Arduino: 3 powerful, yet overlooked uses


Daniel over at Bench Talk /Mouser blog writes:

Most engineers cringe when they see an Arduino in my toolbox. Their reaction is partly due to the fact that Arduino is often viewed as being too easy to use or just not feasible. For the most part, they are correct, but that’s not what I’m here to debate about. What these people don’t realize is the powerful “shape shifting” tool that this low cost development board is. Here are three commonly overlooked uses for an Arduino:

  1. Digital Logic Analyzer
  2. AVR Programmer
  3. UART to USB

Via Mouser Electronics blog.


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  1. Arduino : $30

    you could instead have
    * silabs cp2102 usb2serial module : $1.9
    * usbasp clone : $2.3

    comes with all cables needed, takes less space on your toolbox and costs 10x less.

  2. “Arduino is often viewed as being too easy to use or just not feasible.For the most part, they are correct”

    Hmm! reminds me of what mainframe types once said about microcomputers and windows gui. funny how things turned out for them. #sour_grapes

    1. That is I think an extremely poor sentence by the writer.
      It’s a total mischaracterization in my view as an EE. For example, I for one have never once thought that Arduinos are “too easy to use” or “just not feasible”. Not sour grapes. Perhaps when we wave them off, they think we have dismissed them with the wrong reasons in their view.
      Nope, we do have good reasons to be somewhat critical. I won’t waste time to go into that.
      But the great thing about [hobby] electronics is that there are so many ways to implement a project, I would not say that any particular way is wrong, but sometimes it is poorly matched to the intended application.
      I just hope that people become real hackers and grow beyond the initial small playground set by Arduinos.

  3. Let the author of the E.E. blog defend his thesis.

    If all microcontrollers are about the same then why Arduino?

    I would rather not spend an extra $30 for every project so why not learn discreet components?

    My analogy is that it becomes like a programmer’s gosub routine. If you throw enough boards in there,
    wiring starts looking like spaghetti and it will take other engineers a longer time to fix the problem because there is more involved.

    1. discreet -> discrete
      I have no complaints about using Arduinos for prototyping, but I cringe at a lot of the embedded quickie code I see on the Internet. I would rather they code proper AVR C/C++.
      I have a tendency to minimize cost of parts too, but look at it this way, I think my skills at cost optimization is pretty meaningless for a demographic of modern electronics/embedded hobbyists.
      Remember, many of these guys using plenty of boards have no problem with getting a 3D printer or similar toys… they definitely aren’t like the electronics hobbyists of yesteryear or dinosaurs like me.

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