Arduino Headed for One Point Oh

In a recent blog post, [Massimo] stated that there will be some stabilizing changes coming for the Arduino platform. The API, IDE, and even the website are targets for the Arduino team’s New Year’s resolutions to bring Arduino to 1.0. This platform is often seen at the core of projects we cover and many that we do not or should not cover. It has come to wide use because it has a better price point to other starter development boards, easy to use with a large user base for support, extensive hardware options with much of the coding already in libraries, and a cross-platform, open source tool-chain that can run just about anywhere. Many people that hate the Arduino, hate it because it is so easy to use. Anyone can get an LED to blink with an Arduino even though there are far more (and far less) elegant solutions. Love it or hate it, Arduino has made a significant impact and the coming changes should help keep it be around for quite some time. Let us look back, how has Arduino affected you?

88 thoughts on “Arduino Headed for One Point Oh

  1. While I can understand the resentment from anyone who actually had to work hard to learn micros and all the aspects of programming them, I personally love the arduino. I (a fairly bored college student) bought one at the start of christmas break, with no real microcontroller or programming experience, and by now I have learned enough to have a dorm room door that unlocks when a code is entered in an exterior keypad (not very original I know, but I lock myself out a lot so it’s useful). What’s more, learning new things with it is not nearly as daunting as with many other microcontrollers, and thanks to all the support available, it is easy to continue learning new things.

  2. @deadeye: There is gcc for the MSP430
    $20 dev kit, (but I got mine free w/ a code) This is also a good starting point. I work for a medical device company and our video monitors use the MSP430, so it is not just for beginners.

    What about the STM8 Discovery?

    I find that most (or almost all) of the appeal of the arduino is the libraries, and community, and how you don’t really need to know anything to get it to work; you just search the internet to find someone else’s project to copy. Which I guess is not really all that bad, if you were a person that just doesn’t care.

    I like to know that I don’t need to rely on someone else, or a community, to achieve my goals. I think the arduino is good to get your feet wet, but seriously, without your how-to instructables step-by-step, are you able to do ANYthing? On your own. A beginner learning from other beginners is not a way to become an expert, or even intermediate, but if you want blinking lights, go ahead.

    I also play guitar, and I first learned by ear and chord books. But it was time to grow up and do some scales and learn to read music and learn song structure. Garage punk bands are only cool when you are 15.

  3. As most of you know I’ve been a highly outspoken critic of Arduino for pretty much the same reason as most of the other nay-sayers, it simply dilutes down the skillbase.

    And as for the analogy the blind leading the blind is very much the correct one. As I’ve previously said Arduino is a side effect of what happens when artists, yuppies and other useless people take an interest in something. They come in, inflate prices and when they get bored they move on like a plague of locusts to the next thing.

    @the hackaday editors

    People see this place as a focus point to the world of hacking, help us to help ourselves by not constantly fellating arduino based projects.


  4. How about an analogy: I’m a college student, and I like to loft my dorm room bed to get extra space for a desk. Now when I build a stand to loft my bed I could do what my friends did and build a stack of cinderblocks (overkill, but very simple and doesn’t require tools) or do what I did and build a custom frame from timber with proper bolts and brackets.

    The frame I built took an entire day of measuring, cutting, driving screws, and assembly, and I didn’t even get into fancy finishes, whereas the cinderblocks probably took less than an hour. Should I tell my friend he did it wrong for taking the ‘easy way out’? No. He may not have had the tools, time, and/or expertise I had at my disposal. Both of us only had to build one and only use it for two semesters.

    I wound up with a smaller, lighter, and more presentable loft than he did, and he doesn’t think I’m a jerk for telling him his design was simplistic. At the end of the year, he can take his cinderblocks home, and I can give my loft to another student who will use it and doesn’t need the expertise to build it.

    Now, consider that in terms of projects. It is perfectly acceptable to leave off with an easy solution, but with more skill and expertise it is possible to build something better. What we as a community should do is continue to produce new and exciting hacks, using whatever methods we like, so as to inspire each other.

    If we can only get ahead by pushing down others instead of showing them what more they can do with advanced techniques, than we are little more than bullies, closing off the club without giving people a chance to learn the secret handshake.

    (Hint: it starts with SYN)

  5. “As I’ve previously said Arduino is a side effect of what happens when artists, yuppies and other useless people take an interest in something.”

    And some wonder why those of us who like the Arduino refer to those who don’t as elitist.

    “While I thinks it’s awesome that everyone can dive into projects easily by using this controller, it’s not out of line to suggest that they learn how it works, and understand the concepts they’re implementing to accomplish a task.”

    Which is exactly what many of us do. Arduino provides the foot in the door that makes electronics accessible. Dismissing every Arduino user out of hand is making a sweeping generalization that none of us does any learning.

  6. I don’t think he’s dismissing Ard-users as much as he’s probably just sick of seeing it used so much – just wants more variety and lashing out a little. As the OP pointed out, many inelegant solutions have been based on Arduino, and I’m sure most of what I do with it is probably on that side of the line too.

    I am one of those you speak of who got my foot in the door using it and learned other stuff (TONS of stuff) in the process. I am by no means any more than a novice, but I sure am learning a lot and having fun doing it. I know I’m a lot better at this stuff than I once used to be, and I still have a long way to go – especially since the sky’s the limit in this field. I don’t feel bad about that. It’s fun.

    If I had to just commit to learning the subject, take years of expensive schooling, design and etch slick boards and enclosures, and not make anything unless it qualified to be close to perfect, well I just wouldn’t do it. I’ve got bills to pay and people to take care of. Arduino was an open door I could just stumble through and rummage around once inside. I’m sure there are folks who just use it to accomplish something and move on, but I’m sure I’m in the majority of us who, once in, keep fiddling with it and learning about it, and keep expanding on it.

    Some folks (an increasing percentage of the GP unfortunately) just don’t have that curious spark and Arduino is ripe for them to exploit and escape, thus the “bad press”. Oh well. Too bad for them. I still believe that a strong majority have that normal Human curiosity and stay with it just to see what makes it tick and what else you can do with it.

    As toys go, this one has more staying power than almost anything else I’ve picked up along the way. Happy birthday to me!

  7. p.s.
    By the previously mentioned “this toy”, I mean microcontrollers in general. I’ve settled into mostly breadboard and AVR Studio lately rather than just Arduino since it’s so much more versatile that way, and for relatively little coin. But that still takes more $$ than Arduino, and for folks just breaking into it I still recommend that as a good way to get your feet wet.

    In fact, the other day my neighbor decided he wanted to get into it and asked me for advice. I was strongly considering steering him down the AVR Studio/programmer route and giving him enough extra components to keep him busy for a couple years. But after careful consideration, I ended up steering him down the Arduino route. It’s simply much less complex and intimidating to a newcomer. Almost effortless really. And the wealth of knowledge and examples to provide some instant gratification to spur on further growth was a big factor too. If he gets through some things and wants to know another way, then I can show another option or two.

    Making things too difficult is good for scaring the ignorant away. If that’s your goal I guess you can do that. But if you want to raise the collective enlightenment, a sprinkle of sugar now & then is effective for holding the interest of new learners.

    Mmmmmm….. cookies.

  8. @Deyjavont
    >But it was time to grow up and do some scales and learn to read music and learn song structure

    I totally agree with you.
    St. Expury said:
    Quand tu veux construire un bateau, ne commence pas par rassembler du bois, couper des planches et distribuer du travail, mais reveille au sein des hommes le desir de la mer grande et large.
    Bad translation:
    (If you want to build a boat, dont call the men, to obtain wood, prepare tools, assign jobs and arrange the work but teach them the desire for the wide sea.)
    I think arduino is a tool to teach the desire for the wide sea.

  9. um..I don’t think I would trust sleeping on a bed that is supported by cinder blocks, or having a desk under a bed supported by cinder blocks. Yikes.
    donpablo’s post just further shows that doing it the right way, with right knowledge, is the best way. (Although, I think that was not what he was trying to say) I am sure there is some safety violations concerning those cinder blocks!!

  10. It always surprise me to hear how easy Aduino is, and how freaking overrated this statement is. I don’t remember having much trouble when I first start in 9 grade HS, first I bought Basic Stamp in RatShack, at home after opening the box I thought to myself ORL 80$ for so little stuff, so I went back and return it, after couple hours googling I had PIC samples already shipped out, and simple programmer made from old VCR, and I didn’t know anything about electronics, just follow the schematics on picture and google how to recognize components values. Then after some more googling and trip to Barnes&Noble and RatShack with help of book first blinking led was assembled in hour or two, then binary counter and that how it begins.. If a kid can figure this out, how can this be any hard?

    So for me all Arduino did is spam HaD and turn it into dumpster

  11. I expect I was programming embedded systems before half of you were born. It doesn’t surprise me that commodity creep would reach out to embedded development kits. It happened with PC’s themselves, right? Then UNIX systems? What, you think you are different?

    None of us make the rules, nor can we stop them when they change. All you can decide is whether you want to zig when the market zags (D. Winer’s old advice) or to go with the flow and leverage off it.

    The Arduino seems an excellent tool to leverage off of … but if that’s not your thing, you better find a different path (something the Arduino can’t do).

    I am personally fine with the commoditization … I like cheaper and more powerful stuff.

  12. This “hard” vs “easy” argument reminds me of amateur radio operators arguing about whether to drop the requirement to learn Morse code. Some felt that by keeping the requirement it made it more difficult to get a license and kept all but the most determined from joining the club. Now that ham radio is dying they have dropped the requirement.
    The benefit of the Arduino is not the hardware, it is is minimal and could be easily duplicated. The benefit is the software. Because it is free and easy to use it removes one of the hassles of getting a project going. Sure, you code in assembly language and make smaller and faster programs but it’s 10 times the work. Mostly you just want the microcontroller doing the controlling. So in the future you should judge Hack A Day project not by the microcontroller running the project but by the rest of the project connected to the microcontroller.

  13. Hmmm.
    I’ve written programs in BASIC on an Apple 2. I’ve written them for the BASIC Stamp.

    And I’ve done stuff for the Arduino.

    Of the three, the Arduino is easier. Oh and the software for the thing is all Open Source. And it even builds on Windows without so much as a ***BLEEP!!** of an upset.

    Go figure.

  14. BTW, Clayton Christiansen wrote a book called The Innovator’s Dilemma that probably applies to Arduino vs. X

    I found that book to provide an excellent analysis of why Foo wins in technology transitions.

  15. I’m not quite sure why people feel the need to advertise the fact they are learning something like this.

    I thought the whole point of hacking (or at least for me) was just having an idea pop into your head and going out to figure out how to make it work – not learning how to ‘do’ microcontrollers then hunting around for something to do with them.

  16. My school is run by mini dragons for the same reason arduino is sweet. I used to program atmega via isp and then eventually via an ftdi chip and bootloader. Arduino takes care of everythinh for me including the winavr complications.

    My first arduino project took me 10 minutes. It took me a year of atmel programming to get printf working right. I love arduino.

    Eventually I want to teach a college class for cosci and ee where we start with arduino and the final project involves completing a lab with discrete components. That way the ee’s are appeased but cosci gets to learn to like hardware without the cumbersome details.

  17. I’m been tinkering with electronics and microcontrollers for a 20+ years now.

    I’ve done analog stuff with op-amps and 555s at first, then logic stuff with 74LS, CMOS4000. Then I discovered 8051 (8032 with external EPROM), programming in assembly, then in C. Then discovered the PIC 16F84, which was a revolution at the time, then some more advanced PICs.

    Then I started using the Zilog eZ8 Encore! MCU, which has a nice ICD (in-circuit debugger) and free C compiler. I’ve designed and sold commercial products with this MCU.

    Recently I started doing stuff with the Parallax Propeller. I have also an STM32 Primer2 (ARM Cortex dev kit) lying around, waiting for a project to do with it.

    My point is it doesn’t really matter which MCU or hardware platform you choose. Just choose one that suit your needs, and keep an open mind. If I were new to microcontrollers, I would probably give the Arduino a try.

    If it helps people get started with microcontrollers, then its probably a good thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into fanboyism.

  18. [q] If it helps people get started with microcontrollers, then its probably a good thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into fanboyism.[/q]

    The beauty of these platforms is that creative spirits can bloom regardless of the knowledge they have of any advanced technology. Allowing them to visualize their thoughts and thus sharing their ideas. Without sharing we wouldn’t have technology to begin with.

    I agree that the more self built or hacked hardware projects deserve more credit just for the efforts. However taking in consideration that there is a huge learning curve for microchips most projects would never have seen the light of day without “easy ways out”

  19. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” – Voltaire

    For me when making a project step 1 is getting it to work, step 2 is refine. Arduino’s get a lot more people to step 1 then there was before.

    I’m working on a 1-wire project that will probably start out on a PC and then probably move to a smaller, possibly embedded platform. Step 1 will get the thing wired up and feeding me data, step 2 will be after I’ve tweaked the algorithms and am sure the results are relatively stable.

    I don’t know if the project will ever go arduino, but it’s a contender based on how accessible the tools are. Honestly for most applications I can whip up something 10x the power and flexibility of an embedded microcontroller for less than $100 ( OpenWRT ) and for $129 I can get a chumby with video and a touchscreen input on top of a full linux computer. Will it be the most elegant solution, no, will it work, yes.

  20. I agree that the arduino makes the uC work ridiculously simple. It’s feels like using the AVR without actually knowing who it works.
    Then again when seeing all the resentment about it, I wonder what ever happen to KISS approach of engineering?

    The arduino makes things simple. It’s basic and there for easy, and yes also limited.

    Personally I like the idea behind it, making technology appreciably for the general public rather than a bunch of well educated engineers. Beginners can use it as is, to get a fast starting point, while experts can used the available libraries and bootloader and modified it to suit their needs. Starting with the arduino as a quick prop of concept, then diving into the code libraries, open the datasheet and start doing some real embedded work.

  21. From “Most people hate the Arduino because it is so easy to use.”

    From Sean: “As a computer engineer, I love the arduino too. I’ve done a number of project with atmega ucs before, and development devolves into tedium extremely quickly without quality libraries.

    Without the arduino, simple things like a serial connection take hours of fiddling with examples to get working.”

    It’s not ease of use that’s the problem. In fact, I love it when I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The problem is the masses that use it.

    I spent time in college learning about EE and Computer Engineering, and I’ve been doing design work on and off for about 20 years. The Arduino platform opens up embedded computing technology to anyone that wants to spend the time to tinker with it, and those same people are flooding our online forums with questions about problems that can be found in any basic electrical engineering text. The signal to noise ratio in the engineering forums online has risen to a level where it’s getting very hard to get answers to the hard questions, in my opinion.

    I’m reminded of when AOL came online and flooded the intertubes with the uneducated masses. Much of what was good about the net at that time was ruined. The only good thing I can say about it is that the Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, so it’s at least somewhat better for everyone. Without the web, the internet would truly be useless and abandoned.

  22. The Arduino is easy. That may be partially related to it’s greatest virtue. It is really cross platform and open. I’ve looked at other microcontrollers and they are just not usable by me. I use Linux as my OS and don’t even allow Windows on my network. The propeller looked great, but it requires Windows. The TI 430 mostly needs windows to develop for(There is a limited Linux compiler I am trying to get work). Pic uses a closed source compiler. I will move some of my designs directly to AVR, but the Arduino is a decent, cheap prototyping tool.
    You don’t need the IDE to program the Arduino. A local developer showed a Python script to run the compiler and download programs to the Arduino. I don’t know if Hackaday takes articles on things like that. I could write up how he did it. The Arduino IDE does not really do that much and the editor is pretty bad.
    Goo 2010 to you

  23. I love it so much until I make a blog in Malay language to make people aware of it existence in my country.

    Ease of use and cheap in price is the key point.

    2010 is the year for Arduino.

  24. I want to buy the ADRUINO starter kit to get involved with avr microcontrollers.I would be happy if someone could help me with these questions:is it good for novice people? ,is it using c language ?,is there any examples of c programming included in the kit?is there any sample projects included in the kit?
    Thank you very much for you all

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