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Picking Arduino’s Brain

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Arduino as a platform has become a common feature in almost every engineer’s project lately. If one hasn’t used it then they have at least heard of that small blue board that is used in the manufacturing process of robots. Most of us though, even the ones who often use Arduino boards, are unaware of the capabilities of the element that is responsible for all of Arduino’s activities – the Atmega microcontrollers. IEEE’s workshop (on the Atmega 328P) held on the 27th and 28th of January was an attempt to educate people on the vast potential of the microcontroller present in one of the most common Arduino boards – the Arduino Uno.

The Arduino Uno

A team of second year students, led by the event head Kshitij Dhar, ran through the basics of coding the microcontroller, thus giving the participants a general idea of what can be done using the microcontroller. The turnout for the workshop was modest, but the organizers did not lack enthusiasm. Each member of the organizing team taught a sub-topic. It was obvious that they were enjoying being on the other side of the learning experience. As one of them jokingly put it, “The fact that people were paying to listen to us teach motivated us to try harder.”  

After covering the basics on the first day of the workshop, the organisers turned their attention towards slightly advanced topics such as timers, interrupts, and USART (Universal Synchronous Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter). Encouraged by the event head to get all of their doubts cleared, the participants made the most out of what the workshop had to offer. They were shown sample codes and how the codes worked on the actual hardware. As a refreshing break, they were also shown a short video clip of exploding and burning electronic components.

Being students themselves, the organizers occasionally had problems in getting the code to function as per their need. All in all, the workshop was a great learning opportunity for both, the participants and the organizers. Workshops like these, which explain the fundamentals of engineering feats, are essential to the learning process. Innovation occurs through the application of small things, and with that the workshop culminated in the hope that all the participants had learnt a little something from the event.

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