Chapter 7: Components for Prototyping
This chapter discusses usage of parts and components in an embedded device. When you connect multiple components, they form a circuit.
If you have a software background, you might lack some solder experience. In this case, Grove kit components and components can help you to start building circuits.
The idea of the Grove kit is explained in the Wiki of Seeedstudio. First, you need a Base shield such as for Arduino Uno.
To the base shield, you can plug one or multiple Grove kit components:
Note that you find the Grove head for the Arduino Nano here: Arduino Nano Grove Headers
Breakout Boards and Shields
For Arduino, you will find circuits as breakout boards and shields such as: I2C Education Shield. With this shield, you get a temperature sensor, a real time clock and other components ready made for experimentation.
Design your own PCB
Instead of buying, you can learn how to build your own break out boards. For this, learning a CAD program such as Eagle or Kicad. you can find ideas for circuits on sites such as schematics.com.
A nice collection of basic breakout boards can be found in this github repo by Stefan Lochbrunner.
A nice Node.js project to render PCB is pcb-stackup.
Many projects to make sharing of hardware easier are currently built. One such project is kitnic.it. This platform was presented by Kaspar Emanuel at FOSDEM 2017.
There are bunch of websites and shops for sourcing components from the internet.
The main places are places such as Sparkfun or Adafruit. To search ebay.com or alibaba - a sort of chinese ebay - , the MySensors components search engine is helpful. Another one is ControlEverything.
To build setups with "custom" components, tindie can be interesting. For example, you can find the Grove Hat for Arduino Nano to build a cheap Arduino based experimenters kit.
Community, forums and blogs
Sensors act as inputs to an embedded systems. Sensors can transport data in analog or digital form. Some sensor types are especially popular:
Temperature sensors can be good places to learn more on types and functions of sensors:
- The DS18B20: This digital sensor transports temperature on 1 pin with a one-wire protocol. The sensor accuracy is around 0.5°C per bit.
- Combination of MAX6675 and thermocouple: This device converts an analog signal from a thermogocuple into a digital signal that a microcontroller can use.