip Atmel, Texas, NXP or such – you’ll find them. Then just go select something from a product/manufacturer that has good community support. Maybe some ASICs or discrete circuitry will add a better touch&performance to it besides just boring bit-banging. It’s not just the product – it’s the idea behind it that you want perfect.
      So what matters is: What do you wnat to do today:) (i know i rip-off Microsoft’s slogan but it fits perfectly here)

  12. 1337 says:

    for an extra dollar (gasp) i can switch out a 555 with an attiny. I bet you make up the dollar difference with the savings of additional components and pcb space required on the 555 circuit. So unless C programming makes you wet yourself the choice seems clear.

  13. Jon brod says:

    I think this article is a bit mis-guided. Sure the arduino is great but why would you want to kill it off? For me it started the journey towards using drivers and timers etc. Without the arduino I’m sure a lot of us would not even of gone down the path of learning about voltages, resistance, current, ICs e.t.c.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      @Jon,
      I think we’re saying the same thing here. I’m appealing to the anti-arduino people saying that if they broaden the knowledge of the beginners, the arduino will no longer seem like the end-all solution. The term to “kill it” could be replaced by saying that those people will move on to more custom design AFTER they learn with their arduino.

  14. Odin says:

    Why do you want to kill the Arduino?

    Hackers love to KISS, and the Arduino is a great way to do so.

    Let’s say that I want a RGB LED to change color according to the ambient light, and I want to put it in a beautiful enclosure. I am a EE by day, and I’ve done 30 micorcontroller projects, so I am by no means a newbie, so let’s see what I have to do:

    1.) Create a schematic
    2.) Buy parts
    3.) Buy programmer
    4.) Breadboard circuit
    5.) Install the programming environment
    6.) Spend 2-3 hours trying to figure out why it doesn’t work (bad programmer? Bad drivers? Wrong chip? Power issues?)
    7.) Spend 5 hours programming and debugging (So… disable the digital on the analog pins, disable the analog on the digital pins, what should my timing be on the ADC sampling/conversion? Configuration bits? fuse bits? what the hell?)
    8.) Transfer entire circuit to a perf board
    9.) Make sure it works (Another short on the MCU solder joints? Another dead part? WTF?
    10.) Now I get to start the project enclosure.

    OR, if I used the arduino

    1.) Create a schematic (Time cut DRAMATICALLY down since the mcu, oscillator, and power supply is done)
    2.) Buy parts (Not too bad, I can get the LED, light sensor and resistors at RadioShack)

    4.) Breadboard circuit (Time cut DRASTICALLY because it is only a few parts, don’t need to worry about programming header, wires, pull-ups, ect.)
    5.) Install the programming environment
    6.) Spend 1 hour debugging environment (Compared to Microchip, TI, or atmel, this step is ridiculously easy.)
    7.) Spend 2 hours programming and debugging
    8.) Transfer entire circuit to a perf board (Only need to worry about a few components, since everything else is already done)
    9.) Make sure it works (So much easier to debug since there are only a few parts)
    10.) Now I get to start the project enclosure.

    If you only want “Hacks” from engineers, go ahead and encourage something else. If you want to embrace mechanics, artists, and web developers IN Addition to engineers, you need something simple.

    Don’t Kill the arduino. Kill the elitism that says “Too Easy, not a hack”.

    Keep it simple, stupid.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      @Odin,
      my article could be summed up as “for those who hate arduino, quit being jerks and start teaching. that will get you to your goal better.”. I don’t disagree with your statement at all. Actually, several of us at hackaday have arduinos for super fast prototyping.

      • Eirinn says:

        I completely agree, i’ve done quite a few arduino projects now. I’m not loving the syntax though…

        In any case it empowers me to do things…well i’m just summing up the article i think.

        Point is, i think i’m slowly outgrowin the ‘duino, now what? Maybe worthy of a HaD article?

  15. onlysix says:

    OK, i admit it, i am very guilty of using arduinos. The problem i have is that i don’t know programming and i don’t know where to begin. i don’t have issues with hardware, i can solder and wire with ease, make cases, harnesses you name it, just not PCB design/making. So where does that leave me?

  16. TiredJuan says:

    @Caleb: I’m in the same boat as John, I’m a software guy, not hardware. Though, I have an Arduino, a couple of the TI Launchpads, and various other pieces and parts (Including a few random AVR’s, and a few kits from Sparkfun etc…) I feel as though Arduino’s and the like, while they have peaked my interest, have left me a little empty on the actual knowledge side of things. I see bunches of tutorials on “where to go from the Arduino” and how to do things like “set fuse bits”. The problem is nothing (that I’ve found) actually explains what things mean, or what do to with them/how to use them. Just that you need them. Perhaps we could see a set of tutorials on the basic components (not resistors and the like, but 555 timers, op amps etc) and their uses? I get that I may just be looking at the wrong information so a link or two would suffice in my case, but it would be nice to have a link list or something for beginners like myself.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      @TiredJuan,
      I hear you. I’ve been working for a couple years to bring a solid instructional foundation to hackaday. The closest we have right now is the tutorial series by Mike S. on programming AVR microcontrollers but I’m looking forward to more basics. Make magazine has done some fantastic stuff in that field as well.

  17. pfoet says:

    Of course you could also build a board with a 555 on it but it’s certanly NOT CHEAPER simlply because you can reuse your arduino (if you don’t like your blinking led anymore ;) ) but not your 555 circuitboard…

    A 555 plus extra stuff ( condensators, resistors and perhapse even a voltage regulator etc…) to get an RGB-led to blink? -> overkill ;)

    • Eirinn says:

      Unless it’s done on a breadboard.

      I love my Arduino’s ability to switch everything off if there’s a short circuit. Oh boy the amount of times i’ve burned my fingers on a 555 or an lm386 to see if something was wrong (and trashing the chip in the process).

  18. Larry says:

    Yup I love the Arduino still do and it got me into hacking things together. Having done this it’s made me enjoy programming again and the confidence in programming other chips as there’s nothing particularly complex in doing so. The one bad thing that it has done is removed the grounded education in electronics by over simplifying. I’ll still use the Arduino though but now it’s not my first immediate thought when hacking something.

  19. Lenny says:

    I think a few people here are missing the point… the ones that are saying “why would you want to kill the arduino?”

    I don’t think (unless maybe I’m the one missing the point) that this article is really about killing the arduino and “kill the arduino” is really just an attention getter.

    It seems to me he’s saying embrace and support the arduino AS an entry point, but encourage people to take the leap and learn how to do it without.

  20. qwerty says:

    The Arduino won only if you ask the outcome to the wrong people.
    It is an interesting prototipying platform with some good libraries but sadly a terrible Java based IDE. Newbies and people interested in using it as a tool to develop other stuff will find it interesting but strict microcontroller development is a whole different thing.

  21. xeracy says:

    @CK

    >”quit being jerks and start teaching”

    this is the kind of mentality that needs to be embraced in all walks of life. elitism gets us nowhere and nothing that the jerks complain about will ever change. The problem in most communities is that there is a lack of willingness to learn on the part of newcomers, especially if the community is centered around something trendy.

    i’ve learned so much from this community in the past few years, mostly in the form of monkey-see-monkey-do learning. However the best part of any post here at HAD are the conversations and ideas in the comments, and they truly enrich the learning experience.

    I believe that the arduino was a necessary step in getting my feet wet because it gave me a ‘big picture’ that i got to dabble with. every time i had tried to learn to make circuitry (i did’t major in CS, EE or anything related, so it was all on my own) i could never get past the extreme technical definitions of the components and how they interacted in a practical sense. i’m still using an arduino for most of my projects, buy now that i’m looking to make a device that needs to be smaller than the arduino nano platform, i feel confident that i can make it from base components. (also, simulation software like the ones mentioned here on HaD recently also helped greatly).

  22. peter says:

    I can’t tell you how many crappy boards I built, how many PICs I killed going in and out of zif sockets.

    Building your own boards sucks. Having non-portable code sucks. That’s why the Arduino has “won”. They took the two sucky things about building projects away.

  23. M4CGYV3R says:

    THANK YOU. This is what I have been saying for quite some time…

    Teach all these ‘new hackers’ to use the REAL raw tools so they can move PAST the Arduino and its limited abilities, as well as understand what is actually happening in your device.

  24. M4CGYV3R says:

    @Odin: The PIC has at most 6 wires to connect for ICSP and most chips support ICD with the ~$35 PICkit programmer.

    Steps 2, 3, and 5 of your example will only be done once. If you’re already set to work on electronics, like any self-respecting hacker should be, the steps are more as follows.

    1. Create schematic.
    2. Breadboard
    3. Program & Test (Max 2-3 hours for a very complex program)
    4. Decide if it’s worth perma-boarding or enclosing.
    5. If step 4 determined you need to, put it on a custom etch/perfboard and do any enclosure you want.

    With an Arduino, the steps are vaguely the same, except you don’t have the option of putting it on a perma-board of any sort. You have to leave the Arduino wired-in as it is. If you’re using a chipduino unit you’ll need to do even more work to program it.

    You need to buy the same components with each. An arduino also requires wire, resistors, caps, LEDs, etc to work in a circuit as you want it to. Building an arduino circuit is, in fact, just breadboarding.

  25. BrianZ says:

    I’m always surprised that the Picaxe doesn’t get thrown in with the Arduino as being too easy. I love that it’s like $3, I can use my weak Basic programming skills, and it has pretty good documentation. For me, programming in Basic is easier than cutting and pasting C code I don’t understand. I’m always afraid that if it gets too popular, everybody is going to turn on the Picaxe and chastise it’s users for not doing whatever it is that lets you use a plain PIC chip instead. Is it just the fact that the Arduino is already stuck to a board with sockets that makes everybody so edgy?

  26. Bob Spafford says:

    It seems that some of the technically adept folks are just not getting it. At some point, every adept person was a newbie looking into The Great Black Box called a computer, but with experience found that it’s not so very mysterious after all. He then forgets that once he was the newbie looking into the unknown. The Arduino IDE tosses out the emulators and debuggers that can be so difficult to learn. I think that their renaming programs to be “sketches”, and I/O glue logic to be “shields” is a clever attempt to communicate “Hey! This isn’t as overwhelmingly complicated as you may think. The learning curve isn’t miles and years long as it is for an engineer. It’s very cheap to try it. So, jump in and see how you do!”. My son is a top level game programmer. As a kid growing up, I could not interest him in the world of hardware, other than how to use a slobbering iron competently and don’t stick your fingers into high voltage! Arduino has given him a relatively painless path into the hardware world in a way that I was unable to do when he was younger. Just as knowing what’s under the hood makes you a bit better driver, I believe that some insight (no matter how “unprofessional”) into the world of hardware makes one a bit better programmer. We were hacking a set of those xmas lights with a chip in every bulb. I brought my $3500 scope to look at waveform timing issues, only to find it non-operational. My kid had everything working in under 15 minutes by intelligent tweaking of the software. My jaw dropped. When the “sketch” would not execute properly, he would edit source, compile, load it to the Arduino, and execute it in under 15 seconds! So, is Arduino “crippleware”? Of course it is! Is Arduino a very quick and very cheap way to accomplish simple goals? Of course it is! And because of that, a generation of youngsters are unafraid to dabble with microcomputers. I think that is a positive accomplishment! Welcome to the hardware world, newbies!

  27. Dave McNapstem says:

    Although I’ve not experimented with the arduino yet, I’ve wondered for a while if it would be powerful enough to replace a pinball machine MPU…. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

  28. twopartepoxy says:

    Picaxe already kills the arduino!

    http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/

  29. RF says:

    I just got my first arduino board (arriving via FedEx today, actually); before that I’ve been using some of the Parallax stuff. The ‘duino and the Parallax dev boards are great ways to just bang something out; I don’t always want to make a board and spend hours assembling crap just to get a simple task (or even a more complex task) done. So what if a prebuilt development board costs a few bucks more and doesn’t involve having to deal with the purity of truly assembling your project from scratch? The time it saves me alone far outweighs the extra money I *might* spend on it and lets me get on with having a useful circuit sooner.

    Yeah I’m not going to strap an arduino kit, propeller dev board, or similar products in and call it a real OEM finished product, but most of the time I just want something that works for whatever stupid project I’m building and really don’t care whether I’m a “real hacker” doing it, I just want to do it and move on. These type of products are useful even to those of us that can assemble a real circuit…

    However I do see the article’s point, and hope the people totally new to this stuff use it as an entry point into really learning the technology. Even if they don’t though, I think that’s OK.

  30. Bill Porter says:

    @Caleb

    Very well written, this has been long time coming.

    I think there’s also an important distinction to be made between the hardware Arduino boards and the Arduino library. Everything said here mostly applies to the hardware side IMHO.

    I feel the Arduino library is a well written ‘replacment’ for the aging avr-libc. It’s just a software library to enable easier C development on AVR cores. I consider it in the same class as avr-libc. Sure, there’s some slow ‘idiot checks’ in alot of the calls, but they have been improving speed, and there’s nothing stopping the end-user from tweaking the library themsleves (I have).

    I’ve bought very few Arduino boards, but I have used the library on many of my projects with my own boards. Sure, I could start codding from scratch, but it just makes dev easier. What’s wrong with that?

  31. mstone says:

    And once we kill the Arduino, we can kill solderless breadboards, yes? ‘Cause everyone knows it isn’t a *real* circuit until you start soldering. Then we can kill microcontrollers in general, because everyone knows that the big kids use FPGAs.

    Face it: there are many levels of hardware development, and many tools at each level. The Arduino is one tool of the many. It’s a fast and easy platform for testing ideas that are best implemented in code, just like solderless breadboards are a fast and easy platform for testing circuit topologies and component values. Yeah, there are a bazillion other options for code sketching, but the Arduino happens to be seeing the benefits of network effects.

    Every circuit, and every piece of control software, starts as a sketch, so sketching platforms will always be an important part of the development process. Sketching is loose and flexible process by its very nature, so the killer app of sketching platforms is, and always will be, convenience. The Arduino happens to be sufficiently convenient for a wide range of code sketching. It also offers a convenient path for evolving external circuitry up to the PCB level. That makes it good enough to stick around for a while.

    If you want to ‘take the Arduino out of people’s hands by education’, you’ll have to replace it with another sketching platform that does the same job. Replacing one thing with another thing that’s basically the same is a waste of time, and VHS -vs- betamax taught us that being ‘arguably better’ doesn’t give people a compelling reason to switch.

    You’ll never ‘educate’ people out of the need to make sketches, and I sincerely doubt that anyone will come up with another code/hardware sketching platform which is vastly more convenient than the Arduino. Others may rise that are equally good, or which have different areas of strength, and then we can all look forward to a nice long ‘vi -vs- emacs’ spat over hardware platforms.

    Instead of arguing about tools, let’s pay attention to the process of evolving a circuit from the napkin-sketch to a finished product, and look for ways to make the whole journey as easy as possible.

  32. Jeremy says:

    I agree with most of your points. I have a handful of arduinos. I come from an electrical engineering background and I don’t like to reinvent the wheel when something off the shelf will do. However, I agree that when I see all of these posts of “finished” projects and they are a breadboard, arduino and a mess of wires I think that is not a finished project, it is a finished prototype or even just a finished concept. With pcb’s so cheap these days with group orders and such, it is a shame to not have a nice polished single board device for a finished project.

    Now for simple things or prototyping, the Arduino makes it stupid simple through their (overly) simple IDE and function set. For instance, this past Halloween, I wanted to light up and program a random sequence of LEDs for my pumpkin with only 30 minutes before the kids hit my door. An arduino was perfect for it.

    On the “Hater” side, the arduino is a good start but once you want advanced circuit design or optimized programming, then it is time to drop the bunny IDE and simple bootloader and function set for something that doesn’t require numerous cycles to turn on a single output.

    Arduino has it’s place and I for one will continue to use it as it is a nice platform for prototyping and for spring boarding into a much larger world of electronics.

  33. rallen71366 says:

    This article brings up a very good point: the attitude of the existing community really can keep people out, or accelerate it into general acceptance. For instance: the early linux community damn near killed the promising OS with ‘elite hacker egotism’ and refusal to help new people. It took concerted effort by evangelists, and commercial interests, to slowly bring it into the mainstream.

    For the longest time, I’ve considered the group here at hack-a-day to be the same as those early linux hackers: full of knowledge, and basically arrogant bastards that do more damage than good regarding newbies trying to learn about microcontrollers. It got to where I wouldn’t even read the comments about any Arduino article I was interested in. I’ve been in electronics and technology for over 30 years, and I have to say that seldom have I seen such a collection of A*holes as I’ve seen here.

  34. Attrezzo says:

    Why should we have to “kill” the arduino?

    What a silly concept. Look at what good it’s done to encourage new products, hackers, and ideas.

    YES IT! There was likely a steady stream of people becoming electronics hackers before the arduino. But AFTER the arduino we got artists, computer guys, high schoolers, and lots of people who’d never written a program before. Much less knew about 555 timers.. Arduino re-invigorated electronics for me and a WHOLE lot of people. You proud “old school” hackers should be thankful there are so many new minds that are being mentored in your art, however cursory that knowledge, is it is there where it wasn’t, and never would have been before.

    I’ve always loved electronics, though even growing up as a dorky kid who’s favorite saturday morning shows were science shows (beakman’s world and bill nye etc), a dorky kid who bought a soldering iron just to desolder old junk and look at the parts, a kid who’s favorite christmas gift was an electronic science kit. I NEVER as a young adult knew that pic microcontrollers were free, or that there was such a thing as a development kit. Instead, like many others, open source computer software filled the tinkering gap, until… Arduino. Did they advertise well? Were they just simple enough? Was it the community they built on their website with free help? Was it the open source and open hardware nature? Probably a little of all of those.
    Bottom line, I should have been an electronics hacker in high school. With arduinos around I would have been.
    Give thanks that now your hobby industry is a MUCH richer world with bigger and better ideas because of a cheap development kit that did something just right and caught a whole lot of new attention. In the future many of these pesky beginners will probably be as well versed as some of the best hardware hackers you showcase today.

    Open the beginner mind to new dev kits and the wider world of micro-controllers? By all means yes.
    Kill the arduino? No! Why the hell would anyone want that?

  35. Odin says:

    @M4CGYV3R:
    “…If you’re already set to work on electronics, like any self-respecting hacker should be…”

    While I have the complete tool suite required to do hardware stuff (5 breadboards, two oscilloscopes {one old super-fast CRT, one usb-based}, three programmers {one AVR, two PIC}, plenty of resistors/caps/wires/led’s, I’m simply sick and tired of the problems associated with breadboarding, especially with a microcontroller. (external oscillator size/issues, high-speed digital signals coupling into my analog circuit, programming header and wires popping out, mcu getting reversed, shifted, or some other damaging death…) There needs to be a stable platform allowing me to prototype with minimal effort.

    “You need to buy the same components with each. An arduino also requires wire, resistors, caps, LEDs, etc to work in a circuit as you want it to. Building an arduino circuit is, in fact, just breadboarding.”

    Agreed, but the Arduino is a package that removes the following requirements:
    Power supply
    Oscillator
    decoupling capacitors
    UART to USB conversion (on later models)
    programmer requirements

    This greatly simplifies things and gives you time to focus on the other parts of the project.

  36. A7 says:

    Kill arduinos!! i’ve seen people using arduinos on Final Year projects! on Electrical or computing engineering… WTF?! Hardware in arduino is datasheet hardware.. basic pinouts.. there’s nothing fancy about it.. bootloaders too.. so if you can’t see that arduino is just a board with a ridiculous basic circuit and you’re too lazy to mount it on a breadboard (come on.. takes 10 minutes or less to put those things on a breadboard) go study law, or economics..
    people make a lot of noise about it. .arduino this, arduino that.. it’s just a board! want to learn about electronics? pick a book! there’s a lot of great books out there. after that you will know about it and make things much easier.. using that Processing thing they call a Programming Language, you won’t.

  37. Lucia says:

    Look everyone. I bet 99.9% of you cut your teeth on home computers. Think those designs were ‘academia’ approved? What if we hadn’t had that amazing ecosystem of tens of brands of easy to program computers back in the 80s? Would you say you are not a real professional if you didn’t begin in mainframes? What made home computers ubiquitous and enjoyable were… ease of use, getting instant feedback, playing around. So no one go smug on arduino folk. It’s about lowering barriers of entry and everyone having fun, so abandon that old mentality about ‘amateurs’ being worthless. The more the merrier. Of course arduino is trendy so you still have to brush off the ignoramuses, they also exist in the software world and it doesn’t seem to be a problem, does it?

  38. MaxwellMudd says:

    I think that a good thing to remember with all the Arduino hating, is that the Arduino platform is like the PageMill or MS FrontPage of the uC world, it makes everyone an EE. Once it comes down to brass tacs, most of the noobs that only develop for the Arduino still wouldn’t be able to develop for a real uC.

  39. Attrezzo says:

    Kill legos too! They’re just blocks of stupid overpriced plastic.

    REal engineers would tell any “lego imagineer” that there are much better materials to build out of and you can do SO MUCH MORE!
    For instance, steel, and wood! All you need is a lathe, a drill press, a table saw, maybe a MIG welder, a plasma cutter, some drill bits, a hammer, some brushes….

    ** On a serious note, I find the comparison shockingly similar. Shame. And you elitists call yourself hackers.

  40. Kuhltwo says:

    Having been “raised” on old fashioned electronics, i.e. before microprocessors and then on the early 4 & 8 bit monsters, I still look to doing things without any kind of processor. Granted it takes a lot of tyme, but I enjoy it. I still don’t make pcb’s either, faster just to do it with wire.

    That said, I have been wanted to come into at least this century and start using whatever type of microprocessor I can get my hands on. But after reading all the back and forth on what type to use, which is better, etc., plus my programming is late 80’s, and not having a lot of tyme to learn new programming skills, it gets confusing what to choose from. One of the reasons I read HAD is see what others are using and why. And hopefully I can eventually figure out where to put down my very hard to find $$.

    I agree with the basic gist of the article, however you can get more people to learn the basics of electronics, the better.

    Even if it means using a sledge hammer to nail a tack on the wall.

  41. pt says:

    great post caleb, everyone should read this part over and over…

    “Lets embrace these new hackers. Lets pull them in with open arms and show them what they can do once they have learned from their Arduino and are ready harness the power of microcontrollers without limitations. We can show them just how simple of a circuit they could use to blink their LEDs. We could show them why and how we think another chip would be better suited to their project.”

    that’s the point, the community here can lead the way :)

  42. tz says:

    Why the arduino won is the entire system.

    So instead of having something easy to hook up and program on win/mac/linux, you want people to switch to learning how to do PCBs, soldering fine pitch, getting $250 programming devices, and using captive IDEs that only run under Vista 64. Get real.

    I rarely use the Arduino IDE. But it is so much easier to use the bootloader. GCC supports the other Atmel chips like the 2313 which programs on the $49 Dragon and is supported by Avrdude and Avarice in most cases.

    I would welcome more and different processors. But when I look, GCC is missing or the forgotten stepchild (isn’t 2.95 sufficient?), I can’t easily breadboard most versions, it requires some strange hardware to program or something else. The OEMs only want to do some minimum and then wonder why.

    Even ARM – there are a few things like the chumby hacker board or Beagle board, but why is fedora stuck at 12?

    I wish the other microcontroller manufacturers would get a clue. But I can’t use the chip in a complex context if it takes $500 and two weeks just to flash an LED.

  43. woutervddn says:

    I like caleb’s way of thinking.. I’ve got one of those free STM32 discovery boards lying around here.

    But because there is not that much of tutorials and stuff out there I just didn’t start on it yet..
    That’s one of the main strengths of the arduino, it’s community!

    I know that I’m not going to move to a stand alone AVR or ARM chip soon just because I’m just building things without a real cause (just because I can..)

    I remember another article on HaD called “What after the Arduino” I think.. Anyways I loved it and more of that type of content should be shown to let new hackers really get dirty with all those chips

  44. A7 says:

    i just have the impression that this is a great deal for electronics companies, so once there’s less people dealing with real hardware constraints, there’s less competition for them.. and yet, the people are having the impression that they’re dealing with electronics and stuff, so they’re happy! they keep people busy, while keeping they away from reality and from the market

  45. Eardrill says:

    To me, the reason the Arduino “won” is that it reduced friction to get something going. I’ve been a professional programmer for decades, but I can appreciate how easy it is to set up and use the Arduino ecosystem: the fact that it’s cross-platform, and cheap, plus a host of little things like not having to manage C prototypes & headers, and not having to configure a build system. There are a lot of things that hard core hackers take for granted that are barriers to entry for non-programmers. The Arduino team did a good job at easing the pain of this for non-hackers.

  46. ftorama says:

    Why would we like to kill the Arduino? In that case, let’s kill microcontrollers.

    We can do the same things with logic, but who would like to do it?

    If I had to make a blinking led, I would do it with an Attiny as I know I can change the blinking rate, period, add an external control if the project changes.

    Try to be so versatile with a 555

  47. A7 says:

    Dude, do not underestimate 555s. .they are everywhere, and can do things that u can’t imagine.. sounds like magic, but they are really flexible.. and versatile!

  48. vidor says:

    I have to disagree with you Caleb.
    As an artist with all the basics of electronics, but not imbued with the intricate knowledge of programming and the further physics of IC architecture, I have run up countless hours in dealing with the Ego’s of EE’s.
    Embrace them you say? Go tell that to the fat nerds who have told me “voltage is voltage” (in response to a q? RE: 3.3v vs 5v ) or told me that I need to learn how to do hot-air SMD before they help me out.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      @vidor,
      Not sure what you’re disagreeing with. what I’m saying is that your experience is exactly what should not happen. I’m saying that they should embrace you, and educate you to the best of their ability instead of being jerks.

  49. Norbert Ahler says:

    The Arduino is a religion. And like with all religions it is a waste of time to argue with the true believers. Arduino believers don’t want to be educated. They made that choice already when choosing their Arduino religion. They want to believe and evangelize. This is not a good base for educating someone.

    Read that makezine article again. Phillip Torrone is constructing a holly war where there is non, wouldn’t it be for the Arduino believers shoving the thing into our face whenever possible.

    I am not interested in their litter box projects, but the Arduino believers think I have to, and making a big fuzz about it. They insisting on their TLC. If they don’t get it they start to annoy.

  50. metis says:

    i dunno, my approach to projects has been:
    1-do some research
    2-pick a reasonably appropriate tool
    3-learn how to use tool

    i’ve not built a micro controller projcet (yet, few in the wings) but everything i’ve pondered with 5 min of poking about online i’ve not yet been convinced that an arduino was any of the best, cheapest, or easiest options for what i wanted to do.

    i whole heartedly agree that it’s awesome that folks are tinkering, but to me the arduino is like shopping at home depot. for most things, you’re gonna pay more than if you went to an actual lumberyard, it’ll be a different hassle, and the whole thing will be average. sometimes that’s great. most of the time, there’s a better way.

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