People always think that all single-board computers are the same. Arduino and Raspberry Pi are made for the same purpose, aren’t they? Well, not really. Raspberry Pi is a fully-featured single-board computer designed to run an operating system. It can be configured to run certain Linux distros or even Windows 10 if needed.
Arduino, on the other hand, serves a more specific purpose. It has no operating system, which means it cannot be used to run Linux or Windows programs. Instead, Arduino uses its own proprietary platform and accepts programs written in C++.
Don’t let Arduino’s simple nature fool you though. This is still a capable single-board computer that can perform a wide range of tasks. It can handle displays, sensors, and input just as well. If you are wondering about what you can do with Arduino, here are some of the Arduino projects to draw inspiration from.
A Wireless Display
One of the most popular Arduino projects is a wireless display for a specific use. This project really shows the capabilities of an Arduino device when combined with sensors and connectivity modules. By adding an Adafruit HUZZAH board, for example, you can introduce wireless connectivity to your Arduino project.
Tiny displays for Arduino are easy to find too. Combined, you can wirelessly pull data from other sources and display a processed version of that data on the tiny screen. Lifehacker recently published an Arduino project detailing how you can build your own tiny weather display using Arduino. It is definitely a great starter project to try.
Another popular use of Arduino is for building robots and motion-capable devices. Arduino is very programmable, so it is suitable for use in robotics projects. You can, for example, use Arduino to make your own robotic arm.
The Arduino board acts as the brain of the robot. It can process 3D data and translate different inputs into 3D space. The output can be set based on the kind of movement you want to make with your robot. There is an endless array of robotics projects based on Arduino.
Speaking of moving in 3D space, Arduino also sits at the heart of many 3D printers. In fact, 90% of DIY 3D printers are based on Arduino and its capabilities. They are very simple too. You don’t have to be an advanced programmer to build your own 3D printer.
Next, we have projects that combine Arduino with sensors, including one that transforms an Arduino board into a controller for adding ambient lighting. Ambilight, a concept by Philips, adds ambient light behind the screen of Philips TV to create more depth and add a cool ambiance to the space. You can now replicate this using Arduino and some LED strips.
Using an Arduino Uno as a controller, you can program how the LED strips work depending on the color that your monitor is displaying. The process of defining how each LED in the strip works is tedious, but the end result is well worth the time and energy you put into this project. Connect everything to a power supply and you are all set.
More Arduino Controllers
At this point, it is clear that Arduino is capable of handling complex programs. The next project to look into if you want to start using Arduino is using Arduino as a controller. You can add an infrared sensor or connect the board with a data stream as the input. Based on a predefined set of parameters, you can then control other things through the Arduino board.
You can, for instance, add a remote function to your coffee machine. You can set up Arduino to start the process of making coffee when you press an IR remote or when you send a command (i.e. via text message) to the board. There is no limit to the number of sensors you can add too, plus you can connect and control multiple devices at the same time.
Do you know that motion sensor is one of the sensors you can add to an Arduino board? If you thought the possibilities were endless before, wait until you start reading about motion control and the things you can achieve with a single Arduino board.
Projects like building an LED ambient light that automatically turns on when you walk into the room or creating a motion-detecting home office door are incredibly easy to execute with Arduino. You have pre-made programs and project schematics to learn from as well.
That brings us to the best thing about Arduino: the community behind it. There are a lot of things you can now do with Arduino, and you don’t even have to experiment from scratch. Starter kits are available from top retailers like Vilros. Project schematics and the C++ codes needed to make them work are just as easy to find.
All you need is a project to try and an Arduino board.