What is Arduino?

Arduino is a small open source microcomputer designed to be as useful, inexpensive and
easy to use as possible. In f
act, schools all over the world use Arduino to get their students
interested in robotics and computer programming.
Basically, it's like an electronic version
of Legos... you can write small programs called 'sketches' to make the Arduino do what you
want it to do, and you can interface it to something else using small hardware circuit boards
called 'shields'. Some shields can drive small motors to make things move, some can be
used to operate the lighting and heating in your home, and still others can actually function
on the Internet. An Arduino's circuits and uses are really only limited by your imagination!

If you have ever watched 'battlebots' robots fight on TV or have heard of the 'Internet Of
Things' you have already seen Arduino computers at work. I wish I had one of these
when I was a kid... ;)

Anyway, here's mine - an Arduino Uno. The half dollar is shown for scale.

Here is the motor control shield and small 'stepper' motor I'm going to use to drive the
traverse assembly (pickup coil wire feeder) in my winder, instead of all of those missing
gears and parts. In true 'maker' style, I swiped this motor out of an old HP paper scanner I
used to have. The cool thing about these shields is they all stack onto the top of the Arduino
processor like layers on a sandwich, so it's really easy to put them together. The extra blank
holes are for adding your own circuits onto the shield, like maybe some LED lights or a
Bluetooth modem so my big computer can talk to it wirelessly...   hmmm.....

Stepper motors don't work like normal motors do - instead of continuously running like
normal motors would, they only move a very small amount every time they are turned on.
If you have ever worn a battery powered 'quartz' analog watch with hands, you have seen
how stepper motors work. Every second, a stepper motor inside the watch gets turned on,
which makes the second hand move a small amount. The gears inside the watch then make
the other hands move.

Here's the main drive motor I'm going to use and its own driver board.
I was told this motor came from the seat lifter assembly from an old
Rascal scooter, so it should be plenty tough enough to wind pickups.


The Internet is full of great information about Arduino and how to use it.
I am not getting any renumeration whatsoever for mentioning these sites.
I just found them incredibly useful so I'm mentioning them here.

If you need more information, a web search will give you more
than you even thought possible!

The main website is here - arduino.cc

Adafruit's Circuit Playground is here - the easiest
and most fun way to learn how to program your Arduino.

(Photo from Adafruit.com)

MAKE: magazine is a great place to learn about Arduino projects others are doing

Here is a Youtube tutorial I found from instructables.com explaining how
stepper motors work with my Arduino.


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