Solar power is one of the most accessible types of renewable energy and is rapidly increasing in efficiency and affordability. In this project, we will show you how we used our PA-14 Mini Linear Actuator to follow the sun through a single axis of motion. Doing this increases the power yield of the solar panel by up to 25% more than a fixed solar panel.
Welcome to Part 2 of our Intro to Arduino Microcontrollers. Last time we went over the basics of Arduino and some of the different board models that we carry in stock. Today we’ll be going over a couple more of the boards that we have as well as how to get started with programming and coding them. The last two boards we’ll be discussing have some more advanced features then the ones we went over in Part 1, the Arduino Mega and the Arduino Ethernet.
This board is the go-to option when you have a project/design that features a ton of input and outputs. It shares the same specs as the Uno except for some key differences. It has 54 digital input/output pins (14 can be PWM), 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs that allow serial communication and its dimensions are 2.1??? x 4???.
Another board that is very similar to the Uno but this one comes with an Ethernet port built into it. Not only that but it also features a micro SD card reader. Having the Ethernet port gives you the ability to connect the Arduino to the internet, which opens up an almost limitless amount of possibilities on how to control your project/system. Like the Uno it has 14 digital input/output pins but in this case 4 of those are used to communicate with the Ethernet port while 4 more are used with the SD card read. This leaves 6 digital/input pins (4 can be PWM pins) and 6 analog inputs. Its dimensions are 2.7??? x 2.1???.
Now that we’ve gone over our selection of Arduino boards it’s time to learn how to start programming. First things first you’ll need to visit the official Arduino site to download the IDE software, which we mentioned briefly in part one. This is the software that is used to code and program all Arduino boards and once it’s installed you’ll be able to start programming. Before you start you’ll need to make sure you select whatever board you plan to use with the software. On the top menu screen click on “Tools??? then select “Board??? and then select whichever board you plan on using. After that click on “Tools??? again but this time select “Port??? and select which port matches with your Arduino. Below you'll see a picture of the IDE software screen.
The simplest way to test your board and make sure the programming software is working is to use the “Blink??? test. Many Arduinos come with a built-in LED, which will blink in this example to test if its functioning. In the IDE software click on “File??? then “Examples??? followed by “Basics??? and finally select the “Blink??? option. Make sure to change the pin from 13 to whichever pin the LED is on whatever board you are using. The default delay, 1000, pauses the “Blink??? program for an amount of time, in this case 1000 means 1 second since it’s coded in milliseconds. Once you’ve tested it an made sure it’s working you can start coding! We’d recommend checking out one of our earlier posts to try out a sample code and test some basic functionality like how to control the timing of a linear actuators motion.
Hopefully you found this helpful and feel a little more informed on how to use our Arduino microcontrollers. If you’d like to order one today you can order online or contact us if you have any more questions regarding Arduino or any of our other products. Our team of engineers are always willing and more then able to answer your questions and help you design your perfect project.