Getting my feet wet with Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno

I have tried to stay away from Arduino mainly because I didn’t want to learn a whole new culture. However, my AlgalitaROV project uses the OPENROV electronic architecture which employs a Cape that uses the Arduino Uno processor which in turn attaches to a BeagleBone Black(rats…another processor culture to learn).
Downloaded and installed the Arduino SDK 1.0.5 from and read through the getting started and reviewed the types of commands it uses. I bought a Arduino Uno starter kit from amazon ($32) which has a breadboard and some jumper wires. plugged in the Arduino Uno and it installed automatically without updating the drivers as suggested in the instructions. First observations:

1) the general purpose I/O (GPIO) are 5 volt at the breakouts. This is great since it is compatible with Vex parts. Current is o limited to 40ma per pin.

2) it can be powered from the USB cable or an external supply that must range from 6v to 20v with a recommendation of 7v to 12v.

3) Software wise in the Arduino you write a void setup() function and a void loop() function. These functions are called automatically by the operating system. setup() runs once and the loop() runs continuously…meaning the hidden main() function contains a while(true){loop()} structure that runs after the setup() runs. By contrast the Vex RobotC template calls a function pre_autonomous() once and executes separate tasks autonomous() and usercontrol(). usercontrol contains an explicit while(true){} which the programmer can change. Not sure that Arduino gives us that capability.

3)There are plenty of software examples and the language is close to C. The only function that seemed misnamed was analogWrite(pin,duty). This doesn’t write an analog output to a d/a hardware as one might assume but puts a 5 volt PWM signal output on a PWM capable GPIO pins. On the Uno 6 of the 14 GPIO pins are PWM capable (3,5,6,9,10,11). Not sure why they didn’t just call it PWMWrite().

4)Servo library is available for use but be careful with servo.write(int val).

Here is the function code from the servo library.  Note that if val is >544 then the command is assumed to be in microseconds rather than servo degrees.  Also note if it is less than 544 that the degree values are truncated to valid servo range of [0,180].    So a val = 255 will produce a 180 degree command.

void Servo::write(int value)
  if(value < MIN_PULSE_WIDTH)
  {  // treat values less than 544 as angles in degrees (valid values in microseconds are handled as microseconds)
    if(value < 0) value = 0;
    if(value > 180) value = 180;
    value = map(value, 0, 180, SERVO_MIN(),  SERVO_MAX());

First Script.
We need an r/c brushless motor driver. The ESC needs a standard servo drive signal. So I hooked up a Vex pot to the board and read its value [0, 1023] and scaled it to [0,180] which is given to a canned servo program object which has a servo.write which generates the proper servo output to a specified pin.  A motor is a continuous rotation servo  so 0 value represents max reverse speed and 180 value gives max forward speed.   I also included a serial printout of the value to the laptop console.
Hardware Setup:
[click on picture to expand to full size]

Shows breadboard wiring , motor 7.2v battery and external board 5 volt power supply

Shows breadboard wiring , motor 7.2v battery and external board 5 volt power supply

It is important to note that the motor is powered by a separate battery since it draws more current than the board can supply.

Closeup of arduino wiring

Closeup of arduino wiring

Full test setup

Full test setup


// Controlling a servo/motor position using a potentiometer (variable resistor) 
// by Chris Siegert:
// adapted from  Michal Rinott servo code  
// connect the center pin of a potentiometer (pot) to the potpin.  Connect the other two pins to the arduino 5v and ground pins.
// connect the white wire of the motor pwm cable to the servopin.  
// Important!! Connect the red and black wires to an external motor power source. 
// The arduino is not designed to deliver enough current to drive a servo/motor.
#include <Servo.h> 

Servo myservo;  // create servo object to control a servo or motor. 
int servopin = 9; //connects servo to pin 9 which is a pwm pin.
int potpin = 0;  // analog pin A0 used to connect the potentiometer
int val;    // variable to read the value from the analog pin 
int cmd = 0; // cmd to motor [0 to 180]
int cnt = 0; // program cycle counter 
int cnt_max = 33;   // this is the number of delay cycles between serial printouts. (15ms per cnt) 33 counts gives about 2 per second)  
void setup() 
  Serial.begin(9600);   //start up the serial data port at 9600 baud 
  myservo.attach(servopin);  // attaches the servo on servopin number to the servo object void loop() 
  val = analogRead(potpin);            // reads the value of the potentiometer (value between 0 and 1023) 
  cmd = map(val, 0, 1023, 0, 180);     // scale it in degrees of servo rotation(value between 0 and 180) 

  myservo.write(cmd);                  // sets the servo position according to the scaled value in deg 
  if(cnt > cnt_max)                  // this sets time between serial print outs to cnt_max cycles  or about (15 ms*cnt_max)
    cnt = 0;      // debug value
  delay(15);                           // waits for the servo to get there 

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