Finally, I’ve bought myself an Arduino.
I went with the relatively new Arduino Leonardo. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not now, but it seems good so far. The Leonardo is slightly different in its underlying design. It has one processor that works as both the usb/serial converter, and as the main processor. I think for the most part, it shouldn’t be a problem, but when you reset the board, you loose your serial port on the laptop, and have to wait until it reconnects before you can do anything. This can cause problems if you are monitoring its serial output on your computer (for debugging etc…)
Pin wise, the Arduino Leonardo seems to be pin compatible with other Arduinos, however it does have some extra pins (such as the i2c pins on the digital side). That can be kind of a pain, as it means prefab prototype shields might not have all the pins you need to use this Arduino board to its full advantage.
When I first got the Arduino delivered, I didn’t have any shields to fit it, so I got to work hacking together a bit of a toy shield. Pictured below, the shield has an LCD screen, 2 buttons, an IR LED, and an IR receiver the mono 3.5mm jack on the bottom isn’t actually connected to anything at the current moment, but was for the possibility of connecting IR transmitters, as used in Audio Visual installations for controlling DVDs, TVs etc…
Using Ken Sherriffs IR transmitter library allows this board to be able to send, and/or receive IR remote commands.
Eventually, my order of protoshields arrived. These things are all over ebay, and usually come with headers and a little breadboard that piggy backs onto it. I didn’t really want the breadboard, just the straight PCB. I eventually found them at DealExtreme for $2.30 without anything other than the PCB. I bought 3 for starters.
I wouldn’t mind getting some of the piggy back headers for them at some point, as that would allow me to use several different PCB’s at once, in a little stack.
I also put together a quick 9v battery with plug for the Arduino, so I can power it away from the computer. Pictured below is my little collection of Arduino boards. You can see another veroboard I have put together with IC headers for legs, and the rest of my prototype shields
I have since had a few more bits and pieces delivered, but those will have to wait until the next installment.