Useful resources

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More helpful resources here.

Arduino Mega 2560 board has a lot of pins and is much more capable compared to the Uno class board. So it is imperative that one understands the pin out and functional capabilities.

Image of Arduino Mega 2560

Arduino Mega 2560

Of course the board has proper labeling for guidance, but, the work done by Alberto Pighixxx in Arduino forums is beyond comparison. Here is the link to the forum posting of a wonderful printable document that I found eminently useful.

Picture of Wonderful work done by pighixxx

Wonderful work done by pighixxx

Many thanks to Alberto Pighixxx for his painstaking efforts to make our lives easier. You can also get to other Arduino layouts as well as ATMega pinouts. Please leave a note of thanks to Alberto Pighixxx in Arduino forums if you find his work useful. Book mark his site for future reference. Currently, content in English is scarce but, nothing that Google Translate cannot solve for you.

More helpful resources here.

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Learning to program using micro-controllers

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I have dabbled with electronics in the past, mostly analog. I have also worked through some tutorials available online and ventured into micro-controllers. My interests wavered over time on the choice of micro-controller. I used PIC for a while, then moved to AVR and then MSP430 and so on. I was able to easily locate what I need through various sources on the internet. I then adapted the examples and then modified it to suit my needs. But, I was never able to master the skill and develop what I needed from scratch. It dawned on me one fine day, why not just stick with one controller and then perhaps get a book/coursework and go through that cover to cover.

I decided to pick a micro-controller for my study based on the availability of information and examples. I did my research but, I think everyone knows the answer to that question. There is no beating Arduino when in comes to examples and tutorials. So Arduino it was. But, I did not want to get Uno or Leonardo type of boards. I feared that the examples will be more of a straight forward cut and paste and I might get sloppy with the true purpose of this journey. I wanted to get something that would help me grow beyond the basics, and some room to grow. I considered Due but then decided not to venture into ARM and 32-bit world without mastering the 8-bit domain. So, I decided that it would be Arduino Mega 2560.

I then started to search for a board and found one at an affordable price. I ordered that and in few days it was at my door steps. I powered in on through an USB cable and the familiar LED Blink program was pre-loaded and it worked. My PC did not detect the appropriate drivers automatically, but, a brief search on the web pointed me in the right direction and I was able to get that resolved quickly. So all set for the hardware.

I was searching for a good book in paper form. You cannot copy and paste the code from a printed book and that takes complacency out of the equation. When you type the code yourself, you will make mistakes. Those mistakes are the first steps for successful learning.

I found Arduino Cookbook by Michael Margolis and it had decent reviews. I got the book too, it is an easy read. I think it was a good choice for my purposes. Get the Second Edition as it refers to the more recent revisions of Arduino Uno.

The book had a couple of examples before the more structured approach and I was able to try out the examples. I have a decent inventory of tools and components and so at this stage I just salvage the parts from some of my old projects. Hopefully I can go through the book from cover to cover this year and record my findings.